The Six Emotional Stages of Weeding a Teen Fiction Collection

For the last week, I have been weeding the teen fiction collection in preparation for 2016 and all of the wonderful books that haven’t been printed yet. As I do so, I find that I have some very conflicting emotions. Any of you who manage a print collection probably have experienced a similar roller coaster while weeding.

  1. First I feel glee! Finally! I will be able to fit all of the books on the shelf again and still have some space! They’ll also be in order because let’s face it, those teen volunteers do a good job at shelf reading but there’s nothing like a librarian’s over-sensitive eye to put books in their place. It’s going to look nice and clean and organized like it hasn’t for a few months.
  2. Then I feel fear. What if I’m about to weed a book I shouldn’t. Maybe it’s going to show up on the high school reading list! Maybe they’ll turn it into a movie or a tv show and people are going to be demanding copies of the book to read. What if this book right here is the next [enter super popular YA title here] and i’m making a terrible mistake?!
  3. And then it’s on to rationality. Well, if it was going to be a sensation, chances are it would have happened earlier on. I mean, this book was published in 2008. What’s the likelihood it’ll kick off now? And really, how many copies of The Hunger Games do we really need?
  4. And then it’s back to smug happiness. Look how pretty the shelves are all organized and orderly and with room to spare. It makes the teen area look bigger somehow.
  5. And then fear again. Are people going to look at the shelves now and start to ask where all the books went? We already have those people who tell us that the world is coming to an end because ebooks are the downfall of all humanity and blah blah blah. Will they take this as the harbinger of doom and start demanding that the libraries do this or that or the other to counteract the scourge of the ereader?
  6. And then I just feel fine because I’m a librarian and this is what I am good at. I nurture my collection to reflect the community I serve and as tastes and interests change, so do the items on the shelf. I listen to my community and I am confident that my decisions are in accordance with their needs and interests.

Confidence wins! And the teen space really does look nicer this way. I should do this more often.

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Review of Divergent Movie

Divergent Movie PosterNo spoilers of either the book or movie, I promise.  This is just my opinion.

This weekend, I saw the Divergent movie. Before I tell you what I thought of the movie, I will tell you two things: First, I loved this book. Second, it is very hard for me to like film adaptations of books that I have read and enjoyed.

Have you read Divergent? If you haven’t, you will enjoy this movie. I watched it with an adult male who does not read YA fiction and he said this was a great movie. It is fast paced and action-filled. Hailene Woodley, the actress playing Tris, does an excellent job of relaying emotion without reliance on dialogue which is very important in an adaptation of a book wherein we were privy to the thoughts of the main character. I suppose this is also a positive reflection on the screenwriters and director.

If you have read Divergent, you may not like this movie. At least one of my other YA reading friends is in outrage over it. The book is rich with character development and atmosphere. This film adaptation focuses all character  development on Tris and Four to the detriment of everyone else. Even Peter, violent and unsympathetic oaf that he his, comes across as simple minded in the movie instead of the book’s coldly and calculatingly cruel. I am still somewhat torn over the creative reinterpreting of the conclusion of the climax, there are both good and bad changes there. We can discuss this in the comments below if you have thoughts on the matter. This was neither the best film adaptation of a book I have ever seen, nor was it the worst (by worst, I mean Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire). I give it a 6/10, I would have scored it higher if there had been more depth to the other characters.

I am glad that I saw the movie on opening weekend. Watching it in a theater mostly full of teenage girls, I was able to enjoy it on another level. In a scene where Four asks Tris if she would like to see his tattoo (which involves removing his shirt), the audible reaction in the theater was, “YES!”

Review of the Matched Trilogy by Ally Condie

Reached by Ally CondieI recently finished reading the third and last book in the Matched trilogy by Ally Condie. I began reading this series because it was described as a readalike to the Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Well, it is…kinda. It is a YA dystopian novel set in a future where society has become corrupt and unreasonable. There is a lot that the Matched society has in common with Wells’ 1984. Society is always watching, listening, and controlling. Society tells you what your job will be, who you will marry, and when you will die. I don’t think it’s a spoiler to say that obviously the three main characters form a love triangle and succeed in overthrowing Society’s control by the end of the third book. That’s a common theme in dystopian YA. I will say that I enjoyed the first book much better than either of the two the followed. The second book indeed lived up to “second in a trilogy” stereotypes by being the least memorable. The conclusion was interesting, but entirely too perfect. All loose ends were tied up, all questions were answered, and everyone was happy.

