July 5, 2014

Review: Divergent Thinking

I am a huge fan of Roth's series, so when I received an email asking if I was interested in reviewing this book, I jumped at the opportunity.

Title: ‘Divergent Thinking’
Editor: Leah Wilson
Pages: 256
Publisher: Smart Pop
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: BenBella Books

Summary (from Goodreads):

Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy (DivergentInsurgentAllegiant) has captured the hearts and thoughts of millions of readers. In Divergent Thinking, YA authors explore even more of Tris and Tobias’ world, including:

� What Divergent’s factions have in common with one of psychology’s most prominent personality models
� The biology of fear: where it comes from and how Tris and the other Dauntless are able to overcome it
� Full-page maps locating all five faction headquarters and other series landmarks in today’s Chicago, based on clues from the books
� Plus a whole lot more, from why we love identity shorthand like factions to Tris’ trouble with honesty to the importance of choice, family, and being brave

With a dozen smart, surprising, mind-expanding essays on all three books in the trilogy, 
Divergent Thinking provides a companion fit for even the most Erudite Divergent fan.
My Thoughts:

I was surprised not by how much I enjoyed reading the essays in this book but by how applicable I can make them in my classroom. As an AP Language teacher, I am always looking for interesting non-fiction pieces, especially ones that connect to YA, and this book definitely meets those standards.

This book covers a lot of interesting questions, several focusing on how factions work not just in the series but in life as well. We naturally “faction” ourselves off, and the authors explore and connect how “factions” define who we are as people as well as how they define the characters in the series. This was one of my favorite things to read throughout the book.

I really enjoyed several things about this book, and I can see teachers using excerpts of these essays within their own classes. You do not need to read the series to use the material, but it will help. Most of your students will probably be familiar with the series/film at the very least.

Ideas explored in the essays include connecting the factions to pop culture (Hogwarts/Star Wars/Batman/Superman), the “Big 5” of psychology, mapping out of the factions in Chicago, a mother/daughter conversation about choices that can be made again, bravery, fear as a biological response (cross-curricular with science teacher), etc.

The essays are wide-ranging, do not need to be read in order, and really are just an interesting look at the series.

Do I recommend this book?

I would recommend this book for the die-hard Divergent series fan and/or English teacher looking to bring something interesting into the classroom. With common core, I hear a lot of teachers looking for non-fiction ideas. This would be a great addition.

What's been your favorite non-fiction read lately? Share below. I am always looking for books to add to me TBR pile.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator
July 3, 2014

Review: Sinner

I am such a fan of Stiefvater's world-building. She creates solid stories with solid characters thrust into interesting worlds. For her latest novel, world-building happens in an interesting way because the world is already there: Los Angeles; however, she creates a microcosm of L.A. that will keep readers turning the page.

If you have not read the Mercy Falls trilogy, it's okay. Stiefvater fills holes in for readers as needed, but my guess is that if you read this first, you will want to go back and read that series just to see where Stiefvater started with Cole and Isabel versus where she takes them in this novel.

Title: ‘Sinner’
Author: Maggie Stiefvater
Pages: 368
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

A standalone companion book to the internationally bestselling Shiver Trilogy.

Sinner follows Cole St. Clair, a pivotal character from the #1 New York Times bestselling Shiver Trilogy. Everybody thinks they know Cole's story. Stardom. Addiction. Downfall. Disappearance. But only a few people know Cole's darkest secret -- his ability to shift into a wolf. One of these people is Isabel. At one point, they may have even loved each other. But that feels like a lifetime ago. Now Cole is back. Back in the spotlight. Back in the danger zone. Back in Isabel's life. Can this sinner be saved?

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that I read this book in a single sitting—I was that captivated by the story. But I wasn't sold from page one.

As the novel opens, readers are in a car with Cole, who is doing a live radio interview via cell phone. During this interview we meet Leon, the man who has been charged with driving Cole to his destination—and who becomes one of Cole's best allies in the novel. While the interview was not compelling, the moment Cole steps out of the car to walk to his destination, I was curious. Curious to see how Stiefvater was going to unfold this story.

And I was surprised. I was—because at first I didn't think I was going to like this novel. I went into it thinking, “Hey, I really enjoy Stiefvater's writing, and the cover is kinda cool, so I want to give this novel a chance.” But when I got to that opening, I was convinced that this novel was not going to be for me.

