unRequired Reading

Our unRequired Reading Blog features the latest picks for teens selected by library staff and volunteers.
Wed, 01/26/2011 - 8:19am
Green Angel by Alice Hoffman

Sometimes you love a book so much that it becomes like an old friend. When you need the memory of that book, it comes back to you and comforts you from time to time. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman is like that for me.

Two years after the September 11 attacks, I decided that my 13-year-old son didn’t read enough books during his summer school breaks. I decided to host a book club for him and four of his best friends. We always met at fun places to discuss the books we read – poolside, pizza parlors, water parks, etc. We read about five books that summer, but the book we all loved the most was Green Angel. The book is about Green, a moody 15-year-old girl. She was the daughter of a farmer who grew produce which the family sold in the city. One day, after a fight with her family, she insists on staying home when they go into the city. There is a huge explosion in the city which causes her to lose some of her vision, and ash keeps falling for days.

Tue, 01/25/2011 - 9:51am
Three Quarters Dead by Richard Peck

Kerry Williamson is 15 years old and suddenly has been selected by three of the most popular girls in school to be a part of their group.  In Richard Peck's book Three Quarters Dead, we meet Tanya, McKenzie, and Natalie, the three girls who rule the school and are the meanest girls around.  Kerry is surprised by this sudden attention from these three who previously ignored her.  They sit with her at lunch, they include her in their shopping expeditions, and she is invited to their party preparation meetings.  Tanya is clearly the ring leader of the group.  She is in charge of all the activities and the wardrobe decisions.  While at lunch with Tanya, Kerry begins to notice that time seems to stand still and lunch goes on much longer than it has in the past although the clock has not stopped.  There are several significant occurrences like this that Kerry notices but she is so happy to be part of the group that she ignores any signs that things may be weird.

Mon, 01/17/2011 - 7:56am
The Gardener

High-school junior Mason suffered severe facial scarring from a dog attack as a child. People tend to avoid the intimidating six feet three, 230-pound football player. But Mason’s gruff exterior hides a character that is a smart, quiet hero in S.A. Bodeen’s latest bestseller, The Gardener.

Having grown up never knowing his father – except for a DVD of the faceless man reading a children’s book – Mason longs for answers. When he plays the video for a group of comatose teens at the nursing home where his mother works, the inexplicable happens–a beautiful girl wakes up. Mason learns that the teens are part of a hideous experiment designed to create autotrophs—genetically engineered, self-sustaining life-forms who don’t need food or water to survive. The discovery sparks Mason’s heroism, sending him and Laila on the run for their lives as they try to learn who the mastermind behind the gruesome plan is.

Thu, 09/29/2016 - 7:44pm
Wicked Lovely by Melissa Marr

All of us have had that sense, at one time or another, of seeing something inexplicable out of the corner of our eyes. It may be a flash of light, a reflective glint, or just a shimmery difference in the air around us. And then it usually goes away. But for Aislinn in Melissa Marr’s Wicked Lovely, it’s a different story. She has always been able to see faeries around her, and they aren’t cute and precious like Tinkerbell. The fey are at times hideous or breathtakingly beautiful, cruel or mocking, and always a danger. They often pinch and mock the humans that they follow and then don glamours to blend in with humans (and often lead them astray) when it suits the faeries’ needs.

Aislinn’s grandmother shares this gift of sight and she has helped Aislinn cope by drilling firm rules into her: #3. Don’t stare at invisible faeries. #2. Don’t speak to invisible faeries. And #1. Don’t ever attract their attention. The only way that Aislinn can survive being in a world shared by both faeries and humans is to never, ever let them know that she can see them. She keeps her head down and spends most of her time at her friend Seth’s house – a converted railway car – where she feels strangely protected. Unfortunately, she has attracted the attention of a new, strikingly handsome student at school, Keenan, who doggedly pursues her.
 
Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:35pm
Fat Vampire by Adam Rex

“I think sometimes you think you’re the hero of the story, and sometimes you think you’re the victim…but you’re not either.”

Douglas Lee is rightfully confused in Adam Rex’s new novel Fat Vampire. He is the title character, doomed to remain a chubby fifteen-year-old for all time. He was trying to lose weight before he was attacked at his family’s cabin, but the curse of a vampire means that he will never change. Eternally hefty, eternally hungry for blood. 
 
At first, he gets by biting cattle and stealing from a bloodmobile (aided by his partner in nerd-crime Jay). But an incident at the San Diego Zoo while trying to suck a panda has blown Doug’s cover, and the host of the basic cable show Vampire Hunters is now close behind and frantic for high ratings.
Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:34pm

Banished from their small village, three small, bald cousins aimlessly wander in the desert. The one with a star on his shirt is greedy and sneaky. The tallest one is jolly but dim-witted. The quietest one is a hero in the making, though he doesn’t know that yet. They quickly become separated and when they reunite they are wrapped up in the beginnings of a brutal war involving humans, dragons, and a frightening race of giant rat-creatures…stupid stupid rat creatures.

Jeff Smith’s graphic novel series Bone manages to combine the look and humor of Disney cartoons while tackling the sort of epic adventure that one might find in J.R.R. Tolkien or C.S. Lewis.

Fone Bone, our hero, and his cousins owe their looks to early Disney characters, particularly the work of Carl Barks, who created Scrooge McDuck comics and revolutionized the drawing style of Donald Duck for the company. Recognizing Barks’ influence baffled me at first. Donald was not someone’s subject to be reformed and retooled. Similar to Athena, he sprung forth from Walt Disney’s head, already wearing his sailor suit…without the pants. Right?
 
Apparently not. Just like those famous ducks, the Bone cousins have large heads, round bellies, low centers of gravity, and the same aversion to pants. All of this might make it hard for a reader to take their epic quest seriously, but Smith valiantly strikes at the importance of their mission.

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