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All Book Reviews by Genre: Paranormal/Supernatural

before I fall by Lauren Oliver
Oliver, Lauren
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Until, Friday, February 12, Samantha Kingston has a perfect life; she has great friends, a hot boyfriend, and is one of the most popular girls in her school. She never thought that February 12 would be her last day, but it is.
However, she gets a another chance at a last day. For one week, Samantha relives her last day, trying to right the wrongs of her past. In that week, she realizes what really caused her death, and the true value of her life.
This book is a really good read. The characters are surprisingly human, and the issues that Samantha struggles with are unusually real. I loved how my opinion of Samantha could developed throughout the story. I enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to people that like realistic fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
everlost by neal shusterman
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Over the past year or so, Neal Shusterman has quickly become one of my favorite authors, which can probably be attributed to this fantastic novel.

Everlost is the first of three novels, which follows the story of two teenage characters, Nick and Allie, who have just awoken in a ghostly parallel to the real world after drying in a car crash. They are somewhat like ghosts, and retain the exact appearance they had when they died. The book follows these characters as they traverse through this ghostly world, and try to find their purpose among the other dead children, known as the "afterlights". Along the way, these two characters encounter many lifelike characters, and Neal Shusterman is able to effectively depict each event with imagery and descriptive language. I found myself actually excited to read the next chapter, which is coming from someone who is not typically an enthusiastic reader. Therefore, I would recommend this book to anyone who has spare time and is willing to delve themselves into a truly great book.

Reviewer is in grade 11.

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.
Awards:
Clockwork Angel
Clare, Cassandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Clockwork Angel is the fantastic first book in the Infernal Devices Trilogy, a series set in the Shadowhunter's universe. When Tessa Grey arrives in London, she is simply looking for her brother, Nate, however she quickly is drawn into London's Downworld, where fey, vampires, and demons run wild on the streets. Taken in by the London Institute, she meets Jem and Will, Shadowhunters that are devoted to the fight against downworlders. As she begins to realize the depth of her own power, a plot comes to light that could threaten the safety of the world.
This is a great book filled with just enough romance, action, lore and adventure. I would highly recommend this book to anyone that enjoyed Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instrument series or generally likes historical fantasy. As a whole, this book is an amazing read that draws you in immediately.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
Shadowshaper
Older, Daniel José
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Sierra Santiago is looking forward to the perfect summer. Class is finally out, she has a close group of friends to hang out and party with, and best of all she has the perfect summer gig: painting murals on the walls of old buildings in Brooklyn. But when she starts work on her first mural, she notices something strange going on with the other paintings around her. For one thing, they’re fading way faster than normal, and for another – well, it almost seems like they’re moving. Most confusing of all, when she gets home her grandfather – who hasn’t spoken since his stroke – suddenly wakes up and starts speaking directly to her: she HAS to finish the mural she’s painting, he says, and she needs to do it as fast as possible – before it’s too late. Sierra is thrown. What could a giant picture of a dragon have to with anything? And what does her grandfather mean about time running out? He leaves her with a riddle about a missing woman and more questions than answers.

Most infuriating of all, everyone in her family seems to know exactly what’s going on – but no one will tell her. Her mother even gets angry with her when she tries to ask about the connection between her grandfather and the murals. Something about the subject is just too dangerous to discuss. At first this seems ridiculous to her, but when she goes to a party with a group of her friends suddenly the danger is all too real. A zombie crashes the party and heads straight for her. Sierra is in shock, but Robbie, the quiet, artistic boy from her class that she’s been chatting with, knows what it is – and knows Sierra’s grandfather, too. Sierra escapes, but it’s a close call, and her problems are only just beginning.

Afraid and more confused than ever, she decides to go to the best place for research: the library. While she’s there, she discovers that an anthropologist, the mysterious Dr. Wick, was studying her grandfather and his group of friends just before he had a stroke and everything went wrong. Dr. Wick was researching a power called shadowshaping: the ability to imbue ancestral spirits into their artwork, whether it’s storytelling, music, or, you guessed it, painting murals. Sierra’s starting to put together the pieces, but time is running out – the murals are fading faster than ever and her grandfather’s group of friends, the shadowshapers, are dying one by one. Sure, they’re elderly men, and there’s not a mark on their bodies, but it can’t just be a coincidence, can it? And what about Dr. Wick – he went missing at the same time as her grandfather's a stroke, but is he a victim or a killer? Sierra sets out with Robbie and her group of friends in search of answers. Along the way, she’ll face the walking dead, living paintings, and her family’s tangled past.

