Tag Archives: guy read

Geoff Herbach’s Anything You Want – as thoughtful as it is hilarious

Standard
Geoff Herbach’s Anything You Want – as thoughtful as it is hilarious

If you can tolerate the lovable idiot who narrates this book, you will find a pretty amazing story inside.  I do not tolerate lovable idiots easily, so trust me when I say this – Anything You Want is definitely worth the read.  It is so funny and so full of heart, and I can’t imagine a smarter way to entertain and still engage readers in thoughtful commentary on big life lessons.  I do have to say that this is one time I really scored a book a lot higher than other critics.  I gave it five stars, but it only has a three star average on Goodreads – again, you have to commit to the lovable idiot and actually finish the book to see what I saw.

image

Goodreads Summary

Expect a bundle of joy—er, trouble—in this hilarious, heartwarming story from the award-winning author of Stupid Fast Geoff Herbach

Taco’s mom always said, “Today is the best day of your life, and tomorrow will be even better.” That was hard to believe the day she died of cancer and when Taco’s dad had to move up north for work, but he sure did believe it when Maggie Corrigan agreed to go with him to junior prom. Taco loves Maggie- even more than the tacos that earned him his nickname. And she loves him right back.

Except all that love? It gets Maggie pregnant. Everyone else may be freaking out, but Taco can’t wait to have a real family again. He just has to figure out what it means to be a dad and how to pass calculus. And then there’s getting Maggie’s parents to like him. Because it would be so much easier for them to be together if he didn’t have to climb the side of the Corrigans’ house to see her…

My Thoughts

Taco’s relentless enthusiasm and optimism keep the story from getting too heavy without minimizing the issues.  This book really tackles universal themes and truths about growing up and being a family, and Taco’s clueless perspective is sometimes exhausting, but it makes these themes a lot more palatable to the YA reader.  I see this being a big hit in my high school classroom library, and a book that both guys and gals can embrace.  It is exactly the kind of book I want to hand my readers because they will come for the party that is Taco, but they will stay for the business that is real life.  It is definitely going on my classroom library wish list.  Language and situations make this most appropriate for high school readers, but I bet there are many adults who will still get a real kick out of this read.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Advertisements

The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is poignant and thoughtful YA about growing up as an outsider in a small southern town

Standard
The Serpent King by Jeff Zentner is poignant and thoughtful YA about growing up as an outsider in a small southern town

The heartbreaking choices and unfurling promise of growing up are vivid and raw in this clear and insightful read about three outsiders in a small southern town.  Carefully crafted characters and poignant moments with universal resonance make for an emotional and thoughtful story that stuck with me long after I turned the last page.  The plot unerringly focuses on the moments in life, both monumental and minuscule, that force people to stretch and revise their world view.

image

Goodreads Summary

Dill has had to wrestle with vipers his whole life—at home, as the only son of a Pentecostal minister who urges him to handle poisonous rattlesnakes, and at school, where he faces down bullies who target him for his father’s extreme faith and very public fall from grace.

He and his fellow outcast friends must try to make it through their senior year of high school without letting the small-town culture destroy their creative spirits and sense of self. Graduation will lead to new beginnings for Lydia, whose edgy fashion blog is her ticket out of their rural Tennessee town. And Travis is content where he is thanks to his obsession with an epic book series and the fangirl turning his reality into real-life fantasy.
Their diverging paths could mean the end of their friendship. But not before Dill confronts his dark legacy to attempt to find a way into the light of a future worth living.

