Category: Action/Adventure


The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordanby Rick Riordan
ISBN-13: 978-0786838653
Hyperion Books, New York, 2010
400 p.

GENRE: Urban Fantasy, Mythology

TEASER: Percy Jackson’s biggest concern used to be trying to not get kicked out of school. Now he had ten days to safe his mother and stop war between the gods that would devastate the earth.

SUMMARY: Twelve-year-old Percy Jackson can’t seem to stay out of trouble. To make matters worse, he keeps getting attacked by mythical creatures. WHile on the run from various Greek monsters, Percy’s mother is captured by a Minotaur and taken to become a prisoner of Hades. Soon Percy is revealed to be the son of Poseidon. But someone is accusing Percy of stealing Zeus’ lightning bolt. Percy and his friends only have ten days to find and return Zeus’ lightning bolt and save Percy’s mother from being a permanent resident of the Underworld.

CRITIQUE: The story is told in first-person perspective through the eyes of Percy Jackson. The characters are very lovable, even Ares bully daughter, Clarisse. The characters are very relatable and thoughtful. Percy deals with a lot of emotions in this first book, from the loss of his mother, the only parent he’s ever known, to the realization that his father is the infamous Greek sea-god. He goes through the expected feelings of anger and resentment towards his father and the other gods. This is something that a lot of the demigods go through. This resentment is part of the overall conflict of the series.

Riordan adds a modern twist to the drama of the Greek pantheon. He brings mythic creature like the satyr to life in characters like Percy’s best friend Grover. Grover is a young satyr with bad skin, and affinity for eating coke cans, and is determined to get permission to go in search of the great Pan. These books are fun to read for adults and kids alike. They are filled with humor and fun bits of Greek mythology.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: He is also author of the adult Tres Navarre series. He has also written The Heroes of Olympus, another series in the percy Jackson Universe, series and the Kane Chronicles. The Kane Chronicles focuses on Egyptian mythology. He also has helped develop many books in The 39 Clue series. His book The Lightning Thief was made into a motion picture in 2007. He lives with his wife and two sons in San Antonio, Texas.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.rickriordan.com/home.aspx

READING LEVEL 12+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: N/A

DEFENSE: N/A

CURRICULUM TIES: This would be a fun series to read while learning about Greek mythology.

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Discuss the use of Greek mythology in this book. How do you feel Riordan did at modernizing the Greek pantheon?

WHY INCLUDED: Even though the reading level for this book is rather young, I would recommend this series to older teens and adults. The Percy Jackson series is fun and unique. I think anyone who is a fan of Greek mythology would appreciate this book.

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow
ISBN-10: 0765323117
TOR, New York, 2008
416 p.

GENRE: Action Adventure

TEASER: How far would you go to protect your privacy?

SUMMARY: Seventeen-year-old Marcus skips school to play Harajuku Fun Madness (and alternate reality game) with his friends, Va, Jolu, and Daryl. Suddenly they’re being taken to a hidden location and interrogated by the Department of Homeland Security. They him go and leave him with a warning. He will be watched. When he is reunited with his friends they realize that one of them is still missing, Daryl. Van wants to forget this ever happen and lay low, but Marcus won’t take this lying down. Marcus uses his knowledge of technology and hacking in order to outsmart the DHS. Marcus is about to start a teenage tech rebellion that will change the way people look at technology and privacy rights.

CRITIQUE: The novel is written in first person perspective through the protagonist, Marcus. There are many periods throughout the book were Marcus stops to explain the way some of the technology he is using. I appreciated the technical explanations throughout the novel; however, I did find many of them confusing. I feel that these educational tidbits add to the overall message of the book. Take control of your privacy and rights. You can do that by knowing the facts.

I felt the characters were well written and the plot to be well-balanced. The story was of course tech heavy but Doctorow lightened this somewhat by adding fun descriptions of San Francisco. The touch of romance was also nice to break the tension of the looming rebellion and technical facts. The characters were honest and believable. Even though Marcus started this rebellion, he still has moments of extreme doubt and fear. While reading about Marcus I was reminded off people I know, some of them are hackers, some of them are just paranoid. However, because I found his character so relatable I could see familiar faces within the story. I feel that this is not something that all author’s can do.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Cory Doctorow is a Canadian blogger, activist, journalist, and author of young adult science fiction fantasy. He believes in liberalising copyright laws and is a proponent of the Creative Commons license. He is one of the few author’s who allows the his materials to be released on the Internet under Creative Commons licenses that encourage their re-use and sharing.

Some of his other fictional titles include: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom, and For the Win. He currently lives in London with his wife and baby girl.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://craphound.com/

READING LEVEL: 15+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: Some readers might have issues with Marcus’s rebellion against the government, sexual content, and underage drinking of the book.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: US Government

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: What would you do if you realized your rights were being violated? Would you act out like Marcus or step down like Van does?
Do you think that Marcus’s character is believable as a rebellious teen or is it a bit heavyhanded?

WHY INCLUDED: This is a great book for teen to get a different perspective on technology and privacy rights. It is thought provoking and would be a great addition to any library.

I’d Tell You I Love You, But Then I’d Have to Kill You
by Ally Carter
ISBN-13: 978-1423100041
Hyperion Books, New York, 2007
288 p.

