Tuesday, November 16, 2010

This Librarian's Quick Picks: High School Edition

The Terrible Axe-Man of New Orleans
by Rick Geary
Genre: Graphic novel


A graphic novel account of the serial murders committed by the Axe-Man of New Orleans between 1918 and 1919, in which the victims were slain with their own axes.

Why you'll love it:
  • The book begins with a short, informative history of New Orleans, providing context for the story that follows.
  • Black-and-white drawings, reminiscent of woodcuts, lend a period feel.
  • Each murder is presented clearly and in detail. The overall mystery of the cases and the atmosphere of the Big Easy after World War I also come across well.
  • While most of the murders remain unsolved, Rick Geary presents an interesting possible solution to the string of killings. 

Three Black Swans
by Caroline B. Cooney
Genre: Fiction


When sixteen-year-old Missy Vianello decides to try to convince her classmates that her cousin Claire is really her long-lost identical twin, she has no idea that the results of her prank will be so life-changing.

Why you'll love it:
  • Three Black Swans is a paean to sisterhood and family--whether biological or not.
  • Chapters end with cliff-hangers that defy readers to put the novel down.
  • Teen readers will find that Caroline B. Cooney is a writer who understands the important role technology plays in their lives. Her characters use Facebook, YouTube, and data-ready cell phones to piece together clues and reach out to one another.
  • As is the case in many of Cooney's books, the most resourceful, resilient, and generous characters are minors. Their inspiring qualities make their travails that much more heartrending and moving. 

No Safe Place
by Deborah Ellis
Genre: Fiction


Three young migrants who seek safe haven in England end up adrift in the English Channel.

Why you'll love it:
  • Deborah Ellis tackles important issues--poverty, war, immigration--in a fast-paced story.
  • No Safe Place encourages readers to ask what circumstances might lead a person to enter another country illegally.
  • The three main characters undergo inspiring transformations. They begin as lone operators--children whose lives have taught them to mistrust others--and by the end have learned how to become a makeshift family.
  • The descriptive language throughout is concise. Ellis does a good job of establishing the settings, which range from war-torn Baghdad to Calais, France, to a Russian military school. 

Blank Confession
by Pete Hautman
Genre: Fiction


In separate narratives, Mikey Martin and Shayne Blank tell how Shayne ended up in the local police station, confessing to murder.

Why you'll love it:
  • The first chapter quickly sets up two intriguing mysteries--who is Shayne Blank, and whom did he kill?
  • Pete Hautman's snappy dialogue has the rhythm and spontaneity of real conversation.
  • Mikey Martin is a unique character with a vigorous, endearing voice. His and Shayne's unlikely friendship is memorable and often moving.
  • Blank Confession is more than a whodunit; revealing vignettes and flashbacks, combined with precise details, deepen the characters' personalities and add emotional weight to the story.
  • Short chapters, parallel narratives, expert pacing, and concise prose build suspense throughout the novel until the riveting end. 

Girl Parts
by John M. Cusick
Genre: Science fiction


The lives of David, wealthy and popular but still lonely, and Charlie, a soulful outsider, intersect when Rose, the female companion bot Charlie's parents buy to treat his dissociative disorder, forms a bond with David.

Why you'll love it:
  • A remarkable debut that matches a smart, provocative premise with an affecting coming-of-age story. Plus, with an eye-catching cover and tight plotting, this book will appeal to dedicated and reluctant readers alike.
  • The humor is pitch-perfect--pointing out the absurdities of falling in love with an android without undermining the poignancy of the boys' (and Rose's) emotions.
  • John M. Cusick does a masterful job describing Rose's expanding consciousness. And as her feelings toward David and Charlie evolve, they mirror those of a teenager experiencing first love--and its miseries.


raidergirl3 said...

I recently read a Caroline B Cooney book (Code Orange) and quite enjoyed it. Nice summary of her type of books, and after only reading one, I agree! I'm off looking for more of her books for my teenager. He liked Code Orange as well.

Veens said...

Awesome collection. This will be bookmarked and revisited lol!

Meytal Radzinski said...

Two points:

1. Pete Hautmann is one of the few authors I almost always like simply because he really knows how to make books concise without sacrificing depth. Sounds like one worth reading.

2. You're right that "Girl Parts" has an eye-catching cover (I'm not sure I like it very much personally, though), but the question is: who's eyes will it be catching? I recall how Guys Lit Wire discussed the tendency to put girls on covers that have boy protagonists and stories that are quite geared towards boys. (http://guyslitwire.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-we-talk-about-when-we-talk-about.html) The book does sound interesting, though...

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