Thoughts of a Future Librarian

Welcome to my blog project for my Literature for Young Adults class! In each entry, you'll find a brief plot introduction, an interview with the author about the book, my review of the book, and which patrons I would recommend each book to as a young adult librarian in a public library setting. Enjoy!


Seraphina - Rachel Hartman

Plot Summary: 


The land of Goredd has experienced forty years of uneasy peace between humans and dragons thanks to a much-contested treaty. In spite of the efforts to improve inter-species relations by the powers that be, much tension still exists. Seraphina Dombegh, the assistant music mistress at the Goreddi court, finds herself thrust in the middle of the action when a prince of the realm is found murdered, presumably by a dragon. In the process, a secret that Seraphina holds close to her heart is in danger of being revealed.


Interview with Rachel Hartman: 





And here it is, a young adult novel that, in my opinion, is fully worthy of the elusive five-star review. This book is incredibly well-written and I thoroughly enjoyed reading it. It's now one of my favorites! I find it most challenging to write reviews for books that are this good, because I just want to say "I LOVE EVERYTHING. GO READ THIS NOW." But of course, no book is perfect, and a good review should be more detailed than that. So here goes my best shot! 


Hartman has created a fascinating world, one where dragons can more easily interact with humans by assuming a human form, known as a saarantrai. This does nothing to endear dragons to humans, however; if anything, one could even argue that it only makes things worse, as humans can claim that dragons are out to trick them. It doesn't help that dragons have no sense of social etiquette and, while incredibly intelligent, are also incredibly awkward. The world resembles medieval Europe, but with the obvious difference being that dragons exist. There appear to be no other major differences: the various breeds of dragons appear to be the only mythological creatures that exist in Hartman's world and there seems to be no magic (unless one counts music, which many in our own world would agree is a form of magic in itself). 


Hartman fills her world with fascinating characters. Seraphina's passion is music, a skill that she's learned from her uncle Orma. She befriends two members of the royal family, Glisselda and Lucian, known affectionately by his surname, Kiggs. Glisselda is an absolute sweetheart, who wants nothing more than for everyone she loves to get along, while Kiggs strictly follows his moral compass. Seraphina's relationship with the two is challenged by her secret, which causes her to feel compelled to lie in order to protect it. 


The plot is exquisitely constructed. Hartman evades the tendency of some authors to info-dump and manages to reveal her world to the reader in bits and pieces. The result is wonderful: by the end of the book, the reader feels sufficiently familiar with Goredd, but hasn't experienced the frustrating feeling of being overwhelmed or bored by information overload. Hartman weaves a story that's full of plot twists and unexpected revelations, ensnaring the reader's attention so wholly that it can't be freed until the story has ended.



I loved this book so much that I personally can't think of a single thing to complain about or that needs to be improved. Thankfully, there were a few people in class who weren't as thrilled with the book as I was - although no one outright disliked it - so I can offer their criticism as a potential warning to readers, even though I disagree with their assessments. I think the biggest criticism that was mentioned was that some people didn't find it believable that the dragons weren't more aggressive towards humans or that they weren't more eager to flaunt their dragon forms. I think that the person's comment was something along the lines of "If I was a dragon, I'd just react to a human's aggression by transforming into dragon form and kicking their butts" (paraphrasing, of course - I can't remember the person's exact words). I can understand why some people would react that way, but in my opinion, Hartman addressed that issue sufficiently. The mere existence of the peace treaty shows that the humans are, or at the very least, were at some point, relatively equal in strength and skill to the dragons. Therefore, if peace is the goal, it's in the dragons' best interests to refrain from being more aggressive towards humans. Any dragons who abide by the treaty and reside in Goredd are faced with discrimination and intolerance from humans, and, again, if they are to obey the peace treaty that is enforced not only by the humans but also by the dragons' government as well, they must abide by its terms. Again, in my opinion, I think that this topic was sufficiently explained by Hartman, but I suppose some people might disagree with me.


I can't wait for the sequel to be released, which won't be until either June 2014 or March 2015 (goodreads lists both dates and Hartman has no clues on her website so I am just stumped and crossing my fingers for 2014 because I NEED to read it!!!). This book is wonderful and I highly, highly recommend that you rush out to your nearest bookshelf and pick it up!


Recommended to: 

Well, anyone, really - as stated above, I adored this book and I find it difficult to fathom why anyone would not. But I suppose that specifically, I would recommend this to people who love fantasy and/or young adult literature. I think this book is a great representative of both genres, and, as I've said, I can't imagine anyone not enjoying it. 


The Keeper of Dawn

The Keeper of Dawn - J.B. Hickman

Plot Summary:


Jacob Hawthorne is less than enthusiastic about being forced to attend boarding school on Raker Island. Unfortunately, no one really seems to care about what he wants - not his self-absorbed mother, his absentee father, or his adventurous older brother - and so off to boarding school he goes. But once there, Jake becomes a part of the Headliners, a group of boys who band together after their fathers all make the front page of the papers on the same day. In the Headliners, Jake learns the value of friendship and finds that he's not the only one who suffers from constantly living in the shadow of a prestigious father.


Unfortunately, at this time, I was unable to find a video interview with J.B. Hickman. However, a print interview may be found here




I loved this book so much more than I expected to. Written in the same vein as classics such as Catcher in the Rye and A Separate PeaceThe Keeper of Dawn centers around a bunch of privileged boys with serious daddy issues. Not my usual thing - but, again, it was on the reading list for class. However, this book stands out from the cliches. It's written beautifully and subtly, and I honestly could not put it down when I first read it this past summer. 


What struck me most about this book was the plot twist at the end. It's probably one the most successfully executed plot twists that I've ever read. It came completely out of nowhere and completely blindsided me, much as it must have blindsided Jake. As I re-read it this past week, I kept the ending in the back of my mind as I read and I was able to pick up on clues about what was coming, but they're so subtle that the reader dismisses them without even realizing it. Truly brilliant. 


This is a book that deals a lot with psychology - how boys must deal with living in their fathers' shadows, class issues, and how, as Mr. O'Leary (Jake's teacher/mentor) says, (and I'm paraphrasing here) the purpose of prep schools is so boys can form the right tribes/clans, and if they fall in with the wrong one they're lost forever. 


