Paranormal


julie_kagawa_the_immortal_rulesIn a world ruled by vampires, Allison Sekemoto survives by staying hidden and scavenging for food. When hunger forces her to venture outside the safety of home, she is attacked and offered a choice: to die or become what she hates most. A vampire.

Allie struggles to learn vampire ways and accept and what her new form means to the humans she has left behind. Another attack forces her to flee from the city and into the wild where she will be stalked by rabids, diseased and deadly creatures. But Allie isn’t the only one braving those wilds. In the night, she comes upon a group of humans on a quest to find a legendary city. A safe haven for humans. A city without vampires. Allie vows to protect them on their journey, but can she really succeed when the deadliest threat is her own hunger?

Kagawa sends her readers plummeting through a masterfully woven plot into a post-apocalyptic world in which humans are ruled by vampires and stalked by rabids. While heroine Allie seems cold-hearted and indifferent at the story’s opening, it is in her vampire form that she develops love for others, creating an intriguing paradox.

Language Content
No F-bombs, but other curses peppered throughout.

Sexual Content
Insinuations, but no graphic content.

Spiritual Content
Allison encounters a group who are people of faith. Precisely what they believe isn’t deeply explored, but faith is portrayed as a very admirable and positive thing, even if such optimism is hard for Allison to understand. In Kagawa’s world, vampires may be either good or evil, depending on their relationship with the living. They will either abuse and dominate or perhaps struggle to check their power and thirst and protect humans.

Violence
Lots of violence. Creatures called rabids, human and animal, viciously pursue and devour any they can capture. Some references to past torture.

Drug Content
Random guy drinks a beer.

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darkwaterWith her famed family estate lost to a mysterious stranger, Sarah and her father have been forced on the kindness of a former servant and her family. When Sarah loses her job, she swallows her pride and accepts a new position assisting Azrael, the owner of her former home. A job isn’t all the strange man seems interested in. Disturbing rumors about how he acquired the estate buzz around Sarah’s head, and his question lingers in her mind: for what price would she offer him her soul? She resists, but tragedy forces her hand. All Sarah can do now is try to save the next desperate person from sharing her fate.

While the concept of the story is very intriguing, the most interesting part is left out of the story. She makes an agreement in trade for her soul and then the story cuts ahead to the future, to the next fly caught in Azrael’s trap.  As Sarah tries to help this next victim, the intensity builds to a mighty climax that is resolved too simply and easily. The author does, however, make excellent use of unexpected twists in the plot which repaint all the reader thinks he knows about the story. Darkwater is packed with elements of intrigue and mystery.

Language Content
Mild.

Sexual Content
Very mild.

Spiritual Content
There is some allusion to the idea that the character Azrael has supernatural abilities that seem to have no direct connection to God or any particular religion.

Violence
A few suspenseful moments, but no real graphic violence.

Drug Content
None.

The Book Thief by Markus ZusakA mysterious narrator gives an account of a young girl who has an unusual vice: she steals books. Death comes for the girl’s brother as she and her mother wait for a train to take them to a foster home where the children will be safe. It is he, the collector of souls, who is the only witness to the girl’s first thievery, and he begins to follow her story.

Life in Liesel’s new home is a difficult adjustment, plagued with nightmares, but through them, she and her foster father form a bond through reading the book Liesel has stolen: a grave-digger’s manual. As Liesel grows, over and over written words touch her life: a book stolen from the embers of a Nazi bonfire, from the mayor’s library, written to her by a man in hiding.

Death follows her story as a foreigner in her world, relaying the sequences of events with raw imagery and striking language, often creating the feel of a black-and-white picture with one color highlighted through it. Liesel’s journey is both joyful and heart-rending, harsh and beautiful. This is the most unusual World War II story I’ve ever read.

Watch the trailer that won the 2006 Teen Book Video Award below…


Language Content
Mild to moderate.

Sexual Content
Very mild.

Spiritual Content
The story is told from the viewpoint of a spirit-being who collects the souls of the dead.

Violence
Some war violence – not hugely graphic or explicit.

Drug Content
none

So YesterdayWhen Hunter meets a girl with a whole different way of doing her shoelaces, he has no idea the strange adventure that’s about to begin. Through her, he winds up invited to a secret meeting at which he stumbles onto a pair of amazing shoes, and the possibility that his cool-hunting boss has been kidnapped. Hunter and his new friend pursue the shoemakers, trying to discover what’s become of his boss, Mandy. Full of quirky characters and with Hunter’s off-the-wall sense of humor and irony, So Yesterday was a worthy read. Go Hunter, the Mighty Penguin!

