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Point – May 13, 2008

Em Watts is smart, confident, and happy with who she is – even if she doesn’t fit into the popular crowd at school.  She is content to spend time with her best friend, Christopher, and play Journeyquest until the wee hours of the morning.  She doesn’t pay much attention to fashion or pop culture unless her little sister is shoving it down her face in her latest ramble of “why Em is such a dork.” 

Everything changes on the day Em takes her little sister to the grand opening of a mega-store where the latest music sensation will be singing and signing autographs.  One freak accident later and Em isn’t Em anymore.

Without any time to adjust, Em is thrust into the world of beauty and fashion.  Where how she looks determines if people keep their jobs.  Who knew being beautiful was so much work?  How will Em survive without her usual comforts – especially Christopher?

AIRHEAD was a nice surprise.  Meg Cabot did a great job of weaving in the story of family and friendship.  This is a great choice if you are looking for a tame version of SKINNED by Robin Wasserman and it could even be paired with THE ADORATION OF JENNA FOX – both deal with medical ethics.  What would you be willing to do in order to stay alive?


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St. Martin’s Griffin – December 23, 2008

CRACKED UP TO BE is the story of Parker Fadley.  She once held the position of queen bee of the school.  She was the Captain of the cheerleaders, always landed on the honor roll list, and had the same basketball-star boyfriend since freshman year.

After a particularly wild party at her boyfriend’s house, something happened that left Parker with major feelings of guilt.  She no longer feels like she deserved to live the life of perfection and slowly starts alienating herself from everyone and everything she once thought was so important.  The problem is, the people around her don’t want to let her slip into the background.

If you are in the mood for a light pick-me-up then CRACKED UP TO BE isn’t the book for you. It is filled with page after page of pain.  Parker has to deal with feelings of loss and helplessness and discuss all of her painful experiences and poor decisions in therapy once a week.  

You’ll read obsessively until you learn what happened to change Parker’s life so drastically. The author eludes to the event throughout the story, but only reveals the whole picture when Parker is forced to come to terms with her decisions.  While the entire book is filled with painful, awkward, and difficult situations, the story still ends on a hopeful note.  It is definitely a book you don’t want to miss.

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Mia has been happy being on the fringe of the popular crowd.  She is happy to have her hypochondriac best friend, Candice, and watch what is going on around her until…Rob, the super hot football star, asks her to Homecoming. 

Everything is going fine between Mia and Rob.  They’ve been on five dates and she can’t believe her good fortune.  Her luck begins to change though, when Samantha, the extremely popular cheerleader, sets her sights on Rob.  Samantha will stop at nothing to secure her spot as Homecoming Queen and since Rob is the most likely guy to be chosen as the Homecoming King, she is determined to get Rob for herself.

Mia begins to panic.  She doesn’t really stand a chance against Samantha so she resorts to a pretty extreme measure.  Candice, being the hypochondriac she is, takes Mia to a place she goes for a lot of her natural medicines for a love spell to make sure Rob doesn’t dump her for Samantha.  They choose to perform the spell during a Senior assembly and boy does that turn out to be a mistake.  The spell is actually an ancient ritual called Viral Zombaticus.  The entire Senior class has been infected and will be going through the four stages of the zombie virus in the next couple of days.  Since Mia performed the ritual, she is their queen and once everybody gets to stage four of the virus, they will want nothing more than to eat her.

Thank goodness for Chase.  He’s a new guy with a huge secret.  As a team, Chase, Mia, and Candice work to reverse the Viral Zombaticus – even though Candice is suffering from the virus herself and has to fight the urge to take a bite out of Mia whenever she is around.  Can Mia reverse the spell before she becomes a zombie meal?  Is Rob really as great as she thinks he is?  After her brush with popularity, will she be happy to go back to her place on the fringe?

ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH is a quick read.  The characters are fun to get to know – Mia is likable, Candice is quirky, and Chase is calm, cool, and collected in a crisis.  The story isn’t complex, but the humor throughout the book makes ZOMBIE QUEEN OF NEWBURY HIGH a great reading choice.

Hannah has just moved with her father to a new town AGAIN. She can’t understand how her father doesn’t understand that he can’t run from his problems.  Once she gets settled someplace they seem to get into a financial situation that her father would run away from rather than solve.  It never seems to work.  Her father promises that Maplecrest is going to be different.  Boy was her ever right – just not in the way he meant.

Hannah is used to being the new girl in school.  She has made picking out the rulers of the school an art form.  At Maplecrest, they are the Cheerleaders and the Cheerleaders are led by Maggie Turner – with her pale skin, glowing blonde hair, and brilliant blue eyes, Hannah can see why she attracts so much attention.  

 

Lukas approaches Hannah at lunch on her first day.  He comes to warn her.  He doesn’t want her to get pulled into the popular crowd.  The popular crowd, he warns her, are flesh eating zombies that are slowly killing off the people in town.  Hannah’s mind immediately flashes to all the For Sale signs she saw in the yards of the homes her and her father passed on their way into town but zombies?  There was no way she was going to believe that.  She could clearly see by the comic books Lukas carried with him that he was letting his imagination get carried away.  While glad to have a friend at school, she didn’t like him talking about zombies and quickly put it out of her mind as crazy talk.

