The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

the-rest-of-us-just-live-hereIf you’re a Buffy the Vampire Slayer (BtVS) fangirl like me, you will probably agree that Patrick Ness must be a huge BtVS fan too…  I mean.  You can’t help but get a Sunnyview/Hellmouth vibe from everything going down in Mikey’s small town!  (I can’t seem to recall where, exactly, it was other than some hick town in Washington state…  Did he ever mention the name of the town?  Anyway…)  I don’t make this comparison to BtVS lightly, by the way, because there are just so many parallels.  Between all the supernatural creatures that randomly show up and attack the teenagers in their town, the fact that the adults seem to be in complete denial of what has been and is currently going on, and the fact that the story is a tongue-in-cheek offshoot of the classic “chosen one” theme, I can’t imagine a BtVS fan who would be disappointed in this story.  Mikey even reminds me of my favorite BtVS characvter, Xander, who once said, “They’ll never know how tough it is, Dawnie. To be the one who isn’t chosen. To live so near to the spotlight and never step in it. But I know. I see more than anybody realizes because nobody’s watching me.”

That being said, I don’t want people to think I’m saying this was just a BtVS ripoff, either.  The characters in this story are most definitely unique, as is the plot of the story.  I enjoyed the fact that the supernatural elements of the story were almost periphery to the main plot.  I honestly think that the interpersonal relationships, dysfunctional families, and personal struggles of the characters could have kept this story afloat even without the battles between the chosen ones (who all seemed to be “indie kids”) and the supernatural creatures like vampires, werewolves, and the Immortals.  It was rather ambitious of Ness to merge teen angst and tough issues with a lighthearted, satirical supernatural story — but it worked very well.

Happy Reading!

A List of Cages by Robin Roe

list-of-cagesDuring his senior year, Adam was assigned to be an aide for the school psychologist.  At first, he had a lot of downtime, which was kind of hard to deal with (since he had ADHD), but he found small ways to keep himself busy.  After all, he didn’t want to complain and end up with a much harder job.  All of that downtime went away, though, when the psychologist asked that Adam become an escort for a student who kept missing/avoiding his appointments.  As it turned out, the student was a freshman named Julian — and Julian actually used to be Adam’s foster brother!  Adam was overjoyed, at first, to be reunited with Julian, but then he started to worry about the younger boy.  Julian was much quieter and much more sullen than he used to be, and he didn’t seem willing to open up to Adam anymore.  Adam wondered whether it was simply that Julian had changed a lot since they parted ways about five years prior, but he worried that Julian was hiding something about the “uncle” who took him in when he left Adam’s house.

Would Adam be able to reconnect with Julian to find out what, if anything, was wrong?  Would he be able to, at the very least, get Julian to attend his appointments with the school psychiatrist and to open up to her?

While it is important to have “tough reads” like this out there — so some people will realize they are not alone in their suffering and others will be able to empathize with those who have suffered horrific abuses — I think it is important to warn people about the graphic descriptions of abuse in this book.  I know there are far too many children who are living this horrible reality, but there is also no need to scar the emotionally immature tweens and teens who aren’t yet ready to learn about the darker side of humanity. (I would hand this to readers who could handle Living Dead Girl and The Lovely Bones.)

Happy Reading!

The 100 [series] by Kass Morgan

the-100To be very honest, I originally read the first book in this series when it was published back in 2013 and somehow forgot to review it back then.  (I  seriously checked and  couldn’t believe it wasn’t on here yet!)  I really liked it and thought that it was an interesting concept, but I didn’t really realize that the series had become a whole *thing* until I was recently talking to some people who mentioned the CW television series.  I am one of those weirdos who doesn’t really watch TV — I know, it’s hard for most people to comprehend — so I didn’t even know the television series existed until after they had started airing the 4th season!  Yeah…  That whole “not working with teens in the public library anymore” thing probably played a large role in my oblivious nature as well, but I digress.  I decided that I was going to “binge listen” to the audiobooks and, as it turns out, my lack of knowledge about the continuation of the series has paid off nicely.  Instead of waiting a year or more after one book ends, I can literally head on over to OverDrive and download the next audiobook from my local public library  as soon as I am ready (as long as it is checked in — and I was extremely lucky in this instance).

So, who were The 100?  They were 100 juvenile delinquents who were scheduled to be executed on their 18th birthdays but, instead, were allowed to be guinea pigs for re-settlement of Earth.  Why did they leave Earth in the first place?  Well, *they* didn’t.  But about 300 years prior, when a “cataclysm” (i.e. nuclear war) left Earth uninhabitable, a few hundred people were herded onto The Colony — a space station of interconnected ships that orbited the Earth — to keep the human race from dying out.  For centuries, people lived and died in The Colony and could only dream of a day when the radiation would wear off enough that it would be safe to live on Earth once again.  After it became clear that The Colony’s life-support systems would not last much longer, though, it was decided that The 100 could be sent to Earth as advance test subjects.  When I heard the premise of this book, all I could think was “futuristic Lord of the Flies” and I was sold.  If you enjoyed Across the Universe and/or These Broken Stars, you should definitely check out this series.

