Book Reviews by Genre: Mystery

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.
The It Girl
Ware, Ruth
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I love Ruth Ware but this was so disappointing I didn't even finish it, and I really tried. I was just so frustrated with the format and the characters that I no longer cared about the conclusion.
The back and forth format was really repetitive and annoying, and the characters all felt thin. The main character only had two modes, panic attack or despair, but the way it was written it was impossible to have empathy for her.
Her anxiety became very formulaic. The supporting characters were all very predictable, which is not good in a whodunit. I really hope she's back on her game with the next one as I liked every one of her books until now.

Reviewer's Name: Kristen S.
Genres:
The Caves of Steel book jacket
Asimov, Isaac
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As someone who generally stays away from science fiction books, I was pleasantly surprised by this venture outside my comfort zone. Elijah Baley is the main character, living thousands of years in the earth's future. In this time period, robots have become commonplace and other planets have been commonplace. Tension has grown between earth dwellers and the residents of the other planets (referred to as spacers). There are also concerns about the increasing number and sophistication of robots. Elijah, though less extreme than many of his colleagues, is not immune to this prejudice, and is less than happy when he has to team up with R. Daneel Olivaw, a spacer robot, to solve a homicide.

The characters are not deep or complex, but they are consistent and interesting. All characters have a purpose in the story, and most of them change in some way by the end. Elijah is likable, perhaps especially so because he's allowed to fail. He's shown to be incorrect in many of his initial beliefs, and makes many false assumptions, but he retains good qualities throughout it all. R. Daneel is an interesting take on the robot archetype. Though he's shown to be effective in his job and capable of change, he lacks essential human qualities that Elijah must make up for. The side characters all have clear motivations, personalities, and are interesting without being obtrusive.

The plot strikes a balance between complex and easy to follow. There are a great deal of plot twists and dead ends, but the story takes its time and allows the reader to process everything. I hope I re-read this book one day, so I am able to look for clues to the culprit that I might have missed the first time around.

I have no overt critiques. The only bad thing I can say about this book is that it's not a deep philosophical experience. There are tcertainly hemes, but the book focuses more on excitement and intrigue than anything else. I would reccomend this book to sci-fi fans, and anyone looking to get into the genre.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Last Thing He Told Me book jacket
Dave, Laura
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Last Thing He Told Me" by Laura Dave is a gripping thriller that follows the life of Hannah Hall after her husband mysteriously disappears, leaving behind a note with the cryptic message, "Protect her." As Hannah unravels the secrets of her husband's past, she discovers hidden truths and forms an alliance with his teenage daughter. The novel masterfully blends suspense with emotional depth, exploring themes of love, trust, and the complexities of family dynamics.
In my opinion, "The Last Thing He Told Me" is a well-crafted and engaging story, deserving of a 4/5 rating. Laura Dave skillfully weaves a compelling narrative, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with unexpected twists and turns. The characters are vividly drawn, and the emotional journey they undergo adds layers to the plot. While the storytelling is strong, a bit more depth in certain explanations could enhance the reader's understanding of certain character motivations and plot intricacies. Nonetheless, the book succeeds in delivering a satisfying blend of mystery, emotion, and intrigue, making it a highly enjoyable read!

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Silent Patient book jacket
Michaelides, Alex
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Enthralling, captivating, and unexpecting are all words that can be used to describe The Silent Patient by Alex Michaelides, an irresistible and stunning psychological thriller. The suspense from the first chapter is palpable, and the skillfully laid out plot leaves the reader second-guessing until the very end. It is truly, in the full sense of the word, a thriller, full of curveballs and red herrings, multidimensional realistic characters, thick, palpable emotions… The list goes on. Michaelides’ wonderful writing style and the perfect plot pace were just the cherry on top.

