POVone: The First Person Perspective

Rants and Reviews on Novels Written in the First Person Point of View

Category Archives: Young Adult

Book Review: In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

Author: Jen Brooks
Title: In a World Just Right
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Number of Pages: 432
Narrator: Jonathan Aubrey

In a World Just Right by Jen Brooks

What’s It About?

When he was a young child, Jonathan Aubrey lost his family to a plane crash in which he was the only survivor. The accident left him burned and scarred–rendering him a social outcast throughout his childhood. Now on the verge of adulthood, he has fallen in love with a girl who barely notices him. But Jonathan has a way of remedying this situation.

Ever since the crash, Jonathan has been able to create worlds. When he wants to escape the real world, he simply closes his eyes and then opens them again to a world of his own fabrication. At his pleasure, he travels back and forth between his worlds–the latest of which is a reality in which the girl of his dreams is his girlfriend…and she is deeply in love with him.

But, there’s a problem. When he creates a world that so closely mirrors the real one, his dream girl starts to notice him in real life. Suddenly, he finds himself torn between reality and the fantasy he has created. When he receives an unexpected visit from his past, he discovers that there might be a way to merge his worlds together. Or, on the other hand, he might just lose them all…

Should You Read It?

At first, the novel seems to simply be a story about a kid dealing with tragedy through escapist fantasies. But the reader quickly discovers that the “fantasy” is real, and Jonathan really does have the power to create worlds. Or, does he? This is one of those stories that leaves the reader wondering what’s real and what’s imagined. If you enjoy that sort of metaphysical ambiguity, you might find this novel interesting.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook. Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, YA Midnight ReadsAfterwritten

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Jen Brooks: In a World Just Right is Jen Brooks’ debut novel.

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Book Review: An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

Author: Sabaa Tahir
Title: An Ember in the Ashes
Genre: Fantasy
Publication Date: April 28, 2015
Publisher: Razorbill (Random House)
Number of Pages: 464
Narrators: Laia and Elias
Quality Rating: 87.98

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir

What’s It About?

Laia is a “Scholar,” the oppressed class in a world divided between masters and slaves. When the remainder of her family is slain by her oppressors and her one remaining brother is taken captive, she goes out in search of the only people she believes can help–The Resistance. This ruthless band of rebels agrees to help free her brother with one condition: she must become a spy for them. Secretly working for the Resistance, Laia must become a personal servant of the most feared woman in existence–the cruel and merciless commander of the oppressive regime that slaughtered her family.

Meanwhile, Elias is graduating from the military academy to become a “Mask,” the murderous infantry of the ruling class that oppresses, exploits, harasses the slaves of the land. Elias hates the violence and despairs over the blood which will inevitably fall on his hands. Not only is he destined to become the very thing he despises, but he also has the misfortune of being the son of a mother who hates him–the commander of the army. Despite risking torture and execution, he plans to desert the empire before they can make him a muderer.

Just as he is about the leave, he is persuaded to stay by an Augur–the empire’s class of wisemen, in order to fulfill an obscure destiny. Shortly after deciding to remain, Elias and several of his classmates are selected to perform in the Trials–a prophesied and long awaited event whose victor becomes the next emperor and losers are promptly executed. As the Trials begin and Elias’s world becomes interwoven with Laia’s, both characters must fight to overcome their bleak circumstances and attain their own forms of freedom.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy darker young adult, dystopian fantasy, you will probably love this book. It’s a lot like Red Queen and The Fire Sermon in terms of class divisions, but the divisions are less on genetic lines and more simply on political lines. Although there is a vague semblance of a love triangle, the attraction between characters is less composed of flighty romance and more composed of shared identity and purpose. The story is told in alternating narration between the two protagonists–giving the reader insight into what it’s like to be both the oppressor and the oppressed. Themes include the interplays of betrayal and friendship, slavery and freedom, cruelty and mercy, and death and survival. While classified as YA, the realities of an oppressive regime are not hidden–and the resulting tone is somewhat dismal. And, while there are certainly dystopian and fantasy elements, the writing is layered and somewhat complex–so it would also be appealing to those interested in more literary works. If this sounds appealing to you, I would definitely pick this book up.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: New York Times, Kirkus Reviews, Redeye Chicago

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Sabaa Tahir: An Ember in the Ashes is Sabaa Tahir’s debut novel.

