Friday, October 31, 2008

Night Road by A.M. Jenkins

Main Character: Cole, a hemevore
Location: The Midwest, and New York City
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Supernatural, Vampires

Cole is a heme, a hemevore, a blood-drinker--just don't call him a vampire. The V-word calls up images from misguided myths and over-the-top movies and bears no relation to the reality of their lives. Cole belongs to a colony which lives in a private house in New York City, but he prefers life on the road, moving from place to place and never really settling down.

But now Johnny, the leader of the colony, has called Cole back for a special task. Another heme, Sandor, has accidentally turned a teenaged boy and he is having trouble adjusting. Johnny wants Cole to take Sandor and Gordon out on a road trip and teach the kid the facts of his new life.

This is a vampire story for people who like vampire stories but are getting a bit tired of vampire romances. These vampires are not interested in romantic entanglements or gothic trappings. Gordon does have a longing to see his girlfriend (from before he was turned) again, but Cole has a good reason to know that that's not a good idea. This is more like a buddy movie, a chance to really examine the life of the vampire and the challenges of immortality.

I would rank this up with Scott Westerfeld's Peeps as an original take on a venerable genre.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

The Dead & the Gone by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Main Character: 17-year-old Alex Morales
Location: Manhattan, New York City
Time period: Contemporary or slightly in the future
Genre: YA Fiction, Dystopian fiction, Survival, Speculative Fiction
Companion to: Life As We Knew It

The Dead & the Gone is set in the same time and the same situation as Life As We Knew It, but while Life followed a family in a rural area, Dead is set in the inner city.

Alex Morales is a smart high school junior with big dreams and plans for his future. On the night the moon is knocked out of orbit, he is working at the pizza place where the only sign that anything has happened is that the cable suddenly goes out. He gets home to find his sisters in a tizzy. Their mother has been called in to work at her hospital in Queens, their father had gone to Puerto Rico for his mother's funeral, and big brother Carlos is in the Marines and is being deployed. So Alex, Brianna, and Julie are alone for the duration.

At first, I thought that Miranda (from Life) was in a better situation than Alex. She had a mother and an older brother to take most of the burden. Alex suddenly becomes the family caretaker. Miranda's family managed to stockpile a lot of food at the beginning. Alex helps his uncle empty his bodega and receives some food in return, but it's not much. But while Miranda's mother worked at isolating her family insisting that they take care only of themselves, Alex has a support network. His church relays information about food lines; his school remains open, guaranteeing a hot lunch on weekdays; and some of his classmates, all from wealthier families, offer information, advice, and other small acts of kindness.

That doesn't mean that Alex has it easy. In a truly horrific scene, Alex looks for his mother among the dead laid out at Yankee Stadium. He and his friend Kevin rob the bodies of the dead on the street for items to exchange for black-market food. When the volcanoes erupt and the air is filled with ash, Brianna develops asthma. Hoping against hope that their parents and Carlos are alive and will come back, Alex and the girls stay in their apartment, but Alex eventually realizes that Julie is not safe--especially after the black market dealer offers Alex and Bri a way out of town in exchange for Julie--and he needs to get them out of the city.

Miranda's story was told in first person diary entries, while Alex's story was told in the third person. This gives a bit a distance to the story; though Alex experiences more than his share of tragedy, this book is not as mournful as the first one. I did think the ending was a bit abrupt, and I would like to know what happens next. Are things really any better in the south? Does the new year bring a clearing of the air? Will mankind survive?

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Song of the Sparrow by Lisa Ann Sandell

Main character: Elaine, the Lady of Shallot
Location: England
Time period: The Dark Ages
Genre: Ya Fiction, Arthurian legends, Narrative verse

I've been noticing an increase in books written in verse, though I haven't had a chance to read much of it. It does require an adjustment in the way you read, rather like reading manga right to left requires an adjustment.

Elaine is a young girl living in Arthur's camp with her father and two older brothers. Most of Arthur's knights--Lancelot, Tristan, Gawain, and the rest--are like her older brothers as well. She has made a place for herself, using the healing arts she learned from Morgan to care for the men after a battle. But all that changes when Gwynivere arrives in camp. Elaine becomes aware of her dirty clothes, her tangled hair, her plainness. She sees Lancelot look at Gwynivere with longing and admiration, and her heart breaks.

