Reviews of Teen Books

Click here to read reviews by PPLD’s Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens.
The Sword of Summer
Riordan, Rick
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Popular mythology author Rick Riordan strikes again! He has series delving into Greek, Roman, Egyptian, and now NORSE mythology. This series follows Magnus Chase, son of a Norse god. Which god, you ask? Read the book and find out!

Riordan’s writing style is very distinct, playing to his youthful audience. The chapter titles were humorous and made no sense until I reached those parts of the book. (I read through them initially and thought, “What the…?!”)

Magnus Chase was vaguely--well, maybe more like strongly--reminiscent of Percy Jackson for me. Although Magnus has had a much rougher life so far, his voice is very similar to that of Percy. Magnus Chase is barely 16 years old, but he has been living on the streets for the past 2 years since his mother’s death. After an...interesting encounter with a fire giant, he finds himself gracing the halls of Valhalla with other Norse warriors killed in battle. Along with his valkyrie, a dwarf, and an elf, he goes on a quest to retrieve the Sword of Summer and stop the wolf Fenrir from escaping his bindings.

A interesting read for those die-hard Riordan fans or anyone who loves mythology interpretations. I was very entertained by the story, as I always am with Riordan’s mythologies, but despite the gods changing, the stories are starting to run together. The overlap of stories definitely doesn’t help the blurring of the lines. (Oh, hi Annabeth!) Crossing over from the Percy Jackson series, Annabeth, last name Chase--I guess we could have seen this one coming--has a couple nice little cameos in this book, foreshadowing a larger role later in the series. I’ll be interested to see where this goes.

Reviewer's Name: Nicole
Flying
Jones, Carrie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Mana is going along in her perfectly normal life as a high school teenager with two best friends, one of whom is a boy and crush interest. All of a sudden a guy (codename China) taking out an alien, who happens to be hiding out as a cute boy at her school, interrupts a basketball game, and Mana’s world drastically changes. She finds out her mom is also an alien hunter and has disappeared, presumably kidnapped by aliens because of a chip with information she has. To top it off, Mana starts having some weird abilities, like being able to jump really high and do crazy gymnastic stunts. The rest of the book has Mana, her friends, and China on a mission to find Mana’s mom and save the world.

I really liked Carrie Jones’s series, Need. This was definitely a different kind of book. It was lighthearted and, at times, a bit silly, but overall, still a nice, light, fun read.

Reviewer's Name: Becca
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

America Singer has been forced to enter in a competition to win Prince Maxon's heart. There's only one problem: she's in love with someone else. Marked by a brutal social class system, America either has the option to marry within her class or above it. She cannot marry her boyfriend Aspen Ledger, who is a class below her. So, she must enter "The Selection" to compete with a number of other girls for Prince Maxon's hand. Although the characters and plot were complex, I felt this book was lacking something - perhaps the conflict wasn't quite strong enough? I still recommend it for its excellent world-building and characters. (I'd rate this PG-13 for minor language and some romance)
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
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.
The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green is a perfect 5/5. 16 year old Hazel Grace wants to be normal when she meets Augustus Waters, someone who is anything but normal. The book drew me in with its beautiful love story. Not only that but it also with its realistic views on the world. The author is surprisingly good at getting into a teenage girl’s young mind. Everyone should read this book, you will never get bored when reading it.
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.
Empire of Storms
Maas, Sarah J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Book 5 (Empire of Storms hereafter EoS) picks up right where book 4 left off, and the action quickly ramps up. At the beginning of EoS, most of our heroes are together after the events that unfolded at Rifthold, and, to a lesser extent, Morath. After defeating and destroying the King of Alderan, Aelin travels to Terrasen, and after receiving no help or support from the various Dukes/Earls or whatever, Aelin opts for some different kind of support. The kind of support that comes from pirates. So Aelin and her merry band of heroes (well, some of them are pretty angsty, actually) depart to get support from Aelin's old "friend", the Pirate Lord Rolfe.

