Book News :: Sync Free Audiobooks for Teens

This Book Betrays My Brother by Kagiso Lesego Molope audiobook cover image

Every summer, SYNC gives participants two thematically paired audiobooks each week for sixteen weeks from May through August. Participants sign up for free and download the Sora student reading app. Anyone can actually sign up for the program, not just teens, but the titles are all geared toward teen readers 13+. The cool thing is that the books are “borrowed” and stay in the Sora app until you return them, with a loan time of 35,999 days. So, basically, the books are to keep unless someone purposefully returns them. The titles available each week are ONLY available to borrow for that week, so if you miss a week, then you miss out on those books. Right now, Week 6 is coming up, so there is still plenty of good audiobooking to be had. Visit SYNC via AudioFile and get started today – and spread the word to your teen readers and YA fans.

A Realistic Portrayal of Recovery

Guest Post by Lailey Robbins.

Good Enough, written by Jen Petro-Roy, is a piece of fiction that sits comfortably between middle reader and young adult. It is quite a realistic piece of fiction with a profoundly honest and vulnerable look into the life of Riley, who is hospitalized for her struggles with anorexia nervosa. Through the story, we see her heal, stumble, and navigate through a realistically and maturely portrayed journey of recovery.

This work is nothing short of phenomenal. With its accessible language and mature-yet-realistic handling of the sensitive topics that it delves into, it is a must have. Petro-Roy, being a survivor of an eating disorder herself, offers sensitive and helpful insight into the life of recovery and the many struggles that come with it. This, alongside her brilliant character development and the portrayal of relationships within the work, home in on her wonderful style. Not only does the audience watch Riley change, grow, and heal, they are also able to watch her juggle both the friendships that she has made within the facility while simultaneously trying to keep her pre-hospitalization friendships alive.

However, the downfall of this novel lies within its conclusion. The ending is unsatisfying, for lack of better words, as there is no definite answer for what comes next. As the novel draws nearer to Riley’s release from the facility, the book ends, leaving the reader with a sense of confusion as the character that they had been expecting to see make a full recovery is still struggling. Though it is realistic to not know what comes next, especially when in recovery, the ending of this novel seems to disregard its stakes entirely, leaving the reader completely lost.

However, if you are one for open endings, this novel has many redeeming qualities that allow it to be a wonderful read.

Good Enough by Jen Petro-Roy. Feiwel & Friends, February 2019.

Reviewer bio: Lailey Robbins is a creative writing student from Salem College, North Carolina. Currently, she is working on a short story and a novel, with hopes to be published in the future.

A Journey of Self Discovery

Guest Post by Mille King.

Patrick Ness’s A Monster Calls represents the term ‘tear-jerker’; it explores themes of pain, loss, and guilt in a real and relatable way. It is clear that Conor, the protagonist, sees himself as a monster for wanting the pain he is going through to be over, even if this means losing his mother. This guilt manifests in a physical monster who he believes visits him but no one else can see. The monster helps Conor through his pain and helps him discover emotions even Conor didn’t know he had.

Ness shows how guilt comes from deep down and we often can’t acknowledge it because we cover it with lies and believe what we want to believe, even when we don’t actually fully believe it. This is a beautiful journey of self discovery and I loved every moment of it.

A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness. Walker Books / Candlewick Press, May 2011.

Reviewer bio: My name is Millie King, I am an English literature major and read not only for school, but for fun too! I always struggled with dyslexia so reading was hard for me but I have overcome those obstacles and am an avid book reader!

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YA Representation from Chloe Gong

Guest Post by Skylar Edwards.

Shakespeare meets Shanghai in this Romeo and Juliet retelling with a monstrous twist. Chloe Gong modernizes a familiar, yet different, plot sequence, with relevant characters and battles against colonialism, while honoring classical themes: love, hate, and loyalty. Roma and Juliette align to fight a monster, while navigating the dangers of a blood feud, gangster-run Shanghai, and foreign powers. As heirs to the competing gangs, Roma and Juliette have the most to lose and the stakes have never been higher.

