Category Archives: YA

Green: The Beginning and the End by Ted Dekker


I was I interested in reading Ted Dekker’s Circle series after learning that it can be read with Green as either the first or last book of the series. I started with Green because it was listed as “book 0” (and more importantly it was immediately available at the library). It is a fantasy that pits good against evil and takes place in both present time and the future (possibly after 4036 based on the prologue).

I’m not sure if I would have enjoyed the book more with a different starting book or if I just didn’t like the book. I had trouble relating to the characters and their actions, this may be due to the ambitious premise of the book/series and relating actions in the other books. I’m not saying that the book wasn’t enjoyable at all; I enjoyed the connection between the timelines, the symbolism (I’m not literary enough to identify/understand it all, but it can be fun to think about), and some of the action. I will give the next book in the series (or maybe I should say the first book in the series) a chance because I still find the idea fascinating


Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Andy Ashenfelter
Rating: Recommended with reservations
Challenge: Book with a color in the title

The Cage by Megan Shepard

The Cage

The Cage is a science fiction book where teenagers are kidnapped by aliens and put in an enclosure and their attempts to escape. I liked the idea of this book and the author does give some interesting ideas about what aliens might be like and how different people would react to this situation. The alien technology was also interesting. I personally am a huge sucker for world building so I enjoy books that engage in this.

However, the book is hampered by the fact that the characters, and the main character especially, are incredibly stupid. They start out okay but soon devolve into people whose logic doesn’t make any sense. The main character is desperate to get back home, which is understandable, however she never thinks about what they are going to do when they get out of the cage (because of the tiny problem that they are several thousand miles away from Earth). A prime (non plot related) example of this, is when an alien is trying to get her to not escape, he shows her a girl who has tried to escape three times and has been drugged and sold into a fate worse than death. Her only thought is “she escaped so I can too.” Also, the book has this weird backstory for the main character which tries to make her seem tougher, caring and “not a victim” when it just makes her seem stupid, callous and self-righteous. Also coming along with this there seems to be an implication that the penalties for drunk driving are too harsh, even when a person dies because of it. Also, there is a love triangle and it is just as annoying as always.

I recommend with reservations. This book will probably only work for someone who is willing to put up with the stupidity of the characters to enjoy the world building.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Madeline Rivard
Rating:  Recommended with reservations

The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan

Sea of Monsters

Rick Riordan packs a lot of adventure and shrewd humor into this compelling sequel to The Lightning Thief. The sass and charisma with which the demigod protagonists confront time sensitive challenges and battle among themselves make the storyline very engaging. A lot of the identity issues facing Percy Jackson will resonate with teens and young adults alike as they too struggle to find their place and purpose in society. The fast-moving plot has many twists and turns which made it hard to put the book down (which may explain why I read both this book and its equally exhilarating prequel in less than four days). The thrills I got from following Percy’s heroic adventures will keep me in a sunny mood all summer, and so I highly recommend this series to you.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Xuejie Kimball
Rating: Highly Recommended


Persepolis by Marjane Santrapi


Persepolis is the most compelling graphic novel I’ve read since Maus. It follows the life of the young Marjane (the author), a spunky and independent six year old who is living in Tehran during the start of the Iranian Revolution of 1979. The revolution unfolds before Marjane and her parents, who are committed Marxists and initially thrilled about the deposition of the western-backed shah, who tortured his dissenters in his secret prisons and got put in power through a western-funded coup. Marjane soon learns that life is much different under the new regime. She is forced to wear a veil at school, which she rips off at recess because it’s hot and oppressive. She is forced to beat her hand against her chest and chant funeral hymns for the “martyrs” of the revolution who are killed in the war against Iraq. She is forced to knit hats for the male “martyrs”- boys as young as 13 who get sent to the front lines of the battlefields in Iraq. She watches communist relatives and family friends disappear in Iran’s secret prisons, only to never emerge again. Throughout the horrors of the regime, Marjane never loses her fighting spirit. She stands up to her religion teachers, idolizes Western fashion, and hangs ACDC posters on her wall in defiance against the regime’s anti-Western rules. You can’t help rooting for her to escape the clutches of the regime and the terrifying police who snatch up dissenters in the night.

This book is written for young adults and is an easy read. I recommend if for anyone who wants to understand the history of the U.S.-Iranian conflict, and for anyone who likes reading about girls with chutzpah.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI, SMCM
Review Submitted by:  Andrea Gesumaria
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book with a one word title

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson


This book really opened my eyes up to how a traumatic event can really change someone’s life and alter their personality. As Melinda unfolds the story of what happened to her, I constantly found myself struggling with her, wanting her to speak up for herself but knowing that she didn’t know where to go for help. If somebody is easily triggered I would warn them before picking this book up; however, for those who may not understand from a victim’s perspective what the pain may feel like, Anderson does a good way of explaining how Melinda’s life used to be before the event, and how it changed her perspective after it happened.

Availability:  USMAI, SMCM, COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Reilly Cook
Rating:  Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book with a one word title

Angel: Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

Angel: A Maximum Ride Novel
I love James Patterson. This is the first young adult book of his that I have read. It was an and fun read. The book was fast paced with a good plot. I’m not into fantasy, but I can see the appeal to teenagers and fantasy lovers. These fantasy books are good to get young people interested in, and to keep them reading. I won’t be reading the other books in the series, it’s just not for me. But I am going to recommend the book for lovers of fantasy.

Availability: COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Shelley Clark
Rating: Recommended

Girls Like Us by Gail Giles

Girls Like Us

This YA novel really touched me and pulled at my heartstrings. It is written in the voices of two characters – Biddy and Quincy. Both girls have been in Special Education throughout their schooling and have recently graduated from high school. Biddy cannot read and write, but Quincy can. She has a learning disability due to a traumatic injury. At the end of their school year, they are put in a program where they live together in the garage apartment of an older woman who needs help with cooking/cleaning. Biddy takes on this job, and Quincy works at a local market. Biddy is open and loving while Quincy is reserved and bristles at attempts to draw her in closer. The interactions between the girls and the bond they form with each other and Miss Elizabeth, the older woman they live with, gives this book a feel-good quality. While some of the events are difficult to read about due to their violent nature or the cruelty of others, I was able to finish it quickly and enjoyed it very much.

Availability:  COSMOS, USMAI
Review Submitted by:  Sandi Hauenstein
Rating:  Highly Recommended