Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is about 17-year old Rumi Seto who is trying to navigate her life after her younger sister, Lea, dies in a tragic accident. Rumi and her Mom were in the car too, but they were fortunate enough to survive. Struck dumbfounded by this, Rumi’s Mom sends her to Hawaii to live with her aunt. This is difficult for Rumi because she was so used to having her sister by her side, and being apart from her Mother while grieving causes her to feel lots of angst. In addition to mourning the lost of her sister, Rumi feels abandoned by her Mother.

In Hawaii, her two closes allies happened to be both her neighbors: Kai, the boy of her age who enjoys surfing immensely and is very optimistic, and Mr. George Watanabe, an eighty-year-old man who has been dealing with his own demons. With Lea, Rumi would spend all her time writing and creating music. Music kept them grounded and connected; with Lea gone, music is difficult for Rumi. In Hawaii, Rumi connects back to music slowly, which ultimately takes her to connecting with Lea.

Even though this book seemed too thick initially, every page is its own painting of emotion. Bowman’s ability to pack so much emotion and feeling is incredulous. It is difficult to write about or express the grieving process, but the way Rumi is portrayed and written about, one can relate to her loss and the extent to what she is facing. In one word, the book can be described as raw. I would recommend this for anybody who is willing to invest themselves and their feelings into a story.

-Anmol K.

Summer Bird Blue by Akemi Dawn Bowman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen is a science-fiction novel about fifteen year old Kiva and her discovery that her life is not what she thought it was. Kiva believed that she was being raised in Ancient Alexandria, and had spent the first twelve frolicking with her best friend, Seth. When they were twelve, Seth’s Father, who was the pharaoh in the ancient Egyptian world, caused Seth to become less involved in their friendship. However, three years later, Seth comes back to Kiva to tell her that their world is not what they think it is. This leaves Kiva confused and hurt; she finds out that Seth has died. However, this all is a sham because the world that is portrayed is actually a virtual reality. Everyone portrayed in the world is in a hibernation in a spaceship.

Kiva wakes up to learn about the Planet Earth and how it was impacted by an asteroid, making it uninhabitable. A lucky group of people were able to escape on the ships that were originally intended for escape in a natural disaster. She is on a smaller shuttle, which is on its way to a spaceship to get a spare part for another spaceship. She wakes up to find Seth, who explains everything that happened. His Father died in real life, and he was told about the artificial world soon after that. Initially, Kiva finds it difficult to connect with him, but the two of them reconcile their differences to save the ship while battling foes.

This book was a quick read, and almost felt like the beginning of a novel. A lot of it was devoted to building up the world of Alexandria, and once it shifted to the spaceship, almost half of the novel was done. Also, the characters did not have much growth and were mostly one-dimensional. There was a romance between Seth and Kiva, but it almost felt forced and done in order to move the plot forward. Even though it did that, the moving of the plot really did not go anywhere until the last few chapters of the book. Overall, the book was a quick read. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow science fiction novel, than this one for you.

The Tomb by S. A. Bodeen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman

Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman is about Stella Walker, a junior in high school. She is like most other teenage girls, but her whole life is shaken up once her older brother, Rob, returns from serving as a Marine. Her brother is suffering from PTSD, and a lack of resources from the VA means the family has to wait for counseling. Unfortunately, Rob gets agitated and punches a boy in the face at the mall after the boy was harassing a worker by saying “go back to your country.” In the politicized climate of the town mayor running from election, many say that Rob is a terrorist sympathizer. This extreme dialogue affects her best friend and family, who is Muslim.

Dealing with the turmoil of all this by running for class president, Stella must tell the right side of the story and be able to diffuse the tension. Anything But Okay is a powerful novel for teenagers to read because of the topics explored are a reflection of the ones in our community today. By telling the story in the point of view of Stella, the novel gives young adults someone  they can relate to and learn from.

This novel was different because of how relatable it is to society today. It gives a hypothetical, but startling, scenario, where lies fueled by speculation can spread like wildfire and do almost as much damage as one. I would recommend this book not only to teenagers, but adults as well to understand a fresh perspective about the political turmoil in the news.

-Anmol K.

Anything But Okay by Sarah Darer Littman is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby is about 18 year old Mari Turner, and her quest to avenge her cousin, while finding herself. Mari cultivates a perfect life to her thousands of followers on social media. She posts inspiring messages and stories, but she does not practice what she preaches. On the inside, Mari is empty and can not keep up with maintaining this fake profile. So one day she breaks down and posts a video of herself confessing to what she actually thinks: she is not happy, and does not feel the inspirational message she spreads herself.

Quickly, it goes viral, and pretty soon afterwards, she faces major backlash and people calling her a fraud. In order to escape all of this, Mari proceeds to hike the John Muir trail. She is doing this to honor her cousin, Bri, who was an avid hiker and died in an accident while doing what she loved. Her and Mari had made the promise to hike the trail together when they turned 18, but Bri did not make it till then. Mari has never had any experience hiking, but she feels that she should complete the hike for the two of them. With Bri’s diary and her hiking boots, Mari proceeds to hike the trail to the best of her ability; but it is much more than a simple hike because it helps Mari to see who she is without the people of the Internet.

