Top Teen Reads of 2017 from your HCPL Teen Librarians!

2017 was definitely a roller coaster ride. There were some incredible peaks, plenty of quick drops and more than a few twists and turns.  We costumed up and partied at the Library Comic Con, saw the sun go dark during the Great American Eclipse, and fought the rise of fake news.

But 2017 was also another awesome year for YA books.  We read SO MANY great books this year, it was hard to choose our favorites.  We cheered for new titles from past favorites John Green and Philip Pullman. We were bowled over by brand new authors like Angie Thomas and Sandhya Menon. And we loved seeing YA lit continue to tackle topics relevant to all teens, reflecting the diversity that surrounds us every day.

Without any further adieu, here is your HCPL Teen Librarians’ Top Teen Reads of 2017.  You may just find your next book to read on this list – click on the titles to head to our catalog and place copies on hold!

We dedicate this list to Amanda Giannini (1982-2017), Teen Librarian at the Fairfield Library. We miss you, Amanda.

Continue reading “Top Teen Reads of 2017 from your HCPL Teen Librarians!”

Read + Review is Back!

Happy first day of school everyone!  The first day of school is also the first day of Read + Review – so you can start earning community service hours for submitting your reviews of our New YA books.

Visit our Read + Review page to learn more, and check out our handy guide to getting awarded the maximum two hours service credit for your reviews below.

Happy reading from your HCPL Teen Librarians!

Read Review Infographic

Read+Review: Sink or Swim: A novel of WWII by Steve Watkins

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Sink or Swim is a novel based off World War II. It is a suspenseful story about a young lad named Colton. He is motivated to gain revenge on the Nazis after they capsized his brother’s boat. Since, Danny, his brother, has become injured, he cannot attend the Navy. This leaves Colton to making a bold decision. Will Colton go and fight for his brother, or will he give in to the Germans? Read the book to find out!

Sink or Swim is a real page-turner! I enjoyed the whole book but there were some scary moments. There were times I thought Colton might fall off the edge or get shot by a bullet. What I liked most about the book, though, is how Colton managed to do tasks the typical 12-year-old cannot achieve. For example, he made it through the Navy boot camp without getting recognized. I probably would not be able to do that, considering I am not very strong! Overall, I thought this was a great read!

One thing I loved about this book is how Colton was suffering through all of this just for his brother and his country. He has already made this very bold decision to join the Navy! Moreover, he sent all his money from his paycheck back to his mother to aid Danny. This stood out to me as a loving and caring act.

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Rasshi Naavaal, 6th grade – Moody Middle School, Twin Hickory Library

This Heart of Mine: A Novel by C.C. Hunter

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Leah McKenzie has accepted that her death will arrive soon; yet, she never expected a severe case of Myocarditis to take away all life has to offer. Lugging around an artificial heart has kept her from going to school, and as a result, much of her learning is done at home. Out of sheer luck, one day, she arrives downstairs to her life-long crush, Matt Kenner, waiting to tutor her. Although things take off from there, Leah knows that her fling won’t last until she finds a heart transplant. In the same period of time, Matt’s brother, Eric, winds up dead. After receiving Eric’s heart, Leah begins to have peculiar dreams that have much in common with Matt’s. With Matt believing that his brother didn’t kill himself, could these dreams be the key to unlocking this mystery? Or is Matt simply cracking under death’s pressure?

C.C. Hunter has blown my mind with a mesmerizing fictional rendition based on the emotional turmoil she experienced with her own husband’s kidney transplant. I found the idea behind the book to be fresh and a nice break from the grasp of teenage dystopian novels. The plotline dug at the emotions of Leah and Matt, especially the feelings of guilt associated with the deaths of others. Although this is a fictional story, it touched on real-life questions that many people are too afraid to delve into, which made me even more fond of it. Leah struck a chord with me and others I know who have read the book because she was relatable in her feelings of understanding how to fit in, especially when labels were already placed on her. Saying C.C. Hunter is skilled at crafting her characters is truly an understatement, as I hated and loved them all as if I were in Leah’s shoes. Overall, there are many positives about this book, and I highly recommend it if you’re looking for a new type of genre to read.

One of the most memorable things about the story was Matt’s persistence. At the beginning, all the reader sees him as is a popular jock that is too afraid to break out of his shell. However, once he’s able to jump over that stereotype, we can see that his determination is one of the strongest aspects that keeps him going and helps the book progress. Moreover, Matt is constantly selfless and willing to put others before him, which is why he remained such a memorable character to me.

