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June 16, 2011 Edition
Amor deliria nervosa. That’s what love is called in Lena’s world. It’s a horrible disease whose symptoms include irrational decision-making, stomach and heart problems, depression, anxiety, and occasionally even death, so Lena is relieved that scientists have developed a cure for it. She’s turning eighteen in 3 months, old enough for the government-mandated procedure, and Lena’s biggest fear is that she’ll catch the disease before she’s rendered immune. Cue Alex, a cute guy who’s unlike anyone else she’s ever known, and suddenly Lena is feeling things she’s never known before, including doubt about the procedure. This is the first in a trilogy.
Lyrical and harsh, this is the story of Koumail and his guardian, Gloria, and their escape from the remains of the Soviet Union to France. Koumail’s real name is Blaise, and Gloria rescued him from a train wreck when he was a baby. His French mother died, and he only remembers Gloria, and now she is taking him home where she believes he will have a normal life instead of living as a refugee. When they leave their small town, Koumail is six years old, but it is a long way to France, and he is eleven by the time he sets foot in that land, and by the time he finds the truth about himself, he is much older than that. Along the way he falls in love, learns to fight, starves, steals food, eludes soldiers, and loses and finds Gloria. This beautifully-written and translated story is short, sharp, and utterly absorbing.
What happens when seven threads are stolen from the cloth of life? When a young man is turned into a unicorn and bound into a tapestry? When that tapestry and the Book of Life fall into the hands of a teenage girl? And when the witch who wove the tapestry and enchanted the man returns to claim her property? Tessa finds out when her father buys the tapestry as part of a lot of books at an auction. After hanging the tapestry with its fierce unicorn in her room, she starts having strange dreams. And when she tugs on a loose thread she unravels the unicorn, with results she could never have foreseen. Told, appropriately, by weaving chapters from the past, the present, and the unchanging now together into a story filled with fairytale elements, but grounded in reality.
What’s the worst that can happen when a kid known for his pranks pulls one too many at school? Will thinks the worst is expulsion from school. But he’s wrong: when he’s caught mooning the girls’ bus, a teacher sympathetic to Will’s “difficult past year” comes up with something much worse, and Will is sentenced to give up his weekends and evenings as a “volunteer” for the annual school musical. As an accomplished guitarist, he’s just what the play needs. But he’s afraid of losing his social standing, especially when he gains an admirer in the band’s trombone player who is known as The Freak. Somehow, the expected social ostracization never happens – instead, he meets a gorgeous girl, makes a good friend, and gains a new appreciation for his own capabilities. This is an Aussie import so be ready for unfamiliar slang, and it also features dialogue in boldface instead of in quotation marks, but adventurous readers will find a solid story.
Not for techies only, this is the story of seventeen year-old Sam’s arrest for sabotaging government computer networks and his subsequent recruitment into a Matrix-like world of layered deceptions. Contextual clues will help keep less-technologically savvy readers going through this adrenaline-fueled adventure pitting teen hackers against an organization that is trying to take over the world one computer network at a time. An added twist involves neuro-headsets, which are rapidly replacing keyboards and bringing users up close and personal with their computers. But what happens to users when the network their brain is attached to gets hacked? Pair this with Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother for a different view of technological dystopia.