I was wrong (not the first time; won't be the last).

So, if you open the novel and see that interview and think, “I don't know if I'm going to like this,” keep going. It is worth it.

This story is told in duel narration with Cole and Isabel, and I liked this approach. It broke up the monotony a little, especially when Cole was being a bit too wild or Isabel was being a bit too, well, Isabel.

Cole sold this story for me. He is a character on the brink of re-fueling his career, finding love, fighting the wolf inside him. But this story isn't about Cole the wolf. It is about Cole the musician; Cole the man; Cole the friend; Cole in love.

Cole the wolf does make a few appearances—and I won't spoil the why. But let me say that it is cleverly woven into the storytelling.

Cole has come to Los Angeles for one reason, and one reason only: Isabel. He wants her in his life, but he is scared of what he will find when he reunites with her.

Stiefvater doesn't make us wait either. The reunion happens early in the text because this reunion is what sets the stage for the rest of the story.

While Cole is trying to re-start his career via a reality show, readers will find Isabel living with her mom, aunt, and cousin and working for a fashion designer. Isabel is sharp-tongued, and she has some of the best lines in the novel. Isabel is as lost as Cole, but she hides it a bit better. She has started her studies to become a doctor, but her parents are on the brink of divorce, and this eats at her soul. The chip on Isabel's shoulder is a heavy one, and it is going to take a lot for it to be chipped away.

If anyone can do it, it's Cole.

What I loved about this book is how Cole and Isabel's characters are weaved nicely together as a couple but also as individuals. They both have their own interests and pursuits in life, and they both go for them. But they also celebrate what makes each of them so wonderful, and this is honesty on a page.

There are minor characters of note in the novel that contributed to my enjoyment, but two stood out the most as my favorites.

There's Baby, the producer of the reality show, was a bit cagey for me, but of course she is meant to be. She tries to pull fast ones on Cole several times, but he turns the tables on her and her show, and it is fantastic.

And then there's Leon. He is my absolute favorite character in the novel. We meet Leon at the beginning because he is the man charged with driving Cole to his destination. Leon becomes an important figure in the story, not for his driving skills but for the friendship he develops with Cole. Leon is Cole's voice of reason, the guidance that Cole needs to help him stay focused on his life goals. I just want to hug Leon. He should have his own story.

There is an epilogue that takes readers into a chunk of the future to see if Cole and Isabel achieved their dreams together, separately, or at all.

I think on that note, this is the time to stop because I am afraid I will give away key points in the story, and I really don't want to spoil anything for you.

Do I recommend this book?

I absolutely do. I read this book in one sitting because I really wanted to see where Stiefvater would take Cole and Isabel, and I was most curious to see how she would tie it all together.

What's been your favorite read lately? Share below. I am always looking for books to add to me TBR pile.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

June 22, 2014

Review: Conversion

Fact: If I see a YA novel that deals with the Salem Witch Trials in any way, I am going to read it. I love a good witchy read, but most especially a read dealing with this time period, so when I saw that not only was there a YA novel dealing with one of my favorite subjects but also was written by Katherine Howe, I may have squeed a little.

I went into this novel with the idea that I was going to really enjoy it. And guess what? I did.

Title: ‘Conversion’
Author: Katherine Howe
Pages: 432
Publisher: Putnam Juveline
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Penguin First-to-Read

Summary (from Goodreads):

From the New York Times bestselling author of The Physick Book of Deliverance Dane comes a chilling mystery—Prep meets The Crucible.

It’s senior year at St. Joan’s Academy, and school is a pressure cooker. College applications, the battle for valedictorian, deciphering boys’ texts: Through it all, Colleen Rowley and her friends are expected to keep it together. Until they can’t.

First it’s the school’s queen bee, Clara Rutherford, who suddenly falls into uncontrollable tics in the middle of class. Her mystery illness quickly spreads to her closest clique of friends, then more students and symptoms follow: seizures, hair loss, violent coughing fits. St. Joan’s buzzes with rumor; rumor blossoms into full-blown panic.

