Adventurous Books for Adventurous Readers
Don't we all just need a wild escape sometimes? This roundup of staff picks includes books for boys and girls, middle grade through young adult, plus anyone who appreciates great books for children and teens.
Zombie Season #1: ZOMBIE SEASON, by Justin Weinberger
A smart, new take on Zombies perfect for middle grade boys, girls and reluctant readers. In this dystopian future, zombies have become part of life. Super-heated Zombies eat everything in their path, and when they group together in swarms, they can take out entire towns in minutes. Their eyes glow orange from their internal heat, and when grouped, their combined temperature and eyes light the sky in an eerie orange, alerting humans with a Dusk Alert, an early-warning system, like tornado and weather watches. Joule, Regina and Oliver are brought together after surviving unexpected zombie attacks. They figure out something is different, but no one will listen to a bunch of 11-year-olds. Until it’s too late. I especially love the super-smart, survival skills of the characters, especially because of how often kids this age are dismissed as being too young. I finished this book in one sitting, and I'm definitely left wanting more. This book is bound to be a hit with juvenile readers, boys and girls, reluctant readers for sure, and also mystery and espionage fans, because by the end, it turns out there is much more at stake, and much going on behind-the-scenes, setting up the second book as the three investigate more on the origins of the zombies. Also a game on Roblox! I tried and failed, but I did get past level one. I'll need to have one of the kids teach me to play, since I'm more of a puzzle-game girl versus a first-person multi-player. Scholastic and Roblox's partnership creates the perfect book and game team to capture the imaginations of gamers, reluctant readers, and zombie slayers alike. Read the book. Play the game. Fight the undead. Scholastic Press, Sept. 5, 2023, Ages 8 - 12, $15, 9781338881714.
Genre/BISAC: Juvenile Fiction, Science Fiction, Zombies, Plagues, Espionage, Thriller, Adventure, Survival, Distopian, Not-too-Scary Stories.
Down to Davy Jones, Caribbean Chronicles Book 5, by Eddie Jones
Down to Davy Jones Locker, the fifth installment in the Caribbean Chronicles series, takes readers on an exhilarating journey with Ricky Bradshaw, a pirate-loving teen who also grapples with absence seizures. This unique blend of historical adventure and contemporary struggles forms the backdrop of a compelling story. Ricky’s world is turned upside down when his mother falls ill, prompting him to make a daring decision. He agrees to a baptism from a pirate preacher, only to find himself transported back in time onto a chaotic pirate ship during a raging storm. From there, the tale unfolds with supernatural twists. As Ricky and a stowaway, Jonah, find themselves in the belly of a kraken, the narrative takes a surreal turn. Encounters with mythical creatures include deviled crabs, man-eating birds, and wolf spiders. But the true heart of the story lies in Ricky’s journey through the Great Abyss, guided by the enigmatic Thomas Tew, or “Tew Few.” Younger readers will revel in the thrilling pirate adventures and underworld escapades, while older readers and adults will appreciate the witty banter and satirical humor that address deeper themes and social commentary with a deft touch. And amidst the battles with half-dead pirates and malevolent demons, the characters’ struggles with faith and Christianity are seamlessly woven into the narrative, enhancing the story’s depth without overwhelming it. This subtle approach makes “Down to Davy Jones Locker” an accessible and engaging, quality, clean read for reluctant readers, both boys and girls, as well as pirate enthusiasts of all ages. Ultimately, the novel’s central message revolves around resilience and the belief that even in the darkest of times, the light of hope can guide one back from the depths of despair. Eddie Jones has crafted a captivating tale that combines elements of history, fantasy, and spirituality into a thrilling adventure that can be read on its own but will leave readers wanting to go back and read them all. Dry Bones Publishing, Sept. 26, 2023, Ages 12-17, $8.99, 9781941103456, #CaribbeanChronicles #DownToDavyJones
Genre/BISAC: YA Fiction, Contemporary Realistic, Adventure, Fantasy, Time-Travel, Pirates, Jonah, Christian, Mental Health, Disability, Absence Seizures
The Truth About Horses, by Christy Cashman
This book profoundly touched me. The Truth About Horses is undeniably one of those rare gems that captivates from start to finish. Its eloquent prose and meticulously crafted setting, coupled with the intricate bond between horses and their human counterparts, held me in its grip throughout. Set against the backdrop of South Dakota, this narrative weaves an extraordinary and captivating tale centered around Reese and Wes, a Lakota Indian. Their paths cross in the wake of harrowing personal tragedies, forming a connection that feels as organic as it is powerful. The essence of South Dakota is so skillfully interwoven that it takes on a character of its own, allowing me to immerse myself in the story—to witness breathtaking sunsets with their rose-quartz hues, hear the thunderous gallop of wild horses across the landscape, and even taste the gritty aftermath of a dust storm stirred by their hooves. As I delved deeper into the lives of Reese, Wes, and their families, I grew deeply attached to their journey. Their struggles to safeguard their family heritage, their loved ones, the horses, and ultimately themselves, resonated on a deeply emotional level. Being an animal enthusiast, particularly horses, I was naturally drawn. Beyond that, The Truth About Horses is an exquisite contemporary coming-of-age narrative, skillfully interweaving heartbreak and jubilation. This makes it a compelling read not only for fellow aficionados of YA fiction but also for anyone who appreciates graceful storytelling. SparkPress, Aug. 2023, 9781684632121.
