Reviews of Teen Books

Click here to read reviews by PPLD’s Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens.
The Hidden Oracle
Riordan, Rick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Trials of Apollo is a view of a Greek god turned human. This book is written by Rick Riordan the writer of The Percy Jackson series. This is a fresh new twist on Greek mythology with new characters, slang, and a threat lurking behind a innocents face. This is a very entertaining book on betrayal, friendship, and family. I enjoyed the classic characters and the new ones too.
Actual Rating: 3.5
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Caitlyn B.
Better off Friends
Eulberg, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Better Off Friends is a realistic fiction about two best friends, a girl named Macallan and a boy named Levi. This is a dramatic story on falling in love with your best friend. I believe that this is the best book I read this year. Though this story was a little predictable it was a fascinating story. This book was written by the wonderful Elizebeth Eulberg. She has written lots of romance novels.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Caitlyn B.
The Scorpion Rules
Bow, Erin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Greta Stuart has been a hostage for most of her life. Well, technically, she's one of the "children of peace". You see, long ago, after the world was ravaged by the effects of global warming, an AI named Talis put himself in control, and decided to almost completely eradicate war by having the leader of each country turn over their heir to be a "child of peace" until the child reached the age of 18. Should that country go to war, the child will be killed. Greta's nation, the Pan Pols (Canada) are about to go to war over water, and Greta knows that her death is imminent.

This book is hard to explain. Basically, the world-building is pretty detailed, but not without some holes (many of which are explained by the end of the book), and most of the first half of the book was spent explaining the world that Greta and her fellow hostages lived in. Also, Greta is the proverbial ice princess - she is fairly stoic, even in her own head, and so I didn't think she was very likable for the first half of the book.

However, as the book progresses, Greta really comes into her own. Her stoicism and propriety have given her a certain amount of power in regards to the fellow children of peace, and it's really fun to see her step up and wield that power. And then, stuff goes terribly, horribly wrong, and the pacing and intrigue of the story really pick up.

I'd give the first half of the book 2 stars, and the second half 5. So, over all, like a 3.5 or something. By the end, I was loving it. If you like really complex dystopian novels (this is more like 1984 than Divergent), then this one is not to be missed.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Journey to the Center of the Earth
Verne, Jules
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Journey To The Center Of The Earth is a wonderful book. In it, the main characters Axel and his uncle find a mysterious message in a book saying that if you descend into the crater of Sneffels before the kalends of July, you will find a passage to the center of the earth. Putting aside all hesitations, they begin their journey and explore the depths of the earth.
Will their journey succeed or will they die in vain? Find out by reading this book. You will not be disappointed! The only bad part is that it's a bit unrealistic. Overall, this is a great book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Nicole B.
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I had originally picked this book to read because the movie is very popular.
I thought that the book would live up to the hype the movie had. It wasn't a bad book by any means, I was just expecting more. Most of the parts were predictable, but there were one or two things that weren't. It had fairly easy vocabulary considering how long the book was. I felt that this book was more geared toward guys with its derogatory terms like "klunk"(poop).
Overall, this is an average dystopian book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
The Grapes of Wrath
Steinbeck, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is incredibly human and moving. I had to read it for school but I really enjoyed it and fell in love with most of the characters (except Connie who left his wife). If you have the time, just sit back and enjoy it.

Reviewer's Name: Caitlyn
Genres:
Highly Illogical Behavior
Whaley, John Corey
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the middle of school one day, Solomon Reed took off all of his clothes (save his boxer shorts) and climbed in the school fountain. He went home from school, and then he didn’t leave his house again for the next three years. But aside from the agoraphobia that led to crippling panic attacks, he was pretty happy.

Enter Lisa. Even though she hasn’t seen Solomon since the day he climbed in the fountain, she’s thought about him a lot. So when the opportunity to get a scholarship to the school of her dreams hinges upon an essay about her experience with someone with a mental illness, she decides she’s going to do whatever she has to to become part of Solomon’s life. But as she and her partner Clark become closer and closer friends with Solomon, she realizes that “fixing” Solomon may not be possible, or even something that she wants to do at all.

This is the second John Corey Whaley book I've read (Noggin being the other one), and his books will now be automatically put on my TBR list - he's funny, he has a simple and accessible way of writing, and he manages to pull at your heartstrings while usually making a really good point. I actually liked this one better than Noggin, which is saying something, because I quite enjoyed that read. The mental illness angle is a hugely interesting one, and Whaley doesn't fall into the same trap that some authors do in which their character is magically healed by the end of the book. Ultimately, this is a coming of age tale for Simon and Lisa, and it's a great one. The character development supersedes the plot, which is fine, but it's the reason that I didn't give the book 5 stars.