This book should be read by everybody because it can help teach us about ourselves. It tells us to take a step back and to be aware of what we value in ourselves. Kirby was able to depict the growth of Mari and she was able to let go of her grief while finding what she knows about herself. Simply put, this book can help people not only see the effects of negativity on social media, but how to be mindful ourselves of what we seek in life.

-Anmol K.

The Other Side of Lost by Jessi Kirby is available fro checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Generation One by Patticus Lore

Generation One by Pittacus Lore is the first thrilling book of a new series that takes place in the same world as the best-selling Lorien Legacies series. It can be read without reading the previous series, and it starts a year after the end of it. To win the war that occurred in the Lorien Legacies series, humans allied with the alien called Garde, who used a special energy called the Loric energy in order to defeat the occupation of earth. Now, this energy has caused human teenagers across the globe to develop special powers called Legacies.

In order to control and develop these powers, and to protect ordinary people, the United Nations has set up a special academy to train them in the hopes that they can help all the people of the Earth. The book follows six teenagers from all corners of the globe and their journey to the Academy. Some of them had been there for a good amount of time, but some were late bloomers when it came to developing their powers, so they arrived later.

Taylor Cook is peacefully living her life in South Dakota on her farm with her Father, only hearing about rumors of teenagers suddenly developing powers. She does not think it could ever happen to her, but that all changes when she is able to heal her Father in a tractor accident. Sent to the academy, she meets others like her who are being trained to save the world one day. Her Legacy of healing is very rare, and it is something that makes her a target to other groups.

I have read a wide variety of science-fiction novels, and this one is definitely one of the best ones. It was a non-stop, thriller ride with the right mix of teenage lightheartedness. Generation One was able to develop and trace each character throughout the story. By doing this, the reader can see the significance of each character and how they contributed to the storyline. The end is satisfying in relation to what occurred in the book, but there is definitely room for more with the sequel, Fugitive Six.

-Anmol K.

Generation One by Patticus Lore is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is a coming of age story of a young teenager named Quinn who must deal with something very few have to: she is bald. As an eighth grader, she was diagnosed with alopecia, and lost all of her hair. Unfortunately, the kids at school made constant fun of her, and she slowly lost her closest friends. She got a fresh start when her family decided to move in order to have her brother Julius, who has autism, attend a special school. In a new school now, Quinn decides to wear her wig permanently in the hopes that she will be treated nicely. Fortunately, she finds a group of girls who quickly adopt her into their friend group.

In addition to these friends, Quinn meets a boy named Nick. Once the star football player, he lost both of his legs in a car accident. In the grueling recovery process, Nick has become silent and recluse. However, Quinn and him make an unlikely bond that is strong enough for Quinn to reveal her secret and for Quinn to keep pushing Nick to the road to recovery. With a beautiful ending, I would say that this book is for anyone looking for a touching story.

Personally, I enjoy novels with either fantasy or adventure, but this one was a great contrast to my typical repertoire. Quinn’s personality was real; one could feel her happiness, anger, success, and fear. Her character was like any other teenager trying to fit in among her peers, and her ability to forgive her previous tormentors took a great deal of maturity. The friendship between her and Nick also showed how she grew as a person. In the novel, Quinn’s family was the backdrop for the story, and it was beautiful to see her interacting with her parents and little brother. Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a feel-good read.

-Anmol K.

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Money Run by Jack Heath

Money Run by Jack Heath is a suspenseful thriller about two teenager thieves: Ashley and Benjamin. Ashley’s criminal life started when her house was robbed, so she tracked down the thief and was able to steal back her belongings. Since that day, she keeps up with her life of crime to support her and her Father. Benjamin is her partner in crime but holds down the court by supporting her in their heists virtually.

One day, Ashley gets wind that there is 200 million dollars hidden in one of the biggest companies in the country. Their headquarters happened to be located in the same town where Ashley and Benjamin live. After deciding to steal the money, they hatch an elaborate scheme over the course of several months. They expect the job to be seamless without any hindrances, but once the day comes, stealing the money is a lot harder than it seems. Taking over the course of one day with a shocking ending, this book is for anyone looking for an exciting thriller.

I have always loved action adventure books, and this was no exception. With unexpected twists and turns, this book did not let me put it down until I got to the end. Even though it takes place in only one day, the reader gets to enjoy multiple points of view. These helped to explain the various events taking place, and also allowed the reader to understand each of the characters better. By being aware of their backgrounds, I was able to be more sympathetic and understanding, even for the ones engaged in thievery. This book is for the type of person who loves adventure movies, and a thriller, roller coaster ride.

-Anmol K.

Money Run by Jack Heath is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library