All Book Reviews by Genre: Fiction

Nothing But The Truth
Avi
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Nothing But the Truth," an documentary novel by Avi, depicts a small student-teacher quarrel that became a national headline. The book starts with one's average teenage boy named Philip Malloy. He runs track and is a fairly good student. His arch nemesis and least favorited teacher, Miss Narwin, thinks poorly of Philip, especially after he is switched to her homeroom. The day is always begun with the playing of the national anthem, but when Phil starts to "sing" along, Miss Narwin starts to lose it. After suspensions, interviews with newspapers, and nation wide fame, Philip must not only figure out how to deal with his newly renowned fame, but also how to deal with being honest about what is really going on. This book was a great, quick read. The way the book was composed made for easy reading and enjoyability. "Nothing But the Truth" was written in 1992, but the topic is still relevant decades later. With the kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL to other highly debated political topics, "Nothing But the Truth" is a great book for a quick but thoughtful read.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S
Genres:
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orczy, Baronness Emmuska
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wonderful book that incorporates the idealism of the French Revolution to create a unique setting. The historical adventure story is filled with a great blend of suspense, thrills, and romance. The developments included in the story are well-executed and the characters are all full of life. The overarching plot is also intriguing and will captivate the reader until the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who like a bit a history.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the classic Jane Austen novel "Sense & Sensibility", three sisters -- Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret -- face a new life after their father dies and they are forced to move to a new home. The sisters' relationships are tested as they balance emotional turmoil, suitors, and new beginnings. I loved this book -- partly because Austen's writing style is straightforward and far easier to read than most classics -- and because of how much time Austen took to masterfully develop her characters. The relationship between Elinor (who is sensible and logical) and her sister Marianne (who is emotional and has a love for drama) is deep and complicated. As the story progresses, we see different sides of the sisters as they struggle to grow in their new environment. I absolutely loved this story. Honestly, there isn't a single negative thing I can say about it. I would highly recommend it to someone who doesn't like classic novels, because I think "Sense & Sensibility" could definitely change their minds.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Neale, Jen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I believe there are many factors that will determine whether or not a reader enjoys this book. It is a first novel by this author and the reader's age may impact their willingness to immerse themselves in an environment, however fictional, that is, from the outset, purposefully created to be offensive to one's sensory organs. This is, and continues to be, crucial to both the plot of the book and an underlying message.

The characters are realistic and set in what is generally considered to be a gorgeous part of Canada's Pacific Coast, British Columbia. But the events of the book usually overwhelm one's ability to bask in that beauty for long. While the sadness of the characters' lives and the ugliness of their relationships with their environment are not without purpose, it is a tough read.

Including motherlessness, PTSD, isolation, human destruction of the environment and suicide in one book rarely makes for light reading. But it would be helpful to the reader to envelope those topics in a book that provides some wisdom or hope for progress on more than one front.

The author seems to be presenting some positive rationales for suicide, but these characters are all so far gone by the time the story begins that it is just another false glimmer to think that the outcome is anything more than part of the death all around them.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Awards:
Back in Society
Beaton, M.C.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Mildly entertaining, The "Poor Relations" Series isn't nearly as suspenseful, nor well-written as Marion Chesney's popular "Hamish MacBeth" Series, nor as interesting and comical as the feisty Agatha Raisin of the "The Agatha Raisin Series". With the exception of a few of the characters, such as the loathsome, ill-mannered Sir Philip and the interesting Lady Fortescue and Harriet, the former cook and now the Duchess of Rowcester, the heroine of this book, Lady Jane is a Lilly-livered character who although young, cannot stand up for herself in any situation. She is so unlike the sharp-tongued, independent, although vulnerable Agatha Raisin that her character is seems like a "doormat". Unlike the first book of this series "The Poor Relations", which heralded the strength of character, independence and backbone of each character, the plot of this book seems contrived and somewhat unbelievable, perhaps because no young woman in this day and age would be as weak as it's "heroine" Lady Jane. This book was written in '94, under the pseudonym of Marion Chesney, perhaps when M.C. Beaton's was developing her writing style. However, in this day of strong, independent women, the Cinderella story of being rescued by Prince Charming this hackneyed story seems boring and mundane.

The excellent writing of M.C. Beaton seems to be absent in this novel, and the "damsel's in distress" theme of "Back in Society" is dated and uninteresting!

Reviewer's Name: TD
Priest of Bones
McLean, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It took me a good long time to read this book. I started reading it and I
would stop, then I’d try to start it again. Then I decided to just buckle
down and read the book. I have to say it was a pretty darn good book.

I wasn’t expecting it to be the first in a series, but as I started coming
closer and closer to the end, I realized that it may well be part of a series
– and I was right, it is. The book takes you on a journey of what happens
in a medieval style world when someone comes home from war and realizes that
a new war is brewing and it’s starting in his own city. The book is rather
slow to start and at times doesn’t make sense, but anything that doesn’t
make sense at the time will be clarified later in the book.

This particular novel is written memoir style – the narrator refers to his
having written things which is an interesting concept. Usually you don’t
see novels written as memoirs with the narrator stating that he or she had
written something earlier. I fully expect that if this series were to become
movies, that you’d find an old, wizened man at the end closing a notebook
in which he’d written the entire sordid tale.

