July 2006

Friends To Die For, a book released in 1997 by Jane Sughrue Giberga, might be worth your time to read–if you get it from the library. This book about life for teenagers on Manhattan’s A-List was decent, but not worth the money it would take to buy it new.

Sixteen-year-old Cristina Garcia-Vasquez and her friends live in fancy apartments, attend super-expensive private schools, and everything else you’d associate with A-List teens in New York City. And that’s got to include parties in these huge apartments when parents are away for weeks at a time, right?

When a girl is murdered in a subway station, and Cristina was at the party where this girl was last seen alive, life changes drastically for Cristina, her family, and her friends. Matters are not helped by the segment on TV about the Garcia-Vasquez family, focusing on Janine Billings, the murdered girl, and Cristina’s stay-at-home mom.

This book has a lot of interesting elements: The funny hate messages from feminists about Cristina’s mom, the mystery of Janine Billings’ murder, the press stalking Cristina, her friends, and her family…

It’s not a very consistent book, though. Sure, the plot sounds interesting, but the story has its dull moments. Also, some characters are very well-developed, while others are rather two-dimensional.

Yes, this book is interesting and amusing at times. Sure, it’s a decent read when you’re bored and don’t have much else to do. The cover art, which is cool enough, might draw you in. But, really, when you finish the last page, this book will leave your mind completely. If you see it in a bookstore somewhere, you might vaguely remember reading it. It is not, however, a book that will stick with you forever. It’ll keep you entertained, though, and, if you’re not paying for it, that’s good enough.

Rating: 6/10

**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**

The Bar Code Rebellion, by Suzanne Weyn, is the second book about seventeen-year-old Kayla Marie Reed and the world she lives in. In 2025, when the novel takes place, everyone, at the age of seventeen, is required to be tattooed with a bar code. The bar code is what people use for everything, from paying for bus fare to getting a job. In the first book about this world, The Bar Code Tattoo, Kayla’s neighbor, the now-famous Gene Drake, was killed in a struggle because he had discovered something terrible about the tattoo, and wanted to tell the world.

More terrible, it seems, than what Kayla and other bar code resistors already know: that the tattoo contains each person’s genetic code, gotten from the blood sample taken when they are tattooed. These codes can ruin a person’s life, if they have problems such as bipolar disorder or Parkinson’s disease in their family. That’s what happened to Kayla’s friend Amber and her parents.

Following Gene Drake’s example, people everywhere are resisting the tattoo, even though it means forfeiting any chance at a normal life as a part of society. People are burning off the tattoo, or, if they join in time, refusing to get it in the first place.

One day, Kayla sees a girl on TV with her face, telling people how happy she is about the barcode tattoo. Next thing she knows, this girl is everywhere, pretending to be Kayla, and promoting the barcode tattoo. Is she a digital fake? Or is there more to it than that?

Suzanne Weyn’s novel takes place in a scary future society. It’s especially scary because it really could come true. We’ve all read books about what the future will be like, and chances are, none of them are exactly right. Everyone predicts, though, that the government will have more and more control over our daily lives, maybe even getting to the intense and frightening level in Bar Code Rebellion.

In this story, characterization takes a backseat to the action, but that’s okay, as it’s meant to be more about the plot and the setting than it is about the characters. Even though the characters feel a little two-dimensional, it’s still a book worth reading, especially for fans of The Bar Code Tattoo.

Rating: 7/10

**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**



(1) Your choice of either an iPod Shuffle, OR a fifty dollar Amazon.com gift certificate
(2) An autographed copy of REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt
(3) A copy of the August issue of Teen People, which lists REALITY CHICK as a Can’t-Miss Pick for August
(4) Free tuition to a session of Lauren’s YA writing class

THE CONTEST: STEP ONE: Simply copy and paste this whole message (including the info about the contest) into any blog, message board, email list, myspace bulletin, or anywhere a lot of people will see it!

REALITY CHICK by Lauren Barnholdt is NOW IN STORES!

Going away to college means total independence and freedom. Unless ofcourse your freshman year is taped and televised for all the world towatch. On uncensored cable.Sweet and normal Ally Cavanaugh is one of five freshpeople shacking upon In the House, a reality show filmed on her college campus. (As ifschool isn’t panic-inducing enough!)

The cameras stalk her likepaparazzi, but they also capture the fun that is new friends, oldcrushes, and learning to live on your own. Sure, the camera adds ten pounds, but with the freshman fifteen a given anyway, who cares? Ally’s got bigger issues — like how her long-distance bf can watch herloopy late-night “episode” with a certain housemate…Freshman year on film.It’s outrageous.It’s juicy.And like all good reality TV, it’s impossible to turn off. IN STORES NOW!

