Teen Book Reviews

kateevilEvil Genius by Catherine Jinks

Cadel Piggott is a genius. Really. At age seven he was brought to see a psychologist because he kept getting in trouble as a result of his manipulation of computer and security equipment. By his thirteenth birthday, he was in his 11th year of school and was causing traffic jams, demolishing building construction, and had the capability to wreak general havoc on his classmates and the surrounding community. After high school graduation, his adoptive parents agreed to enroll him at the Axis Institute, an institute of higher learning that was founded by his long-time psychologist, Thaddeus Roth. The institute was designed to “tap into the unrealized skills of those who have lost their way in a community of fossilized values and blunted minds.”

Once at the Institute, Cadel becomes more and more aware of the differences between himself and the other students and teachers. He begins to recognize a pattern of evil, blatantly obvious from some of the course titles: “Computer Science” was Infiltration; “Accounting” was Embezzlement; “Law” was Loopholes. What Cadel does not yet realize is that he could be responsible for complete destruction, without even trying.

katesoldSold by Patricia McCormick

Thirteen-year-old Lakshmi lives in a small mountain village in Nepal with her mother and stepfather, struggling daily with a small farm just to feed their family. When the opportunity comes along for Lakshmi’s family to sell her as a servant to a wealthy family, they feel they have no other choice. Lakshmi is scared to go into the city, but is proud to do what she has to do to support her family and provide for her baby brother. After much travel and being handed over to different “aunts” and “uncles,” Lakshmi ends up at “Happiness House” with Auntie Mumtaz. It is here that she eventually learns that she has been sold into the sex trade industry and is forced to grow up long before she is ready. Based on truth, the author traveled from Nepal to Calcutta and saw firsthand the impact of sexual slavery on young girls and their families. Lakshmi’s story is sad, but powerful and inspirational.

Recommended for high school readers and mature younger readers, especially those interested in humanitarian and cultural issues.

kateforestThe Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan

Mary has always and forever wondered what is past the fence, beyond the Forest of Hands and Teeth. Does the ocean exist, like in her mother’s stories from before the Return? Are there really buildings that touch the sky? Or has everything been destroyed in the wake of the Return? The fence protects the village by holding the Unconsecrated at bay, confining them to the Forest of Hands and Teeth. The Guardians and the Sisters protect the village by maintaining the fence, keeping watch over the Unconsecrated, and ensuring that families survive and new generations are created. Mary feels responsible for protecting her mother, who has not been the same since Mary’s father fell to the Unconsecrated. When it comes time for Mary to decide whether to kill her mother or allow her to Return, she gives her the freedom to return to her love and live in the Forest . When the fence is breached and the Unconsecrated are uncontrollable, who will protect Mary?

This is more than a story about zombies; this is a story of the unbelievable strength of one teenage girl’s dreams — her dream of the ocean, of love, and of the future. She grows emotionally and spiritually in the time it takes her to journey from the village to the end of the Forest , and she gains a great love, and suffers more loss than she could have ever imagined. Recommended for readers who like traveling adventures, love stories, or rampant zombies murder scenes. There’s nothing too graphic here, but pretty horrific all the same. This is an emotionally powerful story that creeps up on the reader without notice.

Katherine Vasilik, Teen Librarian
Franklin Lakes (NJ) Public Library
tel: 201-891-2224 x105
fax: 201-891-5102
email: vasilik@bccls.org or kate_thelibrarian@yahoo.com
blog: http://katethelibrarian.blogspot.com