Reviews of Teen Books
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
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.
Harry Potter made a return to the forefront of pop culture at the end of July with the release of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, a screenplay of the new stage play that takes us back to the magical wizarding world. It’s a bold new direction for the story, taking place nineteen years after the events of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (please note that this review will assume that you have read or, at the very least, watched the final entry in the series), and the world is a very different place for Harry and his friends.
Almost two decades have passed since the Battle of Hogwarts. Since Voldemort’s defeat, our original heroes have attempted to move on with their lives. Harry is a Ministry of Magic official now, head of the Office of Magical Law Enforcement. He’s happily married to Ginny, and father of three children. Hermione is Minister of Magic, and married to Ron, who has taken over operation of Weasley’s Wizard Wheezes. At the outset of the play, Harry and Ginny’s second child, Albus, is bound for his first year at Hogwarts. While on the train, he meets his fellow first year, Scorpius Malfoy, and despite their fathers’ history, they become fast friends. In short order, the boys arrive at school and are both sorted into Slytherin, much to Albus’s surprise.
The following years pass quickly (we are only shown hints of events during the first three years that Albus and Scorpius are in school), showing the lack of real communication between Albus and his father. Being the son of The Boy Who Lived, it turns out, is not easy. Albus has Scorpius as a friend, but neither of them seem to be the children their fathers hoped they would be. You see, a rumor has been flying about the wizarding world that Draco Malfoy isn’t actually Scorpius’s dad. Gossip is that Malfoy wasn’t able to have a child, and so he illegally used a Time Turner in order for his wife to conceive a son with Lord Voldemort. This rumor is given more credence when the Ministry of Magic confiscates what is believed to be the last Time Turner in existence, one that doesn’t appear to have the one-hour-back limit of previous ones. But if someone could go back more than one hour in time, what would they seek to do with that power?
In their fourth year, Albus and Scorpius learn about the existence of the Time Turner and ask themselves that question. When Amos Diggory arrives at the Ministry to implore Harry to go back and save his son, Cedric from Voldemort, Harry refuses, for fear of what disrupting the past might do. When given the opportunity, though, Albus and Scorpius leap at a chance to change the world in the hopes of finding their place within it. However, the threat of Lord Voldemort doesn’t only linger in the past.
Harry Potter and the Cursed Child isn’t a Harry Potter novel. It’s a play based on a story by J.K. Rowling, but the heavy lifting of the writing was done by Jack Thorne and John Tiffany. It’s a vastly different sort of read because of that, and we don’t get anywhere near the level of insight into each character. It doesn’t move in quite the same way, but it is no less magical. Cursed Child is to the Harry Potter series what The Force Awakens was to Star Wars: a return to a beloved world that retreads some familiar moments while still laying the groundwork for a younger generation. New perspectives on classic moments left me feeling more connected to the characters than I had since first finishing Deathly Hallows.
Having read through the entirety of the screenplay, I only want one more thing from Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. I want to see it on stage.
(Note: This review orignally appeared here: https://swordsoftheancients.com/2016/08/10/harry-potter-and-the-cursed-c... )
Shine by Lauren Myracle is a teen mystery book about a girl named Cat investigating the viscous assault of her old gay best friend, Patrick. She lives in a back country kind of town where everybody knows everybody, so the sheriff decides to blame the crime on outsiders to avoid causing any drama.
Cat knows this isn't really what happens so she takes matters into her own hands and interrogates all her friends and a few tweakers, aka meth addicts.
Overall, the book was very good. I enjoyed the mystery and the plot twist.
It was a page turner that made you want to keep reading without any breaks.
Although the author stayed true to the language of "redneck" people, I wasn't especially fond of it because it seemed uneducated. Otherwise, everything about this book was good. The main character is easy to relate to because she is a reader and a smart girl that stands up for her friends, but also admits her flaws. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery.
Reviewer Grade: 12
When I found this book, the title instantly spoke to me. I couldn't stop reading it from the first paragraph. It's powerful and quirky at the same time. There was never a sentence where I got distracted by the outside world, because the words drew me in, every second. I love this book.
