Book Reviews by Genre: Adventure

Project Hail Mary
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing! it has twists and turns, and the author is amazing! The science is explained well enough that anyone can understand it. Also, whenever you think the book is done, it just goes, 'Here's another problem, Main character! good luck!" Also, the book is in the format of a 'White Room" story, meaning that the character has no memory, and has to figure everything all out, along with you! Would recommend to any sci fi fan over the age of 12.

Reviewer's Name: Nolan B.
Rogue Protocol
Wells, Martha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

By this point in the Murderbot Diaries series, I'm used to the short length of these stories. I appreciate that there's still an overarching plot that the books are driving toward, but the bite-size adventures of the sentient AI robot are also entertaining by themselves. Now that the series is in a good groove by book three, I was glad to see the introduction of a foil to compare and contrast the main character's interactions with the humans.

The rogue SecUnit continues to find himself deeper into the shady dealings of humans, but with each interaction, he's finding it harder to hide who he is and what he's doing. That these "missions" he gives himself are a significant amount of effort for someone who would much rather be lazy and just watch vids all day seems contradictory until you realize that it's great character development—even if it's subtle. Raising the stakes with each book also helps to make this one the best one in the series to date. There has to be a point soon when things become fully out of the SecUnit's control.

It's always interesting to me how the characters that have stuck with me through the series (aside from the main character of course), are the other AIs and robots. In Rogue Protocol, I immediately fell in love with Miki, who showed the other side of human-robot relations as a pet/mascot. The contrast between Miki and the SecUnit was a fantastic plot device and I would love some kind of spinoff with those two characters (or characters like them). Unfortunately, the abrupt ending to this book left me a little disappointed, as I felt there needed to be more time with the characters to get their full range of emotions after the climax.

A great book filled with contrasting human-robot relations, I give Rogue Protocol 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
12 Months To Live
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Jane Smith is a defense attorney, trying to defend a probably guilty client of three murders. Gripping, well paced with great character development.

Reviewer's Name: Jane R.
I Am Not Okay With This
Forsman, Charles
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I'm open to a lot of visual styles for graphic novels. It can be what elevates a mediocre story to something profound, but it can also tonally clash with the message and leave a muddled mess. Storytelling in this format is a challenge to pull off and few have been able to do so successfully. I Am Not Okay With This unfortunately falls into the other camp here. Even if this were just a novel without the "graphic" part, there's not much to recommend it.

Filled with cliches about what it's like to be a teenage girl, I Am Not Okay With This suffers from the "men writing women" trope. None of the interactions felt believable or realistic. Instead, they seemed forced through what a man thought these interactions should be based on minimal or merely pop culture research. None of it had the feel of anyone who has lived as a teenage girl in similar situations—psychic powers notwithstanding. This was why it leaned so heavily on the tropes commonly associated with girls in puberty and the male fetishes that go along with it.

I wasn't sure if this was trying to be edgy by focusing only on heavy subjects like sexuality, bullying, and suicide, but the simplistic art style felt too childish to accomplish any of these goals with any level of gravitas. There wasn't even a satisfying conclusion to anything, which would only be frustrating if this book wasn't such a quick read. I'm sure it's less of a time commitment than watching the Netflix show, but I still probably wouldn't recommend it (even if I haven't seen the Netflix show to compare against).

A mismatched graphic novel obviously written by a man, I give I Am Not Okay With This 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Life of Pi book jacket
Martel, Yann
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel recounts the major events of Pi's life before going into detail about him being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger. It has frequent anecdotes about zookeeping and religion, especially near the beginning. The main character, Pi Patel, is an extremly likable main character. Though he is not particularly colorful or eccentric, his devotion to God and resilience make the audience instantly emphasize with him. Richard Parker, the tiger, is also made interesting. Though he doesn't do anything out of the realm of possibility, it's always left unclear how he's going to respond to the current situation. The rest of the characters are not particularly deep, but they all serve their purpose.