I was kind of expecting to not like this book as I seem to only like every other Throne of Glass book (I really like 2 and 4 and didn't care much for 1 and 3), but this entry in the series defied my expectations in a good way. The action is fairly constant, and the characters continue to develop and act in ways consistent with their current development. Things that annoy me about Aelin continue to annoy me - she makes really key decisions without informing or soliciting advice from her much more seasoned travel companions/court, but a reveal at the end made Aelin a more compelling character (although still, girl, COMMUNICATE). The real fun in the books, for me at least, comes from Aelin's surrounding cast of characters. Even though many of them took a back seat to Aelin in this book (Chaol is unheard from) their interactions were delightful to read, and I will never be sorry spending time with my favorite, Manon. Lysandra also gets a time to shine, and Elide starts to come into her own as well. There are some new characters that wouldn't be new to those that read the prequel novellas, so if you have not read those yet, I strongly suggest reading them before you embark on the 700 pages of awesomeness that is EoS.

On the downside, there was a bit too much romance in the book for me. Like, EVERY character doesn't need to pair up. Especially since they are all hetero-normative (even though there is some discussion of characters being bi). Also, the sex scenes were fairly repetitive and at times unintentionally hilarious (a character literally BURSTS INTO FLAME). I mean, there was a ton of:

Claiming of mouths (what does that even mean and ew)
Going over the edge
"Maleness" (I'm not sure about this one either but probably ew)
Heating at one's core (I'm pretty sure your core is your abs, but whatever)
Nipping at necks

Right. So that all happens a lot.

Oh, and consider yourself warned, this book ends on a cliffhanger.

Anyway, overall, EoS was a great entry in the series and a strong fantasy story. I really really really cannot WAIT for the last one. 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
Book Review: Audacity
Crowder, Melanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is written in prose. This annoyed me for about 20% of the book. Then I got used to it and started enjoying it. It's a powerful true story about a brave woman who stood up for the rights of working women and children. Whenever I read stories about brave women, I ask myself if I would have had the moxie to do what they did. The answer is sometimes yes and sometimes no. This one I'm not sure about. It take real guts to stand up to bullies (in this case sweatshop owners and their thugs). I've never been good at that. She was so determined and stubborn, and she persevered! Amazing.

Bonus: I read this book over Labor Day weekend and didn't realize it until after I had finished.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Genres:
The Nameless City
Hicks, Faith Erin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Kaidu is new to the Nameless City. This is a city so frequently conquered that no name, despite thousands, sticks. He's trying to become a warrior, make friends, and know his father but all three tasks seem unlikely for the shy boy. Then he meets Rat, a street-smart girl who has the ability to think on her feet and run quickly. They form a friendship and manage to save their city from an upcoming threat that could change who runs the city. Fans of Avatar the Last Airbender comics or TV show would adore this series. It's new, it's refreshing, and follows an interesting and still developing story arch. I couldn't put it down as I turned page after page of beautiful illustration and compelling story. There are many cultures at war with one another in the still, albeit temporarily, peaceful city. The first in the series, I look forward to watching the story take shape and tackle complex issues about identity, war, friendship, and trust. It was really enjoyable and I highly recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Meagan H.
Mother-Daughter Book Camp
Frederick, Heather Vogel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I love how heather can really bring her books to life, it is also nice how she writes them so that we can share the same emotions, and understand the same things with the characters. I especially love this one because she leaves it so that you can ponder what the girls futures will be like. This book was funny, sad, AWESOME, and more!! I highly advise this to any girls 11+

Reviewer's Name: Natalie Adcox
Genres:
Steeplejack
Hartley, A.J.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Anglet is a steeplejack, a person who climbs buildings for a variety of work related reasons (chimney work, retrieval, the building of things, etc.). One day, at the end of a shift, she discovers a dead body on the ground. As being a steeplejack is quite dangerous, she isn't completely alarmed at first, until she realizes that the person did not die of natural causes - he had been stabbed in the back. After that, she takes it upon herself to solve the murder mystery as well as a few other mysteries that crop up along the way.

