YALSA Award

Book Review: Mortal Engines

Mortal Engines
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In yet another case of watching a movie first before reading the books, I finally got around to reading Mortal Engines after absolutely loving the 2018 movie. While I understand middle-grade or Young Adult readers are the intended audiences, it left me wanting in its presentation. Sure, most of the elements that made it into the film were there (with some less-than-necessary parts being cut from the screenplay for obvious reasons), but the way it was written felt a bit too flowery for my tastes. In fact, the engineer in me would have loved a lot more world-building than I got in this short volume. I did still appreciate the post apocalyptic steampunk world of Mortal Engines—if for no other reason than its ridiculous premise. The idea that whole cities would transform into moving monstrosities that devour lesser towns in a “predator and prey” relationship is such an intriguing notion that I had to give it a chance. Even if I don’t expect there to be movies to finish out the adaptation of the quartet of books, I can definitely look forward to exploring the rest of this series to have my world-building needs satiated in the next volume.

While the young protagonists were flat and singularly minded, some of the adults had enough meat on them to make their actions reasonable and realistic. Sure, there are always going to be clichés in stories meant for younger audiences. However, I don’t usually tolerate character-based clichés as much as I do plot-based ones. And while the writing certainly had a creative bent to its vocabulary, it became tiresome having to sit through it for a whole book. Purple prose is good in short bursts, but too much of a good thing can ruin the immersion of the reader.

A fantastic idea with semi-flat characters and far too flowery language, I give Mortal Engines 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Pride

Pride
Author: 
Zoboi, Ibi Aanu
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A modern take on Jane Austen's "Pride and Predjudice", "Pride" focuses on Brooklyn proud Zuri who writes poetry and hates seeing her neighborhood change. Zuri deals with the introduction of a rich new family to her block and the subsequent gentrification of her neighborhood. With themes of romance, reluctance, and pessimism, "Pride" makes for an interesting exploration of modern romance. Along with that, there is an interesting insight on the idea of what a neighborhood is: people you know, places where you know what to expect, and the true feeling of home. "Pride" is a great read for those who want a romance but also relate to the struggles of high school and family as a teenager.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K

Book Review: Mirage

Mirage
Author: 
Daud, Somaiya
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Mirage", an immersive and captivating book, tells the story of a girl stolen from her home to become identical stand-in for an intergalactic princess with a target on her back. The main character Amani is a simple and traditional girl who is kidnapped and tortured for the soul fact that she looks exactly like the hated princess of the galaxy. An incredibly intriguing story about self, love, and revolution, "Mirage" captures the conflict of learning to love someone you shouldn't and coming to love the person who enslaved you. "Mirage" incorporates South-East Asian culture along with subtly hinting at the tensions between Europeans and South-East Asians. A beautiful book, "Mirage" is certainly a great read if you want a beautiful and empowering story.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K

Book Review: The Selection

The Selection
Author: 
Cass, Kiera
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I can honestly say that this book is my favorite book that I have ever read.
The selection is a book about a class system that divides society into groups within a monarchy. However, the extremely handsome Prince Maxon is holding a selection process to find his next princess. Thirty-five girls from all classes are selected to stay in the palace with Maxon for a chance and being his wife. America Singer is from one of the lowest classes, but by staying true to herself and never conforming to the Prince’s wishes she catches his eye. After a spark ignites in and Maxon falls in love with America, he struggles to decide if she will be suitable for the kingdom and fit to rule by his side.
Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S

Book Review: My Life Next Door

My Life Next Door
Author: 
Fitzpatrick, Huntley
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

A beautiful romance, and a classic boy next door love story. A young girl, Samantha Reed lives in a home in which messiness is avoided at all cost.
Samantha can’t help but look at the alluring chaos across the fence at her neighbors, the Garretts. She becomes swept up in a whirlwind romance with the extremely handsome Jace Garrett. This novel was extremely riveting and cute, it wasn’t predictable like most romance novels and always kept me reading and wanting more.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S

Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

With this book full of action and suspense, Brandon Sanderson incorporates sci-fi with drama and it comes together like a peanut butter jelly sandwich with milk. In a world of superhuman beings called Epics, David, an orphan living in Chicago, tries to survive where Epics roam rampant. Steelheart, the tyrant, controls all Epics and every part of the city; water, light, and law enforcement. The only part that isn’t controlled is the Reckoners who try to take out every Epic while being anonymous and secret. David, inspired by the Reckoners, soon finds himself part of the battle against the Epics. With this action-packed thriller, will David and the Reckoners take back Chicago or will the Epics be victorious?

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: Into Thin Air

Into Thin Air
Author: 
Krakauer, Jon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Into Thin Air is a narrative story of the author and climber, Jon Krakauer.
He establishes that ever since he was a kid, climbing Mt. Everest was his dream. He later accomplishes his ambition down the line, but with more consequences than anything rewarding.

Into Thin Air uses a consistent tone of language to identify whether the situation represents relief or tension. This gathers more intensity for those who are interested in thrillers and adventurous stories. The narrative offers a variety of twists and turns throughout the plot in order to continue the use of curiosity and unpredictability of the end. The story is very interesting, and builds upon every single detail, from the start until the end of the book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Under a Painted Sky

Under a Painted Sky
Author: 
Lee, Stacey
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Under a Painted Sky is a fictional western story set in 1849 on the Oregon Trail. It is about two girls named Samantha and Annamae who after some unfortunate luck leave their home, Missouri, behind to start a new life, but they must first survive the Oregon Trail. While traveling along the Oregon Trail, Samantha and Annamae disguise themselves as boys to avoid unwanted attention and they join a group of cowboys, but will Samantha and Annamae be able to trust them? Under a Painted Sky is a story about friendship and self-discovery that leaves you wanting to read more. Overall, I really enjoyed reading Under a Painted Sky because Stacy Lee developed the characters very well and I would recommend reading it.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Emma G

Book Review: Chomp

Chomp
Author: 
Hiaasen, Carl
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Chomp is a book written by Carl Hiaasen. I would rate Chomp five out of five stars. In Chomp, Wahoo’s mom is on a trip working in China. The main character, Wahoo, and his dad, Mickey, get hired for a TV job. Their family is tight on money, and they are trying to pay off the mortgage of their house. While Wahoo’s mom is in China, he and his dad go on a rollercoaster of exciting events working for the show. It has a very exciting plot and swallowed me into the book. It is a funny tale about the love for animals. I enjoyed the character’s humor and how Wahoo reacted to tough problems. I loved this book and would recommend it to others. It is in a series, but it is a standalone book. I would recommend reading all of the other books in this fantastic series. The author is an amazing writer. That is why I would recommend Chomp to you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Hayden S

Book Review: Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close
Author: 
Foer, Jonathan Safran
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close follows a nine-year-old boy named Oscar coming to terms with life after his father's death on 9/11. When looking through his dad's things, Oscar breaks a vase and finds a key and a mysterious envelope labeled "Black". He decides to embark on a mission to find every person named Black in New York City in an attempt to find the one Black who knew his father. Along the way, he meets new friends and discovers more about those he already knew. This book is written from the alternating perspectives of Oscar, his grandmother, and his mute grandfather whom Oscar has never met. This adds an interesting layer to the story, as Oscar lost a parent in 9/11 and his grandparents, both children at the time, lost their families in the bombing of Dresden. This shows a theme throughout this book that grief from war and terror is universal. This book's overall commentary on the human experience and grief, both individual and collectively experienced by a nation, shows the skill and thoughtfulness of the author. On a personal level, I did not find the characters particularly enticing and had a hard time following the plot at times, but I would still recommend the book, especially to someone with an interest in 9/11 or the world wars.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenna R

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