As I read this book I tried to imagine how it would have worked if told in prose instead of verse, and I don't think it would have been anywhere near as good. Of course the verse recalls Tennyson's poem "The Lady of Shallot" which tells the traditional version of Elaine's tragic tale. More than that, the verse creates an almost meditative quality as we stay totally inside Elaine's head. With a minimum of description and dialogue, her thoughts and emotions remain raw and close to the surface. But don't let me give you the idea that nothing happens--Elaine refuses to stay safely behind when the men go off to battle. Having been raised by warriors, she has developed a strong sense of duty and honor and a desire to fight for those she loves.

This would be a good book for a family read-aloud. I found myself reading it to my cats just for the pleasure of savoring the words.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Toto! The Wonderful Adventure Vol. 2 by Yuko Osada

Main character: Kakashi and Dorothy
Location: An alternate world
Time period: Seems to be contemporary-ish
Genre: YA Manga, Fantasy

Kakashi and Dorothy manage to get out of the house only to find it surrounded by the army and a large monstrous creature. They are told that the creature is Toto--but Toto is not supernatural, it's the collar that he wears. It is one of 12 powerful accessories--ooh, do we see a quest storyline coming up? Sakura's feathers from Tsubasa; the shards of the Rikon jewel from InuYasha; and now these accessories. Anyway, the army fires upon Toto to Dorothy's dismay, Kakashi goes to comfort him, and, entering another dimension where Toto still appears to be the cute little puppy he is, merges with Toto. Now Toto's collar is on Kakashi's wrist and in times of stress Super-Toto appears at the end of Kakashi's arm.

A new military character is introduced--Corporal Chopin, who seems to have one of the accessories. He turns his wrath on the military leader that bungled the retrieval of the bracelet and Dorothy and Kakashi escape. They make their way to Dego City, also known as Locomotive Town. Unfortunately, they arrive just as the last locomotive is being crushed into scrap metal to make weapons for the army. Kakashi is being such a bumpkin that he attracts attention, but a girl comes up and claims him as her brother. Millica takes them in and tells them what is happening in their town. They also meet Noil, a soldier who has a talent for building locomotives but would rather be an entertainer. And he's got a crush on Millica. When the military tries to capture Kakashi again, Noil has to choose between his duty to the army and his love for Millica.

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Bleach 24 by Tite Kubo

Main character: Ichigo Kurasaki and everyone else
Location: Japan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Manga, Fantasy

When last we saw everyone, they were scattered about fighting Arrancars. Now Rangiku is a puddle on the floor (a puddle of hair, at least), Rukia is down, Ururu goes into a trance and gets into the fight only to be skewered. Everyone is in trouble. One of the Arrancars reveals that their numbers indicate the order in which they were made, not their relative strength--except for the top ten. Those are the strongest. And guess who is stuck fighting one of them? Ichigo, of course! He's locked in battle with Grimjow Jaeger-Jaques (what a mouthful that name is.) Just when all seems almost lost, Rangiku gets orders from the Soul Society. The restriction that keeps them using only 20% of their power when in the real world has been lifted so now suddenly each of them is 4 times stronger and they are able to defeat their Arrancars. All except Ichigo, but then Tosen appears and orders Grimjow to leave and report to Aizen. (Aizen doesn't wear his glasses anymore--I am so totally over him.)

Battle is over and healing begins. Orihime works on Toshiro, Rangiku cares for Rukia, and Keigo take Ikkaku and Yumichika home--it's the least he could do since Ikkaku fought defending Keigo. Chad, feeling left out and left behind, begs Kisuke to train him. And finally, Ichigo goes to the Vizored. Hmmm.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

The Prince of Tennis Vol. 25 by Takeshi Konomi

Main character: The Seishun Academy tennis team
Location: Japan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Manga, Sports

Sadaharu Inue and Renji Yanagi are in the midst of their match, and it looks like Renji has the upper hand. Sadahru even throws out his data, but Renji says "There is no victory for those who abandon their play-style." Indeed, Sadaharu is looking exhausted. But all is not lost--Sadaharu is actually re-creating their last, unfinished match. Now we'll find out who really is the better player--and it's a win for Seishun!

Renji's loss means Rikkai has broken their promise to their team leader, in the hospital waiting for a surgery. Renji submits himself for punishment, but the blow is deflected by Akaya, who now gives himself 14 minutes to win his match with Shusuke Fuji. It's a tough match, and Akaya slams a drive that knocks Shusuke to the group. He gets up to continue playing, but he's got to hide the fact that the blow has made him temporarily blind.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

The Prince of Tennis Vol. 24 by Takeshi Konomi

Main Characters: The Seishun Academy tennis team
Location: Japan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Manga, Sports

The Kanto tournament continues, and things are not looking good for Seishun. Rikkai has dominated and looks to win the last three matches in record time.

