Reviews of Teen Books

Click here to read reviews by PPLD’s Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens.
Sticks
Bauer, Joan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Sticks is about a boy named Mickey who's dad is a champion pool player, but his father died when he was young. Mickey decides to follow in his dads foot steps and trains to win the Junior Nine-Ball Championship. Then a stranger comes to town, claiming he is a friend of his father's. This book is a short but interesting read. I'd rate this book a three because it was quick and well written but lacked adventure or excitement. I felt compassion for Mickey when it talks about him wishing his father could have seen him grow up. I read the book because I like the author Joan Bauer though it is not one of her better books. I recommend this book to people who like pool and are missing a loved one.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Hope was Here
Bauer, Joan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Hope Was Here is about a girl named Hope who is a waitress in
training. She and her aunt move from town to town. When they move to a small
town in Wisconsin and work at a local diner that's when the story takes off.
The author has a great way off describing Hopes life. Out of 1(Yuck) -
5(Awesome) I would rate this book a 4 because it got a Newbery Honor award,
but does not have ton of action. I picked this book because I like the author
Joan Bauer, and her previous books.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Legend
Lu, Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A plague ripples throughout the cities, fatal to anyone who has caught it for too long. No one wonders where they come from; the bigger issue is the war. A new recruit, top in her class, is too blind to notice. A boy, Day, is on the run, he’s resourceful, cunning. The two are unlucky enough to cross paths on a dangerous adventure. I give this a 5/5, it is an emotional roller-coaster all the way.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Every Soul a Star
Mass, Wendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Every Soul A Star by Wendy Mass is a tale of three kids who become the most unlikely of friends. Ally loves nature, and to be around her home which is out in the forest where the air is clean. Her greatest ambition is to discover a comet. Bree loves nothing more than her clothes, and her dream is to be a model. Jack keeps to himself, and has no friends except his art work. When the three are pushed together they become the best of friends to discover something extraordinary. I rate this book a 4/5- the beginning was a bit slow and bland.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Awards:
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Thomas can't remember anything.
He wakes up in a mysterious lift and finds himself in a strange place called the Glade with several other boys - all their memories wiped. Encircling the Glade is a giant maze that holds terrifying creatures and endless paths that lead to nowhere. But, who put them there?
This book was very fast-paced. As Thomas tries to unravel his past, we discover something very dark has brought them there - something even wicked. I read this book quickly - it was very hard to put down. The end is just as confusing as the beginning, making you even more anxious to pick up the next book!
The only real flaw I could see was the lack of character development. This may because it's the first book and the characters may change as the story continues. But, besides that, it was great!
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P
Hideous Love: The Story of the Girl Who Wrote Frankenstein
Hemphill, Stephanie
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Hideous Love is a verse novel about the life of Mary Shelley, the woman who wrote the iconic Frankenstein. Mary Shelley ran away with her lover, Percy Shelley and traveled around Europe, getting inspiration from the scenic surroundings for her writing.
Mary Shelley had led a very interesting life full of tragedy and drama and with award-winning Stephanie Hemphill writing it, it'll be great, right?
Ha... no. All I got was disappointment and dissatisfaction.
Reading Hideous Love was a chore. I kept on thinking it would get better, but it didn't happen.
The poems were choppy and I feel like Stephanie Hemphill just tried to make her sentences as short as possible, put them in a pile, and called it poetry.
Horrible Love didn't even scratch the surface of the emotions Mary Shelley must have felt, I couldn't relate to her at all; it was hard not to skim through the poems. I can't help but think that Hemphill didn't even try putting any structure or effort in her novel. A few poems in Hideous Love were written fairly well, but that meager amount can't make up for all of the rest of those tedious and boring poems.The verse novel was mostly about Mary Shelley worrying about the faithfulness of her husband and her actual writing was just tacked on there like an afterthought.
I don't recommend this to anyone, and Hideous Love is possibly the worst book I have ever had the misfortune of reading. The Wikipedia article on Mary Shelley was more interesting and gave more information.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Egg & Spoon
Maguire, Gregory
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Elena is a peasant living in Miersk, a village in Russia. Ekaterina is a noble that was passing through Miersk on her way to a ball. Due to an unfortunate accident, Elena and Ekaterina switch places and need to set things right again.
I first took notice of Egg & Spoon because of the aesthetic of the cover. I was about to choose not to read it after seeing the summary, but then I saw that it was written by Gregory Maguire, so I decided against not reading it.
