The Grimm Legacy by Polly Shulman

January is Otherworldly
With a new year, why not start out with some new worlds? Some of these worlds are truly unique, unlike our own, others are similar but hold secrets, yet others hold possible futures for us. Dystopia has been a big teen lit craze lately. Get ready for whimsy, heartbreak, action, adventure, and exploration.

Update: The companion piece to this book The Wells Bequest is scheduled to be released on June 13, 2013. It is not a traditional sequel, but rather a book that lives in the same world created in The Grimm Legacy.

Elizabeth is pleased when her favorite professor recommends her for a job at the New York Circulating Material Repository. When she arrives, however, her uneasiness grows. Dr. Rust asks her a bunch of crazy questions like how many dishes she's broken in the last year, and to sort some buttons however she wants...and she's not sure but it looks like his mole just moved. The good news is she gets the job, and is soon the newest page at what may just be the strangest library she's ever seen!

The "stacks" are full of strange and curious objects, alongside boring normal ones, and all are shelved by call numbers. When the number comes down, she pulls the object, and sends it up in a dumbwaiter to the waiting customer. Elizabeth learns that some of the most valuable historical objects are being held there: like Marie Antoinette's wig and Abraham Lincoln's hat!

She learns something else too: there are areas of the Repository that are off-limits for even more bizarre reasons. The Wells Bequest, the Lovecraft Corpus, and the Gibson Chrestomathy...and the Grimm Collection. The Grimm Collection holds items that the Brothers Grimm collected along their travels. Each holds a mysterious power; most artifacts are tricky and there is almost always a cost for using them. As she gains more trust from her employer, she is allowed more privileges. She can even check out artifacts!

There is something strange going on though, certain objects seem to be disappearing or losing their potency. Several people have reported seeing a massive bird, and there is some speculation that the bird is after the pages! After some of the pages start to behave strangely, Elizabeth tries to get to the root of it. Her fellow pages seem to be involved in something dangerous. Can they get to the bottom of who is damaging Grimm artifacts before they become casualties themselves?

Great mystery story with elements of magic and whimsy. There is some romantic tension without being too sappy, and I thoroughly enjoyed the Grimm references. This appeals to the realistic fantasy fiend in me. Highly recommended.
"'I never lose my keys.'
'Excellent. All right, sort these, please." Dr. Rust handed me a box of buttons.
'Sort them? Sort them how?'
'Well, that's up to you. isn't it?'
This had to be the strangest interview I'd ever heard of. Was I going to lose the job because Dr. Rust didn't like the way I sorted buttons?
I poured them out on the desk and turned them all face up. There were large wooden disks and tiny pearls, shiny sqare buttons made of red or blue or yellow plastic, sparkly star-shaped ones with rhinestones that looked as if they would shred their buttonholes, little knots of rope, a set of silver buttons each engraved with a different flower, tiny rabbits carved from coral, plain transparent plastic buttons for inside waistbands, big glass things like mini doorknobs, a heavy gold button studded with what looked like real diamonds," (Shulman pg 12-13, 2011).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Wells Bequest by Polly Shulman (Grimm Legacy, Book 2) June 13, 2013
Enthusiasm by Polly Shulman
The Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley (Sisters Grimm, Book 1)
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Shulman, Polly. (2010). The Grimm Legacy. New York: G.P. Putnam's Sons.

Peeps by Scott Westerfeld

When Cal meets Morgan, a hottie who wants to take him home, he hardly imagines that he is losing his virginity to a monster. The more correct term is "peep" short for parasite-positive (sounds nicer than vampire, doesn't it?). He's been infected with a parasite that is all consuming. It increases his appetite for meat to the point that he consumes steaks like they are going off the market. He can suddenly see is complete darkness, and has a super active sense of smell. Without working out, his strength seems superhuman...what is going on? Oh, and one more major side effect? He is seriously horny - all the time.

That's the parasite's objective: reproduction. It wants Cal to pass it on. After his encounter with Morgan, and a few other poor unsuspecting girls, Cal meets the Night Watch. Their job is to educate new carriers of the disease about their new contagion status, and their responsibility out in the world. It turns out that most peeps go totally wacko bonkers. They become the monster; the parasite is in control. Cal is one of the lucky ones: he has the benefits without the drawbacks AKA he's a "carrier." Think Typhoid Mary, he's walking around capable of passing the disease to others, but he himself has none of the bad side effects. His new job as a hunter is to find the ones who go wrong.

