Oliver, Ben. The Loop. Chicken House, 2020. 978-1-338-58930-6. 368 p. $18.99. Grades 9 and up.
The Loop. The high-tech prison serving adolescent death-row inmates is a unique hellscape. With torture every night and isolation most of the day, these juveniles are the dregs of society, committers of crimes so unspeakable as to be sentenced to death before they ever turn 18. But one thing can “save” them; choosing a ‘Delay’ extends their sentence by 6 months. Another 6 months to live, but only if they partake in scientific experiments including experimental surgeries, that’s assuming they survive. Everything runs like clockwork, down to the minute the same thing happens every day. Until it doesn’t. Until the rain doesn’t come. Set in a society where the government has the control, even over the weather, what will happen when things go awry, when the people revolt?
THOUGHTS: A thrilling-fast paced dystopia, The Loop will appeal to fans of The Maze Runner and The Hunger Games.
Saujani, Reshma. Girls Who Code. Viking, 2017. 9780425287538. $17.99. 168 p. Gr. 5-8.
Written by the founder of the Girls Who Code foundation and website, an organization created to bridge the gender gap in technology, Reshma Saujani encourages girls to take up code writing as a key for their own personal needs and entertainment but most especially as a path for their future careers. Conversational in tone and interspersed with original artwork, this informational guide explains in clear and simple language the vocabulary and elements of coding, provides a brief history of computer developments, presents a Q and A with girls who participate in Girls Who Code activities and profiles the work and achievements of real women working in today’s tech fields. Includes glossary and index. Thoughts: Though aimed at a middle-grade audience, it is recommended for elementary, middle and high schools, a perfect title to encourage girls of all ages to explore tech as a hobby or an academic pursuit. More resources available at GirlsWhoCode.com for librarians or teachers who may be interested in starting a girls’ coding club at their schools.
005.1 Computer Science Nancy Summers, Abington School District
Black, Holly and Cassandra Clare. The Silver Mask (Magisterium Bk. 4). Scholastic Press, 2017. 978-0-545-52236-6 232p. $17.99. Gr. 5 and up.
Another solid book in the fast-moving Magisterium series, this books starts after Call has spent six months in prison, framed for a crime he did not commit. Even in prison, there are choices that Call has to make. Call is constantly asking himself, “Am I evil?” “If I do this, is it good or bad?” There is a quick, suspenseful prison break that moves the story forward. The action never stops, except for a few moments of possible romance. THOUGHTS: This series is great for middle-grade readers of fantasy. It may satisfy Percy Jackson fans as well as Harry Potter fans. Readers will come away pondering the demarcation between good and evil and wondering if there is a grey area.