The plot is fairly simple, focusing more on describing Pi's struggle in detail than twists and turns. Sitting on a boat for seven months is hard to make interesting, but this book rises to the occassion. Every change in circumstance is explored, and Pi has to respond in creative ways. In between the speeches about how to train a tiger and why a hyena is dangerous, there are themes about faith that are masterfully done. While I can't say I agree with everything that's said about religion, I do appriciate how it is explored.

I would reccomend this book to animal lovers, people who enjoy survival stories, and anyone looking for a unique story that will keep them hooked.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
A River Runs Through It
MacLean, Norman
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I love how books can give insight into things we might not otherwise know. How, when someone "writes what they know" in an autobiographical sense, the reader gets to experience that slice of their life. I'm not interested in fishing—in any of its styles. And yet, A River Runs Through It gave such a clear picture of what it's like to go fly-fishing that I felt like I had actually experienced it. I'm still not interested in trying it in real life, but now I feel like I get it.

Of course, A River Runs Through It isn't entirely about fly-fishing. There are other universal themes, like fatherhood, brotherhood, sonship, and unity with nature. I can also appreciate that there is a Christian tilt to the main character without being judgmental of the choices his family has made. This unconditional love speaks to what Christianity is all about. That's not to say that the actions of his family aren't frustrating to read about, it's just that going fly-fishing is something that washes away any bad blood.

While it's a quick read, A River Runs Through It doesn't need much to convey the author's genuine attitude toward life. Because it's not about the details of actually fly-fishing that reveal how knowledgeable Maclean is at the sport. There weren't any facades that tried to paint the main character as a saint. All the characters had flaws, just some were more obvious than others. An accurate examination of an individual's life says more about what they've accepted than what they wish they'd wanted to be. And perhaps being in the "natural environment" where they're the most comfortable is the whole point of this book.

A heartfelt love letter to family and fly-fishing, I give A River Runs Through It 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone
Rowling, J.K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I suggest the book to people, who want to enjoy an intriguing, fast paced novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone is the perfect book for those people.
This novel is the first of the seven famous Harry Potter books by J. K. Rowling. This book is about 11 year old Harry Potter, who receives a letter from Hogwarts, which is a school of witchcraft and wizardry.
This book is full of imagination like at one point, Harry Potter is asked to catch the golden ball, while he is flying on the broomstick. Then he stands up on the broomstick and tries to catch the golden ball unexpectedly he falls off from the broomstick and throws up the golden ball to winning the game for his team.
This book keeps you involved throughout the book.
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone is a good book to spark joy and imagination for anyone, regardless of age.

Reviewer's Name: Teja S.
Witcher
Sapkowski, Andrzej
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the second collection of short stories that start the Witcher saga, Sword of Destiny helps to further broaden the setting and characters that would eventually be used in Blood of Elves . Following somewhat chronologically and expanding upon ideas first covered in The Last Wish , this collection continues to flesh out characters like Geralt and Yennifer while also introducing characters like Ciri. While they're fine stories by themselves, they pale in comparison to long-form novels like Blood of Elves, mainly because of their episodic nature.

I applaud author Andrzej Sapkowski for using these short stories to introduce the world-building of the Witcher series. While some writers might just make character sheets for their characters, he actually puts them in interesting situations to see what they would do. From a writing standpoint, I'd recommend this method of concept development as it gives certain edge cases or rarer character interactions to see where the limits of the characters lie. After all, figuring out what works in short form helps the longer pieces feel grounded. It helps when there are such strong characters to work with, though.

My only qualm with this collection was that nothing was particularly memorable. Sure, if I had read this before Blood of Elves, I might feel differently. As it is, I already know how Geralt handles himself, what drives Yennifer, and how Ciri has more going for her than even she knows. Since I'm writing this review many months later, I had to remind myself what even happened in it. Some stories in this book were covered in the first season of the Netflix adaptation, which made remembering them easier. Still, it's a solid collection and should be required reading for anyone who wants to get into the Witcher series.