Book Review: Still Waters by Ash Parsons

Author: Ash Parsons
Title: Still Waters
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Philomel (Random House)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrator: Jason

Still Waters by Ash Parsons

What’s It About?

As a senior, Jason is known by all as the tough guy from the wrong side of the tracks. He gets into a lot of fights and has a scary reputation among his peers. But, in his view, he doesn’t start trouble; he is simply very efficient at finishing it. Defending himself and his sister against the abusive tirades of his father, experience has taught him to stand and fight rather than to walk away.

Jason is a loner. He is guarded in his relationships and only has one friend that he really opens up to. So, when he is approached by the most popular kid in school with an odd proposition, he is naturally suspicious. Seeking to build his reputation for an undisclosed reason, this other boy offers to pay Jason to hang out with him. Reluctantly, Jason agrees–because the money may just give him and his sister their ticket to freedom.

As Jason begins to hang out with the popular crowd, he senses that something is off. The more time he spends with them, the more he feels like he’s being set up. As new people come into his life, he isn’t sure who he can trust. Suddenly, the lines aren’t so clear. Who will he need to fight? And who will he need to fight for?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the kind of young adult story that centers on a kid dealing with a bad home life, you’ll probably really love this book. For a YA novel, it was really gritty and disturbing–so it’s not for the faint of heart. The focus on a disadvantaged kid trying to make the most of the situation reminded me a lot of Where All the Light Tends to Go. There is a lot of mystery and intrigue built up throughout, leading to a dramatic conclusion. Also, there’s a good balance of introspection and fast-paced action–so it would appeal to lovers of both literary and genre works.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dee’s Reads, Bibliophile Gathering, Book Reviews and More by Kathy

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Ash Parsons: Still Waters is Ash Parsons’s debut novel.

Book Review: Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

Author: Lori Goldstein
Title: Becoming Jinn
Genre: Young Adult; Fantasy
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Azra Nadira

Becoming Jinn by Lori Goldstein

What’s It About?

Azra Nadira has just turned sixteen and, as is the custom set by the governing council of Jinn, she receives her powers as a genie. Although she begins to gain magical powers such as the abilities to teleport and conjure things into existence, she is resistant to the change because she knows it means she will eventually become a slave to another’s wishes.

Along with gaining magical powers, Azra’s sixteenth birthday blesses her instantly with stunning beauty. As such, she gains the sudden interest of the coolest guy in school. While she enjoys the new feeling of being desired, she is torn between this new love interest and that of a childhood friend. This love triangle forms much of the conflict throughout the story.

Most of the story, however, focuses on the relationship between Azra, her mother, and her mother’s Jinn friends–known to Azra as “the sisters.” This group of ladies guides Azra into understanding her powers and her place as a young woman in the world of Jinn.

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy the newer genre of young adult genie literature, you’ll probably enjoy this–as the author goes to great lengths to describe and develop the rules of the world Azra inhabits. That being said, if you’re looking for a fast-paced adventure story with lots of twists and turns, this probably isn’t for you. I would describe the story as relationship-driven rather than plot-driven. It’s more or less a teenage “chick lit” story set in a world of genies. If that sounds like it’s up your alley, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Dark Faerie Tales, Snuggly Oranges, Fiction Fare

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Lori Goldstein: Becoming Jinn is Lori Goldstein’s debut novel.

Book Review: The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

Author: Francesca Haig
Title: The Fire Sermon
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Gallery (Simon and Schuster)
Number of Pages: 384
Narrator: Cassandra

The Fire Sermon by Francesca Haig

What’s It About?

Cassandra has been born into a post-apocalyptic world in which all people who procreate give birth to twins–one who is perfectly normal and another who is plagued with some sort of deformity. The parents keep the healthy offspring, called Alphas, and exile the unhealthy children, called Omegas to live in poverty and subjugation.

