Teen Librarian Toolbox
Inside Teen Librarian Toolbox

Take 5: New Titles Coming from EgmontUSA

Get Happy by Mary Amato

Publisher’s Description: In this poignant, realistic, contemporary YA by a state master list star, perfect for fans of Sarah Dessen and Gayle Forman, a young songwriter builds a substitute family with her friends in place of the broken family she grew up with.

A hip high school girl who loves music, writes songs, and is desperate for a ukelele, learns to her shock that her father did not abandon her years ago and has been trying to keep in touch. She begins to investigate him, only to discover that he has a new life with a new family, including the perfect stepdaughter, a girl who Minerva despises

Karen’s Thoughts: I simply love and adore Guitar Notes so I am very much looking forward to reading this. Plus, you can’t go wrong with a title that mentions Sarah Dessen and understands how glorious she is.

Publishes October 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-522-6

BZRK Apocalypse by Michael Grant

Brief Synopsis: A war is raging at the nano level as a group headed by evil geniuses tries to get control of nanotechnology and politics to create a world that fits their idea of utopia. Teens are being enlisted for their gaming ability to control the nanotechnology but now they have to figure out what side is the good side, or at least the less bad side, and see if they can stop the war before madness sets in.

Karen’s Thoughts:  This is a really good, thrilling series that reminds me a lot of Michael Crichton. I’m looking forward to reading the conclusion.

Publishes May 8, 2014. ISBN: 9781405263467

Tabula Rasa by Kristen Lippert-Martin

Publisher’s Description: The Bourne Identity meets Divergent in this heart-pounding debut.

Sixteen-year-old Sarah has a rare chance at a new life. Or so the doctors tell her. She’s been undergoing a cutting-edge procedure that will render her a tabula rasa—a blank slate. Memory by memory her troubled past is being taken away.

But when her final surgery is interrupted and a team of elite soldiers invades the isolated hospital under cover of a massive blizzard, her fresh start could be her end.

Navigating familiar halls that have become a dangerous maze with the help of a teen computer hacker who’s trying to bring the hospital down for his own reasons, Sarah starts to piece together who she is and why someone would want her erased. And she won’t be silenced again.

A high-stakes thriller featuring a non-stop race for survival and a smart heroine who will risk everything, Tabula Rasa is, in short, unforgettable.

Karen’s Thoughts: You just read the part where it said “The Bourne Identity meets Divergent” right? Yeah, sign me up for that. Also, I’m all in for a female Bourne.

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-518-9

Amity by Micol Ostow

Publisher’s Description: For fans of Stephen King and American Horror Story, a gruesome thriller suggested by the events of the Amityville Horror.

Inspired by a true-crime story of supernatural happenings and gory murders, Amity spans two generations and beyond to weave an overlapping, interconnected tale of terror, insanity, danger, and death.

Karen’s Thoughts: The cover, the subject matter – teens (and me) are always looking for more horror and this coming out in the fall sounds like a no brainer. Plus, they recently announced they would be making another Amityville movie starring Disney star Bella Thorne. Should have some high interest.

Publishes August 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-156-3

Of Monsters and Madness by Jessica Verday

Publisher’s Description: A romantic, historical retelling of classic Gothic horror featuring Edgar Allan Poe and his character Annabel Lee, from a New York Times best-selling author.

Summoned to her father’s home in 1820’s Philadelphia, a girl finds herself in the midst of a rash of gruesome murders in which he might be implicated. She is torn romantically between her father’s assistants-one kind and proper, one mysterious and brooding-who share a dark secret and may have more to do with the violent events than they’re letting on.

Karen’s Thoughts: Look, I used my high school graduation money to buy the complete works of Poe, so I’m all over this. Here’s a look at some more YA lit inspired by Poe  

Publishes September 2014. ISBN: 978-1-60684-463-2 

Edited on 4/02/2014 because I had the UK version of the BZRK Apocalypse book up. The one you see now is the U.S. version. 

Book Review: BZRK Reloaded by Michael Grant

At the end of BZRK, our the entire BZRK cell was left in ruins after a battle at the nano level with the evil Armstrong Twins, conjoined brothers who see emotion and free will as the downfall of mankind.  Their goal is to use nanotechnology to rewire human brains and will stop at nothing to see it happen.  BZRK leader Vincent sits in a comatose state with secrets haunting his shattered mind, secrets that some people will stop at nothing to protect.

On the other side of the nanotech war, Bug Man has taken control of the president’s brain, with devastating consequences.

Noah and Sadie are left reeling from moment to moment trying to figure out who to trust, what to fight for, and holding on to whatever free will they can with little nanobots running through their bodies.  Oh, and trying not to get dead.

BZRK Reloaded continues the heart stopping action and deep philosophical discussions that first presented themselves in BZRK.  The stakes are upped, the action is amped, and the questions raised are powerful.

Here are my five reasons why you should be reading this series:

Who Do You Trust?

