Archive for the ‘dystopian fiction’ Tag

New Books Highlight: A Wrap-up List for 2013

This will be the last New Books Highlight post for 2013!

Instead of the usual showcase of three new books on one subject or theme, I thought I’d put together a few different themes that have been popular recently and a few books from each.


Pantomime by Laura Lam

The First Dragon by James Owen – book 7 in the Chronicles of the Imaginarium Geographica

Historical Mystery:

Little Red Lies by Julie Johnston

Palace of Spies: Being a True, Accurate and Complete Account of the Scandalous and Wholly Remarkable Adventures of Margaret Preston Fitzroy, Counterfeit Lady, Accused Thief, and Confidential Agent at the Court of His Majesty, King George I by Sarah Zettel

Dark Dystopian (with less romance than your average dystopian.):

The Living by Matt de la Pena

The Darkest Path by Jeff Hirsch


Find Me by Romily Bernard

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Torn by David Massey



Science + Fiction

There’s a new display in the Teen Space at the library – all about science and science fiction. If you’re into sci fi, you will know that while it is fiction and thus “made up” most of it has as its basis real science. Cold, hard science. Usually, even if the sci fi is based in a far future (which much sci fi is) and thus the author must rely on their imaginations to present the science that will be prevalent at that future time, what happens is not  too different from things we see today. Climate change, natural disasters, pandemics, genetic engineering, computer hacking, cyber-terrorism, and more: sounds like sci fi. And these are things you can hear, see and read in the news every day.

Delve into the science behind science fiction with these lists of non-fiction about real science, coupled with fiction which explores that real science in a made-up world. Whether you’re a bio geek, a hacker, an engineer or just a fan of a good story, you’ll find a book on this list to suit you.

Natural Disasters & Climate Change


 Genetic Engineering



New Books Highlight: Books to Make You Think

There have been some major books released over the last couple of months, so it’s been hard to choose which ones to highlight. This week, though, I was struck by how many “challenging” books I’ve seen hitting the new shelves recently.

By “challenging,” I mean books that suck you in, mess with your head, and knock you back out again as a new person. Books that leave you feeling winded, introspective…changed. Books that make you think – and keep you thinking even when you’ve finished them. One that sticks out in my memory as a challenging read for me is Wintergirls by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Not everyone likes these kinds of books: some of us read to be entertained or for comfort, and don’t want to be messed up by a book. That’s okay. You might be surprised, however, next time you reach for what sounds like a comforting read. One thing that is unique about “challenging” reads is that they come in all genres – and they sometimes come out of nowhere. You remember how you felt the first time you read The Hunger Games? You thought, “Boy, my life is different now that I have lived through that.” It’s entertainment, yes, but it left you breathless and altered. Personally, I read it in one night, convinced I wouldn’t like it, but completely changed by watching these children (children!) fight and die for nothing in the messed up world of Panem.

I digress. Without further ado, here are some challenging new reads I hope you pick up soon!

Tumble & Fall by Alexandra CouttsTumble and Fall by Alexandra Coutts

What if you knew the world was ending soon? The characters in this book do. An asteroid is headed for Earth, and all anyone can do is wait. Sienna returns from a mental health facility in time to watch her father get married. Zan must face her fears and get past the recent death of her boyfriend. And Caden is confronted by his long-lost father. Despite the terrifying premise, or maybe because of it, this is a deep and quietly wise book that will make you stop and think about your own life. It’s really kind of joyfully sad, in a way – so perfect for a “challenging” read that leaves you thinking.

Sneak Peek! “The day she gets out, it feels like the end. It’s funny to think about endings now. Now that all there is to do is wait. Now that the real end is coming, all of the other endings feel like something else completely.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Alexandra Coutts)

Into That Forest by Louis NowraInto that Forest by Louis Nowra

This one is challenging on several levels. It’s short – so it has less time to hook you, but it still manages to do so quickly and effectively. Narrated by Hannah in somewhat broken English, she tells the story of her youth. When her parents died in a flash flood on a river, she and her friend Becky were left to fend for themselves in the forests of Tasmania. They were essentially adopted by a pair of tigers who managed to keep them safe and fed, despite the girls’ fear and worry. But when Becky’s father finally found them, they were forced to reintegrate into human society at great cost.