My Thoughts

You are going to recognize these characters.  Maybe they are just people you pass in the hallway at school, or maybe they remind you of yourself, but you will know them from the moment they are introduced.  You’ve read books about characters like Lydia, and her drive and ambition will make her easy to relate to. Travis, too, is a sidekick I’ve seen before, but his simple and complete acceptance of who he is is really a beautiful thing to behold in this book.  Dill, though, he isn’t a familiar character type.  I found him especially fascinating because he gave me some real food for thought about all those boys with dubious origins that seem to have little desire or drive to leave the small towns that ruin them.  It never occurred to me that there might be something else going on, and I’m really glad I got a chance to have a new perspective.  As far as plot, this book is fairly evenly paced, but it is more about character development and relationships than action.  There were some predictable elements, but that is part of telling the truth.  There were also some rather big surprises.  I found myself engrossed, and I think my high school readers will as well.  I do have to say this was a rather bittersweet coming of age story, and while I loved watching these characters grow and evolve, it was a little darker than I expected.  Themes about friendship, being true to yourself, and overcoming obstacles that feel insurmountable add a great deal of depth.  I really enjoyed this book, and it is definitely going on my classroom library wish list.  I would recommend it to both my guy and gal readers, and I think it will be just as engaging for adults as YAs.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 9+.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Hellraisers, the first book in a new YA horror/action series by Alexander Gordon Smith is full of action but the characters suffer for it.

Standard
Hellraisers, the first book in a new YA horror/action series by Alexander Gordon Smith is full of action but the characters suffer for it.

I had never heard of the Escape from Furnace series, which begins with Lockdown, until I started working at my current school.  It was quite a popular series, and, though I wasn’t particularly engaged by it, many of my students were big fans. When I saw that the author, Alexander Gordon Smith, was beginning a new series with a sort of Faustian twist, I was pretty excited to get my hands on it.  I was rather surprised with how very uninterested I was when I got a copy.  I think if you are a huge fan of this author or if you are looking for the equivalent of blockbuster horror/action flick, this might be up your alley.  If you want a book with a little more depth, I say to give this one a pass.

image

Goodreads Summary

From the author of the Escape from Furnace series, an explosive new horror trilogy about an ordinary American kid caught up in an invisible war against the very worst enemy imaginable.

There is a machine from the darkest parts of history, concealed in an impossible location, that can make any wish come true, and the only price you have to pay is your soul. Known as the Devil’s Engine, this device powers a brutal war between good and evil that will decide the fate of every living thing on Earth. When a 16-year-old asthmatic kid named Marlow Green unwittingly rescues an ass-kicking secret soldier from a demonic attack in the middle of his Staten Island neighborhood, he finds himself following her into a centuries-old conflict between a group of mysterious protectors and the legions of the Devil himself. Faced with superpowers, monsters, machine guns, and a lot worse, Marlow knows it’s going to be a breathless ride—and not just because he’s lost his inhaler along the way.

My Thoughts

I have to admit I was a little disappointed by this book.  It is full of fast paced action sequences, and it has a pretty cool premise, but I just never connected with any of the characters.  I’m not sure that will be such a big problem for the target audience.  The author’s biggest draw seems to be his ability to create troubled protagonists that are actually rather heroic in their own way, and Marlowe doesn’t break the mold (though I felt like he was just too much of an idiot).  The author’s other calling card is putting that protagonist through the ringer to mold him into that something more, and, again, Marlowe is about to get wrung.  But it felt like something was just missing here.  The characters really lacked the depth and insightful growth I wanted.  They felt like characters instead of people.  Again, I don’t think that will be a huge problem for reluctant readers who just want to be entertained.  This book is full of entertaining action.  It takes off with a flying leap and it doesn’t seem to slow down much at all.  Perhaps that is really going to be the issue for more descerning readers – this book is so busy dazzling you with some truly original demons and buzzing the tower with so much battle that character development gets shuffled to the side and never makes its way to the forefront.  I’m still going to add it to my classroom library wish list because this is a book my students will want to give a try, and I think it will be very appealing to many of them.  Language and situations are most appropriate for high school, but middle school readers will probably enjoy it more.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Calvin by Martine Leavitt is a fast but deep read, with a humorous slant that is hard to resist.

Standard
Calvin by Martine Leavitt is a fast but deep read, with a humorous slant that is hard to resist.

If you are looking for something smart and fast, you would be hard pressed to find a better book than Calvin.  This is a gem of a book that will appeal to readers who like viewing life through a different lens.  Mental illness isn’t a joke, but this lighter look at Schizophrenia offers an approachable and insightful view that is surprisingly engaging and pretty heartfelt, too.

image

Goodreads Summary

In this latest novel from National Book Award finalist Martine Leavitt, a schizophrenic teen believes that Bill Watterson can save him from his illness if he creates one more Calvin & Hobbes comic strip.