For my review I read the book Traitor by Gunrun Pausewang. Traitor was set in Nazi Germany and is in the perspective of a young girl who hides a Russian who at the time was an enemy of Germany. In the beginning this book was not my favorite, but it grew on me so I kept reading. The one thing I did not like about this book was the ending because it was really sad. I also liked the ending because it was new and most books have happy endings, but it was still really sad and I wish the book had not ended that way.
The book I read for my review was the book Bizenghast by M. Alice LeGrow. This book is about a young girl and boy who stumble across a mysterious graveyard. The girl accidentally signed a contract that made it so she sold her soul to the graveyard. The only way to free her soul from the contract is to free all the ghosts stuck on earth. This book is amazing and one of the best manga I have read so far.
For my review I read the book Psyren by Toshiaki Iwashiro. Psyren is about a young high schooler who finds a mysterious phone card. This card makes it so you are part of the Psyren game, and you must find the gate to get back to your world. In the beginning of this book I did not like it. I found it boring, but in the end I fell in love with it. I like that the main character is really nice and will actually help anyone in need.
For my review I read the book Shinobi Life by Shoko Conami. This book is about a young girl who wants to die, but a boy her age saves her and she changes her mind. This boy is a ninja from the past who stumbles into the future. The girl falls for him, but he cannot fall for her. I really loved how funny and serious this book is.
For my review I read the second book of the Shinobi Life series. In this book you find out that Kagetora and Beni have both fallen for each other. Sandy thought something stands in their way. Beni's father has already had an arranged marriage planned for her making Kagetora and Beni's love forbidden. I really loved this book, my favorite part about it is how Kagetora is so protective over Beni.
I’ve always loved learning about the holocaust and people’s stories. Elie Wiesel's story is the best one I’ve heard yet. He puts so much emotion into his story and his writing and it makes you feel like you’re in the holocaust. Elie starts his story off by talking about his religion and the church he went to. His instructor, Moshe the Beadle had been gone for so long, and when he returned he had a story of a near death experience with the Nazi's. Of course, no one believed his “story” and they carried on with their lives as normal. One night they got real news that the Nazi's were coming the next morning and that’s when everything bad started happening.
All the walking, traveling, and suffering he went through was very interesting to read. My teacher read this book to the whole class in 8th grade and I instantly fell in love with it.
Reviewer Grade: 9
I've always loved John Green's books and "An Abundance of Katherines" is no different. Colin Singleton just graduated from high school when his 19th Katherine dumped him. Once Hassan, Colin's best friend finds out, they decide to go on a road trip to get Colin's mind off of things. They make a few pit stops until they reach Gutshot, TN where Hassan point out the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand. When they get out of the car to see it, they met someone, who will change the entire road trip. This book was filled with surprise after surprise and every chapter left you wanting more. This book was definitely one of my favorites.
Reviewer Grade: 9
A Wrinkle in Time is an interesting story about three children, Meg, Charles Wallace, and Calvin, who go on a perilous journey to rescue Meg's father. He had been missing for a very long time, and Meg was just starting to lose hope. However, in the middle of a dark, stormy night, an old tramp invites herself in and tells the children the truth about his disappearance and the shocking truth about where he had gone. Now Meg and her friends must travel across universes, planets, and even time to rescue her father before it is too late. Will they succeed in saving her father or will they suffer a terrible fate instead? Find out by reading A Wrinkle In Time. It is a very good book.
Review Grade: 7
The history behind feminism is deeply engraved into this book. Being a passionate feminist myself, I loved reading this book because it gives me a different look on society and how society treats black women. Bell Hook's purpose was to educate her readers and show how black women were treated with disgust during the times of slavery and further more. The writing is bold, strong, powerful, unapologetic, and true. This book is not just for black women, but for everyone to read and be taught how life really was back then. You will learn so much from this book and hopefully have more respect for those around you. She really stresses on how dehumanizing, sexist, and poisoning people were to black women. An 11/10 read.