Juliette returns from America to find that the life she once knew has changed and she struggles to redefine herself within Shanghai. Her loyalty to the Scarlet Gang is tested against the disputing territories quickly rising to power: rival gangs, communists, and colonizers. Tensions rise as she is forced to collaborate with her former lover, Roma of the White Flowers.

Gong paves the way for YA representation and creates authenticity by normalizing diverse characters, each with a unique perspective. In the story’s web, intertwined with queer and cultural identities, readers discover the Scarlet Gang are Chinese, while The White Flowers are primarily Russian. Sparks emerge between same-sex characters and readers discover that one gang member identifies as transgender.

Readers assume the antagonist is the monster who has released a plague of madness on Shanghai. However, Gong uses the monster-hunt trope to highlight who the real enemy is: each other. Two lovers and liars must put aside their differences, and convince others to do the same, before it is too late. Readers are left with a disastrous ending, where competing territories turn on each other and release the real monsters into Shanghai.

“Men are sometimes masters of their own fates.” —Shakespeare

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong. Margaret K. McElderry Books, November 2020.

Reviewer bio: Primarily a bookish fanatic working with nonprofits, Skylar is also a micro-influencer on BookTok; follow TwiceReadTales for more!

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‘The Cousins’

Guest Post by Jiya Ahuja.

This novel revolves around the Story family residing in gull cove island: a grandmother who owns the entire island, and parents who were disinherited by a mysterious “You know what you did” letter.

Jonah, Aubrey, and Milly are cousins who hardly know each other and have never met their grandmother. So when they receive a letter from their long-lost grandmother inviting them to the island, they aren’t particularly thrilled to go but, their parents see this as a golden opportunity to get back in their mother’s good graces. When they arrive on the island, the cousins realize their grandmother has different plans for them. Here they uncover secrets that lead them to their family’s dark and mysterious past. The entire family has secrets that they wish remained buried.

The story is told from three main points of view and is filled with a lot of twists and turns that keep readers hooked until the very last line. Although some parts felt a little slow-paced, this is still satisfying and entertaining enough. The Cousins is a highly recommended young adult mystery to readers of age 13 and above.

The Cousins by Karen M. McManus. Delacorte Press, December 2020..

Reviewer bio: Reach Jiya Ahuja here.

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An Original & Gripping Tale

Guest Post by Megan Riann.

The Scorpio Races pulls the reader into an immersive, sharp-edged world where our main characters have everything at stake. Puck and Sean, both teens on a fictional island off the American west coast, are competing on unlikely steeds in a deadly race across an unforgiving beach.

The premise and the ensuing story are original and gripping. Keltic-inspired water horses, red sea cliffs, and a deadly race to change your life? A perfect mix of familiar and fresh.

Additionally, the language in this book is phenomenal. Maggie Stiefvater’s prose is incredible and indulgent. Similarly, all the dialogue was purposeful, in-character, and clever. Not a single line was wasted.

This author absolutely nails character and development. All the motivations are clear and intense. The dual first-person perspectives allow the reader to get lost in the mind of the characters. As we root for Puck and Sean, the supporting casts’ contrasting goals add to the tension and stakes.

I would recommend this book to those who appreciate strong prose and powerful stories. With light magical realism, this story includes characters to root for, antagonists to hate, and stakes that will have you holding your breath.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Scholastic Inc., 2013.

Reviewer bio: Megan Riann is a Creative Writing major from West Michigan. When not writing, she’s watching superhero movies with her cat and hanging out on #writestagram.

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‘The Enemy’

Guest Post by Natalie Hess.

Charlie Higson’s The Enemy is the first of an eight-book series, and it really starts off with a bang! It follows a group of children who have worked together to try to survive after a disease has either completely wiped out all adults, or turned them into bloodthirsty creatures content on eating the kids. There is a very large cast of characters, but they’re surprisingly easy to keep track of despite this. They have very distinct personalities and are quite loveable for the most part.

