Revived

Title: Revived

Author: Cat Patrick

Release Date: Available

Death is optional for Daisy. Ever since the bus crash when she was five that killed the driver and twenty children, including Daisy, she has been part of the testing of an experimental drug called Revive, that brings the dead back to life. Daisy is very accident-prone and dies multiple times and, as a result, is revived and moved, her name changed. Daisy doesn’t really mind, although dying is a real pain in the rear. And she keeps dying of stupid causes like choking on a grape, or allergies. She lives with two of the scientists on the project. She doesn’t really make friends, as she will probably move again in a few years, anyway. Then, after dying of an allergy attack after a bee sting, Daisy Appleby becomes Daisy West. She goes to a new school, and, hey, actually makes a friend. Yet, the God Project, as it is so fondly dubbed, is even more sinister than Daisy knows. Soon she gets tangled in a web of lies — now her life is at stake, and this time if she dies, she dies for good.

I enjoyed this book. It was not the best book I have ever read, but it was engrossing and, at times, emotional. The writing was well done, but nothing special. Daisy’s view of death is skewered, so when she sees it firsthand, the result is heartbreaking. There are many light moments in the book, but the idea of morality and how fragile we are adds darkness. The relationships between most of the characters were touching and realistic, although the whole romance element in the book didn’t really do it for me. I’m not a huge fan of romance in general, however, so I might be a little biased. Revived is one of those rare Sci-Fi/paranormal stand-alone novels. It didn’t give me all the answers I craved, but the ending was satisfactory and wrapped things up nicely, no jarring, pull your hair out cliffhangers. I recommend this book if you are looking for a quick and interesting read.

Review by Annalise

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The End Games

Title: The End Games

Author: T. Michael Martin

Release Date: Available

There is a world painted by darkness – a world home to the echoing, mindless, shambling cries of the Bellows – a world of shotguns and screams and chain link fences, of destruction and chaos – a world defined by death.

In T. Michael Martin’s upcoming novel The End Games, there are two brothers who call this world home.

In some ways, The End Games bears remarkable similarities to the ever rising numbers of zombie apocalypse novels, movies and television shows – in some ways, it fits the formulaic plot lines and patterns we’ve come to know and love and that define this new culture of gore and violence and the all-consuming desire to feast on human flesh. But The End Games also contains elements and plot lines serving to set it apart from its fellows – one of the most compelling being the relationships between the two brothers, as well as all the characters and their interactions. Martin takes an uncertain 17 year old, driven by his unconditional and fierce love for his fragile, unstable 5 year old brother and throws them into hell, with the result being a series of unpredictable twists and turns and fascinating insights into the depths of human resilience and courage.

However, when every facet of our society is seemingly infected by this new apocalyptic trend – it becomes imperative that anything new – be it a novel, show, or movie – must go above and beyond to distinguish itself from the others, and while Martin does find ways to set The End Games apart, I don’t think he goes quite far enough. Throughout the book, there were more parallels than I would have liked between The End Games and another new cult-like phenomenon, The Walking Dead. The End Games didn’t really start proving itself to be unique until the very end, at which point things seemed to speed up and snowball into what felt like a hasty conclusion.

That being said – The End Games is still a compelling and suspenseful read – and seeing as how I found myself unable to put it down, needing to know what would happen next, then clearly Martin’s The End Games is doing something right.

Review by Kayla

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Hounded

Title: Hounded

Author: Kevin Hearne

Release Date: Available

I did not really realize going into reading Hounded that it wasn’t strictly YA, and while at first I was disappointed, I soon realized that there were quite a few elements to this mythology-based fantasy that I actually quite enjoyed.

