Tag Archives: Older Teen Fiction

Waking in Time by Angie Stanton

If you have ever been curious about time travel, check out this tale that travels back to the past and into the future.  If you like a bit of a mystery, dig into this story. And, if you like romantic tales read Waking in Time by Angie Stanton.

Angie Stanton started with an old photo of a young woman named Ruby and some sketchy information. Anyone who had known Ruby’s story had long ago passed away. So, armed with only a few facts and the photo, Ms. Stanton decided to create a story for Ruby and solve the mystery of why Ruby spent a short stint in a convent when she wasn’t Catholic. Within each time period explored, there is a sense of what it was like to be a young woman of the period, complete with certain social restrictions and fashion styles.

Abbi (the protagonist based on Ruby) isn’t stopped from standing up to the prejudices of a woman’s place, falling in love, and digging for answers in some odd places.  Following her grandmother’s last request to attend her alma mater, University of Wisconsin Madison, was the easy part. The other part of the dying plea was just plain weird. Abbi had promised to “find the baby.” But what baby?

Thinking her grandmother’s mind had been wandering at the end, Abbi put it out of her mind. That is, until the morning after her first night at college when she woke up in the year 1983, more than 30 years in the past. In her travels in time, Abbi meets two men at earlier times in their lives. One is a professor of physics (Smitty) and the other is a young man from the 1920’s who had traveled forward in time (Will). Each is a part of the frustrating puzzle since, both Smitty and Will have information from the past they can’t or won’t share with her. Abbi also meets others along the way and learns more about herself and her family.

But, if they ever hoped to end this strange time travel nightmare Abbi and Will had to solve the mystery of why this was happening. Did she really want to return to her own time if it meant losing Will, who Abbi had grown to care so very much about?

Format Available: Book

Review by Katy, Shawnee Branch

 

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova

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Don’t mess with Magic!  Don’t fear it.  Respect it.  Learn how to practice it.

All lessons Alex ignored until she placed those she cared for, both living and dead, in the path of a powerful bruja.  The Destroyer drained the life and spirit of everything be it living or dead seeking dominance over Los Lagos and beyond.  Alex held the power the Destroyer craved, needed, to reach beyond the land of the dead into the land of the living.  But Alex also held the power to destroy her.

It begins in the world of the living.  Born into a family of brujas and brujos, Alex craves normality, to go to school and fit in with other teens.  But Alex has seen and done things with magic she can’t forget.  Only Rishi her best friend at school, accepts Alex as she is, even if she is weird.

Now her Deathday is coming, the day she will receive the blessing of her ancestors.  But, all Alex wants to do is stop this magic from growing, to get free.  To do this she needs a spell that will send it away, to reject it.  For this she turns to Nova, a dark brooding brujo boy.  But Nova has his own needs and wants, so can he be trusted?

The spell goes horribly wrong.  Alex sends her family, both living and dead to Los Lagos, a land in-between and straight into the clutches of an evil bruja.  Now she must go after them and bring them back.  To do this she will need the magic she has so long denied, a boy that may or may not be trusted, and a true friend that would go to the ends of the earth for her.

What Alex didn’t understand was that her blessings will free the magic within her to stretch out and prosper.  Without them, the magic can twist and turn, evolve, into something bad.  In Los Lagos, Alex will find not only herself, but adventure, danger, intrigue, mysteries, creatures, friendship and love.  She goes to right a wrong, to learn and hopefully find the wisdom she’ll need to handle this magic within her.  She goes for her family but will Alex have the strength, the courage, and enough magic to traverse this land of denudes, avianas, saberskins, and other unhelpful creatures of the realm?

The three main characters in Labyrinth Lost clearly have their different personalities.  Rishi is the most open, quirky.  Nova has the sense of a street kid, with magic, and dark under currents run through him.  Alex is lost, unsure, and regretful but in the end is the strongest.  Spirits of family members lost are easy to envision, showing up from time to time to help tell the tale and enrich the narrative.

There are a few things, McGuffins, not fully explained, but for the most part they add a bit of spice to the tale and in the end leaves room for “what if?”  There are other twists and turns in this culturally rich tale that had me running to a dictionary for more information.  I enjoyed the racial blending and the cultural point of view from which the story was spun.  The author, Zoraida Cordova, says her inspiration for this tale is Latin American religions and cultures.

This is a story to enjoy and talk about with others and a reminder that love can come from some unexpected directions.

