The Lord of The Rings, Harry Potter, Hobbit and The Chronicles of Narnia have already won the hearts of millions of readers of all ages. Fantasy novels with complex plots, written in the understandable even for the youngest readers language, keep older generations excited and thrilled as well. The Fairy Tale by Stephen King can definitely be included in this honorable list. Describing the incredible adventures of Charlie Reade, it takes us to the mystical world and introduces to the ancient evil monsters and brave fighters for freedom.
Everything starts simple enough. The characters are living their ordinary enough lives and dealing with their down-to-earth duties and routines. But everything changes when a 17-year-old Charlie Reade decides to help his old grumpy neighbor. He discovers the door to the hidden world, where life is paralyzed by a curse that erases people’s faces and takes their sensations away from them. An evil tyrant Flight Killer and is the one who stands behind it. And, as it normally happens in fairy tales, Charlie turns out to be the one, whose mission is to defeat the evil, liberate the city of Lilimar and save the fallen princess. Is it truly up to a high-schooler to beat the powerful monster? And what does it have to do with an old ill German shepherd? The Fairy Tale has the answers for all these questions.
The audience gets a chance to dive into the exciting and cozy atmosphere of the good old stories, heard in childhood, and, at the same time, enjoy the complicity of created by King universe and charm of human feelings and behaviors. Classical fairy tale plot and motives make the novel easy and pleasant to read, however, as any fairy tale, it contains hidden moral and promotes eternal values.
Reviewer Grade: 12
A quick summary of this book is that three kids, Wren, Leaf, and Ivy, all live in a world filled with dragons. Wren was sacrificed to the dragons by her village leaders but she escaped and befriended a dragon named Sky. Leaf wants to slay a dragon and take revenge on the dragons because he believes that the dragons ate his sister, Wren. Ivy is the dragonslayer's daughter and she starts finding the truth about what happened when her father slayed the dragon. Ivy starts to realize that her father is the entire reason the dragons hate humans. When Leaf comes to Ivy's village to seek out the dragonslayer, Ivy and Leaf decide to go to the desert dragons stronghold to find Ivy's lost aunt Rose and return the dragons treasure to them. On the way they meet Wren and together they find out the truth about how the dragonslayer actually killed the dragon and try to make amends for it.
This book was one of my favorite books of the entire Wings of Fire series. It has a ton of amazingly portrayed action scenes. Tui T. Sutherland, the author, did a marvelous job of using imagery to make you feel as if you are in the book. I also really enjoyed how all the books in the series are connected. You see characters from other books such as a Nightwing named Deathbringer, who is from the Dragonet prophecy series and also the second Winglets book. My favorite character is probably Wren because she is so brave, courageous, resourceful, and smart. I also love Sky, Wren's dragon, that she befriends. He is so adorable and kind of funny at times. There was nothing in the book that I didn't like. Over all this book is one of the best ones I have read this year. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in dragons or fantasy/adventure. (8th grade)
Alan Gratz, bestselling author of Projekt 1065 and Refugee, returns with another thrilling novel about the human side of war. The novel follows two protagonists, the young Japanese conscript Hideki and the teenage American Marine Ray. As World War II rages on, the pair are brought closer and closer together without either being aware, until suddenly their paths cross in one ultimate twist of fate.
Grenade is a gateway for middle school readers to understand the complexity and horrors of war without being pushed towards a more adult story like Saving Private Ryan. The story shows that despite the Japanese and Americans fighting each other at war, the soldiers battling are just people underneath the uniforms (or lack thereof). Gratz weaves mature themes with easily comprehensible language in a way that I find increasingly rare for young adult authors, and it serves his purpose well. As an older reader, I find myself coming back to Grenade for its gripping storytelling and the nuanced characters it conveys. I believe Grenade is a must-read for those interested in history and a perspective not often seen in the United States.
The story of two conflicting ideologies and the events bringing them together, Grenade is a masterfully crafted story of the horrors of war and the importance of understanding others' perspectives.