I would highly recommend this book to readers of any age who enjoy contemporary fiction, John Green or Sarah Dessen. 4 stars - I really really liked it (maybe that's 4.5 stars).

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Genres:
An Abundance of Katherines
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

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 meet 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's Name: Layla
Awards:
Genres:
Inkspell
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inkspell by Cornelia Funke is the sequel to the book Inkheart and is
well worth reading. This book is just as well written as the previous book and has the same well drawn characters, along with epigraphs at the beginning of each chapter as before, though as before it can be somewhat predictable.
It’s a serious book with some heavy themes but it’s much more interesting than Inkheart because it takes place in a world of fantasy. It continues the adventures of Meggie, her father Mo, her newly reunited mother Resa, and the many other characters of Inkheart. It begins when the homesick fire dancer Dustfinger finds a person to read him back into the world of the fictional Inkheart where he was accidentally taken from by Mo. Unfortunately, Meggie, who has long been fascinated by this world, follows him, and one after another most of the characters find their way from this world to the world of Inkheart. There they find many surprises, the biggest of which is that the fictional world no longer follows the course set out for it by its author Fenoglio. Suddenly everyone is forced to accept the fact that they may just be caught up in a story of which they have no control.

Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Divergent is a fantastic book about a 16 year old girl named Beatrice who lives in a society where there are 5 factions, groups of people who believe in upholding and strengthening one certain asset of their personality. The Candor are honest, Dauntless are brave, Abnegation are selfless, Amity are peaceful, and Erudite are intelligent. Now Beatrice gets to choose to devote herself to one of those factions for life. Which one will she choose? She thinks this is an easy question until she discovers something shocking about herself that she must hide from everyone. Will her secret be safe, or will she suffer the consequences? This was an amazing book. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Nicole B.
Red Queen
Aveyard, Victoria
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I couldn’t put this book down. I thought that this young adult book had a unique take on segregation. The elite silvers looking down on the red slaves made me think of some real life situations. Just like its unique take on segregation , this book also had some unique characters. Mare, the main character was very relatable and realistic. The cover of this novel suits the story perfectly and portrays it well. It’s no wonder why this book is so popular. If you like action packed young adult books with a major plot twist, then this is the one for you.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
Genres:
Legend
Lu, Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

June Iparis is a prodigy trying to avenge her brother. Day is a criminal trying to save his family from the plague. Their paths cross when Day accidentally ends up killing a member of her family - and she decides to track him down. Legend is an exciting thrill-ride you won't be able to put down! Every chapter ends with a crazy new plot twist. June and Day are likable protagonists you'll be rooting for the whole time. I highly recommend this
book for the thrilling adventure and amazing writing.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Twilight
Meyer, Stephenie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bella, a regular girl from Phoenix, decides to live with her dad in Forks, WA for the rest of high-school while her mom and step- dad travel for her step- dad's job. When Bella starts to settle down in Forks a strange boy named Edward catches her attention. Who is Edward? And why does he act so strange around Bella? I'd rate this book a 5 out of 1 to 5 because it was romantic, dramatic, and had some action. I could relate to Bella because we both are terrible at sports.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle F.
Saiyuki
Minekura, Kazuya
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is a manga series. Yes, those comics with the characters with big eyes and a lot of drama. For those of you who haven't picked up a manga series or bothered to watch the impressive anime series that are often made out of them, don't be so quick to judge this thrilling, artistic, and funny form of entertainment. These short books prove to be very helpful to those looking for an adventure but find difficulty in focusing on a sea of words. With anime you get something extremely aesthetic to the eye as well as an amazing, quick adventure. There are manga series for everyone no matter their preference: girly shojo, action, horror and more. I have just started reading this adventurous series Saiyuki which is a beefed up adaption to the actual fable. In Shangri-La (a place where heaven and earth combine and demons, called youkai live in harmony with humans), youkai are going berserk and it is up to a team of four young adult males to find out why. As a smoking, gun wielding, cursing priest, a monkey god, a water spirit, and a chi manipulator head West, they find all sorts of trouble that causes them to show off their skills, and run away from all of their equally haunting pasts.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Summer W.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When Ford Prefect, an undercover alien that got stuck on Earth, realized that Earth would soon be blown into smithereens, he and his human friend, Arthur Dent, escape and embark on an adventure through space. The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy parodies other sci-fi novels, which is enjoyable for those who are experienced with that particular genre. This novel is very light-hearted, simple, and it doesn't really get too serious anywhere. The humor is random and ridiculous (in a good way), and it really was what made the book. All of the characters had strong and eccentric personalities with their own little quirks that make them special; they were all very engaging. It's a pretty good classic (that's why I chose to read it in the first place), it's very quotable (and who doesn't like quotes?), and fast-paced. It might seem a little immature to a select few, but the amount of people who like it heavily outweigh the ones who don't.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Miriam X.
Illuminae
Kaufman, Amie and Kristoff, Jay
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Kady and Ezra are citizens of the Kerenza colony - an illegal mining colony in a remote corner of the universe. One day, the colony comes under attack from rival mining company Beitech. Kady and Ezra manage to escape on two of the three spaceships that survive the attack. Unfortunately, in the process of escaping Kerenza and battling Beitech's ships, the Kerenza ships are massively damaged and unable access their jump drives to escape to the nearest jump station. The remaining Beitech ship is chasing the Kerenza ships through space in order to eliminate ALL survivors from the Kerenza colony.

