Teen Tuesday – Me and Earl and the Dying Girl

meandearlandthedyinggirlTake what would arguably be the most popular YA book published in 2012, and instead of portraying teens facing terminal cancer with intelligently wrought insight and dignity, make them neurotically self-loathing and idiotically funny.  In fact, have the main character boldly suggest that “This book contains precisely zero Important Life Lessons . . . .“  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is that book.

Are you an unequivocal lover of The Fault in Our Stars and wondering why you would even bother with a novel that is the antithesis of everything that is John Green’s book?  Or perhaps you find John Green’s novels pretentious and unrealistic.  Regardless of your point of view, as long as lowbrow body humor and swearing don’t alarm you, Me and Earl and the Dying Girl offers another look at dying young, in a surprisingly comic and poignant way.  Unlike The Fault in Our Stars, which caused uncontrollable sobbing, reading Me and Earl and the Dying Girl had me laughing out loud despite a grim plotline that only got more hysterical as the story progressed.

Greg Gaines, the narrator, is a pasty, overweight seventeen-year-old living in an upper middle class Jewish home.  Greg’s lone friend is Earl, a short, black, angry high school senior from a sketchy part of town who bonded with Greg over violent video games in kindergarten and now shares his passion for filmmaking.  Think of them as a young Woody Allen and Spike Lee.  The “dying girl” is Rachel, who Greg befriended in Hebrew school six years earlier in order to get close to her much hotter friend.  Forced to visit Rachel after she is diagnosed with leukemia, Greg recounts their friendship and the events leading up to the making of “Rachel the film.”

Greg’s distinctive voice comically relates his most absurd thoughts and actions, many of which are written in script format.   Reluctantly revealing the details of his friendship with Earl, their early films, and Rachel’s illness, Greg’s sarcastic self-assessments run along the lines of  “Let’s Just Get This Embarrassing Chapter Out of the Way” and “I Put the ‘Idiot’ in ‘Videotape’.”  Maybe I’ve spent too much time in the company of teenage boys, but I enjoyed Greg’s obsessive and snarky voice.  The sexually tinged humor and slapstick antics keep the pacing fast, and the unsentimental, self-deprecating tone is down-to-earth and relatable.  Give this book to any teen who is a budding filmmaker, a Monty Python fan, or one who tells you their life is in the pits.  This is comic medicine.


Teen Tuesday – Taylor P.’s Review of Beyond by Graham McNamee

beyondWhitney Library patron, voracious reader and book review blogger, Taylor is sharing her latest review of Beyond: A Ghost Story by Graham McNamee for our Teen Tuesday post.  Miss Taylor is also participating in the YALSA Hub Reading Challenge.  Go, Taylor!  If you’re a fan of ghost stories, check out her review–

Jane has suffered from a horrible accident that caused her death. Within those brief moments of death she felt like she wasn’t alone and that something was lurking in the darkness waiting for her. When the doctors brought her back to life, she escaped the dark and the something that was after her. She felt and knew that this “something” tried to take her soul away while she was dead. Now she is starting to think that “something” followed her back from death and is connected to her.  But why?

At first, I thought this novel would be a typical ghost story with the typical ghost that terrorizes every character in the novel.  I was completely wrong.  I am usually a big critic of paranormal movies and novels but found the ghostly character in this novel different from most and fell in love with it. I especially loved how each character had specific traits to remember them by and how easy it was for me to build a connection with the characters. One of the best traits a novel can have is characters that can make a personal connection with the reader.  I found Beyond to be a great paranormal read!

If you like Beyond by Graham McNamee then you might enjoy reading Between by Jessica Warman, The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman, Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake, and Anya’s Ghost by Vera Brosgol.

P.S. Here is the link to my blog page! – http://heartgrabbingbooks.blogspot.com/

Teen Tuesday – Guest Reviewer Taylor P. reviews Alex Award Winner PURE by Julianna Baggott

pureTeen Tuesday is so pleased to have Taylor P., one of our patrons and an avid reader contribute the following review of one of this year’s Alex Award winning books, Pure by Julianna Baggott.  The Alex Award is given every year to ten Adult books recommended for teens.

There were many different qualities in the novel Pure that pertained to nuclear science and the hardships of people who had to endure nuclear bombs. It is the main reason I fell in love with the novel itself.

Only a week after the Detonations hit, everything anyone had ever known had been obliterated. Black rain and fire swept over the land leaving many injured or dead. One building survived the bombs and it is called the Dome. It is also known as where the Pure people live. The Pure had never stepped outside since the Detonations and were never introduced to the toxins the Detonations left behind. The people living outside of the Dome are known as Wretches, the people who had been exposed to bombs first hand and had to live with the horrors the bombs left them. Everyone lost something after the Detonations: from losing family members to being fused to the Earth, its animals, plants, and everyday man-made items. The people on the outside have witnessed all of man’s mistakes and are now starting to wonder when the people inside the Dome will make their appearance and help them.

From the moment I read the prologue of the novel I knew I would love it. The storyline and character developments intrigued me and drew me in to this very moment. If you have an interest for an adventure, drama, and a breath-taking experience, then read Pure. There will also be two other novels written to complete this trilogy and I can’t wait to read them!

