Amity Middle School Orange Book Blog

Read reviews by an avid young adult book enthusiast.

Friday, March 23, 2012

A Million Suns

Beth Revis’s sequel to Across the Universe continues the saga of the doomed spaceship Godspeed on its mission to colonize Centauri-Earth three hundred years into the future.

Elder is now the leader, but he refuses the title of Eldest to show that he is not like former rulers. Instead, he has given the people their freedom. Their freedom from the mind-numbing drug Phylus has the entire spaceship acting differently. The Feeders aren’t tending the crops. The food supply is drastically in jeopardy. Revolt is in the air as people are being killed and the messages found on their bodies convey this message: “Follow the leader.”
Why is Bartie, one of Elder’s best friends suddenly questioning every decision Elder makes? Why is Amy so terrified of Luthor? Will Amy get to see her parents again? Will it be necessary to awake Orion from his frozen slumber to lead the ship? Can Orion ever be trusted? How will Elder learn how to lead his people?

A Dog's Purpose

I love the cover of W. Bruce Cameron’s book A Dog’s Purpose: A Novel for Humans. I love the cover because it shows the dog thinking. Anyone who has owned a pet knows that as the owner, you often wonder what the dog could be thinking!
In Cameron’s book, the reader is delighted to learn the dog’s perspective as his main character is the same dog soul reincarnated several times throughout the book. As the dog gains knowledge, that learning often benefits him or her in his next life with humans.
I found myself thinking of memorable family pets from childhood and recent ones. The ties that bind people to animals are very strong. Any animal lover will enjoy this title!

Friday, March 9, 2012

Stolen into Slavery: The True Story of Solomon Northup, Free Black Man

In 1841 Solomon Northup was living in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with his wife and three children. Solomon was educated. At 32 years old he was happy with his life as a free black man. Slavery had been outlawed in New York in 1827.

Times were difficult. Solomon was willing to work in many different jobs to make ends meet for his family. He was an excellent fiddler having learned to play the violin as a child. Solomon also drove a carriage for the hotel where many people stayed in Saratoga Springs during the summer. At other times he worked as a carpenter building railroads.

When two white men hire him to drive them by carriage to Washington, D.C., Solomon is eager for the money he will make. He makes certain that he has his “free papers” with him should they be stopped along the way. What the trusting Solomon doesn’t realize is that these two men are actually going to make money off of him by selling him to a slave dealer.  

His hardships begin when he is transported by ship to New Orleans. He has a merciful master at first, but when this man falls on hard times, he sells Solomon. Each time he is sold his name is changed. His first name is now Platt. His masters’ names become his last name.

How will he ever regain his freedom? Writing and the mailing of letters by black men in the South is outlawed. Who can he trust to help him? How can he endure the suffering and hard labor demanded of all the slaves? If his family does try to look for him, how will they find him since his name is changed?

I loved this easily accessible book which contains maps to help envision his journey, illustrations from the 1840’s, a bill of sale to one of his masters, and his brave account of the torment he endured.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Article 5

Ember's Miller's life has been fairly normal for the teenager of a single mother. When Beth and Ryan, two of her friends from school, walk home, they check to see if one of their school friends, Katelyn Meadows is still listed as missing. Since the War three years earlier, The Federal Bureau of Reformation—the military branch of the government whose purpose it was to enforce the citizens to comply with the Moral Statutes—has led to many mysterious disappearances of people. Evidently their friend Katelyn hadn’t complied with one of the statutes.

When the military police come to Ember’s house later in the day and forcefully remove her mother, Lori Whittman, everything Ember knows as a “normal” existence is thrown asunder.

Her mom has been arrested for the violation of the Moral Statute Article 5 which pertains to conceiving children out of wedlock. Ember has never known nor has she cared who her father is. This has never been a problem in the past. Why should it matter now? Yet her mother is being arrested!

Ember fights with the soldiers—biting one of them. She is stunned to see that the driver for the military is her boyfriend Chase Jennings. Chase and Ember have been friends since forever. His decision to join the military was upsetting, but Ember figured they could always write one another. His lack of letters to her has been of major concern. When he does nothing to indicate he even recognizes Ember at the arrest of her mom, she is really angry. Chase could stop this whole “misunderstanding” by telling the other officers that there has been a mistake as Ember believes the case to be.

Life unravels when Ember is driven by bus with other detainees to West Virginia to a Girls’ Reformatory and Rehabilitation Center. The only thing that Ember can think about is escaping and trying to rescue her mom.

Will she be able to escape? Will anyone at the school prove to be trustworthy? If she does manage to leave, where will she go to find her mom? Will she ever see Chase Jennings again? If she does, will she ever be able to forgive his lack of compassion to either her mom or herself?

Fans of dystopian fiction will like the fast paced action and unexpected twists to the plot in Article 5 by Kristen Simmons. The author has definitely left the opportunity for a sequel to be written.

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Across the Universe

This science fiction piece is not for the faint of heart! In the first chapter, seventeen-year-old Amy watches with her father as technicians prepare her alive and vibrant mother for cryogenic freezing. (The description of the procedure made me gasp!) Amy’s father then tells her she doesn’t have to hold to her promise to follow her parents on this journey. She can remain on earth and live with her aunt and uncle who have gladly agreed to raise her.

Amy is brave--very brave. She experiences the same cryogenic freezing process which she describes as almost like drowning and believes that in exactly 301 years in the future, she will colonize a new planet with her parents and the others who have agreed to travel aboard the first manned interstellar ship called Godspeed.

When Amy is removed from her slot in the frozen chamber and mysteriously starts to thaw fifty years before planned, no one on the ship seems to know that she is thawing. She wonders if she will suffocate in the blue goo before someone can rescue her and release her from the tomb-like container in which she has been frozen.

What she finds aboard the Godspeed is about 2000 people, strangely all similar in appearance and with no descriptive ethnicity – running the ship, growing its food, and living a highly structured regulated existence. A man named Eldest controls everyone.

As Amy begins to understand the class structure of the ship, she realizes that a 16-year-old boy named Elder is being groomed to govern after Eldest dies. Amy is devastated to learn that her parents cannot be unfrozen at this time. She will age and perhaps die before her parents start their new lives.

Other frozen people are also suddenly being removed from their frozen slumber only to suffocate before anyone realizes that they are in trouble. The plot revolves around Amy and Elder’s trying to find out who is murdering these poor souls in this way.

Told in alternating chapters by Amy and Elder, the clever Amy has many more questions about the society formed on board the ship than Elder who has been raised in this repressive environment.
Fans will want to see what happens to Godspeed in the sequel entitled A Million Suns.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The Fault in Our Stars

Mature young adult readers will be moved by John Green’s book The Fault in Our Stars. Never is it easy to talk about cancer. This is even truer when we think of children or young adults contracting cancer. What kind of pain and despair must be felt by teenagers who have cancer and their families who love them?

Hazel Grace Lancaster is the narrator of The Fault in Our Stars. At age sixteen Hazel has been battling thyroid cancer for three years. There is no known cure for the type of cancer she has and only through the use of an experimental drug is she still alive. Hazel is realistic and knows her life is definitely limited. Being an only child, she worries constantly about her parents and what will happen to them when she dies. Her mom has given up working to help care for her. Once Hazel is gone, where will her mom find her purpose in life?

Hazel’s parents encourage her to attend a support group. Against her better judgment, she attends where she meets a very carefree and handsome young man named Augustus Waters. They are quite a pair--Hazel with her oxygen tank and Augustus with his artificial leg.

Although Augustus still attends school where he was once a standout basketball star before his amputation, Hazel doesn’t. Rather she attends classes online. Augustus and Hazel become fast friends.

They discuss typical teenage issues, books they have loved, etc. It is through the reading of Hazel’s favorite book that Augustus learns she wishes to meet the author—who lives impossibly faraway—Amsterdam, Holland.

Despite the normal teenage angst of any teens that are dating, these two try to make the most of their lives for as little or as long as they have left to live.


Fans of Delirium, the first book in this dystopian trilogy written by Lauren Oliver, will be easily swept into this sequel entitled Pandemonium.

Lena is alive--but just barely. Alex was the one who knew how to survive in the Wilds, but he didn’t make it into the Wilds with her. They caught him at the fence. Alex is lost to her. Lena is lost to her grief at having lost the love of her life.

Rebirth is how Lena describes how Raven rescues her. The Old Lena is dead. The new Lena is now learning survival from a band of Invalids living in the remains of a bombed out development.

The Homestead is unlike anything Lena has ever seen. Life is so primitive—lived on the edge. Nothing is wasted. Food is scarce. The snaring of a rabbit is the most welcome food Lena has had in days. Being free from the repressive society from which she has run isn’t exactly how she imagined it would be.

Life lived in the Wilds is a very hard life--a life without the luxuries of running water, clean clothing, or electricity. With winter setting in, the settlement will need to travel south to warmer quarters. Raven hopes they will all survive the journey. Without proper shelter along the way, without medicine and food supplies, the going will be very tough.

There is no going back for Lena. She is part of the resistance. She is an Invalid.

This story is told in alternating chapters--Lena's adjustment to the Wilds, Lena's life in Manhattan as part of the resistance trying desperately to stop the lowering of the age at which the cure for deliria is administered.

There is a lot of action in this book compared to Delirium. There are many twists and turns to the plot. Fans will be anxiously awaiting the third book in the trilogy!