That being said, the end result for a lot of them is heartbreaking to read, and the struggles and hardships they all must face forces the reader to sympathize with even the most unlikeable of them. There are a lot of strange, scary, and bewildering things sprung upon these children that left me gasping. This story was very well told and I cannot wait to see what book two has in store!

The Enemy by Charlie Higson. Disney-Hyperion, May 2014.

Reviewer bio: I’m Natalie Hess and I’m simply a high school student who LOVES reading everything from scifi to romance to nonfiction and everything in between. I also love sharing my thoughts and I hope you enjoy!

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A Solid Conclusion to a Trilogy

Guest Post by Natalie Hess.

Fox Forever is the conclusion to the Jenna Fox Chronicles. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this given that I really enjoyed the first book, and didn’t care much for the second, but this was a solid conclusion to the trilogy.

The story follows Locke as he tries to fulfill a favor he owes in Boston, which involves Miesha’s long lost husband, and a girl Locke accidentally falls for who is tied to the favor in a way that she doesn’t even know. As in the other two books, the characters are the best part of this story by far, but the plot is really good as well. There are reveals and plot twists around every corner, and they are quite unpredictable for the most part. Pearson constantly adds pieces to the puzzle and it grows more complicated as the situation reveals itself.

If you enjoyed the first book, and even if you didn’t enjoy the second book, I definitely think this is a series worth continuing!

Fox Forever by Mary E. Pearson. Square Fish, February 2014.

Reviewer bio: I’m Natalie Hess and I’m simply a high school student who LOVES reading everything from scifi to romance to nonfiction and everything in between. I also love sharing my thoughts and I hope you enjoy!

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The End of a Breathtaking Duology

Guest Post by Natalie Hess.

This sequel to Strange the Dreamer was absolutely phenomenal. It picks up right where the first book leaves off as Minya tries to force Lazlo to do her bidding, with the threat of releasing Sarai’s soul and letting her evanesce if he does not comply.

There are so many twists and turns throughout all 500 pages of this masterpiece. There are high stakes. There is whimsy. There is Laini Taylor’s gorgeous writing. There are the extremely lovable characters. And most of all, there is an amazing conclusion to this duology.

Throughout the entire story it seems as if there is no way to solve all of the major problems, even as more are being introduced, but somehow it all comes together for a spectacular ending that leaves the reader with so much emotion. I would highly recommend this duology to everyone, because it is absolutely breathtaking.

Muse of Nightmares by Laini Taylor. Little, Brown and Company, October 2018.

Reviewer bio: I’m Natalie Hess and I’m simply a high school student who LOVES reading everything from scifi to romance to nonfiction and everything in between. I also love sharing my thoughts and I hope you enjoy!

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‘The Rotten Beast’

Guest Post by Natalie Hess.

This is the short story in the Jenna Fox Chronicles that comes after The Adoration of Jenna Fox. I absolutely loved this! The story follows Allys, Jenna’s friend, who is trying to cope with the fact that she is made mostly of bio gel which is a sort of replicating technology that can be used to replace vital organs, and therefore save lives. The problem, though, is that Allys has an extremely large amount of this inside her, making her illegal.

I can’t say that very much happened in this story, considering it was only 12 pages long, but it was still extremely enjoyable. The way that Mary E. Pearson writes is really beautiful and makes something that could be very boring and insignificant into something gorgeous and impactful, and it very much has to do with the events in the rest of the series. I would highly recommend this series, and this short story, especially to people who really enjoy sci-fi.

The Rotten Beast” by Mary E. Pearson. Tor Books, November 2011.

Reviewer bio: I’m Natalie Hess and I’m simply a high school student who LOVES reading everything from scifi to romance to nonfiction and everything in between. I also love sharing my thoughts and I hope you enjoy!