This book is the perfect example of a great concept with poor execution. It is about a bunch of kids trapped in a grocery store amid an apocalypse, and trust me, it isn’t as good as it sounds. First of all, the worst thing in this book was the handling of 13 year old Sahalia, at least in the beginning. Her character in itself was creepy and unnecessary. Under no circumstances should a character who is only my age be described like that. She was handled well in the very end, but that’s about it. Besides that glaring issue, the rest of the book is flat at best. I will definitely not finish this series. (8th grade)
This book is genuinely one of the funniest I’ve ever read. I mean, it’s iconic for a reason! The characters are a hoot, and the world is even more so. The world may be nonsensical and the humor is a little crass, but it adds to the charm in my opinion. It wasn’t a life changing read by any means, but it kept my middle-school monkey brain entertained, and that’s all I can ask for. A must-read for sci-fi and comedy fans alike! (8th Grade)
I, like most people, got wildly bored reading this book. Even then, it's one of my favorites. Moby Dick is a long and treacherous journey not for the faint of will, but lying at the end of the mud-covered path is a handsome bounty. For me, the ending of Moby Dick justified the means. Sprinkled throughout are interesting and bizarre chapters (and wise quotes on sleeping with drunken cannibals), but I believe the impact of the ending cannot be achieved without Moby Dick's arduous length. The hundreds of pages allow the reader to spend a massive amount of time with the characters (even if it's just Ishmael) and grow to appreciate the ship. Without that, the ending would fall miserably flat. So, despite the time it takes to read Moby Dick, the famous tale of a captain's monomania is one told beautifully.
Paper Towns by John Green is a thrilling, coming-of-age mystery. Readers get to solve the mystery along with the main character. The book provides interesting insights and a sense of grounded wonder and sparks deep thought about our own reality of life and inevitable death. It follows senior Quentin Jacobsen on a wild journey with dreamy but unattainable childhood friend later drifted away, Margo Roth Spiegelman. The mystery that surrounds her the next day is sure to excite readers with fear but also curiosity as they journey with Quentin inside his mind on the sublime adventure to uncover her whereabouts. On many occasions I found myself unable to stop reading even though the book took me into the late hours of the night. I would definitely recommend this book for anyone looking for an exciting venture into the unknown!
Part of the reason I rated this book low is because I had high expectations. I read an abridged version as a kid and I thought the general story was cool. Part of the reason I rated this book low is because Swift fills the reader's head with unnecessary details until important plot points are lost in the middle of description paragraphs. The events that take place in Gulliver's Travels are interesting, sometimes clever references to 19th century politics and general social commentary: Gulliver passes through a variety of islands with caricatured citizens. Although I do not expect Gulliver or the citizens of these islands to be developed characters, as their only purpose is to serve as a means to tell the story, the intrigue of the plot dissolves when paired with Swift's writing style. Swift is a meticulous writer who insists on heavy descriptions of every detail and, consequently, there is little to no stylistic separation between key points in the story and the personal life of a particular citizen. Gulliver's Travels is also a relatively short read at around 300 pages, so it is fast-paced compared to other books written in similar detail, which further muddies the plot. The dialogue in this book is also near nonexistent; I can't recall a single line. When Swift means to relay information between characters, he will most often do so in paragraph format. As someone who usually enjoys classics, I am disappointed to say I really only valued the skeletal plot outline rather than the book itself.
This is the kind of book with so many cliffhangers, you can't find a stopping point. This is a book you'll want to read in one sitting but remember you have homework and have to reluctantly put it down. This is a book that makes your hands sweat and your heart beat faster. The vivid imagery and dynamic characters will make you feel as if you're there yourself. This is a book for adventurers. This is a book for the fearless. This is Underlined Paperbacks and this is The Wild.
When Dawn is sent to a wilderness boot camp for one to many bad decisions, she ends up in a situation her parents nor her ever expected. The people she meets there have bad decisions they are also living with and as the woods get darker, their pasts are revealed. Will they make it out of the camp alive? Is everyone there for the reason they claim they are?
