I am the Messenger by Marcus Zusak

iamthemessenger_markuszusakHave any of you read The Book Thief? Marcus Zusak’s novel about World War II? I recently found that Zusak had written another novel, by the name of I am the Messenger. Having enjoyed The Book Thief, I decided to try this new book out.

I was not disappointed.

This novel follows Ed Kennedy and the mysterious cards he receives in the mail. Sent all over town to help various people, Ed must help each person with whatever is ailing them, whether it be loneliness, preaching to an empty church, sibling rivalries, etc. The list goes on and on.

What I liked best about this book was the end, of course. On the surface, this is a very simple novel, with each new card like its own short story. Readers get to know Ed and his town in more detail. But not until the end does there really seem to be a point to the whole story. I was not even reading this book for an English class, but for once, the theme of a novel was staring me in the face.

I think this novel would make a great movie. There are so many scenes that I would just love to see in a movie. I do not normally like the movies better than their novels, but I feel that in this case I just might.

I would recommend this book for anyone over 13. However, I would caution that some scenes in the book are not ‘G’ rated because of their mature content. I feel that The Book Thief was a better novel, but I am the Messenger gives the reader a lot of food for thought about the type of life one chooses to lead.

– Leila S., 9th Grade

I Am the Messenger is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

allfalldown_allycarterThe mystery novel, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Grace Blakely. Unfortunately, Grace’s mother died three years ago in an disastrous accident when her antique shop caught on fire. Grace was with her mother that night and she believes that a man with a scar shot her mother. Nobody wants to believe Grace, which makes Grace even more determined to find him.

Grace doesn’t see much of her older brother or father because they both are in the military and move around a lot. Before her mother’s death, Grace would spend her summers with her grandfather. Her grandfather is the American ambassador and he lives in Adria with other ambassadors from all over the world in Embassy Row.

Back at Embassy Row, Grace is haunted by the recurring nightmare of her Mother being murdered. Her grandfather and her brother’s friend, Alexei, try to convince her, but she refuses to believe them. Haunted and determined, she befriends Noah, Megan and Rosie, who are all children of ambassadors, in hopes to track down the man with the scar. Join Grace to see what actually happened that night.

Although Grace was emotionally troubled, she was a great character. Liking her determination and refusal to believe other people that her mother died in a fire, I also I found the concept of the different embassies very intriguing. The idea of having characters from all over the world made it very interesting. Personally, I would recommend it to anybody who is a fan of a good mystery novel. With a cliff-hanger ending, I am sure to read the sequel coming next year!

-Anmol K.

All Fall Down is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

daughtersmokebone_lainitaylorKarou seems to be an ordinary girl who goes to an art school and lives a normal life. Except for the fact that she draws monsters in her sketchbook. And aquamarine hair that grows straight out of her head. The thing is, those monsters in her sketchbook are real. Sweet Issa, the “snake goddess”, and Brimstone, the wishmonger, are only a few of these monsters, called chimaera, that she knows. And speaking of wishes, she gets them every year for her birthday, or when she runs errands for Brimstone, and uses them on things like her unnatural hair and the many languages she has in her collection. And her true life remains a secret to all, and everything goes fine for her. That is, until black, scorched handprints begin to appear on the doorways between Brimstone’s wish shop and the human world, and Karou knows she has to do something about them. But is it just too late?

I loved Daughter of Smoke and Bone. I originally was going to read it at the recommendation of a friend, but when I found out that it was written by the same author who wrote Dreamdark: Blackbringer and Dreamdark: Silksinger, I wanted to read it even more. I admit I had my doubts because the author left her previous series mid-story to start this one, but once I started reading, it completely sucked me in. It didn’t let me down once, and I continued on to read the other two books in the trilogy, Days of Blood and Starlight and Dreams of Gods and Monsters. I would recommend this book to any teen, like my friend did for me, as although it has a little bit of violence, it is well worth your time. If you happen to see this book in a library or bookstore, pick it up, as it has a great read in store.

Daughter of Smoke and Bone is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Blackout by Robin Wells

blackout_robinwellsImagine you are having a nice day in a peaceful, secluded town when suddenly the government is hauls you and your friends away to test for a biological virus that could give you, or any other teens in the whole world, super powers. This is what it is like for Aubrey Parsons, a normal girl in high school, is suddenly thrown headfirst into a battle between the U.S. government and a terrorist organization using super-teens to destroy national monuments across the country.

With this information, the U.S. government uses their teens to stop these terrorists. Aubrey is highly suited for the situation having some of those powers herself. She has the ability to become unnoticed by anyone around her. Aubrey, along with some friends, eventually joins a special task force in the army that specializes in the destruction of terrorist groups and will help bring the war to an end.

The author, Robin Wells, tells the story from the point of view of a few teens with special powers caused by the virus that go on adventures to stop, or join forces with, the terrorists. Having families back home and being abducted by the government, these kids don’t know who to trust; but they do know one thing: they will not let these terrorists continue to destroy their country and the people in it.

-Kyle H.

