Max- James Patterson (Maximum Ride Novel #5)

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After becoming pretty interested in the first four books in this series I was very excited to get my hands on Max the fifth installment.  I was under the impression that this was the final book- I cannot remember if there was a specific reason that I believed that but- I was wrong.  The ends are not tied up neatly at the end of this book.  Instead I am once again left wondering what happens next.  I am not sure how I feel about that.

I am unsure as to how I should feel about this because this book lacked something the others had.  I am not sure exactly what it was, but I was much less satisfied with this one.  Certain parts of the story are developed more, such as the relationship between Max and Fang.  But I felt we went no where with regards to who Jeb is, how Max is going to fulfill her destiny, and several other things.  This is not to say I don’t recommend it, but just be prepared?  I will probably continue reading the series, because Patterson did what he set out to do with these books and made me want, if not NEED to know what happens in the end.

I hear that a movie is in the works… and I think that could be super cool or super lame.  We’ll see which way it goes.

On a quite positive note, one of the kids that I have in the summer camp I’m working with loves these books so we were able to establish a connection/relationship by talking about them.  Which is one of the reasons I like reading YA.

My previous recommendations for these books being suitable for middle and high school students who want to read outside of school still stands.  In fact I noticed even more in this book how careful Patterson is to make sure that the language and situations are age appropriate.

The Battle of Jericho- Sharon M. Draper

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I am a fan of Sharon Draper.  I love that her books are urban, but have subtle and not so subtle morals.  When I’ve used some of her other novels in class the students really identify with the characters.  She does it again with this book.  The characters are all easy to identify with.  This book looks at the initiation rites of an elite group of boys.  Think a non-school sanctioned high school fraternity.  The novel deals with issues surrounding fitting in and bullying.  I think that both boys and girls could identify with this book.  It could be used in a classroom, but I think I’d use Tears of a Tiger or Forged by Fire (both by Draper) before I used this one.  All in all it was a good read, and took me about 2 hours to finish it.  

One of the things I love about Draper is that, as an English teacher herself she always has resources on her website for teachers to use in class with her books.  Here’s the link for her discussion questions and other resources for The Battle of Jericho.


Arizona Young Reader Book Award Nominee 
Charlotte Award Suggested Reading List (NY) 
Coretta Scott King Award Honor Book 
IRA Young Adults’ Choices 
Rosie Award Nominee (IN) 
South Carolina Book Award Nominee 
YARP Award Master List (SD) 
Young Hoosier Book Award Master List (IN)

The White Darkness- Geraldine McCaughrean

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The White Darkness is a novel that combines history, science, mystery, and teenage angst into a great read.  It is not a quick read as many YA books are, but is still fun to read.  I felt this book had a lot of substance to it.  Sym, a 14-year old girl, has an imaginary friend in the form of an explorer that died decades before she was born.  This imaginary friend gives this book a touch of fantasy but I would still classify it as realistic fiction.  Sym’s relationship with this friend reminds me of the protagonist in Nick Hornby’s Slam‘s relationship with his Tony Hawk poster.  Sym is a strong female character who uses her brain.  There is a slight love interest in the story, and plenty of intrigue.  I think this book could be used in a 9-12 classroom.  



2008 Printz Award Winner


Whale Talk- Chris Crutcher

I just finished reading this book almost entirely straight through.  I found it interesting, engaging, and felt it touched on several key issues for teens today.  The protagonist is a 17 year old male, and is multi-racial.  The book deals with racism, child abuse, domestic violence, sexual assault, the mentally handicapped, the physically handicapped, obesity, and the general need for acceptance that most teens can relate to.  I thought the characters were likeable and easy to relate to.  There are even great multi-syllable vocabulary words- thanks to one brainiac character.  The novel revolves around a make-shift swim team, so it may be of interest to swimmers, or other athletes- especially those who don’t play the “big sports” like football, basketball, and soccer or hockey.  I could see this being a book that is used as a classroom read for 9th-12th graders.  The language is easily understandable, but the themes are complex enough for any high school student to glean meaning from.


ALA Popular Paperbacks for YA 2005

ABC Children’s Booksellers Choices Award 2002

Washington State Book Award 2002

Pacific Northwest Booksellers Award 2002

Outstanding Sports Book Award/YA 2002

ALA Best Book for YA

TLA Tayshas List

New York Public Library Books for the Teen Age

ALA Top 10 Best Books for YA

Book Sense 76 Pick