In the Beginning…

Posted: December 7, 2012 in List of Titles

In the collection’s beginning, librarians had the sift through a myriad of materials in order to determine which select few would be chosen as exceptional enough to fill the barren shelves.  This copious amount of materials include novels, graphic novels, DVDs, CDs, games, magazines, and databases.  Here is my list of materials deemed irreplaceable to a teen collection.

10 Things I Hate About You

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

Assassin’s Creed II

Babel by Mumford & Sons

Beauty Queens by Libba Bray

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak

Boy Meets Boy by David Levithan

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellison

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

Chime by Franny Billingsley

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein

Dark Song by Gail Giles

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Divergent by Veronica Roth

The Diviners by Libba Bray

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Fold3

Forever by Judy Blume

Glee

Going Bovine by Libba Bray

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Hunger by Jackie Morse Kessler

The Hunger Games (film)

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

MAD

Mango Languages

Mean Girls

Novelist K-8

Perfect by Ellen Hopkins

Perfect Chemistry by Simone Elkeles

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Teen Ink

Teen Vogue

Teenage Dream: The Complete Confection by Katy Perry

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Tweak: Growing Up on Methamphetamines by Nic Sheff

Weetzie Bat by Francesca Lia Block

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessen

Worms 3D

*By clicking on any borrowed images, you will be redirected to the home of the original content

Divergent

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Book
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Divergent by Veronica Rothdivergent

Published by Katherine Tegen Books, 2011

ISBN: 9780062024022

Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian, Adventure

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12

Author Biography:

Roth grew up in the suburbs of Chicago.  She always loved to write since she was a child.  She graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Creative Writing.  She wrote Divergent while she was attending classes.  The sequel, Insurgent, is currently available and the third book will be out something in 2013.  Information retrieved from The Divergent Trilogy website.

Reader’s Annotation:

Tris chooses to leave her family in Abnegation and join the Dauntless, the home of the courageous warriors.  Normal, everyday routines change when something alters the behaviors of the Dauntless.

Plot Summary:

The future of Chicago is divided into five different factions.  The Abnegation faction’s members of selfless, always putting the needs of others ahead of their own.  This faction is also responsible for running all aspects of the government.  The Candor faction is comprised of people who are honest no matter what.  Members of Candor find positions that are required to uphold the law which manipulation.  The Amity faction is a peaceful faction in which its members act as caretakers and counselors.  The Erudite faction is responsible for gathering and containing information.  Members of Erudite research constantly and teach others their findings.  The final faction is the Dauntless faction.  Dauntless members are brave, almost to the point of reckless.  The main responsibility of Dauntless citizens is to patrol the outer fence and protect Chicago.  Unfortunately some people don’t find a home in any of these factions or fail the initiations presented by each faction.  They are called Factionless and live off of the handouts of the faction members and perform the unwanted jobs like construction workers, public transportation drivers, and janitors.

Whenever a person turns sixteen, they must take a test that helps determine what faction they will join for the rest of their lives.  The test results give the teens two choices.  The first choice is the faction they grew up in.  The second choice is a result of the decisions made during the test.  Very rarely do people get more than two options.  When that happens, the person is called Divergent.  Beatrice is a Divergent.

Beatrice must choice between the faction she grew up in, Abnegation, Erudite, and Dauntless.  While Beatrice has never felt like she ever fit in with the rest of the faction and now she has a chance to make a new life for herself by her own choice.  But with two other factions, Beatrice is worried she won’t make the right choice.  Not to mention, being Divergent is very dangerous and must be kept secret.  Beatrice’s decision may not be expected, but she soon learns that it may be a perfect fit.

Critical Evaluation:

Roth creates a world that Hunger Games fans will enjoy.  Roth’s world divides people up by their emotional tendencies rather than their skills.  It’s a world of extremes.  There are not gray areas here.  Except where the Divergent are concerned.  It is interesting that people who can understand several different factions would be feared rather than celebrated.  It is very evident that, as the end of the book proves, there is something being kept from the citizens.  There are no true ambassadors between the factions as they all seem to have their own agendas.

