The Forgetting by Sharon Cameron

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Every twelve years, Nadia’s world forgets. They lose the memories of their past, their families — even of who they are. To remember, members of Nadia’s society must write down their lives in books. Whatever is written in their books is true. But Nadia knows that some things written down are lies. And she knows because Nadia doesn’t forget. When the rest of her world scrambles to rebuild their fractured lives, Nadia remembers everything that happened before the Forgetting. She knows that her real father altered his book to start a new family. And she knows that her mother is losing her mind because of his betrayal. Somehow, Nadia must discover the truth behind the Forgetting, before her remaining family is ripped apart forever.

If you’re a fan of DivergentThe TestingHunger Games, or any other YA Dystopia, this one is a solid pick for you. Personally, I found it to be slower-paced than I usually like my novels, but its premise is a good one. The author does a good job of examining human nature and posing questions about it. What would you do, if you knew everyone was just going to forget? It’s an interesting thought that could lead to a heavy discussion. If you can get through the parts that drag, the ending is a good one.

Rating: 3/5

Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan

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Upon surviving the attack on the cruise liner she is travelling on, Frances is rescued after days at sea. Her best friend, Libby, though she, too, survived, doesn’t make it. In an attempt to protect Frances from the ship’s attackers, Libby’s father asks her to assume his late daughter’s identity. He also asks her to forget the tragedy aboard the Persephone. But, now with wealth and power at her fingertips, Frances can’t leave the mystery of the attack alone. The only other survivors claim the “attack” was a rogue wave that sunk the ship. Frances knows they’re lying and must find out why before she exacts her revenge.

If you like revenge stories, you’ll like this book. In fact, there’s something to be said about how closely this book resembles the ABC TV show, Revenge. But…that’s for other people to decide. The plot is fast-paced, the mystery intense, and the ending pretty good. The plot is a bit predictable, but that doesn’t mean the book isn’t enjoyable. Definitely give this book a try if you like thrillers, mysteries (duh), or revenge.

Rating: 3.5/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here. 

The Last Boy and Girl in the World by Siobhan Vivian

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After constant rains and severe storms, Keeley’s small town of Aberdeen is condemned. Due to the extensive flooding and water damage, the government deems it best for the town to be permanently evacuated and turned into a lake. Now, Aberdeen’s residents (most of whom have lived in the town for generations) have to find a new life somewhere else. With everyone’s life in Aberdeen coming to a halt, Keeley decides to take a huge leap. She’s loved a boy since sixth grade, and if she doesn’t go after him now, she never will. So, with her town sinking around her, and citizens scrambling for hope, Keeley makes one last effort to kiss her high school crush.

As I was unimpressed with Vivian’s The List, I didn’t have high hopes for this book. BUT, it was great! I live near areas that have experienced devastating flooding, so the plot was completely believable and topical to me. Also, I liked how the typical high school drama book was mixed with bigger issues like climate change and homeowner’s rights. I will warn you, the main character, Keeley, is the worst. She is selfish, awful, and cares more about a boy and a school dance than her friends. So she may be tough to read. But if you can stand her, the plot is pretty good and I really liked the ending. If you love realistic/romance reads, don’t miss this one!

Rating: 4/5

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Meltdown: A Race Against Nuclear Disaster at Three Mile Island by Wilborn Hampton

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A first-hand witness to the near nuclear disaster at Three Mile Island in the 1970’s, reporter Wilborn Hampton recounts the suspense and fear of the United States as scientists desperately tried to keep a nuclear plant from reaching meltdown. Though many Americans supported the idea of nuclear power as a new form of energy, a meltdown of a nuclear reactor would mean death and radiation sickness for decades to come. As residents near the plant fled from the invisible danger, Hampton and his colleague stayed behind to witness and record the events, despite the fact that their lives could be in jeopardy.

This book was equally interesting and terrifying. I didn’t know much about the events at Three Mile Island until now, but what I learned was pretty scary. With more pressure on the world to look for alternative fuel sourcing, nuclear power continues to gain attention. However, as Hampton’s book shows, it can be a dangerous resource. Aside from Three Mile Island, the book also talks about the nuclear bombs dropped on Japan in WWII and the nuclear accident in Chernobyl. there’s a lot to think about when it comes to using nuclear energy. If you’re at all interested in environmental issues, science, or physics, this may be a good book for you. The author witnessed the events he writes about first-hand, which makes the action extremely exciting and suspenseful. Give it a read!

*Rating: 4/5

*IRA Young Adult Nonfiction Award, 2002

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines by Paul Fleischman

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Using expose-styled writing, Fleischman attempts to educated readers about myths, cover-ups, and deceptions in current environmental issues. Rather than simply giving young adults small projects they can do to help the environment, the author seeks to paint a bigger picture — one that will show young adult readers what the world will be like if real action isn’t taken. Fleishman fills his book with pictures, relevant examples, and call-out sections that help explain more complex terms and concepts. Though an important topic, the author sometimes comes across as heavy-handed, judgemental, and, because of the large of images, the pages appear cluttered. The piece would perhaps be more effective if presented in sections rather than as a whole.

While I thought the information in this book was important, I didn’t appreciate the author’s tone. Though he attempts to enlighten the reader about persuasive tactics and fallacies used by companies to trick the public, he neglects to mention that he’s using fear-mongering himself. I’m not saying the author is telling any lies or trying to trick you — environmentalism is definitely something that more people should be paying attention to. But the author tries to tackle too much in this piece, making the problem seem insurmountable. Additionally, he often talks down to the reader or makes generalizations about the way people feel. I didn’t appreciate it. Pick this one up if you’re interested in environmentalism or persuasive techniques, but try to ignore the author’s tone.

*Rating: 3/5

*School Library Journal, Best Books of 2014

For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.

Moonbird: A Year on the Wind with the Great Survivor B95 by Phillip Hoose

Phillip Hoose presents the story of B95 (Moonbird), the most successful survivor of the Red Knot shorebird species. Though the Red Knot faces extinction due to man’s interference along its migration route, B95 has managed to complete this journey (the distance of a hemisphere) for over twenty years. Through this bird’s remarkable existence, Hoose explains what the typical life of a Red Knot looks like, its migration route, its breeding patterns, and, above all, the importance of continued efforts to protect the species. Hoose uses a near-narrative style for this book, with call-out sections highlighting important facts and people in the Red Knot conservation group. His mix of facts and personal narrative make Moonbird accessible to readers of all levels.

I’m really not a fan of science non-fiction, so I’m surprised at how much I started to care about this bird and his species. I had no idea Red Knots fly so far just to breed, and the fact that B95 has flown the path for so long is just incredible! Hoose’s use of first person narrating also got me into the story, and there is a lot of suspense surround whether B95 will be spotted again. I also enjoyed how the author highlighted student groups advocating for the preservation of Red Knots. I definitely won’t be looking at shorebirds the same after this book, and I wish more was being done to help this species!

Rating: 3.5/5

*YALSA Award for Nonfiction for Young Adults Finalist, 2013
For full analysis (including flags and SPOILERS) click here.