I would recommend this book to people who found the romantic conflict within the Hunger Games trilogy highly interesting.

Review of Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross

by Kady Cross

And here we go with the third book in the Steampunk Chronicles, The Girl with the Iron Touch by Kady Cross. Not too long ago I read the first two books in this series and reviewed them. This one I received as an advance reader copy from the publisher.

Description from Goodreads:

When mechanical genius Emily is kidnapped by rogue automatons, Finley Jayne and her fellow misfits fear the worst. What’s left of their archenemy, The Machinist, hungers to be resurrected, and Emily must transplant his consciousness into one of his automatons—or forfeit her friends’ lives.

With Griffin being mysteriously tormented by the Aether, the young duke’s sanity is close to the breaking point. Seeking help, Finley turns to Jack Dandy, but trusting the master criminal is as dangerous as controlling her dark side. When Jack kisses her, Finley must finally confront her true feelings for him…and for Griffin.

Meanwhile, Sam is searching everywhere for Emily, from Whitechapel’s desolate alleyways to Mayfair’s elegant mansions. He would walk into hell for her, but the choice she must make will test them more than they could imagine.

To save those she cares about, Emily must confront The Machinist’s ultimate creation—an automaton more human than machine. And if she’s to have any chance at triumphing, she must summon a strength even she doesn’t know she has….

When reading the first two books in this series, I did a lot of ignoring the weird way the characters just seemed to take for granted the unusual things that happened around them and the baseless trust they showed in near strangers. The fast pace of the story and the intriguing plot do a lot to make up for the shallow characters, and the same is true in this book. Cross is an excellent storyteller, knowing just the right time and place to leave suspense and build tension. I might personally have been a little happier with a little less time devoted to the characters’ inner romantic turmoil, but I do see how the romantic developments helped drive the story along. I’m still not completely over the moon about the Steampunk Chronicles, but I will continue to read them just to find out what happens next.

Review of Mortality by Kellie Sheridan

Mortality, by Kellie Sheridan, is the first book in a proposed series titled The Hitchhiker Strain.

MortalityDescription from the publisher:

After surviving a deadly plague outbreak, sixteen-year-old Savannah thought she had lived through the very worst of human history. There was no way to know that the miracle vaccine would put everyone at risk for a fate worse than un-death.

Now, two very different kinds of infected walk the Earth, intent on nothing but feeding and destroying what little remains of civilization. When the inoculated are bitten, infection means watching on in silent horror as self-control disappears and the idea of feasting on loved ones becomes increasingly hard to ignore.

Starving and forced to live inside of the abandoned high school, all Savannah wants is the chance to fight back. When a strange boy arrives with a plan to set everything right, she gets her chance. Meeting Cole changes everything. Mere survival will never be enough.

I enjoyed this book. It is the first zombie book I have read in a while and I really enjoyed the new perspective it gave. In this book, zombies were caused by a virus. The government then rushed through a vaccine against the virus that made things worse. The original zombies are reanimated corpses walking around, decaying, and eating anything. The second generation Zs were never dead, they are vaccinated people who became infected but now attack and eat other living things. Since they aren’t dead rotting corpses, they are a lot stronger and faster. So… you’ve got your slow shuffling traditional zombies and the super scary fast ones (I dunno about you, but horror movies with fast zombies are so much scarier!).

This book tells two stories concurrently which finally converge in the end. The two protagonists are Savannah and Zarah. I won’t tell you any more about them because that would be spoiling the fun. One thing I will say is that I really enjoyed how Sheridan added a new dimension to her zombie book by giving the zombie perspective (no, I haven’t read or seen Warm Bodies though I will eventually do both). I thought it was refreshing and added a new scope to the zombie apocalypse storyline.

