Summer Quests

School is still several weeks away, but if there’s no summer trip on the horizon, there’s still time to take a virtual journey to answer those pesky “what did you do this summer vacation?” questions. Here are three adventures, quests if you will, to offer the teen boys in your life, with varying degrees of reality to suit different tastes!

[Cover]In John Green’s Paper Towns, Quentin’s tale is a familiar one; his childhood best friend, the impossibly cool girl next door Margo Roth Spiegelman, has long since abandoned him for a much cooler crowd (Q is not even a band geek – he just hangs out with the band geeks), but one night, just before graduation, Margo shows up at his window and lures him out for an all-night prank spree before disappearing for good. Quentin and his friends Ben and Radar set out to follow Margo’s clues on a quest to find the girl, and maybe even get to know her, and themselves. It’s a smart read, with characters that really walk off the page.

[Cover]If Quentin’s road trip took a more psychedelic turn, it might look a little like Libba Bray’s Going Bovine. Cameron, another regular guy, has his fair share of family and school drama, but all that pales in comparison with his new problem: he’s been diagnosed with mad cow disease, and, oh yeah, he’s going to die. A visit from a gorgeous punk angel sets Cameron and his new friends Gonzo (a neurotic, video game obsessed teen dwarf) and Balder (a Norse god trapped in the body of a garden gnome) on a quest for a cure, crisscrossing the country on a wild trip that brings up all the issues of life, love, religion, the purpose of life, and the fight between good and evil that a teenager could ever wish for. For bonus points from your English teacher in the fall, check out Don Quixote and see if you can find the parallels.

Another classic reboot, this time of the King Arthur Legend, is The ExtraordinaryAdventures of Alfred Kropp by Rick Yancey. Alfred doesn’t seem like the kind of kid who would save the world, but when he agrees to help his uncle steal a sword, it turns out to be Excalibur, yes, that Excalibur, and the 15-year-old is plunged into a world right out of a video game: fast cars, suspense, lots of action and fighting, and a quest to return the sword to its rightful owner. A perfect summer read, the story doesn’t bear overthinking, but it’s a wild ride. Alfred’s further adventures can be found in Alfred Kropp: The Seal of Solomon and Alfred Kropp: The Thirteenth Skull.

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