Another great, but hardly memorable, collection of short stories, I give Sword of Destiny 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Strogoff
Verne, Jules
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While we mostly know Jules Verne for his science fiction stories, it's hard to miss the fact that his books are also quite adventurous. Even though Michael Strogoff: Courier to the Czar isn't one of his famous works, it may be one of his best. This book was something my father wanted his children to appreciate, and now that I've read it a few more times, I truly understand how ahead of its time it was.

Even if Michael Strogoff isn't explicitly a science fiction novel, Jules Verne still sneaks plenty of science into this race across Russia to save the life of the Czar's brother. Of course, since it is an adventure novel, Michael Strogoff certainly has a lot of adventure between Moscow and Irkutsk, with some scenes feeling like they were pulled out of a modern action film. The tension of sneaking behind enemy lines to deliver an important message never lets up. I don't want to give too much away, but there are quite a few well-written twists that show Verne's mastery of this "Russian James Bond."

Of course, there are still some tropes that are an artifact of the time when it was written. Cultural stereotypes are present and the age difference between Michael (a 30-year-old man) and Nadia (a 16-year-old girl) is uncomfortable considering how the story ends. Also, Verne describes Michael as this specimen of a man that borders on eye-rolling machismo. Still, there are plenty of interesting characters, including Alcide Jolivet and Harry Blount, who provide some humor in an otherwise serious adventure. If you like Jules Verne books, you'd definitely like Michael Strogoff.

A hidden gem of a Jules Verne adventure, I give Michael Strogoff: Courier to the Czar 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
The Call of the Wild book jacket
London, Jack
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Call of the Wild," written by Jack London, is a novel set in Yukon, Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck, a rather large, domesticated dog, is stolen from his comfortable life and sold into the brutal world of sled dog teams in the harsh wilderness. Buck quickly learns to adapt to his new environment, tapping into his primal instincts as he navigates the challenges of survival. He forms a bond with John Thornton, a kind-hearted prospector, but Buck never feels free, and he contemplates breaking his friendship with John Thornton to escape into the wild. I enjoyed the book because I am an animal lover and I liked reading about the events that Buck endured. Subsequently, I would recommend this book to animal lovers because, after all, it is about a dog and his strive for freedom.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
hp sorcerer
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter was an incredibly amusing read, with amiable characters that truly made the story stand out. This novel is a must-read for people of all ages. It has an air of mystery, is captivating, and provides entertainment. The book portrays real-world events in a fantasy world.
The characters, including the main character Harry Potter, are relatable and undergo character development while making mistakes. One of the great features of the novel is how each character has their own unique strengths and weaknesses, and each one has a distinct way of feeling. For instance, Neville Longbottom is a shy boy, but his loyalty to his friends and his house team is unwavering.
Harry Potter is a book that can be enjoyed by all ages, as it accurately portrays the struggles that come with different stages of life. Even though Harry is a wizard, his teenage problems are relatable to those of a typical teenager. As a reader, you can judge the characters in the book based on the tone of the novel. Relationships are also a significant feature of this novel and are portrayed differently depending on the type of relationship. For example, the relationship between a sibling and a friend is distinct but can be differentiated only by the tone or mood portrayed accurately.
This book is an absolutely enchanting experience, overflowing with captivating magical creatures, spells, and enchantments that will undoubtedly keep readers completely engaged. The characters are exceptionally well-crafted and relatable, while the plot moves at a fast pace, leaving the reader on the edge of their seat.
The author's vivid and immersive writing style transports readers into the heart of the story, allowing them to experience it as if it were their own. At Hogwarts, Harry befriends Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. The trio works together to unravel the mystery surrounding the Sorcerer's Stone. In their quest to counter Voldemort's plan to use the stone to regain his body, Harry and his friends embark on a perilous adventure.
Overall, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a timeless classic that continues to interest and entertain readers of all ages. It is a must-read for anyone who loves fantasy, adventure, and magic. I highly recommend this book to anyone who hasn’t read it yet.

