Review: The Chosen One by Carol Lynch Williams

The Chosen One, by Carol Lynch Williams, is only one book in a growing subgenre of teen fiction revolving around life in a polygamous family. Of course, Kyra’s life is less pleasant than the lives of television stars like those of Sister Wives and Big Love.

Born and raised on a religious compound in essentially the middle of nowhere, Kyra’s only link to the outside world is a small, mobile library that passes the compound once a week. This contact with the rest of the world is only the first in a long list of sins and secrets that begin to make up Kyra’s private life; hardly easy when you have nineteen siblings by your father’s three wives.

As the book continues, the rest of the list is revealed, including Kyra’s private relationship with a boy her own age, despite being engaged to her own much-older uncle. Her desperation to escape only grows as she fights against the word of the Prophet, the leader or her group, and is shown only the harsh fist of the uncaring and unsympathetic men in power who are determined to keep her in her place, soon to be a sister-wife with an ever-expanding family of her own.

Sadly, I wasn’t able to connect with any of the characters on a major level, due in part to both the sheer number of them, and the failure of the author to go into depth on their personalities. For example, when Kyra is fawning over her love interest, Joshua, there is simply no… “spark” behind her words. She can say that she loves him from sun up to sun set, but there is so little feeling behind her voice that I have a hard time believing her.

When I wasn’t trying to figure out the difference between all of Kayla’s sisters, The Chosen One made me feel as though I was on a carousel. There was a distinct beginning and end, but the same basic thing happens all throughout the middle: Someone does something wrong, that someone is punished severely, a higher-up explains that this happened either because of Satan’s or God’s Will, and then Kyra goes off on a tangent explaining how much she hates all of it.

Despite the setbacks, Kyra’s sheer desire for freedom kept me reading, as did the help she received from Patrick, the sympathetic driver of the bookmobile who fed her curiosity at his own risk, and her older sister Emily, who reminded her that, no matter how bleak things look, she is still loved.

Overall, if you are into books in this subgenre I recommend you pick The Chosen One up, but if you are looking for a longer book with a little more depth to it I suggest you move on to your next choice.

(Amazon - Goodreads)


Review: Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1) by Heather Brewer

Dark, solitary, and just a little bit brooding, Vladimir Tod sounds just like any other mall-goth teenager right? Well, sort of, but with a really big difference: Vlad is a vampire. No, not the kind that sparkles in the sun (though he does have to wear sunscreen outdoors), or the kind that hunts down humans as a life source (though he does know a few that do that, he prefers to drink from plastic bags his Aunt brings home from the hospital).

In fact, life was going pretty smoothly for Vlad. Well, as smoothly as one can go when your parents died in a mysterious fire that had no cause, everyday you have to hide the fact that you’re half-vampire from your peers, crush, and school bullies, and the new teacher is more than a little bit suspicious. Up until this point, that hasn’t been a problem for Vlad, but then again, up until this point Vlad hasn’t been the target of a murdering vampire who’s tracking his father down on orders from the Vampire Council, but he’s dead, and Vlad’s the only one left. 

The first in a series, there isn’t very much to this book, language, length, or plot wise: all are fairly average. If you like vampires (or even just underdog protagonists like myself), and aren’t looking for a read that isn’t very complicated, nor will take you long to read, it’s worth picking up. 


Title: Eighth Grade Bites (The Chronicles of Vladimir Tod #1)
Author: Heather Brewer
Publisher: Dutton Children's Books
Publication Date: August 16, 2007
Page #: 172
Amazon, Goodreads

Review: Rage: A Love Story by Julie Anne Peters

Everyone remembers their first love, and especially Johanna, who can’t exactly forget her love interest and girlfriend Reeve, or the hot, purple bruises she leaves on her. Semi-isolated due to the death of her parents and the distance, mainly emotionally, from her older sister, Johanna's just trying to get through her last year of high school. But, she certainly isn’t going down without a fight, or in this case a kiss, from the local out-and-proud fellow lesbian Reeve, whose cocky attitude and teasing nature snag Johanna hook, line, and sinker.

But soon Reeve’s very true, very hidden nature is revealed, stemming from a difficult home life that manifests in her violent reactions towards Johanna, effectively drawing the other into her world and sending her into a downward spiral.

Though all is resolved at the end, there is no saying that it won’t shock you, nor leave you  with empty thoughts regarding it. This book is mature for a young adult novel and tackles everything that many teens do, and don’t face: first loves, bonds that you can’t break (but really should), and the pain of knowing that you have to say goodbye for your own good.

It’s worth pointing out that this book wasn’t a totally original idea on Peters’ part, she had received numerous letters from a very determined young woman who wanted nothing more than for Peters’ to tell her story, even offering up her journal entries for inspiration. The book is dedicated to her with the curt description of her as a “very persuasive young woman,” and one can only say “thank God” for that determination, because without it we would have never gotten such a powerful piece about an all-too-often ignored topic, abusive same-sex relationships.