Soon the media descends on Danvers, Massachusetts, as everyone scrambles to find something, or someone, to blame. Pollution? Stress? Or are the girls faking? Only Colleen—who’s been reading
The Crucible for extra credit—comes to realize what nobody else has: Danvers was once Salem Village, where another group of girls suffered from a similarly bizarre epidemic three centuries ago...

Inspired by true events—from seventeenth-century colonial life to the halls of a modern-day high school—
Conversion casts a spell. With her signature wit and passion, New York Times bestselling author Katherine Howe delivers an exciting and suspenseful novel, a chilling mystery that raises the question, what’s really happening to the girls at St. Joan’s?

My Thoughts:

I am always looking for YA novels to tie into what I teach in my classroom. It helps me establish “street cred” with my kids, that what we do in the classroom does spill into other parts of the world. Especially when it comes to YA. After all, if writers find ideas to be important enough to make a YA novel out of it, then it must be important. Right?

This book is a perfect tie-in to my teaching 'The Crucible.'

The Goodreads description says this book is 'The Crucible' meets 'Prep,' and I'm cannot comment on that because I've never read 'Prep.' What I can say is that I really enjoyed this book.

For me, Howe wove together a masterful tale of contemporary issues and a confession of truth. Between each chapter is the tale of Ann Putnam, the only girl from the Salem Witch Trials time to actually publicly apologize (according to all of the research I have done), so while readers are thrust into a mystery, Howe unravels a historical one for readers.

While the center of the story revolves around what is making the girls fall ill, the secret element sprinkled throughout is a mystery of another kind, one that ties back to Salem Village during a time when witches and witchcraft were a real threat. Is that what is happening now, or is there something else at work?

And the same question remains the same between the two interwoven time periods: are the girls faking?

Colleen is the star of the novel, and I really enjoyed her character. She is on the hunt for the truth, and there are a lot of truths throughout. She is on the hunt to find puzzle pieces and to place them in the right form. She wants to uncover the truth before she becomes the next one to fall.

Howe does not keep readers engaged in one story but in several. There are stories juggling throughout, and I thought that really spoke to Howe understand the life of a teen. Teens do not worry about a single element—they worry about family, friends, grades, college, future, etc. These are all of the things that readers will see Colleen juggle as she tries to sift through it all for truth.

Usually in children/tween/YA novels, parents are a tricky business to write. Frankly, sometimes they just get in the way of the storytelling. Not the case in this novel. They are essential to Howe's purpose. As a high school teacher, I have seen, heard, and experienced a lot from parents. I felt that Howe was honest in her portrayal of parental reaction to the events affecting their children, their accusations toward the school as a result, etc.

I enjoyed Howe's characterization of stress. You read that correctly. Stress. Report after report says that teen stress is at an all time high, and Howe puts the students of St. Joan's into a pressure cooker...one that is ready for an explosion of epic proportions.

Does that sound familiar?

Do I recommend this book?

Enthusiastically! I recommend this book to any reader who enjoys historical fiction, witchy themes, the Salem Witch Trials, 'The Crucible.'

I also recommend this novel to anyone who remembers the events that inspired the writing of this novel because Howe takes a very interesting approach to explain the unexplainable.

Share your favorite witchy read below. I am always looking for new, interesting ones to read.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

Review: The Here and Now

Title: ‘The Here and Now’
Author: Ann Brashares
Pages: 242
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

An unforgettable epic romantic thriller about a girl from the future who might be able to save the world . . . if she lets go of the one thing she’s found to hold on to.

Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

My Thoughts:

This book, I loved it. I found the plot interesting and engaging. Brashares had me from page one. This novel is not character-driven nor plot-driven. These two are a perfect marriage. They work together to deliver a solid dystopian tale. One that will have readers re-think sitting on the back porch during the hot summer months, where mosquitoes wait for their next meal.

Prenna is a character a lot of teen readers will be able to connect with—from her core, she wants to do the right thing. She wants to follow the rules.

Enter Ethan. He is not of her world; therefore, even speaking to him is a violation of the rules. But he is fascinated by Prenna, and he makes time to spend with her. Soon the two become close friends, and Prenna finds herself in constant trouble.

Rules are rules. They are in place to protect the people of the present as well to protect the future. A future that will not be there because of the destruction of mankind by mosquito.

Prenna and Ethan's friendship represents a complication—a major one that could result in the destruction of man even sooner than expected.

