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Paranormal/Supernatural

Book Review: Before I Fall

before I fall by Lauren Oliver
Author: 
Oliver, Lauren
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Everlost

everlost by neal shusterman
Author: 
Shusterman, Neal
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel
Author: 
Clare, Cassandra
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Shadowshaper

Shadowshaper
Author: 
Older, Daniel José
Rating: 
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

Book Review: City of Bones

City of Bones
Author: 
Clare, Cassandra
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Monstress: Volume 1, Awakening

Monstress: Volume 1, Awakening
Author: 
Liu, Marjorie M., Sana Takeda, and Rus Wooton
Rating: 
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

Book Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
Author: 
Ness, Patrick
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Bizenghast, Volume 2

Bizenghast volume 2
Author: 
LeGrow, M. Alice
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: Peeps

Peeps
Author: 
Westerfeld, Scott
Rating: 
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.

Book Review: The Raven Boys

The Raven Boys
Author: 
Stiefvater, Maggie
Rating: 
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.

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