Thursday, July 22, 2010

The Hate List by Jennifer Brown

Valerie is confused, hurt, angry, and scared. Five months ago, her boyfriend Nick opened fire in the Commons at school and killed 6 people before Valerie stopped him. Then he killed himself. The investigation into the shooting revealed the Hate List--a list she and Nick put together of all the people they hated. Almost everyone who got shot was on that list.

Now Valerie is back at school, with no friends and lots of enemies. Her old friends abandoned her, the survivors want her gone, and the teachers and principal watch her for signs of aggression. Even her parents think she had something to do with the shooting. How can she prove them wrong?

This is a powerful story about surviving a school shooting and moving on--not only for Valerie, but the community as well. Valerie's reactions and emotions are realistic as well as many of the other characters. I found the book to be riveting and couldn't put it down. But it was hard to read as well.

Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin

Jennie has lost her brother and her fiancee Will to the Civil War. Her place in her aunt and uncle's home is questionable until Quinn, Will's brother, returns wounded. Jennie decided to take care of him, slowing the process of being shoved out into the street.

Only Quinn really knows what happened to Will, and slowly he starts to tell Jennie what he saw. But what he tells her doesn't fit with what she knew about Will, and Jennie starts to doubt she knew him at all. But something isn't letting her forget or move on--she's attacked at night and finds clues that Will is not going to let go of her at all.

An interesting historical story with illustrations and pictures. It all wraps up in the end, but getting there is a little bumpy. I wasn't that drawn to Jennie, and although I liked the ending, the rest of the story wasn't enthralling.

Never After by Dan Elconin

Ricky has been dreaming about The Island for a few nights now, so when Peter appears in his room one night, he figures a short visit couldn't hurt. He's been thinking about running away anyway.

When Ricky gets to The Island, he realizes Peter has no intention of letting him go back home. Ever. Chained up underground, Ricky has no hope of escape--until he's rescued by Alex, Hooke, Nigel, and Oscar. Oscar is captured in the process, so Ricky repays the favor by rescuing her. Together, the group plans on capturing Peter with one goal in mind--getting off The Island.

But they didn't realize Hooke just may have his own plans.

An interesting twist on the Peter Pan legend. Peter is the bad guy here, and you know that from almost the start. There are no adults and no ship on The Island. Lots of action and humor--I was laughing out loud with some of the jokes and pranks the boys played on each other.

Zen and Xander Undone by Amy Kathleen Ryan

Zen and Xander lost their mother almost a year ago. And for the past year, they've been receiving messages from her, sent by someone on significant days.

The girls are handling their grief in their own ways. Zen, who tells this story, bottles everything up and buries herself in her karate and trying to keep the family together. Xander goes out drinking, wild parties, drugs, and dangerous men. When one follows her home, Zen allows her anger to push her to fight back.

Now Zen has to deal with her sister's antics and a bad back. She no longer has karate to look forward to, and as she tries to cope without it, she and Xander stumble upon a secret they didn't want to know about their mother.

Can they get it together before Zen paralyzes herself and Xander throws her future away?

A heartfelt and touching story with a lot of emotion. The girls have a hard time with their grief and struggle to overcome it in their own way. I found this to be a powerful and very moving story.

Guardian of the Dead by Karen Healey

Ellie is your typical 17-year old--hangs out with her best friend Kevin, crushes on cute Mark, and generally wants to be anywhere that isn't boarding school.

But a chance encounter with Mark guarantees life will never be typical or ordinary again. A mysterious red-haired woman appears with a fascination for Kevin. Ellie finds Mark at the oddest of times--usually when she's in trouble. And an old preacher gives her a Bible and tells her it will save her and her soul.

Could this all have to do with the mysterious murders? What is Mark hiding? And can Ellie figure it all out before her entire world goes under?

A well-written fairy/fantasy story. There are some jerky moments, but the background is well developed and has great characterization. I'm not familiar with lore from New Zealand, and that's where some of my confusion came in. Ellie's role is crucial, and the ending is bittersweet.

The Silver Kiss by Annette Curtis Klause

Zoe struggles with her mother's cancer, her father's attitude, and the fact her best friend is moving away. Not to mention the headlines lately--murders are happening and getting closer to her home.

Simon has been alone for centuries, tracking his brother across countries. In all that time, no one has caught his attention. Until Zoe.

Zoe doesn't know what to make of Simon--especially after she realizes he's been following her. But she is still drawn to him and he helps her deal with the pain of her mother's illness and father's indifference. And Zoe resolves to help him stop his brother, no matter the cost.

The story is good but a little rough. It isn't a long story, but you still feel for Zoe and Simon. They are realistic and their pain is genuine. The copy I read also had two short stories, one about Simon years before he meets Zoe, and one about Zoe after she meets Simon.