I'd like to start with the concept of "daddy issues." In this book, Jake, Chris, and Roland all live in their dads' shadows. I guess Derek does too, but he really didn't seem as bothered by it - or at least, nowhere near to the extent that the other boys are. Chris' dad is a major politician and he tends to use his reputation as a family man to win votes. In response, Chris is just about the most rebellious kid imaginable - or at least, he is by prestigious rich kid standards. He's got giant wings tattooed to his back (a huge taboo in 1980, especially in the society that these boys associate with), he seeks out trouble simply for the sake of embarrassing his father, and he revels in drinking and sex (which isn't exactly atypical where teenage boys are concerned). Roland was my favorite character, I think. He comes from a long line of military heroes and he's expected to carry on the tradition. The problem is, Roland is a very peaceful, pensive person - he is so not suited for a military career. But he's so weighed down by the family tradition that he can't even consider any other path for his life. 


Being that these boys all go to a prep school in New England, it's pretty clear that they're from the upper echelons of society. Jake tells us that his family is very well-respected in legal matters, and I've already touched on Chris and Roland's families' prominence. Derek's the exception. His family is "new money," and that's not really apparent until the boys go home with him over break and he throws a party that his dream girl refuses to attend because of his apparently lower class tendencies. I think this point is more subtly illustrated by the group dynamics. Jake is the narrator so we see everything from his perspective, and what's most evident is that he comes to view all of the boys, especially Chris, as older brothers - they're two years older than him and they really take him under their wing. But if you look at the rest of the dynamics, Chris and Roland are attached at the hip. They've been together since childhood and they are without question best friends. I think that Jake sees himself as the group's follower, but in reality, I think that it's Derek. He's not a part of this society - he is, but they don't really see him as such because he's "new money." He tags along with Chris and Roland but even though he's their age, because he doesn't have the same background as they do, he's not really a part of the group. He's essentially a follower. 


Going back to the "tribe" aspects, Mr. O'Leary warns Jake not to hang out with the Headliners. He acts as a father figure to Jake at the school and he doesn't want Jake to hang around the boys because 1) they're two years older and he feels that Jake should be around boys his own age and, more importantly 2) they're TROUBLE. Or so Mr. O'Leary says. And I suppose he has a point: they wreak havoc from the very beginning and as the book progresses, their shenanigans get more and more out of hand. So yes, I guess they are trouble. But they're also really good for Jake. They break him out of his shell and make him feel important. He looks up to them and, regardless of what Chris' motives may be at times, they truly are there for him. I think this demonstrates the tendency to categorize people as "good" or "bad," when, in reality, we all have both qualities and even when people have a dark past, they still have good in them and can still be of value. 


I think this book is fantastic. It is not a book that I would typically like, but the more I think about it, the more blown away I am by how well it's written and how much J.B. Hickman managed to pack into it.  In my opinion, this is capital-l Literature and I think that if it gets the attention that it deserves, it could very well become a coming-of-age classic, worthy of being discussed in a high school English class. I know that this is a huge claim to make, but of all the young adult novels that I've ever read, I believe that this one has the most potential to become a classic. I highly recommend reading it. 


Recommended to: 


In a public library setting, I think I would recommend this to just about any teen, but especially teens who I know have recently struggled with the loss of a family member or who are struggling to find their place in the world. I think that teens in either of these categories will be able to identify the characters, which will add to their appreciation of the story.  



daynight (Volume 1) - Megan Thomason

Plot Summary: 


When Kira Donovan has the opportunity to become a recruit for the Second Chance Institute during her senior year of high school in exchange for a full ride to college, she jumps at the chance, especially since all of her friends died in a tragic accident. However, she quickly learns that the SCI is nothing like she'd imagined: she finds herself on Earth's sister planet, Thera, where nothing is as it should be. The more she learns about Thera, the more Kira wonders what she's gotten into. It doesn't help that she's been paired up with the mysterious Blake Sundry as a partner, and on top of everything, she can't push Ethan, a stranger that she met at a party, out of her mind... all this adds up to a new young adult novel filled with action, romance, and suspense.


Unfortunately, at this time, I was unable to find a video interview with Megan Thomason. However, a print interview can be found here




This book has such an interesting premise. Yes, it's dystopian, and as such, it has a lot of similarities with other dystopian novels - including a communist society that is highly regulated by the authorities. But the concept of a sister planet to Earth that is Earth's polar opposite, a planet where people who've died can have a second chance to live out their lives... that is a cool concept. 


The main problem with this book is that the super cool concept is not carried out as well as it might have been. We discussed many of its weaker points inclass and we agreed that one of its huge weaknesses is that Thomason throws a LOT of information at the reader in a very short amount of time. She'll have characters (usually Kira) asking questions about things that don't seem quite right, then wait about 50 pages and answer all of them at once. And then, the answers get repeated to us twice as each of the narrators get filled in on the information. I think a way that this problem could have been avoided would have been if Thomason had chosen to stick to one narrator. This book is told through multiple points of views - those of Kira, Blake, and Ethan (and in the very beginning, Bailey) - and in some books, this is a great way to keep the story moving and tell it from various perspectives. In this case, it created choppiness, led to repetition, and made the book much longer than it needed to be. I think it would have been better if Thomason had stuck to Kira's point of view - that way, we'd learn everything when the protagonist learned it and we wouldn't have to read the same information multiple times. 


daynight shows some similarities to other recent young adult series.  Although her story is certainly her own, there are common elements. For example, as in The Hunger Games, Thera is split up into various cities (similar to the districts in THG), each of which serves a different purpose for the overall functioning of Thera (example: Industrial City takes care of all of the manufacturing). I think the similarities to Twilight are more visible. There's a love triangle that exists throughout the entire book (and I suspect throughout the rest of the series as well) between Kira, Blake, and Ethan. Even the names are similar: Blake/Jake, Ethan/Edward. Blake is the nice but flawed boy, Ethan is the seemingly perfect in every way Prince Charming. They have sparkly eyes. Like in Twilight, the characters have crazy raging hormones but insist on not acting on them until they're Cleaved (aka married). Again, I don't mean to imply that Thomason stole elements of her story from these extremely successful YA series. But you can definitely see the similarities. Thomason was kind enough to respond to my initial review of the book and she pointed out that, contrary to what I had been told and despite the similarities, Twilight did not influence her when writing daynight. 


This brings me to my next point, and I'm not sure exactly how to word it. The characters, while not exactly one-dimensional, did not seem as fully developed as they could have been. To me, the boys didn't talk like boys - they talked like an adult woman's interpretation of teenage boys, but not like actual teenage boys. Everyone was overly sarcastic - yes, teens are sarcastic, but they do not respond sarcastically to each and every situation. Reactions to scenarios were far too calm. Example: The SCI shoots Kira's parents. Though horrified, she simply accepts this as her fault - if she had listened to the SCI's instructions to return to Thera, this never would have happened. Although it's possible that this could have happened had Kira experienced extreme trauma/brainwashing at the hands of the SCI before this point, at this stage, she really hadn't prior to this, and I didn't believe her mostly calm reaction. After reading my review, Thomason actually took the time to re-write this scene. I think it's remarkable that not only did she take the time to read my review AND respond to it, but she took my feedback seriously enough to modify her review based on what I had to say. I found the revised version to be a huge improvement, as Thomason added Kira's thought processes and mental responses to each thing that happened, rather than simply narrating the events. 