The more I read by Scott Westerfeld, the more respect I have for him. I guess I’m a little old-fashioned, but I like YA that is cleaner, at least that doesn’t brazenly plaster sexual situations across its pages. Scott Westerfeld handles these situations elegantly, acknowledging them without overstating them. I like that and really enjoy knowing I can recommend these stories to younger teens with confidence, knowing that it isn’t exposing them to thoughts and ideas that are, for now, outside their experience.

Language
Light

Sexual Content
Light. While Hunter is attracted to a girl, not much happens between them physically through the course of the story.

Spiritual Content
None

Violence
Very light

Drug Content
Alcohol is served to guests at a product launch party. Underage characters drink juice cocktails– it’s not totally clear whether they expected the juice to be spiked, but hard to believe it came as a surprise, and there’s not really any clear remorse for consuming alcohol under age.

Breaking Dawn by Stephenie Meyer

At last– the moment Twilight fans have dreamed of: Edward and Bella marry and retreat to a private island for a honeymoon. When it becomes obvious that Bella is pregnant– and with an extraordinary child– the couple returns home to care for Bella and possibly even protect her from the child in her womb. But the only way to save Bella may be to transform her.

When the dreaded Volturi close in on the Cullen Family, presumably to kill the child, Bella commits to do whatever it takes to protect the child she saw in her dreams. As the battle looms nearer, it becomes clear to Bella that she has more strength than even she gave herself credit for. But will it be enough to protect her new family from total destruction?

Language
There was a little bit more swearing in this novel compared to the first. Light bordering moderate.

Sexual Content
So now that Edward and Bella are married, the party is on. Meyer does a fair job keeping the details of Bella and Edward’s sex life strictly between them. Hints about it are dropped, and the room is damaged, but there’s no play by play description of the events that occur.

Spiritual Content
Largely the same as the other Twilight books. The Edward Cullen and his family are “good” vampires who’ve chosen only to feed on animals, not humans. They are at odds with the “bad” vampires who consider themselves superior to the human race and still kill/bite people. Werewolves emerge to protect the people of Forks, WA.

Violent Content
The Volturi are as ruthless as ever, destroying one vampire in the midst of a conflict. The baby emerging from Bella is a little graphic.

Drug Content
None.

New Moon by Stephenie MeyerThe sequel to Twilight, New Moon picks up a few months after its predecessor. It’s Bella’s birthday, and despite her wishes that there be no fuss, the Cullen family make quite an occasion of it. But the party spawns a sequence of events that shatters Bella’s world. She finds herself alone, feeling as if a gaping hole exists through the center of her very being. As she struggles to cope, and to carve out some semblance of life around the edges of her wound, she at last finds a friend. But when battle lines are drawn again, she finds herself torn between mortal enemies, and she must choose between them.

Language
There was a little bit more swearing in this novel compared to the first. Light bordering moderate.

Sexual Content
Still very little physical sexual contact at all. Huge amounts of romantic tension between them, though. Bella and Edward’s desire for each other is very obvious.

Spiritual Content
Largely the same as Twilight. The hero and his family are “good” vampires who’ve chosen only to feed on animals, not humans. They are at odds with the “bad” vampires who consider themselves superior to the human race and still kill/bite people. In New Moon, werewolves also emerge. In the story their abilities are used to protect the people of Forks, WA.

Violent Content
A powerful vampire clan brings a victim in to feast on. Another plot appears to be underway to kill Bella.

Drug Content
None.

Twilight by Stephenie MeyerWhen Bella reluctantly moves to the dark and dreary city of Forks, Washington to live with her father, she is not expecting much out of life. A few precious days of sunshine at most. But fate brings something to her that’s far more dear and far more deadly. At first Edward Cullen seems repulsed by her presence– and for no reason at all. Gradually he softens toward her, but still remains aloof though alluring. But once Bella learns his secret, and the war it causes inside him, she begins to understand. He is a vampire, and she has already fallen in love with him.

Language
Light

Sexual Content
While there is a great deal of romantic tension between Edward and Bella, there is almost no physical romance between them. He does often stay nearby at night and watch over her, but she is not aware of his presence at first, and even when she is, their contact remains very limited.

Spiritual Content
Edward and his family are all vampires who have committed not to bite (and therefore infect or kill) humans. They feed only on animals. They are immortal beings, with some question as to whether or not they still possess a soul. Another group of vampires still choosing to attack humans are portrayed as the villains in the story.

Violence
A battle occurs between the “good” and “bad” vampires. One threatens and attempts to kill Bella, and she’s severely injured.

Drug Content
None

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