Happy Reading!

This Is Not the End by Chandler Baker

this-is-not-the-endImagine a world in which every person had the opportunity to resurrect someone on their 18th birthday.  It sounds kind of cool at first, but then you have to imagine making that incredibly difficult choice.  Do you think YOU could choose to bring someone back if you had to go through all the people you’ve lost in your lifetime and only pick one person?

For Lake Devereaux, the choice is nearly impossible.  You see, her parents have long expected her to use her resurrection to bring back her brother who had an accident and became a quadriplegic.  (There’s just that tricky little thing about how they would have to be sure to kill him first — minor detail!)  To complicate things even more, though, Lake ends up in a devastating car accident in which both her boyfriend (Will) and her best friend (Penny) die.  Not only does she need to go through the painful physical recovery after the accident, but she needs to sort out her emotions in a few short weeks before she turns 18.  She needs to decide whether she will go through with the original plan her parents concocted or whether she will bring back one of her friends.  Would she and Will have ended up breaking up at some point anyway, or was he her one true love?  And could she really feel right not choosing Penny even if it was for Will?  What will her parents do if she doesn’t choose her brother?  And does she even care?  Such a great premise for a story… I’m only sad that the rest of y’all have to wait until August to read it.

Happy Reading!

Little Monsters by Kara Thomas

Even though Kacey was new to Broken Falls, she seemed to fit right in as soon as she arrived.  Her step-mother and step-brother were kind and loving, and her little [half] sister adored her.  She even ended up with a couple of close friends, Bailey and Jade, almost immediately.  But then something must have happened because her friends suddenly seemed distant.  Although they would usually show up and practically force her to go to a party even if she initially said no, they didn’t even text her before they went to a big party without her.  That would have been strange enough on its own, but then Bailey never made it home from the party.  And then Kacey found a bloody smear in the barn where the girls had recently performed a seance.  As the new girl in town, especially one with a troubled past, she was afraid everyone would think she was to blame for Bailey’s disappearance.  As the investigation proceeded, though, Kacey started to worry less about herself and more about whether someone who was close to her had something to hide…

Happy Reading!

YOU by Charles Benoit

youThis book has one heck of an opening line — “You’re surprised at all the blood.” — and it only gets better from there!  Do you enjoy a story, like Au Revoir, Crazy European Chick, that starts at the end and then goes back to tell you how everything ended up where it did?  Are you intrigued by sociopaths, like Rosa from My Sister Rosa, who are convincing enough actors that most people won’t catch on but who have no conscience and thrive on controlling other people?  If so, I can practically guarantee that you will love this book!  I read this whole book in less than a day — but I *did* take a break to have dinner with my family, even though I kinda wished I could have ignored real life and just finished this book in one sitting.  😉

I think the thing I liked the most about this story is that Kyle was such a “normal” guy.  He wasn’t really a bad kid, but his life certainly played out so that other people tended to see him as a loser.  Looking at things from his perspective made me wonder just how many of the “bad” kids in high schools around the country are simply misunderstood.  But, I digress.  It didn’t so much matter what other people thought of Kyle so much as how and when everything went so wrong for him.  Was it actually his fault?  Did someone else do this TO him?  And is there any way for him to fix things or is it already too late and too far gone?

Happy Reading!

 

Challenger Deep by Neal Shusterman

challenger-deepCaden Bosch was a really nice, really smart guy, but mental illness took quite a toll on his life and his relationships.  To readers, it was immediately evident that Caden had split from reality because he alternated between life in the “real world” and a journey on a pirate ship.  To his family and friends, though, it simply appeared that Caden was becoming more distant and acting strangely.  How so?  One perfect example is the fact that his family thought Caden was on the track team.  While he did, in fact, intend to go out for the track team, he ended up quitting after only a few practices.  So, why did they think he was still on the team?  Because he would be gone for hours at a time and returned with worn shoes and sore feet.  Instead of attending track practices, though, he was walking around town for hours on end, utterly absorbed by his own thoughts.  Aside from the walking, Caden’s mental break was also evident in his art work.  As a gifted artist, he began to struggle with the fact that he could no longer create artwork simply because he felt like it but, rather, because he felt that he HAD to get the images out of his head.  How awful that must have been!

This book was amazingly well-written.  Though confusing at times, the pacing and structure were very clearly intentional.  And by the end, it was also clear that the “real world” had inspired the delusions Caden experienced.  As someone who has had plenty of personal experiences with depression, anxiety, and obsessive thoughts, I still had no concept of what life might be like for someone living through the delusions and hallucinations associated with schizophrenia until I listened to this story.  One important clarification, by the way, is that although this story was inspired by the mental health challenges and experiences of Shusterman’s own son, Brendan, it was by no means intended to be a memoir.  Fans of Shusterman’s Unwind dystology (dystopian series) will be pleased to see that this departure from his standard writing style still contained plenty of humor and adventure.

Happy Reading!