It is not that unexpected that an Abnegation would become a Dauntless.  In the book, it seems that the transfer from Abnegation to Dauntless is unheard of.  However, I think that it makes sense that someone who is used to putting everyone first would have no problem sacrificing themselves in a combat situation.  Tris proves this is the case.

I have to add that I love the setting of this book.  I have lived in the suburbs of Chicago all my life.  Roth’s descriptions of a future Chicago are so vivid and frightening.  Since I have a knowledge of the areas she describes, it’s even more terrifying to picture Tris and Four on the Navy Pier Ferris wheel and a rusty Millennium Park bean.  I know that in my community, Divergent is very popular due to the setting.

Curriculum Ties:

  • Classroom Discussion book/Summer Reading option

Booktalking Ideas:

  • In a future world, you have to picture one of five factions.  The factions are Candor, Amity, Erudite, Abnegation, and Dauntless.  Which would you choose?
  • Could you leave your family forever and choose a different faction or would you stay where your parents are?

Challenge Issues:

  • Controversial Topics: Violence
  • Defense:

– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing

– Read the book to familiarize yourself with the material.  The topics mentioned above need to be understood in the context of the story.

– Libraries are one of our great democratic institutions. They provide freedom of choice for all people.

(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials  webpage)

Why This Book?

This is a great follow-up for fans of The Hunger Games trilogy.

References:

The Divergent Trilogy (2012). Veronica.  Retrieved from http://thedivergenttrilogy.com/veronica.

The Diviners

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Book
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The Diviners by Libba Braydiviners

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2012

ISBN: 9780316126113

Genre: Mystery, Horror, Supernatural, Historical

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12

Author Biography:

Libba Bray was born in Alabama but grew up in Texas.  Her father was a minister and her mother was a high school English teacher.  Shortly after high school graduation, Bray was in a serious car accident that destroyed her left eye and required a large amount of reconstructive surgery.  Once she recovered, Bray attended college at the University of Texas in Austin.  From Austin, Bray moved to New York City in hopes of becoming a successful playwright.  Her career did not blossom, even though one of her plays won an award.  Bray went on to write A Great and Terrible Beauty (2003), the fist book in the Gemma Doyle trilogy.  Since then, she has focused her career on writing novels.

Once she completed the Gemma Doyle trilogy, Bray wrote Going Bovine (2009).  Going Bovine won the Michael L. Printz award in 2010 and showed a completely different writing style from the Gemma Doyle trilogy involving tongue-in-cheek humor.  Following the success of Going Bovine, Bray wrote another comedic novel, this one satirical in nature, called Beauty Queens.  Finally, this past September Bray released her sixth novel, The Diviners (2012), which is the first in a series.

One final fun fact: Bray is in an all-YA author band called Tiger Beat.  Information retrieved from Libba Bray’s website.

Reader’s Annotation:

Evie moves to live with her uncles after her psychic powers got her in trouble.  Now she is living in New York City in the middle of the 1920s juggling dance clubs and helping her uncle solve a creepy string of murders.

Plot Summary:

What’s better than a creepy horror story about a vicious murderer terrorizing the streets of Manhattan?  You take that murder mystery, throw in some ghostly badness, add supernatural powers, and set the whole thing in the Jazz Age where flappers rule, Ziegfeld shows and speakeasies were the hotspots, and slang was whatever you wanted it to be.

Evie knew in her heart that she belonged in Manhattan, dressing up in her glad rags and hitting the elite underground clubs to dance until dawn.  Unfortunately, she was stuck in Ohio.  Things started to look up for Evie.  One evening, a disastrous party was sure to tarnish Evie’s reputation.  In order to save the party, Evie decided to show off her special gift; her ability to learn one’s secrets by holding onto a personal item.  After disclosing some very sensitive information about one of the town’s wealthier inhabitants, Evie’s parents elected to punish her by shipping her off to her bachelor uncle.  One girl’s punishment is another girl’s celebration.  Evie’s Uncle Will lives in Manhattan.