Sneak Peek! “Me name be Hannah O’Brien and I be seventy-six years old. Me first thing is an apology – me language is bad cos I lost it and had to learn it again.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Louis Nowra)

Sex and Violence by Carrie MesrobianSex and Violence by Carrie Mesrobian

The title sure puts it all out there, huh? In a sense, that’s the point: these two topics run rampant in our society, many believe to the detriment of it. And this story tells just how the normalization of sex and violence hurts young people – without preaching a moral message. It’s is honesty on a plate – and it’s not always pretty. 17-year-old Evan is a master of being the new kid in school, after spending his lifetime moving around with his dad’s job. Evan is also the master of figuring out which girl will say ‘yes.’ But this time, he picks the wrong one and ends up getting beaten by the kings of his school. When he moves to a quiet small town to recover with distant family, he must confront the fears and weaknesses that have driven him, and result from his miscalculations. Gritty, funny, life.

Sneak Peek! “When I came out of the Connison gang shower, Collette Holmander was waiting for me.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Carrie Mesrobian)

Picture Me Gone by Meg RosoffPicture me Gone

Mila is highly attuned to people – able to read the room, sense emotions and put together the puzzles people make of themselves. When her father’s best friend goes missing, what was to be a visit to him turns into Mila and her father on the case, so to speak. But this story is far more than a mystery with an easy solution. Written in first person, so much so that the dialogues is filtered through Mila’s head, without quotes, you are drawn into Mila’s world in a strange and thrilling way. This is a complex story that will challenge your worldview and assumptions.

Sneak Peek! “The first Mila was a dog. A Bedlington terrier. It helps if you know these things. I’m not at all resentful at being named after a dog.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Meg Rosoff)

New Books Highlight: Chilling Reads for Halloween

There are a lot of horror-type books written these days. Even non-horror fans can find horror books they like simply because authors are rolling thrilling, chilling moments and plot lines into all kinds of genres in all kinds of ways. Check out a few brand new ones guaranteed to be a little haunting:

Thin Space by Jody CasellaThin Space by Jody Casella

For realistic fiction fans: Marshall survived the car accident that killed his twin brother. This fact consumes him with guilt and drives him to search fora  way to communicate with the dead in an effort to somehow assuage his guilt. He seeks a thin space, where the barrier between the world of the living and the world of the dead is not as solid, something he could potentially reach right through. A woman in his neighborhood – Mrs. Hansel – may have created one with her death, but a new family moves into her home before Marsh can investigate. He befriends the new residents and soon has their help locating the thin space. He’s barely keeping it together as the weight of regular life coupled with keeping dark secrets weighs on him. This is a spooky – and yet realistic – story, with a chilling atmosphere of grief, guilt and secrets.

Sneak Peek! “Every morning, I walk by Mrs. Hansel’s house and plan my break-in. Today I think about kicking down doors, shattering windows. I have a one-second flash of myself climbing down the chimney. Which just shows how far gone I am lately.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Jody Casella)

The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April HenryThe Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry

She wakes to hear what she thinks is her death sentence. All she knows is what she can see and hear – the ramshackle cabin surrounded by nothing, and the two men fighting over killing her. Who she is and how she got here is a mystery.  Spurred into action by fear, she moves fast and manages to escape, but has no idea where she should go. Thanks to a stranger she meets soon after her first escape, she manages to evade capture and begins to piece together her story. But what she finds about who would want to silence her is shocking. It’s a race against the clock that will keep you turning pages.

Sneak Peek! “I wake up. But wake up isn’t quite right. That implies sleeping. A bed. A pillow. I come to.” (Text copyright © 2013 by April Henry)

Contaminated by Em GarnerContaminated by Em Garner

Dystopia meets zombies in this thriller. In a bleak future, millions have been transformed into zombie-like creatures thanks to a mass market weight loss beverage. Velvet’s mother was among the unlucky ones. Now, Velvet and her family must live amongst the undead of America. The suspense that comes from Velvet sharing her world with a crew of unpredictable demonized former humans is palpable – and will keep you up at night.

Sneak Peek! “They keep them in cages. The unclaimed. Long rows of narrow, filthy cages lined up along dark corridors lit by bare, hanging bulbs.”  (Text copyright 2013 by Em Garner)

Unbreakable by Kami Garcia Unbreakable by Kami Garcia

From one of the authors of the Beautiful Creatures series comes this haunting new paranormal romance. Kennedy Waters discovers she is a member of an ancient secret society called the Legion when two other members sweep in to rescue her from an attack by a poltergeist. Her mother has just died, so joining forces with the Legion provides some comfort, even as it gets spookier by the minute. The Legion must protect themselves from a demonic force that wants them all dead, and their only hope to do so is to brave the scenes of grisly murders to track down a mysterious device that is supposed to be their savior. From haunted mansions to abandoned mental hospitals – this book takes you to all the creepy spots while keeping you enthralled in the haunting story.

