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Pirate Cinema by Cory Doctorow

Pirate Cinema

by Cory Doctorow

Set in a near future dystopian Britain, Pirate Cinema centers on Trent McCauley.  Trent is an average teenage guy, with an obsession for creating movies.  Not the regular “point the camera and action!” movies, though.  Trent takes footage from old movies (his favorite are old films starring the popular actor, Scot Colford) and splices them together to create a new movie.  What Trent does is technically illegal under copyright law.  But Trent just can’t stop making his movies, and he knows what he creates are really good.  Trent just assumes that since everyone illegally downloads movies, music, and whatever else, as long as he is careful he will be fine.  However, Trent is not careful and he gets caught.  As punishment, his entire family cannot access the Internet for an entire year.  This means his sister can’t do her homework and continue to be an A student, his mom can’t get her medical prescriptions, and worst of all his dad cannot work.  Trent is ashamed and feels so guilty that he runs away from home to the streets of London.

One his first day on the streets he meets Jem, a street kid that helps him survive.  Jem and Trent actually do pretty well for themselves.  They find food for free from the dumpsters of grocery stores and restaurants and they find an abandoned pub that they refurbish and are able to live in (illegally).  They are so comfortable, in fact, that Trent is able to start making his movies again and soon he finds himself being recognized in the underground  pirating culture of London.  Trent’s underground fame, however, gets him involved with a political movement that wants to legalize downloading and copying licensed works for creative use.  Is Trent in over his head, or is he just the right person to take this movement all the way to Parliament?

The main focus of this Pirate Cinema is technology, piracy, fair use, and the right to creative expression.  However, this  novel is packed with a  ton of interesting issues.  There’s the drama of Trent living on the streets and learning how to survive, the family issues that Trent has to deal with, and there is even a love interest for Trent.  You should definitely pick this book up if you are interested in technology, especially when it comes to fair use and creative expression.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 16, 2012 Categories: Dystopian, Fiction, Guys Reads, Staff Pics

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14

by Emmy Laybourne

Monument 14 is a book that will have you hooked from page one.  This novel begins as Dean and his younger brother Alex are getting ready for school.  Both begin their day by catching their separate school buses.  This average morning is torn apart, though, with a hail storm.  They begin as tiny pellets but quickly become football sized hail that come crashing down, tearing the bus up.  Both Dean and Alex’s bus drivers attempt to find shelter in the local Greenway store.  Alex’s bus crashes right through the front doors, while Dean’s bus just plain crashes.  Fourteen kids and one of the bus drivers survive.  They barracade themselves in the Greenway for shelter.  When the bus driver leaves to find help, the six teens and eight children are left to take care of themselves.  At first they think it will be temporary, however, they soon learn  that a super-volcano has set off a chain of natural disasters and they may be stuck in the Greenway for awhile.  The up side: they have everything they could ever want, including a pizzeria.  The down side: they don’t know that is happening on the outside or even if their families are still alive.  As the days pass, more and more things go wrong, and they have to decide: is it better to stay safe in the Greenway as long as possible and wait to get rescued, or do they risk leaving to find their families not knowing what is on the outside?

This novel is full of action, and it definitely packs a punch.  There is a ton of thrilling suspense, and it really makes you question what you would do if you were in the position of these teens and kids.  Monument 14 is also really hard to predict.  Sometimes when you read a book you see what is coming, but not in Monument 14!  I was surprised with every turn of the page, and I definitely was left guessing all the way until the last pages.  Be warned, though!  This ending is a huge cliffhanger!  But there will be a sequel.  Definitely pick this book up if you like action or survival stories, and if you like to read post-apocalyptic books.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on November 8, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Staff Pics

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

The Butterfly Clues

by Kate Ellison

Since Lo’s brother disappeared, she cannot stop the counting.  Multiples of 3 are the safe numbers that mean everything is going to be OK.  Lo has also taken to wandering the streets of Neverland, the gritty area of Cleveland that is just a bus ride away from her family’s home in the posh suburb of Lakewood.  While wandering she also takes things.  Things that will make everything OK.  While stealing an angel statue from the front step of a worn down house, Lo hears a gunshot.  When Lo later learns that the gunshot was one that killed a young stripper named Sapphire, Lo must find out why the girl was murdered.  Lo delves deep into Neverland to unravel the mystery, with only her counting to protect her.  It is there that she meets Flint, a runaway, who sees something in Lo that no one else does.  Together they try to discover who murdered Sapphire.  However, in Neverland you cannot trust anyone.  