Prenna wants to discover the truth about the world she came from and what the future may hold. She is curious, and this is not something that is valued among her “people.”

They must protect themselves at all costs. All. Costs. Even if that means sacrificing Prenna.

There are secrets that must be kept. There is a future to protect.

But, are they doing all they can to protect that future? After all, what's the point of traveling back in time if it is not to work to make sure there is a future worth saving?

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely. I especially recommend this book to readers of dystopia.

I love dystopia, and it is rare that I read one that I do not enjoy. I enjoy seeing how authors imagine the destruction of the world, and how their character creations work to save it. I find them almost cautionary tales of what could happen if we do not protect ourselves now.

And for this one, this destruction comes in the form of something so common, so simple, something we all experience: the mosquito.

Share your favorite dystopian read. I am always looking for new, interesting ones to read.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

May 27, 2014

Review: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender

I want to complain about that cover. I never would have picked this book up in a bookstore because that cover does not speak to me. It is plain, it is hard to read the title, and the connection to the novel just doesn't work for me. 

Guys—do NOT let that cover deceive you. This novel is fab!

Title: ‘The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender’
Author: Leslye Walton
Pages: 320
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Magical realism, lyrical prose, and the pain and passion of human love haunt this hypnotic generational saga.

Foolish love appears to be the Roux family birthright, an ominous forecast for its most recent progeny, Ava Lavender. Ava—in all other ways a normal girl—is born with the wings of a bird.

In a quest to understand her peculiar disposition and a growing desire to fit in with her peers, sixteen-year old Ava ventures into the wider world, ill-prepared for what she might discover and naïve to the twisted motives of others. Others like the pious Nathaniel Sorrows, who mistakes Ava for an angel and whose obsession with her grows until the night of the Summer Solstice celebration.

That night, the skies open up, rain and feathers fill the air, and Ava’s quest and her family’s saga build to a devastating crescendo.

First-time author Leslye Walton has constructed a layered and unforgettable mythology of what it means to be born with hearts that are tragically, exquisitely human.

My Thoughts:

One word to describe this novel: WOW. Seriously, I was shocked by how much I truly loved this story. I loved taking the journey with the Roux family. This novel was the whole package for me.

I want to deal with the plot first. This book is full of raw emotion and storytelling. I was not prepared. I thought it would be a bit of a quirky read; I mean, a girl born with wings sounds pretty quirky.

Walton takes readers through several generations of the Roux family—ending with Ava. It seems as if this family is cursed when it comes to love. Each generation has her own “battle” to fight, but they all try to be practical in their life choices.

I loved every single character. While Ava's name is in the title, this is not solely her story. She shares her woes with her grandmother and her mother.

Ava's grandmother is a strong woman who must overcome town gossip in order to survive and feed her baby.

Ava's mother is almost Gatsby-like (just without the money). She is waiting for her true love to return for her. So much so that she cannot bring herself to even leave the house.

There's Gabe, a man who comes into the night to help with odds and ends around the house, and who works ferociously to try to find a way for Ava to use her wings to fly.

Jack Griffith—a childhood friend of Ava's mother who has big aspirations in life, and a father he cannot please.

There's Ava's twin brother, who is autistic (it doesn't so say in the text, but he is).

And then there's Ava. A girl born with wings who wants nothing more than to be “normal” and to live a normal life. But, her mom seems to have other plans for her.

There are other players, but that's about all I can write without giving away really important plot points—and trust me, you don't want this story ruined for you.

The setting of this novel is also a character, bringing just enough charm to the page to make the reader feel at home but providing just enough menace to remind readers that all is not as it appears.

This novel is an engaging story of love and loss and heartbreak spanning over several generations of the Roux family, and it is an absolute must read.

Do I recommend this book?

Absolutely. I do feel that this novel is more suitable to a more mature reader. This not a novel for everyone, but I feel as if you are a big reader and are mature by nature, this novel will appeal to you.

I do need to caution you—the novel does contain sex. It's not graphic nor overly descriptive, but when I read a YA novel with sex, I always like to give a heads-up about it because I know not everyone approves. There is also a rape, which absolutely broke my heart, but that is the job of a writer—to tell a true story.

