YALSA Award

Book Review: If I Stay

If I Stay
Author: 
Forman, Gayle
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I've watched the movie of this book, so I decided to read the book too. Mia was a 17 year old girl who went through a treacherous car crash and lost everything. She was deciding whether she wanted to go to Julliard or spend the years with her boyfriend before this happened but because of this accident, all her dreams shattered. It's a really emotional story, as she loses her entire family because of the accident, and has to restart her dreams from square one. I think that teenagers would love reading this book because it's a bit of every genre and it has a mix of happy and sad emotions.

Reviewer's Name: 
Trisha

Book Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

SPOILERS FOR THE HUNGER GAMES!

Catching Fire by Suzane Collins is recommended for 11 and above. This book involves the Hunger Games, in which people have to kill each other until one person is left who will be the victor. The main characters in this book are Katniss Everdeen, Gale, and Peeta. Katniss and Peeta are both friends because they were chosen as the two tributes from District 12. They both made a team and won the 74th Hunger Games. Peeta and Katniss were living together happily until the Quater Quell, (75th Hunger Games). This year tributes will be chosen from the group of victors from previous years. I personally liked this book. Although this book involves a lot of blood and fighting, it is intense and fun to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Pranav

Book Review: The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Volume 1

The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Volume 1
Author: 
Nagame
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I started reading this book because I found the art style appealing. I continued reading because I found the storyline to be different and intriguing. The story features two main characters: Shiva and Teacher (Sensei). Teacher finds Shiva, a little girl, in the woods and cares for her as she waits for her auntie to return for her. The curse that Teacher suffers from is transmitted by skin contact, which prevents him from being able to touch Shiva and leads to interesting situations. Teacher must attempt to protect Shiva, both from the curse he bears and from outside forces that wish to bring her harm.

This book surprised me by creating a strong connection with the characters. It showed the reasoning behind the actions taken, but also revealed that unwise actions had negative consequences. Teacher's lies are intended to keep Shiva safe, but they endanger her more than he could have foreseen.

Teacher was relatable, to an extent, because it can seem appealing to conceal or lie about things in order to make people feel comfortable. However, when the truth gets out, it can damage relationships and endanger the person you were trying to protect.

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún Vol. 1 was one of the best books I've read all year. I would highly recommend reading it!

Reviewer's Name: 
Haven
Awards: 

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone
Author: 
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie

Book Review: The Inheritance Games

The Inheritance Games
Author: 
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is perfect for anyone who loves a good puzzle or even just a good story. This book is hard to put down once you start, you get so involved in the mystery, and the characters. If you like the movie ‘Knives Out’ you will definitely love this book. The characters are well rounded and feel realistic, and the plot is amazing! If your looking for a good book to really make you think check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: Scarlet

Scarlet
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I continue to be impressed with Marissa Meyer's ability to weave a compelling narrative based on common fairy tale themes but set in a sci-fi framework. A continuation of the story that started in Cinder , Scarlet felt a little distracted as it added in elements from "Little Red Riding Hood" and split its time between the new characters—mainly Scarlet and Thorne—and advancing the plot of Cinder to its next logical step. As long as you realize this series centers around Cinder and her rise to the Lunar throne, this book should provide some great entertainment.

Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this book was how it seamlessly integrated with the lore already established in the previous volume while also being true to its source. Nothing strays too far from the themes of wolves/werewolves, so it's a bit of an obvious connection to make in a series that's titled the Lunar Chronicles. Still, the thought put into constructing a plausible plot from the pieces of a short fairy tale is something that must be applauded. Even so, Scarlet does have some weaknesses that have carried over from its predecessor.

The charm of the characters in this series comes from how realistic they seem. Granted, most of the characters are teenage girls, so there are many quirks that are amusing at first but become irritating over time. In particular, Scarlet seems quite stupid. Her logic is clearly flawed, and it's obvious to the reader that she's going about things all wrong for far too long until she finally "gets it." And—of course—she's going to be attracted to the "Wolf." The other new character, Thorne, seemed underdeveloped as well, but I'm sure we'll see more of him soon.

A somewhat distracted but still excellent follow-up to Cinder, I give Scarlet 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
Author: 
Dashner, James
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The young adult book genre for the most part fells boring and stale to me. However, there was one book that I found to be great, and a real page turner, it was called Maze Runner. The book took me two days to finish, because it was such a page turner. The characters are great, the mystery is intriguing, and the drama is fun to read about. This book is one of my favorites and is a must read for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKinley

Book Review: Eragon

Eragon
Author: 
Paolini, Christopher
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Eragon is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story and its characters drew me into this new and existing world. The author also made me want to learn more about the world history and culture. While the story was somewhat like Star Wars, it had enough new elements to make it different. This book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves fantasy or for people looking for an adventurous book to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKinley

Book Review: Heartless

Heartless
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is about the Queen of Hearts and how she became so evil. Catherine's dream in life is to be the best baker of all of Hearts. These skills end up wooing the king and he eventually asks for her hand in marriage. Her mother wants her to agree, but Cath soon finds her heart is drawn to someone else, the mysterious Joker. With Hearts under attack by the dangerous Jabberwocky, Catherine gets pulled into an adventure that soon unfolds the reasons behind her infamous tale in the book: Alice in Wonderland.

I really liked this book mostly because of the characters. They were really well developed and I felt as if I knew them and was a part of their story. The plotline gets really slow in the middle, but by the end, I really enjoyed it. Meyer is the same author who wrote the Cinder Series. Even though this book is not like the Cinder Series, they are still really similar, so if you enjoyed that series, you will like this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emma

Book Review: All American Boys

All American Boys
Author: 
Reynolds, Jason and Kiely, Brendan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

My friends told me about the tv show All American, so I decided to read the book All American Boys first. I thought it was the same thing at first, just one as a book and the other as a movie, but it isn't. Both have different plots and stories even though they both talk about racism.This book is about police brutality and racism from the eyes and perspectives of two young high school boys. It's a very emotional and sad book even though it could be and was very true in the past and still in the present. This book strongly mixes up your emotions into a twist but overall, is a really good book. The book starts with Rashad getting beaten up by cops and Quinn seeing the whole thing, starting their fight for justice.

Reviewer's Name: 
Trisha

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