The plot is utterly outstanding. From the first words, the protagonist, Alicia Berenson, shocks the reader with an unspeakable act of violence: she killed her husband. Why? That is the sole question I found myself asking the whole book. An even bigger question: why did she fall silent after the murder? And will she ever speak again? An added layer of complexity is her new psychotherapist, Theo Faber, who is anything but perfect. Theo’s obsession with Alicia raises another question: why is he obsessed? What are his motivations? As the plot unfolds, the mystery behind Alicia’s silence uncovers vast psychological trauma and the lies of her close friends and family. As the plot thickens, Michaelides creates a haunting setting as he delves into the intricacies of the human mind. It becomes evident that this novel is well-thought-out and plentifully researched to draw the reader into a realistic setting. Honestly, I have no criticism of The Silent Patient and could not recommend it enough for anyone looking for a suspenseful plot-twisty psychological thriller.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Jackson, Holly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend, 5 years ago. It's a closed case. But Pippa doesn't think so. I absolutely loved A Good Girl's Guide to Murder.
The story follows Pippa Fitz-Amobi, or Pip, a 17 year-old girl whose end of year project is a solved murder case.
The "murder" of Andie Bell, and the suicide of her boyfriend that followed. Pip doesn't believe the end result of the case, and that Sal Singh, Andie's boyfriend wouldn't have murdered her.
Pip shows up at Sal's brother, Ravi Singh's door, asking for help. She tells him she doesn't think Sal did it, and wants help proving it. The rest of the book continues with Pip and Ravi doing what the police couldn't. A deep dive into Andie Bell and Sal Singh's life.
This book was very well written, and so were the other books and novella in this series. The plot twists were perfectly placed and made sense, yet not easy to guess. This was not a book to take lightly, details from the very beginning of the book would resurface.
The other books in the series connected perfectly with this one, and each page left you wanting more. There was definitely a romance subplot, as Ravi and Pip got to know each other, but it didn't take away from the mystery at any point.
Overall, I really liked A Good Girl's Guide to Murder, and would recommend it any day, whether you are just starting with mystery, or are an expert.

Reviewer's Name: Zara
Good girl's guide
Jackson, Holly
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of my favorite books so far. The book is full of twists and turns and one of the most gripping story. I loved most of the characters.
Every chapter showed us a new suspicious person. Every chapter changed the perspective towards each character. I loved this series. At last it's not a book of black and white, there were so much gray ...

Reviewer's Name: Subhashini
Murder on the Orient Express book jacket
Christie, Agatha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Murder on the Orient Express" by Agatha Christie is pure murder mystery. It starts off innocently enough when Mr. Ratchett is found having been stabbed in his sleep, but the case quickly becomes more and more complicated. Hercule Periot has to struggle to find the true culprit in the mystery that gets more tangled by the second.

The characters in this book are all rather good. While none of them have outstanding depth, they are all interesting and well defined. Hercule is, of course, the standout. His methodolgy is always fun to read. The suspects cannot be discussed without getting into spoilers. Even the victim is interesting to read about.

Most readers will probably know the twist of the book (which I will not be spoiling). Still, it's wonderfully set up, and almost every piece of evidence contributes to the climax in some way. New evidence is constantly presented throughout the story. At times it was a bit hard to follow, but I'm notoriously bad at following along with mysteries.

Nothing in this story is particularly deep, but it doesn't need to be. It's just a captivating mystery story. One of Agatha Christie's best.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Guest List book jacket
Foley, Lucy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Hidden motives, secrets, and lies are the backbone of Lucy Foley’s thriller, The Guest List, and did I mention drama? From the moment you open the book, drama spills out, but in a good way. The characters are the point of the book. Their problems its lifeblood. The Guest List is not solely about the murder but all the threads connecting the cast of characters to one another in some elusive way. And the mystery is cleverly interwoven with all the lies and personal issues, so you won’t know who did it until the end. Even if you do figure it out, the characters have so much more to offer than just their motive. Foley creates characters you will hate, pity, and love. Totally recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Where the Crawdads Sing book jacket
Owens, Delia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Where the Crawdads Sing, written by Delia Owens, detail the fictional account of Kya and her survival in the marsh of North Carolina. After her mother is beat one too many times by her father, Kya's mother leaves, leaving Kya to fend for herself - against her abusive dad and the wilderness. Kya learns the value of self-reliance, she falls in love with the marsh and its functions and importance to the ecosystem. She also, however, feels the urge of having human company, and her adventures of falling in love (and back out) are incredibly detailed and heart wrenching. My favorite part about this book was the imagery; the way simple things, like leaves falling off of a tree, were described it felt as if I was standing right next to Kya, watching the leaves fall with her.

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.
Cavallaro, Brittany
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"A Study In Charlotte" follows Jamie Watson and Charlotte Holmes, the descendents of the famed duo themselves. While the Watsons have lived relatively normal lives, the Holmes have kept up their prestigious reputation and penchant for mysteries. Jamie has been wishing for a friendship with Charlotte all his life, which makes it all the worse when they start off on a bad first impression. However, when the both of them become suspects in a murder, they have to work together to find the real culprit. Along the way they form a touching friendship that might be leading to something more.

Before I continue, this book features a main character who has been sexually assaulted. If this is a trigger for you, do not read this book.

The highlight of this book is the relationship between Jamie and Charlotte. It's built up naturally and is extremely heartwarming. It does fall into a common trap of romance books though, in that I didn't really care about any of their other connections. The mystery is perfectly serviceable, though nothing standout. The humor in this book is above average, especially in regards to Charlotte's eccentricities and Jamie's reactions. The way they handled the Holmes mythos was similarly interesting, though not mind blowing in any capacity.