Seventeen-year-old Calvin has always known his fate is linked to the comic book character from Calvin & Hobbes. He was born on the day the last strip was published; his grandpa left a stuffed tiger named Hobbes in his crib; and he even has a best friend named Susie. As a child Calvin played with the toy Hobbes, controlling his every word and action, until Hobbes was washed to death. But now Calvin is a teenager who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia, Hobbes is back—as a delusion—and Calvin can’t control him. Calvin decides that if he can convince Bill Watterson to draw one final comic strip, showing a normal teenaged Calvin, he will be cured. Calvin and Susie (and Hobbes) set out on a dangerous trek across frozen Lake Erie to track him down.

My Thoughts

This was a pretty engaging little book.  I always enjoy a good quest, and it was certainly a rather surreal quest.  A lot of the time I was left wondering what was real and what was delusion as much as Calvin was, so I certainly needed to know how this was going to turn out.  I read it in a little over an hour because it was formatted more like a play in terms of dialogue, and that was essential because it really kept all of the voices straight in both Calvin’s and my head.  I enjoyed the sweet but real feel of the romance between Calvin and Susie.  Sometimes love really is just about “getting” someone in a way no one else does.  I liked the positive spin this puts on schizophrenia.  Don’t get me wrong, it is still clearly dangerous because Susie lets Calvin determine her reality to some degree, but this book still puts a humorous slant on the situation, which allows readers to laugh and still empathize with it.  I do have to say that Calvin had some pretty deep thoughts about life, God, and humanity near the end, but if readers aren’t into pondering transcendentalism or whatever, they can skim past those and pick back up with little trouble. This book is pretty creative, and creative minds will probably enjoy it the most. I think fans of things like Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind or the original short story version of “The Secret Life of Walter Mitty” will really enjoy this, but the presence of Susie does leave a voice for the more sensible reader to connect with.  I do want to say that I have little knowledge of the Calvin and Hobbes comics, but that didn’t really impact my enjoyment or ability to understand the themes or the plot.  I thought this was a quirky and fun read, and I think it would appeal to my high school readers, particularly those who want a little depth but don’t want to invest a huge chunk of time.  Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but interest level is high school and beyond.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Need by Joelle Charbonneau is a YA suspense/thriller that is hard to read but hard to put down

Standard
Need by Joelle Charbonneau is a YA suspense/thriller that is hard to read but hard to put down

Need is a really edgy and engaging read!  I read it cover to cover in one sitting despite my growing horror because I just had to know who and what was behind this awful scheme.  I’m not going to tell you this is great literature or try to convince you that there are lessons about morality and social media to be learned through this story.  This is absolutely a book you read for entertainment of the rubbernecking variety, and I certainly got an eyeful.

Need will be released Tuesday, November 3, 2015.

image

Goodreads Summary

“No one gets something for nothing. We all should know better.”

Teenagers at Wisconsin’s Nottawa High School are drawn deeper into a social networking site that promises to grant their every need . . . regardless of the consequences. Soon the site turns sinister, with simple pranks escalating to malicious crimes. The body count rises. In this chilling YA thriller, the author of the best-selling Testing trilogy examines not only the dark side of social media, but the dark side of human nature.

My Thoughts

The story is a series of narratives that are all held together by the protagonist, Kaylee.  Her situation and bungled attempts to help make her someone readers will quickly empathize with, and her inherent goodness makes her likeable.  Some readers will be overwhelmed by the large cast of characters in this book.  Breathe.  Most of them aren’t really important and are stereotyped to give you a fast idea of who they are without wasting a lot of time – exactly the purpose of stereotype in writing.  Relax. Just read.  The major players will start to distinguish themselves fairly quickly, so just wait to start memorizing every name and need.  This is such a smart way to set up this book because it really creates suspense and adds a lot of dramatic irony – it doesn’t take long for you to figure out who this is going to play badly for.  The joy is reading to see if it happens like you expect, and it is paced to deliver.  It doesn’t fool around – rewards come quickly and there are no real lulls in the action. However, I did have a problem with the resolution.  I’m not a big fan of the villian confessional monologue as a resolution, but, again, it is a device that gets a job done quickly.  It was in keeping with the whole teen slasher flick feel of the rest of the story, so it was satisfactory enough to wrap up the fun, but it wasn’t as great as it could have been.  Overall, I think this will be a big hit with my high school readers, and I see it making the rounds based on word of mouth.  I just need folks to practice reading, so I can ignore the violence, selfishness, and awful picture of humanity it portrays (to be fair, these behaviors are appropriately censured and punished).  I especially see this being popular with reluctant readers because it is hard to resist.  Situations make this most appropriate for high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Walk On Earth A Stranger is Rae Carson’s start to a new western series, and it is phenomenal!

