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Adult Books 4 Teens
Inside Adult Books 4 Teens

Weekly Reviews: Monster Thrillers

Benjamin Percy’s Red Moon is a political thriller as much as werewolf horror novel, in the same way that World War Z is about military strategy. Red Moon reflects the current state of our world, in particular terrorism, persecuted minorities, and the importance of energy sources in today’s political decision-making. In fact, Justin Cronin (author of The Passage), dubbed it “the world’s first 9/11 werewolf book” in his New York Times review. This book would likely appeal to teen readers even if it didn’t include two teen characters, one a lycan, the other fully human and considering joining an anti-lycan group.

The description of Island 731 brings to mind The Island of Dr. Moreau, doesn’t it? I also wonder if it might appeal to older fans of Yancey’s The Monstrumologist. has posted the prologue.

Both of these thrillers are cinematic, action-packed and fast-paced. Great summer fare!

PERCY, Benjamin. Red Moon. 530p. Grand Central. May 2013. Tr $25.99. ISBN 9781455501663.  Red Moon

Adult/High School-In the present day there exists a large group of people who are “lycans.” They aren’t mythical werewolves-their violent transformations occur due to a virus that is similar to mad-cow disease.  They’ve been around for hundreds of years and even have their own country.  Unfortunately, an extremist faction is striking out against the U.S. with coordinated terrorist attacks.  There is no subtlety in how the lycans target populations, and the novel features strong parallels to Middle Eastern terrorists, including issues of U.S. military occupation, debates over national registries of the lycans, and the U.S.’s connection to the valued energy resources in the lycan republic. The author weaves together the stories of several characters, including the president and a few of the antagonists, but teens will especially enjoy the plotline featuring Claire and Patrick. She is lycan and her life has just been shattered by the discovery that her parents are activists, while he’s the sole survivor of a lycan terrorist attack and his father is stationed overseas.  They are trying to figure out who they are and where their family allegiances lie while the world around them is changing dramatically and for the worse. This is an exciting story, much like a blockbuster action film.  It’s quite long, but uncomplicated, and most teens won’t find it a difficult read. Fans of Michael Crichton’s fast paced, realistic, yet imaginative, storytelling will enjoy it, and it could also be a hit with “Walking Dead” fans, as it includes plenty of survival and bloody action within the pages.–Sarah Debraski, formerly of Somerset County Library System, NJ

ROBINSON, Jeremy. Island 731. 343p. Thomas Dunne. Mar. 2013. Tr $25.99. ISBN 978-0-312-61787-5. LC 2012042087.  Island 731

Adult/High School–Atrocities committed by Nazis in the name of science during World War II are well documented.  Less well known is Unit 731, Japan’s covert operation involving sadistic experiments on human beings. Using this as a starting point, Island 731 imagines what would happen if the operation were still active. A boat carrying environmental scientists sent to explore the Great Pacific Garbage Patch stumble upon a deformed loggerhead turtle–the deformity being the result of human intervention. Later that night, a creature climbs aboard their ship, killing some crew members and carrying others off. The remaining crew members’ attempt to rescue their colleagues leads them to an uncharted island whose existence was hidden by the garbage patch. As they search the island, they find evidence that Unit 731 is still active. Creatures on this island are all hybrids, each having the deadliest features of multiple species–including humans. The discoveries of both the creations and the realization of who is now behind the operation become more and more horrifying. This novel is very cinematic; the graphic descriptions of the hybrid horrors and the damage they do create vivid pictures in  readers’ minds. The race to save lives while fighting off the unnatural killing machines is tense and exciting. This book will be an easy sell to teen fans of horror novels, but will also draw in fans of horror movies, particularly those who like gruesome creatures and plots involving science gone wrong.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA 

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.