Monday, May 10, 2010

The Teen Menu

Don't you love a book that keeps you reading, reading, reading until you can't keep your eyes open anymore or you look at the clock and realize it's 3 a.m.? I had another of those experiences recently when I read Life As We Knew It by Susan Beth Pfeffer. This is the first in The Last Survivors series, a trilogy that is based around the premise that a giant asteroid hits the moon and moves it closer to Earth, setting off a series of catastrophic climate changes such as tsunamis that wipe out coastal cities, volcanoes erupting all over the planet (the ash of which blots out the sun), a severe dip in temperature, etc. Everything fades away except the basic need to survive -- to get food, water and warmth.

In the first book, we follow teenager Miranda Evans, her mother and two brothers as they deal with the aftermath in rural Pennsylvania. They struggle with hunger, lack of sunlight, fear of things getting worse, cold, too close quarters, lack of communication with the outside world, uncertainty about whether family and friends in other locales survived, and, at times, a lack of hope. These things are all too easy to imagine if suddenly the fragile balance of our world was overturned and we realized just how good we had it before and that things will likely never go back to the way they were.

In the second book, The Dead and the Gone, we cover roughly the same time period but get to see how people react in New York City through the eyes of teen Alex Morales. Alex is thrust into the role of parent and provider when the asteroid hits and neither of his parents are home. Unaware of whether they survived, he takes charge of his two younger sisters.

In the final installment, This World We Live In, their paths cross since the Morales family has had to flee a dying city.

I've always been fascinated with survival stories, everything from The Swiss Family Robinson to The Hunger Games to The Day After Tomorrow to Defiance. So this series was right up my alley and provided an interesting look at how easily man goes back to his basic nature of pure survival when the security and niceties of life as we know it are suddenly ripped away.

The first book was my favorite of the three, but I gobbled up all three up in very short order. They are one part triumph of the human spirit to survive, one part haunting.

Author website:

I was fortunate enough to get to read a book this month that isn't out yet. Debut author Inara Scott sent me an ARC of her August release, Delcroix Academy: The Candidates, the first in a new series from Disney/Hyperion. This story is a nice mixture of boarding school life, mystery and paranormal. Plus, I just love the heroine, Dancia Lewis, because she is the everygirl. She's not popular, but she's not one of the picked on either. She's the girl who fades into her surroundings, the invisible girl, and that's exactly how she wants it. If she doesn't get close to people, she won't have to worry about causing things to happen. You see, whenever Dancia sees someone in trouble, things...happen. We're talking "cars skid out of control" or "something bonks them on the head" happen.

So the last thing she needs is representatives of the elite Delcroix Academy (one of whom happens to be a very hot boy around her age) showing up on her doorstep telling her that she's talented and they very much want her to enter Delcroix. She's at a loss for why this is happening -- she's not talented. Unless...could these two possibly know about her, uh, ability? But her grandmother, with whom she lives, urges her to take the opportunity many kids would die for, and she ends up ditching her normal, safe haven school for Delcroix. And when she gets there, things start pointing toward the fact that she might not be the only one hiding something and that Delcroix isn't what it appears to those outside its gates. Plus, for the first time in her life, Dancia is drawing attention from boys -- and is faced with that age-old dilemma of good boy versus bad boy. I know I already have my favorite and I can't wait to see how the series, and Dancia's love life, turn out.

Author website:


  1. Hey Trish! Books that keep me reading until 3 a.m.? Love them and when they end I'm usually at a bit of a loss as to what to read next. The characters stay with me and I usually re-read favorite passages. It usually takes me a book or two to get my stride back.

    Thanks for the recommendations - I count on you for my young adult book recs.

  2. Another great Teen Menu, Trish! Wow, The Last Survivors series sounds very interesting. And the Delcroix Academy really intrigues me. I love that Dancia is a normal girl. I get tired of reading about the popular girl or the one nobody likes.

    Each of these books sound like something I would enjoy. Thanks again!

  3. Great post, Trish! I can't wait for Inara's book. It's on my list for two of my nieces.

  4. Terrific reviews, Trish! I definitely want to read the Inara Scott book.

    And hasn't Susan Beth Pfeffer been writing for a l-o-n-g time? I'm sure I remember my students reading her books when I was still teaching high school English back in the 70s and early 80s. (Of course, I was a mere infant myself then.) :)

    My word veri is "bonal." For a minute I read it as "banal" and an evaluation of my comment. :(

  5. Thanks for more great recommendations, Trish! I'm really excited about the upcoming book from Inara Scott. Love that cover and the story sounds terrific.

  6. Hey, Trish! Thanks for another great column! Pfeffer's Last Survivors series sounds really good. I always enjoyed Swiss Family Robinson.

    And I looooove the cover for Inara Scott's Delcroix! Beautiful!

  7. Hi Trish -

    You definitely got my attention with these reviews.

    I do find it interesting that teen books today go beyond the 'who am I' type issues of 10 years ago. Now they're reading about characters who are trying to stay alive and survive. Obviously times have changed.

  8. As always, Trish, your recommendations are great. I'm so looking forward to Inara's book. That cover is gorgeous!

  9. Great reviews, Trish! I cannot WAIT for Inara Scott's debut. This has been a long time coming and I'm so excited to see reviews popping up because it means its release is just around the corner!

  10. Hey, everyone! Been away from home all day and just now able to pop by to respond to comments.

    Marisa, I know what you mean. You want to get to the end, but then you don't.

  11. Buffie, I'm with you on the normal girl thing. I think there are way more normal girls out there than either popular or picked-on ones, and I think Dancia will appeal to them.

  12. Christie, I think your nieces will like Inara's book. I'm getting it for my niece too.

    Janga, Pfeffer has been writing for a long time and has a long list of published works to her credit. That said, these were the first books I'd read by her. They are getting good placement in the stores.

  13. PJ, isn't Inara's cover pretty? The ARC I read didn't have that cover yet. She just got it recently.

    Inara, hope you have a great time and turnout at BEA. I want to go to that one of these years.

  14. Andrea, yay, another Swiss Family Robinson fan. I always visit their treehouse when I visit Disney World. :)

    Maria, that's why I love YA so much right now -- there is such variety in the field.

  15. Gannon, thanks. Hope you enjoy the picks if you get a chance to read them.

    Christine, I think you'll really like Inara's book. Yep, just around the corner.

  16. The YA book world is one of the most exciting around. There have been some outstanding YA books and series that have come out the past few years. The LIFE AS WE KNEW IT series is one I seriously looked at when Book 1 came out. Now that book three is available I'll have to get them all and read it.
    The DELOCROIX ACADEMY seems to be following a popular path taken by several other authors. That doesn't mean it won't be a good series. It is joining some good company.
    Thanks for the heads up.

  17. Lovely review, Trish. I can't wait to read Inara's first book! It sounds wonderful!

  18. Wonderful reviews, as always Trish. As Marisa said, I count on you for my YA recommendations!

    I've read some of Pfeffer's books a number of years ago. Looks like I'll have to pick her up again. Grins.

    And WOOOHOOOO!!! and finally, we get Inara's book! Yippeee! I have been just champing at the bit to read Dealcroix. As several others said, I'm thrilled that Dancia is normal, not exceptional. It's actually far less common to read about and far more relatable to readers, I think.

    I don't know about teens, but I would relate to Dancia far more than the picked on or the popular. Then to find out there's a secret? And a secret academy? And hunky guys?

    Oooh. Can't wait!