Standard
Walk On Earth A Stranger is Rae Carson’s start to a new western series, and it is phenomenal!

I loved this book from the moment I saw the cover – I have bloodhound senses for westerns, and I knew this book was exactly what I needed in my life.  I was so right.  The majority of the book takes place on a wagon train headed to the Calofornia goldfields, and I cannot explain how very happy that made me – thank you, creators of The Oregon Trail computer game – you instilled a lifelong obsession! This book is going to make so many readers so happy that they took a chance on it.  I don’t care if you hate historical fiction or if you dislike westerns or if you didn’t like Rae Carson’s other books – this book is absolutely worth your time. You can sample the first chapter (which includes author annotations and sketches) via this link if you don’t want to take me at my word.

image

Goodreads Summary

Lee Westfall has a secret. She can sense the presence of gold in the world around her. Veins deep beneath the earth, pebbles in the river, nuggets dug up from the forest floor. The buzz of gold means warmth and life and home—until everything is ripped away by a man who wants to control her. Left with nothing, Lee disguises herself as a boy and takes to the trail across the country. Gold was discovered in California, and where else could such a magical girl find herself, find safety?

Walk on Earth a Stranger, the first book in this new trilogy, introduces—as only Rae Carson can—a strong heroine, a perilous road, a fantastical twist, and a slow-burning romance. Includes a map and author’s note on historical research.

My Thoughts

Action, adventure, romance and lessons about loyalty and family make this both a joy to read and a book to ponder.  The protagonist, Lee is a smart, determined, and tough girl, and she is also one of the most lonely souls in YA fiction right now.  Readers will be drawn to her character, not just because of the empathy her situation evokes, but also for her innate goodness.  She wants so much to embrace the people around her, but her secret forces her to keep a part of herself back, and others sense and respond to that distance.  That is what makes her plight universal – almost everyone has experienced the isolation and sadness that come with having to keep part of yourself concealed.  The cast of secondary characters do initially feel repelled by her standoffish behavior, but as her true nature begins to shine through her disguise, they are drawn to her –  You can change your appearance, but you usually can’t hide who you really are.  I’ll admit this book wasn’t exactly what I expected, but I am not in the least disappointed.  I was expecting more of a quest, and I worried it would be too close to the other western YA that just published, Erin Bowman’s Vengance Road (excellent read as well).  This book is more about Lee’s journey West than a quest for gold or revenge, but it is also her journey towards finding her place in the world.  There is plenty of action and conflict, but it was quite contemplative as well.  It is well paced to develop the plot, the characters, and the relationships.  I didn’t savor it because I devour good stuff, but I know it is a book that I will come back to time and again.  The resolution, while satisfying, does leave room for additional books in the series, and I will certainly be looking forward to reading them. Five star perfection!

I received an ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – YA SciFi as intriguing as anything I’ve read this year

Standard
The Scorpion Rules by Erin Bow – YA SciFi as intriguing as anything I’ve read this year

Erin Bow’s The Scorpion Rules has a big buzz going in the YA book world, and I have to say it lives up to the buzz.  It has all the things I want in a book (thus, all the things you want in a book) and it is wildly different from anything else I’ve read this year. Ultimately, I had a few problems with it so it was only a four star read, but if you want to keep your status as the hip kid at the bookstore cafe (or the biggest Geek in the SciFi Club), you are going to want in on this book early.

