About Me

My name is Genevieve Woods and in addition to being the mother of an adorable preschooler named Oscar and his adorable toddler brother Henry, I am the Children's Buyer at Spellbinder Books, a small independent bookstore in Bishop, California. I am often asked by customers for recommendations...and thus the idea for this blog was sparked.

Many sites recommending books for kids are created by librarians and non-profits. While these are great sites, they often recommend out-of-print books. This site is all about the great books that are available now! While I am not being paid for these recommendations, I would appreciate it if readers would purchase the books I recommend from local independent bookstores, or even B&N. Basically don't buy from the evil empire (A_A_O_), because if you do much of our literary knowledge will be lost.

Monday, June 9, 2008

Review: New YA Action/Adventure Novels


What makes a good action/adventure novel for teens? While there may be differences of opinion, my personal take is that a good teen adventure novel is just like a good adult adventure novel, but with less swearing, graphic violence, and sex (a child or teen protagonist also helps). In fact a number of famous adult mystery/adventure writers have realized this, and are jumping into the youth market, but this review is not about them, this review is about the titles above.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
Last week I read Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, and I couldn't put it down! The theme of teenagers fighting against the Department of Homeland Security didn't really appeal to me at first, but I was home sick and the book had made it onto the Indie Bestseller List, http://www.bookweb.org/indiebound/bestsellers/national.html, so I thought, "why not?". I am so glad I picked it up!

First of all Little Brother is heavy on the computer science behind everything the main character, Marcus does. But instead of scaring me off as most computer language does, Doctorow makes it fascinating! He should earn a Pulitzer for that alone.

The basic plot synopsis is that while Marcus and friends are cutting school to play a computer game, terrorists attack the San Francisco Bay Bridge. Marcus and friends are picked up by the Department of Homeland Security as possible suspects and detained offshore for an unreasonable amount of time in wretched conditions. A condition of release is that they not tell a soul what happened to them, but one of the friends doesn't return. What Marcus does about his missing friend and the fear state the Department of Homeland Security creates in San Francisco is the book. And it is a great book! Really really fun.

I can't remember any swearing, and any violence is pretty minor, other than the death and destruction of the terrorist attack of course. There is one sex scene, between a 17-year-old couple, a condom is used. As far as teen sex go it was great, pretty realistic; afterwards they threw on clothes and felt shy around each other. There is one party scene that includes under-age drinking, but no one was wasted, no one drove, and it was used to move the plot forward, again, realistic. I would feel comfortable giving the book to my 11-year-old niece, she hears worse stuff from her friends. That said, my niece is an advanced reader, kids would need to be reading at an 8th grade level to fully get into the book.
***** - I loved it.

The Missing Book 1: Found
by Margaret Peterson Haddix
SPOILER ALERT!!!! In order to explain why I think this book is so cool, I have to tell you the end, so if you don't want to know what happens STOP READING NOW!

In Found, Jonah receives weird mail that he first assumes is some prank kids are pulling because he is adopted. But then his neighbor Chip also gets the same mail, and Chip didn't even know he was adopted. Confused Jonah gets his dad to call the adoption agency, who says there is a new name attached to his file, and FBI agent's name. While the FBI is no help what-so-ever, his family's conversation with the agency does bring up a lot of mysterious questions that Jonah, his sister Katherine, and Chip are determined to solve. The book is their solving of the mystery.

Now here is what makes this book great, it isn't the mystery, it isn't the kids working to solve it, what makes this book great is the book what is coming next. Found is clearly the START of a really fun series. You see it turns out the kids are all famous babies (think Anastasia Romanov) stolen from the past centuries to be sold to future families for high adoption fees. Except their plane accidentally landed in the wrong time, the late 20th century, and the kids were adopted by normal American families. Now to fix the ripples in time their kidnapping caused, but still be allowed to return to their 21st century families, they have to go back to the centuries they first came from to make things right. Book two starts in the 15th century, I can't wait. This a great book for kids 10-14.
**** - I liked the book, but I think I am going to LOVE the series.

Gone by Michael Grant
I read the advance reader's edition of Gone, which had a plain blue cover. If it had the cover it is now being sold with I would never have picked it up. Come on this is a kids book, a young kids book at that, ages 10 - 14. I do not want to see 14-year-old nipples on a book cover! Mr. Grant do your best to get a different cover for the paperback edition, PLEASE.
Gone is a science-fiction thriller where suddenly all adults and children over 14 years of age disappear from a community, and the children left in that community start developing strange powers. The factions the youth split into, the good leaders, the bad, this is the story. There is a lot of violence, but no sex, and I can't remember any swearing. Like Found, Gone is the start of a series. But unlike Found I am not clamoring to read the next installation. That said Gone is a good read, entertaining, mysterious, and thrilling. I would have given it four stars if it weren't for that wretched cover. Now it only gets three.
***- Good, but not great.

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