The writing style is truly beautiful, and I can't really find the right words to describe it, which is frustrating, to say the least. To me, the story is slightly reminiscent of having a (very long) conversation with someone; it kind of goes off into tangents, it gets unusually descriptive on small things that don't really matter, and it talks about a little bit about everything. I find that really enjoyable, but for some people, it can seem long and tedious. I had to really concentrate while reading it because I kept on admiring how amazing the writing was instead of actually processing what was happening.
The characters were incredible! Everyone had different and unique personalities and reacted to things differently. I found all of them quite charming in their own ways. They all just had so much character!
The humor had me dying of laughter and really lightened the mood of the whole story.
One thing I didn't like about the novel was its pacing. Everything happened too slowly, and I was always waiting for something to happen to push the story along; Egg & Spoon is definitely not for impatient people, especially since it has almost 500 pages. It was really hard to get through.
Egg & Spoon was based off of Russian folklore and really gave off a fairy tale vibe, which is always a plus.
Egg & Spoon is definitely not for everyone, but, in my opinion, it was phenomenal.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict
Stewart, Trenton
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When Nicholas Benedict, a prodigal nine-year-old orphan suffering from Narcolepsy (a condition that causes sudden bouts of sleep), hears a rumor that there are millions of dollars hidden in the orphanage he just got transferred to, he is determined to find out where it is.
One great aspect of the novel is the main character. In the beginning of the book, Nicholas Benedict was very cynical and only saw the bad in people due to his past experiences, but as the story continued, he started to learn that good people did actually exist, and began to aspire to be like those people as well; reading this development of the main character was a very nice experience. I liked the fact that Nicholas wasn't perfect and despite the fact that he was a genius, there were times when he acted like a child; because of this, he seemed more like an actual person. Nicholas's intelligence continually surprised me, and I couldn't predict anything he would do, which made me want to find out what happened next. Most of the other characters had a lot of personality as well, and I found myself relating to some of them; they had vices and they had virtues, just like any other person.
There are many uncommon words in this book, so it is very likely that you will coming across a word you don't know.
I chose to read this because I first read The Mysterious Benedict Society series, and this book is the prequel.
I usually stay away from mystery novels, but The Extraordinary Education of Nicholas Benedict is an exception. Whether you like mystery novels or not is irrelevant when it comes to this; I think everyone should read this.I honestly couldn't put this book down; I read it all in one go. I consider this my most favorite book!
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X.
Awards:
The Search for Wondla
DiTerlizzi, Tony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This novel is about Eva Nine, a girl who had lived underground her whole life, training to be able to survive on the Earth's surface. Everything changes when a beast destroys her underground home; she was forced to run to the surface, but everything she learned about the earth from her training underground doesn't seem to apply to what she actually experienced.
I really enjoyed reading this book because Tony DiTerlizzi (the author) put a lot of effort into making The Search for Wondla's universe; he described everything very thoroughly and even had pictures in the novel as a visual aid to help the readers imagine what he was trying to convey. The made-up contraptions, plants, and animals in the story were all very unique and I was impressed by the creativity and the thought put into them.
Because of all of the detailed descriptions, it can be a bit overwhelming for some readers. I don't recommend this book to those who tend to skim, because if you do, you will end up confused and unsatisfied with the story.
The illustrations were absolutely fantastic and really tied the book together. The art made me feel like I was actually there with the main character and seeing what she was seeing.
This book is a very good example of adventure and fantasy, but I feel that The Search for Wondla had a little bit of everything mixed into it to make something amazing.
The writing was a bit awkward and not as fluid as it could have been on some parts, which can be noticed by more experienced readers, but it was fairly easy to get past.
The Search for Wondla is a great book and I could not stop after I started reading it.
Reviewer's Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X
Werlin, Nancy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Double helix is packed with science, ethics, psychology and relationships. Eli Samuels, 18, can’t get close--not to his caring but preoccupied dad; not to his smart, long-time girlfriend, Viv; and certainly not to his mother, who has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease.
Instead of going to college after he graduates high school, Eli decides to apply for a job at the Wyatt Transgenics Lab, a well-known lab for genetic-engineering experiments. Eli’s father is furious when he finds Eli has been hired and demands that Eli reject the job offer, but he won’t say why. Silence is how Eli’s family deals with the unpleasant.
Eli’s long-time girlfriend Viv has never met Eli’s father and has certainly never met Eli’s mother. To do so, Eli would have to reveal that his mother has been institutionalized for years with a devastating degenerative disease. Eli has talents and abilities that he hides from Viv, but somehow his new boss, Dr. Wyatt knows about them from the very beginning. What can make Dr. Wyatt be so fascinated with Eli? And why is Eli’s father so irate? Enter the twists of the Double Helix.