Reviewer Grade: 11
The story of Win and Loss, one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea introduces us to a fisherman Santiago. He is old, but he has determination and a goal. He wants to catch his Big Fish. He does not give up even after eighty four days of failure and on the eighty-fifth day luck finally smiles at him. Big Fish is on the hook. Three days of confrontation between the fishermen and the fish reveal Santiago’s incredible inner strength and will power. But when he finally comes back to his hut, exhausted and barely alive, he’s left only with a skeleton of his dream and a poor illusion of a better life.
The deep symbols that the story contains can be interpreted in many different ways. Some of the readers may find the old man’s hunt as a waste of effort on a goal that is not worth risking his life. Others, however, will discover Santiago as their role model and an example of undefeatable human nature and endurance on the way to the dream. But this controversy and ambiguity is exactly what makes the book so unique and attractive to the generations of readers.
The language of the novella is typical for all Hemingway's books, simple and straightforward, however, this time the symbolic meaning is hidden under the coat of realistic story. It encourages the reader to think and reflect on the pages that he’s read and on his own life as well and find his own interpretation of the fisherman’s story.
If you are looking forward to diving into the fascinating world of dwarves, wizards and elves and feel ready to fight evil wolves, man-eating trolls and a fire-breathing dragon Smaug, then The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is definitely for you. A warm children’s fantasy novel, which, however, will captivate the hearts of many adults, takes you to the atmosphere of fairy tales that you were listening to by the fireplace as a kid.
The main character, hobbit Bilbo, at first reminds us of ourselves. He, as all the hobbits are supposed to do, loves eating good food, spending time at home and making their houses cute and cozy. However, his routine crashed as a dropped pot, when a wizard Gendalf knocked at his door. Welcoming him inside, Bilbo could not even imagine that soon he would go on a true adventure all the way to the Lonely Mountain and save an ancient treasure from the claws of a furious dragon. On his way he will meet many different creatures, make friends and enemies, defeat mountain trolls, get captured by giant spiders, get into another captivity right after that, outplay Gollum in the caves and get the magical ring. But what is more important, Bilbo will turn into a brave warrior (what a shame for the entire generations of hobbits!) and a loyal companion.
The author's writing style and original universe makes it impossible to stay indifferent to the story. Kind and soft narration wraps you as an old blanket and keeps you cozy even in the coldest evenings. Younger readers, as well as their parents, will find many life lessons on the pages of The Hobbit, such as why it is important to make smart choices, appreciate your friendships and be ready to help those who are in trouble. The book is an awesome pick for both family time and independent reading.
We Hunt the Flame is about a girl named Zafira who is forced to take on the role of breadwinner after her father died. She is a strong-willed, independent character who gets dragged into a quest to find a rare item with incomparable power. While she has noble intentions, the prince, Nasir, takes on a role of assassin as he fights to find the artifact before she does. I really liked the slow-burn romance throughout the book, and how Zafira's personality doesn't change as she falls in love. Nasir's character arc is a really important lesson too, as he struggles with a need for approval from his father, and the cost of that approval. The other characters were really interesting as well. The author did a wonderful job of describing each personality, so even though there were a lot of characters, I never got confused between them. Near the end, a lot of the action did muddle what I thought would be an epic conclusion to the book, and the plot twists at the end were interesting but not necessary. It was obvious that the author wanted to set up a plot for the second book, but it felt forced. However, the characters were likeable, not predictable, so you might catch me reading the sequel!
Caliban's War is the second book in The Expanse series. It continues with Earth, Mars, and the Outer Planets with high tensions after barely avoiding interplanetary war with the destruction of Eros. When a figment of the planet-destroying protomolecule tears through some Martian marines, war once again becomes a possibility. Will a disillusioned crew, a grieving scientist, a stubborn UN officer, and a self-destructive Martian be able to find the truth, or will war and violence and alien evolution consume them all?
