Our Soaring Eagle display is looking a bit slim this week -- which is, of course, a good thing. It means that our patrons are reading, and hopefully enjoying, this year's list of nominees.
The three titles I reviewed last week featured mostly female main characters; let's look at three that are more boy-centered:
Eighth Grade Bites, by Heather Brewer. Life for a junior high student isn't easy: homework, friends, girlfriends . . . it's all so much to manage. But for Vladimir Tod, life is even more complicated. Because he is an orphan, Vlad has nobody to teach him how to keep his fangs from extending when he's angry, or how to disguise the blood he brings for his lunch every day. See, Vlad is a vampire, but he's the only one he knows. He thinks he is the last of his kind . . .until something sinister begins preying on people Vlad knows. Vlad has to figure it out -- because whatever it is seems to be coming for him. (This is the first in the Chronicles of Vladimir Tod series, which is five books long; Brewer is releasing a new series, Chronicles of the Slayer, this fall.)
The Maze Runner, by James Dashner. Thomas wakes up in a cylindrical elevator, moving upwards. He has no idea where is he, who put him there, or where he came from. When he emerges, he is in a lush, green area surrounded by only boys his age: no children, no adults, no girls. He finds out that he is in the Glade; all of the boys there have no idea who created the Glade or who put them there, and no memory of their lives before arriving. The boys have set up a rudimentary society, dividing themselves into groups responsible for the farming, the building, the cleaning, the cooking. Some of the boys are called Maze Runners. The glade is surrounded by tall stone walls, with four gates; outside the wall is a labyrinth of tall hedges and trees. Again, the boys have no idea who created the Maze -- but they believe that if they could only solve it, they could return to their past lives. The Maze Runners -- including Thomas -- leave each morning to run and run through the Maze, returning before the gates close in the evening to map the part of the Maze they ran through. They must return before the gates close: inside the Maze are monstrous creatures called Grievers -- huge, slug-like beings with sharp appendages and appetites for boys. If any of the Gladers are out in the Maze at night, they will not return in the morning. (This is the first book in a trilogy, followed by The Scorch Trials and The Death Cure.)
Halt's Peril by John Flanagan. I've reviewed Flanagan's Ranger's Apprentice series before (see my November 2010 post), so I won't spend a lot of time setting up this novel. By this stage in the series, Halt and Will have evolved from teacher/student to friends and partners. They are on a mission to track down a religious cult that has been terrorizing the countryside, stealing food, burning buildings, and tricking people out of their money. They plan to bring down the leader of the cult, knowing that the entire organization will collapse if there is no leader. Unfortunately, the cult leader knows they are following him, and sends two hired assassins to do away with Will and Halt. One of the assassins' arrows meets its mark; can Will save his friend and mentor before it is too late?
Enjoy these high-action titles! Next time, more realistic fiction.