The Butterfly Clues is an intricately woven mystery that will keep you guessing all the way up to the last chapter.  Lo is a hard character to read.  She lives in fear everyday and her compulsive behaviors prevent her from being a normal girl.  However, as you get to know Lo better you see how strong she really is.  The relationship that develops between Lo and Flint is pretty interesting too, since you never really know what Flint’s role was in Saphhire’s life.  There’s more than one mystery to this story, so definitely pick this up if you like to read an excellent mystery novel.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on October 23, 2012 Categories: Fiction, Mystery, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

The Plain Janes

by Cecil Castellucci and Jim Rugg

Jane was in the heart of Metro City when there was a terrorist attack.  Lucky to survive, Jane’s parents move to the suburbs for a more “safe” place to live.  In a new town and a new high school, Jane is not only alone, she is also bored by suburban life.  So, on her first day of school, Jane is surprised to find three other Janes who are all friends and eat lunch together.  Jane asks to join them and instantly finds friendship.  Each of the Janes has their own unique personalities and together they all just fit.  To fight the boredom of suburban life Jane rallies the other Janes to form P.L.A.I.N., or People Loving Art in Neighborhoods.  They create art installations all over their suburban town to challenge people’s everyday notions of what art can be.  Some residents like the art, however, there are those who are outraged and frightened of it and start calling the installations “art attacks”.   What does this mean for the Janes?  Do they continue their installations, risking arrest?  Or worse?

The Plain Janes is a great graphic novel for anyone who is interested in art and how it can challenge our everyday beliefs or thoughts.  It is also a good read for anyone who has felt like an outcast.  It really shows how you can take the things that make you unique, and instead of being negative about them, you embrace them and try and challenge people with your ideas.

Also, the art in The Plain Janes really matches the plot of the story.  The black and white drawings add to the drama of the of the terrorist attack, Jane’s first day of school, and the sneaking around when creating the art installations.  However, I do wish the art installations could have been in color!  The characters are portrayed very realistically, which helps to add the idea that this could be a true story. Check out a sample of the art below:

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on October 11, 2012 Categories: Art, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

Hex Hall

by Rachel Hawkins

Sophie knows she’s a witch.  She doesn’t know much magic, but she knows she has the natural ability.  Her father, who she’s never met, is a warlock.  Sophie’s mother has brought her up as best as any mortal could while trying to teach her daughter everything she knew about magic.  That’s how Sophie knew how to do the love spell that got her into trouble.  It wasn’t a love spell for her, though, it was for a girl on prom night that Sophie just happened to come across crying in the girl’s bathroom.  With good intentions, Sophie performs the spell to give the girl a perfect prom night.  However, when you’ve had no formal training in witchcraft, you’re bound to make mistakes.  Sophie makes a big one: turning a potential prom date into a love crazed maniac.

As punishment for her reckless spell casting, Sophie is sent to Hecate Hall, a.k.a. Hex Hall.  Hex Hall is a reform school for Prodigium (witches, fairies, and shapeshifters).  While everyone else at Hex Hall knows all about the Prodigium life, Sophie is clueless since she was raised by a mortal.  Sophie is miserable, having made a bad impression on her first day.  The only friendship she finds is in her roommate Jenna, a vampire who they have just recently let into the school.  Three beautiful and popular witches have declared Sophie their enemy after she refuses to join their coven, Sophie instantly starts crushing on an unattainable guy, and one of the teachers is definitely out to get her.  Sophie’s student life can’t get much worse…that is, until students start getting attacked and Jenna gets blamed.

This summary barely scratches the surface of the story in Hex Hall.  There is a lot going on in this novel: mystery, supernatural creatures, action and adventure, and even romance.  The characters of Sophie and Jenna are likeable and the relationships that develop amongst the students in Hex Hall are fun to read about.  There are also a lot of really interesting supporting characters.  This novel reminded me a little of Harry Potter, however, there was a lot more mystery here.  Pick this book up if you like a good fantasy read that has a little bit of everything. 