Will is the curator of the Museum of American Folklore, Superstition, and the Occult, also known as the Museum of Creepy Crawlies.  Evie’s first impression of Manhattan is a poor one, due to the sly pickpocket Sam who continues to come around like a dog searching for scraps.  Once she reaches the museum, Evie realizes that Will, along with his bookworm assistant Jericho, are sure to put a damper on her fun.  Evie collects her longtime friend Mabel and meets Theta, an actual Ziegfeld Girl, and sets out to explore the nightlife.

All the while, a darkness is taking over Manhattan, preceded by an eerie whistle.  A number of bodies, marred with spooky symbols of the occult have been discovered around the city.  Will has been tasked by the police department to assist in the investigation.  To Evie, solving a murder and getting her face in the papers is an opportunity that cannot be passed up.  Unfortunately this serial killer is more dangerous than anyone expected.

Critical Evaluation:

Bray allows readers the possibility to experience life in the 1920s with a comprehensive vocabulary of slang that may soon find a new popularity by fans.   She obviously did a lot of research to accurately represent the time period and it paid off.  Honestly, I felt like Bray’s incorporation of the Jazz Age was like an additional character to the story.  Her descriptions of the atmosphere, the dress, and the speakeasies were so lifelike.   Speaking of characters, I loved every single one.  If I didn’t like a character, it was because Bray wanted me to dislike them, not because I didn’t like the construction of the character. The bad characters, like Naughty John, were executed in a way that I knew I was supposed to dislike them but still admired their evilness.

Bray does include a bit of romance in this book, but it is not necessary to the story.  I wouldn’t classify this as a romance at all.  The romance between Evie and the two boys is realistic.  No one falls head of heels in love with one another.  There is awkward interactions and the questioning of truth behind actions.  The romance is expertly woven into the story as a part of the development of the characters rather than something slapped on top to attract the romance fans.

The Diviners is creepy and fun.  This book is obviously the first in the series as some of the secondary characters are only briefly introduced.

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • It’s the TV show Heroes during Prohibition.
  • Show Libba Bray’s brief introduction to the book.

Challenge Issues:

  • Controversial Topics: Occult, Teen drinking
  • Defense:

– Libraries are one of our great democratic institutions. They provide freedom of choice for all people.

– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing

– Read the book to familiarize yourself with the material.  The topics mentioned above need to be understood in the context of the story.

(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials  webpage)

Why This Book?

Libba Bray is an outstanding author and writes about a variety of genres.  The Diviners represents the need for more horror and historical novels.

References:

Bray, L. (2012).  About Libba.  Retrieved from http://libbabray.com/about-libba.

Staino, R. (2012, April 13).  Libba Bray’s The Diviners.  Retrieved from http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ysllHCaWRro.

The Butterfly Clues

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Book
Tags: ,

The Butterfly Clues by Kate Ellisonbutterfly clues

Published by EgmontUSA, 2012

ISBN: 9781606842638

Genre: Mystery, Adventure

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 9-12

Author Biography:

Ellison grew up in Baltimore.  She studied in Chicago to be an actor.  She currently lives in Brooklyn, NY where she paints, makes jewelry, and writes.  The Butterfly Clues is her first book.  Information retrieved from Kate Ellison’s website.

Reader’s Annotation:

Lo suffers from a severe case of Obessive Compulsive Disorder which compels her to do things in certain numbers and steal items to make her feel comfortable in new places.  One night while she was in the part of  the city known as Neverland, she witnesses a murder and decides to solve the case herself.

Plot Summary:

Three is safe.  Six is also good.  Sometimes we have to go to nine.  Lo’s mind forces her to live in a world of her own creation.  Everything Lo does must fit within the boundaries of her obsessive compulsive disorder.  Whether it’s repeating phrases two more times in order to create the safe number, three or knocking three times and saying banana every time she enters or leaves a building, room, or car, Lo must adhere to her rules of her brain has set.  Sometimes she gets a never-ending compulsion to steal something.  Her mind won’t let her relax until whatever artifact is securely placed in her pocket.

Lately things have been getting even more difficult for Lo.  After the devastating death of her brother in the shady side of Cleveland called Neverland, Lo has lost her direction in life.  Her father is never home except to buy groceries.  Her mother rarely gets out of bed and is on a number of medications.  Lo is on her own.

One evening Lo heads out to Neverland.  While standing in an alley, Lo inadvertently witnesses the murder of an exotic dancer named Sapphire.  The following day, Lo heads to the Flea Market to walk around the stalls and see if there are any treasures to add to her collection of items at home.  Lo stops at one particular stall and notices something peculiar.  Items for sale were things reported stolen from Sapphire’s house.  Lo takes this coincidence as assurance that she should look further into the death of Sapphire.

Lo travels back into the poor, yet artistic population of Neverland in hopes of discovering the truth.  Lo meets a local named Flynt.  Flynt knows everyone and everyone knows him; a perfect addition to her new obsession’s plan.  What Lo doesn’t expect is for a relationship to form between the two of them.  Relationships break through predictable patterns and Lo has problems dealing with chaotic chances.  As she digs deeper into the seedy underworld of Neverland, Lo soon learns that it is not only her chasing a killer, but now a killer may be chasing her.

Critical Evaluation:

As a diagnosed suffered of OCD, I find that most people today do not understand the severity of this issue.  It seems like everyone has OCD because they keep their room super neat or they have to use blue pens.  Quirks are not the same thing as OCD tendencies.  Ellison’s novel fully explains the truths of OCD.  While not everyone is as severe as Lo, it’s understood that her compulsions cannot be helped and cannot be ignored.  Ellison makes this story is more interseting by placing Lo is an unfamiliar place where she cannot have control over her environment.  The reason that Lo decides to take on the murder of Sapphire can be connected to the fact that it is something she can control.

Flynt is a great character to place opposite of Lo.  Lo needs her structure.  Her words and numbers create a safe place for her.  Flynt has no structure, but still manages to gain Lo’s trust.  Lo makes Flynt and Sapphire’s murder the focus of her life rather than her compulsions and we see her begin to relax a bit.

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Explain some of Lo’s tendencies and why she does them.
  • How far would you go for a stranger?

Challenge Issues:

  • Controversial Topics: Murder, teens working at strip clubs, language
  • Defense:

– Libraries are one of our great democratic institutions. They provide freedom of choice for all people.

– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing

– Read the book to familiarize yourself with the material.  The topics mentioned above need to be understood in the context of the story.

(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials  webpage)

Why This Book?

There are very few mysteries being released lately that do not involved supernatural or paranormal elements.

References:

Ellison, K. (2012).  About Kate Ellison.  Retrieved from http://kateellison.com/about_kate.php.

What Happened to Goodbye by Sarah Dessenwhat happened to goodbye

Published by Viking Juvenile, 2011

ISBN: 9780670012947

Genre: Realistic/Contemporary Fiction, Romance

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 8-12

Author Biography:

Sarah Dessen was born in Illinois but grew up in Chapel Hill, NC.  Her parents were both professors at the University of North Carolina in the literature field.  Dessen was always interested in writing.  She graduated from the University of North Carolina with a Bachelor’s Degree in English.  She waited table for a time while writing books.  She has since written ten teen books.  She lives with her husband, daughter, and two dogs.  Information retrieved from Sarah Dessen’s website.

Reader’s Annotation:

Mclean is used to moving around with her father due to his job as a restaurant consultant.  She uses each new school as a chance to try out a new persona.  However, things change at her new school as she doesn’t even know who she is anymore.

Plot Summary:

After a horrific divorce, Mclean sides with her dad and commits to follow him and his job around the country, advising restaurants.  But really, after her mother cheated on her dad with the basketball coach of his favorite college team and had twins, Mclean didn’t really see herself as a part of her mom’s new life.  Mclean and her dad only stay at one restaurant for a short time and soon she realizes that making close friends only to move away from them can be difficult.  Instead, Mclean decides that every new school is a new her.  Using different variations of her middle name, Elizabeth, Mclean creates different personas as well including the cheerleader, the theater nut, and the student council member.  When they arrive in Lakeview to advise the restaurant, Luna Blu, Mclean doesn’t have a chance to create a new identity and is stuck being just Mclean.  The question is, does she even remember who that is?

Mclean has ample opportunities to join specific cliques.  The popular party girls latch on quickly, especially since she lives next door to one of the big college party houses.  Deb, a lonely new girl who will do anything to make friends, appears on Mclean’s radar and is soon a large fixture in her day to day life.  The biggest surprise Mclean uncovers is Dave, the super smart boy next door.  In what seems at first to be a playful friendship turned romance, Dave and Mclean’s relationship is delightful to watch grow.  Mclean soon realizes while bringing all her new friends together to complete a project for the town as well as finally communicating with her mother who she really is.

Critical Evaluation:

Dessen has created a wonderful contemporary tale of self-identity, family relationships, and a bit of romance.  Mclean’s ability to handle some problems and break down is response to other brings her to life, making her one of my new favorite characters.  Dessen always brings her best when creating a supportive circle of characters and she does not fail here.  On a whole, I usually enjoy Dessen’s supporting characters more than her main character.  This book is no exception.  While I absolutely love McLean, her groups of friends make her a better character.  It’s her interactions with Deb, the lonely girl who just wants someone to be friends with and Dave, the super smart neighbor boy that make Mclean one of my favorite Dessen protagonists.  I tend to find Dessen protagonists and whiny or mean-spirited.  Usually, Dessen will take the entire book to redeem the girl so we love her in the end.  She doesn’t have to do that for Mclean.  She is already approachable from the beginning.

The main thing to take from this book is identity.  Mclean is constantly trying to find a representation of herself that she will like and other people will approve of.  It’s a scary realization when she can’t seem to remember who she really is.  Teen girls in particular will relate to the desire to fit in, no matter what.  Hopefully Mclean’s realizations will work through the pages and inspire teen girls to be themselves, not act like other people expect.

Fans of her other novel, Along for the Ride will be pleasantly surprised to see a familiar location and characters.

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Who would you be if you could be anyone?  What crowd would you hang with?  Would you choose a new name?
  • Mclean’s been so many different people that she doesn’t even know who she is?  Who do you think you are?  Describe yourself is three word.  I’ll go first…

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why This Book?

Sarah Dessen books a staples to teen girls.  While I am not a fan of a majority of the books I’ve read by Dessen, What Happened to Goodbye was pleasant surprise.  I thinking girls will get a lot from Mclean’s struggles with identity.

References:

Dessen, S. (2012).  Bio/Press Kit.  Retrieved from http://sarahdessen.com/press-kit/.

Ship Breaker

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Book
Tags: ,

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupiship breaker

Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 2010

ISBN: 9780316056212

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 8-12

Author Biography:

Bacigalupi is most well-known for his debut novel, The Wind-Up Girl, an adult title that won the Hugo, Nebula, Locus, Compton Crook, and John W. Campbell Memorial Awards.  He has also had a number of short stories published in magazines and anthalogies.  Ship Breaker is his first book for young adults and it won the Michael L. Printz Award and was a finalist for the National Book Award.  The sequel to Ship Breaker is called The Drowned Cities and it currently available.  Bacigalupi lives in Colorado with his wife and son.  Information retrieved from Paolo Bacigalupi’s website.

Reader’s Annotation:

In a future New Orleans, Nailer finds a schooner full of wealth, he must decide whether to help the injured girl found in the cabin or take the goods to guarantee him an easy future.

Plot Summary:

Nailer does not have the most glamorous life.  While working light crew with the scavengers, Nailer finds himself in many tight, potentially dangerous situations.  However, gathering the spools of copper wire from the forgotten shipwrecked oil tankers is a guaranteed why to make enough money to keep himself fed, as long as he meets the daily quota.  There are many worse ways to earn a few dollars, such as selling blood and organs to the Life Cult.  One day Nailer finds favor with the Luck and the Rust gods when he inadvertently discovers a supply of oil within a scavenged ship.  Unfortunately, Nailer falls into the oil room and must swim against the weight of the liquid in order to survive.   With his unbelievable survival, Nailer has gained the reputation of being lucky, something that is not taken lightly by his co-workers.

Bad luck soon arrives at the small scavenging town when a city-killer hurricane blows in and almost destroys everything and everyone.  After the storm clears, Nailer and his friend Pima explore the wreckage left behind.  Nailer’s luck continues when they come across a sophisticated clipper ship just floating there, ripe for the picking.  What Nailer and Pima did not expect to find was the injured girl lying in the lower cabins.  Nailer could easily kill the girl and take the plunder, but instead decides to rescue the lucky girl and help her get back to her father.  Nailer’s decision leads to severe consequences.  Nailer must sneak Lucky Girl past a number of greedy villains, including his cruel father.  Nailer and Lucky Girl must travel to Orleans II in hopes of finding one of Lucky Girl’s ships whose captain has not sided with her father’s arch nemesis.  From jumping trains on and off trains to battles with hybrid dogmen, Nailer must trust his luck with carry them to safety.

Critical Evaluation:

Ship Breaker is an embracing story told in a future world full of despair with only a glimmer of hope.  Nailer’s ethical decisions and the struggles he endures to stick by them help create a noble, inspirational character, worthy of recognition.  Nailer’s decision to help Lucky Girl over killing her and looting her ship is such a hefty ethical choice in this setting.  Bacigalupi makes it very clear that people in this world do not take the time to help one another.  It truly is every man for himself, even where Nailer and his father are concerned.  His father would lead Nailer to his death if it meant he got a large payment.

Amidst the popularity of dystopian fiction, Bacigalupi churns out a winner that is destined to hook even the most reluctant reader.  What is probably the most exciting thing about this novel is that it is all too possible.  Using the Gulf coast as a setting makes it even more real due to the hurricanes that threaten to engulf the coast towns.  The dystopian novels are a very creepy kind of escapism book because of the fact that some are a little too likely.  Bacigalupi’s book is popular amongst reluctant readers because of the realism mixed in with the science fiction.

Curriculum Ties:

  • Classroom discussion book

Booktalking Ideas:

  • If you had the chance to live comfortably with no money problems, would you sacrifice the life of a stranger?

Challenge Issues:

  • Controversial Topics: the Life Cult
  • Defense:

– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing.

– Show reviews of the book.  Ship Breaker received starred reviews and Bacigalupi has won a Printz Award and was a National Book Award finalis for this title.

– Libraries are one of our great democratic institutions. They provide freedom of choice for all people.

– Libraries provide ideas and information across the spectrum of social and political views.

(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials  webpage)

Why This Book?

Ship Breaker represents one of the more likely dystopian novels and I believe that teens like to read about dramatic, no-hope situations.  Also, this title was recognized for two awards.

References:

Bacagalupi, P. (2010). Author Info (Bio, Interviews, Photos). Retrieved from http://windupstories.com/about/.

