YALSA Award

Book Review: A Monster Calls

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

This book follows a young boy who watches his mother struggle against cancer. He is visited by a monster who transforms from a tree into a walking, talking being, and he begins to take advice from the monster. He lets the monster be what he feels and thinks about the situation his mother is in; if he is angry, the monster prompts the boy to punch another boy. The monster is a representation of his anxieties and inability to cope with reality.
However, the monster is also a companion and an outlet for the boy. The monster is a way for the boy to express all of his emotions and to talk out the struggles he is facing. At times, he appreciates the monster, and other times, he hates the points the monster bring up.

This book is very complex in its analysis of suffering and coping mechanisms, and is a truly wonderful read. While sad, the message of the book and the realizations the reader has make the point a phenomenal representation of human nature, and the monster a representation of all that people keep bottled up inside. Ultimately inspiring, I would recommend this book for anyone interesting in a deeper understanding of the human reaction to grief, loss, or conflict. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book follows a young girl living in Nazi Germany, whose family harbors a Jew hiding out from the secret police. Facing prison time, shame, or even loss of life, the girl and her family must be immensely careful to remain neutral and non-proactive. Any anti-Nazi actions, which were quite subjective and meaningless actions, sometimes, could be used against people.

Not to mention, people were being oppressed based on physical appearance and mannerisms, alone. The Jewish man, though, educates the young girl and becomes her best friend. When he chooses to leave their family, due to not wanting to put them in danger and also being in increasing danger himself, the girl faces loss she has never known before. The plot escalates until Germany is liberated by the Allied powers, and the girl grows up to tell warning tales of Nazi-like power regimes and social inequality. This book is fantastic, especially because it has recurring themes of morality, power struggles, humanity, and love or sacrifice. The plot is fascinating with many historical attributes and the characters are so well depicted that the book reads like an old story. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a deep thought kind of books but also something with an entrancing story and an amazing writing style. I only give it four out of five stars because I personally struggle with conflict areas of war in books and more intense or dark themes. Otherwise, fantastic read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: Doll Bones

Doll Bones
Author: 
Black, Holly
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Doll Bones" by Holly Black is about three friends who go on a journey to return a haunted doll to her grave after taking it out of one of their mom's china cabinets. Zach, Poppy, and Alice play a role-play game in which the doll is "the queen'. The doll is made from a young girl's bones and her wishes are to be returned with her family at the grave site so all three of them go on an extensive journey to do so. In the process Zach, Poppy, and Alice meet strange people which leads them to almost give up.

I would recommend this book. "Doll Bones" was really fun to re-read and was just as exciting as the first. Originally, I read the book for Battle of the Books in third grade but I read it again because I liked it. I couldn't relate to the characters however I think other people could. "Doll Bones" is not predictable and was not the best book I have read this year despite it still being a good book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Legend

Legend
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Legend by Marie Lu is a dystopian novel that illustrates the story of two characters, each with a major difference that sets them apart. Born in different districts of wealth, 15 year old June is a prodigy that is on the path to becoming a military officer of the Republic. On the opposite end is the 15 year old Day, who is born within the poor districts of the Republic and is the country's most wanted criminal. When June's brother, Metias is murdered, Day is the main suspect of the murder, leading to June to seek upon to avenge her brother's death. Once June meets Day, they both begin to realize and uncover dark secrets of the Republic.

Legend is consistently full of action and suspense. With a twist of romance included, it provides a rich story with a variety of thrills and tense moments in the story. The likable characters and a well structured plot, it moves at a perfect pace that keeps the adventure enjoyable and interesting.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Everything Everything

Everything Everything
Author: 
Yoon, Nicola
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The book "Everything Everything" by Nicola Yoon is about a girl named Maddy. All she wants is to go outside and see the world, but sadly, the only 'outside world' she will ever be apart of is her colorful sun room. Madeline has Bubble Baby Syndrome, a condition where anything could cause her allergies to go crazy. However, when she notices a new neighbor named Olly, she can’t wait to talk to him…. through iMessage. However, texting isn’t enough, she needs to see him in person and be next to him. As the story unfolds, Madeline will find out a secret that will change her world forever.