This book is as good as the first book. That's high praise, since the first book was very, very good. It continues the somewhat difficult experience of lots and lots of characters in lots and lots of places, but I feel like this novel was a bit easier to digest since most of the worldbuilding was out of the way. The characters also pick up smoothly from last time, with the effects of the last book's events heavily influencing them and their actions. The way they interact with this world, their situations, and each other is so organic and complex that I found it hard to feel I wasn't reading about real people. I also like how the author lets so many of her characters hate or dislike each other while still juggling all their perspectives in different chapters. It is such a treat to see through one character's eyes while they do something they think is perfectly normal and rational, then pivot to another character's point-of-view that sees the first characters actions as completely stupid. While the new cast of characters was initially overwhelming after the amount of emotional investment that was steeped into last book's characters, I found them extremely interesting and fun. They were all completely different from one another, and gave so much variety to the way we see the story. Once again, the realism of this series is striking. Even if every little political nuance isn't picked up, we can still follow the general vein of alliances and rivalries as well as we follow them in our world. It almost feels like reading a historic fiction book, with every plot point a mirror to similar groups and events in our own history. Finally, the plot of this book was very solid. There was some dragging on the beginning, and the ending wasn't nearly as climactic as the first book's, but it was still a wonderfully gripping and satisfying story.
All in all, the Expanse story remains a tour de force with Caliban's War, and I can't wait to see what the next story holds. I would recommend this to anyone who loves great sci-fi, lovable characters, and a plot that's out of this world!
Reviewer Grade: 12
The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war -- and he intends to keep it that way. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried -- and some wounds aren't meant to heal. This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Leigh Bardugo pours into her characters -- into their failures and successes, and their responses to trauma, threats, and uncertainties. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays their hearts open to the reader, which is easily perceived through the multiple different point-of-views. As a result, there is a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all of their glassy fragility and heartfelt vulnerability. Fantasy, politics, inner-demons, and romance -- all used to support this novel through character development and unexpected turns in the story. The King of Scars duology is my favorite out of the entire Grishaverse series -- combining storylines and characters from both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I absolutely loved this book, and would definitely recommend the series.
The only thing keeping this book from a full 5 stars is the fact that I'm still upset about a choice Leigh Bardugo had made in writing the end of the book. I won't spoil anything, but I will say, I have never cried harder over anything. This book opens where we left off with Wylan wearing Kuwei Yul-Bo's face, and our gang must rescue Inej, get revenge, and defeat the bad guys. But that doesn't even begin to sum up all of the action, adventure, and craziness that this novel entails. And as well as being dark and compelling, the characters and relationships we love become even more fascinating and developed. Kaz and Inej, Jesper and Wylan, and Matthias and Nina have come quite far with each other, and draw me in more and more as time goes on. This found family has been and always will be my favorite group from any novel. The ending was devastating, but it was absolutely amazing. It was the kind of ending a story like this deserves -- the kind that leaves you wanting more, but knowing that it finished in exactly the right place.
The first book in Stephanie Garber's trilogy is a fantasy story about two sisters and their adventure at a nighttime, carnivalesque game. Scarlett Dragna leaves the tiny island where her and her sister, Donatella, live with their cruel and powerful father. Their exigence for leaving was the long awaited invitation to the legendary Caraval. Only, as soon as Scarlett and her sister reach the island, her sister is kidnapped. In order to save her sister, Scarlett must win the game. Scarlett has been told that everything that happens during Caraval is a mere performance. Getting entangled in a game of magic, love, heartbreak, and manipulation, Scarlett must stay focused and find her sister within the five nights of the game, or Donatella will be lost forever. The less you know about the book, the better. The more confused you are, the more you will enjoy it. I sat down and read this book in a matter of a couple of hours. Plot-twist after plot-twist -- once you start to think you finally understand what is going on, Garber turns the story around and confuses you once again. This is a story I will never forget reading, and I definitely recommend it to anyone who enjoys fantasy with a bit of mystery.