This is one of my favorite novels of 2014—share one of yours below.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

May 24, 2014

Review: We Were Liars

That title...

That plot...

The Sinclairs...

Title: ‘We Were Liars’
Author: E. Lockhart
Pages: 240
Publisher: Delacorte
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

A beautiful and distinguished family.
A private island.
A brilliant, damaged girl; a passionate, political boy.
A group of four friends—the Liars—whose friendship turns destructive.
A revolution. An accident. A secret.
Lies upon lies.
True love.
The truth.
We Were Liars is a modern, sophisticated suspense novel from National Book Award finalist and Printz Award honoree E. Lockhart.

Read it.
And if anyone asks you how it ends, just LIE.

My Thoughts:

Oh Lockhart...she has hit a hole-in-one with this novel. (I think the Sinclairs would approve of my use of golf humor.)

First, let me say that I was not expecting this book to leave such an impression on me. I had to step away from the story a few times to absorb the plot, the characters, the setting. I don't do that too often, and I don't recommend that any of you do it while reading this book. It gave me a disjointed feeling by novel's end. That is not the author's fault but my own.

This is a novel that needs to be read within a day of when you start. There are so many minor details that come into play, details that are easily forgotten. But I think that is Lockhart's plan all along.

She needs us to forget those details.

They don't matter.

Or do they?

I want to deal with the plot—a plot that is indescribable as anything other than “pick up this book and read it so we can talk about it!!!” The storytelling is so carefully woven, revealed, closed with so much care. At novel's end I hugged my Kindle. Yep, that's right. I hugged it. It was the closest I could come to hugging the Sinclairs—and Lockhart herself.

The characters are so wonderfully created and revealed on the page. At first I thought Lockhart was giving me a fictional YA Kennedy saga. And then as I was reading I felt as if I knew the Sinclairs; as if I were a neighbor living next door. I could hear the sounds of the water, the natural elements of life living on an island, of conversations and arguments and birds and...well, you get the picture.

Lockhart had me ON that island, living life with the Sinclairs, feeling their ups and downs and triumphs and losses.

And she had me from the very first page.

This is one of my favorite reads of 2014...and one of my favorite YA reads ever. For me, this novel was a whole package deal. The writing is beautiful; the story is beautiful; the character- building is beautiful.

Do I recommend this book?

YES! This is not a novel geared at a certain audience—it is geared toward all readers. But be warned, you really need to make time to read this novel in one to three sittings. Period. You will thank me for it.

What's the best novel you've read lately? Share below!

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

May 22, 2014

Review: The Chapel Wars

I absolutely adore Leavitt's writing. The moment I see a book with her name on it, I pick it up. I know that by book's end I am going to feel good about life—and I'm going to read a solid story.

Her latest novel is no exception. I mean, look at that cover. It screams, “Pick me up! I look awesome!!!”

Title: ‘The Chapel Wars’
Author: Lindsey Leavitt
Pages: 304
Publisher: Bloomsbury
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Sixteen-year-old Holly wants to remember her Grandpa forever, but she’d rather forget what he left her in his will: his wedding chapel on the Las Vegas strip. Whatever happened to gold watches, savings bonds, or some normal inheritance?

And then there's Grandpa's letter. Not only is Holly running the business with her recently divorced parents, but she needs to make some serious money—fast. Grandpa also insists Holly reach out to Dax, the grandson of her family's mortal enemy and owner of the cheesy chapel next door. No matter how cute Dax is, Holly needs to stay focused: on her group of guy friends, her disjointed family, work, school and... Dax. No wait, not Dax.

Holly’s chapel represents everything she’s ever loved in her past. Dax might be everything she could ever love in the future. But as for right now, there's a wedding chapel to save.

My Thoughts:

First, let me say that this novel's plot is clever, on all levels. It's 'Romeo & Juliet, Vegas Edition' (without the suicides at the end).

With that out of the way, let me say that I absolutely adored Holly and Dax as characters. I really wanted to be their best friends because throughout the novel, I felt like I was their #1 cheerleader.

I was also rooting for both wedding chapels. Back when I was engaged, we had discussed going to Vegas and getting hitched at one of these places, so even before I opened the book I felt invested within the story.

