Wednesday, December 14, 2011

New Dystopian Series

Although there is an abundance of dystopian series available now, authors are still coming up with unique twists on the genre.  Marie Lu's Legend series, Gabrielle's Zevin's Birthright series, and Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles all have something new and wonderful to offer teen readers.

Legend takes place in the not too distant future in a plague ridden America.   June, a  privileged daughter of the Republic, receives perfect scores at the Trial, a test administered to all teens. Her scores insure her a great future in the military. Day, who was born in the slums and supposedly failed the Trial, is a hero to the street people, because he fights injustice wherever he sees it. When Day tries to get plague medicine for his sibling, he kills June’s brother, and she vows revenge. However, when she finally captures him, she finds out all is not as it seems.

All These Things I've Done, the first book in Gabrielle Zevin's new Birthright series, introduces Anya Balanchine, the daughter of a deceased mafia boss, whose mafia family deals in contraband chocolate and coffee in 2083. When Anya falls in love with the new D.A.’s son, their star-crossed relationship is fraught with problems; especially when her ex-boyfriend is poisoned by her family’s chocolate and she is the number one suspect.
 Cinder, the first of four books in the Lunar Chronicles, retells the Cinderella story in a futuristic dystopian world. Cinder, a cyborg, who is a gifted mechanic, is hated by her stepmother and blamed for exposing her stepsister to the plague that is ravaging their world. Cinder gets involved with Prince Kai when she works on one of his droids. Little does she know that she is the key to dealing with the intergalactic struggle that threatens them all. Cinder will be available January 3, 2012.

Thursday, December 1, 2011

Kids in Foster Care

Coincidentally, I recently read two books about kids in foster care which I really enjoyed.  In Geek Girl by Cindy C. Bennett the story is told from the female foster child's point of view, and Calli by Jessica Lee Anderson is told from the perspective of the teenage girl whose family takes in a foster daughter, who is a nightmare. The contrasting points of views illustrate how complicated fostering a teenager can be.  What is especially refreshing about these two books is that in both cases the foster families are supportive rather than abusive.

Geek Girl introduces Jen who has been in many foster homes, some more succesful than others. This time around she is with the Clarks, a loving couple who have a daughter in college and a married son.  Jen is planning to sabotage her placement with this family rather than be rejected as she has been in the past.  She bets her Goth friends that she can seduce Geek Guy Trevor and turn him bad.  If she wins, the girls will pay for piercings that are forbidden by the Clarks.  Trevor responds to Jen's advances; however, she is in for a big surprise.  For the first time in her life, she is with somebody who sees through her makeup and chains and loves her for herself.  As their relationship progresses, Jen finds herself changing to accomodate Trevor's goodness. But when Trevor finds out about the bet, Jen fears she will lose him forever.

Calli focuses on the 15-year-old  daughter of two lesbians, who is excited when they decide to foster a teenage girl. However, Cherish, her foster sister, is not everything Calli had hoped she would be. Cherish attempts to sabotage Calli’s relationship with her boyfriend, steals her possesions, and pits her moms against her. When Calli's ipod goes missing, she decides to take action. Her plans for revenge go awry and Cherish is sent back to juvenile detention. Calli’s guilt begins to overwhelm her and she wonders how she can make amends.

In both books the foster parents want what's best for the foster daughter and are patient and kind; not only with the foster child, but also with their own children, who have trouble adjusting. The change of pace from the stories about abusive foster parents, who only take kids in for the money, was a welcome development.