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Mitali Barik, 10th grade – Henrico High School, Twin Hickory Library

Read+Review: The Truth Beneath the Lies by Amanda Searcy

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This story is about two girls, Kayla Asher and Betsy Hopewell, two people who are so different yet so similar in more ways than you would think. Kayla lives in a crime ridden part of town, in a shady neighborhood, in a seedy government housing complex with her mother who is a recovering drug addict. Betsy is not only forced to hide her true identity, but is constantly at death’s door, as a single screw-up could mean she kicks the bucket, courtesy of a mysterious man she has to check in with every twenty-four hours. Kayla dreams of finding herself a better life, and Betsy just wants to live to see tomorrow. Kayla decides to take justice into her own hands, and Betsy’s remaining days are slowly counting down. Kayla learns a little lesson about unforeseen outcomes. Betsy has already learned her’s. When the two girls meet, all we be determined; and only one will survive.

I enjoyed this book a lot. It was very confusing at first, but towards the end everything started making sense and it all tied together very nicely. I do think, however, it plays with the suspension of belief a little too much, as I have an extremely hard time believing that anything like that could have any potential for happening in real life. All things considered though, the twists and all the hidden meanings that become clear once you finish the book definitely make it worth a read.

The most memorable part about this book would definitely be the part were the two girls meet, which I obviously can’t go into more detail about, because that would be a spoiler. You’ll just have to read the book for yourself.

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Dahlia Sherif, 9th grade – Deep Run High School, Twin Hickory Library

Read+Review: All We Can Do is Wait by Richard Lawson

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After a bridge collapses in a tragic accident, four complete strangers, Scott, Skyler, and the siblings Alexa and Jason, meet each other in a hospital whilst anxiously waiting to hear the fate of their loved ones. For Alexa and Jason its their parents, for Skyler its her sister who like a parent, and for Scott its Aimee, who, know matter what their relationship status may be, he still loves very much. No one is quite sure what to do next. No one knows what this may mean for their futures. Everyone is panicked and worried and Alexa and Jason’s relationship is still strained even now when they need each other most. All they can do is pray and hope for the best. All they can do is wait.

I think that the concept is fantastic, but I don’t like the author’s writing style and choice of words. Not to mention he constantly uses the abbreviation “O.K.” instead of the full word, which never fails to consistently bother me with its unprofessionalism, and he uses that word a lot. I’d italicize the “lot” in that last sentence for emphasis, but I don’t think that is possible on Google Forms, so you’ll just have to imagine it yourself. Back to the point, about Jason’s secret, I’m critical of it because, as of late, it’s been popping up a lot in stories as part of the plot, thus making it a cliché, but I’m also fine with it, because it is a legitimate issue that some teens will be able to relate to, so I’m pretty conflicted.

Nothing about this book particularly stood out to me as memorable. This is not so much because its a bad book, but more to do with all of the important moments containing more or less the same intensity of emotional impact, at least for me.

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Dahlia Sherif, 9th grade – Deep Run High School, Twin Hickory Library

Read+Review: Fourth Dimension by Eric Walters

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What starts off as an ordinary annual camping trip eventually turns to disaster and destruction. Emma, with her mom and brother, have just moved to a new city. Life all seems fine until cars on the streets stop moving, her phone is dead, and everything stops working. This complete technology causes her family, along with all the residents of the city, to struggle for food and survive the attacks of all the other people who are trying to survive, just like them. Throughout this story, there are friendships made, people betrayed, and people’s lives stolen just for the simple will to survive.

I thought that the book was fair and had a compelling and yet intriguing story at the beginning. Emma started out being a brat, and changed into a leader of the whole community in the end. However, the character development was extremely fast – too fast for reality. Also, Emma and her brother, according to the story, make grownup decisions easily, and it seems like everyone adapted too quickly. There was not much conflict in the story either; only a few small skirmishes and fights even though there were too many antagonists to count. Despite this, I still think that this adventurous but grim story is a pleasure to enjoy.

The story-line made me see how much of the present-day world is dependent on technology. Without it, the world would be in complete chaos and death would be an extremely common thing to see. Millions of people would perish and the rest would have to live life as humans did centuries and centuries ago – a fresh start to humanity.

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Qingyuan (Eric) Hu, 6th grade – Moody Middle School, Twin Hickory Library