 

Hold Me Closer, Necromancer

Posted: December 7, 2012 in Book
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hold me closer necromancerHold Me Closer, Necromancer by Lish McBride

Published by Henry Holt and Company, 2010

ISBN: 9780805090987

Genre: Horror, Humor, Supernatural

Reading Level/Interest Age: Grades 8 and up

Author Biography:

Lish McBride grew up in the Pacific Northwest.  She left briefly to attend the University of New Orleans to get a MFA in fiction.  She currently lives in Seattle, WA with her family and several pets.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is her first.  The sequel, Necromancing the Stone, was released this earlier this fall.  Information retrieved from Lish McBride’s website.

Reader’s Annotation:

Fast food employee Sam’s life is completely transformed when he learns that he has powerful necromancer skills and the current powerful necromancer in the area wants to rid himself of the competition by killing Sam.

Plot Summary:

Sam is succeeding in his average, slacker life.  He wakes up, goes to work flipping burgers, then comes back home to hang out with his friends.  Of course, sometimes he participates in a few random activities to break up the monotony.  During a break at work, Sam goes out into the back parking lot to play potato hockey with his friends.  What he didn’t expect is that this one game would change his life forever.  While playing, a potato lost control and hit a very nice car parked nearby.  The boys ran back in to the store before anything could catch them.

Douglas, the car owner, notices the damage to his car and head over to the restaurant to confront the vandals.  Besides being a big jerk, Douglas is also the most powerful necromancer in the area.  He manages to stay the most powerful necromancer by killing all his competition and absorbing their power.  When Douglas corners Sam and his friends after work, he is surprised to discover through his necromancer senses that Sam is also a necromancer, and a pretty powerful one at that.

Douglas, not wanting to deal with a possible power usurper, constructs a wild plan to capture Sam and steal his powers.  Before the plan goes into affect, Douglas sends Sam a bit of a message involving the reanimated head of Sam’s friend Brooke.  Afraid for the rest of his friends, Sam goes to Douglas which results with his imprisonment next to a naked female who is also a werewolf.  The only way out of this situation is with the help of a harbinger who dressed like a schoolgirl.

Critical Evaluation:

It always excites me when humorous books get recognized through literary awards.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer was a William C. Morris award nominee in 2011.  This award is given to the best author debuts in young adult literature.  While describing this book may seem a bit ridiculous as the story is pretty unbelievable, McBride still manages to portray wonderful writing skills.  The best achievement of this book in the character development.  The plot is a little recycled.  A powerful man wants to eliminate the competition and take the power for himself.  I can probably name 10 books with that same underlying premise without even trying.  However, what makes this book special is the attention McBride gave to the characters.  While Sam and Douglas are great, it’s the secondary characters that truly make the book special.  In particular, Brooke the severed head who lives in a bowling bag is still as snarky as she was when she was alive.

McBride has a way with puns, as it can easily be witnessed through the title.  The title is an obvious play of words with the Elton John song, “Tiny Dancer.”  McBride continues the song references throughout the book as each title is a lyric from a song.  It’s interesting to be able to guess what might happen in the next chapter based on the song lyric.

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Here’s a book for Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans who wanted Xander to run the show.
  • There’s nothing better than a book that makes you laugh out loud and scream in terror while reading the same page.

Challenge Issues:

  • Controversial Topics: Occult references
  • Defense:

– Familiarize yourself with the library’s policy so that you can defend the initial purchasing.

– Show reviews of the book.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer received starred reviews and McBride has won a Morris Honor for this title.

– Libraries are one of our great democratic institutions. They provide freedom of choice for all people.

– Libraries provide ideas and information across the spectrum of social and political views.

– Take time to listen to and empathize with a parent’s concern. Explain in a non-defensive way the need to protect the right of all parents to determine their own children’s reading.

(Information received from ALA’s Using the Strategies and Tips for Dealing with Challenges to Library Materials  webpage)

Why This Book

I appreciate when accessible books are chosen for awards.  Often the best literary book is not always a book that can be easily recommended.  Hold Me Closer, Necromancer is a great book that is easy to booktalk and has literary merit.

References:

McBride, L. (2012). Biography.  Retrieved from http://www.lishmcbride.com/biography.