Kade, J.V. Bot Wars (Bot Wars #1)
21 March 2013, Dial
ARC received from Baker and Taylor
Trout and his brother, Po, are trying to survive on their own after their father has gone missing in the Bot Wars. Po does his best, even though he lost a leg to disease (he tells the girls he lost it in the war), and takes Trout on weekly visits to the Heart Center, where they see if any activity has been supported on their father's heart monitor. When nothing shows up, Trout decides to get help from a friend to post a video about his father. This goes viral, and Trout hopes that this helps find his father, but instead it alerts the United District government, and they take Po into custody and hope to use him to lure their father out. Trout manages to escape and finds that his father is now living in Bot Territory. We don't have complete details about the Bot Wars, but robots are now outlawed. For surprising reasons, Trout's father is a member of MetaRise, an organization hoping to get robots reinstated as citizens. The government offers to give Po back to his father as long as key members of MetaRise give themselves up, so Trout decides that if he can rescue his brother, MetaRise can continue the fight for robot rights, and hope to overturn government corruption in the United District.
Strengths: Some cool technology, dystopian setting involving robots and not the most terrible world, likeable characters, and some interesting twists. There's not a whole lot of action packed science fiction for boys; this was pretty good.
Weaknesses: A book titled Bot Wars should not prolong the action until page 85. It should start with explosions and some robot decapitation. Also, I needed a little more description of when this was set and what the situation was with the robot wars. There was some invented slang that didn't read smoothly. ("Drain clogger" to describe people that are a drag, "wrenched", "geared" and other invented terms.)
Pearson, Mary E. Fox Forever (The Jenna Fox Chronicles #3)
19 March 2013, Henry Holt and Co.
ARC received from Baker and Taylor
Locke has left Jenna's tranquil home and has returned to Boston to work with the Network. His job is to make friends with the daughter of Secretary Branson, who is most likely responsible for the death/disappearance of Karden, Miesha's husband. Karden had put together a lot of money to help the Network, but even Branson has just part of the numbers needed to access the account, and Locke hopes to find them out through his friendship with Raine. After a Rocky start, this turns in to a lot more than Locke bargained for, since Raine is tired of her controlling father. When Locke finds out she was adopted, he discovers huge secrets about her family background. The question is whether he can also find out the numbers (with the help of an underground network of Bots as well as the Network) to access the account, and whether there are anymore cubes holding his, Jenna and Kara's souls being warehoused somewhere.
Strengths: This has a lot of action and adventure (attacks by feral children/dogs), good technology (BioPerfect blue gel!), excellent star-crossed romance (they meet in the park in the dead of night), as well as the whole concept of being in the city where you grew up 260 years after you left it. The twists were good, and the conclusion was satisfying.
Weaknesses: The series needs to be read in order, and it took a while for me to get back up to speed on the story. It's been hard to get students to read book two, and since this is the time of year when I second guess every future purchase because there is no money left and my list for the fall is enormous, I'm debating buying this one at all, even though I would like to.