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Goodreads Choice Award/Nominee

Book Review: I'll Give You The Sun

I'll Give You The Sun
Author: 
Nelson, Jandy
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"I'll Give You The Sun," is a touching story about relationships, heartbreak, and love. This story is told from the point of views from Noah and his twin sister, Jude Sweetwine. "I'll Give You The Sun," starts with a broken family that appears like it will never be mended and everything will remain shattered for life. However, as the plot progresses, the reader understands that nothing is permanent and mistakes can be fixed. Life can be renewed and more glorious as ever. This book really emphasizes the quote, "No rain, no flowers." My only critique for this book is that it gets inappropriate at some points; this book is more suited for an older audience.

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: Monstress

Author: 
Liu, Majorie
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I chose this book because comics are a type of novel that I find interest in. This is a fantasy book that takes place where monsters and humans are divided after a war, and monsters who are caught by humans on the other side are used to be sold and experimented on. The main character, Maika, goes on the other side in search for hope of her mother. This is highly recommended for anyone who enjoys comics.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mona H

Book Review: Uprooted

Uprooted
Author: 
Novik, Naomi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Uprooted by Naomi Novik was an interesting read - with magic and mythical creatures - but I found that in the first few chapters I stepped away from the novel several times. The beginning was slow with not much action, more setting up the scenery and the laws of the land than anything else. The novel follows a girl named Agnieszka living in a quaint village called Dvernik by a magic infested forest where every ten years a mysterious and immortal wizard called the Dragon, who lives in a nearby tower, visits to pick one woman as payment for protecting Dvernik from The Wood. Agnieszka is chosen to her surprise, but her interactions with the infamous Dragon are almost boring - they share a typical, overused trope in a love-hate relationship that frustrates the reader. The two are also locked away in the tower where there are minimal outside interactions from any other characters for almost the entire first half with the exception of one of Agnieszka‘s bedridden friends. I found that the last half of the novel was the most interesting because that was when other characters from the faraway capital were introduced and the scenes were more fast-paced. Because the world building aspect in the beginning was making me impatient, the problem was that later when Agnieszka returns to her village, I spent a long time away from there that the characters and their relationships were hard to remember and I personally did not care for them. There were definitely characters I met in the last half that I empathized or was absolutely lucid with and I did enjoy all the plot twists because, of course, they were unexpected and added some excitement to Uprooted. Overall, the beginning takes off one star for me due to the inaction and some common young adult tropes were utilized, but I loved most of the characters and the plotline anyway regardless of the latter.

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W

Book Review: In Other Lands

In Other Lands
Author: 
Brennan, Sarah Rees
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In Other Lands follows young Elliot Schafer as he tumbles through a wall (well, his teacher bribed a weird lady to let him through the wall, but whatever) into another land at age 13. He's given the opportunity to go home or go to magic school, and, like any bright young kid who has ever read, like, any book ever, he decides to go to magic school. There, he befriends golden boy warrior Luke and stoic elf warrior Serene (our fearful nerd Elliot decides to take the council course as he is deathly allergic to exercise and also, killing), and the book follows their exploits throughout the duration of their time in school.

Ok, so, that synopsis does not even begin to do this book justice. I will be forcing this into the hands of any person that walks into the teen center that says that they have even a remote interest in fantasy. Because this was so good. The best thing I've read so far this year for sure (and I've already read like 20 things this year, so that's not nothing). Anyway, on to actual information about the book.

Elliot is kind of a jerk. On purpose. But his jerkiness is mostly hilarious, and a lot of the book is his witty, spot on assessments of himself, the world, and the people around him. Luke and Serene are equally nuanced as characters and are quite lovable despite their flaws. One of my favorite parts of the book was that elf culture has the same messed up gender roles and sexism that we humans do...but the male and female roles are reversed. It makes not just for some of the most hilarious passages that I've ever read, but also serves as probably the most effective argument against said gender roles being a part of any society. It was, quite frankly, brilliant. For example: “Do not have a catfight, boys, even if it is that time of the month,” said Serene, and when she saw them staring at her, she explained: “You know—women shed their dark feelings with their menses every month? But men, robbed of that outlet, have strange moodswings and become hysterical at a certain phase of the moon?”

Insanely great egalitarian commentary aside, this was an excellent coming of age novel. The relationship and friendship between our three main characters is complex, but they all love each other and grow so much together throughout the book. And at the end of the day, this book is not really about other lands, it's about the peoples that occupy them. As an added bonus, it demonstrates that communication and shared experiences amongst peoples could almost always lead to peace. In doing that, it also effectively skewers nationalism.

I really liked the romance in the book, but you figure out Elliot's end game partner (yes, Elliot is bisexual!) at about 50% of the way through the book. They don't actually get together until the end and its one of those situations where you want to knock their heads together and yell COMMUNICATE DANG IT at them until they realize they like each other and just make out or whatever. Speaking of which, there is a lot of sex in this one. It's mostly off camera, but the one scene that makes it in is really sweet.