Reviewer's Name: Sam
hp prisoner
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series. This book is a must read if you enjoyed the previous two books.

Harry Potter, a wizard going into his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has a connection to the escaped serial killer, Sirius Black. Black now is thought to be trying to murder Harry Potter on behalf of Voldemort. Dementors are sent to the campus of Hogwarts in order to keep students safe from Black. Hermione is juggling taking 12 classes and being busier than ever. Her cat is set on killing Ron's sick rat creating tension in the trio. Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, helps Harry cope with the awful affect the dementors seem to have on him. Meanwhile, Harry tries to discover the tie between Black and himself.

I read this book because I was a fan of the previous two books in the series. The characters and setting in this book make it easy to fall in love with. The author uses imagery to make it feel as if you are really there with the characters. This made the book an absolute blast to read. The ending tied everything together and prevented loopholes in the plot. I disliked the ending in the regard that Harry didn't get his happily ever after.

Reviewer's Name: Reese B.
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban is the third book in the Harry Potter series. This book is a must read if you enjoyed the previous two books.

Harry Potter, a wizard going into his third year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, has a connection to the escaped serial killer, Sirius Black. Black now is thought to be trying to murder Harry Potter on behalf of Voldemort. Dementors are sent to the campus of Hogwarts in order to keep students safe from Black. Hermione is juggling taking 12 classes and being busier than ever. Her cat is set on killing Ron's sick rat creating tension in the trio. Professor Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, helps Harry cope with the awful affect the dementors seem to have on him. Meanwhile, Harry tries to discover the tie between Black and himself.

I read this book because I was a fan of the previous two books in the series. The characters and setting in this book make it easy to fall in love with. The author uses imagery to make it feel as if you are really there with the characters. This made the book an absolute blast to read. The ending tied everything together and prevented loopholes in the plot. I disliked the ending in the regard that Harry didn't get his happily ever after.

Reviewer's Name: Reese B.
Robinson Crusoe book jacket
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Robinson Crusoe" is a fictional novel by Daniel Defoe; telling the story of Robinson Crusoe, a young Englishman who becomes stranded on a deserted island after a shipwreck. The novel follows his solitary existence as he learns to survive, building shelter, finding food, and adapting to the challenges of his new environment. Over the years, Crusoe encounters both moments of despair and triumph, offering readers a captivating tale of resilience, self-reliance, and the indomitable human spirit. I was fascinated by this book; if I were to compare it to another book I would say that it is the grown up version of Hatchet (written by Gary Paulsen). I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good adventure novel.

Reviewer's Name: Finn G.
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you have read the Hunger Games series, then you know that President Snow is the main villain and set a iron grip on the Districts of Panem. I you haven't read the trilogy, then might I highly suggest you do.
This book takes place decades before the trilogy starts and we read through Coriolanus Snow's eyes before he becomes the president and monster of Panem. Coriolanus has already set himself up to be in a position of power even as a young adult, and after his city was besieged, and his parents died, the Snow name and fortune left in ruins. Coriolanus Snow has decided that he will never be the weaker side again. The Hunger Games were not a new event for Panem during the time yet they were never popular, now though Coriolanus and his class are each assigned a tribute to make the Games finally noticed. Coriolanus has been assigned the girl of District 12, perhaps the worst choice available, or so he thinks.

Reviewer's Name: Xzavier
The Hunger Games book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is a suspenseful novel about 16-year-old Katniss in the dystopian land of Panem. In this world, the 13 districts protested against the government. In punishment, they must provide two tributes (one boy and one girl) from each district. When Katniss's sister was chosen as tribute Katniss stepped up to protect her. Now she must fight to the death with the other 23 tributes for a chance to continue with her life.