Additionally, some key plot elements just didn't add up. Examples: 


-There is NO WAY Blake could have climbed a bunch of ropes on the edge of a cliff at the age of three. 

-Blake could NOT have made it over the detonator when returning from the canyons and survived. On the off chance that he did, he would NOT have healed as promptly as he did. 


Ultimately, this book had a LOT of potential, but there were some key points that just had me shaking my head in disbelief/disappointment. I think that part of the problem is that (as far as I know), it's self-published. In her author's note, Thomason says that she's had several people look over her book and proofread it prior to publishing, but I think this really could have benefited from a professional editor, who could have given Thomason a bit more guidance as to format and style. She puts forth a good effort towards a potentially great book, but I don't believe that it's lived up to its full potential. I do think that this book will greatly appeal to teenage girls - if I were in middle school, I would have devoured it and bought it hook, line, and sinker. But as a college student reading it with a more critical eye, there is a lot of room for improvement, and I believe that many adults who give this a try will come to the same conclusions. I do intend to continue the series, however, because in spite of its flaws, it truly is an enjoyable story, full of plot twists and suspense. 


When Thomason spoke with me, she told me that although daynight was pretty much exclusively previewed by proof-readers, her later books in the series are being looked at by an editor and she does take beta readers and reviewers' feedback seriously. Considering my own experience with her, I definitely believe that. The revised scene that I had the privilege of reading makes me believe that her writing skills have definitely improved just in the short time since daynight was published and although, as stated, I think that daynight essentially reads as an early draft as a novel, I anticipate that her later works will be of a higher quality and will have benefited from her added experience. I look forward to reading the rest of the series and plan to look for the sequel once I've graduated. 


Recommended to: 


If I were to recommend this to anyone, I would definitely recommend it to middle school girls. There's really nothing too offensive or inappropriate for that age group and I think that preteen girls will appreciate the romance aspect of it, and, as stated, it bears similarities to Twilight and The Hunger Games that I think would appeal to that audience. Thomason told me that the book has also been very popular with college aged women, but based on my own experience and that of my classmates' I think I would be hesitant to recommend this to one of my own peers without being very familiar with their reading tastes. However, after I read the rest of the series, that might change and I might be more inclined to recommend this to a wider group of readers, with the caveat being that the series improves in later books. 


The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave - Rick Yancey

Plot Summary: 



The 1st Wave caused all modern technology to crash. The 2nd Wave caused natural disasters that struck most of the world. The 3rd Wave created a disease, killing all but a few. The 4th Wave taught everyone that no one could be trusted. 


Cassie knows that the 5th Wave is coming, but she doesn't know how or when it will strike. All she knows is that she has to find her brother, Sammy, who has been taken to a place that is supposed to be safe. Meanwhile, she meets a potential ally, Evan, but she's hesitant to rely on him, after everything that's happened. Can Evan be trusted? Will Cassie be able to rescue Sammy? Most importantly, how can anyone hope to survive in such a messed up world? 


Interview with Rick Yancey: 





I really don't like sci-fi. Like, at all. So when I came across this on our class reading list, I was not a happy camper. But then, when I actually started reading this book, I made a delightful discovery: this book was impossible to put down. And we all know what that means: it has a compelling storyline, wonderfully constructed characters, and is written in such a way that you just can't leave the book alone. It's what we hope for in all books that we encounter and I'm happy to announce that I found it in this one. 


My favorite part of a book is the characters. I firmly believe that you don't have good characters, you don't have a good story. These characters are great: they're flawed, at times, but that's good - it makes them more believable and it helps us to connect with them. There's Cassie, the girl who's discovered that she has more grit and sheer determination than she ever thought. There's her little brother, Sammy, who still tries to see the good in everything, in spite of everything that he's seen. There's Evan, the guy that we want to believe is perfect, even though we know that in all seemingly perfect people, there's always a "but" in there somewhere. And then there's Ben, who's trying to hold on to his humanity but slowly feels himself turning into a zombie as he becomes desensitized to his surroundings. All of these characters show so much tenacity as they experience horrors that could only happen during an alien apocalypse - and you'll find that you just have to find out what happens next. 


This story is told from multiple perspectives. At times, it was hard to tell who was telling it at first, but in the case of this book, that actually worked out pretty well as it reflected the chaos of the setting. You'll find that you can't trust anyone and the suspense caused by that is riveting. 


One thing that I greatly appreciate is that Yancey resists the temptation to involve a love triangle in his story, as every author since Twilight has seemed to feel the need to do. Although there is potential for one, by the end  of the story, I feel that I know conclusively who Cassie's going to end up with and while Yancey could certainly manipulate things, I don't think that he's going to - and I find that to be very refreshing. One thing that I did think was sort of cheesy was when Evan showed Cassie who he really was. It reminded me of Twilight when Edward tells Bella that he's a vampire and came off as very cliche and frankly, kind of nauseating. I don't know how it's going to work out in the film version that's in production and that definitely makes me nervous. Hopefully, they find a way to do it well. 


When we discussed this in class, many students compared this book to The Host by Stephanie Meyer. I will admit that there are similarities, but I found them to be very minimal and I think that the differences are far more significant. The biggest difference is that in The Host, the aliens want to create a peaceful co-existence with the humans, basically a utopia, while in The 5th Wave, they want to eliminate all the humans. With such a major plot difference, I disagree with claims that this is copying Meyer's work. 


Readers should be aware that there is a LOT of violence, as can probably be expected, as well as vulgar language. Most of the profanity occurs in extremely hostile or tense moments, but it's still pretty strong and readers, especially educators, should definitely be prepared for that. Because of the graphic violence and strong language, I personally would probably refrain from recommending this to anyone younger than high school age, although, since I don't believe in censorship, I certainly wouldn't stop a middle school age patron from reading it. But I do think that this is better suited for older teens. 


Recommended to: 


In a public library setting, I would avoid outright recommending this to readers who are younger than 15, although I would not prevent preteens from reading it. I'm currently recommending this book to just about everyone I meet who expresses an interest in reading. I think that anyone who enjoys young adult literature, sci-fi, or simply seeks a book that will completely ensnare their attention will find that this is a book worth reading. 

