Category Archives: YA

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

The Paladin Prophecy by Mark Frost

Paladin Prophecy

This YA trilogy focuses on Will West, and extraordinarily gifted athlete and scholar whose parents have always asked him to keep his gifts and abilities “under the radar.” As a 15-year old only child, Will has complied with their requests and maintained a close relationship with his parents as they have moved multiple times during his life. One morning, Will’s world changes drastically when representatives from “The Center,” an exclusive preparatory high school show up because he’s been careless with his parent’s instructions and scored off the charts on a national scholastic test. The adventure begins here as Will’s parents are attacked and Will flees to the refuge of The Center with the help of a stranger named Dave. Will realizes that there’s more to this world than just the people walking on it and begins dealing with creatures from the “Never Was” who can travel through time and space. At The Center, Will discovers that almost all of his suite-mates have special talents and abilities like his. They all become involved in uncovering a conspiracy known as The Knights of Charlemagne.

The story is entertaining, but it could have been better written with a few less loose ends. If you have a teen who enjoys Fantasy/Sci-Fi, this might be a series of interest. I am currently on the 2nd book in the series, but I have heard that the 3rd book does not conclude well and that you are left with many questions. It sounds like a series that won’t leave you feeling satisfied so that is why the rating is recommended with reservations.

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  Sandi Hauenstein
Rating:  Recommended with Reservations

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen


Hoot is about a group of kids who challenge a developer who wants to bulldoze a Burrowing Owl colony in Florida. The film version has music by Jimmy Buffett who co-produced the movie. Hiaasen has been a strong advocate for the environment and it shows in this book. Highly recommended especially for teens but a great read for adults!

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by:  James Tyler Bell
Rating:  Highly Recommended

Ghost Beach by R. L. Stine

Ghost BeachDon’t judge me too harshly (an adult reading a tween book)! As my nieces and nephews read their way through tween years, they often mentioned the Goosebumps series and I’ve always been interested in how R. L. Stine, who is a prolific writer, keeps things fresh enough for critical teens to keep coming back. Ghost Beach, while just one in a looooong series of Goosebumps books, was a fun, if speedy, read. The brother and sister who serve as the book’s main characters are likeable and multi-dimensional. The story line is surprisingly plausible, too, with enough details to make it believable. If tweens are enjoying these books, they’re not totally rotting their brains (but I won’t be seeking out more to read myself).

Availability:  COSMOS
Review Submitted by: Jane Kostenko
Rating:   Highly Recommended
Challenge: A book you finished in a day