2014 Divergent

2014 Winner - Divergent by Veronica Roth

Fit in or Else.

Once upon a time, in a future that's closer than you think, the United States of America as we know it is gone. The society that replaced it, after the wars and the ecological disasters is very carefully organized. Everyone has a place that is suited to the kind of person they are. These places are called factions, and there are five: Abnegation, Candor, Amity, Erudite, and Dauntless.

And because aggressive people who like to fight are all safely in Dauntless. they can lead sports teams and police security without troubling those who are different. Are you truthful? Kind? Clever? Peaceful? .Once you're a teenager, you're carefully tested. Everyone goes where they belong, and so the new society is safe. Faction is everything. Faction comes before family, before friends.

Until Beatrice fails the test. She could be brave, in Dauntless. She could be selfless, in Abnegation. Or maybe even more. She doesn't fit into the safe little boxes. So she's assigned to Dauntless. The technician who tested her warns her to fit in, at all costs. If anyone finds out just how different Tris is, she won't last long.

She's divergent.

And divergent means dead.

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System, Washington

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

Elisa is a princess, but this is not a fairy tale. Chosen at birth and marked with a godstone in her navel, Elisa is destined for greatness – to complete some heroic deed that is meant to serve God’s will. But she is shy and overweight, and doesn’t believe she is well-suited for whatever the feat may be.

Now age sixteen, Elisa is hastily married to the king of a neighboring country, but kept a secret. Thrust into political and spiritual intrigue, she strives to make friends and allies. But just as she’s getting started, she is kidnapped by a rebel faction that hopes she’ll be able to save their people. Elisa must begin to believe that she was chosen for a reason; and that she has the strength not only to survive, but to be the leader that everyone so desperately needs.

Book talk by Jocelyn Redel, Teen Librarian
Arlington Library, Arlington, Washington

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

In the year 2044, Wade Watts lived a pretty dismal life in the “stacks” – a run-down neighborhood of mobile homes stacked atop each other to form makeshift skyscrapers. His only escape is when he is in the virtual world, OASIS. When the creator of OASIS dies and hides the secret to inheriting his fortune in the game, Wade suddenly has a purpose in life – guiding his avatar on a quest to find and solve the puzzles hidden in the game before anyone else does and win the fortune -- $240 BILLION.

Along the way Wade will forge alliances and develop enemies while he is helped and hindered by others after the same prize, including the mysterious Art3mis. Come along with Wade and immerse yourself in this world of video games, movies and television. There are sword fights and even a little romance.

Have you ever played Space Invaders? Watched the movie “War Games” or the television series “Firefly”? This is a wild, roller coaster ride of an adventure. Find out if you are clever enough to win the big prize.

Booktalk by Diane Ferbrache, Teacher-Librarian
Renton Schools, Renton, Washington

The Silence of Murder by Dandi Daley Mackall

Imagine you were accused of murder. Imagine the evidence against you appears to be really, really good.

What if your father was missing, and your mother was a cruel drunk, who'd hit you if you cried. What if you'd been in and out of so many psychiatric hospitals that no-one wanted to be your friend? What if the only person who cared what happened to you was your 16-year-old little sister?

Coach John Johnson is brutally murdered right before the big game with the Panthers. Jeremy is on trial for killing him. Only Hope believes he's innocent. Even Jeremy won't say a single word in his own defense.

Of course, to be fair. Jeremy hasn't spoken a single word in ten years. Kid's got problems, even if he wasn't facing life in prison.

Or the death penalty: he is, after all 18 years old.

Hope doesn't know where to turn, but she's determined not to give up. What if the only way to save your brother was to solve a murder?

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System, Washington

Ghetto Cowboy by G. Neri

The Greenhorn Joke.

You know what they call an utter n00b down on the ranch? A greenhorn. So there's this greenhorn, okay? And he goes down to a ranch in Texas, right? After looking around the farm a bit, he went up to the farmer and asked him why that cow--the one in that field over there--had no horns. "Some cows, sir," replied the farmer, "some cows don't have horns because they're special-bred not to have any. And there are some cows where only the bull has horns, so that cow could just be female. And there are times when we have to remove the horns from a cow for some reason. But this cow has no horns because it is, in fact, a horse."

Cole is a greenhorn. When it comes to horses he's a gigantic, total n00b. And he likes it that way. Too bad his mom has had enough with his acting out: she just can't cope anymore. So she drives him to Philadelphia and dumps him on his dad's doorstep. Maybe your Daddy can help you find your way.

Cole is a city boy, so even if downtown Philly has new gangs, new schools, he figures, he knows what's up. But this crumbling rundown piece of downtown Philadelphia? It has stables, and horses. Cole's dad is the leader of the Philadelphia Street Riders: keeping horses, riding them, racing them; that's his whole life. Shoot, he even keeps one of the horses on the ground floor of the apartment. Cole is pretty ticked off at being dumped with his dad. He's pretty annoyed at having to share his living space with a horse. But the more he sees of the street riders. The more he learns about riding and caring for horses, the more Cole realizes: this is something special. Where else is a street kid like him ever going to get to race a horse?

Trouble is, the city wants to reclaim these old buildings and they're turning the screws on Cole's dad and the stables. The garbage collectors won't pick up any more. City code inspectors are suddenly showing up, handing out citatations. Cole might have changed his mind about the street riders just in time for the city to shut them down once and for all.

Unless they fight back.

Read about his story in Ghetto Cowboy. based on the real-life Street Riders of Philadelphia.

