unRequired Reading

Our unRequired Reading Blog features the latest picks for teens selected by library staff and volunteers.
Mon, 12/20/2010 - 9:13am

"Beneath heaven is hell.  Beneath hell is furnace."  That is the description by 14-year-old Alex of Furnace, a prison one mile below the surface of the earth.  When you are sentenced to Furnace you are sentenced for life.  This gripping tale is Lockdown: Escape from Furnace by Alexander Gordon Smith.  In this story we meet Alex, who is arrested after he and a friend are caught during a burglary.  However, the police are not your typical law-enforcement officers, as they are clothed all in black.  Without any of the requisite procedures, during the arrest they shoot Alex's friend dead in front of him.  Alex is taken to court and found guilty of murder.  Despite his and his parents' pleas for an appeal he is sentenced to life in prison with no parole.  Not just any prison but Furnace, where there are no visitors and no chance of ever getting out.

Alex arrives to find a tough world where survival is a daily concern.  He quickly learns that friendships are not part of the Furnace world, and it is every man for himself.  Gangs abound, the food is disgusting,  and guard dogs tear the inmates apart.  Alex quickly learns from his street-smart roommate to keep a low profile and not to draw attention to himself.  This is especially the case when, during the night, evil guards manuever through the prison and randomly select the next victim.  The victims are taken away and return as killing machines.  Alex decides he wants out.  So he and his roommate devise a clever escape plan.  But it is very risky.

Mon, 01/10/2011 - 1:18pm
The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trent Lee Stewart

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

Mysterious Benedict Society by Trent Lee Stewart
After passing a series of mind-bending tests, four children are selected for a secret mission that requires them to go undercover at the Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened, where the only rule is that there are no rules.

The books below give Mysterious Benedict Society a run for its money with their mystery, extraordinary powers, great characters and adventure!

The Girl Who Could Fly by Victoria Forester
The Girl Who Could Fly
by Victoria Forester
When home schooled farm girl Piper McCloud reveals her ability to fly, she is quickly taken to a secret government facility to be trained with other exceptional children, but she soon realizes that something is very wrong and begins working with brilliant and wealthy Conrad to escape. This is a new book– and one of my favorites! It has all the components that I think you’re looking for, plus some great plot twists.

 

H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education by Mark Walden
H.I.V.E.: Higher Institute of Villainous Education
by Mark Walden
Swept away to a hidden academy for training budding evil geniuses, Otto, a brilliant orphan, Wing, a sensitive warrior, Laura, a shy computer specialist, and Shelby, an infamous jewel thief, plot to beat the odds and escape the prison known as H.I.V.E. This is another really popular book that I think you’ll love!

 

Kiki Strike by Kirsten Miller
Kiki Strike
by Kirsten Miller
Life becomes more interesting for Ananka Fishbein when, at the age of twelve, she discovers an underground room in the park across from her New York City apartment and meets a mysterious girl called Kiki Strike who claims that she, too, wants to explore the subterranean world.

 

The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
The Lightning Thief
by Rick Riordan
Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson learns he is a demigod, the son of a mortal woman and Poseidon, god of the sea. His mother sends him to a summer camp for demigods where he and his new friends set out on a quest to prevent a war between the gods.

 

Mon, 12/13/2010 - 8:50am

What would YOUR life be like if you suddenly lost the past 4 years?

Imagine falling down the stairs of your high school with a heavy camera in your hands. If that isn't embarrassing enough, what if you lost the last four years of your life? For 16-year-old Naomi, falling down the stairs of her high school with a heavy camera in her hands causes some very interesting things to happen: like realizing that your best friend in the world just might be in love with you and that you and your mom haven’t spoken since she left your dad three years ago AND that you have a half- sister that you haven’t even met yet!   In Naomi's case, she was able to use this event to decide who she really wants to be, dealing with the difficult issues of her life with a whole new perspective, with grace, humor and intelligence.

Mon, 12/06/2010 - 10:44am

 What if Jane Eyre fell in love with a rock star? This is what happens in April Lindner’s Jane, a modernization of Charlotte Brontë’s classic work. The result is a hot retelling that teens will relate to in a heartbeat. Rock star with a wild past? Check. Teen girl with a family who doesn’t understand her? Check. Passionate, roller coaster love story? All right!

When author Lindner first saw a Pride and Prejudice remake, she thought, “Not bad, but couldn’t they have chosen a better book?” Looking at her favorite classic authors, she realized that Brontë’s Jane Eyre would make for a good challenge. That challenge would prove to be steep, however. She wanted to remain as faithful as possible to the original work but make it inviting and understandable to the average young adult reader. The first difficulty was finding a modern reason for the class differences between Jane and Mr. Rochester. Then she thought, “What bigger chasm exists than between a poor orphan and the rich and famous?” (Not direct quotes).
Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:32pm

For most of us, peanuts don’t usually conjure up thoughts of sickness and death, but for Ambrose Bukowski that’s all they have to offer. The main character of Susin Neilsen’s Word Nerd has a serious allergy, but his real problem is the fact that he’s so awkward. His classmates tease him nonstop for the way he acts, the way he dresses, and the things he says. When they hide a peanut in his sandwich at lunch, the hospital visit afterwards convinces his overprotective mother to homeschool Ambrose.

One day Ambrose meets his landlord’s son Cosmo, who just got out of prison. You might not think that a nerdy kid and a twenty-something ex-con would have anything in common, but the game of Scrabble works in mysterious ways.
 
Ambrose hates Cosmo’s smoking habit and tattoos, and Cosmo doesn’t want to be seen with Ambrose when he’s wearing his lucky purple pants. Still, these two unlikely friends try to make things better for themselves, the only way they know how. But how can they play together when Ambrose’s mom won’t let him near Cosmo? And why does a scary-looking guy named Silvio keep showing up in front of their house, asking for Cosmo?
Fri, 05/13/2011 - 12:02pm
Cut by Patricia McCormick

This readalike is in response to a patron's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading  recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you.

Cut by Patricia McCormick
While confined to a mental hospital, thirteen-year-old Callie slowly comes to understand some of the reasons behind her self-mutilation, and gradually starts to get better.

If you like Cut by Patricia McCormick, here are some other books you may like based on shared issues or themes:


Self-mutiliation: 

Blade Silver: Color Me Scarred by Melody Carlson
Blade Silver: Color Me Scarred
by Melody Carlson
Ruth copes with an abusive situation at home by cutting herself, until her high school counselor helps her get the treatment she needs to start a new life. (Christian fiction author)

 

 

Crosses by Shelley Stoehr
Crosses
by Shelley Stoehr
Unhappy at home, Nancy and her friend Katie adopt punk lifestyles and find relief in cutting themselves, until Nancy is forced to confront her problems.



 

Institutions/therapy/suicide attempts:

The Boyfriend List by E. Lockhart
The Boyfriend List
by E. Lockhart
A Seattle fifteen-year-old explains some of the reasons for her recent panic attacks, including breaking up with her boyfriend, losing all her girlfriends, tensions between her performance-artist mother and her father, and more.
 

 

The Burn Journals by Brent Runyon
The Burn Journals
by Brent Runyon
Brent Runyon was fourteen years old when he set himself on fire. In this book he describes that suicide attempt and his recovery over the following year. (autobiography)

 

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