By Allie Condie
In a future society in which government controls everything from a person’s daily caloric intake to the person’s death date (one’s 80th birthday), it is not surprising that the government also determines who would be the right person for each citizen to marry. Cassia has unquestionably followed what the government proclaimed was right, believing it was looking after the best interests of the citizens. Her chosen partner is exactly whom she hoped it would be, and her life seems to be on track for happiness. However, a sequence of events makes her question if the government has too much control over the citizens. Matched is the first book in a trilogy which traces Cassia’s journey from doubt to rebellion. Matched focuses on romance as Cassia struggles with her feelings for her government selected perfect match and a forbidden suitor. The second and third books in the series still have the romance aspect, but more and more action occurs as the rebellion becomes more of a focus. Readers who like dystopian society novels will find this book/series an interesting read.
The Night She Disappeared
By April Henry
The Night She Disappeared is a frightening book because it is so true to life. It is not unusual to see stories broadcasted on the news of people who have gone missing. This fiction book is much like one of those news stories.
A pizza delivery girl named Kayla goes missing on a routine delivery. Other than the captor, no one knows where she is or what has happened to her. Two of Kayla’s coworkers, Drew and Gabie, who feel they are inadvertently responsible for her disappearance begin to piece together clues. As the two grapple with fear and guilt, they race against time trying to figure out what has happened to Kayla and who is responsible for her disappearance. This book will not only grab your attention, it will keep it until the last page.
By Tim Green
Thirteen year old Harrison has had a tough life being bounced from foster home to foster home. Because of his uncertain life, Harrison hasn’t had much time for school or extracurricular activities such as sports until he ends up in the home of a couple willing to adopt him. When he arrives at this new home, Harrison feels love and acceptance. Since his adopted father is a teacher and coach at the local middle school, Harrison’s focus changes from survival to academics and sports. Because of his aggression and strength, Harrison seems a natural for the football team. His determination and ability on the field earn him the label “unstoppable.” Just when things seem too good to be true, Harrison is faced with the biggest challenge of his life. With the help of family and friends, Harrison faces the challenge and takes the label “unstoppable” to a new level.
Unstoppable is not just a book for football fans. Though it has many action-packed football scenes, even those who are not football fans will find this book appealing as they root for Harrison on and off the field.
By Mike Lupica
Since fall for many is synonymous to football, it seems fitting to start this year with a book about football. QB1 is a sports book with action-packed scenes on and off the football field.
Jake Cullen lives in the shadow of his older brother, Wyatt, and his dad. Wyatt, a hometown hero for his abilities on the football field, is playing college ball for a major university. Jake’s dad, also a hometown football star, went on to play college football and made it to the NFL. The pressure is on Jake to excel on the field. Jake is a contender on his varsity high school football team for the quarterback position which most people expect him to get. However, Jake meets his challenge when a new player arrives at school with his sights set on the same position. QB1 portrays Jake’s struggles on and off the field. Though there is lots of football action, the book is also about relationships and expectations. Because of that, this is a book that will appeal to football fans, as well as those with little knowledge of the game.
by Elsie Chapman
In her inaugural novel, Elsie Chapman, adds a twist to the dystopian society genre. In this novel the city of Kersh is a safe place in a chaotic world. However, in order to keep Kersh safe, all citizens must be ready to defend the city at a moment’s notice. To be sure that all citizens are competent defenders of the city, they begin military training as children. The culminating military exercise occurs when a person’s number comes up sometime between the ages of 13-20. When a person is notified that his or her number has been activated, the person must stay alive for 30 days. During that 30 day period the person is hunting and being hunted by his/her genetic twin, known as an alternate. The surviving person is deemed worthy to become a full-fledged citizen of Kersh. Dualed focuses on West Grayer and her quest to survive. This book is fast paced and thought provoking.
By James Preller
Bullying is a problem in most schools. Bystander is a fiction book that addresses the problem of bullying in school and out of school. Eric is the new kid. Before school even starts he witnesses an act of bullying, and once school starts he needs to decide what he will do about it. Will he decide to go along with the bullying, simply allow the bullying, or stand up to the bully? Although Eric knows he does not want to be a bully, he struggles with the decision between being a bystander or an advocate for the victim. Eric’s decision does not necessarily guarantee the bullying will stop, and it may cost him a friendship. It also can make him the target of bullying.
Bystander presents realistic situations involving bullying. However, it is more than a good story. It also gives readers the opportunity to think about how they would handle a similar situation.
by Monica Hughes
The Game is a science fiction novel about a dystopian society that was written long before the current popular dystopian novel series--The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Maze Runner, and Matched. In this novel jobs are scarce due to robots taking over many of the jobs. Children are removed from their families at an early age to attend boarding school. Here they are trained and compete for jobs. Upon graduation job assignments are given, and those who have not received jobs are located to a sector of the city where they live in poverty with minimum government support and maximum government scrutiny. Lisse, the main character, and several classmates who are deemed unemployable band together for survival reasons. At one point they receive an ongoing invitation to participate in a virtual reality game. As Lisse, and her friends progress through the game, it becomes increasingly more challenging. In the end there is an unexpected twist when they discover there is much more to the game than simple entertainment.
Although it does not have as much action as the current dystopian novels, it is a fun read. As you read through the novel, you may recognize elements of other more popular dystopian novels.
A Long Walk to Water
by Linda Sue Park
A Long Walk to Water is two stories in one. Though the stories begin in the same country (South Sudan) with children the same age, they are set years apart. The two stories which run parallel seem unrelated until they intersect at the end. The minor story is about a girl named Nya who journeys each day to collect water for her family. The main story is of a young boy, Salva, who escapes an attack on his village by rebel soldiers. Not knowing the fate of his family or his village, Salva joins other fleeing refugees walking from South Sudan, to Ethiopia, to Kenya. His journey is full of uncertainty and danger. Salva ends up spending years in refugee camps before he is able to immigrate to the United States. As a young man, Salva returns to his native country where he is determined to make a difference. This book which is based on a true story has adventure and unexpected twists. A Long Walk to Water is truly inspiring with its message of perseverance and hope.
Separate But Not Equal
By Jim Haskins
With February being designated as African-American History month and the theme of this year’s observation declared the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, an appropriate book to read is Separate But Not Equal. This non-fiction book focuses on the policy of separate but equal—segregation and supposedly the same quality of facilities—especially as it pertains to education. The book chronicles the struggle for African-Americans to attain education from colonial times through the late 20th century. This book highlights important court cases and instrumental people in changing the quality of education for African-Americans. This is a great non-fiction book which gives basic information in language that is easily understood. Separate But Not Equal stresses the importance of education as a means to achieve better quality of life. It is sad to think that for so many years quality of life was denied to so many.
The Lost Dogs
by Jim Gorant
The Lost Dogs is a nonfiction book which chronicles the case of NFL player Michael Vick’s illegal dog fighting operation and the fate of the dogs involved. The book presents the evidence used against Vick leading to his prison sentence. However, a majority of the book focuses on the dogs, how they were abused and how they were rescued. At the time of the raid on Vick’s Bad Newz Kennels, 47 dogs survived. Individuals and organizations concerned with the welfare of the surviving dogs, banded together to save and rehabilitate these dogs which some viewed as being vicious fighter dogs.
If you are an animal lover parts of this book are difficult to read. However, keeping in mind that the majority of the dogs were rescued and rehabilitated makes it a worthwhile read.
I love working in the middle school library because each day I get to work with wonderful students. In addition, I have access to lots of interesting books. It is always fun to help students connect to books they like, and to talk about what they are reading.