Format Available: Book

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

You Were Here by Cori McCarthy

Death can blind us to a person’s past and push our imagination into an unrealistic “what if” future for the one we lost. When all we have left are our memories, the fear of losing them can send us running back to places where it all began.

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Jake was the dare devil of the family. He was forever pulling crazy stunts, searching out abandoned places to explore, even playing around with drugs. He would accept any dare but the last one cost him his life. Jaycee, his sister, was there. She watches as he falls, sees him lying on the ground with his head at an impossible angle.

It’s been five years since she saw Jake fall to his death. And tonight she will meet up with Mik, her brother’s old friend to explore one of Jake’s favorite abandoned buildings. These days she rarely talks to anyone. She has shut everyone out but Mik and he only shows up once a year on the anniversary of Jake’s death. She has never forgiven Natalie, her best friend, for deserting her after Jake died.

Jaycee is now where Jake was the night he died. She’s graduated from high school. And while she should be focusing on college, she dresses in his clothes, sleeps in his room, all she can think about is Jake. It’s like she’s lost something she can’t find and is constantly looking, searching, hoping to finally understand why all of this has happened. Hell-bent on retracing Jake’s journeys through the abandoned places, to see where he had been, Jaycee will even try out some of his old stunts, trying to unearth him in the only way she can, to walk in his shoes.

But she won’t do it alone. Her friends won’t let her.

Mik, who hasn’t said a word to her since Jake died, is there as always to watch over her when she ventures to these ruins. His secret keeps him silent.

Natalie, the practical one, hides behind the rules, afraid not to be perfect. But she can’t escape the secret she has buried for the last five years, the real reason she and Jaycee are no longer friends – Zack.  Zack, Natalie’s on again off again boyfriend, chases the bottle to keep down his own fears of not being good enough, of an uncertain future, and the possibility of losing Natalie when she leaves for college.

And then there’s Bishop, a friend with the soul of a poet.  Bishop is trying to find his way out the dark place he is in after he crashed and burned when the girl at the center of his universe left him behind.

Told in alternating voices, we walk with these four teens as they try to decide just what is going happen now that school is over. Following in Jake’s footsteps, daring to tread in places long abandoned by man, this dangerous environment brings out the best and worst in each of them. Old feuds will arise, the fear of being left behind, uncertainties that come with change and in the end maybe a little peace.

This coming of age story blends art and words together in glorious black and white, while it sets the scene and brings the story to life.  There are dysfunctional families in several shapes and forms, drinking and some sexual content. But there is real love and friendship here, because in spite of everything these teens care about each other. The descriptions of the abandoned ruins make you feel like you are there. Mik’s point of view is told almost totally in graphic novel form, even some of Bishop’s poetry is displayed in urban graffiti. A tale that blends art and words together in glorious black and white, it sets the scene and brings their story to life.

For me this was a hard look at a scary time, the end of childhood and the beginning of adulthood, wrapped around a story that is as realistic and heartbreaking as some of things today’s teens will face. This is also an adventure, exploring those places man has left behind in our rush to move forever forward. As these four teens will see, sometimes it takes stepping back into the past before we can move forward. Besides some of these places are wonderfully creepy, as are this parts of this tale.

Formats Available:  Book 

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Six by Mark Alpert

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In the not too distant future six teens, each with a fatal illness, have transfered their “memories and personalities” to Pioneer robots, eight-hundred pounds of metal and neuromorphic electronic circuitry.  Leaving their human shells behind is only the beginning for these adventurers.  At first, there is pain and anger at losing their human form.  Then, the fear of losing their memories, their humanity, or of simply disappearing.

They must learn to harness the technology, as well as come to grips with the power and strength given their robotic forms.  This second chance at life comes with a very high price as The Six must confront Sigma, a highly developed artificial Intelligence, and stop it.  Sigma has escaped human control and is out to rid the world of what it perceives as its greatest nemesis, humans.

Adam, Jenny, Zia, Shannon, Marshall and DeShawn are the Six.  Adam is a geek, who has spent years writing computer games. Zia has street smarts and is tough as nails. Jenny is a debutante who had everything. Shannon, a classmate of Adam’s, is a wiz at math. Marshall never let his deformity label him. And DeShawn has a wicked sense of humor.  Each distinct personality demonstrates you can still be unique even when housed in identical forms. One of the most difficult tasks for these teens will be learning to work as a team, caring about each other, fighting together, and just plain getting along.

Full of adventure, heartache, and intriguing scientific facts, this tale is a roller coaster ride of emotions as well as a rousing battle for control of the Earth.  The Six face painful losses, death, and decisions many adults couldn’t handle.  And while they don’t come away unscathed, they command respect for who they are and how they handle what life throws at them. The final pages will have you searching the skies, or at least the Internet, for the next installment to hit the streets.

