2015 The Fault in Our Stars

Printable version of Booktalks

2015 Winner - The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

This book will bring every emotion to light: you will laugh, cry, mourn, love, you will cheer them on, you will be frustrated, confused even angry.

Hazel is dealing with a terminal form of cancer and yet this is not a story about dying but rather a story about being in love and truly living. Hazel meets Augustus at a Cancer support group and where they fall in love... they are wise beyond their years, brave funny and inspiring. 

The faults of these characters is what makes them so intriguing, relatable, and completely unforgettable. 

As Green takes us into another world, he takes us deeper into ours. We are all really terminal in a sense and we determine how we will spend our moments of life. 

Everyone should read this book…….. you won’t be disappointed.

Donna Bartholomew, Library Media Specialist

Pine Lake Middle School

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Alina and her best friend Mal were drafted into the army. Their current mission is a dangerous crossing of the Fold - an area of land where there is no light. Where monsters rule. Violent creatures attack.  Few survive.


When Mal's life is at risk in the Fold, Alina saves him: She summons light, and blasts the monsters of the dark.


It's a power no-one, not even Alina, knew she had.


It's a power that could, just possibly, change the course of the war; transform Ravka, Alina's homeland.


Alina is whisked away from near-slavery in the army, from abject poverty, to the Royal court, where she will train to become a Grisha, one of the magical elite that rule Ravka, and protect it with their powers.


If Alina can control her power, use it at will, she will become the greatest of the Grisha. But if she fails, she will be destroyed.


Many court her, several plot against her.


And Mal has gone missing.


Shadow and Bone brings to life a world of saints and samovars; assassins and superstitions, dark magic, court intrigue, and romance.


Kirsten Edwards, Teen Services Librarian
King County Library System

Ask the Passengers by A.S. King

Lately, Astrid's parents have been asking her questions she really doesn’t want to answer. And really, how is she supposed to answer them when she doesn’t know? Sometimes she likes to lay on the picnic table in the backyard and watch the jet planes fly overhead. 

She asks the passengers questions: Am I really gay? Just because she's kissing a girl doesn't mean she's really gay. Maybe it's a passing phase. Maybe she's not strong enough to be gay. Her mom would kill her if she was gay. But the passengers, they don't answer. And she doesn’t want to just put a label on herself because some people want to put her in a box. 

For a thoughtful story about a Questioning Teen, read Ask the Passengers.

Stephanie Zero, Teen Services Librarian
King County Library System

Ten by Gretchen McNeil

What happens when the dream party of the year turns into your worst nightmare? Meg and her best friend Minnie are invited to an exclusive house party with 8 other teens on Henry Island (in Washington’s San Juan Islands) that will end up nothing like what they imagined. The teens are excited to spend three days partying without adults and Meg hopes to get closer to her school’s most attractive guy, T.J.

Yet the fun quickly turns to terror after they watch a DVD left there that warns them: “When you hurt someone...break someone’s heart…lie, cheat or steal…your actions are a crime…Steps must be taken to protect the innocent. Those steps begin right here, right now… Vengeance is mine.”
While the teens start to panic, they realize that their cell phones do not receive a signal on this remote island and with a storm raging outside, the electricity goes out. Then the murders begin as the teens are brutally murdered one by one. Knowing that they are trapped until the ferry returns in two days, everyone becomes paranoid and frightened.

Meg, the only writer in the group, tries to put together the clues to figure out who the murderer is. Can Meg solve these horrific murders before she becomes the next target? Who can Meg really trust when the power’s out and there’s no help coming? Could the murderer be someone she’s close to? The clock is ticking and the killer is starting to run out of victims.

Sherri Ashlock, Teacher-Librarian

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Is there a charming prince, princess, or soul mate out there for every one? Fairy tales say yes, but sometimes in real life things are not so simple. And in science fiction, a fairy tale can become even more complex. In this futuristic dystopian re-telling of the Cinderella story the princess, Cinder, is a human robot hybrid. And unlike the traditional story Cinder is super smart and independent, overflowing with girl power! The prince whose name is Kai, does not impress her at first. Cinder knows that in the city of Beijing, keeping her family safe from the plague is all she has time for. But when the prince’s android repair turns into discovering a secret that will change Cinder’s world forever, she becomes drawn in to the possibility of being able to save more than her own family, but all the people of Beijing. And she also becomes more drawn to Kai as more than a friend, and the more they explore their attraction the more forces of the world around them pull them apart. At the heart of the conflict in both Beijing and their relationship is evil queen Levana, ruler of a race called the Lunars. If Cinder and Kai can figure out how to defeat Levana they will not only save Cinder’s family and their future, but they will save all of Beijing from being taken over by the Lunars.

Kathleen Dunbar, Teacher-Librarian
Cleveland High School Library

Link to Book Trailer <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bRmxQxfIaGc>

Wonder by R.J. Palacio

August Pullman—he goes by Auggie—just wants to be an ordinary kid.  In many ways he is.  He likes Star Wars, mac and cheese and playing X-Box.  The severe facial deformity Auggie was born with means he will never pass for ordinary, however, and he knows it.  Until middle school Auggie’s condition kept him at home.  He’s never been to a regular school before the first day of middle school and hopes to be able to find a way to fit in. 

Sound like the set up for a sappy novel that adults want kids to read to learn a good lesson about being nice, right?