For the plot, Leavitt gives readers a solid love story of not just two souls but with all characters. Each character has his/her own love story—and they are tied to the chapels in one way or the other. Friends were born here. Love. Memories. These are things that connect us all as humans, and it is what makes Leavitt's story worthy of your time.

Holly fights for all of this. She has lost her grandfather; her parents have lost their marriage; she cannot fail now. She needs to use her business savvy knowledge to help save this chapel. And let me tell you, Holly goes all out.

First, she is sixteen, and she has more business knowledge than most adults I know. Of course, if someone grows up in a business, this is usually not unusual. But the one thing she understands is that she has to give customers what they want; otherwise, why would anyone come to the chapel.

And then there is the problem of Dax. Well...Dax isn't a problem more than, well, no, he IS a problem. He is a problem for Holly's heart. He is the grandson of the enemy; the one that Holly's family despises the most. (Sound familiar?) But she wants what her heart wants, and it is beating for Dax.

Luckily for her it is reciprocal.

This novel is a journey into friendship, into love, into saving one's legacy. But it is more than that. It is a tale of life—of discovery. The one lesson Holly seems to be missing throughout the novel and through her efforts of saving the chapel is this: what does Holly want? She is only sixteen. She does have a life ahead of her. She can take control and change destiny.

Do I recommend this book?

Enthusiastically!!! If you've never read a Lindsey Leavitt novel, you need to rectify that immediately. Her style and storytelling are approachable for readers of all levels.

She is especially great for readers of Stephanie Perkins and Elizabeth Eulberg. I always seem to group them together because when I close one of their books, I always have the feels of happiness.

What's the best novel you've read lately? Share below!

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator

Review: The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy

Finally! I have found a YA novel that uses rhetorical strategy lingo of my AP Language students. See guys, this stuff does appear in REAL life.

Title: ‘The Vigilante Poets of Selwyn Academy’
Author: Kate Hattemer
Pages: 336
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Available: NOW at your local library/book store
Source: Netgalley

Summary (from Goodreads):

Witty, sarcastic Ethan and his three friends decide to take down the reality TV show, For Art's Sake, that is being filmed at their high school, the esteemed Selwyn Arts Academy, where each student is more talented than the next. While studying Ezra Pound in English class, the friends are inspired to write a vigilante long poem and distribute it to the student body, detailing the evils of For Art's Sake. But then Luke—the creative force behind the poem and leader of the anti-show movement—becomes a contestant on the nefarious show. It's up to Ethan, his two remaining best friends, and a heroic gerbil named Baconnaise to save their school. Along the way, they'll discover a web of secrets and corruption involving the principal, vice principal, and even their favorite teacher.

My Thoughts:

I read this book in two sittings in March, which is one of my busiest months. That is how much I really enjoyed reading this book.

First, let me talk plot—which I loved. The idea what words can (and do) change the world really drove the storytelling. It is a fabulous reminder to teenagers to actually listen and participate in English class because if nothing else, English teachers can help students learn to use their words in a more effective way—possibly to take down the corruption that surrounds them. Just a thought.

I also loved seeing the upper-level vocabulary words used throughout this novel. I was tweeting my AP Language students because I would see one of their rhetorical strategy terms in the novel. It made me smile.

The idea of reality TV hitting our schools, and we have seen this already, is something not only topical but also applicable to teen lives. I mean, some of today's teens really hold reality “stars” in high esteem. They would love to find themselves on a reality show. I think for this reason, many teenagers will find the novel engaging. For those who are against everything reality TV stands for...you too will find the novel engaging.

I found the pacing to be right on target. As readers, we know what we need to know at the right moments. And the characters, they all brought something to the table. Do you know how sometimes you read a book and you think, “Where is the writer taking this character?” or “Why is this character even here?” Yeah, that doesn't happen. They all build from one another—sometimes what appears to be the most trustworthy character on the page is the one who has the biggest 180.

Which I liked.

Do I recommend this book?

Yes—I especially recommend this novel to readers who enjoy realistic fiction. I thought the novel was a solid read with a solid story and strong characters.

I especially feel that the book is for the more sophisticated reader in your life, but I think anyone who has ever felt like rebelling against anything they didn't agree with would enjoy the novel.

What's the best realistic fiction novel you've read lately? Comment below; start a conversation about books.

Happy Reading!

-      The Hodgenator


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