The Scorpion Rules is publishing September 22, 2015.

image

Goodreads Summary

A world battered by climate shift and war turns to an ancient method of keeping peace: the exchange of hostages. The Children of Peace – sons and daughters of kings and presidents and generals – are raised together in small, isolated schools called Preceptures. There, they learn history and political theory, and are taught to gracefully accept what may well be their fate: to die if their countries declare war.

Greta Gustafsen Stuart, Duchess of Halifax and Crown Princess of the Pan-Polar Confederation, is the pride of the North American Precepture. Learned and disciplined, Greta is proud of her role in keeping the global peace, even though, with her country controlling two-thirds of the world’s most war-worthy resource — water — she has little chance of reaching adulthood alive.

Enter Elián Palnik, the Precepture’s newest hostage and biggest problem. Greta’s world begins to tilt the moment she sees Elián dragged into the school in chains. The Precepture’s insidious surveillance, its small punishments and rewards, can make no dent in Elián, who is not interested in dignity and tradition, and doesn’t even accept the right of the UN to keep hostages.

What will happen to Elián and Greta as their two nations inch closer to war?

My Thoughts

There are many reasons I quickly lost contact with the outside world when I started reading this book.  First, the premise – Artificial Intelligence decides the only way to end the wars that threaten humanity is to keep rulers in check by holding their royal offspring as hostages. One of those hostages is going to throw a wrench in that plan in a pretty horrible way.  Awesome.  Second, Greta – the narrator and protagonist is compelling and smart and pretty scared she will die very, very soon.  Yes, please!  Third, the setting – a mind melt of pastoral harmony and menacing threat – think 1984 set in an Abbey with intelligent robot spiders who like their tazers.  Brilliant!  Finally, the AI running this rodeo – awful in such a crazy good way that readers are probably going to be talking about him more than anything else in this entire book.  So we have all the hallmarks of a huge hit – kids threatened with death for the greater good, strong yet sensitive female protagonist, rebellion, evil robots.  So why doesn’t my review have a huge five star rating at the top?  Because I’m still struggling with the way this one ended.  I don’t exactly hate it, but I’m not sure what to do with it, and I think a lot of readers will struggle with that as well.  Don’t get me wrong.  I think you should scoop this book up and run to your reading hidey hole immediately, but I bet you are going to want to talk this one out as soon as you finish.  I think this is going to be a very big deal in the YA reading world, and if you want in on the conversation, you are going to want to read it.  Now.  Before someone corrupts it with a movie deal.  I have no doubt this will be a hot item with my high school readers, and I think lots of adults are going to find it just as compelling. Language and situations are appropriate for high school readers who are prepared for some sensuality and bloodshed (that means all of them).

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Kat Spears is back with another loveably uncertain, sorta bad boy in Breakaway, and chances are good you’ll really like him

Standard
Kat Spears is back with another loveably uncertain, sorta bad boy in Breakaway, and chances are good you’ll really like him

Kat Spears is quickly becoming an author to watch.  Her book, Sway, is easily one of my favorite contemporary reads.  Her characters are far from perfect, but they feel genuine.  They also make me laugh a lot. Breakaway manages to be thoughtful and funny, and it is a solid four star book that will interest readers of both genders, especially fans of books like The Spectacular Now.  Breakaway is publishing on September 15, 2015.

image

Goodreads Summary

From Kat Spears, author of Sway, comes a new novel that asks the question: when a group of four best friends begin to drift apart, what will it take to bring them back together?

When Jason Marshall’s younger sister dies, he knows he can count on his three best friends and soccer teammates — Mario, Jordie, and Chick — to be there for him. With a grief-crippled mother and a father who’s not in the picture, he needs them more than ever. But when Mario starts hanging out with a rough group of friends and Jordie finally lands the girl of his dreams, Jason is left to fend for himself while maintaining a strained relationship with troubled and quiet Chick. Then Jason meets Raine, a girl he thinks is out of his league but who sees him for everything he wants to be, and he finds himself pulled between building a healthy and stable relationship with a girl he might be falling in love with, grieving for his sister, and trying to hold onto the friendships he has always relied on.
A witty and emotionally moving tale of friendship, first love, and loss, Breakaway is Kat Spears at her finest.

