Monday, January 29, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Imagine for a moment that you're in a world where humanity has successfully gained control over diseases, over accidents, even over human acts of violence. In this world, you could be immortal. In fact, the only way you could be killed is by a Scythe: a person whose sole purpose is the service of ending people's lives, keeping population numbers manageable.

In Scythe, the first book in the Arc of a Scythe series by Neal Shusterman, Citra and Rowan have both been asked to apprentice to a Scythe. At the end of their apprenticeship, one of them will be sworn into scythedom. The other one will be killed by the victor.

The idea of humans defeating death is a startling premise, and the book keeps its momentum going throughout. Neither Citra nor Rowan want to become a Scythe, nor do they want to kill anyone. All they want is the one thing they no longer can have: a normal life. Scythe moves at a fast clip and successfully builds a very clear world very quickly. While there's a suggestion of romance in it, it is not centered around romantic love at all: it is quite solidly an action book centered around death and big moral questions. It's really hard to find teen books that do not have a romance at the core; it was a really refreshing change!

If you liked The Giver, The Uglies, The Hunger Games, or Feed, you might really enjoy this book! Its sequel, Thunderhead, recently came out, and will be on our shelves soon! Get a headstart and read Scythe today!

Friday, January 19, 2018

YA Pick of the Week: Jane, Unlimited by Kristin Cashore

The pitch: Have you ever wondered what might have happened were you to have simply made one different choice? 

Jane, an eighteen year old college freshman, lives a mostly ordinary life with her Aunt Magnolia, a talented wildlife photographer. Then, one day, Aunt Magnolia dies, and Jane is left adrift to deal with a promise that she made to her aunt before her death: to visit Tu Reviens (an extravagant island mansion) if she is ever invited. Unsurprisingly, she is invited. Surprisingly, this book gives you five different paths that you (and Jane) can take. In some, Jane goes to different worlds, while in others, she is in grave peril, and in all, she leads a somewhat remarkable life.

What I liked about this book: each ending builds upon the last, so you gain a more complete picture of the world of Tu Reviens each time. No matter what changes, certain things stay the same: I find it a delightful proposition that, no matter what you choose, no matter how extraordinary, you might be drawn to the same person, the same art, the same sort of life, and Kristin Cashore does a really good job of playing up the things that stay the same even with greatly diverging paths. Jane is an interesting and brave protagonist, and you stay invested throughout five completely different narratives.

It's a very strange and dreamy book, and it is like nothing that I have ever read before (and there is a very cute dog!).

Kristin Cashore also wrote the Graceling Trilogy, and while that series is nothing like this book, I would also highly recommend it.

Saturday, January 13, 2018

January Teen Reads

I've been a little behind in posting my top picks of the week--blame it on a new year, or a new blog, or whatever you like. Anyway, here are some of our most exciting teen reads coming your way at Ventress this January:

  • Meet Cute: Some People Are Destined To Meet edited by Jennifer L. Armentrout, with stories by Sara Shepard, Katie Cotugno, Julie Murphy, Nina La Cour, Nicola Yoon, and many more!
    • This anthology of short "how they met" stories by popular teen authors is completely charming, swoon-worthy, and surprisingly innovative! There are subway missed connections, twitter comment meet-ups, teens hiding from the police at a house party gone wrong, and twists on a reality dating show, to name only a few! It's a really delightfully fun read, and a great to chance to visit or re-visit some fantastic teen authors.
  • Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke
    • Jane Sinner, currently expelled high school senior, joins a community college Real World/Big Brother style reality show while trying to complete her high school credits at the local community college. If you like Daria-esque narrators, diary entries, reality tv, or characters struggling with outrageous drama, this is the book for you!
  • Cruel Prince by Holly Black
    • Jude is seven years old when her parents are murdered and she and her sisters are taken away to live in the High Court of Fairie. As a seventeen year old, she wants nothing more than to truly belong in the court, no matter what it costs. Holly Black is a master of contemporary fantasy, and this book combines the struggles of a teenage girl with the schemes, plots and battles of any fantasy drama. There is romance in this book but the focus is nearly always more on the court's intrigues and alliances. I was really surprised by this book and couldn't recommend it more highly!
  • Love, Hate & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed
    • Maya Aziz is a normal American-born Muslim teen facing the challenges of a traditional family versus her film school dreams--until a terrorist with her last name commits a horrific crime, and her family is thrown into a much-unwanted spotlight. This #ownvoices debut is a really important addition to any library, but more than that, it's a really interesting story of a girl who just wants to follow her dream and keeps having roadblocks thrown in her way. 
We've got plenty more books where these came from-- so don't hesitate to stop by and ask for a book rec!