Like his ex Sarah, for instance. She suffers from the anathema: hating everything she once loved. This is where some of the vampire legends come in, namely everyone used to love the symbol of the cross. When they were turned, that became a nearly universal anathema for those infected. Sunlight is another one of those, but peep eyes are also more sensitive to sunlight in general. Sarah's big one is Elvis.

After finding all his other partners, he's back to Morgan, the one who turned him. Getting a clue, he checks out the bar he met her in, and her apartment building. With a little creativity, he manages to get one of the tenants to let him into her flat. That's when he learns that Morgan's entire floor was vacated, and rented out at a considerably cheaper rate, right around the time he was infected. Checking out the basement, he finds a massive brood of carrier rats...and a peep cat?! There's no such thing as peep cats!

There is something funny going on, no doubt about it. Records doesn't tell him that they found Morgan's house. Lace, the girl he befriends after investigating her apartment, is a journalism student. She's the one who tells him where Morgan is, and he is beyond surprised to find that she must be a carrier too. Morgan is having a dinner party when he spies on her from above. Something seriously weird is going on! Can Cal and Lace get to the bottom of this conspiracy before our world is turned upside down?

Told masterfully with alternating chapters on real parasites, Westerfeld orchestrates a truly original kind of vampire story, if such a thing is possible. It will keep you interested, and push you into reading the sequel. Recommended for fans of horror, but not for the easily squeamish.
“Haven't you ever known someone rejected by a lover, who, consumed by rage and jealousy, never lets go? They look on from a distance, unseen but boiling inside. The emotion never seems to tire, this hatred mixed with intense obsession, even with a kind of twisted love,” (Westerfeld pg. 33, 2005).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
The Last Days by Scott Westerfeld (Peeps, Book 2)
Wither by  Lauren DeStephano (Chemical Garden, Book 1)
The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey (Monstrumologist, Book 1)

Westerfeld, Scott. (2005). Peeps: A novel. New York: Razorbill.

Wither by Lauren DeStephano

Genetic engineering was mastered. We perfected an entire generation of people! Their children, however, suffered the consequences. Females only live until they are 20 years old, males to 25. For the sheer survival of the human race, polygamy has become common, along with human trafficking. The perfect generation ages normally, while their children and grandchildren perish in their prime.

Until now, Rhine has managed to survive with her twin brother in a fortified bunker. After their parents died, they've had to fend for themselves. It wasn't until today that the Gatherers got her, packed her into a trunk with other poor girls like herself. Those that aren't chosen are shot. She is chosen, along with two others (Cecily and Jenna), to join a rich household. Her betrothed is handsome and kind, and laments the imminent loss of his current wife who has recently begun to succumb to the disease.

His father, Housemaster Vaughn, is not kind. He locks them in their rooms, threatens to restrain them, restricts their movements even around the house, locks them out of the elevator...and, she suspects, worse behind the scenes. Her only thought is of escape. She decides to play along to protect herself, and befriends Rose, the first wife, only to have her die. She goes through the motions of being a dutiful wife. All the while, she plots her escape. Her one comfort is Gabriel, he is one of the house staff. She finds some comfort in her sister wives over time, but freedom is her still her goal.

On one of her excursions to learn more about the house, she discovers the deadly secret of the basement. Vaughn carries out his experiments to try and find a cure for the mistakes his generation made. When she sees Rose's body, she can't take anymore...what else has he been doing?

Rhine learns that Linden thinks she and her sisters chose to be his wives. The idea of him as evil is more difficult when she learns of his ignorance of many of the measures that his father has taken. Still, she will never love him. She will never give up trying to get back to her brother.

When a hurricane hits, Rhine knows this could be her chance. Throwing herself into the mercy of the storm, she doesn't even make it to the gate before she is injured and brought back. Feigning innocence, she receives a very real threat from Vaughn, one she knows he will keep, if she tries to run again.
Her connection to Gabriel intensifies, as does her bond with Linden in spite of herself. Will she stay in the plush lap of luxury, or risk it all trying to escape back into the dangerous wilderness of outside?