Goblin Secrets

Goblin Secrets - William Alexander

Plot Summary: 

Rownie is a young boy who lives in Zombay. He's been taken into the household of Graba, a witch whose legs resemble those of a chicken but are made of clockwork and who moves her house around on a regular basis. Rownie's sole relative is his older brother Rowan, but Rowan's an actor, and acting is outlawed in Zombay, so now Rowan has disappeared. Rownie desperately wishes to find Rowan, so he joins an acting troupe himself, one consisting of goblins, who are allowed to act since they're not technically citizens of Zombay. Little does Rownie know that the stories that the goblins tell and the masks that they use are more significant than he could have imagined, and he's about to be sucked into the adventure of a lifetime. 


Read an interview with William Alexander here.




While I really like the premise of this book, I just couldn't really get into it. The biggest problem that I have with it is that very little is explained. Alexander has created a world that is very different from our own, though it does seem to share some aspects, and I found it very difficult to follow the storyline because there was so much that I just didn't understand. At certain points, the story was very confusing. I feel that Alexander was in such a rush to tell the story that he didn't begin at the beginning and he never really made up for that. 


One thing that I did like about the book was that it drew from the Baba Yaga fairy tales. I love fairy tales and I thought it was awesome that Alexander drew from them. I also liked that even though he was clearly influenced by Baba Yaga, he also made the character of Graba his own. 


As difficult as it was for me to start this book, by the end I really was interested and I think that this series has potential to get really good - if Alexander explains more about the background of Zombay. If I run across the rest of the series, I would probably be interested in reading it. But I doubt that I'll actively seek it out. 


Recommended to: 


This book is most definitely a mid-level book. It's perfect for pre-teens - the language isn't terribly advanced and the chapters are relatively short, the story moves pretty quickly, and Rownie is close to the age of the intended audience. I think that perhaps this is why the book didn't resonate with me - maybe I'm just too old to be as entertained by it as a 12 year old would be. So I would definitely recommend this book to pre-teens, especially if they're interested in fantasy or have an interest in theater. 


The City's Son

The City's Son - Tom Pollock

Plot Summary: 


Beth Bradley is no ordinary teenager, and she never has been. After her mother's death, her father sort of lost his grasp of reality, which means that Beth is pretty much left to do as she pleases - and what Beth loves to do is roam the streets of London with her best friend, Pen, leaving a trail of graffiti everywhere she goes. But when a piece of graffiti gets her expelled from her school, Beth turns to the streets, where she meets an extraordinary boy named Filius, who claims to be the son of a goddess. Filius shows Beth a side of London that she's never seen before, and now that she's found it, she can never go back. 


Interview with Tom Pollock: 





This is probably one of the most original books that I've ever read. Pollock takes ordinary objects that we see everyday and he turns them into something completely new and magical, and sometimes terrifying. It's a world where statues can fight, garbage can be come a living, breathing entity, and reflections in a mirror can be just real as the person next to you. And he takes an ordinary girl and places her right in the middle of it. This story is raw and violent. It will make you cringe and disgust you. But it's so masterfully written that you won't be able to stop reading. At first, I found this world to be difficult to picture, because it's just so different from our own, and yet, it's based on the London that we know, or have at least heard of. I think that part of the problem was just that this genre is completely new to me, so it took me a while to adjust myself. It's certainly no fault of Pollock's, because he's a master of description - he doesn't leave you completely blind to his characters' surroundings, but he doesn't get long-winded, either. 


The story is told from multiple perspectives, and Pollock is an author who can actually use this technique well, moving smoothly from character to character without losing track of the story or becoming choppy. Each character is well-developed and multifaceted. They each have very real fears, but they each face them bravely, even if their lives are on the line - and they very often are. As the story develops, we watch each of the characters grow and become a better version of themselves. 


I think that one of the most interesting aspects of this book is that it deals with the concept of an absent god, one who's abandoned its worshipers. It's an extremely daring move to make and I think that Pollock tackles it with tact, but also with honesty. It's done in a way that teens can understand, but it's also subtle enough that they may not make the connection that it's sort of a commentary on the religion of our world unless they truly sit and think about it. I think this aspect of the book might make some parents pause, but let's be honest: this book was written for high school students, most of whom aren't going to pass over a book just because Mom and Dad say to do so. 


Overall, I'd say that this was an great piece of literature - it's original, it grabs your attention fast and never lets go, it's well-written. I have no complaints. The only reason I didn't give it 5 stars is that for me, a 5 star book has to be WAY above and beyond my expectations and my new favorite book. While a great book, this isn't my favorite. But it's still fantastic and I encourage you to go read it! 


Recommended to: 


This book is definitely appropriate for high school and above, but not any younger. It's chock-full of profanity and oh my goodness, the violence is astounding. It's not just battle scenes and briefly saying that someone got hurt; you learn exactly how they got hurt and exactly how they're wounded and how much pain they're in... it's quite gruesome. Be prepared for that. Also, there are references to sex and while it's not graphic, again, it's raw,


 especially when you learn that Pen was raped by the nasty teacher who got Beth expelled

(show spoiler)


So, to any librarians who wish to include The City's Son in their collection, I would advise that you be wary of patrons' ages when recommending this to them. I think you'd be safe to recommend this to anyone older than 15, but I probably would be cautious to recommend this to readers who are much younger than that.


The Immortal Von B

The Immortal Von B. - M. Scott Carter

Plot Summary: 


Josie Brunswick is a social outcast. She's an American who's moved to Vienna as a result of her dad's job - he's a medical researcher. Her mother passed away shortly after the move, so not only is Josie trying to navigate a foreign country, she's reeling from the grief caused by her mother's death. She has only one friend, the quirky Fa8 (pronounced "fate"), and has no interest in making more - at least, not with the snobby offspring of minor royalty that attend her school. In the midst of all this, Josie makes a mistake in her father's laboratory and accidentally brings to life a replication of Ludwig von Beethoven. This causes a whole lot of trouble as a scandal about her father's company unfurls, which ends up endangering Josie's life, not to mention those of her Fa8, Beethoven, and her father. . 


Unfortunately, I was unable to find an interview with M. Scott Carter. 




This is another book that has a really cool concept that was poorly executed. It also was a fast read that held my attention the whole way through - I couldn't wait to find out what happened next. This was definitely a page turner. But there were parts of it that I just kept questioning. For example, Carter hints that Josie has a dark past psychologically, but he never develops it further. True, it's not integral to the story, but it's mentioned frequently enough that it merits further development, or it should have just been extracted completely, because as it was, it just served to distract from the story. Also, some of the friendships/relationships that Josie makes feel very forced, and some of them are just completely neglected (Theresa, Chaz).


Most importantly, Beethoven was very one-dimensional, and I feel like Carter just completely ignored any contemporary accounts of him when creating the character. His personality bears no resemblance to that of the Beethoven that we're familiar with. Carter created a character that he wanted to see in the book and named him Beethoven to give the book a plot, in my opinion - and the worst part is that the character is boring. Also, while at first Carter makes a huge deal out of the fact that Beethoven only speaks German, not English, and Josie has to make sure to speak in German to him, after we first meet Beethoven, there's no mention of the language barrier at all, even though it's stated that Josie's German is flawed at best.

The most bothersome aspect for me was the love triangle between Josie, Fa8, and Beethoven. Frankly, I wish Josie had ended up with Fa8 - he was so much more interesting! The only connection Josie really had with Beethoven was that they love music (an interest Fa8 also shares) and that he's a good kisser, apparently. I also find it very hard to believe that Fa8 and Beethoven would be such good friends even after Josie rejects Fa8 for Beethoven. 


Additionally, the writing was juvenile and immature, filled with cliches. The plot progression was mechanical - it was clear that the author wanted to get from point A to point B, but couldn't think of a way to do it plausibly, so he just made it happen as quickly and sloppily as possible. Many of the characters' decisions did not make ANY sense at all. For example, when Josie lets Chaz into the lab, she KNOWS it's a bad idea and she doesn't even WANT to let him in - but she does anyway. Why? The author hints around that she wants to protect her dad but he also implies that she wants to get back at him - first of all, which one is it? Second of all, if she wants to protect him, how exactly does letting a guy who clearly wants to spy on him and expose his faults in to his top-secret lab do that? If she wants to get back at her dad, then why would she do it in a way that her dad would so easily discover her actions? The entire scenario makes no sense. Nor does her relationship with her dad - one minute, they hate each other, the next, they love each other. I understand that this is typical of teens and their parents, but the transition from hating each other to adoring each other was so fast and undeveloped that it gave me mental whiplash. 


In all, this book was okay, and I think that most teens would probably like it. They'd probably read it and not have too much of a problem believing it, but I think that because I'm reading it as a college student who's analyzing it for a class, its flaws jump out at me, and I'm having a hard time getting past them. I think this is an amazing concept for a book, but the jump from the initial idea to the actual implementation of it didn't really reach its full potential, in my opinion. 


Recommended to: 


I honestly don't know who I'd recommend this book to. I would say sci-fi or classical music fans, but there were a few in my YA literature class and they were disgusted by how unbelievable this book was. However, I think that a teen reading this would probably not be as critical as they were, so I suppose I'd recommend it to sci-fi fans - but, to be honest, if I were to recommend any science fiction novel to anyone, it would probably be The 5th Wave, not this. 

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children

Beautiful Music for Ugly Children - Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Plot Summary: 


Gabe Williams is an eighteen year old who's in the process of transitioning from Liz Williams. At the beginning of the story, the only people who know that that Liz wants to be known as Gabe from now on are his parents, brother, and best friend, Paige. Gabe's super nervous about people finding out about his true identity, because he comes from a small town in Minnesota where people aren't very open-minded. He's also incredibly passionate about music and has his own radio show called Beautiful Music for Ugly Children. The story basically follows Gabe's coming out to the rest of his town, and it's also about his transition as he figures out what to do with his life after graduation from high school. 


Interview with Kirstin Cronn-Mills

Unfortunately, I was not able to find a video interview with the author. However, I was able to find an interview that a blogger did with her. You can read it here




I never, ever expected to like this book as much as I did. This is only the third book that I've read that I'd qualify as LGBT literature (the other two being Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe and Invisible Monsters Remix), and it was the first that seriously took on the issue of transgenders (I don't count IMR because Brandy Alexander isn't exactly your average trans person). I didn't know what to expect, especially because the first time I read this book, it was like a week after I'd finished IMR, and while IMR is a really great book, it's also super disturbing. So going into reading this book, I was kind of expecting it to be like IMR-Jr, which I don't think would have worked out so well, since IMR is EXTREMELY inappropriate (but also very good - go read it!). Also, I personally have had absolutely no interactions with any  transgender people (as far as I know), so this was new territory for me - and to be honest, the only reason I picked up this book was because it was assigned to me. And while it may seem silly, I was nervous - I think it's true that we fear what we don't understand and, prior to reading this book, I had zero understanding of what being transgender really meant, or what transgender people are like. 


I think it's safe to say that the main goal of this book is to inform people about the transgender community and to make people more open-minded about people who are born in the wrong body. In my case, I would definitely say it was successful. While I would never, ever intentionally hurt or be rude to a person because of their sexual or gender orientation, prior to reading this book, I was never able to wrap my mind around the concept of being transgender. It just didn't make sense to me - how could a boy actually identify as a girl, or vice versa? After reading this book, I must admit, I still don't get it. But I also know that as confusing as the concept is for me, it must be million times more confusing for people who are actually experiencing it. It's not a ploy for attention or an attempt to be different - these people are simply born into the wrong bodies and are trying to make sense of their lives. 


To me, the most interesting aspect of the book was Gabe's family. At the beginning of the story, his parents are still adjusting to the whole "my daughter's a dude" thing. Because of that, they can't even look at Gabe, and they insist on still calling him Liz - basically, they're in denial. But as the book goes on, they actually make an effort to talk  to Gabe about what he's going through and to try to understand it. I think that for parents, this must be especially challenging. If you think about it, one of the first things that you learn about your baby before they're born is if they're a boy or a girl. There are lots of things about any kid that will surprise any parent - will they like sports? will they read? will they like boys or girls? will they party? will they do drugs one day? will they go to jail?... the list goes on. There are so many things that parents try to prepare themselves for, but one thing that I think parents expect to stay constant is that if you have a boy, he'll be a boy forever, or if you have a girl, she'll be a girl forever. I don't think that most parents expect something like that to change. But after reading this book, I think that maybe it would be a good thing for parents to start preparing themselves for something like this, so that if their children come home one day and say that they identify as the opposite sex, parents can be more accepting and loving in their response - it would be better for everybody. I think that Kirstin Cronn-Mills portrayed Gabe's parents in a way that's both realistic and optimistic - realistic because Gabe's announcement would probably shock most parents and optimistic because hopefully, parents in this situation would eventually realize that changing gender does not change the person who their child is. 


