Carnegie Medal

Book Review: Watership Down

Watership Down
Author: 
Adams, Richard
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In an ever-increasing list of books I failed to read as a child, I finally managed to get to Watership Down. While I am aware that many people speculate the true meaning of the book to be an allegory for Nazis or Communism, or whatever, the prologue provided by the author in this edition stated that it was merely a bedtime story for his children. With this in mind, I’m sure many subconscious influences led to some of the themes in Watership Down.
Either way, the story seemed to be a rambling series of events that didn’t have much of a point or purpose.

Let’s be clear: I like rabbits. I think they’re cute, and I even own two of them. Therefore, I appreciate the little details of lagomorph mannerisms sprinkled throughout. And yet, there were a few confusing choices made in this book, like giving a somewhat-confusing “rabbit language” that rarely had context, and was mostly abandoned by the end of the book. I also couldn’t buy into the idea of a “rabbit army” since most of the rabbits I’ve seen in the wild have been mostly solitary animals, and hardly in the numbers described in Watership Down.

When it comes right down to it, the thing that perhaps disturbed me the most about this book was the anthropomorphism of the rabbits. Sure, the “side stories” about El-Ahrairah were distracting and often unnecessary, and I couldn’t honestly tell you the character traits or attributes of any of the numerous rabbits, but the fact that they could talk to each other made them seem somewhat human. Consequently, this then introduces ideas like war and sex trafficking via the “innocent” covering of rabbits. I feel these tend to be mostly human traits, so it pulled me from the story when I had to remind myself, “Wait, these are rabbits.”

A meandering story that puts humans in rabbit bodies, I give Watership Down
2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
Author: 
Forman, Gayle
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

This book was very popular a few years back amongst the girls who loved romantic books. I had very high expectations for it since it had its own movie. I was let down with a sad, sappy story that barely intrigued me.
It's what you would think of when someone brings up the average young adult novel. It's the classic story of a young beautiful girl, but supposedly normal, girl who faces a challenge. Along the way, she has a love interest who is head over heels for her. In the end she faces her challenge and lives happily ever after. The book was a bit boring to read. I have read books that have made me cry with the characters, and been angry with the characters, and so on. This... was not one of those. There were many sad things that happened in this book, but the author just couldn't reach me. Overall, I give this book 2 out of 5 stars for the lack of originality and its failed attempt to try to make it sad.

Reviewer's Name: 
Izzy C.

Book Review: The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents

The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

For many years, I have heard of Terry Pratchett, but have never read any of his work. This came to light in 2015, when Pratchett died, and many fans of his work came forward to express their condolences. At that point, I hadn’t considered reading any of his work, but the outpouring of love for the recently deceased author made me reconsider. Consequently, I added some Pratchett books to my “to read” list and eventually chose The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents for my first foray into the written world of Terry Pratchett. I certainly picked well, as it won the Carnegie Medal in the year it was written.

I was a little worried that I would be lost coming into the Discworld series at anywhere other than the beginning, but since this book was written for children, it made it simple to ease into the universe Pratchett created. What I found most amusing about The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents was how self-aware and tongue-in-cheek it was. Talking animals are by no means a new concept in children’s literature, but Pratchett managed to show how ridiculous this idea was in the real world while also providing a somewhat solid explanation for how it happened.

The one aspect of this book that stood out the most was how British its humor was. I almost felt like I was listening to a Monty Python skit or an Aardman Animation movie as I worked my way through this audiobook. For those who appreciate British humor (or, I guess humour, as they spell it over there), I would highly recommend this book, as it’s certainly witty and made me chuckle on quite a few occasions. This humor overcomes the fact that the plot is a little confusing to follow in places as it jumps between different characters, but overall it’s a solid story.

An instant children’s classic with loads of British humour, I give The Amazing Maurice and His Educated Rodents 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is the last book in the Harry Potter series (I’m not including ‘Harry Potter and the Cursed Child’ since J.K. Rowling didn’t write it). Please do NOT read the books out of order, if you do you will have no idea what is going on in the book. You have been warned! I loved this book it is SO AMAZING!!!!!! This is a fantasy and a action book at will keep you on your toes the whole time. Please read it!

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Elizabeth C.

Book Review: The Golden Legend

The Golden Legend
Author: 
Aslam, Nadeen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Peer into the lives of a Pakistani couple whose Christianity is at odds with the more widespread Islamic beliefs of the locals. This is a story of intrigue and excitement as the plot slowly moves towards a head on religious collision when a local rickshaw driver falls in love with the widowed daughter of an Imam. A beautiful look at Pakistani cultural and religious differences. Wonderful, intense characters.

Reviewer's Name: 
Parris

Book Review: The Ask and the Answer

The Ask and the Answer
Author: 
Ness, Patrick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Ask and the Answer is the second book of Patrick Ness's Chaos Walking series. In this continuation, we see the original characters Todd and Viola venture farther from home as they try to outrun the lies of their previous lives. This book is a wonderful mix of brilliant, sad, courageous, and painful. As soon as I finished this book, all I wanted to do was pick up the next one. Ness's writing style is unique, and the characters are relatable and real. The events that transpire throughout The Ask and the Answer provoke a wide range of emotions, which makes it engaging. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who has read the first Chaos Walking book, which is called The Knife of Never Letting Go.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Sabrina J.

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray

Book Review: Between Shades of Gray
Author: 
Sepetys, Ruta
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This is an amazing book. So stark and unforgiving, written exactly like Siberia and the arctic circle. This isn't an autobiography but it sounds like it could be. I have no doubt that Lina's circumstances happened to thousands during Stalin's reign. The writing was so realistic I could feel the wind and the cold and every terrible thing that came with it.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

A boy with glasses and a wand in his hand looks over his shoulder.
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

If you have not read this book please...DO! This is a fantasy/adventure book that is unpredictable. It does have a cliffhanger at the end. It is the fifth book out of a seven book series. This book will make a lot more sense if you read all the books in order. While some parts of the story may be relatable to the reader (teen drama and romance) other parts aren't relatable to the reader. It is one of the best books I have read this year so far!
Reviewer Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Elizabeth C.

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Boy with glasses flying on a broom trying to catch an object
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

“Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” is a great book to read. This is the first book in a seven book series. If you like fantasy and adventure books this is a great book for you! This book is completely unpredictable with many twists and turns. Some of the characters are relatable to the reader but the story isn’t relatable at all. This is one of the best books I have read all year!
Reviewer Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Elizabeth C.

Book Review: The 5th Wave

The 5th Wave
Author: 
Yancey, Rick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy is a dystopian novel set in modern day. It follows the main character Cassie as she survives alone during the alien invasion of planet earth. I read this book in 8th grade and to this day it continues to be one of my favorite takes on the dystopian “genre.” I think what makes this book interesting to read in the fact that the author does not shy away from showing how awful Cassie believes her life is. Instead of focusing on hope and the characters figuring out how they are going to single handedly save the entire human race, Yancy instead makes his characters sarcastic, selfish, angry at the world and just overall very “human”. It makes the book feel less cliche and as realistic as the alien invasion of earth can I guess. For anyone who wants to read a dystopian novel (minus *most* of the cheesy romance and heroics) and I definitely recommend.

Reviewer: Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Gabrielle K.

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