Review: My Soul to Take by Rachel Vincent

6315602Kaylee is a bean sidhe (read “banshee”), a herald of death, though she learns this on the edge of a mental breakdown over her mysterious panic attacks that come when she is close to someone who is about to die. If it wasn’t for class hottie Nash, she would still think she’s crazy, since even though they know her secret her guardians, her aunt and uncle, refuse to tell her anything, and in fact, once locked her up in a mental hospital to try to “help” her.

But something is happening around Kaylee. The people around her seem to be dying, before their time and with no cause at all. When whatever is poaching souls begins to target Kaylee’s friends she and Nash must act to save the people who death is coming for, long before their time.

The two most stand out elements of this book from other YA novels is 1) no vampires and 2) while the adults and teens have issues, none are abusive or negative at their core. In fact, for a refreshing change, Kaylee’s family is (for the most part, there is teen rivalry, but it’s not past “mean”) loving, supportive and caring, it’s the plot that forces her to step up and act instead of letting the adults handle things.

My Soul to Take is simultaneously morbid and beautiful, balancing the dark subject matter without being crushing or nihilistic. In fact, family is a strong theme of this story, making it an excellent book for teen readers’ collections.

While the book does seem slow at times, it builds a textured web of character and world support for the story, setting this series up for a rich future life. For curious readers Vincent has a free prequel story available, My Soul to Lose, on her webpage.

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Review: Zombie Youth: Book 2: Borrowed Time by H.E.Goodhue

zombieyouth2Zombie Youth: Borrowed Time is a masterful example of the way a work can defy target audience and genre: a true crossover for fans of horror, armageddon, and coming of age (with zombies). By intertwining several survival factions, each with a predictable agenda and hierarchy, Goodhue realistically emphasizes the strengths and shortcomings of several generations. Thus, he captures sympathy and animosity from any reader’s perspective.  These various groups use natural, reasonable, age appropriate ways as they create their own comfort and safety zones, but eventually it is apparent to all that the only way to survive will be to construct a new paradigm and work together. 

          Dealing with more than just survival and the horrors of zombie carnage, Goodhue proposes philosophical discussions about which learned social behaviors humans will reject in favor of survival instincts, and which we’re not willing to part with. Some characters hold tighter to cooperative strategies, others feel stronger alone when faced with danger, and still others take every opportunity to seize power. I found this analysis of human nature to be interesting and realistic, definitely adding credence to the apocalyptic plot, which is necessarily a stretch for the reader.

          Book one of the series, Zombie Youth, Playground Politics, led the reader along a complex zombie destruction path that ended with an introduction to a mysterious sect; a true “other” which both chilled and intrigued. This sect, headed by a uniquely obscure and deeply threatening leader becomes the focal point in book 2. The other survivors must unite, despite their desire to promote their individual agendas. Goodhue has created a unique enemy, and one that is deceptively simple, making her all the more frightening.

          The series is gripping. The years between books have definitely added polish to Goodhue’s style and handling of complex human interaction. The gore is unique and extremely graphic, and verbal tension is palpable. I prefer a bit more comic relief in my horror, but enough exists in his work to cast this series into a really good read for those who love of complexity in plot and character. Highly recommended for readers with a strong stomach, ages 14 and up.

Contains: Graphic zombie gore, profanity, mild sex.

Reviewed by Sheila Shedd

 

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Review: Any Witch Way by Annastaysia Savage

anywitchwaySadie has spent the last three years of her life in foster care due to her mother’s death in a car wreck.  However, Sadie doesn’t believe her mom is dead….and has suffered the ridicule of her classmates over it.  Now, on her thirteenth birthday, Sadie has a very strange dream and awakens to find magical creatures surrounding her and ultimately having to take her into hiding.

Sadie is a witchling, and an organization called The Syndicate is out to kill her.  The Syndicate is made up of humans whose mission is to destroy all magical creatures.  Recently The Syndicate has gotten more daring and ruthless, and time is running out for Sadie and the other magical creatures of the world.  Sadie will eventually learn her family legacy, what she is, and what really happened to her mother—all while facing down some very dangerous people.

Any Witch Way is a well-done book with very good character development.  It is a sweet yet scary story about what it means to grow up.  There are plenty of interesting characters and a solid fantasy world has been created by Ms. Savage.  There is definitely a message here for tween girls and it’s a good one, delivered in a very entertaining fashion.

Recommended

Contains: some violence

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

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Review: Mercy by Rebecca Lim

mercyMercy is the first book in a new paranormal romance series, and the name of the narrator of the story. At first, one is uncertain who or what Mercy is, however, it may well be that Mercy is either an angel or a fallen angel. Either way, she travels from person to person, occupying their bodies and assisting them with accomplishing otherwise impossible tasks. 

Mercy is in love with Luc, another angel, who she is prevented from joining with by his 8 brothers, known as ‘The Others’. The mystery of who the others are and who Luc actually is, will only be lightly touched upon in this first book. Rather, Mercy is far more concerned with a missing girl, Lauren Daley, and assisting the highly talented teenaged singer Carmen Zappocosta – whose body she currently is in – to perform as well as she can in her high school choir. The primary plotline deals with the kidnapping or murder of Lauren  Daley, which has been unsettling the people of the small town of Paradise for the past two years. Everyone in town has given up finding her except her twin brother Ryan. It’s through his psychic connection to Lauren that Carmen/Mercy will succeed or fail. I found the book was a little slow to start, but once the story set itself into place, this was a great read. Highly recommended for fans of paranormal romance, angels, and ghost stories. 

Contains: profanity and violence, evidence of torture, brief gruesome image.  