Omegas cannot procreate, but they do have one advantage that keeps the Alphas from getting rid of them altogether. The Omegas stay connected somehow to their Alpha counterparts such that when one twin dies, so does the other. The ruling party of the Alphas, called the Council, is on a perpetual search to understand how to exterminate Omegas without affecting their Alpha Twins.

Cassandra is an Omega–but a rare and special kind. Called a Seer, Cassandra receives premonitions about the future. Though her “deformity” gives her certain advantages, she is still cast out by the Alphas and even finds it difficult to be accepted among the Omegas. At the beginning of the novel, Cass is taken captive by her Alpha brother–who has risen to a position of influence in the Alpha Council.

After months in imprisonment , Cass finally receives the opportunity to escape. Freeing another prisoner as she flees, Cass ventures out in search of a fabled Island–in which Omegas are allowed to live in freedom and safety. As they travel from town to town, avoiding the Council, Cass and her companion begin to understand the political upheaval going on in the Council and the sinister role her brother is playing in the future of Alphas and Omegas.

Should You Read It?

If you are a fan of the post-apocalyptic dystopian genre, you will probably enjoy the book. The story takes place in the future after an alleged nuclear holocaust at some point in the distant past. In this dystopian future, people are divided into two classes–much like in the recent Red Queen. The storyline also has a genetic element–some akin to that of the movie Gattaca. The writing is straightforward, with a lot of movement and little introspection. If this sounds like an interesting read to you, I would try it out.

Links and References

Author Information: Author Page (Publisher), Goodreads, Twitter

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, That’s Normal, Civilian Reader

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Francesca Haig: The Fire Sermon is Francesca Haig’s debut novel, but she has written a collection of poetry called Bodies of Water (2006).

Book Review: First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

Author: Juliana Romano
Title: First There Was Forever
Genre: Young Adult
Publication Date: April 14, 2015
Publisher: Dial (Penguin)
Number of Pages: 400
Narrator: Lima

First There Was Forever by Juliana Romano

What’s It About?

As they enter their sophomore year, Lima’s best friend reveals that she’s lost her virginity to a stranger over summer break. Shrugging if off as “no big deal,” Lima’s friend becomes increasingly more involved in the party scene–a space in which Lima is extremely uncomfortable. Eventually, Lima’s friend all but abandons her for another girl who is more interesting and fun to be around.

Lima has never had a serious relationship with a boy, and she has no plans to start one. That is, until she meets Nate. Never has a boy so cool and so attractive shown an interest in her. And, as painful as it is for her to admit it, she’s starting to have feelings for him too. There’s only one problem–this is the boy her best friend has always had a crush on, and Lima has promised never to be with him.

As the sophomore year draws to a close, Lima must decide where her loyalties lie. Will she try to sustain a dying friendship and, in doing so, lose her first real chance at love? Or, will she follow her heart and accept the diverging paths she and her best friend have begun to take?

Should You Read It?

Essentially, this story is about the complicated interplay between self-discovery, friendship, and romance experienced during female adolescence. You could call it “teenage chick lit.” If you are interested in love triangles in young adult literature, you’ll probably enjoy this story. But, at its heart, this book is really about the fleeting nature of friendship during the time in a person’s life that is most filled with change.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Kirkus Reviews, YA Love, Rather Be Reading

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Juliana Romano: First There Was Forever is Juliana Romano’s debut novel.

Book Review: Silence by Deborah Lytton

Author: Deborah Lytton
Title: Silence
Genre: Romance; Young Adult
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (Deseret Book)
Number of Pages: 320
Narrators: Stella Layne and Hayden Rivers
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B, Very Good; of the first 29 reviews, the average reader rating was 83.45%.

Silence by Deborah Lytton

What’s It About?

Stella is a shy, fifteen year old girl who is having trouble adjusting to her new school–following the divorce of her parents and the relocation of her, her mother, and her sister to a new town. She feels out of place, even as her only friend tries to pull her into the popular crowd. The only thing she has going for her, she believes, is her voice. When she sings, she doesn’t feel invisible. And, when her voice lands her the lead in the high school musical, she feels like she actually has a shot at being normal.

