Wednesday, June 20, 2012


by R.J. Palacio

Goodreads Summary:
August (Auggie) Pullman was born with a facial deformity that prevented him from going to a mainstream school—until now. He's about to start 5th grade at Beecher Prep, and if you've ever been the new kid then you know how hard that can be. The thing is Auggie's just an ordinary kid, with an extraordinary face. But can he convince his new classmates that he's just like them, despite appearances?

R. J. Palacio has written a spare, warm, uplifting story that will have readers laughing one minute and wiping away tears the next. With wonderfully realistic family interactions (flawed, but loving), lively school scenes, and short chapters, Wonder is accessible to readers of all levels.

My Review:
As a rule, I avoid books that I think will make me sad, or worse cry. (Most of my students know that this means no books where animals are a major part, because, let's face it, they always die). Because of this, I didn't think I would read Wonder. After watching the preview below, and hearing how excited some students were to read it, I knew I had to suck it up and give it a try. I wasn't let down at all. In fact, I read it in one sitting.

Palacio does an expert job weaving a story that could be tragic and heart-breaking into one that makes the reader sad, but also shows the funny and quirky side to kids and the kindness that changes the world. Instead of tearing you down with sadness and pity, it takes those emotions and shows how being an everyday kid kind of rocks, but being different has its moments, too.

Kids should read this book. Adults should read this book. People in generally should read this book. It is genuine and heartfelt. You root for Auggie, but in a weird way you understand some of the people that aren't always kind to him. Heck, he understands the people that aren't always nice to him. And that is why you will love him.

I had to share one of my favorite quotes.
“There are always going to be jerks in the world, Auggie,” she said, looking at me. “But I really believe, and Daddy really believes, that there are more good people on this earth than bad people, and the good people watch out for each other and take care of each other.” 

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Under the Never Sky

by Veronica Rossi

Goodreads Summary:
Since she'd been on the outside, she'd survived an Aether storm, she'd had a knife held to her throat, and she'd seen men murdered. This was worse.

Exiled from her home, the enclosed city of Reverie, Aria knows her chances of surviving in the outer wasteland - known as The Death Shop - are slim. If the cannibals don't get her, the violent, electrified energy storms will. She's been taught that the very air she breathes can kill her. Then Aria meets an Outsider named Perry. He's wild - a savage - and her only hope of staying alive.

A hunter for his tribe in a merciless landscape, Perry views Aria as sheltered and fragile - everything he would expect from a Dweller. But he needs Aria's help too; she alone holds the key to his redemption. Opposites in nearly every way, Aria and Perry must accept each other to survive. Their unlikely alliance forges a bond that will determine the fate of all who live under the never sky.

My Review:
I liked the dual-narration that Rossi gives to Aria and Perry. This makes the story relatable and interesting to both boys and girls. It is also necessary-the world of Reverie and the other pods is so different from the world in what they know as The Death Shop, you have to have both sides represented. 

There is romance between these two, but it starts with a hate that is fueled by misunderstanding and misinformation. The characters also push their feelings back because they have many more important things on their minds-mainly the wellbeing and love of their respective families. 

It is an adventure story that wraps people obsessed with their sterile environment and virtual reality with those who are rustic survivors. This is a good book about how changing your views of others helps you realize that you can change who you are, as well.

Article 5

by Kristen Simmons

Goodreads Summary:
New York, Los Angeles, and Washington, D.C., have been abandoned.

The Bill of Rights has been revoked, and replaced with the Moral Statutes.

There are no more police—instead, there are soldiers. There are no more fines for bad behavior—instead, there are arrests, trials, and maybe worse. People who get arrested usually don't come back.

Seventeen-year-old Ember Miller is old enough to remember that things weren't always this way. Living with her rebellious single mother, it's hard for her to forget that people weren't always arrested for reading the wrong books or staying out after dark. It's hard to forget that life in the United States used to be different.

Ember has perfected the art of keeping a low profile. She knows how to get the things she needs, like food stamps and hand-me-down clothes, and how to pass the random home inspections by the military. Her life is as close to peaceful as circumstances allow.

That is, until her mother is arrested for noncompliance with Article 5 of the Moral Statutes. And one of the arresting officers is none other than Chase Jennings—the only boy Ember has ever loved.

My Review:
I bought and read this book on the recommendation of Thomas, and was not disappointed. The difficult thing about the dystopian story is that can easily get overdone. The trick for the author is to make the story something different, add a twist. While Article 5 has some of the traditional dystopian elements (overbearing government, rebellious citizens, unrequited romance) it added more to this by twisting the story. Chase is not a new boy in Ember's life-she has always been in love with him. But he has changed and she has no idea why. Their personal back story adds to their relationship.  I wish there was more given about what happened with the government. Every time the Moral Statues are mentioned, they are so extreme that I want to know how we got there from where we are now. 

Overall, I would recommend this to people who enjoyed The Hunger Games, Legend, and Under the Never Sky.


by Marissa Meyer

Goodreads Summary:
Humans and androids crowd the raucous streets of New Beijing. A deadly plague ravages the population. From space, the ruthless lunar people watch, waiting to make their move. No one knows that Earth’s fate hinges on one girl. . . . 

Cinder, a gifted mechanic, is a cyborg. She’s a second-class citizen with a mysterious past, reviled by her stepmother and blamed for her stepsister’s illness. But when her life becomes intertwined with the handsome Prince Kai’s, she suddenly finds herself at the center of an intergalactic struggle, and a forbidden attraction. Caught between duty and freedom, loyalty and betrayal, she must uncover secrets about her past in order to protect her world’s future.

My Review:
Well, another book that I snubbed for so long, but should have read earlier.  I was not excited at all by the idea of Cinderella-one of my least favorite fairy tales-as a cyborg. It just seemed like it wouldn't work. The amazing thing is that Meyer creates an unforced story that really is enjoyable to read. Cinder is easy to see as a real person; she is witty and funny, hard-working and loyal. She also knows that there are many things about herself that are not perfect. 

This book has romance, but it isn't the suffocating center of the story. It is more about what makes someone a person. The political scheming, battles, and family issues propel the story to an exciting end that makes me sad that I have to wait for the next book (which is rumored to have Snow White and Little Red Riding Hood also making appearances).