YALSA Award

Book Review: Shadow of the Hegemon

Shadow of the Hegemon
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

It’s almost fitting how the follow-on book in the spin-off series to Ender’s Game takes the same tactic as Speaker for the Dead and transforms itself into a completely different genre. While Speaker for the Dead and its sequels still maintained a level of science fiction for the Ender saga, Shadow of the Hegemon pivots into a political thriller with almost no hints of sci-fi to be seen. The strength of the characters helped make this transition relatively smooth, but it still highlights how these child-aged individuals hardly have any child-like qualities.

While the Shadow saga certainly needed to start out focusing on Bean, I did appreciate how Shadow of the Hegemon developed many of the supporting characters. For the first time in both series, I felt like the reader was able to know Petra and Peter while also seeing what Achilles was capable of accomplishing. The results of bringing back children war heroes to Earth had a logical feel to its progression, even if I didn’t really care much about southeastern Asian politics to really engage with the politics of the plot. That’s not to say the whole “cat and mouse” between Achilles and Bean wasn’t interesting; it just wasn’t what had brought me to this series in the first place.

Of course, having read the Ender saga first, I can already see the early ripples of how this side-series will start to wrap up. Now that Ender is less of a presence in the Shadow series, other characters finally have a chance to show what they can do. While I’ll reserve my predictions might change with what actually happens, I get the sense that Peter’s tenure as Hegemon changes the world just as Bean changes into some super-intelligent giant. I will admit that some of Orson Scott Card’s predictions from 2000 still seem plausible today, given the political climate, it’s clear that the author did his research before playing with the ever-important sci-fi “what if” scenario.

A political pivot from a well-known sci-fi series, I give Shadow of the Hegemon 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.
Awards: 

Book Review: The Martian

Book Cover
Author: 
Weir, Andy
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After a NASA crew member is left behind on planet Mars, he has a huge to-do list. First, come in contact with NASA to prove he is alive, don't starve, don't die, then make it home alive. I'm not a huge fan of any science fiction type book, however, this was indeed an exception. I loved the perspectives the author chose to include, and the humor he shot into his characters gives the story personality. I suggest this book to an eighth grade audience; there is some inappropriate language and all of the science attributes are complex to understand. I strongly suggest to you this book if you want to be left on the edge of your seat with every new chapter, right up until the end.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.

Book Review: Clarity

Book Cover
Author: 
Harrington, Kim
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Clarity, by author Kim Harrington, is a gripping mystery novel about a sixteen-year-old young woman named Clarity, or "Clary". A normal teenager on the outside, Clarity possesses a talent for seeing the stories in objects: merely touch one and she sees visions related to the owner and what circumstances the object has been in. When a murder occurs in the small seaside town in which Clary lives, she teams up with the police and must dig deep into her own talents and the town's secrets in order to solve the mystery.

I enjoyed this book. While the writing is more of a middle-school level, the themes are for older teenagers. Thus, I would recommend this book to any reader over sixteen. The book is not overly long, and I finished it in under a day.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rebecca D.
Awards: 

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 is the last book of the series that follows the adventures of Harry Potter. As Harry and his crew have evidently aged to a more mature level of both wisdom and wizardry, they have no choice but to face Voldemort. Harry, alongside his two best friends, Ron and Hermione begin to destroy Voldemort's army piece by piece. As Voldemort takes control of the Wizardry world, Harry prepares for the ultimate showdown.

The Deathly Hallows is an extremely enticing story that brings an end to the Harry Potter series. Renowned for its fantasy and lore, the Deathly Hallows collectively groups it all into one story for an action-pact and romantic story.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is the 5th book of the Harry Potter series. In this, it embarks upon the adventure of Harry Potter, switching in between the Muggle and Wizard worlds to combat the upcoming villain, Voldemort. As safety is becoming more of a concern, Potter must find a way to combat this new danger that lurks around his home.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince is one of the better books of the series, as Harry and the rest of the characters have had an in-depth insight of their character. Now, it can focus upon the story, interesting those who are involved with action-pact novels.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Bomb

Bomb book jacket
Author: 
Shienken, Steve
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is perfect for young history enthusiasts, around the age of middle school. It's all about how the world's deadliest weapon was created, researched, spied on, and used. Explaining the race and allies of America to win the Cold War and beat Russia and Japan in creating the very first atomic bomb, this real-life story includes many famous scientists and new scientific discoveries. If you love action, science, and history, then I promise you'll love this book. It is super unpredictable and has a pretty sad ending when one of the countries wins. But who wins? Guess you're going to have to read to find out. Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

Book Review: Inkheart

Inkheart book jacket
Author: 
Funke, Cornelia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book Inkheart, written by Cornelia Funke is a timeless novel filled with magic, fictional characters, and supernatural powers perceived in a way that never before was. At the library, I was looking for a book, fantasy or fiction in particular, and stumbled upon something at the time I didn't know was going to be as good as it was. In the most poignant parts, I was left in tears, and in the most hilarious, well, I was also left in tears.
The main character features a mature 12-year-old girl, which many of the readers, is quite relatable, even to others a few older. There were many climaxes to this story, leaving an unpredicted outcome with each new page; so why would I rate it a 5? Read it for yourself!

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix introduces Harry Potter as he progresses to his fifth year at Hogwarts. Harry has fought against a diverse group of enemies that he has founded throughout. Now, Harry Potter faces one of the greatest enemies to have roamed Hogwarts. Afraid of the upcoming attacks and horrors that would surround Hogwarts, Potter prepares a group of students to fight against and safeguard Hogwarts.

The Order of Phoenix introduces as a change of tide regarding to conflict.
This book begins to set the premise for the final books of the series to come, which makes the Order of Phoenix to be a crucial story for the series.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Once Harry has reached his fourth year at Hogwarts, Harry and his collective group of friends are now starting to become more involved with events at Hogwarts. As an upcoming tournament is arriving, Harry is selected to be a part of the tournament. With insufficient skills required for success at this tournament, he must still attend and participate. The Goblet of Fire ultimately tests Harry Potter's wizardry and how much he has learned over the four years at Hogwarts.

Goblet of Fire is primarily focused upon the idea of camaraderie and ultimately, Harry. Focusing on his weaknesses and his character, this gives the incentive for those who are interested of Harry's principles. Being a great development arc for Harry Potter, the Goblet of Fire is of the few of the series that deserves to be rated 5/5.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban book jacket
Author: 
Rowling, J.K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Title: Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban
Author: J.K. Rowling
Rating: 4 stars = Really Good
Review:
The third installment of the Harry Potter series, the Prisoner of Azkaban, continues his story at Hogwarts and the expected trouble with various fantasies and legends that are brought to life. Being his third year at Hogwarts, Harry Potter experiences the mystery of a known Azkaban prison and is curious to find out more of this particular myth. As Harry dives deeper into this myth, he will ultimately find out a surprising truth.

With more character involvement for the protagonists and antagonists, the Prisoner of Azkaban truly envelopes the feeling of mystery within the fantasy world. Bringing out a deep universe and lore to the series, it encapsulates the attention of both casual and avid readers.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

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