 

Reviewed by: Benjamin Franz

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Help us with our Zombie Book Database!

We are working on all our book lists and we need your help! You can view our zombie-themed YA book list here. I know we’ve missed a number of books, so you can comment here, email us at monsterlibrarian@monsterlibrarian.com tell us about it on Twitter (@monsterlibraria) or add it yourself!

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Review: Blood of My World by A.P. Fuchs

bloodworldI’m not the biggest fan of paranormal romance, especially with the release of books such as The Vampire Diaries and the Twilight series (which I do not consider horror).  However I was intrigued by a YA novella trilogy by A.P. Fuchs who is perhaps best known for writing about zombies.

Blood of My World consists of three novellas—Discovery of DeathMemories of Death, andLife of Death—that tell the story of high school sweethearts Zach and Rose.  Zach has unexpectedly disappeared, leaving Rose in a state of confusion and worry.  Zach has become a vampire, without any memories of his former life, including Rose.  One fateful night Zach is taken out to feed by his vampire mother, Mira, and kills Rose’s mother.  Experiencing his victim’s memories, Zach is confused by the people he sees and what his connection to them may be.  In the meantime, in the wake of her mother’s death, Rose discovers that she comes from a long line of vampire slayers.

While dealing with the funeral and her training, Rose sees Zach and knows what he has become.  Rose’s father Marcus also knows what Zach has become, and instructs his daughter to stay away from the cemetery.  Marcus explains that vampires have no feelings or emotions for anyone in their former lives, which is what makes them such effective killers.  Zach tries to understand what is happening to him, and what Rose meant to him.  Zach’s vampire family seems ready to accept Rose, even though she’s a human.  Ultimately, Zach will be forced to choose between his vampire family and Rose, and truths will come out that help Zach determine where his loyalties lie.

Fuchs has written a very good story in Blood of My World.  The characters are well-developed and his vampires’ characteristics are quite interesting.  I enjoyed the Shakespearean story of the young lovers from different and clashing worlds—vampire and slayer.  What I also liked about this trilogy is that it doesn’t have the creepiness that most other vampire romances targeting young girls have.  Zach is only a vampire for a few weeks when he and Rose meet again. He’s not a hundred-plus year old vampire “in love” with a teen girl.  In other words, Zach isn’t a dirty old man, he’s still just a kid.  The horror elements are really good, too.  The vampires have ulterior motives that ultimately drive the story—they aren’t an afterthought.  The romance aspect is a bit intense at times, so if paranormal romance isn’t your thing, then this is not the trilogy for you, but overall, Blood of My World is a really good read for its target audience. Recommended.

Contains: nothing objectionable for YA readers

Reviewed by: Colleen Wanglund

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Review: Vamplayers by Rusty Fischer

11161444Lily is a vampire sister, a special kind of vampire who ferrets out Vamplayers–that is the egomaniac monsters who turn whole high schools and leave towns with piles of corpses. And she hates it, because why would she stay a lowly sidekick wen she could be a super savior/hero instead? She’s sure she’s better than playing the tramp on their latest mission too, but there’s something ore to Nightshade Academy than a would-be teen Dracula building his harem of brides.

Vamplayers is a rip on every high school vampire/vampire finishing school book out there. The mythology of vampire is downright wishy-washy, but hey, teen angst plus vampires plus hot boys and popularity battles. And bullying! Fischer’s tone is great, equal parts action and wry, tired-of-this-bs humor. Fang-in-cheek without too much goofiness, it’s a fun read, especially if you can’t help loving vampire books despite certain long winded teen vampire series that make your eyes roll.

Contains: language, gore, sexual language & situations

 

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Blast From the Past Review: Someone At the Door by Richie Tankersley Cusick

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Trapped in an epic snowstorm in their home in rural somewhere while their parents are out of town, Meg and Hannah are set up for a rough few nights.  But then comes a knock at the door and two strange men fall in, both injured and half frozen.

To add to the tension Hannah just broke up with her abusive boyfriend (although this being an early 90s book they don’t say “abusive” that blatantly. But oh boy is he ever!) Jonathon and Lane promise to stick around to keep the girls safe, but then their dog disappears and Hannah begins to wonder if her ex, or one of her guests (who might just be the maniac killer who escaped from a local institution) could be to blame.

A classic locked-in murder mystery with lots of front loading of “what-ifs” Someone at the Door is a decent read, when you can set aside the neurotic paranoia of the lead character. Sure she has reason to be worried, but she spins out so fast that readers might get a little restless for something other than her theories before they get to the dead bodies.

Contains: Mild gore, violence against animals

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Review: Vampire Knight volume 1 by Matsuri Hino, and illustrated by Matsuri Hino

Vampire KnightISBN: 1421508222

Available: New

    This manga is set in an elite boarding school that is home to the “dayclass” (humans) and the “nightclass” (vampires). Yuki and Zero, both survivors of vampire attacks, now protect the Dayclass from the Nightclass and vice versa. The first book was quite good, revealing Zero’s tragic secret and setting up an interesting love triangle between Yuki, Zero, and Kaname, the head of the vampires. I’ll definitely buy more in the series. According to the manga, this is rated T for Older Teens and they’re not kidding there, as the parallels between vampires and sex are pretty clearly drawn. That said, I just talked to an 8th grader today who LOVES this book.

Highly recommended for purchase by public libraries. Contains: implied Sexual situation   Entry by Havoc.

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Happy (?) Banned Books Week!

 

BBW14_300x250_2 Do you know which books are the most frequently challenged in this century and why?

How about a timeline of banned books?

This year the ALA and Banned Books Week movement celebrates banned comics! What’s your favorite?

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