Being transgender, in my opinion, is not wrong or bad or tragic - it's just part of who some people are. But it can come as a surprise, and it's often a surprise that people don't understand. I think that it's time that people begin to try to understand, and above all, I think that it's crucial that we as a society begin to accept that people aren't just male or female - they're people. Does it really matter what gender they identify with? After reading this book, I don't think so, and it's for that reason that I gave this book such a high rating: it made me more informed about a topic that I had previously known nothing about, and it made me so much more open-minded toward that topic. On top of that, the story was funny and Gabe was totally relatable - he's trying to find himself, and I think that's something that we ALL can relate to, transgender or not. 


Recommended to: 


I do have a disclaimer to go with this book: there is a TON of vulgar language. Personally, I wasn't too offended by it, because, at least in my experience, Gabe talks like high school age guys talk. But honestly, the language is terrible. For that reason, I personally would not recommend it to anyone under the age of sixteen. If teens under the age of sixteen were interested in reading it, I wouldn't discourage them from reading it because I do think that this is a great book that touches on a very important topic, but again, I would recommend caution in encouraging younger teens to read this book. It's one that I definitely think librarians should read first, before handing it to teen patrons. But again, great book, and one that I definitely recommend to older teenagers and adults!


Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe - Benjamin Alire Sáenz

Plot Summary: Aristotle never had many friends. Then he met Dante. In Dante, he found someone with whom, despite their differences, he could be himself. Through their friendship, Aristotle and Dante discover truths not only about the world in general, but about themselves. 


NPR Interview with Benjamin Alire Saenz 



Review: I knew going into this book that I wasn't going to like it, because it's a coming of age story and, in my experience, most coming of age stories follow the same pattern: they're about two best friends who meet by chance but instantly know that the other person is Integral To Their Life, and then the narrator becomes disenchanted with his/her friend (who, of course, is innately good and wonderful and teaches the narrator something important), and then just when the narrator realizes how absolutely wonderful said friend is, something terrible happens to the friend. And that is exactly what happened in this book. Except this book has two very important differences that set it apart from all of those other books and ALMOST made me like it: 1) the story went on after the tragedy and 2) the two characters ended up being gay. In these coming of age novels, I always suspect the characters of being gay but they never actually are (or if they are, the author chooses not to expose this), and because these two actually are, it felt more honest, more real. And I thought that was great - not necessarily that they were gay, but that the author was honest about it. Which makes sense, because that's what this book is known for. I didn't know that prior to reading it and I'm glad that I didn't. 

There are two reasons why I only gave this book 2 and a half stars. First of all, I just didn't really like any of the characters. They were both smart alecs and while I don't mind a bit of sass, the constant sarcasm and moodiness got really old really fast. It may just be that I'm not in that stage of my life anymore and so I find it to be annoying, haha. 


Also, I just didn't believe that Aristotle was in love with Dante. I certainly believed throughout the book that he cared deeply about him, but as a friend. At the beginning of the book, I did think that there might be a possibility that they might have feelings for each other because Aristotle kept saying things about Dante being beautiful. But as soon as Dante came out to Aristotle, all of that stopped. I'm realizing now that maybe that was the author's way of trying to express Dante's repression of his true feelings, but to me, it caused Aristotle's acceptance of his feelings towards Dante to seem sudden and forced. It definitely didn't  help that in order for Aristotle to recognize his feelings, his parents had to actually sit him down and explain to him that he was in love with Dante. When you're in love with someone, you don't need anyone to explain that to you. You just know. Mixed with the final chapter, which involved an intense make out session under the stars, the outcome of this book just seemed trite and ridiculous. 


One thing that I did really like about this book was that Saenz did a really great job of conveying how teenagers come to learn who they are. I think that everyone goes through a phase where they're not really sure who they are or what they stand for. When we're kids, everything about us is so shaped by our parents. We're shaped by our parents' beliefs and our parents' lifestyles and who our parents think that we are. I think this is natural - it's simply a result of the fact that our parents are the people who we spend the most time with. But when we get to be teenagers, we start to figure out who we are as individuals, as people who are separate from our parents, and I think that can be really confusing for a lot of people. Saenz did a great job of showing both Aristotle and Dante's journeys as they discover who they are. 


Ultimately, though, this great depiction wasn't quite enough to merit a great review from me. It didn't make up for the annoying parents or what I saw as a forced romance. I understand why some people might relate to and really enjoy this book, but for me, this one just didn't click, so it's only earned two and a half stars. 


Recommended to: I would recommend this to any patron who is looking for a book that will reflect their own confusion about their path in life, regardless of sexual orientation. Although this is a LGBTQ book, it's not a book that is only relevant to that community and I think that it could appeal to lots of people - even if it didn't appeal to me. I would be hesitant to recommend this to a young teenager (one in middle school), because there is a lot of profanity, but I certainly would not prevent them from reading it if they found it on their own. 

Inside Out and Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again - Thanhha Lai

Plot Summary: Ha has lived in Vietnam all her life, but when war approaches her hometown of Saigon, she and her family flee to safety in the United States. The journey is treacherous and adjusting to the American way of life is incredibly difficult for Ha. Told through prose poetry, this moving story shows a side of America that most Americans have never and will never experience for themselves. 


Thanhha Lai Speaks about Inside Out and Back Again



Review: I am not a big fan of poetry, so I was not really looking forward to reading this book. However, I was pleasantly to find that I loved this story - and I think that telling it through prose poetry was a brilliant decision. The poems in this book are so simple, yet beautiful, and they describe the incredibly difficult experiences that Ha has with a sense of innocence and clarity. 


Ha is such an adorable character. It was so interesting to see America through her eyes. Her preconceptions of America are so funny: she expects everyone to be a cowboy and eagerly looks forward to having her own pony, and she's incredibly disappointed when she learns that this is just not going to happen. It really makes the reader aware of the fact that our own preconceptions of other countries/cultures must not be completely accurate, either. At the same time, some of the things that Ha goes through are heartbreaking, especially considering that many of them happened to the author herself. 


I think that this is a must-read. It is incredibly relevant as society grows more diverse and it tells an important story quickly and in a way that is easily understood. In addition to having a great message, this is just a truly enjoyable story to read. I loved it!


Recommended to: As you can probably tell from my review, I would recommend this book to just about anyone. More specifically, I feel that this book would be particularly of interest to an urban library, or one serving an especially diverse area, but I also believe that it would be great to include in the collection of a library serving an area that lacks diversity, because it could introduce patrons to a perspective that they may not have the opportunity to encounter. I think that it would be especially pertinent to patrons who have come to America from another country, as it could help them feel less alone in a strange land, since it's told by someone who's had the same experience. 


Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity  - Elizabeth Wein

Plot Summary: A British spy has been discovered in Nazi-occupied France. She's made a deal with the devil - to write down everything she knows, betraying her country, in two weeks. For everything that she writes down, the more time she has to live. The spy's story is intertwined with that of her best friend, a female pilot in the Royal Airforce Auxiliary. Cod Name Verity is the story of these two incredible girls - how they became friends and how they found a way to survive the turmoil of World War II. 


Interview with Elizabeth Wein: 



This video is a bit sporadic as it's a recording of a Google chat book club interview with Wein, and it's over an hour long so if you want to watch it you'll want to set a side a good chunk of time. It has some moments that aren't really relevant - such as when Wein introduces her cat to everyone - but, that being said, these girls ask Wein some great questions about the book and she gives some really insightful answers, so if you take the time to watch it, it is worthwhile. 




This book is so good! Although I found it a bit slow at the beginning, it definitely picked up and by the end I could not put it down. I liked that Code Name Verity tells the story of both Queenie and Maddie, and it's told from both of their perspectives. 


One of my favorite things about this book is that it focuses on the often untold story of the involvement of women in World War II. Although at this time, women were not heavily involved in war, they did still play a part, and that part is sometimes ignored. I loved that Wein centered her story around it. For once, the character of a woman spy is not a villain, but a hero - in a world where the most famous fictional spy is the misogynistic but beloved James Bond, this is unique and refreshing.  


The story has lots of twists and surprises. I really enjoyed how cleverly Queenie's messages to the resistance were hidden - once you knew about them, you could go back and find them quite easily, but on the first encounter, they're either so well hidden that you don't even notice them, or so glaringly obvious that you discredit them simply because they're so conspicuous. Stylistically, I really enjoyed the frame of Peter Pan. I love that story and the inclusion of it in Code Name Verity added a bit of sweetness and innocence to a story that has lots of darkness and tragedy. 


Ultimately, this is a story of friendship. There's no romance in it; it's a story simply about two girls who are the best of friends, and how that friendship gets them through the impossible struggles of war. I admire Wein's choice to write about two teenage girls and completely leave boys out of it - in most cases, this would be impossible, but in times war, it's possible to leave romance out. Since most YA lit that's written for girls involves romance, this is refreshing - not that I don't like romance, but Wein shows it is indeed possible to for authors to write about something else - and for books to be just as enjoyable without it. 


Recommended to: 


Well, to be honest, I would recommend this to just about anyone who came to me and asked me if I could suggest a good YA novel to them. But to be more specifically, I would recommend this to people with a strong interest in historical fiction and World War II in general. I think that this could be incredibly valuable to use in a YA book club that focuses on feminism in YA literature. We talk so much about the battles and the politics of World War II, but, as mentioned in my review, the role of women is often ignored. This could very useful in showing how women could be heroes, even in a predominantly patriarchal society. 


I would caution against using this with younger audiences. While it is perfect for high school age patrons, there are some very dark moments such as


Queenie's rape/sexual abuse and her eventual death

(show spoiler)

. Although the former is only alluded to and its mention is so subtle that it's easily ignored, there is pretty traumatic violence in the book that could be deemed inappropriate for pre-teens. 

Where We Once Gathered: Lost Synagogues of Europe

Where We Once Gathered, Lost Synagogues of Europe - Andrea Strongwater

Summary: This non-fiction picture book includes beautiful illustrations of various synagogues that were destroyed by the Nazis during the Holocaust. It tells their stories - when they were built, their importance to the Jewish community, and what is left of them today. 


Interview with Andrea Strongwater:

Artist Spotlight: Andrea Strongwater | What was once Lost has been Recreated from on Vimeo.




This book keeps things short and sweet. Rather than showing gory images of death and destruction, Strongwater chooses to convey the horror of the Holocaust by using images of Jewish holy sites, places of beauty and peace, that the Nazis systematically destroyed. She refrains from including graphic descriptions of the Nazis' atrocities, and instead states the facts briefly and succinctly, which, in my opinion, actually makes them seem all the more awful.


This book is short and uses simple language that even elementary students can understand. I think that this is a very strong text to use in a classroom. The illustrations are beautiful and I really like that Strongwater uses something so peaceful to show the violence of war. 


Recommended to: 


This book would be a great tool for introducing the Holocaust to young students. While I think that it could be useful even in a high school classroom, it's best suited for mid-level students. I think that many projects and discussions could be introduced after reading this book and it definitely has great didactic value - a must have for the classroom library or home-schooling curriculum. 

Brothers of the Fire Star

Brothers of the Fire Star - Douglas Arvidson

Plot Introduction: In December 1941, when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, they also bombed the island of Guam, another United States territory in the Pacific Ocean. The chaos and destruction of this even bring two boys together. One, Napu, is a native to the island, while the other, Joseph, is an American who has come to it with his uncle. The boys escape on Napu's boat and the story follows their efforts to survive in the Pacific Islands during World War II. 


Unfortunately, at this time, I was unable to find an interview with the author.




I think that the main thing that I have to say about this book is that it bored me. Everything about it did. There was very little action, very little plot beyond simply describing the boys' survival, and the boys themselves lacked depth. There were moments that should have been tragic that completely failed to make me feel any sort of emotional connection to the book. It's just over 200 pages long, but I think that even if it had only been 100 it would have felt too long. 


Part of the problem may have been that I have no interest in sailing, and this book is driven by sailing and navigation. I have to give Arvidson credit for his attempt to introduce young adults not only to another culture, but to a skill that very few people in the world possess - navigation by stars. However, his explanations, while wordy, lack clarity, and I even found the diagram that of the ship that Arvidson included in the front of the book to be unhelpful . 


The book is set during World War II, but the war plays an extremely limited role in the scope of the story. It's in the background, but for the most part, it doesn't affect the boys. I think that in some cases this could have worked - it could have been secondary to the story, supplementing it rather than being the main focus of it - but in this case, making the war a more prominent part of the story would have given it more action, something that was desperately needed. 


There were some good aspects of the story. Again, this serves as a good introduction to island culture and it will expose readers to the technique of navigation using only stars. However, for me the good parts weren't strong enough to make up for the fact that the story was so tedious. 


Recommended to: 

This would be a good introduction to island culture. It could also be used to remind students that Japanese did attack territories other than Hawaii, which is something that people often forget. I don't think that I would recommend this to anyone simply as pleasure reading, because my experience with it was was so unremarkable. That being said, this book has received high reviews on both Amazon and goodreads, and it has been nominated for several awards. If a  reader is very interested in exploration, perhaps this would be a great book for them to try. I also have asked my younger brother, Sean, who is 13 and fits the target audience, to try to read this, and I look forward to posting his reaction, good or bad. 