When you spend a lot of time with a person, years, they change in little ways.  I have been married 18 years and my husband has changed a lot.  I have given birth to two children and they have changed a lot.  We always assume and take for granted that they are in charge of their destinies, that they are the ones choosing to become who they are becoming.  But what if they are not?  What if right beside you the person you loved was slowly changing and it wasn’t because of what they were experiencing and choosing, but because someone had taken and placed nanotechnology into their brains and were slowly rewiring them so that they could control them?  One of the main themes present in BZRK Reloaded is trust: trusting your government, trusting your partner, trusting your loved ones.  We trust because we assume free will and self determination, but what if the technology existed to take that away and we just didn’t know it yet?  BZRK asks us to question the limits of science, to examine who we trust, and to imagine a world where we can’t trust the people we think we can.

Free Will

As a person, as a U.S. citizen, I hold free will to be the most basic and fundamental of freedoms.  You don’t get to tell me who to be, how to think, what to do, etc.  But what if the technology existed to take those freedoms away?  What if, worse yet, you didn’t even realize you were losing that freedom because the technology literally rewires your brain?  It feels like that is what you are thinking and feeling, even if it is coming from an outside source.  Free will is one of the primary themes of the American life, of human existence, and these thought provoking novels.

The Government

We talk a lot about the government in the news lately.  Recent reports indicate that there is an increase in use of excessive force against U.S. citizens.  After the Boston bombing martial law was declared as the police hunted for the suspects.  It turns out the government is collecting data and using it every day in ways we didn’t know.  There are a lot of people out there with different theories about the government, but it could be worse than we ever imagined: the government could be puppets for evil conjoined twins who have the technology to make the government do what they want them to do.  In a time like today when we are questioning who is controlling the government, BZRK takes that thought process to whole new – and terrifying – levels.

Human Trafficking and the Ethics of Science

Human trafficking is a growing issue.  We now know that 1.2 million children are trafficked each year.  Most of these individuals end up being used in various forms of sex slavery.  In BZRK, they are also used as human experiments.  Captured and experimented on against their will, the ethics of science become a huge talking point.  It is a fascinating and all too important discussion that we should be having as we learn more and more what we can do with science.  The question is: should we be doing it?

More Than YA

Although BZRK is told from teenager’s Noah and Sadies points of view, it is also told from a wide variety of grown up points of view as well.  If there is anything I think this series is failing at, it is the marketing.  This is not truly a YA book, it is a great Science Fiction series that also has some teenage points of view.

You do have to read BZRK first or you will understand nothing.  But BZRK has the most amazing opening sequences ever so go for it.  Here’s what Karen had to say about BZRK earlier.

Take 5: Weird Science

I recently received a special grant from my Friends of the Library grant to update our YA collection.  They tacked on an additional $500.00 with the challenge that they wanted me to add more math and science related books in the collection.  So the challenge was this: Can you find some YA titles that talk about science and math?  Here are my Take 5; 5 ya titles with enough science to meet the bill but action, adventure and more . . .

For nonfiction titles, I am a huge fan of the Basher Science books (found here).  They are definitely aimed at the younger end of the YA spectrum in terms of layout and design BUT you can’t beat them for their simple, straightforward presentation of the information.  They won’t give you in depth information for a report, but they will help you understand the basics and serve as a great ready reference tool for your basic questions.  I bought a collection of these for my tween at home for a really good price through the Scholastic book fair (which I love and The Mr. hates because of what it does to his wallet).

In addition, here are 5 of my favorite YA fiction titles that have just enough science in them to fit the bill and get teens thinking while providing quality thrills, chills and just a dash of romance.

Unwind and Unwholly by Neal Shusterman
This is a great dystopian read with a look at what a future where parents can decide to “unwind” their children may look like.  In Unwholly, out this year and amazing, they also dabble in creating a modern day Frankenstein.  Unwind is one of my favorite dystopians, out before dystopians were all the rage.

BZRK by Michael Grant
Nanotechnology: What can we do with it? What should we do with it?  This is a great guy read.  Mature content.  I am looking forward to the sequel, I really liked this one.  Read my full review here.

Virals and Seizures by Kathy Reichs
A group of teens live on a secluded island where their parents are all scientists.  Like those meddling kids from Scooby Doo, these teens just can’t keep their nose out of things and in the process of trying to solve an old missing persons case they find their lives forever changed – literally.  This series is popular with my teens.  I read book 1 and it was a decent read.

What’s Left of Me by Kat Zhang
In this vision of the future, each body is born with two souls with the expectation that only one of them will remain.  The recessive soul is expected to “settle.”  But what happens when they don’t?  Is there a scientific cure?  I just finished this book and will be reviewing it in a few days.  In the end, it is definitely recommended.

 Delirium and Pandemonium by Lauren Oliver
Can we alter teenagers, cut the part out of them that makes them able to love?  In Lauren Oliver’s brilliant dystopian, the future has declared love a disease and all teens undergo a surgery that renders them cured from its curse.  Moving, brilliant, and thought provoking.  This is a must read.

And of course, Origin by Jessica Khoury.

What’s on your list of ya lit with a hint of science?  Share it with us in the comments.