"Everything Everything" was such a good book and I would love to read it again. Each and every character has their own unique personality, which make them more relatable to different people. I am so thrilled to be able to read more of Nicola Yoon's books and hope that they are just as good as "Everything Everything"

Reviewer's Name: 
Kaylei F

Book Review: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Author: 
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is about a complicated relationship between two boys, in which one finds it difficult to accept himself and his family, which translates into him bring unable to understand or accept love from the other boy. It develops the ideas of self-criticism and self-acceptance, as well as the multiple forms that love can take on. Aristotle and Dante are the two main characters, who begin as friends and slowly fall in love. Aristotle, Ari for short, deals with a father with PTSD and a delinquent brother who is the black sheep of the family. Dante has a peaceful and accepting family, which causes tension between the boys; while Ari has learned to speak with his fists or remain silent, dante has learned to be diplomatic and express himself at all times.
The fact that they are total opposites is very interesting, because the plot then revolves around a complicated process of trying to understand each other. It is a good read if you are looking for something that is about mental health, love, and how relationships require compromise. It is also written in a nice style, in a sort of blocky, thought-like manner. I would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Jonas knows only his community and the rules; he doesn't know what lies beyond. With the government watching everything and deciding job assignments based on the citizen's personality, little does Jonas know that his job will impact his community and himself for the rest of his life. With sad, happy, and overall crazy interactions with dreams, Jonas increases his knowledge about his communities past. With still secrets unshared, Jonas looks for answers and his method will shock you! This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and will engage you with the characters and plot line.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: All Out

All Out: the no-longer secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages
Author: 
Mitchell, Saundra
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

All Out is a collection of short stories from different times in history.
These short stories keep you on the edge of your seats with every page. Being a LGBTQ+ Short story book I was delighted with detailed stories keeping with historical values and cultures. Everything from Pirates to Runaway Brides this book has it. Lovely storylines and flow. Definitely a must read for teenagers.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Lizzy B
Awards: 

Book Review: The Book Thief

The Book Thief
Author: 
Zusak, Markus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Book Thief is a novel set over the World War II period. It tells the story of a young orphan, named Liesel. She arrives to her new home with her foster parents, Hans Hubermann and Rosa Hubermann. As she lives there, her love for books begins to grow. Taking risky steps, she steals books from many others, even rescuing one from a pile of burning books of the Nazi bonfire.
As time passes by, Liesel and her family secretly shelter a Jewish boy from the father that had once saved the life of Liesel's father, Hans.

This book was well written and enjoyable to read. It took the perspective of two significant characters, Liesel and Death, which offers a standpoint that the reader could decipher themselves. In addition, with the inclusion of dry humor and insightful observations it would demonstrate a more impactful feeling towards the reader with the overall fate of the characters and the story. This is an important detail, that adds much more feeling that is captivating and interesting.

The Book Thief was a book that could not be predictable, nor fast paced.
Rather it was slow and every turn of direction the story had felt dangerous and worthwhile. It is important for the reader to understand it slowly, however is contradictory to the fact that it is highly captivating to want to see what will happen next. The Book Thief is personally a very well written book and is one of my favorites.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: Night

Night
Author: 
Wiesel, Elie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Night, by Elie Wiesel, tells of the story of the main protagonist Eliezer and the many tragedies he faced in German concentration camps during World War II. The protagonist narrates the entire book in a first-person and unbiased manner, which exposes the emotional truth of the Holocaust and provides an autobiography of the real author’s experience during the war. Eliezer, the main protagonist and counter part to the real Elie Wiesel, is forced to approach his ever-changing relationship with friends and family, many conflicts and struggles, and a plethora of situations that threaten his existence throughout the book. His reactions to these various obstacles exhibit the Holocaust survivor’s unique traits that set him apart from other Protagonists. Like Eliezer, every character in the book is developed fully with vivid traits that the real Elie remembers about them. The autobiography is fascinating and tells a compelling story while informing the reader about what really happened during the Holocaust, and I would reccomend it to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L
Awards: 

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