Reviewer's Name: Renee
Breaking Dawn
Meyer, Stephenie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Breaking Dawn is the fourth and last book in the Twilight Saga. This book is about Bella, a normal girl, who is worried about her wedding with her soon to be husband Edward, a vampire. Though all of Bella's worrying is for nothing, their honeymoon was nothing short of a disaster. Their love story continues, who will survive? Out of 1(bad) - 5(awesome) I would rate this book a 5 because I love the romance and action in this book and it has a ton of detail, so I can picture everything that happens. I read this book because I loved the previous books in the series.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Awards:
Roller Girl
Jamieson, Victoria
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Roller Girl is a graphic novel about two best friends who did everything together till the summer before high school. Astrid, the tough one of the girls, signs up for roller derby camp while Nicole, the shy one, signs up for dance camp. Will their friendship survive? Out of 1(bad) - 5(great) I would rate this book a 3 because I liked how the antagonist was hard to find even though there were two rival groups. I personally do not like graphic novels because they don't give enough written detail, so for some people this book would be a 4 or 5. The reason I read this book is because my languages art teacher recommended the book and it sounded good, so I gave it a try. I recommend this book to people who like graphic novels and roller derby.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Shadow Spinner
Fletcher, Susan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Shadow Spinner” is a book based on an old legend that some intellectuals say began in India, although evidence seems to point to a Persian book of fairy tales. The original story tells of a Sultan who, after finding his wife with another man, chooses to believe that all women are deceitful. As cruel revenge to womankind, he marries a new girl every night and then kills her when morning dawns. One night his latest new wife, Shahrazad, begs to tell her younger sister, Dunyazad, one last story before the Sultan executes her the next day. The Sultan agrees and finds he enjoys the tale, but he is dismayed when it is not finished by morning. So he lets Shahrazad live to finish the story the next night. But it turns out that she also has time to weave another new tale but does not complete it either. And so she is allowed to live yet again.This continues. But how long will Shahrazad be able to keep telling her life-saving stories? Here the author of “Shadow Spinner” decides to give the legend her own
twist. Enter young Marjan, a servant.
Marjan is a young servant girl who will probably never find a husband. Who would want to marry a girl with a crippled foot?. Marjan was not born this way. Her mother purposely dropped a heavy pot on Marjan’s foot so the Sultan would never choose her for a wife. Although her mother did this for her daughter’s protection, Marjan feels furious towards her mother. She is especially angry because, after maiming her daughter for life, her mother drank poison like a coward. Throughout the book we catch glimpses of what this hot rage has done to Marjan and how she carries this grudge with her always.
One day Marjan and her mistress, Auntie Chava, enter into the Sultan’s harem to sell jewelry to the women who live there. Because she is so skilled at telling stories to the children of the harem women, she is approached by Dunyazad, who tells Marjan that Shahrazad is desperate for more stories. She has told the stories in every book that the Sultan owns and told all the tales she’s heard. She begs Marjan to tell a new story. Marjan agrees, and Dunyazad leads her to Shahrazad where she is asked to retell the tale. But before it is over Shahrazad frowns and says that she does remembers telling that same story already. She asks Marjan to tell another. Marjan consents to the queen’s request,but story after story she tells is rejected. At last she tells one that is new to Shahrazad. Grateful for Marjan’s help, Shahrazad asks her to come live in the harem so that she can continue to help provide her with stories that can save all the young women's lives. Knowing she will be forbidden to depart, Marjan is upset to be leaving her beloved Auntie Chava forever. But she is honored to know that Shahrazad needs her help.