New Books Highlight: Seek the Unknown

Next week is Teen READ Week! The theme this year is Seek the Unknown, so think about that when you visit the library in the coming days.Here are some new books that ask you to seek the unknown, too!

Steelheart by Brandon Sanderson

Sanderson is a reliable author of really cool books. He’s always taking us to unexpected worlds. In Steelheart, it is a world populated by superhumans known as Epics who became that way after a mysterious event everyone calls the Calamity. The most powerful Epic of all, Steelheart, brutally murdered David’s father when he was eight. Now, ten years later, he has joined  group called the Reckoners, bent on destroying Steelheart. Action-packed, mysterious, thrilling sci fi at its best!

All the Truth That’s in Me by Julie Berry

Set in an anonymous town, in an unknown time, with a mute narrator, calling this book a mystery is an understatement. The setting is a village, a close-knit community, but in an undefined place and time. Judith is mute – her tongue was cut out by a madman who held her prisoner for two years. Just to complicate matters, this madman happens to be the father of the boy she pines for from afar. Another girl went missing around the time Judith was being held hostage, and she may know the truth behind her disappearance – if only she can find a way to get it out.

The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

Pick this up if you loved the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, the Blood of Eden series by Julie Kagawa and/or the Gone series by Michael Grant. It’s the same kind of fast-paced, gritty storytelling. A great take on both the vampire genre and the dystopian genre. Gene is a human in a world where humans are food. But Gene has not let the vampires know the truth about him, carefully keeping it secret through a web of lies. When Gene is chosen to go on the hunt to kill the last remaining humans, the web begins to unwind and Gene must find a way to protect his very humanity without succumbing to the merciless vampires.

Sneak Peek! “There used to be more of us. I’m certain of this. Not enough to fill a sports stadium or even a movie theater, but certainly more than what’s left today. Truth is, I don’t think there’s any of us left. Except me. It’s what happens when you’re a delicacy. When you’re craved. you go extinct.” (Text copyright 2012 ©by Andrew Fukuda)

New Books Highlight: Summer Reads

Summer is almost here! Summer Reading has started, school is winding down (okay, exams don’t feel like “winding down” but they do signal the end is near!), and the sun is shining. We could use a few more warm days, but soon enough we’ll be complaining about the temperatures and running inside for the air conditioning. On that note: the library has free air conditioning all summer long. Come hang out when you need a break!

Without further ado, some awesome new summer reads. Pick these up ASAP!

Anthem for Jackson Dawes by Celia Bryceanthem

Ahh first love! Summer is a great time to explore romance, whether fictional or in real life. In Anthem for Jackson Dawes, the first love happens to be between two young cancer patients, Megan and Jackson. Sound familiar? While it does have some similarities to The Fault in Our Stars, this story has a very different feel. Less raw sarcasm, more quiet hope. Jackson is the only other teen in the pediatric cancer ward with Megan, and she takes comfort in his presence as she pushes everyone else out of her life. But every love has an ending, and ends come too fast when you’re sick: when Megan goes back into the real world, she is left only with the memories of Jackson to sustain her and bring her back to life.

Sneak Peek! (from Megan’s anthem to Jackson) “Jackson Dawes. He’s as tall as doors, standing in his battered old hat, singing his battered old songs, slapping his fingers down the length of the stand like an upright bass.”  (Text copyright 2013 by Celia Bryce)

How Zoe Made Her Dreams (Mostly) Come True by Sarah Strohmeyerhow zoe

A Cinderella story perfect for the summer months. Cousins Zoe and Jess just landed their dream summer jobs – working at Fairyland Kingdom theme park. With a huge college grant on the line for outstanding interns, Zoe has a lot riding on this summer. But when she’s assigned to “serve” the Queen, and finds herself woefully distracted by all the handsome Princes running around, things do not seem promising. As the title implies, Zoe – and all of us – can’t make every dream come true, even in Fairyland Kingdom, but the tough choices she must make between friends, family, and boys, lead to a happy ending.