Interesting twist on dystopia, with a thoughtful look at "good vs. evil" and how it's not always as black and white as we wish it were. This book tackles a lot of touchy subjects under the guise of fiction: polygamy, human trafficking, love, freedom, health, genetics. Recommended for high school.
“He weaves his fingers through mine, and I allow it, feel the clammy warmth of his palm against mine. Flush. Alive. Eventually I realize that I am holding on to him just as tightly as he holds on to me. And here we are: two small dying things, as the world ends around us like falling autumn leaves,” (DeStefano pg. 147, 2011).
*Library Link*

If you like this, check out:
Fever by Lauren DeStefano (Chemical Garden Trilogy, Book 2) February 2012
Delirium by Lauren Oliver
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carry Ryan

DeStefano, Lauren. (2011). Wither. New York: Simon & Schuster BFYR.

Matched by Allyson Condie

Imagine a world of prosperity and peace. There is virtually no crime, no strife, no true disorder because the Society has their best interests at heart. The day that Cassia (KAHY-sha) has dreamed of for so long, Matching Day, is here. Your Match is the best chance to create a new member of the Society: one that will be healthy and whole, and without defect. To her surprise and delight, her best friend Xander stands as her Match. Cassia can hardly believe her good fortune! This is not a stranger in a foreign land, but a neighbor and constant companion.

At the Matching Ceremony, all are given a silver box with a microcard containing their Match's information: likes, dislikes, pictures. When she plugs her microcard into the port, something very unsettling happens. Instead of Xander, she sees the face of Ky Markham: another boy on her street, someone she has known for years, and considers part of her group of friends. The idea is planted in her mind...and she struggles with the information she has been given. Should she report it to an Official? Should she talk to someone about it? This is obviously a mistake, plugging in the card again brings up Xander's smiling face.

Despite herself, Cassia begins to wonder about Ky. She visits her grandfather for his Final Banquet, (members of the Society die at 80 years). He asks to see the compact he has given her, and she complies. Twisting the bottom, he reveals a hidden compartment. Contained inside is a single sheet of paper with handwriting: poems, two of them. Poems not on the Top 100 Poems list! She makes a promise to him not to rely on her pills (green relaxes you), and to think for herself.

She signs up to take a hiking class for her recreation hours, and is pleased to find Ky there. Their interactions are always careful, his especially. He seems practiced at holding back, keeping his actions in check. His revelation that he is an Aberration shocks her. All summer their feelings escalate as he teaches her to write (no one in the Society knows how to write, only type) and they share secrets.

Her relationship with Ky, her Grandfather's passing, the poems, the writing...all of these begin to work on Cassia, begin to open up her mind to a world of possibility the Society wants to keep from her. Her choices are limited, monitored, and supervised. What hope of happiness does she truly have if her happiness is chosen for her?

This dystopian novel will be a hit with teen audiences. It even has a bit of a love triangle. The text is very Brave New World with more romance.
“They are giving us pieces of a real life instead of the whole thing. They have perfected the art of giving us just enought freedom; just enough that when we are ready to snap, a little bone is offered and we roll over, belly up, comfortable and placated like a dog...” (Condie, 2010).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Crossed by Allyson Condie (Matched Trilogy, Book 2
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (Hunger Games, Book 1)

Condie, Allyson B. (2010). Matched. New York: Dutton Books. 

Heist Society by Ally Carter

Kat hasn't exactly had what you might call a "normal upbringing," what with being raised by the best art thief alive and all. That's why she's decided to give up the family business for a taste of normal adolescence. Her best scam yet lands her in an elite boarding school...for a blissful three months.

Of course, her best friend and former partner Hale shows up with different plans. He successfully gets her booted out after framing her for a big prank. With no other options readily available, she heads home with him. It turns out that maybe he did it for less than selfish reasons. Her dad seems to be the target of his own frame job, and is now in very real danger from a mobster whose art has been stolen.

How the pieces were stolen is another matter, and one of the reasons her father is suspected. The security at Arturo's place is state of the art, and that's putting it lightly. Kat tries to talk to Arturo, explain what happened, but he's having none of it. Five paintings were stolen by a thief calling himself Visily Romani. He tells her that if his paintings aren't returned in 10 days, someone will be making a house call, and her father's going to end up dead. With that motivation, Kat gets to work.