Check out Lauren on the web at www.laurenbarnholdt.com or on her myspace at www.myspace.com/laurenbarnholdt

STEP TWO — Email Lauren at lauren (at) laurenbarnholdt.com and let her know you’ve posted about the contest and the book, and you’ll be entered to win the prize pack! The winner will be picked at random on September 1st. The more places you post, the more entries you get. Have fun and good luck!!!

Sarah Dessen’s This Lullaby is one of the best teen books I’ve ever read. It’s the story of Remy, a girl who has no faith in love. Part of this is because her own father never even saw her, only wrote a now-famous song, called “This Lullaby,” about her before he died. It certainly doesn’t help that her mother has been married four times, and, at the beginning of the novel, is about to have her fifth wedding. Remy says about her mother’s marriages, “She takes on husbands the way other people change their hair color: out of boredom, listlessness, or just feeling that this next one will fix everything, once and for all.”

Remy likes to feel in control of things when she’s got a boyfriend. She knows all about getting into relationships, the first romantic rush, and ending them before there’s any emotional attachment. She’s almost always the one to dump guys, not the other way around. She’s got plenty of pratice at it, too.

One day, at the car dealership owned by her mother’s next husband, she meets a guy named Dexter. He’s very determined to get to know Remy, and, at first, she thinks he’s ridiculous and ignores him. Dexter, however, is persistent. When the two finally get together, everyone is shocked that Remy’s staying in the relationship. Dexter is so many things Remy could never put up with. He’s messy and impulsive, but, most of all, he’s a musician. Until Dexter came along, Remy and a no musician rule, and now she’s broken it.

Signs point to Remy ending this relationship and not looking back. Everyone thinks that’s what will happen. Everyone except Dexter, who wants it to be more than a summer thing, who has faith in their relationship. How will it all end?

This is an amazing young adult book by a brilliant author. Sarah Dessen, author of several other books including That Summer and Someone Like You, does an awesome job of keeping the reader’s attention throughout This Lullaby. She does it with her original story, told in Remy’s unique voice. It doesn’t hurt that Sarah Dessen is great at creating fresh, original, believable characters. Thoughtful and powerful, this book also has its moments that will make readers laugh, which is a nice change of pace in the story. Every aspect of this novel surpasses expectations.

Rating: 10/10

**This review is also posted on TeensReadToo.com**

In Bras And Broomsticks, author Sarah Mlynowski introduces her readers to Rachel, an average fourteen-year-old girl interested in all the average things: shoes, popularity, boys…Everything a teenage girl is expected to like.

One day, however, Rachel discovers that her family is anything but average. When her mom makes the announcement, what comes out Rachel’s mouth is, “I think you should consider returning to therapy.” She can’t believe what her mom is telling her. She is, however, eventually forced to accept the truth: her younger sister is a witch. Miri, apparently inherited magical powers from their mother, while Rachel did not.

While Rachel feels these skills are wasted on her sister, she also knows she can figure something out to convince Miri to use the powers for her older sister’s benefit. There’s a lot going on in Rachel’s life. She wants to learn to dance and break up her father and the STBSM (Soon To Be Step-Monster), also known as Jennifer. Of course, those aren’t the only ideas Rachel has for her sister’s new abilities…

Bras And Broomsticks is a new twist on an old story. We’ve all read books or seen television shows on which the main character discovers that she has magical powers. In Sarah Mlynowski’s novel, however, it’s not the main character, Rachel–it’s her younger sister!

Teenagers are sure to love this book, full of laughter and craziness. The characters are interesting and very well-developed, and the plot is great, too. Every part of this novel will have readers anxious to pick up the second book about Rachel and Miri, Frogs And French Kisses. Readers will love the herione, Rachel, just as much as they’ll love laughing about the complicated situations she gets herself into. Even girls whose sisters aren’t witches (which, let’s face it, is most of us) will be able to relate to Rachel, especially if they have younger sisters. Bras And Broomsticks will certainly be a favorite of readers for a long time, and have them craving more from Sarah Mlynowski!

Rating: 9/10

I love books, and, as such, I have decided to start this site for my reviews of teen/young adult books. I will be posting reviews here regularly, and, if you want to contact me, please email me at teenbookreviewer at gmail.com. Thank you, and check back regularly for reviews! I will also be posting other things of interest to readers of young adult books, such as contest announcements and links.