Sneak Peek! (from the Prologue) “There was no getting around the fact that Tinker Bell was a little bitch. The tiny, white powder-puff bichon frise with professionally manicured toenails scampered under the thornbush and out of sigh. Aghast, I stared at her diamond-studded collar swinging perilously from her leash like a noose swaying from the gallows.” (Text copyright 2013 by Sarah Strohmeyer)

The Summer Prince by Alaya Dawn Johnsonsummer prince

With “summer” right in the title, you know this is a sure bet for a beach read. This incredibly fresh and unique dystopian tale takes us to a futuristic Brazil wherein men are no longer the dominant gender, having been nearly wiped out by a plague 400 years earlier. In the matrilineal society of Palmares Tres, 16-year-old artist June Costa dreams of greatness. Until she becomes entangled in a love affair with this year’s Summer King, Enki, the boy who will be sacrificed at year’s end so the city can continue to thrive. June’s art thrives, and as Enki’s sacrifice draws near, the two escape the political turmoil of their city, risking everything in the process.

Sneak Peek! “When I was eight, my papai took me to the park to watch the king die.” (Text copyright 2013 by Alaya Dawn Johnson)

712 book club this week!

Thursday is the February meeting of the 712 Book Club for y’all in grades 7-12. We’re reading our way through some different kinds of dystopian fiction, since there’s so much of it and it varies a lot! (Last month was Enclave by Ann Aguirre, which was awesome. The sequel, Outpost, is out now and is similarly great.) Read on to find out why you need to be reading this book right now:


all these things i've done

This Thursday, in honor of last week’s Valentine’s Day – a day that celebrates all things chocolate – we’re reading All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. In the dystopian world that she imagines, food is somewhat limited, water is rationed, phones are strictly landlines and cost a bundle, alcohol is legal for everyone, and coffee and (worst of all) chocolate are utterly illegal.

Anya Balanchine’s family is the Russian mafia and she’s a no-nonsense kind of girl. She runs her family, her immediate family that is, as she is in charge of her sister, brother and ailing grandmother (who was born in 1995, just to give you some idea of when this story takes place), after  her father was gunned down when she was young. Even when her older brother, who is mentally handicapped, is recruited to work for “the family” under somewhat suspect terms, and she gets sent to jail for dishing out poisoned chocolate, Anya keeps it together. Nothing can cause her to waver from the path of doing what’s right for her family and friends. Luckily for us, there is a forbidden romance in Anya’s future. It might be the only thing that can shake up her cynical, overly practical worldview and let her change her life, and that of those around her, for the better.

The world is not an easy place in this dystopian version of New York City, yet the cool thing about Zevin’s futuristic NYC is that the government’s corruption and distorted sense of rules and regulations have meant that life is sort of a throwback. There are no hover cars or people living on the moon, because dystopia means that people really just live harshly. The rules are strict, and so just like in historic times, such as the Prohibition Era in the 20s, people find a way to get around them. There are speakeasies. And weirdly harsh prisons. Teens get “high” on coffee and chocolate, but don’t like the taste of alcohol, which is legal for everyone, so don’t drink it much.

It’s a really cool example of the dystopian idea that is everywhere in books these days. More like the sci-fi dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 than the more violent and dark books like The Hunger Games, it’s realistic fiction zoomed into a future gone a bit wrong.

Come chat about it over pizza and chocolate (which is legal here, thank goodness) this Thursday!

New Books Highlight: Romance, or not

Valentine’s Day is over, but why not look at some romances? Are you gagging right now? Okay, then I’ll throw in a totally anti-romantic one, too. This week, two love-centric books and one that is guaranteed to make you forget about romance and that stupid person you have a crush on who does not know you exist.

Kiss & Make Up by Katie D. Andersonkiss and make up

For Emerson and her BFF Trina, this is the Year of the Boy. They’re determined to boost their social status by finding some boyfriends. Emerson’s only got one little problem, though. She can read the minds of the guys she locks lips with. What seems like a curse (you don’t really always need to know what someone is thinking), has its perks when Emerson realizes she can steal test answers while she steals kisses. Even with her shallow nature – she’s addicted to lip gloss – Emerson is a completely endearing character who grows up a lot during this Year of the Boy.

