NILES TEEN TOURNAMENT OF BOOKS 2015
In celebration of Teen Literature Day, Niles teens picked their favorite 2014 teen fiction books and signed up to participate in a Teen Tournament of Books. During the late spring and early summer, each teen judge read and reviewed two books and then picked their choice to go on to the next round of reading and reviewing. All books judged by the teens are available in the YA Fiction area of the Teen Underground.
If any teens missed this Teen Tournament of Books, there will be an opportunity in Fall 2015 to serve as a judge in the 2016 Teen Tournament of Books. Books for the brackets will be chosen from the 2016 Nominees for the Abraham Lincoln Book Award and the Read for a Lifetime 2015-2016 list. All teens interested in participating can contact Mary Miller, Teen Librarian at 847-663-6618 or firstname.lastname@example.org
LET’S GET LOST BY ADI ALSAID VS. 100 SIDEWAYS MILES BY ANDREW SMITH
Let’s Get Lost amazingly portrayed love, loss, and hope through Leila. I found it interesting how Leila was not afraid to place herself in the lives of others and how she was determined to fix their problems all while looking for the Northern lights in hope of finding herself. The different people that she encountered on her trip all have different traits which make the book the wonder that it is. While the book deals with romance in some ways, it is more a book about general relationships because of the friendships formed between Leila and the people whom she met during her trip. My only wish would be that she would have seen some of the characters again after their first meeting.
100 Sideways Miles somewhat confused me. It explores the relationships between Finn and Cade, Finn and his family, and Finn and Julia. This part seemed to be a coming-of-age story which I found thoroughly enjoyable. Finn, an epileptic with a unique scar on his back and heterochromatic eyes, intrigued me. However, once Finn’s dad was introduced to the story, I became confused. This part of the story talks about Finn’s place in his father’s award-winning book and how the character with his name ever escapes the story. The description of the characters in the “book within a book” (The Lazarus Door) was weird and to me seemed an unnecessary part of the book. The only reason that I could stand with the Lazarus Door being in the story was that it helped develop Finn’s relationship with Julia. All in all, my vote is for Let’s Get Lost by Adi Alsaid.
The two books I read were Tease by Amanda Maciel and Noggin by Corey Whaley.
I decided to choose Tease, because Noggin was a book that kinda creeped me out at times. Even though it was interesting to chop off someone’s head and attach it to someone else’s body, it just wasn’t the type of story that worked for me. Imagine chopping your head off and then having it be reattached to someone you might not know five years later and have to adjust to the world. It was unique and an eyebrow-raising book.
Tease was the type of realistic genre I like. Something that seems like it could actually happen in real life. I understood the whole background story of Tease. The characters were portrayed so well and I couldn’t determine if I knew for sure what the ending was going to be. I also liked how Tease went back and forth between different periods of the year. It really was a great way to add details within the story line.
SCAR BOYS BY LEN VLAHOS VS. STORY OF OWEN BY E.K. JOHNSTON
SCAR BOYS WINNER
PANIC BY LAUREN OLIVER VS. PRISONER OF NIGHT AND FOG BY ANNE BLANKMAN
Prisoner of Night and Fog is a really good book. It’s a good historical/love story and if you’re into that kind of thing then it‘s a good fit. Panic is also a really good book. It’s a good book on friendships but also how high school can be if you take the wrong turns. Both books are great and keep you on the edge of your seat throughout most the book. You can pretty much guess the ending of Prisoner of Night and Fog but it really doesn’t let the reader know what will happen to the characters at the end of the book. In Panic you get a totally different feel at the end then you thought you would get. You think that she wouldn’t talk to him anymore but she does. That’s what I enjoy about reading, books can give you unexpected endings. I choose Panic for its suspense and the author’s viewpoint on how the characters handled their choices.
WE WERE LIARS BY E. LOCKHART VS. LET’S GET LOST BY ADI ALSAID
Let’s Get Lost was a beautifully written text filled with character development and interesting events. The main character, Leila, had so many different sides to her, which were cleverly portrayed through her experiences with multiple contrasting characters. There is an even balance between friendship and romantic relationships that kept the story interesting and easy to relate to. Overall, I loved this book because it was filled with more than one plot, which flowed together seamlessly while exposing the main character’s many sides.
We Were Liars had an intriguing plot, but was hard to stay interested in after a while. In general, the book was great, especially for young adults. At the same time, most of the characters were one-sided and predictable. The events that occurred did not change the characters as much as I had hoped. Considering that the characters were elite and mainly rich, it was interesting to see how the author planned to avoid stereotypes and create a way for the reader to relate to the characters. At times the author was able to do so, but sometimes fell short. All in all, the book was definitely a fun read, but was too typical of a story concerning the complicated lives of wealthier families. I choose Let’s Get Lost.
I read Gabi, a Girl in Pieces by Isabel Quintero and Tease by Amanda Maciel. Both related to society in different ways, yet some topics overlapped which made them closely related. Both came together in different ways to complete their stories in masterful ways.
In Gabi, a Girl in Pieces, a Mexican American girl is dealing with the pregnancy of her best friend, Cindy while her other friend, Sebastian is trying to find a place to live after being kicked out of his house. I found it interesting that the first few chapters revolved around her friends and not about Gabi and her imperfect life. Her dad is an addict and the family constantly criticizes Gabi for being fat. She stands up for herself and embraces the fact that she is fat. The book has elements of romance with Gabi and several boys. Although the book has it humorous moments, this book is strongly serious and relates to the society in which we live.