Blackout is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs

spycamp_stuartgibbsStuart Gibbs wrote Spy Camp as a sequel to his first espionage novel, Spy School.  Ben Ripley, a.k.a. Agent Smokescreen, is no “regular” kid for his age. He is a spy in training for the CIA and spent the last year learning and preparing to be a spy while his friends back home think he is at a dumb science school.  That’s how secretive the CIA is.  Even his parents think that he has a scholarship to this school. However, the school year is over now.  Ben is getting ready to come home for the summer when the principal notifies him that he and all of his other classmates are going to a spy camp.  Ben has never been to camp before.  He is a little nervous, but then he receives a contract from the enemy group, SPYDER, with a death threat.  This reminded me of the song, Camp Granada, by Allan Sherman.  In the song, the young camper details all the horrible circumstances he has to endure.

Ben is put under “extra extra protection” from SPYDER.  Despite these precautions, when his special training starts in the woods, his group is ambushed.  Ben only has his friend Erica, an amazing spy, to help him.  It is very unlikely he will come out of this situation alive.  For he is wanted DEAD OR ALIVE! It was at this point when I remembered the song “Double Agent” by Rush because both Ben and the song lyrics desire to be “anywhere but here”. Ben is scared and feels as though he is useless to solving the problem at hand. To make matters worse, nobody from his family and none of his friends know how dire the state he is in.

I would recommend this book to any young spies out there or anyone who read the first book. A big thumbs up to Stuart Gibbs for Spy Camp.

-Maya S.

Spy Camp is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

MV5BMjM2MDgxMDg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2OTM5NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Many aren’t aware of the book which inspired the movie series for Jurassic Park (see Jurassic World in theaters now!), and like most books, the original is better than the movie adaptation.

Michael Crichton’s vision of a utopian theme park gone wrong set a revolutionary example for all sci-fi novels to follow. Most of the characters in the novel are well developed and bear significance in the symbolism of their fates. However, I would have preferred a wider range of female characters as there are only two, with only one portrayed in a mature, positive light. Although most sci-fi novels are geared towards a male audience, it’s a huge bummer for female readers who do exist and do enjoy the genre. And while Dr. Strattler’s minimal role may have been a representation of the sexism faced by women in the scientific field, I think Crichton could have helped break the non-inclusive pattern within the genre.

I’m interested to know if this bothered anyone else who read the book, or if anyone agrees that there is a lack of female representation in sic-fi novels or movies?

– Sara S.

Jurassic Park, both the novel and film, can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. A downloadable version of the book is available on Overdrive

Shade by Jeri Smith-Ready

shade_jerismithreadyFrom The Encyclopedia of Shade:

Shift – a remarkable period of time that scientists can’t explain. Every baby, called “post-shifters”, born after this time has been able to see ghosts as a strange, purple hue. It happened almost seventeen years ago.

Red – the color that ghosts can’t take very well. If anyone, including a post-shifter, wears red, the ghost will stay away from them.

BlackBoxed – a new and remarkable invention that allows an entire room to be either free from ghosts or keep ghosts in. This means that if a room is BlackBoxed, ghosts can’t get in or out.

Aura– a young girl of sixteen (almost seventeen) years. There is a huge possibility that she is the first post-shifter, but it is not in solid facts yet. Her mother died from cancer and father is unknown, so her guardian is her mother’s sister, Aunt Gina. With her Aunt Gina, she helps ghosts move on to the Afterlife. After her boyfriend Logan died and she was able to see him as a ghost, she decided to also help him move on and prove to others that he didn’t know what he was doing when he died.

Logan- a ghost who died on his seventeenth birthday. He died because he was drinking, and then took drugs to stay awake and alert, not knowing that a combination of alcohol and drugs could kill him. While he was alive, he was in a band with some of his friends. However, he could become a Shade because of all the hatred he has as a ghost. He is still in love with Aura after he dies.

Zachary– a young Pre-shifter from Scotland. There is a possibility that he is the last Pre-shifter, but it is not certain. He has transferred to Aura’s school after his dad had his work transferred to America. Coincidentally, he is also Aura’s astrology partner, and has the same birth date as her.

Shade– what ghosts can become if they get too angry. They appear as all black hues, and make post-shifters sick. Unlike ghosts, they can go anywhere they want. However, they are always angry, and it is a bitter hell for them. If a ghost turns into a Shade, they cannot turn back, ever. Aura is afraid Logan would turn into one of these.

Overall view- very well written. This book will have readers off the edges of their seats as they solve spectacular mysteries, such as Aura’s father and why the Shift happened. Additionally, the characters were just like one would meet in everyday life and seem to be as real as the person who sits next to them. There is also the idea of suspense, with the readers wondering what will happen next and if the story will be a happily ever after. And when the story does reach its end, the readers will be sad that there isn’t more.

Warning- There is mature content such as drugs, alcohol, etc. Additionally, this book is the first of a trilogy, meaning that readers will be craving for the next book.

-Megan V., 10th grade

Shade is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.