I love fantasy, and this had such a unique premise that I had to pick it up, but sadly it fell far short of my expectations. First, the good: the magic system is very original and a lot of fun to read about; the idea of imbuing artwork with ancestral spirits is already interesting, but having murals and chalk drawings come to life to dance and fight and interact with the world made for great reading and some really cool action scenes. In addition, the cast is very diverse in terms of both race and sexuality, and Sierra’s budding relationship with Robbie felt natural rather than forced (and I say that as someone who usually hates romance in YA, but it was very subtle and actually rather sweet). Unfortunately, none of this could save the book from its biggest problem: the pacing. Usually I’m complaining about books that are bloated with filler, but this one had the opposite problem: way too many ideas, not enough space. In just 280 pages, there wasn’t enough room to develop all of the world-building and plot and character development that could have made this book great. As a result, it’s very uneven, and there’s no room for the plot to breathe; the book jumps around a lot from plot point to plot point, and most of the interactions between characters are, quite frankly, bizarre. Older forces awkward conversations that seemed designed to cram in as much background detail as possible before ending abruptly mid-stream so that Sierra can get to the next scene. It’s as if he’s written a check list of everything Sierra needs to do and he’s decided to follow it doggedly regardless of whether or not it flows. Details are introduced but then never followed up on or resolved in any way.

This is compounded by a second problem: the writing just isn’t very good. Part of that is just the book being aimed at a younger audience, and that aspect doesn’t bother me, but another part is awkward transitions between scenes, ham-fisted dialogue, and way too many editing errors for such a short read. These problems together made it honestly quite painful to get through, especially in the rushed beginning chapters when you can see Older trying to get to the main plot as quickly as possible at the expense of everything else. Basically, good idea, poor execution. I would give it 2.5 stars. I still think this has appeal for teens who love urban fantasy or who are looking for something different and original to read, but I wouldn’t call it good by any stretch of the imagination.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Clary Fray is a completely normal girl, except that she saw three people brutally kill someone. Not only did she witness a vicious killing, but somehow no one else can see it but her. Then suddenly her mother is kidnapped and she is attacked by a demon. Clary gets sucked into a world full of monsters and shadowhunters, an elite group of people tasked with protecting humans. In order to save her mother from Valentine, the man who wants to murder downworlders and innocent children, she must team up with Jace Wayland, a very talented and young shadowhunter. I could absolutely not put this book down!!There was so much action and just enough romance that this book will probably always be one of my favorite books ever! I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fiction.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Marina G.
Monstress: Volume 1, Awakening
Liu, Marjorie M., Sana Takeda, and Rus Wooton
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Monstress follows Maika Halfwolf, a hybrid human/monster called an "Arcanic", as she tries to free fellow Arcanics from human cruelty and avenge her mother's death at the hands of a powerful group of human witches. Oh yeah, and Maika herself keeps turning (at least partially) into an old-world style monster that kills almost everything in its sight, regardless of whether they are friend and foe. As we follow Maika in her quest for revenge, we get flashbacks that inform us of her motivations and murky past.

This was definitely one of my favorite graphic novels of the year.

Maika is a layered anti-hero with a disability (she's missing an arm). I liked her more and more the more I learned about her. She's not shy about killing people, though, hence the anti-hero label. In fact, she's probably more of a villain than an anti-hero, but that really only added to the story for me. I mean, this title earns its "M" rating. It's very very bloody. Maika does not do nice things to her enemies.

The art was GORGEOUS. SO PRETTY. I'm fairly new to graphic novels, but this just might be the best art that I've seen. The cover is actually relatively simple compared to the insanely intricate steampunk/art deco panels on the inside. Art lovers, check this book out for the artwork alone (but be prepared for a rather gory experience).

So even though I very obviously loved this title, it was not perfect. Like in many graphic novels, there is little by way of introduction to the characters, and you are just thrown right into the story with background info being filled in later. Because the world-building was so complex, I found myself having to read certain parts several times (or having to revisit prior pages/storylines). This could just be a me thing because I have this problem in a lot of graphic novels, but I also found some of the action scenes to be incomprehensible.

I can't believe I almost forgot this amazing detail, but there are talking cats. You know what makes almost every story better? A talking cat.