The greatest appeal to readers I think will be its gender neutrality. The main character, Atticus, is a smart and smart-ass druid. If anything, his narration will appeal more to guys than to girls, though I liked him a fair amount. Perhaps he was a little too much of a smart-ass sometimes… but I guess living for over 2,000 years could get to anyone’s head, right? Generally though, I thought he displayed a believable amount heroism and smarts, which made him a very real character to me. I also loved his dog, Oberon. He was hilarious and kind of a cutie (but don’t tell him I said so because it might offend his masculinity). For each character I was introduced to over the course of the novel, I had to evaluate who I could trust and who I couldn’t; it kept me on my toes in a more subtle way than if Hearne had thrown in a bunch of twists.

Yet, I’m doubtless that the main drive behind the book was its plot. The novel took place in urban Arizona, but had quite a few high-fantasy aspects thrown in in a way I think will thoroughly satisfy most people’s fantasy appetites. There was stuff that was disturbing like witches possessing pretty girls; stuff that was classic like werewolves; stuff that was new like the Celtic aspects; and stuff that was just plain cool, namely Atticus and his various powers, especially his connection to Oberon.

The most common problems with fantasy are pacing problems. Probably my favorite thing about the novel was that it did not suffer from these problems for the most part. I didn’t always have a strong urge to pick it up, but once I got into it, I never had the urge to put it down either, as I often do when books begin to drag. I do think, however, that because it wasn’t strictly YA I had a harder time personally connecting with Atticus. While fairly entertained throughout the novel, I felt a bit of a disconnect that kept me from being completely immersed. For that reason, I think that this book would appeal to upper YA readers or those who are interested in branching out into adult, especially the guys. I’ve also heard that the sequels are better, so I will be checking them out!

Review by Casey

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This Is What Happy Looks Like

This Is What Happy Looks Like pic

Title: This Is What Happy Looks Like

Author: Jennifer E. Smith

Release Date: Available

With This Is What Happy Looks Like, Jennifer E. Smith succeeds in creating another cute, fun romance. Seventeen year-old Ellie O’Neill is living with her single mother in “Middle-of-Nowhere, Maine” when she receives a stray email from Graham Larkin in “Middle-of-Everything, California.” The two strike up an ongoing conversation, Ellie not realizing the witty, charming boy with whom she is forming a virtual bond is an actor and teen heart-throb. She remains blissfully ignorant of his identity until Graham decides to step up their relationship by ensuring that his next movie is set in Ellie’s intimate, picturesque town. But Ellie is unsure if she can endure a relationship with a star when the invasive paparazzi might reveal to the world that she is the extramarital daughter of a prominent politician.

This is What Happy Looks Like is in a similar form to Smith’s previous novel, The Statistical Probability of Love at First Sight. Both take almost cliché romance ideas and attempt to refresh them into something more. Unfortunately, Smith succeeds less in her newest novel than in Statistical Probability. The latter is pithy and substantial, with as much attention paid to the protagonist’s relationship with her family as to her feelings for the love interest. But while Ellie’s relationship with her mother, best friend, and remote father are significant in Happy, these plot lines are saturated with Ellie’s thoughts and feelings for Graham, giving no reprieve from the love story. The book is almost twice the length of Statistical Probability, but somehow less seems to happen. The affectionate beach scenes and under the fireworks moments are pleasant and adorable, but not particularly moving or fresh. Overall, the story is quite enjoyable, but not much more.

Review by Sami;

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Dark Companion

darkcompanion

Title: Dark Companion

Author: Marta Acosta

Release Date: Available

Jane Williams used to be a typical charity case: orphaned and poor, living with an abusive foster parent in the slums. But all of that changes when she receives a scholarship to the prestigious Birch Grove Academy for girls, and is all of a sudden uprooted from the only life she has known and thrust into the life of the privileged and glamorous. She is soon introduced to the headmistress’ son, Lucian Radcliff, who is unlike any other boy she has ever met.  However, he and other members of the community may hold a secret that is darker than Jane could ever imagine.

It’s hard to say much about this book without spoiling it, as the main plot twist doesn’t occur until about halfway through. However, I will say this: this dark, gothic-style novel is full of twists and turns that will keep the reader on edge throughout the story. Because it takes until about halfway through the novel to realize what the shocking secret about the school is, the reader literally cannot put the book down due to the anticipation.

Marta Acosta does an excellent job of drawing the reader in, from the appealing yet mysterious looking cover that immediately caught my eye, to the way she drops a huge plot twist on us halfway through the book. I highly recommend this book to all, but especially to those who enjoy gothic era novels and fantasy.

Review by Danielle

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We Were Liars

Title: We Were Liars

Author: E. Lockhart

Release Date: May 2014

Along with this book came the instructions to lie — lie about the ending, be spartan with descriptions, reveal as little as possible. Yet E. Lockhart’s uniquely beautiful and undeniably stunning book both deserves and demands to be read, and somehow, I don’t think a review completely devoid of explanation is going to be very convincing. So I’ve decided to stick with lies of omission and hopefully that still counts.

We Were Liars pulls back the curtain on the world of the fabulously wealthy and utterly mysterious Sinclair family.  Split and divided into generations of children and grandchildren, every summer the Sinclairs are pulled together to their private island of Beechwood, home to years of memories and sentiment and an abundance of golden retrievers. Beechwood is also the birthplace of the Liars — four friends connected by bonds of both blood and love, united in their penchant for curiosity and mischief, defined by a steadfast faith in one another and the summers at Beechwood that shaped and determined their relationship.

Narrated by the oldest Sinclair grandchild, Cadence, the plot primarily revolves around the enigmatic and hazy summer fifteen,  the vast, unknowable pieces of memory that Cadence has lost from that year, and, of course, the Liars. There is little from summer fifteen that Cadence knows with certainty, and what she does remember is mostly due to the constant reminders and stories from her mother. Everything else is gone, kept hidden from Cadence until she remembers on her own. And she does — often slowly, sometimes blindingly — piece together the shattered fragments of summer fifteen.

From the start, it’s made clear that Cadence is an unreliable narrator — her statements drenched in hyperbole and colored by shades of shock and confusion. She stumbles blindly through unpredictable turns and agonizing, unanswered questions — and as she’s our guide, so do we. We Were Liars is not just unexpected and compelling at every turn, but brilliantly and beautifully written, propelled by the gorgeous and enticing mystery of Beechwood and the Sinclairs, and the undeniable pull of the Liars. It’s something different and something fantastic, full of rich and complex and varying characters that are each fascinating and powerful in turn.

We Were Liars is something new, something startling — a hauntingly memorable and wonderfully gorgeous read.

Review by Kayla

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A Trick of the Light

Title: A Trick of the Light

Author: Lois Metzger

Release Date: Available

Upon beginning A Trick of the Light, Lois Metzger’s new novel, I was instantly intrigued and sucked in to the life of main character Mike Welles. Mike is a normal fifteen year old boy who plays baseball, has a best friend, and gets good grades – that is, until he is visited by a voice in his head, which appears just when his home life begins disintegrating. The voice assures Mike it will “help” him through the struggle, and Mike succumbs to the suggestions of his constant companion, believing that this voice will help him improve himself and provide a way to cope with his unpleasant situation at home.

The facet of this engaging and poignant novel that I found most interesting was the voice in which it was written. Rather than writing the story in the omniscient third person or from Mike’s point of view, Metzger’s choice for narrator is the voice inhabiting Mike’s head. This unique twist renders an eerie, mysterious tone over the book, very fitting of the feeling that will entangle in readers’ stomachs as the voice gets stronger, and the illness it promotes becomes increasingly serious.

Metzger’s novel is a moving, original exploration of a problem plaguing today’s adolescents. By making the protagonist male, readers are reminded that young men can also be plagued by issues of self-consciousness and physical insecurities. Metzger’s writing is intense, creative, and touching; it serves as a reminder of why it is important to love and take care of both one’s body and mind, and the devastating consequences that can result from listening to the negative voices in one’s head.

Review by Katie

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