One morning some time later, after Marjan has already been living in the harem for a while, Shahrazad tells Marjan that the Sultan loved her story and Marjan is overjoyed to hear that the tale was one that the Sultan was familiar with already and loved very much. But she is dismayed when Shahrazad asks for the rest of the narrative so that she can tell it to the Sultan, who wants to hear it the next night. It is a matter of life and death. Marjan tells Shahrazad that she doesn’t know the rest; she only heard the beginning from a blind storyteller out in the marketplace one day. But Shahrazad must have the story or the displeased Sultan may kill her. And so Marjan is smuggled out of the harem in the mornings in search of the blind storyteller so that she can learn the rest of the tale. Every evening she sneaks back to the harem empty-handed.
Shahrazad tides the Sultan over with other tales but knows that she must soon have the ending rest of the storyteller’s story to placate the ruler. Over the course of her search, Marjan discovers the Sultan’s mother has plotted to make her son angry with Shahrazad so that he will kill her. She wants to make her own servant queen. But her most shocking, discovery is the fact that Shahrazad loves her husband despite what he’s done to the young women of his city. When Marjan asks Shahrazad how she can possibly love a man like the Sultan, Shahrazad states this profound truth: “There’s nothing wrong with loving someone. It’s hating - that’s what’s wrong.” It is then that Marjan finally realizes her hatred toward her own mother is wrong. She must learn to forgive her for what she has done. In the midst of all this, the search for the storyteller goes on. But the Sultan’s mother is trying harder than ever to catch Shahrazad, Dunyazad, and Marjan in doing something wrong. Eventually, all three of them, along with a kind, elderly woman and helpful old man, are going to be killed. Marjan thinks she knows how to change the Sultan’s mind, but will she really be able to save everyone she has come to love so dearly?
I found this book to be a gripping tale, and enjoyed the deep message of love and healing shown throughout. Shahrazad’s mission to help the Sultan mend from where he has been hurt by his treacherous first wife is admirable and Marjan’s personal struggles are relatable. How does one find it in their heart to love someone who has hurt them (mentally or physically)? A fun, well-written story, but one that makes you think - “Shadow Spinner” is a beautiful re-imagining of a classic legend.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Cosette P.
Small Steps
Sachar, Louis
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Small Steps by Louis Sachar was an outstanding book. The author of the book demonstrates a young person’s struggle fitting in. Armpit, the main protagonist is ready to change his image after being known as a thug/ruffian. He’s just about ready when an old friend from correction camp comes and makes a deal with him. I give this book a 4/5. The book gave a strong and positive message, however there were a few very boring parts.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Awards:
Eragon
Paolini, Christopher
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When you first pull Eragon off the shelf, you expect to be pulled into a world of fantasy, magic, heroic deeds, and a dark brooding evil. And from page one, Paolini does not disappoint. His masterful usage of language and tone go beyond the realm of mastery and into the realm of artistic genius. From the moment you read the short synopsis of the book to the moment you flip that last page, you are spellbound; subject to Paolini's expert manipulation of emotions. There is only one downfall, and even that ends up being a strength. That unfortunately is that Paolini follows the basic formula of how to write a cliche fantasy novel. He turns this weakness in his novel into his strength, however, by creating a book so masterful, he redefined the formula. Paolini's Eragon, while somewhat predictable (but then almost every book has some level of predictability), keeps the reader involved and sitting at the edge of their seat until the very end. Paolini has more than earned his place among the great fantasy writers of all time. He may not yet be a J. R. R. Tolkien or George R. R. Martin, but he has proved his worth and earned a place in the memories and hearts of millions.
Reviewer Grade: 12

