If you'd like to see my recent four-plus- and five-star recommendations, visit Robin ReadsnWrites.
* I didn't make it beyond the first 20 pages.
** I made it to the end, but I either skimmed or skipped large sections.
*** I might have skipped/skimmed, but I liked it and might read it again.
**** I read at least 95% of the book and it was good -- probably will be reread.
***** I read every word, and I loved it! A favorite and definite reread.
Dead to You, by Lisa McMann ***+ Okay, this was well-written (like all of McMann's books are, imo), but it wasn't really my thing. I got into it very quickly, but I began to suspect that something was awry (there's a certain type of narrative that I'm not a huge fan of, and I began to wonder if this had it) -- so I began skimming a bit. Things that I really liked: how much sympathy I felt for all the characters (it's ache-worthy at many points in the story); the slow revelation of deeper layers (she's good at ratcheting up the tension). So yeah, overall, this isn't my type of book, but it has tons to offer for people who like growing tension and mystery. The ending (as others have also said) is a little more open-ended than I like, but it certainly got my attention. The story: Ethan was abducted at only 7 years old. Now, he found his picture on the internet and has returned...but things are not as rosy as he might have hoped. His younger brother doesn't trust him, and he has a little sister he never knew (that he initially calls the 'replacement' child). School is also challenging, as Ethan's attendance was sporadic during those 9 years of being away. As Ethan works to make his life better, even with falling in love, he continues to meet with resistance...which explodes in a shocking way at the end. (YA mystery, released 2/12, publisher: Simon Pulse)
The Tomorrow Code, by Brian Falkner ***** I really enjoyed this! I liked many things: 1) the Michael Crichton feel; 2) the creative challenges and ideas; 3) the Maori influence; 4) the ending (which was a little open-ended, yet not really). I love many of Crichton's books, and finding a teen version of that style of writing is wonderful! I liked the characters; I liked their growth and smartness; I liked the setting. It was just a great book from beginning to end! The story: Tane and Rebecca discover a strange code when Rebecca is doing a gamma ray search on Tane's computer. When they begin figuring out the clues, the results are astonishing -- someone is sending them information from the future. Although skeptical at first, Rebecca's desperate situation (she and her mom are kicked out of their apartment with little money to survive) calls for serious risks, and the two begin following the 'tomorrow code.' Soon Tane's older brother, Fatboy, is involved, as well, and things heat up as the world around them begins going insane. When their home town of Auckland is threatened and the lives of everyone there are at risk, Tane, Rebecca, and Fatboy frantically try to solve the problem and figure out how to save humanity. (YA thriller, released 7/09, publisher: Ember)
On Deck: Melody Burning, Open Season