The Jericho River


Plot Introduction: Jason Gallo is like any other high school student, except for one detail: his father, a history professor, is able to learn about the past by travelling through a world composed of people's dreams. Jason's father gets trapped in this world and it's up to Jason to rescue him. In the process, Jason travels through the various eras of Western civilization, encountering danger all along the way. 


A Speech Given by David Carthage: 



Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, I actually really liked this book the first time that I read it. I  love the idea of using fantasy to introduce teens to history and attract their interest in it. I liked the various sketches that Carthage included in his story, because they illustrated elements of history that, before reading this book, I had only imagined. I enjoyed William Gallo's notes at the beginning of each chapter, which provide the reader with introductory facts about each historical aspect in a humorous and snarky way. 


Unlike The Fault In Our Stars, I really disliked this book the second time that I read it. I think that the first time that I read this book, I was so excited about the concept that I basically ignored every single flaw about the book itself. Thankfully, I re-read this book in the week before class and my eyes were opened. This book started as such a great idea, but its implementation is so flawed. I think that part of the problem is that Carthage tried to cover thousands of years in the scope of three hundred pages. As a result, the story somehow manages to drag and feel rushed at the same time. Jason literally travels through centuries before he finally accomplishes his goal, yet because Carthage has to cover so much history, he only visits each society without actually delving into the nuances of each of them.Additionally, the characters are bland, undeveloped, and one-dimensional. Carthage's writing style is sloppy and tedious. Dialogue is stilted. The chapters are episodic, which could work for a young adult audience, who is likely to be easily distracted and accustomed to short chapters, or could be seen as choppy. All of this results in a story that tries to cover way too much information in way too few pages, a story that is, frankly, boring and difficult to get through - unless you're just so excited about the concept that you completely ignore the actual book.  I think that all of these problems could be remedied if Carthage had made this a trilogy - maybe writing one book to cover ancient history, another to cover early modern history, and a third to cover modern history. That way, he could have further developed his plot, his characters, and gone into further detail about each civilization. I think that a trilogy would have been far more successful than trying to cram the entire history of Western civilization into a single novel. 


Recommended to: 


Although I personally think that this book has LOTS of room for improvement, it is not entirely flawed and I think that in some cases, it could actually work really well. I could see this being a great book to use in a mid-level history class focusing on Western civilization. Teachers could have students read a chapter for each unit to introduce them to key concepts and hook their interest in the topic. Although its implementation lacks style, I maintain that the concept is great and I think that this could work for introducing students to basic historical concepts. However, if teachers intend to use this book in that way, they would have to point out any historical inaccuracies or artistic license that Carthage takes - and there's a lot of it. Although this book contains lots of great facts, there's also a lot of manipulation for plot purposes and it's important that teachers identify these if this book is to be used as a supplement to lessons. Another potential strength to this book is that the episodic format could appeal to reluctant readers, so this might be a good book to hand to students who lack enthusiasm about reading - challenge them to read a chapter a day, but many of the chapters end in cliffhangers, which might encourage reluctant readers to keep reading. Again, while this book was not my favorite that I read for class, it still has potential for use in a classroom setting and I think that if used in the right setting, it could actually be quite effective. 


The Fault in Our Stars


Plot Introduction: Hazel Grace Lancaster has terminal cancer. She's accepted the fact that death is inevitable, but even so, her mom makes her go to a support group for teens with cancer. At a meeting for the support group, she meets Augustus Waters, who's in remission. The two instantly connect and bond over their mutual love for An Imperial Affliction, and in the process, they learn how to deal with the challenges of both life and death. 



An Interview with John Green




The first time that I read this book, I didn't really appreciate it. I found Hazel to be snarky and whiny, Gus just struck me as way too unrealistic (think Edward Cullen of Twilight without all the smoldering eyes), and to top it all off, this book just wasn't "up my alley," so to speak. Like Hazel, I hate "cancer books," and while this is no typical cancer book, I stubbornly refused to like it. 


Thankfully, I gave it a second chance and re-read it the week before my young adult literature class discussed it. This time around, I appreciated the book much better than I had the first time. Green tackles the subject of cancer with humor and charm, and he does so in a masterful way that never takes the subject lightly. 


My favorite aspect of the book was Green's writing style/the language that he used. Hazel and Gus are remarkably intelligent and their witty banter appealed to me. I wish that I had their cleverness! While it's true that most teenagers (and even adults) do not speak like Hazel and Gus do, and one could argue that as a result their conversations are unrealistic, I personally found them to be a refreshing change from the typical humdrum style of YA lit. Also, while I still think that Hazel has an attitude problem, the fact is, many teenagers do have attitude problems and Hazel of all people has good reason to - she's suffering from a terminal illness! So maybe this is one aspect of the book that I just need to get over and accept. 


This book addresses the issue of death and fear of death with poignancy, intelligence, and humor. Hazel claims to have accepted the inevitability of her approaching death, but even if she denies it, it's clear that she's terrified of it. Her experiences with Gus help her to come to terms with it, especially when we learn that his cancer has returned, and she finally accepts it when she learns that her family is going to be able to be happy even when she's gone. This lesson is one that's important not only for terminally ill patients to learn, but also for people who have experienced the death of a family member. The Fault in Our Stars teaches us that life goes on and we must learn to cope with its challenges, always making the best of whatever situation we experience. 


Recommended to: 


First of all, I'd like to emphasize that I would recommend this book to just about anyone who's looking for a recently published young adult novel. It's well-written in a way that many YA novels are not and I think that it's much deeper than many others that I've read. This is a book that stays with you, that makes you think, and makes you appreciate life a little bit more. And, best of all, even though it's devastating in more ways than one, it'll also put a smile on your face and at some parts, it'll even make you laugh! This book is definitely worth trying. 


More specifically, this is a great book to introduce to patrons who are struggling with the recent death or illness of a loved one. I believe that it will help them cope with the challenges they face in these times of darkness, and I think it will help them find the light in any situation. From what I recall, it lacks vulgar language, and while it does reference sex, it's not graphic or in-depth in any way - it's there, it's acknowledged, but that's it, and I think that for the age group for whom this book is intended, the subject is handled very well. I think the ideal age group for this book would be 14-18-year-olds, but depending on the maturity of the reader, younger teens would probably do fine with this book, and I think that adults would enjoy this book as well.