Review of The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite by Kiera Cass

The Elite is the second book in the Selection trilogy by Kiera Cass. It continues right where the first book left off. Of the 36 girls who were originally part of the selection, there are now only six remaining.

Description from Goodreads:

Thirty-five girls came to the palace to compete in the Selection. All but six have been sent home. And only one will get to marry Prince Maxon and be crowned princess of Illea.

America still isn’t sure where her heart lies. When she’s with Maxon, she’s swept up in their new and breathless romance, and can’t dream of being with anyone else. But whenever she sees Aspen standing guard around the palace, and is overcome with memories of the life they planned to share. With the group narrowed down to the Elite, the other girls are even more determined to win Maxon over—and time is running out for America to decide.

Just when America is sure she’s made her choice, a devastating loss makes her question everything again. And while she’s struggling to imagine her future, the violent rebels that are determined to overthrow the monarchy are growing stronger and their plans could destroy her chance at any kind of happy ending.

While I wasn’t sure I would like this series, since it seemed to me like a weird cross between reality TV, dystopia, and fairy tale, I actually ended up really enjoying the first book, The Selection. It had all of the things that turn me off of reality TV, but I found myself not minding so much as the story progressed. In the first book you have America, a reluctant participant in a competition to become the next queen of Illea who is only playing along so she doesn’t have to go home (for many reasons including a broken heart). As you learn more about the prince and the other girls in the selection, you start to recognize the usual tropes of “females in a competition to win a boy’s heart,” including the Bitch, the Quiet One, the Sweet One, and the Normal One.

Going into The Elite I was hoping that there would be more action involving America’s own private selection (Maxon or Aspen) and more plot twists with the other girls, I wasn’t  disappointed but I wasn’t satisfied either. In fact, it was America herself who let me down. In The Selection she seemed to have a much better handle on her own feelings than she displayed in The Elite. She kept deciding one way and then changing her mind a chapter later. She had extreme reactions to some minor occurrences which made her mood swings more apparent. The main event where America completely (and with reason) flips out, she shows a complete lack of sympathy to the prince afterwards which is out of character. When this is resolved in the end of the book, I feel like the author was just giving her readers a pacifier for having so cruelly abused her characters.

I think The Elite is probably just suffering from middle-book-in-a-trilogy syndrome and the third book, The One, will be all that I hope it will be.

If you read and liked the first book, I would still recommend that you continue on and read this one. I am still emotionally invested in the characters and I want it all to turn out all right in the end.

Review of The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

from goodreads.com

I just finished reading the first two books in the Steampunk Chronicles by Kady CrossThe Girl in the Steel Corset and The Girl in the Clockwork Collar. Instead of writing individual reviews for each of these, I’m going to give you two book reviews in one! I’m going to be very vague and general. No spoilers, I promise.

From goodreads.comI want to start by saying I love steampunk lit. It tickles my technology bone. I run an after school club for middle schoolers centered around reading steampunk YA novels and doing hands on projects based on themes and technology in the book (more on that here). The first thing I want to say about these books is that I couldn’t read them fast enough. That’s not to say that they are the most amazing books ever, but rather the story was so engaging I just had to keep reading.

The characters in this series are not especially deep. In The Girl in the Steel Corset, you have four main characters who simply come to terms with unnatural and impossible things without seeming to think much about them. You’ve got one character who has had two distinct personalities her whole life and through only a few hours of “training’ begins bringing the two halves together to make an uneasy truce. One character trusts an unconscious stranger enough to bring her to his home/secret headquarters and maker her part of the crew.

When I think too hard about the characters themselves, I realize that I probably shouldn’t have liked this book as much as I did. But if you just take all the unnatural and impossible things in stride as the characters do, you get absorbed in the story. It is very fast paced and exciting. There are so many things going on, twists, explosions, myterious persons, that I forgot about the vagueness of the characters and kept turning the pages just to see what happened next.

And I’ll read the third one too when it comes out.