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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: A Poison Dark and Drowing by Jessica Cluess

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This book continues the plot from the first book in the series (because yes, it’s a sequel). A series of monsters, Ancients, are threatening the queen, led by the Skinless Man. Henrietta Howel, the only female sorcerer, seeks to defeat the Ancients with her companions-backslash-love-interests, including Rook, Blackwood and Magnus. Eventually, she comes at odds with the dark faerie, which divides her and her fellows between two evils.

I found this book poorly written, syntax-wise and plot-wise. The dialogue in general felt forced, the character descriptions overdone (dark and brooding love interests, wizened and wise leaders, etc.), and most of the plot was stale. Most of the big reveals were guessable, and several lines in the novel were clichés that can be fund in most every modern young-adult fantasy literature. If you’ve heard the writing tips about reading, you know that it’s intended to broaden the writing style and inspiration of aspiring authors; Cluess seems to have confined her reading to only the genre in which she wanted to write, leaving her a stunted understanding of technique and examples of plot.

The most memorable aspect of the book is Maria, a new character who’s introduced in this book. While Henrietta misses the “empowered female heroine” mark, Maria most certainly fulfills it.


Reviewed by Addie, Grade 11, Libbie Mill Library

Read + Review: The Fire Queen by Emily R. King

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Kalinda is on the run with Deven Naik, her guard and lover, after killing her tyrant husband, Tarek, who ruled the empire of Tarachand through fear. Now, an evil bhuta, a person with magical powers comparable to a god, warlord has invaded the capital city and is holding everybody in it hostage. Keeping her magical powers of being a Burner, a person who can control fire, secret to the empire to avoid an uproar, Kalinda must find Prince Ashwin to convince him to take back the empire. When she does reach Ashwin, a tournament is held to see who will be his bride. With the distance between Kalinda and Deven growing, she decides to enroll and represent the kingdom of Tarachand to help take it back from the usurpers by marrying the prince as she sees him as the only one who can take back the kingdom.

The book was unique. Not many books have been set in ancient India, the country I am from, so I admired how the author took a risk and executed it well. The traditions were nailed down, the names were impeccable, and the setting itself was set up perfectly. There was great character depth and no one felt shallow or stereotypical. The internal conflict in Kalinda was shown greatly and created drama that made the book more interesting. the pacing was also great although the beginning was quite slow but picked up quickly afterward.

The most memorable thing about this book was its setting. It is set in ancient India, my homeland, which is a unique setting that I have not really seen done anywhere before. I found that the author did a great job on the customs and traditions such as henna and saris which made it relatable to me as I am Indian.


Reviewed by Aswin, Grade 8, Twin Hickory Area Library

Read + Review: Monster by Michael Grant

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Four years ago, the world everyone knew had changed. A meteorite had hit Perdido Beach in California, and a dome appeared. This dome was solid and impenetrable but hollow, and the kids inside had to survive on their own. Only, some of them had developed impossible powers, creating a dangerous world where nothing could remain stable.

Eventually, it came down, but a new threat has appeared. The meteorites have been falling all around the world, but instead of creating more domes, the people who ingest parts of those alien rocks develop terrifying powers – more than anyone has ever seen before. But as various people aspire to the role of heroes, others find their joy in chaos and destruction. A precarious war between good and evil is emerging, but the monsters in between may be the ones that tip the balance.

Overall, I enjoyed this novel, which was filled with action and adventure. The characters were developed carefully with widely-varying personalities and characteristics. One major aspect the author emphasizes is the hesitation the characters have concerning what they choose to become. I also liked the writing style, which provided details without burdening the audience in any way. This was mainly a serious book with an overarching theme of science fiction, but the lack of humor did not detract from the plot. The different events kept me on the edge of the seat and waiting for the end so that I would discover the final results. Ultimately, this was an entertaining read that I would recommend to others.

Much of this book was memorable, but one aspect particularly so was the description of each individual’s powers. Their transformations are extremely unique and described elegantly through imagery. I find this abundance of imagination and creativity to be the source of this author’s success.


Reviewed by Shivram, Grade 10, Gayton Library