- Darcie Caswell
Sometimes we want to have an adventure without leaving the comforts of home. Maybe we want to experience what it is like to live in the rainforest but don’t want to suffer the insects or tropical diseases. Maybe we want to experience what it is like to travel the world but don’t have the money and time to do so. Many teens (and adults) long for the excitement of travel, exploring the world, being challenged by nature, or meeting new people, and reading can be the ticket to those experiences. A well-written book can drop us into different parts of the world or different ways of life and allows us to feel like we are there, experiencing the excitement, the dangers, and the challenges—even if we haven’t left our sofas.
The Skeleton Tree by Iain Lawrence
Twelve-year-old Chris is in the first days of a boat trip with his uncle and Frank, a boy he’s just met, when tragedy strikes and the boat sinks, killing Chris’s uncle. Chris and Frank manage to make it to an island alive, but staying alive may prove an even bigger challenge, as the boys need to find food, water, and shelter—and protect themselves from wild animals in the area. The boys struggle to live off the land as best they can, but, as winter approaches, the dangers press in on them more and more, and their situation grows even more desperate.
Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin
Imagine an alternate history in which the Axis powers won World War II, and Hitler survived to establish Nazi rule across Europe. Wolf by Wolf, by Ryan Graudin, is set in such a world in 1956, with the Axis powers ruling their combined continents. An annual motorcycle race called the Axis Tour commemorates the Axis victory, with competitors from Europe and Japan racing from Germania in the Third Reich to Tokyo. Yael, a victim of Nazi horrors and member of a secret resistance movement, has one mission: win the race so she can get close enough to Hitler at the Victor’s Ball to assassinate him. But to win, she needs to first survive the race itself: high speeds, treacherous terrain, and sabotage from her fellow racers, who are out to eliminate her.
As Easy as Falling off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins
On his way to summer camp, Ry steps off the train to try to get cell phone reception and gets left behind in the middle of nowhere when the train leaves without him. What else could go wrong? Just about everything. Sometimes things going wrong can take you on quite the adventure.
The Living by Matt de la Pena
Shy has a great summer job on a luxury cruise ship. He is making good money and meeting interesting people. When a massive earthquake hits California, the resulting tsunami destroys Shy’s ship, killing most on board. Shy finds himself adrift at sea with one other survivor, the daughter of a rich passenger. They couldn’t be more different from each other, but together they must fight dehydration, starvation, sharks, and their own desperation.
Shadows of Sherwood by Kekla Magoon
After her parents disappear one night in a mysterious raid, Robyn goes on the run, hiding from the authorities she no longer trusts. As she tries to find out what happened to her parents, she discovers a power-hungry city leader named Crown is taking over, removing anyone who gets in his way. Robyn's search for her parents has her breaking in and out of high-security buildings, rescuing prisoners, and stealing from corrupt officials. Robyn discovers many ways that Crown's policies are hurting the people of Nott City. She feels the need to help in whatever ways she can, becoming a modern-day Robin Hood returning to the poor what Crown has taken from them, all while searching for information about her parents.
This column originally appeared in The Free Lance-Star newspaper.