The Unwanteds
Middle Grade / Juvenile / April 22, 2016

Unwanteds #1. Author: Lisa McMann. Summary: Every Year in Quill, thirteen-year-olds are sorted into categories: the strong, intelligent Wanteds go to university, and the artistic Unwanteds are sent to their graves. On the day of the Purge, identical twins Alex and Aaron Stowe await their fate. While Aaron is hopeful of becoming a Wanted, Alex knows his chances are slim. He’s been caught drawing with a stick in the dirt – and in the stark gray land of Quill, being creative is a death sentence. But when Alex and the other Unwanteds face the Eliminators, they discover an eccentric magician named Mr. Today and his hidden world that exists to save the condemned children. Artime is a colorful place of talking statues, uncommon creatures, and artistic magic, where creativity is considered a gift… and a weapon. My Thoughts: The writing is clearly directed to a middle-grade level, but I still enjoyed the story for myself. By the end many characters were well-filled out and interesting conflict set in place for later. The world was interesting, although without much background – no doubt more of that will come in later books. There was no romance among the teenagers except for one…

Animal Farm
Adult / April 22, 2016

Author: George Orwell. Summary: Tired of their servitude to man, a group of farm animals revolt and establish their own society, only to be betrayed into worse servitude by their leaders, the pigs, whose slogan becomes: “All animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others.” This 1945 satire addresses the socialist/communist philosophy of Stalin in the Soviet Union. My Thoughts: A brilliant, scathing book. I cannot honestly say I have ever liked it – by the end it always brings me close to tears – but I admire it for the writing power, and for how well Orwell demonstrates the principles he wants to while keeping it fast-paced and interesting. There’s a good reason it’s on so many high school lists. This brutal fable starts off like an interesting animal story – the animals have revolted, freedom is theirs, hurrah! Almost imperceptibly at first, but with gathering momentum and speed ominous signs overtake it as the pigs quietly gather power to themselves. Everything has a meaning to be analyzed later, but within the story everything is woven together so smoothly nothing jolts you out of the action. Content Review: Sexual content: None. Language: None. Violence: Various animals are…

MARTians
Young Adult / April 9, 2016

Author: Blythe Woolstoon. Summary: Zoe is the last girl of her class, the last living person in her suburb before it closes down, and possibly the last living – rather than simply existing – girl. When her mother leaves for another job, Zoe must move on to her own job at AllMart, where her smile is the welcome mat. It’s the same job as hundreds of other young adults. Surrounded by the consumerism of the huge stores, drugged both literally and figuratively, and trapped by the conditions she agreed to when she signed on, Zoe begins to struggle to realize what this is about and what living might really be like. My Thoughts: This not-so-futuristic dystopia was strange, confusing and yet interesting, in many ways. Overall, the plot was disconnected and jerky, dropping whole side plots and ignoring unexplained things. But taking the book as a whole, I think the author made a deliberate effort to make it more like real life as part of the effect. Our life, where often nothing comes of promising events, where too often little makes sense and there is no real closure. Our Main Character, Zoe, is often as confused as we. She’s just…

Icons
Young Adult / April 8, 2016

Author: Margaret Stohl Summary: When Dol and her best friend, Ro, are captured and taken to the Embassy, off the coast of the sprawling metropolis once known as the City of Angels, they find only more questions. While Ro and fellow hostage Tima rage against their captors, Dol finds herself drawn to Lucas, the Ambassador’s privileged son. But the four teens are more alike than they might think, and the timing of their meeting isn’t a coincidence. It’s a conspiracy. My Thoughts: The writing style was plain, simple and straightforward, with none of the beauty in prose I enjoy. The plot was rather strange – Aliens have taken over the Earth! We must save ourselves with emotions! (?) The characters felt underdeveloped. They were extremely bad at communicating, thus creating excuses for several fights and sundry other problems. They did have an interesting means of sharing emotions, by which they might be flooded by each other’s (strong) passions. I must note, hiding a love triangle by having the girl refuse to admit it does not help. I’m afraid the overall rating for this story was bored, with a hint of confusion, and a final statement of ‘meh.’ Content Review: Sexual…