Teen Reviews: October 2009
By Janice Hardy
Balzer + Bray, 2009
What if healing someone involved misery and pain?" In Geveg, a fantasy city crippled by war, the idea of healing involving pain is a reality for orphan Nya and her younger sister, Tali.
Nya is fifteen and feels it is her duty to take care of Tali." Both sisters are Takers, individuals who heal other people's injuries by transferring the pain from one person's body into their own. While Tali is accepted as a Healers' League Apprentice, Nya struggles to hide her skill; because she can only transfer the pain of one person into someone else, unlike her sister and the other Takers who can transfer the pain into a piece of magic metal, her skill can be used as a dangerous weapon." Apprentices start disappearing and a mysterious man begins following Nya after she helps a cute boy in need.
Janice Hardy's creativity has no bounds and her turns of phrase add humor to The Shifter, yet she leaves out quite a few key details about Nya's world. I was still confused three-quarters of the way through the book as to why Nya was so important, what the powers of the Takers were, and how the Gevegian society was run. It is a shame that Hardy didn't clarify these details; The Shifter had the potential to one-up the Twilight series, but the writing leaves something to be desired.
Reviewed by Cheneil Hale, 16, Canada
You Know Where to Find Me
By Rachel Cohn
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing, 2008
I have read all of Rachel Cohn's books. She inspires me, infuriates me, and for better or worse, fascinates me. Novels are often "hit or miss" -- You Know Where to Find Me is undoubtedly a hit.
While Cohn's novel tells an uncharacteristically dark story about the effects of teen suicide on a dysfunctional family, she pulls out all the stops. Protagonist* and outcast Miles is witty, sarcastic, and wrapped up in her own unique language.
Cohn takes her character through a journey involving self-loathing, anger, and addiction, making You Know Where to Find Me a poignant* story." While the reader expects a story about an exciting night in Washington D.C., there is instead an introspective journey into the aftermath of a suicide. When we hold our breath for a girl-gets-boy ending, we find something bracing and real.
Given the shelves of vampire and teen heiress books that are out right now, we need some real stories." Presenting the truth is an untapped market in today's Young Adult Fiction genre." For those who have enjoyed Cohn's past works, I cannot recommend You Know Where to Find Me strongly enough. Cohn's characters have matured beautifully, and, thus, she continues to fascinate.
Words to know
* Protagonist "“ A story's main character
* Poignant "“ Deeply touching, affecting the feelings
Reviewed by Emily Bihl, 18, New Jersey
By Cherry Cheva
Teens who don't have a twin often wonder what it would be like to have one. In DupliKate, the main character finds out when Rena, her avatar from a computer game, appears in person!
Rena's presence is a blessing and a curse. It's the last week of school before winter break, and Kate needs to complete assignments, take her SATs, and apply to Yale. In addition, she juggles clubs, friends, and her boyfriend Paul. Now Kate has an extra self to attend events while she works at home. However, Kate needs to keep Rena a secret, and Rena has a mind of her own. During her chaotic week, Kate realizes what she really wants in life. She also regains an old friend, Jake.
As a soon-to-be senior, I can relate. I understand her pain and exhaustion. Although Kate's issues are common in other books, Cheva's sense of humor keeps her readers engaged. I found myself reading faster, desperate to know what would happen next. Kate matures throughout the book, yet the other characters could have been more developed." Overall, though, DupliKate is a fun, great read!
Reviewed by Eri Mizobe, 17, Hong Kong
Rosie and Skate
By Beth Ann Bauman
Random House Children's Books, 2009
Rosie and Skate is the story of two sisters figuring out how to live their lives amidst forced independence -- their mother is dead and their alcoholic father is in jail "“ all while dealing with the swirl of emotions that teen girls experience. Rosie does all the "good" things, like going to a support group for children of alcoholic parents and holding out hope for her father, while Skate pours all of her energy into keeping her steady relationship with her college boyfriend afloat.
When I started reading this book, I thought the story would get lost between the two sisters' narratives. However, Skate's storyline was strong enough to carry the book; it unfolds in such small steps that it's hard to see her progress until the end, when the reader realizes Skate has developed into a strong person." Rosie's storyline is rocky and at times confusing, but there are some really precious gems in this story. All in all, Rosie and Skate is definitely worth reading!
Reviewed by Tori Winning, 19, Canada
By Jen Bryant
Random House, 2009
In 1968, Bobby Kennedy was assassinated, the Vietnam War raged with no end in sight, students protested in Paris -- and Lyza, the main character of Kaleidoscope Eyes, discovered a treasure map in her grandfather's attic.
Lyza and her friends follow the treasure map through their New Jersey town, doing research at the library, secretly stepping around parental disapproval, and overcoming tension in hopes that in the midst of events that are breaking their hearts, they'll find treasure.
At first, I didn't like the free verse structure of Kaleidoscope Eyes, but it grew on me -- as did the characters. Bryant does a great job portraying every character's struggle with the whirling changes around them, and Lyza is a believable main character. Overall, Kaleidoscope Eyes is a sweet and sometimes sad account of one girl's experience through the ever-shifting year of 1968.
Reviwed by Gabrielle Linnell, 17, Virginia
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