The "golden pair," Eiji Kikumaru and Suichiro Oishi, are up. When one of the opposing players aims the ball at Eiji's head, he goes down and seems to lose consciousness for a brief time. He's carried off on a stretcher as we see a flashback to when he and Suichiro began playing together as children. Awww, how cute they both are! Eiji comes to, leaps off the stretcher, and gets back into the game. (Where is the team doctor? Surely someone should check him out first. And come to think about it, where is the umpire?) Eiji and Suichiro are playing better than ever, but it's still not enough. They lose their match.

In between matches, Ryoma is at the vending machines when he overhears an intriguing phone call. One of the Rikkai players is talking to their team leader, in the hospital and facing surgery.

The next match is a singles between Seishun's team leader, Sadaharu Inui, and Renji Yanagi. They used to play together as doubles partners years ago and are both data collectors. Now they know each other's games so well they can predict not only each other's plays, but finish each other's sentence. But it looks like Renji is going to force Sadaharu to give up his data game.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Love*Com Vol. 2 by Aya Nakahara

Main Characters: Tall girl Risa and short boy Ôtani
Location: Japan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Manga

Volume 2, and the romantic misunderstandings continue. An ex-girlfriend of Ôtani's shows up and she is a cute little thing that looks just like Chiharu. Maybe Ôtani does have a type after all. Risa convinces herself that the ex has shown up because she wants to get back together with Ôtani and does all she can to help that happen.

Meanwhile, a really tall and really handsome guy catches Risa up in a bear hug. It is Haruka, an old friend from grade school. Back then he was the target of bullies and Risa defended him, so he's got a crush on her. Nice as he is to Risa, though, he is a real jerk to Ôtani. As Risa continues to defend Ôtani to Haruka, he asks her the same question everyone else is thinking--is she in love with Ôtani? Is Ôtani in love with Risa?

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Toto! The Wonderful Adventure Vol. 1 by Yuko Osada

Main character: Kakashi
Location: An alternate world--name as yet unknown
Time period: Seems to be contemporary
Genre: YA Manga

As you can probably guess from the title, this story has ties to The Wizard of Oz, but it is not just a manga version of that classic book.

Kakashi is a small-town boy with big dreams. He is an orphan; his father was an explorer who left their small island years ago and never returned. Kakashi has one memento--his father's journal which ends "The world is vast. You don't need a reason. Go on an adventure." Kakashi reminds me a bit of Luffy from One Piece--he is unfailingly optimistic and determined to get off of his island.

Kakashi's chance comes in the form of an airship which needs to stop for repairs. When it leaves, Kakashi stows away. In the cargo hold, he meets and befriends a darling little puppy with an intriguing collar. The airship is overtaken by a mafia group who eject the passengers over open water but decide to let Kakashi stay aboard. Kakashi sees a world map for the first time and is stunned at how big the world is. The airship comes under attack by the military and is destroyed but Kakashi, along with his puppy, manage to parachute to safety in a corn field where they meet a young girl named Dorothy.

The puppy, now named Toto, is more than he appears, and is the target of the military search. Kakashi, Dorothy, and Toto, fall into the clutches of the Great Nassau Imperial Army but you know they won't stay captives long.

Translation notes point out some of the various Wizard of Oz references. I caught most of them, but was happy to be told that Kakashi's name also means "scarecrow" in Japanese. I'm sure in upcoming volumes we will encounter the Tin Man and the Cowardly Lion as well.

Saturday, October 11, 2008

Bleach Vol. 23: Mala Suerte! by Tite Kubo

Main character: Ichigo Kurosaki, plus a cast of millions (well, it feels like it!)
Location: Karakura Town, Japan
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Manga, Supernatural

I am finding it interesting that, since the end of the storyline dealing with rescuing Rukia from execution has ended, the plots of the books and the anime have gone off in two different directions. The anime, showing weekly on Adult Swim, is dealing with creatures called Bounts who seem bent on increasing their power by stealing human souls. In the books, the Arrancars are the main villains. I'm enjoying both storylines, though I favoring the Bounts at the moment.

Be that as it may, this was a exciting volume--well, after an embarrassing and uncomfortable sequence with Rangiku and Orihime. The Soul Reapers has dispersed around Karakura Town, with Rukia staying with Ichigo, Renji over at Urahara's store, and Rangiku and Toshiro at Orihime's. Orihime confesses to Rangiku that she is a little jealous of Rukia and feels terrible about it--which is very touching and sweet, but takes place while Rangiku is bathing--apparently for no other purpose than to show her in suggestive and inappropriate poses.