I obviously loved this book. If I were to try to compare it to something, it's most like Carry On by Rainbow Rowell in that it's kind of a love letter to classic fantasy (it's more Tortall to Carry On's Harry Potter) that then transcends the original source material. It's quirky enough that it won't be for everybody, but I think a lot of readers will love it. I just purchased my own copy. Like, without waiting for a Goodreads deal. It's that good. Or, in PPLD parlance, it was Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome! 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Britt

Book Review: The Way of Kings

The Way of Kings
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Review: This book is amazing, period. Sanderson has created a truly living, breathing world with his debut novel in the Stormbringer Archives series, and I believe that this novel deserves a spot next to the classics of Tolkien and Robert Jordan. The book follows the separate journeys of multiple characters across the world of this universe; however, even though the different tales seem separate, they all end up interconnecting and melding into one truly grandiose story. I recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of the Lord of the Rings and such, fantasy enthusiasts, or anyone who is simply searching for a good book. However, the length of the book, being over one thousand pages long, may put some people off, but if you give this book the time and dedication that it truly deserves, you will be rewarded with an amazing experience.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: The Iron King

The Iron King
Author: 
Kagawa, Julie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Review: The book The Iron King by Julie Kagawa tells the story of Megan Chase and her quest to rescue her step-brother form the Iron King. Megan was a normal girl, she was shy, unpopular, and smart. She lived in a small town with her family and only friend, Robbie, until one day, her step-brother is taken by the Iron King to the land of Nevernever. She and Robbie decide to face the challenges that Nevernever has to throw at them. Will Megan rescue her step-brother or die trying? I would rate this book a 5 out of 5 because it kept me in suspense and I enjoyed its many twists and turns. A good friend recommended this book and I loved it so much that I'm reading the rest of the series. I would recommend this book to people who like exciting fantasies.
Grade 9 Age 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Gabrielle F

Book Review: My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry

My Grandmother Asked Me to Tell You She's Sorry
Author: 
Backman, Fredrik
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Fredrick Backman’s wit and humor ties in wonderfully with a tear-jerking finale. From beginning to end, I was torn between laughing and weeping. The innocence and wonder of childhood is perfectly captured, while also including the remorse of being thrust into the real world. Elsa, a seven year old girl, has an eccentric grandmother, the kind who just wants to make her happy. Her grandmother, however, does this in an odd way; shooting-paintballs-at- pedestrians-off-her-balcony type of way. And it works. Although Elsa is chased and bullied at school, her grandmother can paint a wonderful picture in her mind. But too soon, she dies of cancer, leaving behind a trail of letters for Elsa to discover, taking her on her last ever quest from her
grandma: giving the letters to their recipients. On the way, she discovers the story behind faces she never gave a second thought. Backman paints a masterpiece with his words, keeping me hooked and enthralled at every turn of this book.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: Dawn of the Dreadfuls

Dawn of the Dreadfuls
Author: 
Hockensmith, Steve
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

As I’ve mentioned before in my review of Pride and Prejudice and Zombies , I understand the concept of combining this classic piece of romantic literature with its complete obverse; it just felt like it was almost held back from its full potential by adhering to (most of) the original manuscript. With the prequel to this book, Dawn of the Dreadfuls manages to examine the ridiculous nature of this mashup in a way that’s so tongue-in-cheek that the tongue has practically ruptured the cheek entirely.
That is, this prequel doesn’t take itself nearly as seriously as the original Jane Austen adaptation did.

Even if the non-Pride and Prejudice and Zombies characters were mostly cartoonish in their representation of stereotypes and tropes, they were fun to read as they provided a delightful offset to the canonical characters of the Bennet family. Also, instead of trying to find some boring section of text wherein to insert some zombie excitement, Dawn of the Dreadfuls provides equal parts action and society to accommodate a balance that highlighted the extreme disparity between the two. In fact, when the two finally meet, it’s during the exciting climax of the story. Of course, knowing this is a prequel means there has to be some way out of the predicament; otherwise the original Pride and Prejudice and Zombies book cannot take place.

Despite all the things it has going for it, Dawn of the Dreadfuls suffers from a plot that seems to drag along like the un-functioning foot of a zombie. Sure, each plot point has its purpose, but they almost seem to belabor the point. There were a few chapters where I felt the plot to be somewhat repetitive if it weren’t for a slightly different outcome to show character growth. In any case, I’d still prefer this book over Pride and Prejudice and Zombies.

A prequel that could fully explore a ridiculous combination, I give Dawn of the Dreadfuls 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. Weilert

Book Review: Red Queen

Red Queen
Author: 
Aveyard, Victoria
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In this dystopian novel, Reds (those with red blood) live like peasants and servants to the god-like Silvers (those with silver blood), who live in luxury and royalty, possessing mind bending powers that make them superior. While the Reds slave away, Silvers feast. Mare, a Red, finds herself right in the middle of it all when she is surprisingly allowed to work in a Silver palace. In a freak accident, Mare finds out something about herself… she possesses one of the many god-like powers, like the Silvers.
And not just any power, a power that has never been seen before. She is betrothed to marry a Silver Prince and forced into a Silver life. She embarks on a quest to find out who she really is. This book, I think, deserves a 4 out of 5. The plot was amazing, but several things kept it from a full score.
First of all, the author’s attempt at creating a heartfelt and loving romance failed miserably, leaving me gagging from the sappiness of it all. On that note, I felt like the main character, Mare, was too dependable on her lover. However, I did like the overall plot and outcome, and I didn’t regret reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

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