by Margaret Peterson Haddix
reviewed by Karina, Teen Advisory Board
From the moment this book starts it firmly attaches to your heart. It pulls at your heart strings every step of the way, through every wittingly titled chapter, through every dramatic sentence, through every span of drama. Full ride is truly a novel worth throwing away two or so hours of your life on. This story starts out in Virginia with our main character Becca. She and her mother have been in hiding for years and they want to escape the pain. The pain of what? Of her father’s many crimes putting them all in danger of Excellerand, a highly powerful corporation like Google. Becca never gets to see or hear from her father unless their malicious, power hungry lawyer gets involved. Becca and her mother flee to Deskins, Ohio where they can start anew, but even by moving Becca can’t achieve the one goal she has. All she wants is to go to college, but with her predicament she can’t…until she finds a scholarship.It’s a full ride scholarship and all of Becca’s friends want it too. It’s called the Whitney Court scholarship…
By Rich Wallace
Published by Alfred A. Knopf
Copyright © 2009
“Two brothers. One championship.” One really annoying dad.
Zeke and Randy are brothers. Zeke is a senior and Randy is a freshman. Both play chess and are playing in a regional tournament in Scranton, Pennsylvania with the hopes of winning a $1,000 scholarship and an invite to the state tournament. Randy is easy going and friendly and Zeke is a bit of a jerk. Although these boys are very different from one another and don’t generally get along, It is at this tournament that they both reach their breaking point with their meddling father.
Not too long ago I read “One Good Punch” which was set in Scranton, PA as well, and featured a teen track star with a problem. Now reading “Perpetual Check”, I’m beginning to see that Rich Wallace really has a knack for writing quick reading sports dramas.
I really appreciated how in just 112 pages he takes us into the youth chess world, introduces us to a dysfunctional family, and presents us with signs of a resolution to sibling rivalry and parental interference. It isn’t burdened down with chess match details he just provides enough so that the novice and the experienced player get the picture. In addition, the resolution does not feel forced or contrived. While he occasionally gives us a glimpse into the past of these characters, Wallace mainly just gives us a day in the life of these two characters, and it just happens to be the day that they both come together and have had enough. Teens 13 and up will really be able to relate to this characters, and it may just spark their interest in the game of chess.
By Rae Mariz
Published by Balzer + Bray
Copyright © 2010
What if Coke, Revlon, Taco Bell, and Apple ran the school systems? Wait don’t they already? Okay, what if they had complete control because they provide all the funding? It’s an extremely interesting question and “Unidentified” gives us a picture of it that eerily isn’t too far from what the reality would be.
15 year old “Kid” goes to school in the Game. The Game is an old mall that was converted into a high school which is run and funded by corporate sponsors. It is called “The Game” because instead of boring lecture like classes, students learn by playing games, completing searches, or watching movies. There is a price for having this much fun though, the corporate sponsors monitor the students by way of video cameras and keep track of their social networking pages in order to conduct market research. Students who prove that they are “trend spotters” can end up being “branded” or personally sponsored by companies and receive serious loot.
Kid is low-profile, she doesn’t much care if she was branded or not. She just likes hanging out and making music with her friends, Ari and Mikey. When Kid witnesses a slightly scary and realistic looking anti-corporate prank perpetrated by the “Unidentified”, her curiosity is stirred and she needs to know who they are and what the prank was supposed to mean. Her quasi-detective work leads her into a game of deception and backstabbing and she isn’t quite sure who to trust. Should she trust her friends, the corporations, or the Unidentified? The answer will definitely surprise you.
“The Unidentified” is a riveting story of teenage angst coupled, corporate greed, social networking, and suspense. I love this book because it is a pretty accurate look at the youth of today where social networking and having the right brands are all important. To me it is uncanny how close Mariz has gotten to what could happen. I mean, even though it is a work of fiction, it would not surprise me to see this happen to our educational system in the near future. Children and teens are already exploited by greedy corporations and media companies; a complete take over are the obvious next step. In addition, the Mariz describes the inevitable backlash and the fight for a personal identity and private life.
There is some mild language and some rather close euphemisms to beware of in this book so I would probably recommend it for youth ages 13 and up.
By Ron Koertge
Published by Candlewick Press
Copyright © 2002
The physically disabled and the mentally disabled meet and the fireworks fly in a book which is aiming a little too low for a suitable audience.
16 year-old Benjamin, the Spaz, has CP (Cerebral Palsy). He lives in the cocoon of his grandmother’s house studying old movies and feeling sorry for himself. One night at the Rialto Theater he runs into a classmate, colleen, a tough as nails Stoner, who bums a couple of bucks off of him. Ben knows he is being used, and he knows Colleen is bad news, but it has been so long since anyway has talked to him the way she does that he can’t help but feel drawn to her. Each of them end up giving the other friendship and the listening ear that they desperately need. It is Ben who, trying to harness his passion for film, will learn how tough he really is.
“Stoner & Spaz” is a modern romantic tragedy for the teen set. What a preppy teen with a disability could have in common with the drug addicted girlfriend of a high school thug is hard to imagine, but breaking down stereotypes is very much part of what Koertge is trying to do in this book. He puts his storytelling ability and his knack for smart and realistic dialogue on display.
That being said, it is his realism that keeps me from recommending this book highly. This book is supposed to be aimed at teens 14-17, but the profanity and sexual overtones make this a book more suited for adults or at the very least teens 17 and up. I thoroughly believe that good fiction can help youths cope with life, so there are many teens that may be able to connect with the characters and situations in this book, but I don’t know that I would recommend this book for all teens.