Sneak Peek! “It’s important that you know: my obsession with lip gloss has officially ruined my life.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Katie D. Anderson)


Miss Fortune Cooke by Lauren Bjorkmanmiss fortune

Erin, unbeknownst to her friends and family, is the genius behind the popular advice blog Miss Fortune Cookie. When her ex-friend sends a letter, Erin dishes out advice as usual. But then she sees her advice acted upon and is not exactly thrilled with the results. In her efforts to clean up the mess she caused, keep her blogging identity secret, and not drive the rest of her friends away, Erin finds her own path to love, not through fortune cookies.

Sneak Peek! “My friends and I were riding home from school on Muni, clinging to an assortment of slippery handholds, when Linny almost blew my secret identity. Intentionally.” (Text copyright © 2012 by Lauren Bjorkman)


And now for the utterly unromantic choice:

Homeland by Cory Doctorowhomeland

Another in Doctorow’s line of awesomely dark and cool high tech dystopian novels. Marcus Yallow’s past as a “hacktivist” means he’s well-regarded amongst plugged in teens in futuristic California. Despite being locked up for his hacking work, he lands a great job putting his tech skills to work for a politician he can believe in. When hacker friend Masha gives him a flash drive loaded with seriously bad news, he is torn between feeling the need to leak it to further undermine the corrupt government, and knowing that he risks his life, job, and more if he does so.

Sneak Peek! “Attending Burning Man made me simultaneously one of the most photographed people on the planet and one of the least surveilled humans in the modern world.” (Text copyright © 2013 by Cory Doctorow)



New Books Highlight: Series Openers

OOOO don’t you just love cracking into a new series? There’s something special about reading a story you know is just the beginning of something. This week in New Books Highlight, we’ve got THREE (!) brand new series to jump around over.

Level 2 by Lenore Appelhanslevel 2

This book is going on my list of 2013 Awesome YA Covers, first of all. It’s neon and cool and looks like a video game I want to play. Second of all, it’s a new, fresh take on some things we have seen in other YA books before such as the afterlife and a rebellious struggle between good and evil led by a powerful female protagonist. In Level 2, the first book in a series called the Memory Chronicles, Felicia is dead but happily living in the good memories from her life while plugged into her memory chamber in the hive-like colony of Level 2. When a bad memory breaks through and demands that she come with him, Felicia comes face-to-face with the complex reality of the afterlife and becomes part of a rebellion against conniving “angels” who are keeping the dead trapped. When’s the sequel out?!?!

Midnight City by  J. Barton Mitchellmidnight city

This is one to add to the list of post-apocalyptic stories. If you’re like me and feel like this genre just keeps expanding in amazing ways and getting better, you’ll definitely be excited to read this one. It’s eight years after an alien invasion almost wiped out humanity on earth by taking away all the adults. Holt is a loner, survivor, and hunter, fending for himself in this gritty new reality. It’s a weird world made up of orphaned children, gangs, and the ever-present aliens. When he joins forces with Mira and Zoey, his loner ways are challenged, but he finds himself on a fast-paced adventure across a war-torn country. The series is called Conquered Earth.

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Brackendarkest minds

Another post-apocalyptic-type story, but also another with a really interesting take on the action. In Ruby’s world, the teens who survived a deadly epidemic now find themselves with psychic abilities ranging from what has been deemed mildly safe (labeled as Blues or Greens) to what the government has decided is truly dangerous (Reds and Oranges). Even the Blues and Greens are imprisoned in horrible work camps to keep them out of the government’s way. Ruby has been posing as a less-threatening Green, even though her powers are much stronger and she is truly an Orange. An anti-government faction breaks Ruby and others out of the work camp, their will to survive is tested as they come face-to-face with what society has become.

So there you have three awesome new series to get started on!

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Divergent takes place in Chicago with a society divided into five fractions.  Each pledged to develop a different virtue; Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and the Erudite (the intelligent). When teenagers turn 16 each of them must choose which fraction they will commit to for the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, Tris, Prior, this choice means either betraying her family or discovering her true self.  She can’t have both, but the choice she makes surprises everyone including herself.

During her first few days of the initiation she realizes how competitive it really is and it comes down to the survival of the fittest. If she doesn’t make the cut she could be fractionless, living in poverty. Tris struggles to figure out who her true friends are and falls in love with someone who isn’t allowed to love her back. But, Tris also has another secret, a dangerous one, if found out she could be killed. When she discovers another growing conflict between two other fractions that threaten the safety everyone she loves, she learns that her secret allows her to be the only one to eliminate the threat. Or her secret might be the death of her.

Reviewed by Namrata, 16, Teen Advisory Board member