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System, Washington

This Dark Endeavor by Kenneth Oppel

Where is the line between madness and brilliance? In this story it is almost invisible.
Victor Frankenstein as a teenager doesn’t know if he is gifted or cursed. His ability to solve equations and concoct magic-like potions drive him to the allure of the dark library in his father’s basement. When he, his twin brother Konrad, and long time friend Elizabeth are forbidden to ever enter the dark library again, that of course makes them even more fascinated. Then Konrad falls ill with a life threatening disease that not even the best doctor can diagnose. Now it is up to Victor and Elizabeth to discover and get the ingredients for the elixir of life, the only thing that might save Konrad. But just as the price of the final ingredient is made known not only does Victor realize it might be too expensive, but that Elizabeth, his one true love, has fallen in love with Konrad. Now Victor is faced with an ultimate choice, the loyalty of his twin brother or the attraction and deep love he feels for Elizabeth. What is more powerful than both? Alchemy!

Booktalk by Kathleen Dunbar, Teacher-Librarian
Cleveland High School, Seattle, Washington

Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys


So begins the story of 15 year old Lina, her 9 year old brother and their mother. In June, 1941, under cover of darkness, the Soviet secret police came for them. Loading them onto rail cars that will take them to Siberia and a life starkly different from their lives in Lithuania.

In their makeshift cabins, in the barren and isolated northern lands, Lina must learn to survive. She does so by any means necessary. There is death all around them – starvation and illness take lives daily. But Lina hangs on, inspired by her memories and her friendship with other prisoners, including a handsome teenage boy. With stolen paper and charcoal she uses her talents to smuggle out drawings of their new life. The possibility that her father may still be alive in another prison camp keeps the flame of hope burning.

Based on real events, this is a touching story of survival full of suspense and emotion. Learn a bit of history and put yourself in Lina’s place. What would you do to save your mother? Your brother? Yourself?

Book talk by Diane Ferbrache, Teacher-Librarian
Renton Schools, Renton, Washington

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

After years of living on the run, Sam and Riddle have learned to rely only on each other. Their paranoid, mentally ill father, Clarence, has made it pretty clear that if they care about something it will get taken away - no one else can ever be a part of their lives. Sam’s one secret solace is music. He’s learned that he can always find music in churches and it is through music that he meets Emily Bell. They have an instant connection; one that causes Emily to push outside her safe boundaries and has Sam reconsidering his desire to be invisible. But, opening up makes Sam vulnerable and he’s scared what will happen if his father will find out. Best case scenario Clarence makes them leave town; worst case scenario he harms Emily and her family. Sam’s fears are minimal compared to what his father is really capable of and the boys must fight tooth and nail to hang on to each other and the hope of a better future. 

Booktalk by Kirsten Gunn, National Board Certified Teacher-Librarian
Highline High School, Burien, Washington

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

Nobody knows that Karou's awesome electric blue hair doesn't come from hair dye, or a particularly realistic wig; it's from teeth.

Wishing Teeth.

Just a few teeth: little brown ones that Brimstone keeps in bowl. When Karou does errands for him (and why not? He has raised her since she was a baby) he pays her in these teeth.

Which would be truly disgusting and awful, if it weren't for the fact that when Brimstone gets done with them, they're not just teeth, they're wishes. Like one for awesome electric blue hair. Or to give your obnoxious ex-boyfriend an excruciating itch someplace truly embarassing. Because that's fun too.

In Prague, teenage Karou is living the good life as an art student and free-lance courier for her family: Ram-horned, lion-footed Brimstone, snake-bodied Issa, the only mother Karou has ever known, and assorted other magical monstrosities. None of her art school friends knows the truth about Karou's family.. Even her best friend Zuzana doesn't know that Karou's job can take her through magical portals to Paris, or Russia or anywhere around the world in search of more teeth (and other things) for Brimstone's magic. This is just Karou's life, and she's never thought twice about it.

Until the day a strange man with wings of fire attacks her in Paris... What follows from this encounter will force Karou to confront who and what she really is. Her life will change completely: she will have to learn how to lie to her family, and fight a war.

Once upon a time, an angel and a devil fell in love.

As you might imagine, it did not end well.

Karou is the Daughter of Smoke and Bone: this is her first book.

Booktalk by Kirsten Edwards, Teen Librarian
King County Library System, Washington

The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen

Jessica loves to run. She loves the feel of the wind in her face, the thrill of a close finish and the joy of being on a team. Running is not only what Jessica loves to do, it is who she is. The Running Dream begins on the day Jessica runs a personal best in a track meet. On the way home the team bus is involved in an accident that claims the life of a teammate and crushes her leg. Recovery from having her leg amputated is agonizing—physically and mentally—and even as Jessica is told she may walk again using a prosthetic, she wonders if it would have been better if she had been the one to die in the accident. Over and over in the weeks that follow Jessica dreams a running dream in which her body is whole and she is running fast only to wake up to her new, unhappy reality.

Jessica returns to school and has to make many adjustments. A new seat to accommodate her disability places her next to a fellow student, Rosa, who has spent her entire life in a wheel chair because of cerebral palsy. Jessica’s recovery is slow, but her new friendship with Rosa, supportive family, friends and teammates and a possibility of romance all buoy her along. As Jessica learns to walk with a prosthetic leg and even run again she begins to think beyond her own tragedy and future. Jessica comes up with a plan to help Rosa, who will never have the chance to experience the reality of her own running dream.

Review by Amber Peterson, Teacher-Librarian
Beaver Lake Middle School, Issaquah, Washington