Nothing keeps the pages turning during summer vacation like a thrilling, fast-paced adventure story. Over the last few summers, upper-elementary and middle-school readers have been gobbling up series like Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan and the Alex Rider Adventure series by Anthony Horowitz. Both series feature action on almost every page, and a cliffhanger at the end of almost every chapter. The popularity of action-adventure-thrillers for young teens and tweens shows no signs of abating, if the number of new series being published is any indication. Here are just a few of the action-filled titles we booktalked to middle school students in Everett this spring.
Have you ever wondered why adults act so strange sometimes? In Resisters, by Eric Nylund, we learn that aliens took over our planet 50 years ago and brainwashed all the adults. Unfortunately for the aliens, the human children of earth are immune to their mind-control, and a small group of pre-adolescent guys and gals are hoping to save the planet from alien domination with the assistance of giant insect-robot-fighting creatures.
Speaking of giant creatures, Tentacles by Roland Smith is book two in the Cryptid Hunters series. Thirteen year old orphans Grace and Marty live with their uncle, a cryptozoologist, on a tiny island off the Washington coast called Cryptos Island. They are determined to finagle their way onto their uncle’s latest expedition to prove the existence of the legendary Kraken. Throw in a little espionage, a double-agent or two, some heart-pounding chase scenes, funny one-liners and some really cool spy gadgets, and this is a thrill a minute. Reading book one, Cryptid Hunters, first is recommended but not necessary.
Here There Be Monsters: the Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H.P. Newquist makes a nice non-fiction pairing with Tentacles, and features actual photos of the very elusive colossal squid.
On the darker side and not for the squeamish, Unwind by Neil Shusterman features a not-so-distant future where troublesome teens can be “unwound,” and their body parts harvested to save the lives of others; or to supply the wealthy with fresh, young parts. Black humor, some very likable characters and a glimmer of hope at the end keep this from being a total downer. The teens in Unwind who are desperate to escape “Harvest Camp” and preserve their own skin are reminiscent of the characters in Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, another dark adventure series full of biting social commentary.
Not all is gloom and doom in teen fiction. Hero by Mike Lupica is the first book in a new series about a teenage boy who unexpectedly inherits superpowers when his father’s small private plane suspiciously crashes. Zach realizes his father was keeping secrets from both him and his mother about the true nature of his job as special advisor to the president of the United States. Superpowers come in handy for thwarting muggers and would-be assassins, but are no match for the perils of high school and early adolescence.
If devouring these titles leaves you wanting more, visit the library and ask the youth services librarians for more summer reading suggestions. We don’t just work with books for kids and teens, we read them, too!
Check out the 2011 Summer Reading Program while you are there.