When Cynthia Rothschild’s best friend, Annie, falls head over heels for the new high-school librarian, Cyn can totally see why. He’s really young and super cute and thinks Annie would make an excellent library monitor. But after meeting Mr. Gabriel, Cyn realizes something isn’t quite right. Maybe it’s the creepy look in the librarian’s eyes, or the weird feeling Cyn gets whenever she’s around him. Before long Cyn realizes that Mr. Gabriel is, in fact . . . a demon. Now, in addition to saving the school musical from technical disaster and trying not to make a fool of herself with her own hopeless crush, Cyn has to save her best friend from the clutches of the evil librarian, who also seems to be slowly sucking the life force out of the entire student body! From best-selling author Michelle Knudsen, here is the perfect novel for teens who like their horror served up with a bit of romance, plenty of humor, and some pretty hot guys (of both the good and evil variety).
Take a journey with Rachael and Megan as they try their hardest to use technology to write a book review 180 miles apart.
R: Alright, so let’s keep in mind that I read this book over 2 months ago and therefore I do not remember that much about the story.
M: In all fairness, we reviewed The Naturals over a year after we’d read it.
R: True! But I had just finished reading the sequel which had a bit of a recap to it. I’m not saying I’m going to be horrible at it, but you will probably be carrying the review. Now, both of us first read the book as digital copies thanks to NetGalley and Candlewick Press, but when the physical copy arrived at New Haven I was quite pleased with how the graphic design translated to the print copy. Very well done, I liked it quite a bit.
M: As I haven’t actually seen it, I’ll have to take your word for it. But the digital copy wasn’t terrible. I mean, not the most impressive cover, but certainly not the worst I’ve seen.
R: Hilarious book by the way, so very good. For those playing along at home, Megan and I spent a bit of time trying to rank the humorous YA books that we’ve read. Definitely hard to pick the best order but the competitors were Beauty Queens, Mothership, Unspoken, and this book.
M: Yes, this one definitely deserves a spot amongst the greats. I probably looked like a crazy person on the train, because I really did laugh out loud more than a couple times. So I don’t know about you, but I loved Cyn! She was a super strong female lead, yet never once are we explicitly told that she’s strong. Because it’s good writing, we were able to see.
R: So true! She was also exceptionally witty and we actually saw that as opposed to being told how witty she is. Soooo definite plus, kudos to Ms. Knudsen on her writing style. We also had the appropriate annoyance towards Annie. Goodness was she annoying, but she was supposed to be.
M: Well she was kind of being possessed by a demon. So I think we can sort of give her a little slack. Just a teensy bit. Enough about Annie, let’s talk about Ryan. First, I think Cyn’s crush on him is very realistic.
R: And the interactions between the two of them were just awesome! Then there’s the narrations in Cyn’s head, it just felt so authentic. It made the other characters in the story seem that much more real.
M: Very true! And then there’s Mr. Gabriel, the Evil Librarian himself, I was impressed by his presentation. Oftentimes villains, especially “evil” ones, have some sympathetic quality. But he definitely did not. I really wanted to see him die.
R: He felt like a villain straight out of Buffy, I loved it, it was just great. Then there were all of the other villains in the story, excellent addition! They added some great humor towards the end. Which leads to one of the best parts of the story: all of the references to popular musicals. Just wonderful, they added some great giggleworthy moments.
M: Yes! I loved all the musical references! I’m not sure though; do you think that if you hadn’t seen them or knew about them, would you still have liked it as much? I mean, the comedy is still there, the writing is still amazing, but I could see where that might make or break it.
R: I guess I could see that, not that many teens know who Sondheim is, but I don’t know if that would really take away from the story so much as they would miss those bits.
M: And they could always look up Sweeney Todd if it was really bothering them. Anyway, even if you hate musicals, I’d recommend at least trying this one. Because it was seriously a great book.
R: Yeah! The characters were all really enjoyable and the book was quite entertaining. Definitely recommend it.
Book: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Cover: 4 out of 5 stars
Good news! The Freegal download limit has increased from 3 to 5 per week. That means that patrons may now increase the number of free songs they download from 3 to 5 each week. Just follow the link from the ACPL website and login with your library card. www.acpl.info
There has been a meme floating around on Facebook for quite a while asking for the 10 books that have stayed with you. Inspired by that, I thought I would see if I could come up with 10 Young Adult books that have stayed with me. Some I read in childhood and others are more recent, but I’m sure they will remain favorites. In honor of banned book week, I have checked to see if these titles have ever been banned. Six of them are on the frequently challenged list. Can you guess which ones?
1. A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle was suggested to me by my sixth grade teacher. With the help of Mrs. Who, Mrs. Which and Mrs Whatsit, Meg, Charles Wallace and Calvin journey to the planet Camazotz to rescue Meg and Charles Wallace’s father.
2. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley was recommended by another teacher in 9th grade. This was before Louise Brown was the first “test tube baby.” The technology seemed fantastic and improbable at the time. It is a caution against replacing individuality with safety and conformity.
3. 1984 by George Orwell was also a 9th grade read (well before 1984, by the way.) This is another dystopian novel about the dangers of technology and big government. I still use the phrases “Big Brother is watching you,” and “Freedom is the ability to say 2+2=5.”
4. The Earthsea series by Ursula LeGuin is pure fantasy. Sparrowhawk goes to the island of Gont to learn how to use his power. He learns the power of naming and eventually becomes one of the greatest wizards in the land. A Wizard of Earthsea is the first in the series and tells of his childhood and studies.
5. A Canticle for Liebowitz by Walter M Miller is a post apocalyptic book that begins in the distant future with the discovery of a 20th century shopping list written by someone named Liebowitz. This is in an emerging society after “the Simplification,” which included burning all written material and destroying scientific knowledge after a nuclear holocaust. It centers on the monks who are trying to secretly preserve what little written material that has survived and who decide that Liebowitz is a saint. The novel covers three periods of time after the Simplification and ends with the cycle about to begin again as man develops nuclear weapons once again.
6. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien is a tale Tolkien wrote for his children with everything you could ask for in a fantasy. “There and Back Again” as Bilbo calls it is a tale of swords and sorcery, trolls, goblins, dragons, beasts and treasure. What more could you ask? Why, for The Lord of the Rings, of course. Tolkien is the standard by which all fantasy series are measured.
7. The Giver by Lois Lowry tells of a “perfect” society in which everyone follows the same path: school until 12, training for an assigned career after age 12, marriage, and two children. This is a powerful story about Jonas who is assigned the career of reciever of memory. He learns that his community is not the perfect society he had been taught it was. There are three follow up novels in this series:
8. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is popular right now because of the movies, but the books are well written and the end of the first book makes you want to cheer. I think the themes in The Hunger Games will stay with me for a long time.
9. City of Bones by Cassandra Clare. This is another book that has been made into a movie, but I liked it before I knew it was being filmed. I like the teen aged Shadowhunters as main characters and Clare gives them some mystery and depth as characters.
10. A Long Way from Chicago by Richard Peck and A Year Down Yonder are about a brother and sister and their grandmother. Joey and his sister Mary Alice travel by train to visit their grandmother in a small Illinois town. I totally fell in love with Grandma Dowdel and her crazy antics.
Bonus: 11. Seraphina by Rachel Hartman creates a world in which dragons and humans co-exist, but not happily. Dragons can assume human form and are distrusted by humans because this power allows dragons to walk unknown amongst humans. Seraphina is the newest musician in the court and becomes embroiled in scandals and intrigue despite her best efforts. I like the different take on dragons. It is also well written and not all of the plot twists are predictable.