This was definitely an excellent read. Graphic novel fantasy lovers, you would be remiss to not check this book out (but stay away if you don't like blood). 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
A Monster Calls
Ness, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Monster Calls is an award winning, simple, easy to read book about a very complicated, emotional issue. A young boy, Conor, faces the stark reality of his mother’s terminal illness. He has been suffering from a recurring nightmare and suddenly a new dream-like monster comes to him to see him through this upheaval. It is a short book that will have you emotionally tied up in knots written for young adults, but applicable to all people that are dealing with loss, closure and guilt. Conor’s internal struggle vividly comes to life in the form of the monster in this book. If you’re looking for a quick read that will pull you in and hold you, this is the book for you.

Reviewer's Name: Jenny G.
Bizenghast volume 2
LeGrow, M. Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For my Review I read the second book in the Benzenghast by Alice LeGrow. This book was just as good as the first one, maybe even better. In this on Dinah and Vincent are still trying to free all the ghosts with the help of Edaniel the tower god. During this time Vincent falls ill. What I liked most about this book was that it shows you what it is like when someone keeps blaming themselves for something that is not their fault.

Reviewer Grade:8

Reviewer's Name: Paige C.
Peeps
Westerfeld, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Peeps is an amazing book that takes a interesting, scientific approach to vampirism. It is centered around Cal Thompson a carrier of a unique parasite that causes aversion to light, heightened senses, and cannibalistic impulses. Because Cal is only a carrier he shows none of the extreme symptoms of the parasite. At the beginning of the book, Cal has had the parasite for a year. With the help of the Night Watch, a shadowy organization that hunts down parasite positives, or 'peeps', and a girl named Lace, he is tasked with capturing all of the girls he gave the disease to in that year. Filled with information on real parasites, this book is definitely not for squeamish people. Peeps also has a little content that some people might not be comfortable with. That being said, this is a great book and an interesting take on the idea of vampirism. I would strongly recommend this book to anyone that enjoys science fiction, or any of Scott Westerfeld's other books.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
The Raven Boys
Stiefvater, Maggie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Blue Sargent has unusual name, but she is an unusual girl. She lives in the small town of Henrietta, in a house filled with psychics, including her mother. Ever since she can remember she has been told that she if she kisses her true love he will die. Up until now Blue has tried to stay away from boys, especially the preppy rich ones that go to the boarding school in town. But when she gets involved with four boys from the Aglionby School who are searching for the burial site of a mythical Welsh king, Blue’s plans go out the window. As the hunt for the grave becomes more dangerous (ghosts and Latin speaking trees included), so too does Blue’s relationship with one of the boys named Gansey. Will Blue be able to be part of the quest without killing one of the Raven boys?

The Raven Boys is a dark and gritty fantasy, which turns the ‘true love’s kiss’ cliché on its head. For anyone looking for a more modern take on the fantasy genre or are interested in the paranormal, this is the book for them.

Reviewer's Name: K. S.
The Iron King
Kagawa, Julie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Meghan Chase has never been normal. She lives on a pig farm. Her father disappeared when she was just six. She is forgotten by everyone, even her stepfather. But as she nears her sixteenth birthday, extremely strange things begin to happen to her. First, she sees a mysterious stranger watching her, and her best friend, Robin, becomes strangely protective. Then, her half brother, Ethan tells her about the monsters that are always watching him.
Megan is soon drawn into a world that she never could've imagined. A world of magic, faeries that would kill you in an instant, and unbreakable pacts: The Nevernever. It is there that she realizes that her whole life has been a lie.
This book is a fantastic novel with tons of action, humor, and romance. The characters are well developed, and fun to read about. Many of the characters are from other stories such as Puck, King Oberon, the Big Bad Wolf, ext. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone who likes books with fantasy, humor, and supernatural themes. It is the first book of an originally four book series (the author has added additional books with different characters as the focus of the story). There is, I believe, some slightly questionable language and topics, not to mention romance, so if that bothers you this might not be the book for you. Overall, this book is amazing, and very character driven, and I recommend it to lovers of The Mortal Instruments, and Julia Kagawa's other books.
Review Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
Marked
Cast, P.C.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Marked by P.C and Kristin Cast is genius. The story follows a young girl named Zoe whose life is turned around. After dumping her alcoholic boyfriend and living with her loser step dad, Zoe is turned into a vampire who must attend The House of Night, a school for students like her. She soon finds that being a vampire isn’t so bad. This story is a 4/5, and I recommend it to anyone willing to read, however it does include some mature things so if you are not able to handle swearing, or any other such things the book is not for you.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Shiver
Stiefvater, Maggie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shiver by Maggie Stiefvater is about a girl named Grace and a boy that is half human, half wolf named Sam. This story is about their adventure together, as they try to find a way to make Sam a full human. I would rate this book a 4 because I loved how surprising the ending was, but it was a little slow in the middle of the book. I picked this book because my language arts teacher recommended it to me. I would recommend this book to people who like the book Twilight.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
White is for Witching
Oyeyemi, Helen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