My Thoughts

I really enjoy this author’s male protagonists.  They come across as the perfect mix of devil and saint, and they feel honest, believable and fragile on some level.  Jaz is certainly an interesting mix of tough and gentle as he struggles with the loss of his sister, the evolution of his closest friendships, and the introduction to what may be love or a bad case of indigestion.  While Jaz isn’t as charming as Kat Spears’ leading man in Sway, he certainly is compelling.  I enjoyed this book, but I think some readers will struggle for a couple of reasons.  First, the romance is a more organic and real portrayal of love that some people will not easily embrace because it isn’t the fast, pretty and manufactured romances that they are trained to expect.  Second, this isn’t a character or plot driven book.  It feels to me like it is a theme driven book, and that results in a sense that there is no real resolution.  “But that sounds horrible!” you say.  But it isn’t!  This is a book about responsibility, and we all know that responsibility never really ends – it just morphs into something else.  “Blech,” you spit, “Who wants to read about responsibility?  This sounds boring.”  But it isn’t. You don’t even realize this deep thinking is going on inside you – you are just mesmerized by the pithy and smart dialogue and the humor and sorrow of teen drama.  It isn’t until you reach the end that you start thinking about the deep stuff.  And you need to think about the deep stuff.  We all have responsibilities – as children, as friends, as parents.  This isn’t going to go away.  And this book doesn’t hold the punches when it comes to showing readers the consequences that radiate outwards when someone fails to live up to their responsibilities (or even just feels like they didn’t live up to them).  I’m not going to lie to you.  I think that Sway is the author’s stronger book, but if you have already read it and loved it, you should give Breakaway a whirl.  I promise it will resonate long after you’ve turned the last page.  This is a book with mature language and sexual references, and there are a lot of drugs and alcohol flowing, but it comes with thoughtful commentary and honest consequence, so I think it is appropriate for mature high school readers.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

The Firebug of Balrog County is a dark, comic look at coming of age the hard way

Standard
The Firebug of Balrog County is a dark, comic look at coming of age the hard way

This book has a rather dark start, but I found it was actually pretty amusing once I figured the protagonist wasn’t really going to act out his frustrated fantasies.  This is a solid guy read, but as a female reader I found it pretty compelling.  This book is for mature readers of YA, and will probably find its way to the banned books list in short order, but readers should give it a fair chance before judging it too harshly.  I gave it four stars.

image

Goodreads Summary

Dark times have fallen on remote Balrog County, and Mack Druneswald, a high school senior with a love of clandestine arson, is doing his best to deal. While his family is haunted by his mother’s recent death, Mack spends his nights roaming the countryside, looking for something new to burn. When he encounters Katrina, a college girl with her own baggage, Mack sets out on a path of pyromania the likes of which sleepy Balrog County has never seen before.

A darkly comic tour-de-force, The Firebug of Balrog County is about legend, small towns, and the fire that binds.

My Thoughts

Sometimes you have to go into a book with a certain mindset, and when reading The Firebug of Balrog County, it is essential.  This is a book about a teenage boy balancing on the edge, teetering between his repressed grief and the compulsion that replaces the pain, if for only a little while.  The language is pretty intense, his inner dialogue is predictably sex-centric, and some of his jokes are a little too dark for comfort.  That being said, this was a compelling (and humorous) glimpse at a life in free fall, a place where few come across as anything but ugly.  Mack lost his mother to cancer, and the void she left behind is killing him, his sister, and his father.  As Mack’s connection with his family dissolves and his compulsion to set fires grows, the town mayor’s determination to unmask the fire starter terrorizing their small town goes into overdrive.  Oh, and that mayor?  That would be Mack’s Vietnam Vet grandfather whose only diversion in years has been against the dead leaves his citizens don’t bother to rake.  Throw in a hot college Goth girl, one insanely cranky old timer with a sacred woodpile, and a dog with a wholly original proclivity for legs and you have a strangely comic take on how not to deal with your dead mother’s memory.  This book isn’t for everyone, and even my liberal little heart stuttered a time or two in the first few chapters, but the more I let myself be drawn into Mack’s world, the more I appreciated the tone and attitude of all of the characters.  Mack doesn’t appropriately express his feelings, but he does care about people and tries to show it in some rather badly conceived ways.  Little touches of life in rural America come across as spot-on observations, and Mack’s narrative voice does slowly become less school shooter and a more likeable rebel-with-repressed-grief-as-a-cause.  I thought it was a riot, especially when rural locals did what rural locals do.  The events at the end were perfection, and I was thoroughly satisfied by the resolution.  Honestly, I can’t put it in my classroom library because of the language, but high school guys, especially those who have grown up in the boring backwaters of America, will probably find this quite compelling, and it does have a message worth the perseverance.