I feel like I should've liked this book more than I did. The beginning is extremely slow, but only due to the author having to do some serious world-building, which is something I often like. The world itself was pretty cool. It's a newly colonized version of South Africa, which made for a unique setting. Actually, the racism/discrimination bits were so well done as to be hard to read. The main character is likable. She's that lovely combination of fierce and vulnerable that is common in YA, but rarely successfully pulled off. Hartley pulls it off. He knows what he's about - this book was extremely well written.

So why didn't I like it? I'm kind of asking myself the same question here, but my overall feeling was definitely just "meh". I think that, for me, the book lacked any real tension or emotional impact. I liked Ang, but I never really cared that much about her, or anyone else in the story. I definitely didn't care about Berrit, the murder victim. Actually much is made about how NO ONE cares about Berrit and his life was one that wasn't going to be worth living anyway, so...who cares who murdered him, really? Aside from a few terrifying scenes featuring her would-be rapist/boss (and a few other emotional but spoilery scenes) the book went from action scene to action scene with no real emotional impact, and without feeling like it was fast paced. Somehow, in the midst of all of the action, the book felt like a really slow read, mostly because I just couldn't make myself care about the fates of most of the characters.

With a more compelling mystery and better developed characters, this book could've been very likable. Still, I think many will like it, and I'm definitely not opposed to picking up the sequel. 2 stars - it was ok.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
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
Insurgent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is full of love, excitement, and hardship.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Harry Potter and the Cursed Child" tells the story of what happens after "All was well." Albus Severus Potter enters his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, along with Rose Granger-Weasley and Scorpius Malfoy. The next generation faces the expectations and pressure of being children of the Golden Trio - especially Albus, who resents being the son of the Chosen One and doesn't believe his father is the hero everyone says he is. After hearing about what happened the night of the Triwizarding Tournament, the night the second Hogwarts Champion was killed, Albus decides to go back and fix the mistake his father made. But awful things happen to wizards who meddle with time...
I had really high expectations for this story - and it met all of them. Humor, adventure, friendship, emotion. Almost the entire original cast - Harry, Ginny, Hermione, Ron, and Draco - return. I felt that this story gave me even more closure than the Deathly Hallows epilogue. I'd DEFINITELY recommend reading the series before reading Cursed Child, because it will not only enrich the experience, but it will allow you to better understand the plot and characters.
Reviewers Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Genres:
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling was amazing. This is the book that concludes the whole series, making it a very sad book. In this book there are numerous deaths of characters you love, and it brings back old characters you may want to see again. The book gave closure for those who have read it. The book was well written, well planned out, and showed that not all bad guys are bad, and not all good guys are good.
Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling was a fantastic book. If you have read all the books leading to this, it will be very enjoyable to read. It introduces us to more of Tom Riddle’s past. The book is the second to last, and is full of so much, you won’t want to not read it. The book is spectacular, and deserves a perfect 5/5 rating.
Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Allegiant
Roth, Veronica
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Allegiant by Veronica Roth was a disappointment to me. Honestly it was very poorly written. The book is in both Tris' and Four’s perspective, which I usually like, but it was very difficult to distinguish the two. Most books I read, when in different perspectives they think differently and have a different structure of thinking, but Four and Tris have the exact same thoughts all the time. The only difference is that Four tells Tris no, when she wants to do something. This was the worst book in the series, and was extremely slow.
Reviewers Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Insurgent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Insurgent by Veronica Roth, the second in the Divergent series, was very well written. I feel the relationship between Beatrice (better known as Tris) and her instructor/boyfriend Four was very well thought out. This book made me yearn to read the last one quickly. The book’s main plot was amazing, and Insurgent was absolutely amazing when it came to the developments of its characters.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Divergent by Veronica Roth was a very interesting story. In her utopian society Beatrice Prior must make a decision that impacts her whole life. When sixteen everyone must choose a faction where they believe they belong, each with their own perspective of why the human race fell. This book is full of suspense and will leave you on the edge of your seat. It, in my opinion, is somewhat a copy of the Hunger Games and The Fault in Our Stars. Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
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

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