This book is also the first book in a series, and luckily books two and three are already on the shelf:

Click here for book two: Demonglass

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Click here for book three:  Spell Bound

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on October 2, 2012 Categories: Fantasy, Fiction, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

Safekeeping by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping

by Karen Hesse

Safekeeping is a new dystopia novel that is so realistic, you will feel like it is something that could happen tomorrow.  Set in the near future, the world is much like our world today.  However, the President of the United States is assassinated at the beginning of the novel.  This prompts the American People’s Party to take control of the government and institute martial law.  The narrator, Radley, is in Haiti volunteering at an orphanage when the President is assassinated.  She sets out to return home to her parents, because she is so worried about them, despite the warnings that it would be safer to stay in Haiti.  When Radley returns to her home in Vermont, she finds the house abandoned and does not know what to do.  Her home is not safe, and Radley is not safe since she has none of the new official documents or adults to take care of her.  Radley does the only thing she can think to do: she sets off on foot to walk to Canada with the hope that she will find her parents there.

Along the way Radley has to survive on discarded food that she often finds in dumpsters, steal to survive, and get out of more than one threatening situation with dangerous people.  The roads are not safe, so Radley sticks to the wilderness.  It is there that she meets Celia and her dog.  Though Radley is being cautious, she can’t help but stick to Celia.  Eventually they begin to survive together.  Will they make it to Canada?  Will they both survive in the wilderness?  Will Radley ever see her parents again?  Pick up Safekeeping for a dystopian that is unlike many of the ones being published today.  It is quiet but exciting, poetic and cerebral.  Safekeeping is a novel that will keep you thinking about it long after you have put it down.  Also included are photos taken by the author that make the story even that much more moving.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 19, 2012 Categories: Dystopian, Fiction, Staff Pics

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

Astonishing X-Men: Gifted

by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday

If you’re like me, then you can’t get enough of X-Men.  Instead of going back and watching all the movies again, I suggest picking up Astonishing X-Men: Gifted by Joss Whedon and John Cassaday.  Yes, Joss Whedon is the guy that brought you The Avengers movie earlier this year, and is most famous for his TV show Buffy, the Vampire Slayer.  

The story of the first volume, Gifted, is this:  Professor X is on sabbatical and Jean Grey is dead.  Cyclops and Emma Frost are acting as heads of Xavier’s School.  Wolverine, Kitty Pryde, and Beast are joining the faculty and make up the new X-Men team.  Most of the story in Gifted is told through Kitty Pryde’s point of view.  News breaks of a possible cure for the mutant strain, while at the same time the X-Men encounter a new enemy–Ord.  But, the new cure and new enemy may be one in the same…

Before reading Gifted, I had not known much about Kitty Pryde (only that she was from Deerfield, IL!).  As soon as I got into the story, though, she definitely became my new favorite X-Men character!  The way that Whedon and Cassaday portrayed her made her a really relatable character.  I also really got into the storyline that developed with her and Colossus (Peter Rasputin) .  Also, there’s Lockheed, Kitty Pryde’s pet X-Dragon, and for that alone you’ll want to pick this book up!

The story had me hooked from the beginning but Cassaday’s artwork in this comic is also really well done.  It conveys the emotion of the action.  A lot of strips are done in single colored tones that fits the mood of what’s happening on the page.  One of the best examples of this is where Kitty sees Colossus (Peter Rasputin) for the first time after she believes him dead. All the strips are done in all red tones and are interlaced with black and white memories. It is really visually appealing.  Check it out:

 

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 17, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fiction, Graphic Novel, Guys Reads, Staff Pics, Supernatural/Paranormal

The Pricesses of Iowa by M. Molly Backes

The Princesses of Iowa

by M. Molly Backes

Paige Sheridan had it all.  She was beautiful, popular, and in line for Homecoming Princess.  Her friends and boyfriend were perfect, and she thought her life was perfect.  Paige’s world fell apart, though.  At the end of her junior year, Paige is in a drunk driving accident.  Only her friend Lacey is seriously hurt, but Lacey is able to heal.  The relationship between Lacey and Paige, however, seems like it will never heal.  Not only is there blame about the accident but Lacey is mad at Paige for abandoning her after the accident.   Paige’s mom sent her to Paris for the summer after the accident.  Paige was miserable there, having to babysit for a dysfunctional family, but all her friends thought she was off on the perfect summer vacation in Paris.

