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I finished a book! A guest book review of Dead Run by Sean Rodman (Orca Soundings)

I’m embarrassed to admit I don’t read as much as I should for a teen librarian.  I check out a lot of books that I never end up reading.  I start a lot of books that I never finish.  Far too often my response to “have you read ________?” is no.  Maybe I’m a reluctant reader.  I was certainly reluctant about reading Dead Run by Sean Rodman (Orca Soundings).

If I’m not in the middle of something already, or if I walked off and left my book at home, I’ll often grab something that’s not really my style to read during my lunch break.  I figure this way I’m still broadening my horizons in YA lit without tying myself down to something I’m not sure I really want to read.  Does that sound crazy? 

Anyway, that’s how I ended up with Dead Run.  I’ve been ordering Orca books, especially Orca Soundings, for a few years but had yet to read one.  This one was in our “New YA” display so I picked it up and read the back.  It immediately made me think of a movie that came out a while back, Premium Rush (2012).  I never saw it but I’ve been crushing on Joseph Gordon-Levitt since 10 Things About You (1999), so it was on my radar.  That was good enough to make it lunch time reading, so down to our dungeon of a break room I headed.

By the end of my lunch break I was pleasantly surprised to find myself more than halfway through the book and actually enjoying it!  I felt like I was watching an action movie, something my husband would probably pick.  It wasn’t that I suddenly wanted to be a bicycle racer, or find myself a seedy courier job but I was into the story and I did want to know how things would turn out for Sam. 

I took the book home and finished it later that night.  I had a feeling of accomplishment for having finished a book and I enjoyed it!  No one had to guilt me into reading it.  It didn’t take me a month to finish.  It opened my eyes up to what it might feel like to be a reluctant reader picking up a high-low book.

That’s exactly what I think we’re looking for when we purchase and recommend books for reluctant readers.  We want to give them something they’ll enjoy so they’ll stick with it.  But sometimes books with subjects that interest a reluctant or low level reader aren’t written at a reading level they can really succeed at.  Orca Soundings manages to provide both a fast paced action filled story with high teen appeal at a reading level that many of our struggling readers can fully comprehend. 

I’ll definitely be booktalking Dead Run and adding more Orca Soundings to my “To Read” list.

Cassie Jones is the teen librarian for the Morgan County Public Library in Indiana.  She got her start in libraries during high school while working at one of MCPL’s branches as a page.  She returned to MCPL as a circulation clerk in 2009 and took her role in teen services later that same year.  In May 2012 she finished her Masters in Library Science at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.  She lives in Monrovia, Indiana with her husband and their bloodhound, Josie.  

Book Review: Deadly by Sarah N. Harvey (Orca Soundings)

Orca Soundings are high interest titles for teens reading at or below their reading level.  Deadly by Sarah N. Harvey is a 2013 title from the Orca Soundings line.

Synopsis: Amy and Eric are the perfect couple – popular, good looking, happy.  But after they are seen arguing at a party, Amy disappears and Eric is the number on suspect.  Amy wakes up in an all white, windowless room with one simple instruction: every day for 7 days she must write an essay about one of the seven deadly sins, and then whoever is holding her will let her go.  As Eric tries to figure out where Amy is, he learns that the past has a way of coming back and biting you in the butt.

Deadly grips you from the very first page, when Amy wakes up in a strange room and realizes that someone is holding her hostage.  Deadly alternates between Amy and Eric’s point of view as we see what is happening with Amy and how Eric sets out to find her.

Because Deadly is part of the Orca Book line, it is short, captivating and to the point.  The sentences are short, and don’t have a lot of extra descriptors to keep reluctant readers invested in the story.  The tension in the story is high and compelling.  I read it in a little under an hour and was definitely interested in the story and the characters. 
The only issue I had was in Eric’s story.  Eric is brought in for questioning by the police and his mother hires a lawyer.  Eric asks them, the adults, to give him 24 hours to find Amy and they both agree.  I thought this part was really implausible given the legal trouble he seemed to be in and the fact that a young girl was missing.  It would have been more believable had the adults said no and Eric just continued to look for Amy on his own anyway.  There is also a scene where Eric confronts an ex-girlfriend and we have all watched enough Law & Order and Criminal Minds to know that it could end very badly for him, there was so much tension in this scene.  

For those of us that have seen Seven, you will see traces as Amy is forced by her captor to write essays on the 7 deadly sins.  It is through these essays, and Amy’s attempts to rescue herself, that we learn more about Amy and see how the pieces of her past brought her to this point.  I appreciated that Amy was shown to be strong and resourceful.

I wasn’t really sure what to expect with this line – this is the Orca Book I have read – and I think they successfully accomplish their goals.  Deadly is a compelling read and I can see teens looking for a short, quick read reaching for this title and being satisfied.  Highly recommended for those looking for realistic fiction, mysteries and thrillers.

Deadly by Sarah N. Harvey.  Orca Soundings. 2013. ISBN: 978-1-4598-0364-0