GENRE: Chick-lit, Espionage, Romance

TEASER: Being a spy in training is easy. Trying to convince the boy of her dreams that she is a normal teenage girl may prove impossible.

SUMMARY: Cammie (Chameleon) Morgan is a fifteen-year-old student at Gallagher Academy, a top-secret boarding school for spies. Here students are taught how to deactivate a bomb using tweezers and a hair pin, speak fifteen languages, and kill a man in several different ways. On a practice mission, Cammie meets a boy, a normal boy. Now Cammie has her toughest assignment yet, pretend to be a normal teenage girl. How long can she juggle a double life and can she keep Josh from finding out who she really is?

CRITIQUE: This is a fun, light read. There is not a lot of diversity or development of the characters. Cammie shows some development throughout as she debates whether she has what it takes to be a real spy ad continue onto the more advanced training. She slowly gains more confidence in her abilities as a spy and her self image as a teenage girl. Cammie’s character is very relatable. She is smart and confident in her abilities as a spy but completely self conscious about how other people see her. There isn’t much complexities for the other characters. Carter gives you the feeling that Joe’s Solomon is hiding something. There are also brief hints of her mother’s inner feelings. She is normally seen as always put together and calm, but Cammie catches her crying alone at one point on her father’s birthday. I have a feeling that more of the characters will develop as the series continues.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Ally Carter is a pen name. She is very protective about any information pertaining to he identity. After countless letters from fans wanting to write reports she finally decided to release some biographical information. She was born and raised in Oklahoma. Her mother was a teacher and her father was a farmer and rancher. She admits to being very active in high school organizations.

She has degrees from Oklahoma State University and Cornell University. She is the bestselling author of the Gallagher series and the Heist Society series. Her books have been published in over twenty countries.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://allycarter.com/

READING LEVEL: 13+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: N/A

DEFENSE: N/A

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Joe Solomon is the new teacher keeping everyone on their toes. Do you think he is hiding something? Do you think it has something to do with Cammie’s father?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a spy novel for girls. We can’t let the boys have all the fun now can we?

Stormbreaker (Alex Rider Series) by Anthony Horowitz
ISBN-13: 978-0142412121
Puffin Books, New York, 2000
388 p.

GENRE: Action Adventure, Espionage

TEASER: All Alex Rider wanted was to be a soccer play. After his uncle’s death he is unwillingly enlisted into Britain’s secret service and complete the mission that killed his uncle.

SUMMARY: After Alex Rider’s uncle dies mysteriously in a car accident, Alex begins to suspect that his uncle wasn’t who he appeared to be. He was in fact, a spy for the Britain’s secret intelligence agency. Now they want Alex to finish the mission that got his uncle killed. He only has two weeks to get through the training that will prepare him for the adventure of his life.

The Mission: He must disguise himself as Felix Lester, the contest winner for the Stormbreaker project. The Stormbreaker is a highly advanced computer created by Herod Sayle. Herod Sayle has stated that he will give away one Stormbreaker to every secondary school in the United Kingdom. There will be a grand activation ceremony at the Science Museum in London. Alex must find out what Herod Sayle has planned before the activation ceremony.

CRITIQUE: The story is written in third person subjective view through the protagonist Alex Rider. There are brief moments in the story that are written in a objective third person perspective. While I did appreciate the shift in perspective to get an idea of what was going on around Alex that he was not aware of, the shifts were sometimes a little confusing. There was not a noticeable break from Alex’s voice to the voice of his onlookers. This became confusing in parts where Alex is being observed by other characters.

As any good spy novel should be, this book is action packed and keeps you on your toes. I was a bit disappointed by the villan. When he described her evil plot I was a bit let down. I expected sometime more diabolical. The characters were interesting for the most part. They were all fairly one-demensional. If you look really hard, you can see a change in Alex from not wanting to be involved to caring about stopping the bad guys. However, I didn’t go into the novel expecting great literary quality. It is funny and a definite page-turner.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Anthony Horowitz is an English novelist and screenwriter. He was born to a wealthy family in Stanmore, Middlesex. His father, a businessman threatened by bankruptcy, hid away all his money under a false name. He died shortly afterwards. His mother never was able to find where he hid the money. Horowitz says these events greatly shaped his character and his writing.

He has written over fifty books. He is the creator and writer for the British television series Foyle’s War, Midsummer Murders, and Collision. He is not only responsible for the popular Alex Rider series but also the Diamond Brothers series, the Gatekeepers series, and many other titles. He resides in London with her wife and two children.

AUTHOR’S WEBSITE: http://www.anthonyhorowitz.com/

READING LEVEL: 10+

CHALLENGE ISSUES: There could possibly be challenges for violence and terrorism.

DEFENSE: I would suggest looking at the ALA’s support page for challenged materials.

CURRICULUM TIES: N/A

BOOKTALKING IDEAS: Alex’s character is extremely brave, some might say crazy, do you think this makes it hard for the reader to relate to him?

WHY INCLUDED: I wanted to include a spy novel geared towards boys. I had seen this series many times while shelving. I passed them by because the covers are quite masculine. I was surprised how much I loved this book. Even if it is marketed to boys, it could appeal to both males and females.