Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Insignia by S.J. Kincaid

Fourteen year-old Tom Raines has led a rather unconventional life. His father Neil is a gambler who drifts from casino to casino in the hopes of winning enough to quit this life-style. Tom knows better. His mother has already deserted them. His dad’s drinking is clearly interfering with his judgment. The only one making any money is Tom- an ace at virtual reality gaming.

When Tom meets Heather in his virtual school- Rosewood Reformatory Sim- he can’t believe his good fortune. Heather invites Tom to a video chat the next day. She coyly says, “What network address will you be at tomorrow, Tom?” Little does Tom realize that Heather will share the network address with General Terry Marsh who has been trying to track down Tom to become part of the military.

World War III is being waged. Combatants control drones remotely. As General Marsh explains to Tom, “But the Russo-Chinese military went a step further and gave human beings active control over their combat machines. Strategists. Unconventional thinkers. Risk takers. Mavericks. Young ones because teenagers have certain attributes critical to this type of warfare. So now we too have young people on the front lines, young people playing a critical role in the war effort.”

Neil grudgingly signed the papers that allow Tom to travel with General Marsh to the Pentagonal Spire. But the general hasn’t been completely forthcoming. Neural processors are installed in all plebs (young military recruits). If Tom goes along with General Marsh’s plans, will he ever be the same? The chance is too great to take.

Tom begins to back away when suddenly Heather appears wearing the insignia of the intrasolar fighters.

What will Tom decide to do?  Will this be the biggest gamble of his life?

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

This is a dear story. Animal lovers will especially like it. The animals in the story can talk to each other!

Ivan is a silverback gorilla living in the Big Top Mall off of Exit 18. Since he has been living there since he was a baby gorilla, he is used to captivity.

Stella, an aging elephant, also lives at the Big Top Mall. Her memory- being an elephant- is much better than Ivan’s. One of her feet is infected causing her a great deal of discomfort. She remembers life before cages.

Mack owns the animals as well as the mall. Times are hard. Money is scarce. The animals’ care is not the best as a result.

Mack discovers Ivan’s ability to “draw” objects. A money making idea occurs to him. Frame Ivan’s creations and sell them at the gift shop.

When Ruby- a baby elephant- is purchased by Mack to create more interest thus increasing profits, Stella knows how dire the situation is for Ruby. Her life will never be the same.

George, the custodian for the mall, and his daughter Julia prove to be “good” humans as the animals soon find out.

Read this dear novel if you enjoy animal stories.

Broken by C.J. Lyons

Scarlet wants to be a normal high school student. Her health problems have prevented anything but a normal life. Finally, her dad and stepmother have given her a chance to attend a week of high school at Smithfield High School where her mother works as the nurse- Nurse Killiam.

Each chapter in this book records her struggle for each day of that week.

Scarlet is suffering from a terminal disease called Long QT which affects her ability to breathe and makes her heart race. “I am very aware that I ‘m taking my life in my hands by coming to school. Being normal might just kill me.”

Scarlet clearly has led such a sheltered life that she is unprepared for the taunting and bullying which immediately becomes apparent.

Scarlet doesn’t know whom to trust, but when Jordan, Celina and Nessa rise to her defense in the cafeteria, raising the ire of the jocks, Scarlet feels this might not have been the best idea.

Scarlet’s biology teacher, Ms. Blakely, assigns a project to track a medical family history and identify any possible genetic traits and then analyze them. A classmate, Anthony Carrera, asks to be Scarlet’s partner.

Anthony’s (Tony’s) interest in Scarlet’s disease might just save her life!

This story was compelling! The author C.J. Lyons is a former pediatric emergency room doctor so the medical explanations are spot on. As a reader, you are routing for Scarlet- hoping against hope that she can finally feel like a normal girl.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

Spoiler alert: If you haven’t read The 5th Wave, the first book in the series, stop reading this blog posting and instead read that book first.

The Infinite Sea begins after the 4th wave. With winter fast approaching, Cassie Sullivan, her younger brother, Sam, Teacup, Dumbo, Poundcake, Ringer (Marika) and Ben know that they can’t survive in the hotel they currently inhabit. Their goal is to get to the caverns where they stand a chance of being warm enough to endure the harsh winter.  If they stay above ground, their fires to ward off the cold will draw The Silencers to them.

Cassie doesn’t want to leave the rat infested hotel.  She is still waiting for Evan Walker’s return.  So boldly Ringer and Teacup start the walk (about 20 miles) to see if the Other’s might be setting a trap for them at the Caverns or whether this will become their winter hideout.

Ringer and Teacup are captured.  Ringer knows that Vosch will use Teacup’s life to force Ringer to comply with his devious plans to exterminate all life on earth.

“I’m dizzy; the room won’t stay still. Bluffs inside bluffs, feints within counter feints, I’m in a game in which I don’t know the rules or even the object.  This is the bind.  This is the trap. This is where the road of impossible promises dead-ends.”

This book The Infinite Sea and The 5th Wave are recommended for mature readers.  The plots are very complicated and some of the plot twists and turns could cause nightmares.  Be warned!  This title is not for everyone.  Fans of The 5th Wave should love it.  A final book will finish the series.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones by Cassandra Claire

Many, many students have enjoyed this series by Cassandra Claire. I had to find out what they were raving about so I read Book #1 City of Bones.
Fifteen-year-old Clary Fray and her mother Jocelyn live in New York City on the fifth floor of a five-story apartment without an elevator.  After a disturbing night out at a club called Pandemonium with her best friend since early childhood named Simon, Clary really feels the need to talk with her mom about baffling events she saw at the club.  But her mother is instead packing up their belongings to make a hasty trip to the country. 
Clary argues with her mom and storms out.  That is the last time she sees her mom as her mother goes missing.  The apartment is in shambles; Clary wonders if her mom has been killed or kidnapped.  Then Clary is attacked by a demon!
This series is filled with action! Why could only Clary see the two men and the one woman at the Pandemonium Club while Simon couldn’t? Does she have “the sight?” What does she do when she discovers a whole group of “people” she never knew existed--shadow hunters, demons, fairies, werewolves, and vampires?
Has Clary’s mom protected her for years? Is her mother more than an artist? And what about Luke, her mother’s friend? Is he really minding a bookstore or does he also have another “hidden” past?
Readers of fantasy should continue to enjoy all the books in this series.