The Arrancars are out to destroy everyone who has even the slightest bit of spiritual pressure. The most vulnerable is Chad who is not yet completely healed from his last encounter with them. Ichigo runs to his defense, and Chad is saddened to think that he may never be able to fight side-by-side with Ichigo again. Aww, Chad! You are my favorite character! Rukia reveals that she has regained her powers, and she defeats the Arrancar.

When did Keigo gain some spiritual pressure and become able to see the Soul Reapers and Hollows? I know in the anime storyline with the Bounts he has his near-death experience, but that hasn't happened in the mangas. What have I forgotten?

But the rest of the volume belongs to Ikkaku, who battles with an oversized Arrancar and thoroughly enjoys himself. The fight builds to a crescendo, and then we end with an odd interlude which seems to be a flashback for Ichigo and Rukia from a time before the series started.

Friday, October 10, 2008

The Battle of the Labyrinth by Rick Riordan

Main character: Percy Jackson
Location: Camp Half-Blood in upstate New York, among other places
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Greek Mythology
Series: Percy Jackson and the Olympians #4

As with Raven Rise, I had a little trouble at the beginning of this book because I had forgotten some of the details of the previous book. (That's not to say that I didn't enjoy the earlier books--I also had trouble remembering details in each Harry Potter book.) Sometimes, I think I should wait until an entire series is finished so I can read them all at once. But that's no fun either.

Anyway, Percy is about to start another new school, one where Paul Blofis (his mother's boyfriend) teaches. Percy wants everything to go well so he won't make trouble for Paul, but his track record at schools is not good. Sure enough, some mythical monsters--empousai, disguised as cheerleaders--attack him and a fire starts. Fortunately, Rachel Elizabeth Dare, the mortal who can see through the Mist to the monsters' true form, helps him out and he escapes to Camp Half-Blood.

A lot is happening at Camp Half-Blood. There's a new teacher, Quintus, who has a giant hellhound named Mrs. O'Leary. Despite her fearsome appearance, she is really quite affectionate. Grover has been searching for the great god Pan without success and is now given just a week to find him or lose his searcher's license. Someone is sending Percy Iris-messages concerning Nico. And Annabeth finally gets to lead a quest of her own--into the Labyrinth of Daedalus to find a way to prevent Luke from using to invade the camp at the head of Kronos' army.

What follows is what we've come to expect from this series--plenty of adventure, plenty of humor, and an intriguing take on Greek mythology blended with modern times. Percy continues to grow though he does remains clueless as to just why Annabeth seems to dislike Rachel so much. He celebrates his 15th birthday, knowing that a prophecy says he may not make it to his 16th. Still, he tries to protect his friends, especially Nico who, as the son of Hades, might also be the subject of that prophecy.

Rick Riordan announced on his blog that the title of the 5th book will be The Last Olympian (I wonder if that means it will be the last book?) and the release date is set for May 9, 2009. BTW, have you heard about the Mythology Bee? Grand prize is a trip for 4 to Greece with author Rick Riordan! Things like this make me almost wish I was a middle schooler again.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer

Main character: Miranda
Location: Rural Pennsylvania
Time period: Contemporary (or possibly near future)
Genre: YA Fiction, Survival, Dystopian, Speculative Fiction

This is one of the books that I included on my dystopian fiction booklist recently. I had read some interesting things about it but hadn't had the chance to actually read the book before now.

Miranda is a typical high school student who lives outside a small town in Pennsylvania. Like everyone else, she has heard the scientists talk about the asteroid that's about to strike the moon. It's expected to make a neat show but that's about it. On the predicted night, everyone is outside; the mood is festive. The asteroid hits and everyone immediately knows that something wrong has happened. The moon suddenly appears larger. It turns out that the asteroid has knocked the moon out of orbit; it is now closer to the Earth and the increased gravitation pull has caused extremely high tides, tsunamis, and volcanic eruptions. Major cities are destroyed, communications are down, the country's infrastructure is disrupted. Food and gas become scarce, electricity is sporadic.