Reviewer's Name: Cailyn
Tress of the Emerald Sea book jacket
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book "Tress of the Emerald Sea" was a brilliant standalone book set in Brandon Sanderson's "cosmere" (his unique term referring to the general world where most of his books take place). I didn't actually choose to read this book; my uncle lent me this book because I love nearly all of Brandon Sanderson's books. After reading this magnificent book, I am very thankful for his generosity. I enjoyed the development of the protagonist, Tress, over the book the most. Tress stays kind throughout the entire book, but her bravery develops as she grows from a timid cup collector to something I don't want to spoil, but she gains a massive amount of bravery in the pursuit of kindness. I didn't enjoy the ease at which the final boss was dealt with, but the conclusion was relatively tidy and neat. This is the type of book where I constantly need to ask myself, "How did the author think of this"? Spore oceans that kill you but still float ships? Cup collectors creating chaos? Nothing was offensively predictable, and the little twist right at the end reminded my instantly of Studio Ghibli's Spirited Away's little twist at the end regarding the protagonist's parents. I won't say this has been the best book that I've read this year, but that is only because the year is still young and Brandon Sanderson's kickstarter had 3 other books in it.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ryder
Hatchet book jacket
Paulsen, Gary
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Hatchet, written by Gary Paulsen, is a fictional account of Brian Robeson. Brian, traveling by bush plane to see his father, is quite nostalgic and sad, as his parents had recently divorced. However, this all changes when the pilot has a heart attack and dies. Having no clue how to obtain help and low on gas, Brian, with little previous experience, manages to crash land the plane into a lake. Brian swims to shore and collapses, exhausted. Brian spends several days recovering from the crash before realizing his extreme hunger, which motivates him to be proactive and use all of his resources, including a hatchet, to find food. I would recommend this book to people who like adventure, as well as those who are (and are not) resourceful. Paulsen teaches the reader that it is not what one physically has that determines success, but rather, what one mentally has.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
Six of Crows book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In light of the Netflix series getting its second season, I decided to pick up Six of Crows. In the end, I was pleasantly surprised.

This is a fantasy heist story, which is already a standout. Kaz Brekker and his gang are tasked to steal from the Ice Court, one of the most secure places in the world. If they succeed they’ll get unimaginable amounts of money. Each of his crew members have a different motivation as they head in to break out a prisoner.

The characters are all well developed. Kaz is the standout, with a nice mix of mastermind villain and sympathetic protagonist. Inej and Nina are the most sympathetic, each having somewhat altruistic motivations. Matthias is horrible, but his redemption arc is interesting. Jesper and Wylan are a bit flat at times, but are both fun enough to make me ignore that.

The plot is easy to follow, while still having a reasonable amount of twists and turns. The main problem I have comes up late in the story. I won’t spoil anything, but two characters are set up for a betrayal. When it’s time for them to follow through, they just don’t. I’m sure it gets explored more in the sequel, but it rings a bit hollow for now.

Overall, I’d definitely recommend this book. Especially if you like morally gray protagonists.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunger Games: The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins is a masterful prequel to the wildly popular Hunger Games trilogy. Set 64 years before the events of the first book, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes explores the origins of the Hunger Games and the rise of the villainous President Snow. The main character, Coriolanus Snow, is a fascinating and nuanced character, with his motives and actions constantly shifting throughout the novel. His relationship with his fellow tribute, District 12's Lucy Gray Baird, is particularly compelling, with Collins exploring themes of loyalty, trust, and love in a way that is both nuanced and emotionally resonant. The plot of The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is both gripping and thought-provoking. Collins deftly weaves together political intrigue, personal drama, and action-packed set pieces to create a narrative that is both thrilling and emotionally engaging. The Hunger Games themselves are particularly well-done, with Collins using them as a vehicle to explore the darker side of human nature and the impact of power and privilege on individuals and society. Collins's descriptions of the Capitol and the districts are vivid and immersive, offering a richly detailed portrait of the world of Panem. Her use of foreshadowing and symbolism, such as the mockingjay, adds depth and meaning to the story, inviting readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the novel. This book was a stellar prequel to the Hunger Games trilogy that adds a lot of perspective and background to the original story. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the original novels and wishes to explore more of the Hunger Games world. Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison