Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Almost two years ago we reviewed Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  You may recall that book: we discussed the misleading and unappealing (to boys) cover.  Well, the publishers must have listened, because over the various printings and editions of it and its two sequels, we went from this:

To this:

To these:

All I can say is thank you.  These are much better, and much more unisex.


From Across the Universe, where Amy wakes up from a cryogenic sleep too early only to find that life aboard the Godspeed has changed to a bizarre society nothing like expected, to A Million Suns where she and Elder discover that the Godspeed may already be orbiting their destination (and has been for decades or even centuries), we finally arrive at Shades of Earth and the possible conclusion of the journey and the series.

Having been forced at the end of the previous book to evacuate and land despite warnings that the planet iss swarming with monsters, our crew successfully lands the shuttle and wakes the remaining cryogenically frozen crew members.  Facing this strange turn of events, Amy's militarily-minded father and the scientists don't trust the shipborn Godspeed residents and immediately clash.  This tension is only made worse by a mysterious force murdering folks.  Is it aliens?  It must be aliens.

Reading this series is reading a genuine classic sci-fi story.  One can find more than a few social critiques in this, the same way the the stories of old did.  Despite initial impressions (and those old covers) there is no more romance in here than there is in any other sci-fi series.  I only wish that it hadn't been written in first-person present tense.  Even with that in mind, I still recommend it.  I quite enjoyed it.  Just make sure to get the ones with the newest covers.

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Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller & Zack Stent

People generally run away when they hear gunshots. Not Colin though. He stayed right where he was so he could see the nine-millimeter handgun. The gun that mysteriously went off in his school cafeteria while people were eating Melissa's birthday cake.
Everyone believes that the gun belongs to Wayne Connelly. It fits. He's the big bad wolf in school. Wayne is sent home and not to show up at school until further notice. End of story. Colin, however, knew they've got the wrong guy. Even though Wayne's absence at the school means no more head dunking in toilet water for Colin, he is going to prove Wayne's innocence, but so far, the only evidence he's got is that Wayne was a neat eater and the gun had icing and cake all over it.
Teen realistic fiction is not my usual reading fare, but I've heard good things about Colin Fischer by Ashley Edward Miller and Zack Stent, and I know a few teens who enjoy straightforward and funny school stories, so I thought I'd give this a try.  Colin Fischer is an okay read. Every book that is written with a protagonist with an autism spectrum disorder trying to solve a mystery will undoubtedly be compared to The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon.  It's hard to not find the premise derivative, but the voice of the narrator is strong enough to keep readers' interest, and the footnotes give extra insight into the mind of Colin. How the friendship develops between Colin and Wayne also feels natural. The mystery, on the other hand, is weak and even by the end of the book, when Colin "solves" the mystery so to speak, there is really no explanation for the motives behind the gun.
Colin Fischer is a non-intimidating read, so it'll be a good one to suggest to teens who are looking for a light read. Another selling point for this book is the authors' previous works. They've collaborated as screenwriters on the X-Men and Thor films, and that fact may earn the book some credibility.  Note: The book for the most part is appropriate for younger teens, but there is a vague reference to some "funny business".
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More boys reading

We aren't the only ones out here on the internet doing this kind of thing.  There are a good many others finding great boys' reads, and we haven't really done much to send you their way if you haven't already found them.

I won't go repeating other people's lists, but I will link you to a good one someone else made: Maggie Lyons Blog.  I don't want to steal her hard work, so head on over there for plenty of blogs and resources.
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Seconds Away by Harlan Coben

I had no idea this was a sequel.  I also had no idea that it was a spinoff of Harlan Coben's adult series.  I picked it up and started reading, and was tossed into the middle of a story I didn't know anything about. Seconds Away picks up immediately after the events of the first book, Shelter.  Mickey Bolitar finds himself in the home of an apparently crazy old lady who informs him that his dead father is not in fact dead, and that the paramedic that supposedly helped them is in fact a Nazi from 80 years ago, unaged.

I didn't immediately understand any of this, but the story is well recapped so I got the gist of the previous book.  Mickey and his outcast friends saved another classmate from a terrible situation, but it left the town and his new school under the impression that he was a troublemaking bad kid. 

Now an even sorrier situation comes up: the most popular, prettiest girl in the school (who incidentally helped Mickey out in the previous installment) is now in hospital, having been shot.  Her mother was murdered in the same incident.  Mickey is determined to get to the bottom of this. 

Also, he's trying to make the school basketball team.  Priorities, you know?

Seconds Away feels forced, almost as if the author was holding back in the name of writing for teens.  That said, it's still pretty page-turney.  You can pick it up without having read the first book or the adult series and still get a good idea of what's going on. This is probably best suited to kids who are reasonably advanced readers but are still maybe a little too young for more mature sex and violence.  Make no mistake, there is murder here, but nothing graphic.

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