The story is told through Miranda's diary entries as she struggles to cope with her new life. School is canceled and daily life becomes only about survival. One of her close friends slowly starves herself to death. Another leaves town searching for better conditions to the south. A bittersweet first romance ends when Dan leaves town to try to make it to California. As winter closes in, Miranda's world contracts to just her house and then to just the one room they can still heat in their house. Fortunately, spring brings its promise of re-birth and renewal, or this book would just be too sad to bear.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Raven Rise by D. J. MacHale

Main Character: Bobby Pendragon
Location: Multiple territories
Time period: Multiple--yes, I know it's confusing
Genre: YA Fiction, Fantasy
Series: Pendragon #9

For the last few Pendragon books, I've been more invested in Mark and Courtney's activities than in Bobby's--which is a little strange, since Bobby is the main character. I started off in this book feeling the same way--at least in the beginning.

Raven Rise starts pretty much where The Pilgrims of Rayne left off, which was a bit of a problem for me as it had been so long since I read the last book that I had forgotten some of the details. Fortunately, enough information was woven into the story to catch me up. (If you haven't read the previous books, though, you really have to start at the beginning.) Mark and Courtney had gone back to First Earth--the 1930's--to try and prevent the inventions of the dados. Bobby deliberately destroyed the tunnel to Ibara, stranding himself and Saint Dane on that territory. He tells himself and everyone else that it was a strategic move to isolate Saint Dane and keep him from causing anymore mischief, but a big part of him is ready to quit the fight and settle down someplace peaceful.

Naturally, nothing is that simple and Bobby's interlude is brought to an end.

A lot happens in this book, almost too much to keep track off. The convergence--a blending of the territories--is beginning. Bobby has choices to make but no one to guide him to the right one. Saint Dane is the only one telling him anything, hinting at a connection between them--I've got a weird idea that Saint Dane is a future version of what Bobby could be if he makes the wrong choices. At Bobby's side are Mark and Courtney, and the travelers from First and Third Earth and Denduron, but Bobby is the lead traveler, the one everyone else looks to, and he is only just 19 years old.

And along that line, kudos to the artist who does the cover illustrations. You can definitely see how Bobby has aged and the toll these four years of fighting have taken on him.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Winter Study by Nevada Barr

Main character: Park Ranger Anna Pigeon
Location: Isle Royal, Lake Superior National Park
Time period: Contemporary
Genre: Fiction, Mystery
Series: Anna Pigeon National Park Mysteries #14

Time for another adult mystery break. I have read the Anna Pigeon books from the very first one, Track of the Cat, but I really became a fan with the 4th book, Firestorm. That book, with a murder occurring during a flashfire, was such an intriguing twist on the locked room mystery--one that took place totally outdoors--that I have avidly anticipated every book since.

Winter Study finds Anna Pigeon back up in Isle Royale (the location of the 2nd book, A Superior Death) joining the winter wolf study. Her own home park, the Rocky Mountain National Park, will soon be reintroducing wolves and she wants to learn more about them. Anna joins a small group of scientists and a Homeland Security bureaucrat who is supposed to determine whether the Canadian border is a security hole that needs to be plugged year-round--an action that would effectively shut down the annual wolf study.

Naturally, once Anna arrives on the island, winter weather shuts down all access to it--no one can leave, no one can arrive, cell phones don't work, internet communications are down. And then one of the researchers is killed, apparently mauled by wolves. Shades of Agatha Christie's And Then There Were None!

I really love Anna Pigeon. She has grown a lot in the 15 years since we first met her in the Guadalupe Mountains. Then she was a bitter misanthrope, mourning the death of her husband, drinking too much, and preferring solitude to the company of people. Now she has given up drinking and remarried, though her job does keep her away from her husband much of the time. She has made connections with others and now has something--someone--to live for. She hasn't totally lost her cynicism though--there are too many people doing truly ugly things for that.

Please do be aware that while most of the books I've reviewed here have been suitable for teens, this one is definitely an adult book.

Monday, October 6, 2008

Nobody's Prize by Esther Friesner

Main Character: Helen, Princess of Sparta
Location: Ancient Greece
Time period: Bronze Age
Genre: YA Fiction, Greek Mythology
Sequel to: Nobody's Princess

This book picks up right where Nobody's Princess left off. Helen, disguised as a boy, and Miles, the slave boy she freed and befriended, are trying to find a way to join the Argonauts and their quest for the Golden Fleece. They stowaway on the ship but it's impossible to stay hidden forever. They are helped by Iolaus, who claims them as his weapons carriers, and Hylas, who is Herakles' weapons carrier. When her own body betrays her female identity, her brothers help her by identifying her as Atalanta. Helen does have a moment where she wonders what Atalanta will think when she hears the stories, which put me in mind of The Misadventures of Maude March.

