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By Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The_Iron_TrialCallum Hunt has grown up knowing that magic exists, but he also knows—through his father—that magic will only bring him pain. It killed his mother, after all, and left one of Call’s legs so mangled as a baby that he still limps. So when he is called to attend the Iron Trial at age twelve, he decides to do his best to fail the test. Those who pass are admitted to the Magisterium, the school where students with magical talent are taught to wield the elements—fire, water, air, earth, and chaos—and become mages. This is the last thing Call wants, but his attempts to fail the tests result in strong bursts of magic clearly displaying his ability.

So despite Call’s wishes and his father’s desperate protests, Call is taken to the underground school, where he will stay for the next year without being allowed to leave. He is a prisoner, as far as he’s concerned, though his fellow students are all excited rather than worried.
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By Ally Condie

AtlantiaIn his poem “Harlem,” poet Langston Hughes famously asked, “What happens to a dream deferred?” He speculated that perhaps it dries up “like a raisin in the sun,” a line that was borrowed to use as the title for Lorraine Hansbury’s award-winning Broadway play and film. After listing some other colorful possibilities (“fester like a sore” is a favorite of mine), he finishes with “Or does it explode?

Although composed in 1951 and addressing the limitations of the American Dream for black Americans, Hughes’ poem could very well have been written for Rio. She is the troubled protagonist of “Atlantia,” the latest dystopian novel by Ally Condie (author of the Matched trilogy). But while Hughes’ core question is never answered in his work, Condie’s character lives it out in a book that raises some profound questions.
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By J. D. Salinger

CatcherHolden Caulfield is a name that has inspired movies, books, songs, job losses, and even murders. It is not the name of a prominent businessman, a criminal mastermind, or a sly politician. It is the name of a fictional teenage boy, the main character of J.D. Salinger’s “Catcher in the Rye.”

Published in 1951, and still widely read and taught today, Salinger’s novel put into print the subjects of teenage depression and rebellion and open discussions of sex that were increasingly being explored in that decade. It is told in first person as a reminiscence of Holden’s, and as such is filled with dated adolescent colloquialisms as well as crude and even obscene language. The story begins as Holden fails out of his school, the latest in a long line of such expulsions. He is an excellent writer and does well in English, but all other subjects and teachers receive adjectives like “boring” and “phony” and he refuses to apply himself.
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By Alice Hoffman

Nightbird-cvr-thumb(Note: This review contains some spoilers.)

Twelve-year-old Teresa "Twig" Fowler lives in a house full of secrets. In her little community of Sidwell, Masachusetts, there are whispered rumors of a monster who haunts the town at night, stealing things. Some people are all for getting together and going on a "monster hunt." Only Twig and her mother know the truth: There is no monster. There's just a teenage boy under a mysterious curse who's hiding in their house, and they must protect him at all costs.

"Nightbird," the new middle-grade novel from bestselling author Alice Hoffman, deals with a tumultous time in the life of its young heroine. When new neighbors move in, Twig's mother doesn't want her getting involved with them, but Twig can't resist, especially since the newcomers have an outgoing and friendly daughter who's just her age. But the more she gets drawn into their lives, the more her family's secret is endangered. At the same time, mysterious graffiti is appearing in the woods and on the town buildings, leading Twig to wonder if the community really is under a threat.
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By Jennifer Niven

18460392(Note: This review contains major spoilers.)

Theodore Finch and Violet Markey meet on the ledge of the bell tower at school, high above the ground. When both of them eventually make it back down safely, everyone believes that Finch was feeling suicidal and Violet saved him. After all, Finch is the school weirdo, widely known as "Theodore Freak," the kid who gets in fights and throws desks and has hardly any friends. Besides, that's the story that Finch tells everyone -- that Violet saved him.

The truth is, it was Finch who saved Violet.

"All the Bright Places," the bestselling new novel (soon to be made into a movie) by Jennifer Niven, deals with two very troubled kids. Finch is trying to cope with mental illness, an estranged and abusive father, and a mother who mostly ignores him. It all causes him to feel unwanted and unsure of his own identity. Violet was once a good student and a budding writer, but her creativity has been paralyzed by her older sister's death in a car accident. She begs off most of her school assignments on the grounds that she's "not ready." But when Finch, emboldened by the bell tower incident, picks her as his partner for a class project on the "wonders of Indiana," she has to start touring the area with him. They begin to discover all the things they have in common, including a shared love for books (they sling Virginia Woolf quotes back and forth via Facebook message) and a sharp sense of humor.
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By Holly Black

61wyYeg0oLWe’ve come a long way since Tinkerbell. Back when J. M. Barrie first created the diminutive fairy for his classic story about Peter Pan, most of the evil had been leeched from the legendary creatures. Fairies, elves, and the like might have been slightly mischievous at times, but they were mostly cute and shy, hiding in gardens or under hedges and seemingly just waiting to be found and befriended by young children.