Tease gave me mixed feelings at first, but my outlook changed as the book progressed. Most people think this book was written in the eyes of Sara, the protagonist, yet it wasn’t. This doesn’t make you like Sara, but leads you to understand why she did the things she did, even though they weren’t justified. I didn’t like Sara even towards the end of the book. Jealousy and the desire to fit in makes one do things which they end up regretting. In no way did Emma deserve the treatment that she received but Sara did it to fit into the popular group at their school. To me, the book was exceptional. It didn’t provide the viewpoint of the bully which then would lead readers to sympathize with them. It had a twist in which most books don’t, which made my vote go towards Tease.
VANGO BY TIMOTHEE DE FOMBELLE VS. SCAR BOYS BY LEN VLAHOS
Vango by Timothee de Fombelle vs. Scar Boys by Len Vlahos
At first The Scar Boys seemed to hold a lot of promise because I thought it was going to be about the late-1980s noise rock/early indie/Our Band Could Be Your Life scene, seeing as it was about a punk band in the 1980s. It even has a quote from the redoubtable Peter Buck, who was the guitarist for the 80s alt-rock legends R.E.M., to reinforce its alternative bona fides. I was disappointed, then, when it seemed to be just another typical heartfelt teen coming of age story with some alt-rock trappings on top of it. I didn’t hate it, though. I enjoyed the character of Harry, and his struggle to accept his disfigured face, and I thought the use of rock songs as chapter titles was cute. It doesn’t really reinforce the book’s punk credibility, though, when one of its chapters is named after a Sammy Hagar song.
Timothee de Fombelle’s Vango received excellent press for its mix of adventure and historical fiction, and I usually enjoy those genres, so I just knew I had to check this out. It was highly entertaining. Vango as a character seemed similar to the classic clueless everyman of thriller novels and films from the early-20th century, e.g. Roger Thornhill’s North by Northwest, Richard Hannay from The Thirty-Nine Steps—his incomprehension of the vast situation he had been pulled into was one of the main things that really kept the plot going for me. It seemed to be a more madcap update of vintage suspense novels from the 20’s and 30’s, a bit like Alfred Hitchcock meets It’s a Mad Mad World, because of its rapidly expanding scope. It eventually encompassed the onset of World War II, spies, blimps and other ridiculous occurrences. Although I have some minor issues with the translation (some of the phrasing seems a bit odd at times), the localization team did a good job translating it for American audiences. Overall, a great throwback adventure novel for lovers of 30’s Europe, World War II history, or spy novels. Judge’s Pick: Vango by Timothee de Fombelle
YOUNG ELITES BY MARIE LU VS. PANIC BY LAUREN OLIVER
Young Elites is an amazing story that sucks you in right away! It’s dark without overemphasis on that aspect and has a very compelling plot! After finishing it, like Thor ( in the movie Thor) I threw it down and yelled “another!” Though, I still must say that Panic is better! It brings you so close to the story that you feel that you are right there experiencing it. With a brilliant concept and an ending that brought it to an amazing close, this story had me reading as quickly as I could, up until the very last page! It was romance without the clichés and seemed to have some aspects of Divergent and the Testing in it. Though it was a hard choice, Panic takes the cake!
I read the books Tease and Let’s Get Lost Let’s Fet Lost might be a good book for someone else but it could not grab my attention. . I thought that Tease was the better book because it starts off by telling you Emma had killed herself and then continues on saying that Sara was the cause of it or at least that’s what everyone thought. It gets you hooked right away. The book starts in the present and has not really explained much of what is going on except that you know a girl killed therself and it may be Sara’s fault but the book would go back in time and show you what happened months before the death of Emma. I liked that about the story. As you get further in the book and it gets closer to the date of the death of Emma you start to see what provoked the character to hate her. I thought that Sara was just being mean and might have taken a joke too far but then I began to realize that the character had a right to be mad because she had made her look bad and stole her boyfriend. Even though Emma had killed herself because of what was going on it also could have been a way to hurt the character’s life. It shows the perspective of the bully and what happens after a person dies. Tease is my choice.
PANIC BY LAUREN OLIVER VS. VANGO BY TIMOTHEE DE FOMBELLE
I honestly really enjoyed Panic because it had characters that high school students could relate to. The growing relationship between Heather and Bishop really sparks curiosity and excitement for readers. Panic reminds me of the Hunger Games. I enjoyed all the action and adventure. I also enjoyed the mysterious feel about figuring out how Bill Kelly’s son died. Vango was actually also fascinating. Trying to figure out the mysterious protagonist, Vango, really hooked my interest. Once he is accused of murder on the same day as his ordination, the suspense began to rapidly increase. I enjoyed experiencing his plight to try to escape and figuring out who Vango really was. I thought that the history aspect of Vango might throw people off. Vango did not relate to me as much as Panic. I choose Panic.
ROUND FOUR – FINAL ROUND
TEASE BY AMANDA MACIEL VS. PANIC BY LAUREN OLIVER
During the past few days I have read Tease by Amanda Maciel and Panic by Lauren Oliver. When I read Tease it was really interesting to see the book from a bully’s point of view. Reading Sara’s point of view and how she felt about other characters was how wer got to know the character. In the beginning Sara is a very immature girl who seizes the opportunity during junior year to bully a new student at school named Emma. She didn’t do this alone and she had many “friends” who joined in. Throughout the book little by little Sara realizes that she did something wrong. It is amazing seeing her go through these adult changes and realize that she could have gone back she would have done everything differently. When I read Panic I found it had a very interesting plot. I really liked the reality of Heather going through so much and having her grow as a child into a young woman. Throughout this book she is playing panic to show off to her ex-boyfriend. Then she realizes that she is playing for her sister, her friends, and for a better future. The book that I choose to win is Panic.