First, she does her research. Kat calls up Uncle Eddie (who is almost everyone's "uncle" in the business) for intel on her thief. Visily Romani, it turns out, is a sacred name. Thieves use it as a pseudonym for things too big to be known even between each other. "It is an alias that is not used lightly, young man," Uncle Eddie answered," (Carter pg. 101).

Her next stop is to find out what she can about the history of the paintings, and learns they were stolen by the Nazis during WWII. These paintings are already stolen property. Sometimes it takes a thief to catch a thief, so Kat decides she will steal them back. The paintings are discovered at the Henley, one of the truly great art museums, and one with an overwhelming amount of security.

First she has to build a crew, and that is no small task. This job has to fly way under the radar, even for a thief! Hale is at her side, her cousin Gabrielle joins them, the Bagshaw brothers, and one random (cute male) pick-pocket she found and befriended. This heist was going to be impossible by most standards, but they have to try. Her father's life hangs in the balance. Can they pull it off?

Fast paced, fun, and sassy, Carter has a true feel for action girl stories that maintain a strong female character without diminishing intelligence. I enjoyed this even more than her spy series, highly recommended, especially for girls.
"The guards might have seen the boy throw his arm around the girl's neck and hold a camera out in front of them, snapping pictures. They might have noticed how the couple paced from one end of the wall to the next. They didn't, of course, see that the pictures were really of the positions of the cameras, that their paced steps were mapping out the dimentions of the perimeter wall.
They were simply two teens who appeared to be in the midst of a great autumn.
But, of course, the guards didn't see a lot of things," (Carter, pg. 142, 2010).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Uncommon Criminals by Ally Carter (Heist Society, Book 2)
I'd Tell You I Love You, But Then I'd Have to Kill You by Ally Carter (Gallagher Girls, Book 1)
Spy Goddess: Live and Let Shop by Michael Spradlin
Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks by E. Lockhart

Carter, Ally. (2010). Heist Society. New York: Disney/Hyperion.

Z by Michael Thomas Ford

The first rule of zombie hunting: cleanse with fire. The second rule: save all humans, and the third rule? You can't bring them back.

The war happened. The strain of flu that began turning people into zombies was real, and the Torchers were created to fight the very real threat. Flamethrowers are the weapon of choice: only fire can destroy the virus and kill the host at a distance. 15 years later, Josh can't get enough of the video game based on what happened. He is addicted to killing meatbags, and racking up points with his best friend. Despite his mother's disapproval, he's been sneaking around, playing it on the sly.

When the best player in the game, Charlie, sends him a note to meet up, he isn't sure what to think. He's heard rumors about IRL (in real life) games, but that's just an urban legend, right? Charlie is a girl - imagine that, who says girls can't game? She tells him about an IRL that's going on, and invites him to join up. Dream come true...or so he tells himself. He suits up, gets his own flame thrower (how cool is this?!) and gets filled in on the game. Clatter, their benefactor, has designed some animatronic fake zombies and sets up all the games. People from outside pay top dollar to gamble and watch it play out. Members of the team get bonuses for killing z's. This could even be lucrative...although it also seems kind of illegal...

The games get more and more intense, team members are constantly getting hurt or dropping out. As time goes on, Josh starts to suspect that there is more to the game than anyone is letting on. Then there's Z: a drug that Clatter is manufacturing. It makes you feel like a zombie. It's like nothing he's ever known, and playing the IRL on Z is addictive...just like his relationship with Charlie.

Things take a turn for the awful, and Josh realizes he is involved in something so much worse than he realized. Can they possibly find a way out of this mess?

This quick read is great for gamers, zombie lovers, and male readers.
"Now he understood why Charlie liked it. The Z had really helped him get into the zombie mood. He'd seen things differently, felt things differently. Everything had been more intense - primal. He'd hunted the Torchers liike they were animals, smelling them out and following the sound of their hearts beating," (Ford pg. 144, 2010).
*Library Link*

If you liked this, check out:
Suicide Notes by Michael Thomas Ford
Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (Forest of Hands and Teeth, Book 1)

Ford, M. T. (2010). Z. New York: HarperTeen.