Mark Alpert takes us into our scientific future and asks if can we hang on to our humanity, compassion, knowledge and understanding of others if we no longer hold a physical human form.  Can we handle being given great strength and almost unlimited power to control the world around us?  I had a hard time putting The Six down even though at times I was slowed down a bit by where Mark Alpert was going with his scientific knowledge.

I could hear the teen’s voices clearly in the characters, right down to the misbehavior antics and lack of emotional control at times.  The commander was a stereotypical military leader of the “my way or the highway” mold but fit in with the storyline. There was plenty of high adventure, strife, just a hint of romance, and enough battle action to make me feel like I was watching a World War II movie.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Splendor Falls by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Sylvie Davis was a Prima Ballerina.  One step, two steps, then she heard a crunching sound.  Now Sylvie Davis a broken doll.

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It was hard not to be bitter, she would never dance again. And now, Sylvie’s mother was sending her off to her father’s old family home in Alabama to stay with a cousin.  It was for the best she was told, recuperate away from everything she’d lost. The alternative was to be shut away in an institution for drug and alcohol abuse. At least Gigi, her dog, was going with her. What she hadn’t expected to find was the Southern plantation type of home complete with secrets, ghosts, a steel magnolia relative who wasn’t fond of dogs and two guys playing dangerous games, with Sylvie at the center of it all.

At first it was hard not to be cynical. All she wanted was to be left alone. It was Gigi who found the over grown garden with the large blue stone, similar to those at Stonehenge, at its center.  Just what Sylvie needed to take her mind off of herself for a time. As she worked to restore the garden, she began to open her eyes to those around her, including Shawn, the charismatic leader of the Teen Town Council and Rhys, the young Welshman, doing research at an archeological dig nearby. Then she heard the sound of a baby crying, saw a young woman, dressed in old fashioned clothing, running towards the cliff and the cold, the incredible cold that followed.  There was a supernatural power in the earth and what Sylvie didn’t know was that she had the ability to draw it out for good or bad, just as she would have to choose between Shawn and Rhys.

While not a speedy read, the story is in the telling.  This paranormal romance has a mash of history, a few hints at environmental lessons, a splash of magic, a smattering of mystical folklore and a bit of greed. It’s peopled with the good, the slightly self-interested and finally those who will find their way in the end. Puzzling out how it all fits together can be fun in itself. You won’t find all the answers, for some of the story you can simply fill in the blanks. However, if you are looking for a rainy day read, this one can while away the hours with a bit of Southern charm, romance in the air and a touch of magic.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone knew all the rumors about Alice.

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I mean, she’d had sex with two boys in one night, right? But can you really believe everything that you hear? Sometimes you should just go with your gut.

The events that surrounded Alice Franklin’s eventual fall from popularity are some that had me thinking that teenagers are so superficial. Supposedly, Alice sleeps with two boys at a party and before you know it, the rumor has spread around town. Everyone knows about it. But, to make matters worse, the popular quarterback dies in a car crash and she is also blamed for his death.

As a teenager, I wouldn’t say that I was a social outcast. I wasn’t a part of the popular clique, but I was a cheerleader, so everyone knew who I was. But, I didn’t have a car or wear the latest designer clothes, so in that aspect, I could almost relate to just about every character in this book.

This book is told from the point of view of four different people that are either directly or indirectly involved with Alice. There is Elaine, who was the on and off girlfriend of Brandon, one of the guys that Alice is rumored to have slept with and also the guy that passes away. There is Kelsie, Alice’s former best friend, who was once a social outcast. She turns her back on Alice once the rumors begin to swirl. Then there is Josh, Brandon’s best friend and Kurt, the school nerd, who harbors deep feelings for Alice.

Masterfully written, The Truth About Alice is a teenaged cliché, woven into the book pages. It brings to light those rumors we heard as children, about words not hurting and crushes them into tiny dust particles. Words can sting to the core. I felt strange emotions for Alice and wanted to hug her and tell her that things would eventually work themselves out. I like how the author told the story from different perspectives and allowed each character to have their own reasons as to why they treated Alice the way that they did. My favorite character above all was Kurt. He won my heart because no matter what people thought about him, he simply didn’t care.

I’m giving this book five stars. Why? Because it deserves them. It is by far one of the best young adult books that I read in 2014. Great job, Ms. Mathieu!

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch