Who is going to be the first to die?
Althea Sadik... a teenage lab intern to Lisbeth Tarlow
Doctor Lisbeth Tarlow, Hevertz Industries' microbiologist whose wisdom and experience kept her in a job in spite of a benign tumour which gave her hand the shakes
Dylan Lowe - 23 year old forewoman for the Northwood Point crew
Nova Singh, wanna be military pilot hired temporarily by Hevertz Industries to pilot the Odyssey
Toby - tech administrator
Cleaver - security
Sullivan Hooper, Hevertz mechanic and Nova's cousin
When the story begins, a severe storm is approaching Soter's ice caps, where a team of Hevertz, (a multi-million dollar drilling company) employees are conducting an environmental assessment of Northwood Point. All of the workers get evacuated onto the Muriela, except the seven mentioned above who are given company orders to fly to Achlys, a planet located in the Fringe, where a crew known as Black Quarry have lost contact with Hevertz. In spite of many misgivings by the crew, they set out for Achlys knowing nothing except that there is no known reason for the lost contact.
When they arrive, it is soon evident that there are problems - they find a few dead bodies with their throats cut but no evidence of the majority of the crew. The most disturbing discovery is a note, written in blood on the floor, near one of the dead bodies which reads:
<i>It got in us and most are dead.
Decklan flew for help.
Don't trust the kid. </i>
The captain, determined to make a name for herself, insists that they investigate the drilling site, arguing that the remainder of the crew might have sought refuge there. As if Contagion were a movie, I immediately started thinking, "No, don't go! Get back on your ship and fly away while you still can!" But of course, they don't.
As I was reading, there were always enough unanswered questions to make me want to keep reading. I quite enjoyed Contagion but I can't tell you all the things I liked without spoiling it for you so I won't. What I didn't like, and will warn you about now is that it is NOT a stand alone and you are left with an extreme cliff hanger so if you're not up for that... don't read Contagion. At least book two, Immunity, is out already.
Although Shane Woods was born with a girls body, he realized by the time he was three that he was really a boy. He has a very supportive mom and an excellent doctor who are both helping him to adjust to living in a world that is nowhere near as accepting as he'd like it to be.
In the author's note at the end of the story, Hennessey says "This is first and foremost a story of hope overcoming hate. Love overcoming fear. Trust, empathy, and understanding overcoming all the forces that are sometimes rallied against them. I firmly believe that if we embrace these beliefs, the world becomes a better place for all of us."
I think that's why I liked The Other Boy so much. It really was a hopeful story.
In the acknowledgements Hennessey says, "There a saying that you can't hate someone whose story you know" and I've always always believed that to be true. Once you know a person... really know them... you realize that you have much more in common then you initially believed and it's easy to emphasize and impossible to dislike them.
A book like The Other Boy is an overdue and welcome addition to classroom shelves. Hopefully, in reading about Shane's painful experiences as a transgender teen being bullied, it might help develop love, understanding and compassion among readers who hadn't thought much about the transgender community.
If you're going to tell your own version of a classic fairy tale, and then spin it out a little longer to explain what happens after the original tale ends... Donnelly certainly knows how to do it with style. Stepsister starts, rather gruesomely, but true to the original Grimm's version, when the two stepsisters are trying on the glass slipper and then continues after that... almost. Before we start with the slipper fitting however, there's an intriguing prologue involving an interaction with the Fates (three sisters, but mainly the eldest aka the crone) and a dastardly and dashing fellow known as Chance. In my mind, I pictured him with the braggadocio of Johnny Depp in his Pirates of the Caribbean role. Chance steals a map from the crone, and initially, I thought it was Cinderella's lifeline, but then we find out that it is one of the stepsister's, Isabelle. Chance and the crone place a little wager on whether Isabelle can change her destiny as outlined on the purloined map and then the story begins. What I loved most about this tale is that Donnelly often throws in a little twist - not significant enough to be a major plot disrupter, but just big enough and frequent enough that the ENTIRE story, I was never sure about what was going to happen next. I also loved the language, the descriptions and the way everything that seemed insignificant came together and mattered.
I'm not sure if teens would love this story as much as I did; I've always loved fairy tales and their alternate versions. Isabella is a fantastically strong female character who discovers the pieces of her heart that have been cut away, and finds a way to make herself whole. There are great messages contained within the story but it never gets preachy in its tone. I'll be anxious to see what young adults think of it. The story is complex enough that you definitely need to be an avid reader in order to enjoy it.
Isabelle struggles with the fact that she is considered ugly and at one point asks the fairy queen to make her pretty. Here is a female companion of Chance attempting to make Isabelle feel better about being called names...
“Now, now, child. Ugly’s not such a bad thing to be called. Not at all! In fact, we’ve been called far worse . . . . Difficult. Obstinate. Stubborn. Shrewish. Willful. Contrary. Unnatural. Abominable. Intractable. Immoral. Ambitious. Shocking. Wayward. Ugly’s nothing. . . . Pretty … now that’s a dangerous word. Pretty hooks you fast and kills you slowly. . . . Call a girl pretty once, and all she wants, forevermore, is to hear it again. . . . Pretty’s a noose you put around your own neck. . . .”
I could have picked several other passages that had significance. The book is just that well written. Highly recommended for those who love fractured fairy tales.
It is a rare book indeed that ever gets a perfect score from me, but The Benefits of Being an Octopus by Ann Braden deserves nothing less than top marks. It’s heart wrenching, believable, thought provoking and brutally honest. I absolutely love Zoey and at multiple points in the story wanted to applaud her courage, resilience and how she became her own hero. This is a great story for middle school students; one which might cause them to rethink what they consider to be dire. I also love the realistic representation of situations and the fact that the book does not conclude with a perfect happy ending but instead with a satisfying solution. This is a book that I'd like to have in great quantities so I could give it away to lots of classrooms. It would make a great read aloud as there are multiple opportunities to stop and discuss actions and choices and alternatives. I could not put this book down and I doubt you will be able to either. Get yourself a copy asap; you can thank me later.
(I had to republish this post because it disappeared when I was trying to create my Wilder Girls post. This, I read a long time ago.)
I’ve never read a book that tugged at my heartstrings so fiercely. Harbinger (Harry) Jones, the narrator, took me on a roller coaster ride of hope, anger, embarrassment, happiness, love, heartbreak, joy, frustration, pride, guilt, self- loathing, satisfaction and acceptance as he detailed his life’s milestones in a college admissions letter.
I don’t want to spoil anything so I’ll leave out the details of the very significant event that happens to 8 yr old Harry which colours his elementary and middle school years. In high school, his best friend Johnny McKenna, who, for a long while is his only friend, suggests they start a band which they do, despite having little musical experience. Later, they decide to take the band on tour. Len Vlahos, the author, dropped out of film school when he was 19, to go on tour with a punk/pop band and his experiences give authenticity to the description of the escapade.
I think it’s important to read examples where your best friend is not necessarily a good-for-you friend and I liked the development of Harry as this realization grew. I also like that Scar Boys did not have a happily ever after ending, again because not all of our journeys do end that way.
I have posted a caution for my grade 8 readers due to the mature content and the use of strong profanity but I still feel Scar Boys provides a reading experience that will stay with them long after they finish the pages.
The setting is 2002, right after 911. Shirin, a 16 year old American-born Muslim is sick of the racism and ignorance that is her daily reality. She has learned to just keep her head down and avoid attracting the attention that inevitably leads to ridiculous questions and hostile comments. Then she encounters Ocean.
Warning: Mature readers due to profanity and content.
Now to be fair, the first thing you need to know is that I LOVE books where the main character is in a witness protection program. I’ve read lots of them and I’ve at least liked them all.
I devoured this book in one day and I know that it will fly off the shelf in my classroom, if it even makes it to the shelf after I book-talk it.
First of all, Sasha aka Sloane is feisty and fun and tough and very likeable. The only problem is that I don’t have a consistent picture in my head of how she looks.
Then there’s the two significant men in her life, Jason and Marc. Can’t even BEGIN to say enough about those two. I imagine both of them as being gorgeous but in separate ways.
I also loved that when I thought the book was winding down it really wasn’t; lots of twists and turns kept me guessing til the end. And lastly, in spite of what she says at the end about disappearing, I prefer to believe she’ll make that phone call.
Sensationally told story that made me feel all the panic, frustration, fear and anxiety along with Norah the main character. Under Rose-tainted Skies was a book I just couldn't put down. Don't want to spoil the ending for you but I can tell you that the saying, "Bad is never good until worse happens" fits perfectly. Just when I thought things were as bad as they could get, they got worse. I'm certain my heart was beating 200 bpm while I was reading Chapter 35. Highly recommended with one small warning for those who like their YA books free from profanity; the F word is sprinkled quite liberally throughout the book.
Middle School former Teacher Librarian - then MYP math and science. Update... VERY recently retired! Still adjusting that I'm not just on summer vacation!!!
Just didn't enjoy it as much as Shadow and Bone. I just felt like the author was really trying a bit too hard to draw this story out. I was able to put it down several times and I couldn't put Shadow and Bone down so there's the differen...
The Grisha triology is a fantasy series that I really enjoyed. I reread the last book because I thought I wasn't remembering something. I'm a bit confused because I've started King of Scars and Nikolai isn't as I remembered. Don't want...
by Tahereh Mafi
I’m not usually someone who enjoys a story that is predominantly about the attraction between two people BUT I did like this one. The setting is one year after 9/11 and 16 year old Shirin, an American born Muslim whose family moves freq...
I love a good mystery, and although I correctly guessed the murderer in the first chapter, I still thoroughly enjoyed the twists and turns.