Staff Picks: Books
Staff-recommended reading from the
An idea hatched in our KPL Innovation Team to celebrate the popularity of teen novels to adult readers during the month of April. No other segment of the publishing industry has consistently grown over the past few years. Adults are unabashedly checking out novels specifically written for teens. In 2012, Amazon listed John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars as one of the overall Ten Best Books of the Year which is quite an accomplishment when measured against the adult competition. I spent the first half of my career at KPL as the Teen Services Librarian and during that time a new “Golden Age” of Teen Literature had begun. During that time I read hundreds of novels for teens and below list the five titles I would want with me if stranded on a desert island.
1.Rats Saw God by Rob Thomas – The creator of the cult classic TV show Veronica Mars pens a now classic tale of Steve York, troubled teen and son of an astronaut. York is charged with writing an essay about his life in order to graduate. The result is a hilarious look at one teen’s transformation from shooting star to crashed space debris.
2. Staying Fat for Sarah Byrnes by Chris Crutcher – Disfigured Sarah and formerly fat kid Eric are unlikely friends. When she enters a mental institution, Eric learns the story behind her “accident” and demonstrates incredible loyalty to readers. The in-class discussions the teens have in this novel are amazing.
3. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson – Melinda is raped at a party right before entering high school. When she is discovered calling the police by her friends, they turn on her because they are unaware of her situation. She decides not to speak during the school year and is haunted in the halls every day by her attacker.
4. Feed by M.T. Anderson – In the future humans are implanted with feeds to help them digitally navigate the world. Titus and his friends love being able to interact with one another, immediately order clothes, and listen to the latest music. His view changes when he meets Violet, a girl with a damaged feed and little hope for the future.
5. Dangerous Angels: The Weetzie Bat Books by Francesca Lia Block – Five short novels combined to make a magical book featuring the eccentric Weetzie Bat and friends. A modern fairy tale of mysticism, and hot dogs that is filled with inventive slang, colorful settings, and most importantly a huge dose of love in a dangerous world.
Rats Saw God
While leaving work on Friday, I noticed the newest release from sci-fi writer Daniel H. Wilson, Amped, sitting on a cart just waiting for me to take it home. I was very excited since I had heard so many good things about Wilson’s previous novel, Robopocalypse, and had already read a few good reviews of Amped. A friend of mine once stated that there are rarely any “new” ideas in science fiction novels. Most stories can be traced back to an idea that had been previously formulated in either book or film. The premise of Amped can be traced to the plotline most recently established in the comic book series X-Men. In Wilson’s novel individuals with technological implants (“amps”) are being persecuted by regular people (“reggies”) just like the mutant super-heroes in the comic book and movie series. When the main character Owen Gray discovers that the technology implanted in him by his father does much more than control his seizures, his life begins to spiral out of control. Soon he finds himself in a trailer park in Oklahoma hiding out with other amps while Senator Joseph Vaughn begins to push for more restrictions on the rights of “enhanced humans.” In the trailer park Owen meets Lyle Crosby, an amp trained to be a member of an elite military group. When Lyle confronts Owen about his role in the impending war between amps and reggies, he must decide if he wants to take his amp to the next level. The consequence of such a move could also lead him on the path to darkness and evil.
Amped fits the requirements of both a summer book and blockbuster. It took me less than three days to read and it was filled with fights, explosions, and super-powered people. There was nothing new in the already established storyline of “extraordinary people being hated for their abilities” but I enjoyed Wilson’s story nonetheless. If you are a fan of science fiction that contains amped up action and dialed down techie-talk, then you should add Amped to your summer reading list.