Holly Black, along with other writers for young adults such as Carrie Jones, has spurned these sugarcoated versions for the original, amoral fairies of European legend, depicting them as capricious and cruel instead of loyal and good-hearted. Unfortunately, often these modern retellings bring with them modern views of morality, or rather the lack of it, a shortcoming which fatally flaws Black’s newest novel.
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By S. E. Hinton

811tV0mhMPLOur teenage years are formative ones for all of us, but rarely is that so spectacularly obvious as in the case of Susan Eloise Hinton. Born in 1948, she was still in high school when she penned a novel that made her a household name. Perhaps it was precisely her youth that made her novel “The Outsiders” so relatable, an instant success among the young adult population in the Sixties and still popular in today's YA market. In fact, it's been said that her book created that market.

Based on the social segregation Hinton observed in her own high school, “The Outsiders” centers on the interaction of two classes: the Socs and the Greasers. The Socs are the rich kids with an over-inflated sense of entitlement; the Greasers are poorer, wilder, and always in trouble with the law.
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By Charlie N. Holmberg

9781477823835_p0_v3_s260x420Ceony Twill has spent five years training to be a magician. In her world -- an alternate version of Edwardian England -- each magician must bond to a particular material, such as metal, rubber, or glass. Ceony, who hoped to work with metal, is deeply disappointed when she is assigned as an apprentice to a paper magician. But she soon learns that paper magic can be more creative, interesting, and useful than she ever imagined. More than that, she discovers that her new teacher, Magician Emery Thane, is a kind and attractive man . . . who has some very dangerous secrets.

Before long, Ceony will have to draw on everything she's learned and every ounce of courage she has, to save Emery from a vindictive and powerful enemy from his past. She finds herself literally trapped inside Emery's heart, witnessing his memories, hopes, and regrets, as she struggles to find a way to save herself and him.
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By Joseph Conrad

9780486264646Joseph Conrad was a Polish-born sailor who became a British citizen in 1886 at the age of 29. In 1890 he served as commander on a ship bound for Congo, an experience that fulfilled a long-held dream of his but also wreaked havoc on his physical and mental health. It was this trip that eight years later provided the inspiration for his most famous work, a novella called “Heart of Darkness.”

“Heart of Darkness” is primarily the monologue of a sailor named Marlow, a battle-worn skeptic with a gift for storytelling. It is the tale of Marlow’s journey up the Congo River as the captain of a riverboat for a European trade company. In spite of his doctor’s mysterious references to the detrimental effects of Africa on a man’s sanity, Marlow forges on with his adventure.
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By Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate

Eve_and_AdamNobody’s perfect. Yet despite our own physical and social shortcomings, we often fantasize, especially when we are younger, of meeting the guy or girl of our dreams, someone that could almost be tailor-made to our specific tastes. But what if you could handpick your ideal soulmate? What if the technology existed that would enable you to design your perfect person? Would your choices ultimately satisfy you, or would you perhaps discover that who you thought you wanted wasn’t actually right for you after all?

Eve is really not actively looking for Mr. Right. She is too busy trying to keep her grades up and help her best friend, Aislin, maintain an even keel in her tumultuous romantic adventures. But an accident changes everything. Whisked away from the hospital, despite the objections of her doctor, to the private medical facilities within her mother’s company, Spiker Biopharmaceuticals, Eve is given the task during her recovery of designing the perfect boy.
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By Bonnie S. Calhoun

9780800723767Selah Rishon Chavez is nearly 18 and longing to prove herself to her family. Where she lives -- a dystopian future United States, sometime after a period referred to as "the Sorrows" -- many people survive by hunting . . . not just animals, but other people. Every now and then a stranger called a "Lander" shows up on the shore, and if these Landers can be captured and sold, they bring great profit. Selah is determined to bag one herself, and show her father and brothers that she's worthy to be a hunter.

But the Lander whom she finds turns out to be much more than she bargained for. The young man who stumbles ashore, Bodhi Locke, is quite capable of defending himself against her. More than that, he saves her from an attack by some local boys. Selah finds herself both intrigued by him and concerned for him -- and soon comes to identify with him much more closely than she ever wanted to. For when she wakes up the day after their meeting, the same mark that was on Bodhi's forehead -- the mark that all Landers bear -- has appeared below her own collarbone. Read More >
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