It was totally not my intention to review a book immediately after Megan did.  But I’m going to go a much different direction than she did by telling you about the most recent Young Adult novel I just finished.

Aside from crafting, blogging, reading, and caring for small humans, I also have a paying gig.  I teach 8th Grade Language Arts.  My students are constantly asking for book recommendations.  Therefore I read a lot of Young Adult books.  You can only suggest “Are You There God?  It’s Me, Margaret” so many times before they catch on that your knowledge base of Young Adult novels is extremely limited.

I look for very specific things when I read a Young Adult novel.

  • I want strong characters.  Especially girl protagonists. Don’t give me girls that define their worth in relation to the males in the book.  I want characters who have weaknesses but learn and grow because of those weaknesses.
  • I want a combination plot.  Entirely character driven books can be slow going and completely action driven books oftentimes do not allow you to get truly invested in the characters because you never feel like you get to know them.  I want a happy medium.
  • Unexpected twists.  Just like an adult novel, it can’t be totally predictable.   I hate plots that are easy to figure out.   I want the same thing for the teens in my life.  They enjoy and can follow a serpentine story line.  They deserve the unexpected and appreciate the shock of discovering that things are not as they thought.

This brings me to my newest recommendation that I have book talked non-stop to my students:  Starters by Lissa Price.  The book focuses on Callie, a 16 year old girl, who is raising her younger brother after the deaths of their parents.  Because most people (except for the very young=Starters and very old=Enders who were vaccinated first) have perished from a genocide spore, Callie and other unclaimed minors are living as squatters and struggling daily to survive.   Enter Prime Destinations, a clandestine company that matches unclaimed Starters to wealthy Enders who will pay to rent their bodies (through the use of neurochips and computer interfaces) to relive their youth.   For the rentals, it’s as easy as falling asleep.  After three successful rentals, Callie will have enough money to care for herself and her brother, Tyler.

With two rentals done, Callie knows she’s in the home stretch until her neurochip malfunctions.  All of a sudden, she wakes up while being inhabited.  And the Ender inhabiting her has a dangerous plan in mind.  Is Callie strong enough to stop the deadly sequence of events?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  The end was completely unexpected and in the world of three book series, this one stands out in only two parts (Enders will be out later this year or early next).  I truly look forward to reading the conclusion and finding out what will happen to Callie and who The Old Man really is.