Teen Book Reviews

THE ABYSS SURROUNDS US by Emily Skrutskie
SCIENCE FICTION & FANTASY
Released: Feb. 8, 2016

"Personal and cultural complexities distinguish this fresh and fascinating look at a lawless future. (Science fiction. 14 & up)"
The world's geopolitical balance rests on a genetically modified sea monster and his 17 1/2-year-old trainer. Can she resist the adrenaline rush of a pirate's life to keep the world aright? Read full book review >
BURNING MIDNIGHT by Will McIntosh
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"This fast-paced urban quest wears its agenda on its sleeve, but it's conveyed with verve and an endearing sense of justice. (Science fiction. 12-14)"
A 17-year-old boy and his friends just want enough to survive on in a world where the rich and powerful greedily take everything. Read full book review >

SYMPTOMS OF BEING HUMAN by Jeff Garvin
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Overall, a welcome mirror for gender-fluid teens and a helpful introduction for others. (Fiction. 12-18)"
Riley Cavanaugh, whose father is a prominent politician in a conservative Southern California county, navigates being gender fluid and experiencing panic attacks. Read full book review >
THE V-WORD by Amber J. Keyser
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Most valuable here is the explicit, intimate, and informative nature of each writer's words. (Collective memoir. 14-18)"
Seventeen women write about losing their virginity in this work of nonfiction. Read full book review >
REVENGE AND THE WILD by Michelle Modesto
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"This strong debut will delight fans of the genre, especially its Western subdivision, and despite a few passages that make the Donner Party look like vegans, the suspenseful plot should keep even squeamish readers engaged. (Steampunk. 14-18)"
For years, Westie's hunted the cannibal family that killed hers and took her arm; now they've arrived in Rogue City to invest in the machine her adoptive father, Nigel, is building to protect the area's humans from magical creatures, but he's reluctant to believe her. Read full book review >

SALT TO THE SEA by Ruta Sepetys
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Heartbreaking, historical, and a little bit hopeful. (author's note, research and sources, maps) (Historical fiction. 12-16)"
January 1945: as Russians advance through East Prussia, four teens' lives converge in hopes of escape. Read full book review >
THE FORBIDDEN ORCHID by Sharon Biggs Waller
FICTION & LITERATURE
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Well-researched and filled with adventure, romance, and lots of tension—this work of historical fiction has all the elements of an intriguing read. (Historical fiction. 12 & up)"
In this coming-of age tale set in 1861, Waller deftly straddles England and China and weaves in historical highlights of plant hunting, the opium trade, and environmental activism. Read full book review >
SPIRIT LEVEL by Sarah N. Harvey
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Plenty of drama and a laundry list of catchy, contemporary issues make this an eventful, intriguing read. (Fiction. 12-16)"
Sperm-donor half siblings, friends with gay parents, and stay-at-home dads who run away with other men or with younger women, or dads who reside in prison for vehicular manslaughter—Harvey weaves far-ranging family and gender strands together. Read full book review >
ON EDGE by Gin Price
Released: Feb. 2, 2016

"Intriguing characters, a different take on an urban landscape, and the element of mystery will captivate readers. (Mystery. 12-18)"
The closing of two high schools results in strife between rival gangs. Read full book review >
THE EBOLA EPIDEMIC by Connie Goldsmith
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"An arresting, illuminating, and unlikely-to-be-forgotten story. (Nonfiction. 12-18)"
Welcome to the you-better-be-Brave New World of emergent viruses. Read full book review >
BEAT THE ODDS by Megan Atwood
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Compelling suspense delivered in a small dose. (Thriller. 12-18)"
This second in a series of five novellas following a single storyline focuses on Latina Ana, who is trying to escape her abusive foster father. Read full book review >
RAISE THE STAKES by Megan Atwood
Released: Feb. 1, 2016

"Pages will turn right up to the cliffhanger. (Thriller. 12-18)"
This third in a series of five novellas that follow one storyline adds white teen Colin to the list of reluctant participants in the Contest. Read full book review >
Kirkus Interview
Michael Eric Dyson
February 2, 2016

In Michael Eric Dyson’s rich and nuanced book new book, The Black Presidency: Barack Obama and the Politics of Race in America, Dyson writes with passion and understanding about Barack Obama’s “sad and disappointing” performance regarding race and black concerns in his two terms in office. While race has defined his tenure, Obama has been “reluctant to take charge” and speak out candidly about the nation’s racial woes, determined to remain “not a black leader but a leader who is black.” Dyson cogently examines Obama’s speeches and statements on race, from his first presidential campaign through recent events—e.g., the Ferguson riots and the eulogy for the Rev. Clementa Pinckney in Charleston—noting that the president is careful not to raise the ire of whites and often chastises blacks for their moral failings. At his best, he spoke with “special urgency for black Americans” during the Ferguson crisis and was “at his blackest,” breaking free of constraints, in his “Amazing Grace” Charleston eulogy. Dyson writes here as a realistic, sometimes-angry supporter of the president. View video >