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter is my #1 YA Action/Fantasy/Dystopian pick for 2015, and you need to get your hands on it ASAP

Standard
Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter is my #1 YA Action/Fantasy/Dystopian pick for 2015, and you need to get your hands on it ASAP

I’m not going to waste time – you need this book.  It is compelling and different than any other dystopian/action/fantasy book I’ve ever encountered, and I’ve read it four times since I got the ARC in April.  That is impressively weird, even for me.  I adore the first person point of view and the tough, competent protagonist.  I adore the world building and the strange mix of reality TV, gladiator, and myth-gone-wrong that the characters navigate.  I admit that I have a crush on this book, and I think you will, too.  I hesitate to say this because it is kind of a laughable cliche in the YA book world, but if you liked a The Hunger Games, you will probably really enjoy Hunter.

image

Goodreads Summary

Centuries ago, the barriers between our world and the Otherworld were slashed open allowing hideous fantastical monsters to wreak havoc; destroying entire cities in their wake. Now, people must live in enclosed communities, behind walls that keep them safe from the evil creatures constantly trying to break in. Only the corps of teen Hunters with lightning reflexes and magical abilities can protect the populace from the daily attacks.

Joyeaux Charmand is a mountain girl from a close knit village who comes to the big city to join the Hunters. Joy thinks she is only there to perform her civic duty and protect the capitol Cits, or civilians, but as cameras follow her every move, she soon learns that the more successful she is in her hunts, the more famous she becomes.

With millions of fans watching her on reality TV, Joy begins to realize that Apex is not all it seems. She is forced to question everything she grew up believing about the legendary Hunters and the very world she lives in. Soon she finds that her fame may be part of a deep conspiracy that threatens to upend the protective structure built to keep dark magic out. The monsters are getting in and it is up to Joy to find out why.

My Thoughts

Joyeaux was raised on the mountain by monks and taught to hunt the magical monsters who torment humanity in a post cataclysm world.  She has her own magic and her hounds to keep her safe, but hunters are rare and by law they are suppose to come to the capital for training as soon as their ability emerges.  Joyeaux has avoided that fate for years but is forced to leave the people she knows, loves, and protects when her uncle is politically pressured to bring her to the Capitol.  Thrust into the intrigue and dangers of a society being held together by half truths and fear, Joyeaux must rely on instinct and her training to survive both the monsters and the humans.  This is the best thing I’ve read this year!  It isn’t very often that I finish a book and then read it again before the week is out, but Hunter is just that good.  It is crazy good.  The original storyline and action kept me glued to the pages, and I was so sad to see it end.  I adored Joyeaux and her matter-of-fact narrative style, a style that gives readers a refreshingly rare female warrior who is tough and capable and brave but who isn’t sullen and emotionally stunted.  The magical systems and world building are clear and thoughtful, bringing in a wide array of mythical and folk tale monsters that most of us have never seen before.  There was a lot of awesome battle and a little bit of romance.  I was completely satisfied with the complexities of the plot and the resolution at the end.  My only complaint is that I will have to wait a long while for the next book — there better be a next book.  Smart, engaging, and unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, Hunter is going to be a big hit with readers of both genders in my high school classroom.  The only thing I think might turn you off about this book is the initial pace. A lot of time is spent helping the reader get settled into this world, but I certainly thought it was important, and I found it fascinating.  I cannot wait to share this book with my students and fellow YA readers. Language and situations are appropriate for grades 7+, but adult readers shouldn’t pass this one up either.  Five Star Perfection.

This book is available in our classroom library, because I ordered it in April!

I received an ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.