George, Jessica Day. Silver in the Blood. New York: Bloomsbury, 2015. 978-1-61963-431-2. 358 p. $17.99. Gr. 7-12.
Dacia and Lou are cousins, best friends, and debutantes in New York around the turn of the century. They know little about their Romanian ancestors, the Florescus, just that their mothers left Romania in their late teens and never returned. As they turn 17, Dacia and Lou travel to Romania to meet their mysterious grandmother, Lady Iona, as well as the rest of the Florescus clan. The family matriarch is demanding and harsh but lets the girls in on a family secret; they are descended from a long line of shape shifters who can turn into the Claw (wolf), the Wing (bat), and the Smoke (mist). Lady Iona demands that the girls use their powers to aid Prince Mihai, a descendent of the Dracula clan, to overthrow the current throne. While Lou is empowered and embraces her gift, Dacia struggles to find comfort with her new powers. Unnerved by their grandmother’s demands, the girls find Prince Mihai to be cunning, manipulative, and deadly. Teaming up with two gentleman with secrets of their own, Lou and Dacia find courage in themselves and within one another to go against their family. THOUGHTS: This historical fantasy set in 1897 is a worthy addition to any teen section looking for strong, empowered female characters.
Fantasy (Paranormal) Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School
Cline, Ernest. Armada. New York: Crown Publishers, 2015. 978-0-8041-3725-6. 349p. $26.00. Gr 9-12.
Self described “full-time geek” Ernest Cline takes on aliens in his sophomore title. Zack Lightman’s life revolves around sci-fi videogames, books, and movies. His late father left him a journal listing all of his favorites, and Zack explores them all to feel connected to his dad. Zack day-dreams of his favorite video game, Armada, so when he sees the same spaceship from the game outside of his school, he knows it must be his imagination… right? Wrong. Soon Zack is swept up into an impending war with an alien species, and must use his video game skills to fight the enemy. The truth about his father’s past, the world’s long standing fight with aliens, and why we really play video games are all revealed through the course of the story. Pop-culture references seem a bit forced at times, but younger science fiction fans won’t be fazed. THOUGHTS: Critics and readers will inevitably compare this to Cline’s immensely successful debut, Ready Player One, but it’s best to read Armada as it’s own title to fully enjoy the story.
Science Fiction Vicki Schwoebel, Friends’ Central School