Lubar, David. The Bully Bug (Monsterific Tales #6)
2 September 2014, Tor Starscape
Copy received from the publisher.
Lud comes from a boisterous family of boys with a Mr. Fix-It father, so when he and his brother find a cereal box in the garbage dump that splits open and sprays bugs all over Lud, he doesn't even mention the bites when he gets home. He does start to notice odd things about himself-- he thinks he is hanging on the ceiling, he sprouts weird, bristly hairs all over himself, he drools everywhere and finds himself inexplicably eating leaves! Classmate Norman finds these changes fascinating (although almost no one else notices) and decides that Lud has been bitten by a mimic beetle. As the transformation progresses, Lud finds himself feeling faint around his father's insecticides and hoping the Norman can find some way to cure him before he transforms completely.
Strengths: This is a fast paced story that expects us to immediately suspend our disbelief. Lots of good, icky descriptions of Lud's metamorphosis, and funny efforts of his family and friends to deal with him. Fans of this series and of the Lawn Weenies books will find lots of repulsive reasons to giggle in horror at this book.
Weaknesses: This didn't seem as connected to the rest of the series as some of the stories (the evil guys from the past don't come after Lud), and I could have done without Lud's nonstandard English, but those are small quibbles for such a fun book.
Perry, Michael. The Scavengers.
2 September 2014, HarperCollins
E ARC from http://edelweiss.abovethetreeline.com
After citizens had to make a decision to live under bubbles in cities or to live all on their own, Maggie's family (mother, father, and younger brother Dookie) decides to try to survive on their own. In time, they found a place where they could farm, scavenge goods from a dump to sell, and where they had helpful neighbors, Toad and Arlinda Hopper. It's tough outside the bubble, because demented humans called Grey Devils roam the countryside, pickled in bootleg hooch and causing problems. Maggie, who spends a lot of her time living in a broken down Ford Falcon a short distance from the house and has rechristened herself after the car, is a bit fed up with her family, especially Dookie, who has severe developmental delays that no one explains to her. Her father is acting suspicious, and her mother is not fond of the hardships the family has to face, but when Maggie returns home after a night at the Hoppers and finds her family gone, she wants to look for them. Dookie shows up, but sheds no light on the events, but when Maggie identifies one of the shambling Grey Devils as her father, she learns a lot of secrets about her family and the world that exists inside the bubbles.
Strengths: This had a The Boxcar Children meets The Hunger Games vibe, making it an excellent choice for younger readers who want to wallow in dystopia. The details about going through the garbage and finding things to sell and eking out a living outside the bubble was fascinating. Maggie was a well developed character, and her parents added a very interesting and deep facet to the book that children may not quite appreciate, but which makes this a good choice for older readers, too.
Weaknesses: The quirky Southern-ish vibe made this personally painful for me, but I will probably buy a copy because I need so many dystopian books. If I had to live off the grid next door to Toad Hopper, I would probably just throw myself in front of the next Grey Devil. He speaks in pig Latin, Spoonerisms, and such a wide range of vocal affectations that it's hard to understand what he is saying. When there is an emergency, you'd think he would drop it, but he doesn't. Students will not be as annoyed with this as I was, and the whole mystery surrounding the father and his part in creating the dystopian was very clever.
Milford, Kate. Greenglass House
26 August 2014, Clarion Books
E ARC from Netgalley.com
While Milo enjoys living with his adoptive parents in a hard to get to hotel that caters to smugglers, he was hoping that things would be slow over Christmas break. When guest after guest arrives, however, Milo's parents recall the cook, and Milo finds himself having to work and entertain the cook's daughter, Meddy. There is something mysterious about the guests, as well as a map that Milo finds, and Meddy proposes a Role Playing Game set in the house. Milo takes on the new identity of Negret, inventing a background that is unlike his own. Meddy becomes Sirin, and the two explore the wonderfully quirky house. The guests have items go missing, and the two children are able to investigate these real mysteries in the context of their game, and uncover even more information about the house's past, as well as the past of some of the guests.
Strengths: The house is absolutely fantastic, as is the cover. Being snowbound anywhere is always something I love to read about in a story.
Weaknesses: I found it annoying that Milo and Meddy were sometimes referred to as Negret and Sirin, and sometimes were referred to as both on the same page.I can see why this was done, but it wasn't completely necessary. This got a bit convoluted and long, as well. This type of story is a hard sell in my library, although I'm rather fond of them, so I'm still debating.
Note: This is definitely a fantasy, because 340 pages in, it is clear that a character is actually a ghost!