The Princesses of Iowa is about how Paige recovers and heals after a life changing event.  Paige’s friends and boyfriend treat her differently when she returns from Paris.  Nothing is the same and Paige is no longer sure what she wants out of life.  Paige starts to heal, however, through writing.  She is enrolled in Creative Writing and her new teacher, Mr. Tremont, is able to guide Paige into unlocking a talent for writing that she never knew she had.  The Princesses of Iowa is a great read for someone who is looking for a good realistic fiction book with not a lot of drama.  Basically, this is a story of a girl trying to figure out who she is.  Paige’s transformation from shallow and boring to thoughtful and interesting is a great one to read.  This is also a great book for anyone who is interested in writing and how it can be used as a creative outlet.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 11, 2012 Categories: Fiction, Realistic Fiction, Staff Pics

Enclave by Ann Aguirre

Enclave

by Ann Aguirre

War and a plague have destroyed New York City.  Many generations ago, people went underground in order to survive and escape the Freaks (flesh eating monsters).  However, the Freaks have been growing down below and the people underground are in trouble.  Deuce lives in one of the last safe enclaves.  At the beginning of the novel, we meet Deuce as she gets her new name and is given her role as one of the huntresses in her enclave.  Unfortunately, Deuce’s hunting partner turns out to be Fade, a guy who came from topside but who has proven to be valuable to the enclave as a hunter.  Since he was not born in the enclave, not many people trust Fade.  When Deuce first hunts with Fade she learns why.  Fade doesn’t like to follow the rules.

Deuce, however, has trained and worked hard all her life to be a huntress and always follows the rules.  As Deuce continues to hunt with Fade outside the enclave she soon learns how desperate their situation is.  Freaks are everywhere and they are getting smarter.  After Deuce and Fade disobey direct orders, they are sentenced to a mission to travel to the nearest enclave.  When they arrive and find it decimated and overrun by Freaks, they return with warnings to their leaders.  But they are ignored and Deuce begins to see the flaw in her enclave’s leadership.  As Deuce begins to challenge authority, her home in the enclave is threatened.  When she and Fade are both accused of hoarding (an illegal practice) they are banished to the topside.

Without giving away too much more, the plot of Enclave really starts to unfold as Deuce and Fade go topside.  Their fight to survive in the post apocalyptic New York City is a hard one.  They encounter Freaks, gangs of savages who call themselves wolves, the sun (which Deuce has never seen before), injury, and finding safe food and water.  This is a survival story as much as it is an action and adventure read.  Be sure to check out Enclave if you want a fast paced, exciting read!

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on September 6, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Dystopian, Fiction, Science Fiction, Staff Pics

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

The Scorpio Races

by Maggie Stiefvater

On the island of Thisby, deadly water horses rise from the sea every year.  These carnivorous beasts have claimed the lives of many–some have been taken while too close to the water and some have been taken during the Scorpio Races.  The Scorpio Races are held every year and draw in tons of tourists from the mainland.  During the races, men try to tame water horses to race down the beach.  It is a deadly spectacle, but one that is tradition on Thisby.

For Sean, his father was lost when competing in the races when he was a young boy.  Since then, Sean has dedicated his life to the races and to his tamed water horse, Corr.  Corr is the only family Sean has left, but for Sean there is always a threat that he will lose Corr.  Sean is only allowed to race Corr because he works for the Malverns, and the Malverns own Corr.  Sean is the water horse whisperer of Thisby.  He seems to hold some magical secret of how to tame the wild beasts.  These abilities have helped in the races, where he has won for the last four years in a row.  But for Sean, winning freedom for himself and for Corr is his ultimate goal.

For Puck, both her parents were taken by the water horses while on the beach.  That left her with her two brothers, one older and one younger.  Puck’s older brother is leaving Thisby and without him they will lose their parents’ house.  The only way Puck can think to keep her house and her brother is to compete in the Scorpio Races.  Winning the races will provide Puck with the money to insure that she can take care of herself and her younger brother, as well as keep the house.  It will also keep Puck’s brother on the island until the races are over.  Due to a loop hole in the rules of the Scorpio Races, Puck is not only the first female to race but she is also the first to race a normal horse, her beloved horse Dove.

The Scorpio Races is told in alternating chapters from Sean and Puck’s point of views and it is a captivating read.  At first you get to know Puck and Sean as individuals and the hardships that life has thrust upon them.  Then, as they become connected from participating in the Scorpio Races, you see their relationship develop.  Maggie Stiefvater weaves a wonderful tale that incorporates action and adventure, monstrous beasts, and the love that blossoms between two warriors.  Definitely pick this up if you want a good fantasy read.  It is fast paced, interesting, and very well-written.

By Colleen, Teen Services Librarian on August 30, 2012 Categories: Action/Adventure, Fantasy, Fiction, Romance, Staff Pics