Reviewer Grade: 12
Diana Guerrero is a well known actor for her features in Orange is the New Black. Wanting to know more about an actor's background is what a normal person loves to find out, but Guerrero's family background is lonely and sad. Brave isn't the only word you can call Guerrero because she is more than that. Only being 14 when her family was deported, she had to live her life without any care from other people. This book isn't about her funny and stern character in Orange is the New Black but about how real the world actually is. She breaks down the wall most people don't see and shows her audience how tragic the world actually is. She wants to fight and succeed. She wants everyone to know that each individual is human and we all have feelings. She wants justice for her family.
Reviewer Grade: 12
It seems like a typical day on her small, icy planet when Kady breaks up with her boyfriend Ezra. Little does she know, hours later she'll save Ezra's life when a megacorporation attacks their planet. The survivors of the attack are picked up by a passing fleet and Ezra and Kady are separated. As the two teens are trained to fill the staffing gaps on the military fleet, Kady begins to notice that the commanders are hiding a virus on one of the transport vessels which puts the safety of the whole fleet at risk. Soon, Kady finds herself reaching out to Ezra in an attempt to gain more information on the effects of the virus.
Illuminae tells a great story with the right mix of humor, code speak, and action. A unique premise and the authors’ attention to detail lead to a well-developed sci-fi world. The excellent story is enhanced by the inventive format – the novel reads like an investigative report made up of IM conversations, journal entries, and scientific reports.
The interesting format allows for the authors to provide a variety of relatable perspectives. Even though they’re living in a galactic warzone, Ezra and Kady provide a realistic and often humorous picture of a complicated relationship. The authors manage to make their interactions feel realistic despite the fact that Ezra and Kady never inhabit the same physical space at any time in the book. While Ezra and Kady are excellent characters, Kaufman and Kristoff have developed a varied cast of secondary characters which provide humor and empathy to the story.
Illuminae will appeal to a variety of sci-fi fans. It includes elements of intergalactic warfare and intrigue similar to Star Wars, apocalyptic elements along the lines of The Fifth Wave, strong kids and teens as savior figures like Enders Game, and survival instincts and humor along the lines of The Martian. Pick up Illuminae for a funny, fascinating read!
A Work in Progress is an inspiring and well thought book for his targeted audience. Connor Franta is a well known YouTuber and this book is a memoir of his life. It goes in depth about his past, present, future, fears, etc. Connor is trying to find himself and he tells his readers to do the same. The concept of this autobiography is beautiful because he reaches out to the viewers and audience who have the same or similar struggles like him and helps the people who are having a hard time finding themselves in the world. Reading this book rethinks how you want to live your life and reach for your goals.
Reviewer Grade: 12
The Lost Hero is a Percy Jackson series with new characters but without Percy himself. I loved the third person point of view and the three point of views from Piper, Leo, and Jason. Even though it is written in third person, the main targeted character is specialized well and in detail. Jason goes on adventures and quests without knowing himself which adds to the strong character development he will obtain later in the book. Greek and Roman mythology are perfectly mushed into this book. Riordan took aspects from the original Percy Jackson book and altered them to fit the plot of this book. This is not a five star because the story itself felt a little too similar to The Lightning Thief.
Reviewer Grade: 12
I loved this book because it was a spin-off of the Divergent series. If you like dystopia and a different point of view, this book is just for you. The book goes in detail of Tobias Eaton's life in four different sections or chapters. I think it's amazing to be able to look into another character's background, especially after reading all three Divergent books in Tris' point of view. In the novella, you get to see Four's abnegation side before he moved to Dauntless. You see how scared he was and the steps that make him who he is later in the book. There is a lot of foreshadowing to compare to the original books and the spin-off. The reason why I gave it a four stars though, is because I felt as if Four could've had more emotion and thought because when I read it, it felt as if I was just reading the behind the scenes and not how he was REALLY feeling.
Reviewer Grade: 12
This book definitely deserves its Newbery Honor Award. It tells an intricate story about a girl moving to a small town called Manifest in a captivating way. At the end of every chapter, I was left wanting more. The author didn't tell you everything and you had to piece the clues together. I liked that there is a point of view of someone during WWI because usually books are set in WWII. I recommend this book to anyone who likes historical fiction.