Hayden is an awkward and quiet boy with a speech impediment who is new to the same school as Stella. While he tries to keep his distance, he can’t help but be drawn to Stella–there’s just something about her that makes him want to reach out. But he is emotionally scarred by an abusive past and prefers to keep everyone at an arm’s length. Besides, he is embarrassed by his slow speech and prefers to stay quiet. How could he start a relationship with Stella if he can’t even speak to her?

When Stella is accidentally knocked unconscious and falls into a swimming pool at a party, fate intervenes and Hayden is there to save her from drowning. But when she wakes up, she has lost her hearing–and the only dream she ever cared about. Temporarily deaf, she loses her spot in the musical and falls into a depression. While waiting for an operation that can restore her hearing, Hayden begins to show her all that she can do without it. As the two spend more and more time together, they begin to fall in love. But, can Hayden really give his heart away when his past has already broken it? Is he good enough for Stella? And, is Stella willing to abandon her former dream when she discovers things about herself she never realized until Hayden showed up?

Should You Read It?

If you enjoy young adult love stories, like John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars, you will love this book. The alternating first person narration between Stella and Hayden gives insight into how each character feels about the blossoming relationship. The tone, despite the characters’ damaged childhoods, is light and laced with hope. With an uplifting conclusion, this tale is a love story–not a tragedy. The chapters are short and language easily digestible. There are also many references to various arts–music, poetry, painting, etc. So, if you’re nostalgic about the role that the arts played in your high school years, you may also enjoy this story for that reason.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads

Book Reviews: Reading Bifrost, Mel’s Shelves, Bookworm Lisa

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books By Deborah Lytton: Jane in Bloom (2009)

Book Review: Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Author: Victoria Aveyard
Title: Red Queen
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian, Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: February 10, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen (HarperCollins)
Number of Pages: 400
Narrator: Mare Barrow
Amazon.com Reviewer Grade: B+, Very Good; of the first 464 reviews, the average reader rating was 88.53%.

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

What’s It About?

Protagonist Mare Barrow is a seemingly insignificant teenage girl living in a future world divided into two races. Mare and her family are “Reds,” the commoners of society characterized by their red blood. Ruling over her class are the “Silvers,” characterized by their silver blood. In addition to the color of their blood, the Silvers are distinguished from the Reds in that they possess supernatural abilities such as superior strength and power over the elements.

The Reds who are fortunate enough to learn a trade use their skills to enter into a career of service. Those who possess no craft, however, must enter the military and be sent to the front lines to die in the Silvers’ war.

Mare possesses no skill and believes she is destined to become another casualty of the Silvers’ war. Fate intervenes, however, and a prince from the Silver royal family takes pity on her. The prince, who becomes a mild love interest, hires her as a servant in the kingdom. As she enters into the world of the Silvers, however, she discovers that–even though her blood is red–she possesses a superhuman gift of her own.

To keep the peace between the races, Mare is forced to pretend she is a lost princess returned to the kingdom. Walking the line between becoming a Silver and remaining a Red, Mare struggles with her identity. As rumors of rebellion begin to circulate, she must decide who’s side she is on–and who she can trust to be on that side with her.

Should You Read It?

If you’re a fan of the young adult dystopian stories like Hunger Games and Divergent, you’ll love this book. The themes of class distinction and rebellion are strong undercurrents. If you’re into paranormal romance stories like Twilight, you may also enjoy Red Queen–although the romance is very light and the story has more to do with Mare’s struggle with her identify than it does with her love life. The writing style is fast-paced and to-the-point, with plenty of plot twists and teasers closing nearly every chapter. If all this sounds up your alley, I would give it a shot.

Links and References

Author Information: Website, Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Epic Reads (Publisher)

Book Reviews: USA Today, Kirkus Reviews

Purchase: Buy It On Amazon.com

Other Books by Victoria Aveyard: Red Queen is Victoria Aveyard’s debut novel.