The book was well written and I have to admit, although it isn’t normally
my type of book, I was into it. The characters were developed as much as they
needed to be and the ones that aren’t, well, there’s a reason for it.
Some of them don’t need it, some of them don’t need it right now. Read
the book and you’ll see.

Reviewer's Name: Charity
Genres:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Of Mice and Men is a true classic. It is a gripping tale of friendship and tragedy that takes place during the Great Depression. Lennie and George are very well-developed characters and their story of fulfilling their American Dream is one that you won't want to put down. Of Mice and Men is a surprisingly short read, but its story is enormous. While the book does include some controversial topics, it is still a very good read that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of Charlie through his letters to someone he seeks guidance from, although we do not know the name or identity of the person who receives his letters. It is Charlie’s first year of high school and he writes to find comfort in simply telling his story to someone else. This was a beautiful book about the actuality of the dark corners of life and the necessity of good friendships. I picked this book up out of interest in watching the movie afterward, and it was a good decision to read it because I learned so much about true love and life through Charlie’s search for who he wants to be. This story is specific to Charlie’s life but is relatable to anyone who is struggling through the questions of their own personality and relationships. Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who just need to feel love and to learn that even in loss they will be okay.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
The Power of Six
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to I am Number Four is just as thrilling and action packed as the first. John, Sam, and Six set out as fugitives and work to find the others as we meet Seven. Seven is also known as Marina and lives in a convent/orphanage in Spain while she convinces her Cepan to rejoin the fight and develops her legacies. Complete with numerous battles, close escapes, incredible powers, and fun characters, The Power of Six is an excellent read for any middle or high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Armada
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a science fiction world shown by Ernest Cline, the protagonist, Zack Lightman, seems to have the whole world against him. His Dad has died in a freak accident, his school as well as his social life is miserable, and to make things worse everyone thinks he has gone crazy after breaking under this pressure. Having no interest in the real world, Zack throws himself into the vast world of science fiction and video games. One of his favorite games is a game called “Armada”, which is essentially a flight simulator involving space based combat. Not all is as it seems after a slew of strange missions and movements by the military it may be that this game is all too real. In this amazing work of science fiction by Ernest Cline, the future of Earth’s survival is seen through the eyes of Ernest’s protagonist. I greatly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the nature of the protagonist, Zack Lightman and the light humor played out on more serious concepts. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Saga
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book gives its audience a look into a virtual world that has run without human intervention for many decades. In this world the many NPCs have developed intelligence and personality, becoming almost human. This world is run by a strict, class based society, where each class is separated by “color”. Originally used to represent levels like in a game, it now is used by the matriarch of this society to suppress the many artificial intelligences that make up this world’s citizens. One of these citizens, Ghost, fights back against the system which eventually ends up with her in a bit of trouble. Soon after this, some familiar characters show up, such as Erik and from then on the story continues. In this virtual world shown in Conor Kostick’s book, the real world concepts of artificial intelligence interweave with the many dynamic characters’ actions and thoughts. Due to this and the premise of the story, this book has turned out to be one of my favorites so far. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a blend of dystopia and science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Prodigy
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the second book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have escaped the Republic’s forces and are heading towards Vegas. When they arrive, the dictator of the Republic, the Elector Primo, dies and his heir takes his place. Presented with a mission from a rebel group known as the Patriots, the duo is tasked with assassinating this new leader. June, seeing this new ruler is different, is conflicted by both the world she left behind as a member of the Republic and the world she now knows from her experiences with Day. In this action packed book, Marie Lu explores many concepts that are both relevant to the reader and thought invoking, through the conflicting perspectives presented by her two protagonists. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters breath as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Epic
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book presents a colony world far from Earth, in which power in a virtual reality based game means everything. The protagonist, Erik, lives in a less privileged community suppressed by the policies of the ruling administration. In an attempt to get even at the unfair treatment of his parents and their community, Erik attempts to best them in an in game arena with a team of his friends. The team they are against doesn’t necessarily play fair and Erik loses. Angry with this loss, Erik creates a new character completely on a whim, focusing on other attributes people typically don’t use. Having gone against the status quo Erik has some mysterious encounters that lead him on a quest to rediscover this virtual world. In this work of science fiction, Conor Kostick introduces his protagonist and the many other characters into a living breathing world. The openness of the world and the protagonist’s dual nature were some of the main aspects I enjoyed about this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, particularly one that revolves around virtual reality.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Champion
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the final book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have overcome the Republic’s forces and are now trying to maintain balance in the nation along with their Patriot and Republic allies. When it seems the peace has just started, the neighboring nation, the Colonies, is hit by a terrible plague outbreak. Blaming the Republic, war seems inevitable. Day and June must now overcome yet another threat in the final book in the series.
Marie Lu demonstrates one last time, the conflicting yet agreeable perspectives presented by her two protagonists and how they make this story so interesting. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters depth as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story, especially in comparison to the first book.. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Throne of Glass
Maas, Sarah J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Throne of Glass is the first of many in the series by Sarah J. Maas. The story follows Celaena Sardothien, a young woman assassin who was imprisoned for a year by the King of Adarlan. The King’s son, having heard of who she is, requests her to become the King’s champion, but first she must compete with all the other assassins and thieves to get the title officially. If she wins, after she serves for 4 years, she will be granted freedom. But there is something more going on when as the competition goes on, bodies start piling up.

