Finbar Frame has a lot of things going against him. He's not a popular star athlete like his brother, he's allergic to the sun, and... oh yes, his name is Finbar. When a girl on the train sees Finbar's pale skin and bandaged arms, she has a suspicion about what he really is. When she asks what happened to his arms and Finbar answers, "Too much sun," she's not repulsed or confused as most people would be. Instead, she's delighted.
That's because she thinks that this strange boy must be a vampire like the one in the book she's reading. She's wrong, of course, and Finbar thinks that the whole idea is ridiculous and insulting. But when he realizes that LOTS of girls think that vampires are sexy, he begins to change his mind. Bloodthirsty by Flynn Meaney is a thought-provoking book about identity, about relationships, and about honesty. And at the same time, it's also quite hilarious. Finn has a very snarky and sarcastic way of speaking and thinking, and you will be torn between laughing with him and at him throughout this book. But you will also sympathize with him as he tries to get girls to date him, struggles to find the RIGHT girl, and deals with the consequences of being a fake vampire.
Evie, on the other hand, would love to be normal. She wishes that she was an ordinary teenager who went to school with other ordinary teenagers, who divided her time between going to class and kissing boys. Unfortunately, that's not possible. Because ever since she was eight years old, she's been working for the International Paranormal Containment Agency. She spends her days visiting different locations all over the world, using her special ability to see through the disguises of supernatural creatures. Once she finds them, she uses her favorite weapon (a pink taser decorated with rhinestones) to subdue the creatures and then sends them away to a place where they can't hurt people. Paranormalcy by Kiersten White tells the story of Evie and the variety of strange creatures who play important roles in her life. Like her best friend (a mermaid), her ex-boyfriend (a faerie), and an unusual but handsome intruder who is keeping a lot of secrets (a shapeshifter). Evie is a great heroine; she's tough and funny and brave. That bravery is going to be very useful when she discovers that there is a dark faerie prophesy about the destruction of paranormal creatures, and that the faeries think that she is an important part of that prophesy. When paranormals start dying left and right, that's when things get REALLY dangerous.
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi is an unusual story in a very unusual setting. Nailer, Sloth, Pima, Moon Girl, and Tick-tock are part of a light crew, a group of young people who salvage old oil tankers for parts. The story takes place some time in the earth's future, when the sea levels have risen so high that many cities around the world are under water. Poor people like Nailer have to take dangerous jobs like ship breaking to earn enough money to survive, while rich people can afford state-of-the-art clipper ships that use parasails and hydrofoils to fly across the oceans at incredible speeds. And then one day a hurricane causes a rich person's ship to be wrecked near the ship breaker's beach, and the lines between rich and poor people are suddenly and violently broken. This book contains both human and genetically-created "half-man" characters, who have varied and sometimes unexpected levels of kindness, empathy, and loyalty. The scenes at the beginning of the book of Nailer squeezing through tiny passages deep inside an empty oil tanker are so well-drawn that they will make readers feel claustrophobic. As the story continues and Nailer leaves the tankers and his beach behind, readers will see how the lessons he learned about bravery and loyalty while working as a ship breaker are going to be tested as he goes out into the wide (and dangerous) world.
John Smith is pretending to be an ordinary teenager living in the town of Paradise, Ohio. But he isn't ordinary at all; in fact, he's not even human. The premise of I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is that John Smith is one of nine teenagers from the planet Lorien who are living on planet Earth using false identities. They fled their war-torn planet a decade ago with their adult guardians, and each of them has been waiting for their powers (called Legacies) to develop. They are pretending to be human, trying not to draw attention to themselves in order to be safe from the evil Mogadorians. The plan was that they would each develop their Legacies and then train together to fight the Mogadorians. But unfortunately, the Mogadorians found them first. Now the teenager who calls himself John Smith has to hope that his powers develop before the Mogadorians come to kill him. This book is the first in the Lorien Legacies series, and it has also been made into a movie that is going to be released by DreamWorks in 2011.
Note: This is definitely the first time that I have ever recommended a book written by an alien author who is currently in hiding!