 

When the Cheerleaders approach Hannah she is both excited and nervous.  Can she make the cut and win a spot on the squad? What will she have to do to be accepted by the girls?

 

Brian James has written an exciting horror novel set in an everyday teen setting – high school.  What could be more horrifying?

Hannah has just moved with her father to a new town AGAIN.  She can’t understand how her father doesn’t understand that he can’t run from his problems.  Once she gets settled someplace they seem to get into a financial situation that her father would run away from rather than solve.  It never seems to work.  Her father promises that Maplecrest is going to be different.  Boy was her ever right – just not in the way he meant.

 

Hannah is used to being the new girl in school.  She has made picking out the rulers of the school an art form.  At Maplecrest, they are the Cheerleaders and the Cheerleaders are led by Maggie Turner – with her pale skin, glowing blonde hair, and brilliant blue eyes, Hannah can see why she attracts so much attention.  

 

Lukas approaches Hannah at lunch on her first day.  He comes to warn her.  He doesn’t want her to get pulled into the popular crowd.  The popular crowd, he warns her, are flesh eating zombies that are slowly killing off the people in town.  Hannah’s mind immediately flashes to all the For Sale signs she saw in the yards of the homes her and her father passed on their way into town but zombies?  There was no way she was going to believe that.  She could clearly see by the comic books Lukas carried with him that he was letting his imagination get carried away.  While glad to have a friend at school, she didn’t like him talking about zombies and quickly put it out of her mind as crazy talk.

 

When the Cheerleaders approach Hannah she is both excited and nervous.  Can she make the cut and win a spot on the squad?  What will she have to do to be accepted by the girls?

 

Brian James has written an exciting horror novel set in an everyday teen setting – high school.  What could be more horrifying?

 

Kate Winthrop exists at Millbank High School.  She isn’t on the lowest  rung of the social ladder, but definately isn’t at the top either.  The story begins with Kate attending a party put on by the Proud Crowd, the A-listers of the school.  An invitation showed up in her locker and even though she was reluctant to go since she doesn’t run in those circles, her two best friends, Callie and Dev, insist she go so she can tell them all about what happens.  The party isn’t a fun experience for her though.  Gretchen, the queen bee of the school, lets her know with catty remarks that she was never supposed to be there.  She also calls her 71 and Kate becomes curious about the refernce.

One night at home while on the computer, Kate gets the answer to her question about 71.  She receives an IM giving her a website leading her to the Millbank Social Stock Market.  The MSSM is a ranking of all 141 girls in the senior class at Millbank High.  Kate learns that she is ranked number 71.  After filling in Callie and Dev about the stock market, they device a plan to increase Kate’s value.  In order to enter the market, you have to put in $500.  At the end of the school year, the person with the largest portfolio, wins the pot which would be about $25,000. 

After developing a business plan, Dev, Kate, and Callie, begin to implement the changes to her wardrobe, hair, and other daily behaviors.  Throughout the ups and downs of the market, Kate learns about friendship, love, and the importance of popularity. 

J.M. Steele, author of The Taker, has written another relevant novel about the pressures of high school.  The unique angle to this story is the stock market element.  It would be a great way to connect literature to an economics class.

 

Well, It is here! The long awaited 4th book in the Uglies series. Author, Scott Westerfeld, made it clear that this book is meant to stand alone since the Uglies, Pretties, and Specials is clearly a trilogy. Extras is set in futuristic Japan three years after the downfall of bubbleheadedness, or as the world refers to it as, the mind rain that Tally Youngblood spread around the world.

The main character of Extras is Aya Fuse. She lives in a society where popularity determines how many perks you have. People that are the most popular get the best places to live, the best clothes, and get invited to the best parties. Everyone has their own feed to the “internet” and have hovercams follow them around in order to get information to put on their feeds in order to boost their popularity. Face rank is what counts and Aya is basically invisible with a face rank hovering around 450,000. She is determined to “kick” a huge story in order to get her face rank in the top 1000 so she can go to the biggest party of the month.

Aya has an idea for a super story. There is a rumor about a group of girls that call themselves the Sly Girls that pull dangerous stunts and try to avoid face ranks. For them, the lower the better. They are afraid if they are noticed the wardens will come and stop them from doing their tricks. Their biggest trick is to ride the top of a mag lev train.

Aya spots one of the Sly Girls at a party she crashes and follows her in order to get some footage for her feed. Of course, she is discovered and forced to get rid of her hovercam, Moggle, by dropping it in a water tank. After allowing her hovercam to sink to the bottom of the water, the Sly Girls invite her to join them on a mag lev train ride. While they are riding something unusal happens. The train stopped midway through the route and unusal “inhuman” looking people started loading huge metal cylinders onto the train from the inside of a mountain. The Sly Girls and mostly Aya decide they need to get to the bottom of this and start to do a little investigation. They are afraid that these people are planning to destroy the world by launching these metal cylinders and aiming them at cities around the world.

Kicking this story leads Aya and her friends to high face ranks, but they soon find out that face ranks might not be so important when your life is in danger. The story also brings Tally Youngblood out of hiding in order to help Aya get to the bottom of everything.

Extras could be read as a stand alone. Scott Westerfeld does a good job of explaining what happened prior to this book. However, I think reading the others in the Uglies series would make the story more enjoyable. I enjoyed Extras but I liked Uglies, Pretties, and Specials better.