If you liked Pure by Julianna Baggott, then you might like Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Mayberry, Soulless by Christopher Golden, and The Other Life: The Weepers by Susanne Winnacker which I thought were all wonderful!

Teen Tuesday – Celebrating African American History Month

justwriteTeen Tuesday couldn’t let February go by without commemorating African American History Month, and what better way to start than with Walter Dean Myers, this year’s National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.  Winner of the first Michael L. Printz award in 2000 for Monster, Walter Dean Myers continues to be a prolific writer of picture books, poetry, biographies, and teen fiction.  His latest work is a nonfiction title called Just Write: Here’s How, designed for teens interested in becoming writers themselves.  To read more about Walter Dean Myers and see a list of his many awards, click on the Library of Congress page here.

To follow are a couple websites where you can find African American authors and illustrators who are steadily broadening our literary landscape through their work in children’s and teen literature.

The American Library Association’s Youth Media Awards were announced just a few weeks ago, with this year’s Coretta Scott King  winners among handinhandthem.  Honoring African American authors and illustrators of books for children and teens, the Coretta Scott King awards lists are a great resource for both fiction and nonfiction titles.  This year’s author award went to Andrea Davis Pinkney for her nonfiction biography Hand in Hand: Ten Black Men who Changed AmericaAn honor recipient was Vaunda Micheaux Nelson, whose young adult novel, No Crystal Stair: A Documentary Novel of the Life and Work of Lewis Micheaux, Harlem Bookseller, also won a Boston Globe-Horn Book Award.

The website The Brown Bookshelf has been featuring one African American author or illustrator each day this month.   Here  you’ll find their complete February list, with notations indicating picture book, middle grade and young adult authors.  Click on the authors’ names for some autobiographical information, their inspirations and published works.  Chances are, you’ll discover some authors well worth checking out!  We’re waiting for the library’s purchase of Alaya Dawn Johnson’s debut teen science fiction novel called The Summer Prince due out March 1st.   Get a taste of her work by reading her short story “Love Will Tear Us Apart” in the anthology Zombies Vs Unicorns , edited by Justine Larbalestier and Holly Black.

Teen Tuesday: A New Year! New Books! What’s on Your List?

After a short break, Teen Tuesday is back . . . and woefully behind in her reading!

Two weeks into 2013 and already Teen Tuesday has amassed a list of  “must reads” for the coming year that will undoubtedly crowd out the stack of 2012 books still left unread.   But never one to complain about a wealth of riches, here’s the list so far—and please, feel free to tell us what’s on your 2013 list!navigatingearly

papervalentinePaper Valentine by Brenna Yovanoff  came out last week but has a waiting list at our library, so if you’re interested, reserve your copy today!  This ghost story/murder mystery sounds intriguing and just look at that cover!  In fact, all of Brenna Yovanoff’s books have been blessed with riveting covers that draw readers in before they’ve even opened the book.

Navigating Early by Clare Vanderpool also came out last week and is requestable on our library’s webpage.  It’s the second book written by Ms. Vanderpool, a 2011 Newbery winner for Moon over Manifest, and if it’s anything like her first effort, this will be a reading treasure.  It’s already received three starred reviews!

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer, book#2 of the Lunar Chronicles.  This releases February 5th and already has over 50 holds!  This sci-fi fantasy fairytale, with a cyborg Cinderella, an Asian prince, and moon aliens ,begins book #2 by introducing new characters taken from Little Red Riding Hood.   If yoscarletu haven’t yet read book #1, Cinder, you’re in luck!  Put book #2 on request now and by the time you finish reading Cinder your wait will be much less than the rest of us who’ve had to be patient for a year!  A year!

These next titles have yet to hit our library catalog, so keep a sharp eye out as the publication dates get closer.  Select “Books, Movies and More” on the library’s home page.  There, you can select “Coming Soon” from the dropdown menu to get a preview of what’s been ordered and place those items on hold.

Prodigy by Marie Lu comes out January 29th and is the second book in her Legend trilogy.  Suffering Hunger Games withdrawal?  Legend is the perfect answer to an action-fueled dystopian craving.  Already optioned for a film, the second book begins with a Las Vegas locale!

His Fair Assassin book #2, Dark Justice by Robin LaFevers, due out April 2ndGrave Mercy, the first of this series, has appeared on many best of 2012 YA lists and received a number of starred reviews.  Don’t let the heft of this book discourage you.  The story rapidly builds in pace and action and the mystery, the political intrigue, and simmering romance will make the pages fly by.  Book #2 centers around Sybella, a secondary character from book #1.

Quintana of Charyn by Melina Marchetta.  #3 of the Lumatere Chronicles, due out April 9th.  She’s a favorite author and this is the last book of the trilogy.  Fantasy lovers who have yet to discover Finnikin of the Rock are in for a real treat!  Read the reviews!  Get it now!

Game by Barry Lyga.   I Hunt Killers was a much talked about book last year centering as it did on the son of a serial killer.  A gripping and violent mystery not for the faint of heart, book #2 will be released on April 23rd.

And lastly—for now—Picture Me Gone by Meg Rosoff due out September 5, 2013.  Little is know about this book at present but check out the author’s own summary here

 So, what books are you looking forward to in 2013?