Monday, September 26, 2016

The Extraordinary in Teen Fiction

“I had just come to accept that my life would be ordinary when extraordinary things began to happen.” So begins Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, the wildly popular teen novel that inspired Tim Burton’s latest film, to be released on September 30. Be sure to read Ransom Riggs’ wondrously strange book before seeing the movie, and then head for PWPL’s teen shelves to find one of these other novels featuring teenagers with extraordinary abilities or ordinary teens struggling to survive extraordinary situations. Each and every one is as entertaining as any movie, for adults as well as teens.
Ransom Riggs wrote Tales of the Peculiar as a companion to Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children and its two sequels, Hollow City and Library of Souls. Fans of those novels will want to fill gaps in their Peculiars knowledge with these sometimes lovely, sometimes macabre cautionary tales “passed down from generation to generation since time immemorial.”
William Ritter’s Jackaby series has been described as “Sherlock Holmes meets Doctor Who,” and fans of those quirky characters will not be disappointed by eccentric investigator R.F.Jackaby and his keenly observant assistant, Abigail Rook. Jackaby possesses encyclopedic knowledge, the ability to see the supernatural, and a seriously ugly hat. Seeking independence from her parents, Abigail arrives in New Fiddleham, New England, 1892, and is immediately caught up in Jackaby’s thrilling search for a serial killer. Two sequels, Beastly Bones and Ghostly Echoes, offer new mysteries for our intrepid investigators to solve, along with the same delightful Victorian setting, quirky humor, and unforgettably odd characters.
Kendare Blake’s Anna Dressed in Blood might make a great horror-romance flick, but reading the gory, action-packed book offers more than enough thrills and chills. Seventeen-year-old Cas Lowood took over the family business of killing ghosts after his father was brutally murdered by an especially nasty spirit. Armed with his deadly athame knife, Cas roams the country with his mother and their spirit-sniffing cat, in search of murderous ghosts to destroy. After an anonymous tip sends him to Thunder Bay, Ontario, Cas meets his match in teenage ghost Anna, still dressed in the same blood-soaked dress she wore when she was murdered in 1958. Consumed by rage, Anna kills everyone who dares to enter her house – until Cas arrives and she inexplicably spares his life. Will Cas be able to finish the job he came for, in spite of his growing fascination for Anna Dressed in Blood? It is highly entertaining to get inside his head as Cas narrates this utterly compelling story with dry humor and a large dose of bravado.
The Rest of Us Just Live Here, by Patrick Ness, is a laugh-out-loud funny satire about ordinary high school students trying to finish up their senior year in the most normal way possible amid an invasion of deadly Immortals. Mikey and his friends are safe from the Immortals, who target only the chosen “indie kids,” but it’s hard to focus on prom when your classmates keep turning up dead. Action and adventure take a backseat to everyday problems, as Mikey and his friends discover that they’re all extraordinary in their own ways, because “everyone’s got something.” “Everybody matters.”
Leigh Bardugo’s heart-stopping thriller Six of Crows was inspired by the author’s favorite heist films, “Oceans Eleven” and “The Dirty Dozen.” Young Kaz Brekker is a well-known criminal prodigy in Ketterdam, a bustling city of international trade rife with corruption and greed. Kaz is offered the chance of a lifetime, to pull off a deadly heist that will make him rich beyond his wildest dreams – but he can’t do it alone. He gathers a crew of five uniquely talented young people and sets out with them to storm the impenetrable Ice Court, on a mission none of them is likely to survive. Readers will want to set aside a big chunk of time to enjoy this exciting, unputdownable book and its soon-to-be-released sequel, Crooked Kingdom.
--Mary Schneeberger, Teen Services Coordinator

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