Overall this is a solid read with some standout elements that I would definitely recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Genres:
Turtles All the Way Down book jacket
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Turtles All the Way Down by John Green is a very insightful novel that explores themes of mental health, friendship, and self-discovery. The story follows the life of 16-year-old Aza Holmes, a young girl who is struggling with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety, as she navigates the challenges of adolescence and tries to solve a mystery involving a missing billionaire. Aza's struggles with mental health serving as a powerful critique of the ways in which society can stigmatize and marginalize those with mental illnesses. Her relationships with her best friend Daisy and her love interest Davis provide an intriguing exploration of the challenges of friendship and the complexities of romantic relationships. Green’s prose perfectly captures the voice of a young girl struggling with mental illness- his descriptions of Aza’s thought processes and compulsions are vivid and immersive, offering a nuanced portrayal of the experience of living with obsessive-compulsive disorder and anxiety. His use of metaphor, such as the titular “turtles all the way down,” adds depth and meaning to the story, inviting readers to reflect on the deeper themes of the novel. I loved the depth and detail that this book had, and I feel like each and every character had so many layers to them that really helped me visualize the story as I read. Turtles All the Way Down is both heartwarming and heartbreaking, and I plan to read it again. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys coming of age, narrative style books with strong takeaways.

Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison
Sleeping Giants book jacket
Neuvel, Sylvain
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Sylvain Neuvel's "Sleeping Giants" is the first book in a series of three fantastic novels about alien technology and what it means to be human. This book was lent to me by my father, so I knew it had to be amazing. I was not wrong in that assumption. My favorite part about this book is likely the most divisive part: the format. This book is explained in an interview format, between each character and a mysterious interviewer that is developed further in the later installments of this series. At first, I wasn't sure if I would like how jarringly different this format is; sometimes it is noticeable when the author wanted to convey some important information, but the constant interview made the information difficult to show. It wasn't exclusively interviews; occasionally a mission log was used for variety's sake. My least favorite part of the book is actually what wasn't included in the book. It sounds picky, but I think that this book had room for more. The cliffhanger, while masterfully executed, came too soon. Not enough happened before the book ended, so I was left immediately scrambling to acquire the other 2 books in the series. The book, and especially the series as a whole, is absolutely surprising at nearly every step. Characters assumed narratively immortal die, and enemies turn into friends that save the world in the third book. Each character had interesting flaws and contrasting personalities, so each character introduced to us through the mysterious interviewer felt like someone you could meet walking down the street. All in all, this book is definitely one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ryder
Other Birds book jacket
Allen, Sarah Addison
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Other Birds" is a slice of life story with mild paranormal elements. It does not have a high stakes plot, but rather focuses on the personal struggles of the characters. Overall it is a very refreshing and relaxing read. The paranormal element is not explored much, but it adds to the book's charm. The prose is lovely, especially regarding descriptions of food.
All of the characters are fairly interesting. Charlotte, Mac, and Lizbeth were my favorites. They all had interesting pasts and clear personalities. Zoey and Oliver were also interesting, but felt a little under developed. Lucy is only present for about a dozen pages. She's not so much of a character as she is a mystery, and she serves that role well.
The twists in this book are all fairly solid. I guessed one of them immediately, but it still felt impactful. I didn't guess one, but it didn't add anything to the story. Two of them were genuine surprises, and added depth to the story.
This book is not incredible, but it is thoroughly enjoyable and heartwarming. I would recommend it to lovers of character driven stories.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
We All Fall Down book jacket
Richards, Natalie D
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Romance, thriller, and horror all wrapped into one. Natalie D Richards does it once a great with a book you won't be able to put down until the final page. When two best friends in love have a falling out over a fight at a party it seems nothing could bring them together again. Except for the bridge that is. Strange things keep bringing them back to the place of the party and back to each other. Lock on bridges and hearts hold mystery but the views of both parties is being clouded by their own mental struggles. This is a very emotional book and capitating one that I can't wait to read again. Readers enjoy and beware of the bridge.

Reviewer's Name: McKenna
Family of Liars book jacket
Lockhart, .E
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Back to the beautiful family of Sinclairs, still liars. Family of Liars, the prequel to We Were Liars, takes readers back to the private island of the Sinclairs. What really happened in that tragedy two years ago? Or was it even one tragedy at all? This E Lockhart book will leave you captivated once again. The book may even cause you to return to E. Lochart's first Liars book to realign all the pieces of the mystery. Will the dots be connected or will more mystery unravel?
11th grade

Reviewer's Name: McKenna