Illuminae is a collection of the electronic communications between Kady and Ezra juxtaposed with a variety of different things: ship diagrams, dialog between the different ships' commanders, Wikipedia type pages, video
transcripts, thoughts from the AI controlling one of the ships, pictures of victims, etc.

I have really mixed feelings about this one. First, I really enjoyed the layout of the book. I'm not sure that I've read anything quite like it; I guess I would maybe label this as a more modern take on the epistolary
format. Some of the pages (usually when they were in space) were prose set to artwork, which was really cool to see. However, the layout was not easy to read on a kindle - luckily I had the book checked out as both a physical book and an eBook which I would recommend as the book itself is basically an anvil.

I really liked the plot of the first 54% (thanks, eBook!) of the book, and then it went a little off the rails for me. At this point, the book kind of changes from a mystery/exploration of the use of AI to an episode of the
Walking Dead set in space, which is decidedly not my thing. The last half of the book is actionactionaction, which never gives the characters or the readers a chance to breathe. The characters themselves are pretty generic sarcastic teens - I thought they were both pretty funny, but their personalities weren't really developed much beyond the snark. Oh, and the romance. I know I'm not the intended audience, but the romance felt forced, melodramatic, and icky. I skimmed those parts...because gross.

I don't think I'll check out the next book as I was not a fan of the last half of Illuminae, but I did really enjoy the reading experience. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a really unique sci fi read with a
healthy helping of romance. 3 stars. I (mostly) liked it.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
After Alice
Maguire, Gregory
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The book follows Ada (Alice's friend who does rate a mention in the original) as she tumbles down the rabbit hole after Alice (see what Maguire did there?). In between chapters about Ada in Wonderland, we follow the goings on of Ada and Alice's families above ground. I wanted the book to be Alice in Wonderland meets Downton Abbey, and that is definitely not what I got. The parts in Wonderland were ok, though Ada's character was never developed, and as such, I didn't actually care if she was stuck in a zoo forever with the White Queen or whatever. The above ground parts were painfully boring - even though Maguire added Darwin as a character, which could have been fascinating! We basically follow various housekeepers and Alice's sister Lydia as they traipse around searching for the lost children. Exciting it was not. There was also a ton of completely pointless social commentary - for example, its not exactly shocking that there would be lots of racists in Victorian England.

Oh, and to add insult to injury, Maguire writes as though he's just ingested a thesaurus.

This is the second Maguire book that I've read and hated (I was not very fond of Wicked either), so I believe it will be my last. 1 star.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Inkheart
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inkheart by Cornelia Funke is a fantasy book about twelve-year-old Meggie and her bookbinder father Mo who can read things out of books with his beautiful voice. Unfortunately, one of the people that Mo has accidentally read out is the evil character Capricorn from the fictional book Inkheart. Though it has been ten years since this happened, Capricorn is still hunting for Mo so that he can read a horrible monster out of Inkheart to do his evil work. The ending to this book is very satisfying, though it still leaves some questions unanswered which the author comes back to in her sequel Inkspell.
The best part of this book is its believable and completely unique characters, from the sad fire tamer Dustfinger to the cruel, superstitious Basta to Meggie’s stubborn, book-loving great-aunt Elinor. The plot is predictable at some times but at others is very surprising. There are plenty of twists since this book is over 700 pages, which makes it a good book for lazy summer reading.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Grace O.
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.

Pages