Genre/BISAC: YA, Contemporary Realistic, Coming-of-Age, Family, Horses, Multigenerational, Lakota, Death, Tough Issues
Where Are the Aliens?: The Search for Life Beyond Earth, by Stacy McAnulty, illustrated by Nicole Miles
Packed with playful illustrations and fascinating factoids, this is the perfect book for anyone who has ever looked up and asked, "What's out there?" Whether you believe that there's life out in the universe or that Earth is unique in its ability to foster life, the existence of aliens has not yet been definitively (dis)proven. By exploring the history, theory, and science of space exploration, readers are encouraged to ponder a question: based on the science we have, what do you believe? Fun, funny, and thought provoking, WHERE ARE THE ALIENS? is the perfect book for all STEM, space, and extraterrestrial-loving young readers! Little, Brown BFYR, Sept. 5, 2023, Ages 10+, $16.99
Genre/BISAC: Juvenile Nonfiction, Middle Grade, Aliens, Adventure, Space, STEM
NEW & NOTABLE
Nightbreaker, by Coco Ma,
Am currently reading and loving! Spotlight review coming, excellent for holiday gifting, mark this title for all sci-fi, fantasy, YA fans! Viking, September 2023, Ages 14+, $19, 9780593621462, #Nightbreaker, @PenguinTeen @CakeForCoco
Genre/BISAC: YA Fiction, Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Adventure, Alternate Reality, Manhattan, Monsters, Tournament/Gaming, Strong Heroines, Mythology
The Blood of Olympus, The Heroes of Olympus Book Five, by Rick Riordan
Nico, Jason, Reyna, Leo, Piper, and the other demigods of the Argo II all have vital roles to play in the war against Gaea and the giants as the Prophecy of Seven comes to a close. The crewmembers of the Argo II decided to split up: Nico, Reyna, and Coach Hedge set out to take the Athena Parthenos to Camp Half-Blood in hopes that it will cause a peace treaty between Camp Jupiter and Camp Half-Blood. Jason, Leo, Piper, Percy, Annabeth, Hazel, and Frank stay on the Argo II and travel to Athens to stop Gaea’s giants. Jason, Leo, and Piper started the series as the main characters, so they are rightfully the main characters in the finale. Leo particularly is a strong character here. Nico also has his own point of view for the first time, and reading through Reyna’s perspective is enjoyable. The overall plot is clear, for both the series and this book: stop Gaea from rising. It works well because it is such a simple plot, yet it takes five books and over 2,500 pages for a climax and resolution. This book is so intense because this is where the conflict finally comes to a close. The Lord of the Rings has a plot that splits between the characters: Frodo and Sam split up from the Fellowship, and so do Merry and Pippin. So, there are three different quests, yet they all come together at the end to accomplish the same goal. The Blood of Olympus has this plot element, and it makes the finale satisfying, emphasizing ideals of stepping up and overcoming fear to do what must be done, and handling high, extreme expectations. The Heroes of Olympus alternate universes are a perfect mix of ancient Greek fantasy and modern world. Both the Greek mythology and the realistic aspects feel believable. This book brings out passion from readers. Percy Jackson and the Olympians remains one of the most popular speculative fiction series of all time, the sequels are bigger and better, and this finale is the best of them yet. There are no slow moments. The ending is emotional and satisfying. Readers care deeply about what happens to the characters. Rick Riordan’s writing style is action-packed yet humorous. It is funny but not so goofy that it takes away from the intense moments. This climactic finale of The Heroes of Olympus series does not disappoint. Each book of the series is amazing, and each is arguably better than its prior. So, naturally, this last book is the best of the best. The Blood of Olympus is one of my all-time favorites. Disney Hyperion, Oct. 2014, ages 9–12, $11/$20, SC: 9781423146780, HC: 9781423106258
Genre/BISAC: Teen and Young Adult Greek and Roman Myths and Legends, Teen and Young Adult Sword and Sorcery Fantasy, Teen and Young Adult Fantasy Action and Adventure, Fantasy and Magic, Legends, Myths and Fables, Kids, Fiction and Literature, Fairy Tales
-Review by Jared Salomon
Jared Salomon is a senior at Taylor University with a degree in Professional Publishing. A freelance writer with a specialty in proofreading and copy editing, Jared interned for two semesters at Childress Ink before officially joining the team as a book seller, book reviewer and associate product developer in publishing. An avid reader, Jared's reviews and publications can be found on LinkedIn, Ink-a-Dink, Childress Ink and The Echo. Also a lover of all things Chik-fil-A.