Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Book Reviews: Orca Publishing -- Viral and Beyond Repair

I was sent some books to review from Orca Publishing. These books are part of their Orca Soundings (for older teens) and Orca Currents (for younger teens) series for reluctant readers. These books are short (around 125 pages), there's lots of white space, the sentences are simple, and the vocabulary is mostly basic. The subject matter tries to focus on current, edgy topics that may be of interest to today's teens. These books are easy to finish - and that's what this type of student needs. To feel they can finish something. They need to read for a very short time and be holding a lot of pages in their left hand. These books are what they are. They aren't complex, or innovative. They have simple, fairly predictable plots. But I can tell you they have great appeal to a large segment of our teen reader population, and I've successfully suggested this series to many students.

Viral, by Alex Van Tol
 Mike is our main character, and he has discovered he is in love with his life-long best friend, Lindsay.  Before he gets a chance to confess his feelings, there's a terrible misunderstanding and Lindsay won't talk to Mike, and begins to hang around with a group of friends who have a less-than-perfect reputation.  Lindsay begins to get involved in things that Mike can't believe she would ever do.

Things go too far at a party, Lindsey and another boy have sex and it is recorded on a cell phone and goes viral throughout the school.

Mike wants to help, but he doesn't know how. Lindsay is upset, and doesn't  know what to do.  This book is for older teens -- there's drinking, and sex, but not explicit. There's no problem with language -- I think they did say "Jesus" once, but that's all.

Students will easily relate to this story. They will relate to these situations, and sympathize with the characters.

Beyond Repair, by Lois Peterson

This story is appropriate for younger teens. The main character, Cam, is the man of the house since his father's death. He does his best to take care of his little sister, Leah. He feels a lot of pressure, and when the man who killed his father turns up, Cam can't stand it. His father was killed when he walked out in front of a moving car. He begins to see this man everywhere and feels like his family is being stalked.

The book is about Cam and his mother coming to terms and beginning to heal after this tragedy. I felt that Cam overreacted to this supposed stalking, but maybe that is realistic for a young boy in this situation. There's a bit of tension, but not much, and I'm not sure students will personally relate to this book as easily, but they can still be drawn to this story.

These are ARCs provided by the publisher.
Both of these books were scheduled for release on April 1, 2011

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