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

Tobias Eaton - known as "Four" - tells his full story in a collection of short stories before the events of Divergent take place. Abused by his father, Tobias wishes to leave his faction, Abnegation, to escape his miserable life. When he joins Dauntless in the hopes of making a new life, he incidentally discovers dark secrets within the faction...secrets regarding Divergents.

This book was great! I liked hearing more about Four, who didn't have quite enough time to tell his whole story in Divergent. We also learn a great deal about the corruption within the factions. It gave a fresh perspective on the Divergent world overall. It was excellent.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Eternal Ones
Miller, Kirsten
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was amazing. At the beginning, it begins slow. The first couple of chapters focus on Haven and her "condition". These chapters give you an emotional connection to the characters, and bits of how each person views life. From the religious grandmother to the gay best friend you feel for Haven. She's been longing for this boy, Ethan, since she was nine. The only person who never thought she was crazy was her father, but he's gone now, and Beau of course. But when she finally finds out what she needs to do too find Ethan, and learn more about her life, you'll go through a confusing emotional roller coaster with her. I picked this book because the slogan under the title (What if love refused to die?) interested me. This book surprised me in so many ways, it threw in many clues of these surprises, but with all that's going on you won't notice what's really going on. The book is a big puzzle, and you have to put the piece together, until it all comes together.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nevaeh B.
The Nest
Oppel, Kenneth
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Steve's baby brother is sick. Like, probably going to die soon sick. So, when Steve is visited in his dreams by the wasps living in the nest over his house, and they offer to fix the baby, Steve feels like all of his problems are being solved...until he realizes the solution is perhaps not as perfect as it originally seemed.

This is one weird, creepy little novel. I listened to it (and apparently it's illustrated, so I missed the illustrations), and narrator was a little blah at first, but later on in the story I realized that that was probably somewhat intentional. The first disk was a little slow for me, but by the final disk, I was sitting in my driveway listening because I just had to know what was going to happen. Wow. I've never read anything quite like this, and while I won't say that I loved it, I did ultimately enjoy it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Newt's Emerald
Nix, Garth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Garth Nix wrote a regency romance with a touch of fantasy back in the 90s, and it's finally been published! It's adorable. It falls somewhere in the middle of Jane Austen and Gail Carringer - it's closer to Austen than Carringer as the fantasy elements are pretty light. The main character is spunky and extremely likable, the love interest is perfectly serviceable, and the dialogue is punchy. Also, there's cross-dressing. A super fun read - 4 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Awards:
Green River Killer: A True Detective Story
Jensen, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This graphic novel follows Tom Jensen, the author's father, as he hunts the Green River Killer. The story oscillates between the story of catching the Green River Killer (mostly set in the 80s in Seattle) and the post-catching pre-trial interviews with Gary Ridgway. Needless to say, it's a fascinating perspective.

I tend to prefer graphic novels with color, but I thought the artwork in this was great. The artist manages to capture the expressions of the different (real) characters, which led to some very chilling panels. However, the story jumped around in such a way that was confusing - it would often take me a few panels to realize that there was a time jump or perspective switch or whatever.

Overall, this was a pretty gripping read. I'd recommend it to fans of true crime novels.

Reviewer's Name: Britt

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