White Is for Witching is a difficult book to describe. I suppose you could say that it's the story of a young woman, Miranda Silver, who suffers from pica, a condition which compels sufferers to crave and eat inedible foods: chalk, plastic, metal, rubber. The story follows her life -- loosely -- from her mother's death when she was a little girl up until her mysterious disappearance in her late teens/early 20s. The story is told from the perspectives of Miranda, her twin brother, her college girlfriend, and the (possibly evil) house/bed & breakfast she lives in, along with a few brief POV sections from side characters. They're nominally piecing together the events that led up to Miranda's disappearance, but that thread often gets lost in the meandering chapters. Fair warning: the plot is difficult to follow and it wasn't until I reread the opening that the story started to click into place. There's a strange, dream-like atmosphere, none of the narrators are anything close to reliable, and it wasn't always clear to me (read: it was almost never clear to me) what was going on. To give a sample of just a few of the plot threads: There are a string of assaults/murders of refugees happening in Dover, England, where Miranda and her family live. Is she connected to them somehow? Some passages seem to suggest so, but we certainly never find out. The house she lives in seems to hate immigrants and may or may not have eaten her female ancestors to keep them from leaving, but don't expect either of these points to be brought to any sort of conclusion. The closest thing to a central thread was the obsession with the possibility that Miranda was or was controlled by a soucouyant, a sort of vampire/shape-shifter in Caribbean traditions. So race, identity, and immigration are obviously big themes, but it's less clear where Oyeyemi is going with everything.

For me, the actual story-line wasn't very satisfying, but the writing style and atmosphere made it worth it. I've read almost everything Oyeyemi has written, and a lot of her stories fall apart at the end; she's great at creating interesting characters/evoking an eerie, ominous mood, but in my opinion resolving a plot is not her strong point. This might be frustrating for some readers, but if you're interested in something a little more experimental and don't mind that it's a bit rough around the edges, you might like this book. I would recommend Oyeyemi's first book, The Icarus Girl, for anyone interested in reading something a little more accessible by her. If this had been the first thing I read by her I might not have picked anything else up, but I enjoyed it for what it was.

Reviewer's Name: Lauren
Awards:
Midnight Riot
Aaronovitch, Ben
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Peter Grant has just finished training to be a PC (police constable) in London. Right as he's about to get assigned to the paperwork unit (not his first choice) he chats up a ghost witness to a gruesome murder. After that, he discovers that he has some magical ability, and begins training to be a wizard copper whilst trying to solve the murder.

This was so fun! If I were to describe it, I'd say it's like the Dresden Files (both are urban fantasy series about crime solving wizards) but like a billion times better. It's fairly similar in premise, but different in most other ways. It has a lighter tone, a more likable protagonist, diverse characters, and was just a more enjoyable reading experience for me. The author used to write for Doctor Who, so fans of that show may also like this read. My only complaint is that it read like an ARC. Did anyone bother to edit this thing? The grammar was terrible (some of which was probably intentional, but some of it clearly wasn't), and occasionally character names were just wrong. Like, all of a sudden, a character who wasn't in a scene would "say" something and it was clear that her name was just transposed with the other lady main character - this happened at least twice.

Anyway, lack of editing aside, this book was an absolute joy to read. I've already checked out the next in the series and would strongly recommend this to urban fantasy readers. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
A Monster Calls
Ness, Patrick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Patrick Ness keeps writing books that resonate with me. His work tends to focus on emotional journeys with characters either growing from a painful experience or coming to accept something about themselves. This book is no different. At a glance, this book appears to be a horror story. "A Monster Calls" is a cryptic title and the description implies a monster is after a teenage boy. The story follows Conor, a boy who has nightmares about one monster but is visited by another. The other monster wants to tell him 3 true stories and, when the third story is done, Conor must tell it a 4th...or else the reality Conor fears will happen.