Esther Friesner continues to offer a differing view of the familiar myths, with the truth behind the legends rather mundane and the heroes braggarts and louts. Can't admit you were defeated by a tribe of women? Say that they were really winged harpies. The clashing rocks? A tribe that rolls boulders down on passing ships. Jason is a bully. Medea is insane (possibly caused by the emotional abuse her father heaps on her.) There is a hint of things to come when Agamemnon and Menelaus appears near the end.

Helen continues to be feistier than usually portrayed, though she is beginning to grow into her role as princess and future queen. She sees that her actions have conseqences and often it is others who get hurt. It would be interesting to see Helen's further adventures.

Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dystopian Fiction for Teens booklist

My city is one of the ones participating in The Big Read this month, and our book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. As part of the activities, I have put together a booklist of dystopian fiction for young adults. This has kept me from blogging on a regular basis, so I thought I'd share the booklist with you. There are actually more books here than on the printed brochure since some had to be cut for space.

For every book that says the future is bright, there is another that tells us the future will be miserable. The environment will be wrecked through pollution, global warming, or natural disasters. Technology runs amok and machines will take over the world. Art, literature, and music will be deemed dangerous and are forbidden. Plans are made to avert or survive a coming disaster by going underground or colonizing space, but then something goes terribly wrong. These books are called dystopian fiction.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury falls into this category. In this book, society has evolved to a point where literature is no longer valued and is actively destroyed. The characters’ physical needs are met, but their imaginations are starving.

Here is a selection of recommended dystopian fiction for young adults that can be found at the Mesquite North Branch Library.

Anderson, M. T.: Feed, 2002
In this chilling satiric novel, the author imagines a society dominated by the feed--a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brains of babies.

DeVita, James: The Silenced, 2007
Consigned to a prison-like Youth Training Facility because of her parents' political activities, Marena organizes a resistance movement to combat the restrictive policies of the ruling Zero Tolerance party.

DuPrau, Jeanne: The City of Ember, 2003
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions. The series continues in The People of Sparks and The Prophet of Yonwood.

Farmer, Nancy: The House of the Scorpion, 2002
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El Patrón, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson: Among the Hidden, 1998
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. The series continues with Among the Imposters, Among the Betrayed, Among the Barons, Among the Brave, Among the Enemy, and Among the Free.

Hautman, Pete: Rash, 2006
In a future society that has decided it would "rather be safe than free," sixteen-year-old Bo's anger control problems land him in a tundra jail where he survives with the help of his running skills and an artificial intelligence program named Bork.

Kostick, Conor: Epic, 2004
On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik's father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families. Also read the companion novel, Saga.

Layne, Steven L.: This Side of Paradise, 2001
After his father begins working for the mysterious Eden Corporation, Jack uncovers a sinister plot that threatens the existence of his entire family.

Lowry, Lois: The Giver, 1993
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. Gathering Blue and The Messenger are companion novels.

McNaughton, Janet: The Secret Under My Skin, 2005
In the year 2368, humans exist under dire environmental conditions and one young woman, rescued from a workcamp and chosen for a special duty, uses her love of learning to discover the truth about the planet's future and her own dark past.

Pfeffer, Susan Beth: Life As We Knew It, 2006
Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Prose, Francine: After, 2003
In the aftermath of a nearby school shooting, a grief and crisis counselor takes over Central High School and enacts increasingly harsh measures to control students, while those who do not comply disappear.

Rosoff, Meg: How I Live Now, 2004
To get away from her pregnant stepmother in New York City, fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to England to stay with her aunt and cousins, with whom she instantly bonds, but soon war breaks out and rips apart the family while devastating the land.

Shusterman, Neal: Unwind, 2007
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.

Strasser, Todd: Boot Camp, 2007
After ignoring several warnings to stop dating his teacher, Garrett is sent to Lake Harmony, a boot camp that uses unorthodox and brutal methods to train students to obey their parents.

Westerfeld, Scott: Uglies, 2005
Tally is looking forward to turning 16 when she will get the state-mandated plastic surgery that will make her a “pretty,” but her friend Shay is not sure she wants the procedure. The series continues in Pretties, Specials, and Extras.

White, Andrea: Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083, 2005
In the year 2083, five fourteen-year-olds who were deprived by chance of the opportunity to continue their educations reenact Scott's 1910-1913 expedition to the South Pole as contestants on a reality television show, secretly aided by a Department of Entertainment employee.