South Branch Staff Picks Category: Fiction

The Martian by Andy Weir

The Martian

Space travel is a dream for most people. Being among the stars, travelling to new and exciting planets, and is something Mark Watney is a part of. He’s part of a team that’s sent up to Mars to do tests and experiments. When something goes horribly wrong, he’s stranded on Mars with little resources. Not enough resources to last him until the next mission can pick him up. Dealing with the harsh Mars climate and natural disasters, and minimal supplies, Mark must find a way to stay alive until the next landing.

The Martian is packed full of adventure, science, and the “what if” we’ve all been thinking. This award-winning book is written for adults with teen appeal. This book is available as an audiobook and as an eBook download as well.

Similar books to The Martian include: The Running Man by Richard Bachman, Green Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson, and When the Devil Dances by John Ringo.

Reviewed by Megan

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

The Enchantress of Florence by Salman Rushdie

“So she became a symbol of peace, of self-sacrifice in the name of peace, for many people. There was much talk of her ‘Eastern wisdom,’ which she dismissed when it reached her ears. ‘There is no particular wisdom in the East,’ she said to Argalia.  ‘All human beings are foolish to the same degree.’” (286)

A young, golden-haired man shows up at the court of the emperor of Hindoostan with a secret. A secret “which only the emperor’s ears may hear,” and a story that has traveled generations and great continents to arrive…

But what do three boyhood friends from Italy have to do with a legendary princess from East Asia?  Part love story, part history lesson, Salman Rushdie beautifully weaves numerous interconnected stories, richly detailed against the background of 17th century Italy and Eastern Asia.  Though these tales are abundant with beautiful strong-willed women, mysterious world-travelers, and philosophical poet-emperors, there are lessons for all of us, even if it’s just that, no matter how large the world, “All human beings are foolish to the same degree.”

Also available in Large Type, Audio CD, and Ebook.

Review by A.Smith

Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers by Megan McDonald

Stink and the World's Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers

Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers

Did you know there is an exhibit at the science museum called Everybody Stinks? Well there is, and according to Stink Moody, it is amazing! Meet Stink, a second grader and the shortest kid in his class at 3 feet 8 inches tall. During Stinks visit to the museum, he not only discovers incredible facts on smell but learns there is a stinky sneaker contest. With his nose, stink knows he has a chance to win. How you ask? Stink can smell a corpse flower a mile away – gross! Want to know if Stink wins the Golden Clothespin Award? Read Stink and the World’s Worst Super-Stinky Sneakers as Stink and his fellow classmate Sophie of the Elves challenge each other to see who has the best sniffer.

You may also like: Horrible Harry in room 2B by Kline, Suzy; I even funnier by Patterson, James; Mr. Klutz is nuts! by Gutman, Dan

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Counting by 7s

Willow Chance is not your normal everyday 12-year old girl. She a young genius that is obsessed about counting by 7’s, passionate about all medical conditions, and is a strict vegetarian.  But after moving to a new school, Willow is immediately seen as an outcast after being accused of cheating on a test.  To fix the problem, the school district has Willow see Dell Duke, the schools counselor who has issues of his own.  Though she is an outsider at school, Willow loves who she was and loves her life until the day she discovers her parents have been involved in a tragic accident.  Until now, Willow did not need to adjust the outside world but now is forced to adapt.  Her new friend, Mai Nguyen convinces her mom to take Willow in as a temporary guardian which sparks the future for Willow. Counting by 7s is a heartbreaking story that follows Willow Chance through her personal stages of loss, grief, and happiness.

You may also like: Wonder by R.J. Palacio; Out of My Mind by Draper, Sharon; Mockingbird by Erskine, Kathryn

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

Unwind

Unwind is a dystopian thriller by Neal Shusterman that follows three teens on the run from a government that believes in “unwinding” and body harvesting. This all sounds great and fine on paper, but what happens when you’re the one that’s selected to be unwound? Risa, Connor, and Lev find out. Risa is a ward of the state without any parents and without an overwhelming talent in her selected field; she needs to be unwound to make room in an overcrowded home. Connor is a trouble maker and has always pushed the limits in school and at home. His parents cannot handle an unruly child any longer. Lev is a tithe. He was born and raised as a donation. What happens when they fight back? What happens when they don’t want to be unwound? What happens when they run? This is the first in a series of four. Although controversial in topic, this disturbing novel inspires deep thought about organ donation and one’s personal right to make decisions regarding his or her body

If you like this book, here are some other recommendations: The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and Never Let Me Go by Kazou Ishiguro.

By: Megan