Carnegie Medal

Book Review: A Face Like Glass

A Face Like Glass
Author: 
Hardinge, Francis
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

There's something wrong with Neverfell's face. In Caverna, where people live underground, people's facial expressions never change, unless they want them to. But Neverfell's face is horrifying, and so her caretaker Master Grandible, cheesemaker extraordinaire, makes her wear a mask at all times. Confined to Grandible's chambers, Neverfell gloms on to all visitors, until one day she meets a special visitor, escapes Grandible's corridors and truly starts to experience the horrors of Caverna - all of which are more terrible than her face.

First, this is not a horror book. I went into it thinking that it was (I mean, look at that cover - it's creepy!), and I think that expectation hampered my enjoyment of the read a bit.

By all rights, I should have loved this book. It has the ingredients of a book I would love: a strong(ish) female heroine, intricate worldbuilding, court intrigue, unreliable characters and a few fun twists. Unfortunately, I was never able to really connect with the characters, aside from Neverfell. Neverfell, and to a lesser extent her friend Zouelle, are the only characters to really get much development, and unfortunately, Neverfell spent most of the book annoying me. The first part of the book is also short on an overarching plot - I kept wondering where we were going (aside from, potentially, outside). Neverfell spends the middle 200 pages or so making silly, avoidable mistakes and almost getting herself or her friends killed. Which makes sense, given her sheltered upbringing, but it wasn't super fun to read, and despite a strong beginning, the middle of the book seemed to drag on. However, the last 100 pages or so, once our protagonist has a larger objective, were delightful. There's a reveal in the epilogue that I didn't see coming, and I loved it.

While the book wasn't perfect, the worldbuilding was amazing, and I definitely want to read author's other book, The Lie Tree (which apparently is horror), now. A very solid middle grade read. 3 stars - I liked it.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Knife of Never Letting Go

The Knife of Never Letting Go
Author: 
Ness, Patrick
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

What a fabulous beginning to a fabulous series. Todd, the 13-year-old main character, has lived in Prentisstown all his life, but he soon discovers he knows nothing about the city at all. In fact, his whole life has been a lie.
As Todd and his dog, Manchee, run from the dangerous truth, more and more of Todd's presumptions about the New World are busted. This book is gripping, enticing, and heartbreaking all at once. I adore all the characters, and after having read the entire trilogy, I feel as if I know the characters like siblings.

However, there is one problem for me with this book. One of the antagonists is extremely exaggerated, to a point that it almost seems goofy. This interrupts the heroic and innocent tone. Despite this, I would absolutely recommend this book; you will be immediately sucked in to Patrick Ness's world.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Sabrina J.

Book Review: The Screaming Staircase

The Screaming Staircase
Author: 
Stroud, Jonathan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Fans of Bartimaeus will not be disappointed by Jonathan Stroud’s series, Lockwood & Co. The “Problem” started about 50 years ago in London. Ghosts became true, dangerous, and very real threats to the living. Only young people have the ability to “see” and eradicate these creatures of the night. Enter Lockwood & Co., a company of three who go out nightly to defend the city. Great adventure, ghost story, and humor interweave for perfect storytelling in The Screaming Staircase, the first in the series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Kristin

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I love this book! It is a fun magical book and is perfect for us kids. J. K. Rowling did an amazing job making the characters and creating the settings and scenes to where you can picture them in your head. It is about a young boy named Harry and his friends named Ronald Weasley and Hermione Granger working as a team to stop to most evil wizard in the history of magic from getting a stone that makes you immortal. This book has some very funny scenes:) I really enjoyed this book and I think you would too!

Reviewer's Name: 
Aubrey

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: 

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows by J.K. Rowling is one of the most exciting and immersive books I've read. Every page has something to offer and the climax is a fantastic way to end the Harry Potter series. It perfectly answers every question from the beginning, and the ending is phenomenal. The book tells the story in a way that is more detailed than the movies, and is the perfect accompaniment. The descriptive battles and challenges the characters face make this book an epic fantasy and a must-read for everyone.

I recommend this book along with the whole Harry Potter series to any reader.

The whole franchise from the books to the movies appeals to both adults and young readers, and is one of the best fantasy stories ever.

Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: 
Mason H.

Book Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
Author: 
Ness, Patrick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A Monster Calls is an award winning, simple, easy to read book about a very complicated, emotional issue. A young boy, Conor, faces the stark reality of his mother’s terminal illness. He has been suffering from a recurring nightmare and suddenly a new dream-like monster comes to him to see him through this upheaval. It is a short book that will have you emotionally tied up in knots written for young adults, but applicable to all people that are dealing with loss, closure and guilt. Conor’s internal struggle vividly comes to life in the form of the monster in this book. If you’re looking for a quick read that will pull you in and hold you, this is the book for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jenny G.

Book Review: Wonder

Book Review: Wonder
Author: 
Palacio, R.J.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This review contains spoilers.

This is the second time I've read this book. I got more out of it this time. It helped to google Auggie's condition to see what he would have looked like. There were a few chapters about friendship, betrayal, and bullying, that were so powerful I got misty-eyed. I liked that the school ultimately accepted him and loved him. I also liked Via's friend's storyline. Perhaps my favorite part was at the end when he got the award and said that they saw something exceptional, but he just saw himself as a normal kid. But hey, he'd take the award if they wanted to give it to him. :-)

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: A Monster Calls

A Monster Calls
Author: 
Ness, Patrick
Rating: 
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

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