In actuality, this book is not scary - at least not in a horror sense. It contains a few unsettling moments and any scary moments come from human fears we carry with us throughout our lives - fears of loss or change or the unknown. It examines them in such a way that is poetic and compassionate, particularly as it relates to grief. Ultimately this book is about learning to cope - it just happens to explore this concept with monsters, nightmares, and a tree. This book made me cry at work - which is a good thing, but you know...kind of awkward nonetheless. Would recommend to lovers of reality based fiction, modern faerie-tales (in a way), unsettling stories, or emotional stories.

And seriously, have the tissues at the ready.

Reviewer's Name: Meagan
This Savage Song
Schwab, Victoria
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Three monsters plague the US in the future: the zombie like Corsai, the vampiric Malchai, and the soul-stealing Sunai. Kate Harker has always been safe from the monsters - her father is the man who controls the monsters in the northern part of Verity City. After her mother died when she was a young child, Kate's father has done all he can do to keep Kate out of town to keep her safe from the monsters in Verity. But Kate wanted to come home, and so she made sure to get kicked out of every boarding school possible, until the only one left is Verity's own Colton Academy. On her first day at Colton, she befriends a fellow new student named August. Unbeknownst to Kate, August is a Sunai. His father is in charge of southern Verity City, and is working to eliminate all of the Corsai and Malchai in the area. After a botched assassination attempt at Colton, Kate and August find themselves on the run from monsters - but which of their fathers sent the monsters after them? Or was it BOTH fathers? Or could it somehow be neither?

Phew, that was hard to explain. Clearly there is some pretty complex and creative world-building happening in this book, but I would expect nothing less from Schwab. I picked up This Savage Song because I've been reading Schwab's Shades of Magic series (if you are reading this review, just stop and check out A Darker Shade of Magic, you can thank me later), and in both series the world building is quite well done. In fact, the first third or so of This Savage Song was spent on world building, and I found that part to be the most enjoyable. It seemed like the book might then start to veer into "do they like each other" sort of romance territory, but my fears about having to read about teenage angst for the next 300 pages or so were pretty quickly assuaged as Kate and August find themselves running for their lives. For me, the "running from the monsters" parts of the book were ok - there wasn't a ton of new ground covered and it read as a fairly standard on the run type of novel. The mystery of who, exactly, put the hit out on them was interesting and made the running parts of the book more enjoyable. Neither character seemed to have a ton of personality or got a lot of development, but I definitely liked August more than Kate, and feel that I got to know him a bit better over the course of the book.

While this book was not without its problems, the last page or so was AMAZING. Like, ensures you'll read the next book in the series AMAZING. Well played, Schwab.

3 stars. I liked it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Beautiful Creatures
Garcia, Kami
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Beautiful Creatures introduces 2 characters who end up being helpful to each other in a small town called Gatlin.
Ethan Wates, has a dream to leave Gatlin, and go explore the world, as long as it's as far as possible from Gatlin. But, he keeps having the strangest dream about a beautiful girl, who knows him, and he hasn't even met her.
Lena Duchannes, just moved to Gatlin, and is struggling to hide her power that keeps on growing stronger because of a curse that has cursed her family for centuries.
When Ethan, first see's Lena, he is suddenly interested in her, and tries to find out who she is. But when he finally discovers what she has been trying to hide, he puts himself in a puzzle that he refuses to get out of because of his love for her. With school, home, and the curse, this story has a ending, that could change there lives forever.

I liked reading this book because it always had an adventure, but also added mystery at the beginning and towards the end of the story. But it could've been better if the author of this book could've added more suspense at the beginning of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Isabella P.
Awards:
iDrakula
Black, Bekka
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

iDrakula by Bekka Black is an interesting book for me because I found it to be both creative and unimaginative at the same time. I found it unimaginative because of the fact that it is the same plot line as Bram Stoker's classic Dracula. On the other hand, it is a creative retelling in the fact that it is set in modern times and is almost entirely made up of texts and emails, sort of like a written version of those movies that are POV and created by giving the actors the camera so it looks like an amateur did it. So I found the content to be a copy but the way it was presented to be highly entertaining and imaginative. I would say that this is very much for teens who find Bram Stoker's Dracula too hard a read. If you can, read the original over this. However this is a good alternative if you cannot.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Andrew T.
Twilight
Meyer, Stephenie
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Twilight has an interesting story idea. The love story between the two lead characters, Bella and Edward with the rivaling Jacob Black is a good basic plot, however the way the story was written made me want to burn the book, and some things were just strange. Like the main male, Edward is a vampire and when Bella finds out she has no emotions about it whatsoever. The book is kind of disturbing. I do not recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.

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