The reason I enjoyed this book is it has a very well done mystery aspect to the book along with an immersive fantasy setting with a land of magic, fantastic creatures, and being unpredictable with what’s going to happen next. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the mystery involved because it was the perfect addition to a story that already had my attention. My reasoning for picking the book is the same for why I enjoyed it. I wanted a fantasy book with a story that’d keep me reading and that’s exactly what I got, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve read this year, but it did introduce me into the series that keeps getting better as you read it.

While the book itself felt as if it hadn’t been written well in the beginning, the story was entertaining and intriguing enough, that kept me reading through the full book and onto the next in the series.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Gregory B
Genres:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Taylor, Mildred D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is about an African American family living in the South during the Great Depression who faces the daily struggles of racism. The novel is told through their oldest child's, Cassie Logan, point of view. The Logans own their land and are successful which makes them a prime target for lynching or other racist acts. Cassie's family perseveres through the situation due to their independent lifestyle.

I wouldn't recommend "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". I found the book extremely boring and uninteresting, but other people might not. I read this book with my class because I had to. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however what the Logans faced can relate to other people. In my opinion it was predictable and it was by far not the best book I have read this year. "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is not a bad book I just found it boring.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Keeping Corner
Sheth, Kashmira
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Keeping Corner" by Kashmira Sheth is about a young Indian girl named Leela who struggles with the unfair traditions of her culture. She is about to get married and everything seems to be going well until her fiance is bitten by a poisonous snake and dies forcing Leela to become a widow. Since she is a widow she must keep corner which is an Indian tradition for female widows where women and young girls must stay inside for a year, shave their head, remove their jewelry, etc. While she is forced to keep corner she sees how unfair things really are and that she must use her voice to make a difference.

I would recommend this book. "Keeping Corner" really made me realize the unjust things women have to go through in other countries. I read this book for a geography project, but I ended up liking it. I couldn't relate to Leela but I could relate to her brother because when he tried to introduce modern ideas no one listened to him or valued what he was trying to say. The book was not predictable. "Keeping Corner" is the best book I have read so far this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet's Nest
Larsson, Stieg
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Now that I’ve finished the third book in this series, I realize it falls into the “trilogy conundrum” of having a strong, standalone first part, followed by two sequels that rely on each other to finish out the story. Heck, The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest should have just been Part 3 of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo since it completed the story arc started back in book one. I had my suspicions this book would continue from the exact moment where The Girl Who Played with Fire ended. After all, there were a ton of loose ends, and the story ended abruptly.

Part of my issue with this book was that it was primarily tasked with tying up all the subplots from the first two books. However, it still felt like it needed to spend time on new storylines that didn’t add much to the overall plot and were only there because the main character wasn’t able to do anything interesting. I also didn’t particularly like how some of these story elements concluded, as they felt unfulfilling (the resolution of the conflict with Lisbeth’s father stands out in particular). Overall, these two qualms made the book drag on longer than I think it should have.

There were still some positive elements in this book, including the trial of Lisbeth Salander. In fact, this coup de grace was by far the most entertaining section of the entire trilogy. I also appreciated the tension created early on when Lisbeth was in the hospital, as well as the action in the Epilogue that tied up the very last loose end of the trilogy. In the end, I still think this trilogy was a good read. It’s just that its final volume
felt a little bloated and distracted at times.

A mostly satisfying conclusion to the original Millennium series, I give The Girl Who Kicked the Hornet’s Nest 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Artemis Fowl
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the movie adaptation of this book coming out in a few months, I figured the premise of Artemis Fowl looked interesting enough that I’d want to read it before seeing the film. After all, a child genius going up against fantasy forces sounded like it would be entertaining. Overall, this was true. Granted, this book starts one of those classic Young Adult series that’s actually meant for children, so I can forgive a bit of its bathroom humor—but only to a point. Still, I found the fusion of modern technology and fantasy elements to be the strength of this book.

Much in the vein of the science fantasy genre, Artemis Fowl uses scientific principles and concepts to explain the numerous phenomena connected to creatures like fairies, dwarves, and trolls. It only makes sense that these creatures would evolve technologically along with humanity. Being able to explain how these creatures could remain undetected for thousands of years was nearly as engaging as the technology used to find them. The fact that this book only gave me a taste of what’s capable in this universe makes me want to come back and read the rest of the series.

Aside from the aforementioned bathroom humor (and some more adult jokes that probably aren't for children), my one qualm with this book is that the titular character doesn’t seem to play a huge role in the proceedings. I mean, I get that he’s a criminal mastermind working from the shadows, but I found the character so interesting in the few moments where he appears that I wanted more of him. Instead, many chapters focused on the military-fantasy world of the fairies, and I’m not that into military-based stories anyway.

A classic YA military science fantasy, I give Artemis Fowl 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Genres:

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