Monday, June 14, 2010

This World We Live In

This World We Live In by Susan Beth Pfeffer
(sequel to Life as We Knew It and The Dead and the Gone)

Nearly a year has passed since the moon was struck by an asteroid and knocked slightly out of a normal orbit. The tides have changed, destroying much of the Eastern Seaboard. The volcanoes have erupted, filling the atmosphere with grey grit that blocks sunlight. The weather continues to worsen: temperatures are dropping, and the rain and snow continue to fall even in summer. Crops are failing, livestock have been slaughtered for food until very few remain, and survivors of the cataclysm scavenge for necessities from the homes and bodies of the dead.

In the third (and possibly final) volume of the series, Miranda and Alex meet for the first time. Alex and his sister Julie have travelled with Miranda's father, stepmother and stepbrother for months, and arrive at Miranda's home weary...and hungry.

The bleak landscape described in the first two books becomes more bleak, but the will to survive has become even more strong as the family struggles to find food and shelter in an uncompromising world. The sudden marriage of Miranda's older brother is a reminder that times have changed--but have times really changed enough to allow Miranda to fall in love?

The story starts slowly, and will be confusing to readers unfamiliar with the first two books. Fans of the series, however, will want an update on the post-moon-change world.

No on-page sex, but there is definitely hanky-panky among the wreckage. No drugs or drinking, though--that stuff got used up early in the catastrophe. Recommended for readers 13 to adult.

Before I Fall

Before I Fall by Lauren Oliver

Pretty, popular high school senior Samantha Kingston loves Cupid Day--the day when she will get tons of roses from her friends and admirers, party with her friends, and finally (maybe) have sex with her boyfriend. Instead, she dies in a car wreck after the party.

She is (justifiably) surprised to wake up the next morning...only to discover that she has awakened on the morning of the previous day, before the roses, before the party, and before the accident. In seven "Groundhog Day do-overs" of her last day, Sam learns more about her friends, her boyfriend, her teachers, her family, and herself. What will happen when she learns everything she needs to know?

Sam's gradual transformation from a shallow "popular girl" to a real person worth caring about is gracefully executed, and results in a couldn't-put-it-down book. The story references sexual situations, drug use, and teen drinking.

Highly recommended for ages 14 and up. This is Aarene's review. To read Mary Jo's review of this book, click here.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Living Dead Girl

Living Dead Girl by Elizabeth Scott

How would you react if an authority figure in a uniform stepped up to you on a field trip and told you to follow him? You were loitering, after all, and your group moved on. How about if you were ten?

Of course Alice believed him, just as, at ten, she also believed that if she didn’t do what he asked, he would kill her family and burn down the house.

But her name isn’t Alice.

He changed that. Just as he changes her into his sex slave.

This horror story of a sexual perversion reaches the “euuuww” factor in a hurry. Never graphic, the obvious sex is both beyond horrible and very believable.

Recommended for readers in high school and up; this book is not for all readers, and not for the faint of heart. It is a short story that will haunt you for a long time.