Reviewer's Grade: 11th
At first look, The School for Good & Evil may look like your classic and basic fantasy book with a little romance. Even though there is so much more, this book has so much depth to its plot, and just how the world is set up could be a whole book in itself. It starts in this little classic village that looks like any classic medieval village, maybe a bit more sophisticated. This village for the past 150 years has had two of their children aged around 16, boy or girl, taken from their village in the middle of the night and they are never seen again. The villagers try their hardest to stop this force that takes them, yet every year they fail. They go looking for them in the forest surrounding the village but every time someone has gone looking they go in on one side of the forest and appear out of the forest on the other side of the village. Then every year a book shows up full of stories, some including people who look like the children taken, the bookmaker then copies this book over and over to sell to everyone in the village. These stories are the classic fairy tales that everyone has heard of, as well as fairy tales we have never heard of. The village people have no clue where the children go or what happens to them except for the maybes in the books. Yet they know one thing, one child is good and one is evil.
The story starts with two girls, Sophie and Agatha, two best friends, yet opposites. Sophie is your classic-looking princess who has flawless skin, long golden blonde hair, beautiful clothes, almost the best house in the village, and is kind to everyone. While Agatha is your classic-looking witch who dresses in all black, doesn’t care about her appearance much, lives in a graveyard, has a cat that seemed to come from hell, and her mother is the witch doctor of the village. Both the same age, everyone knew they would be taken, knowing which is good and which is evil. Sophie wanted to leave desperately and did everything she possibly could to make sure she would be taken, Agatha wanted to stay in her quaint little life and not leave the village, her mom, and her cat. When the day came that the children would be taken everyone in the village worked to blockade every window door and make sure everyone stayed inside, while everyone older lined along the forest. Sophie prepared to be taken, and Agatha prepared to save her best friend from being taken. Night fell and as it turned out both Agatha and Sophie were taken, it was not a fun ride; they were pulled through the forest, the branches ripping their skin, then flying above in the claws of some bird. The two girls then saw the castles, the school for good and evil, one castle bright and shining and the other dark and gloomy. A fog came in and the girls couldn’t see anymore, they then were both dropped first Agatha and then Sophie. Yet Sophie woke up in the swamp of the evil castle and Agatha woke up in the shining clear blue lake of the good castle, something no one anticipated.
This book was something I never expected, I thought it would just be a bunch of fluff and would be a really short, easy, and bland read. NOT AT ALL. This book changed my expectations of how books should be written. This book was like something I have never read before. The twist on how we see fairytales is insane and shows what we never would have thought happened. There are so many twists and turns that even though you know the general idea of the book, you have no clue what is going to happen on every single page. This book would be great for anyone that loves reading fairy tales, fantasy, drama, and a little bit of a dark side twist in books.
Reviewer Grade: 12
I first read this book when I was much younger and have read it many times since then, yet not in recent years. I just finished reading it once again about a month ago. Just like when I read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the very first time there was so much magic and wonder that engulfed me once more, and will again many times more.
It begins during the Blitz in 1940 with a family of four kids, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They, like many other children during this time, go to the countryside of England to escape the war and be safe. Yet their time in the countryside will be much different than any of the other children’s. They arrive at this mansion owned by a professor, who has a housekeeper that doesn’t want children there and makes sure that they don’t touch anything. The four children don’t want to leave their family and their home in London, but the homesickness fades away quickly once they start to have fun in the house and find a world of magic and endless possibilities. Lucy, the youngest of the four, finds a wardrobe hidden away in a spare room in the house, in it are a bunch of fur coats. She makes her way through with her eyes closed as the soft fur rubs against her cheeks when she suddenly feels something prickly and cold. She finds herself in a wood in the middle of winter and a faint light in the distance, the light coming from a singular light post in the middle of nowhere and nothing to power it. Here she meets Mr. Tumnus, a faun, who invites her for tea and cakes. She spends hours with him and learns about the land she is in, Narnia which is in a 100-year winter, and that she is the first human in this strange land in a long time, as well as that there is a witch, the White Witch, who has enslaved all of Narnia. When she returned she had been gone for hours, yet to her siblings, it was mere seconds, they didn’t believe her and when they went to check the wardrobe there was no wood. Edmund was especially mean about it but followed her in the middle of the night and found himself in the middle of the same forest she described and Edmund met the White Witch. One day all four children were rushed into the wardrobe as the housekeeper gave tours of the house since it had many relics, and they found themselves all in Narnia, not at all ready for the adventure ahead of them.