Now, I’m not normally a romantic person. I used to roll my eyes at it in any book I stumbled across, and I would side-eye the romance section of any bookstore, but Julie Anne Peters has changed all of that. Despite my being straight, Peters’ lesbian and bisexual characters have experienced the truest, strongest, and most relatable emotions of passion, lust, romance, and regret that I have ever felt in book characters. Every break up, every hook up, every kiss, every little-bit-more-than-a-kiss, I feel as much as the characters do. You smile with them when they win, and cry with them when they don’t. If you only pick up one piece of LGBT* lit. in your life, no matter what your reason, I highly recommend Peters’ work.

*An acronym for “lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender”

(Amazon - Goodreads - Google Preview)

Review: Artemis Fowl #1 by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl is not your average teenager. Heck, even if he was an adult, as his advanced vocabulary and mature (albeit shady) business maneuvers would indicate, he would not be average. With a missing father and ailing mother, the only company Artemis has is his bodyguard who supports him in his endeavors. Truthfully though, he prefers it that way, especially since that means he can devote all of his time to formulating his greatest scam ever: conning an entire group out of one metric ton of gold. This, in any other story, would be worthy of an eye roll. I mean, haven’t we heard it all before? The evil mastermind swiping gold from innocent people? It would be, if those people weren’t an advanced race of fairies, dwarves, and other magical beings that have quarantined themselves to the center of the Earth to keep their very existence a secret from average humans. Unfortunately for them, and what is quickly discovered by Holly Short, a female LEPrecon (“Lower Elements Police”) officer, when Artemis kidnaps her for ransom, Artemis Fowl is no ordinary human being.

Hitting its tenth birthday this year (oldie, but a goodie!) with seven books out and an eighth and final set for release this year, the Artemis Fowl series is a runaway train that still shows no signs of slowing down. Despite it’s aged status (and I mean that in the nicest of ways. After all, how many YA book series can you name that are as old , and are not only releasing new books today, but said books are hitting the top of the New York Times bestseller lists upon their release?) the Artemis Fowl series is still experiencing success, and for a good reason.

In reality, there aren’t enough good things that I can say about this series. I started reading it in seventh grade, read through the first four twice, and are trying to finish the seventh (amongst a million other books) before the last one is released.

I’d really recommend anyone to give this series a try, especially for fantasy nerds who love their evil kid geniuses (admit it, you’re one of them!), though maybe not so much for people who are too serious for immature or toilet humor (trust me, it isn’t in short supply here), but I certainly hope you don’t let that stop you!

In the four years I’ve been reading Artemis Fowl, never has it felt like a burden to read, and I hope to continue with it long after the final books has been published (and quite frankly, seeing as the series has been in talks for a movie for almost its entire existence, that may not be such an unrealistic expectation. But, rest assured, I’ll go see it even if I’m forty!)

5/5 (though the first three are my favorite)
(Amazon - Goodreads)


Review: After School Charisma by Kumiko Suekane

It's difficult to live up to your expectations, especially if you happen to be a clone of those such as Albert Einstein, Marie Currie, and Queen Elizabeth I. But that's exactly the situation at St. Kleio Academy, where every student (save for the very average Shiro Kamiya) is a clone of a famous, or infamous, person.

As if you couldn't already cut the tension with a knife, just as the clone of former President Kennedy is about to be elected, he is shot by a member of a secret organization determined to make sure that the once-silenced leaders of the world stay silent. Afraid that they may soon follow the same fate, many of the students begin to take solace in "The Almighty Dolly," Dolly the sheep, one of the first cloned mammals.

Far from the typical high school manga that many of us are used to, High School Charisma treats the reader not only to an interesting and gripping story line, but also to likeable characters (many of whom you may recognize from their past lives) and beautiful art.

(Amazon - Goodreads)

Review: Boy Toy by Barry Lyga

Starting middle school entails many things for a pre-teen boy: a chance to make new friends, join a club, and start noticing girls. Specifically that last part, and especially for Josh Mendel, though that isn’t something he’d admit to anyone.

Unfortunately for him, everyone in his town knows why.

Eve wasn’t something, or someone, that should’ve gotten out. The way she talked to Josh, spent time with Josh, touched Josh, was something that he wanted to keep locked up and as far away as possible after the trial.

She was, after all, his social studies teacher.

Now five years later his social life, and romantic life, is riddled with cracks, and even nonexistent in some parts. Still, since Eve has been released from prison early, Josh is being forced to grow up even faster than he had when he was younger.

Though the book flips between flashbacks of Josh’s middle school life (and thus his relationship with Eve) and present day, where the wounds of his past are still as raw as ever, the book flows. Lyga expertly probes a very sensitive topic, refusing to hold anything back when it comes to one boy’s, now man’s, experiences. That refusal to hold back, while this is a young adult novel, is perhaps best enjoyed by more mature readers.

By the end of the book all one can ask is, what would I do if I were Josh?

5/5 Stars (And definitely one of my favorite YA books)

(Amazon - Goodreads)