Wonder is better than that though.

The kids at Auggie’s new school react with the expected initial surprise when first meeting Auggie.  Even Auggie says about his deformity, “I won’t describe what I look like.  Whatever you’re thinking, it’s probably worse.”  And here is why Wonder is such a great book: Auggie’s classmates treat him in all the ways you’d expect real middle school students to.  Some are outwardly kind but nasty when teachers aren’t looking.  Some of those who get to know Auggie are teased themselves.  Most of the class participates in a game called Plague in which anyone who touches Auggie has to wash his hands immediately or be infected (kind of like the “Cheese Touch” in Diary of a Wimpy Kid).  It’s hard and it’s awful but Auggie struggles through.  And makes friends.  And eventually most of the class gets tired of the meanness and Auggie’s deformity becomes an “ordinary” part of school.  And Auggie’s school becomes more than ordinary as a result.

Wonder is a great book.  Recommend it to your teachers and other adults—they should read it too.

Amber Peterson, Teacher-Librarian

Beaver Lake Middle School

Boy 21 by Matthew Quick

Finley loves two things: basketball and his girlfriend, Erin. Now, here he is his senior year starting point guard for his basketball team. He has learned a lot from basketball, and one of the most important lessons is a good ball player always listens to his coach. So when Finley’s coach asks him to befriend a boy who just moved to the neighborhood, a previous basketball superstar, he does so with no questions asked. 

Finley learns that the new kid faced a traumatizing event and because of this he now refers to himself as Boy21 who has a mission to gather information about Earthling’s emotions to bring back to his home in the cosmos. Finley finds this all quite strange, but also understands Boy21’s reaction because Finley also faced a devastating event as a child which left Finley as a quiet boy who keeps to himself. 

As basketball season approaches, Finley and Boy21’s friendship is tested. Boy21 begins to feel more like his prior self, and Finley begins to realize that Boy21 could very well take his starting position from him and he may end up losing one of his true loves: basketball.

Shelley Mastalerz, Teen Services Librarian
King County Library System

Bomb: The Race to Build - And Steal - The World's Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin

On August 6, 1945, an American B-29 war plane dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima, Japan. 80,000 people were killed instantly. The devastation was immediately obvious even from the air and the plane’s co-pilot thought, “My God, what have we done?”

The scientific, political and military journeys to this moment are brought brilliantly to life in Steve Sheinkin’s Bomb. Scientists are in the business of discovering – trying to understand what makes our world work – and sometimes these discoveries lead down unanticipated paths. This is exactly what happened to German chemist Otto Hahn, when he accidentally split a uranium atom in two and realized its potential bomb making power.

Perhaps this discovery would have gone unnoticed if the world had not been on the brink of war. But, its potential to hugely upset the balance of power made it the most sought after technology on the planet. In the United States, Germany and the Soviet Union, politicians gathered teams of brilliant researchers together in secret locations to try to make a bomb. Not content to wait for science, they also recruited spies to infiltrate each other’s networks and created secret military operations to sabotage the competition. No risk was too great if it meant they would be the first to have the bomb.

Caught up in the thrill of discovery, the need for dominance or even the belief that right was on their side, these players irreversibly changed our world. The era of weapons of mass destruction was created – with no end in sight.

Kirsten Gunn, National Board Certified Teacher Librarian
Highline High School

The Raven Boys by Maggie Stiefvater

“There are only two reasons a non-seer would see a spirit on St. Mark’s Eve,” Neeve said. “Either you’re his true love . . . or you killed him.”
One night every year Blue accompanies her psychic mother and aunt to the spot where the soon-to-be-dead souls pass in review and their names are recorded.  Every year, they walk past and Blue sees and hears nothing.  This year, though, is different.  She sees a young man and he actually speaks to her!  He tells her his name is Gansey.  She doesn’t tell him that he will be dead within a year.
Blue is surprised when she meets Gansey in real life the next day and even more surprised to find that she is attracted to him.  She’s not in the market for a boyfriend since she has been told all her life that her one true love will die.  Could this be him?  Will Blue be the cause of his death?
Gansey , along with Ronan, the arrogant jerk; Adam, the scholarship student; and Noah, the quiet, mysterious one; are on a quest.  These “Raven Boys” – named for the mascot of the exclusive private school in town – are looking for the “ley line” -- an invisible line of psychic energy that will lead them to a legendary Welsh king who will grant a favor to those who can find him.  When Blue gets drawn into their quest, strange and scary things start to happen.  Come along on a great adventure filled with danger, mystery, magic, and even a little romance!

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

Callie may not have the voice to star in her middle school’s musical, but she’s just as happy designing the sets. After all, it takes a lot of work – and a lot of people – to put on a play! The stage crew are old friends; Callie’s BFF Liz does costumes and Matt (who just happens to be the brother of the guy Callie has a crush on) runs the lights. When Callie meets twins Justin and Jesse, she can’t wait to get them involved in the musical too. Add in the most popular-but definitely not the nicest- girl in school and an 8th grader so handsome the girls and guys both have crushes on him, and you’ve got a recipe for drama – on stage AND off. Colorful, cartoon-y illustrations bring this real-life story of the best and worst of middle school to life.

Emily Calkins, Teen Services Librarian
King County Library System

Printable Version of Booktalks

Evergreen Book Award,
Apr 16, 2014, 9:34 PM