This magical place and book always make me feel like I was there with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they had their adventures. The magic that C. S. Lewis was able to resonate with me every day as I too looked for a magical portal to a world unknown. This book is so enveloping as you read and finish it, it stays with you for years, making you think in ways you never thought of before. This book is an amazing book for anyone looking for an amazing fantasy book or a book that every time you read it you see something new.
Reviewer Grade: 12
I have always loved Greek mythology, so when I found this book I knew I would love it. I was right I loved it, it was amazing. The Lightning Thief centers around a pre-teen named Percy Jackson, who lives in New York and has trouble in school. He has been in and out of many schools, almost a different one each year. At twelve years old Percy always felt like an outcast, like he fit in somewhere just not anywhere. He struggled with dyslexia and ADHD. Every year at school he has had some strange occurrence that ends up getting him kicked out. He has a best friend, Grover, and an amazing mother, Sally. He also has a stepfather that is abusive and he has pushed his mother to leave him but she won’t. There is a reason though for all of what Percy has gone through in his life. After encounters with many horrible and terrifying events and things in which most try to kill him, he and Grover end up at Camp Half-Blood. At camp he learns many new things, his best friend isn’t human but a centaur, his father is the God of the sea, Poseidon, and there is a prophecy that he is destined for great things. At camp Percy meets Annabeth, a girl that is a child of Athena the goddess of wisdom and warcraft, she is crazy smart and very resourceful, yet also seems to be an amazing friend and person altogether. As the three of them go on a quest to find Zeus's missing lightning bolt and return it to him. Percy, Grover, and Annabeth set out across the country for a quest of a lifetime, all at the age of 12/13. Percy and his friends face monsters and things they never could have imagined.
This book was honestly one of the best books I have read ever, and I have read a LOT of books. Although it is for a bit younger age group it is still an amazing read for anyone who is looking for a lighthearted and funny fantasy and adventure book, combined with Greek mythology and overall great writing and plot structure.
Reviewer Grade: 12
As a continuation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series comes The Lost Hero. A novel continuing the world of Percy Jackson with all new faces and plots. Just like the original Percy Jackson series, I loved this first book of the Heroes of Olympus. The Lost Hero begins with Jason, a kid who can’t remember anything of his past waking up on a school bus with other students and two people talking to him. These two people are Piper and Leo, his apparent best friends and girlfriend. He doesn’t remember either of them at all. Even though they remember him and all the memories they shared. Piper is a kid from a famous father who does bad things to get his attention. Leo is the comedic relief of the group and makes everyone laugh, while also being a genius with mechanics. They are all in a school for delinquents and their actions sent them there. They are visiting the grand canyon when all of a sudden monsters attack causing everyone to panic. Jason starts to speak Latin randomly even though Piper and Leo had no clue he spoke it and never heard it, and Jason didn’t know that he could either. Jason also refers to the Gods with their roman names as the monsters talk to them. They are rescued by people from camp half blood and as expected there are some familiar faces. They get to camp and realize why they act the way they do and are eventually sorted into their cabins and Godly parents. They hear a prophecy and are instructed to save Hera and hear a new prophecy. They start on their quest and along the way, they learn more about each other and build a friendship from scratch again starting from the school bus. They encounter many new and different minor Gods and Goddesses as well as new creatures and people never seen before.
Just like Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan can make new and exciting plots and characters. The amount of detail in this book was upped by a lot compared to his earlier works as they were much larger and could fit in much more story, allowing for a better and deeper story. I would suggest this book and the rest of Rick Riordan's books to anyone that loves Greek mythology, great writing, and as well as adventure, fantasy, comedy, friendship, mystery, and a little bit of romance all tied up into one great book.
Reviewer Grade: 12