All Book Reviews

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas book jacket
Boyne, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is about a boy living in a rich home near a concentration camp. He find another boy living in the concentration camp and wants to save him. They end up becoming friends. It's a great story. I chose to read this book because I enjoy reading books about the Holocaust. I liked the story line of the book. I do wish it was a longer story though. I think anyone who enjoys books about the Holocaust will enjoy this book.

Reviewer's Name: Brynne
Grendel book jacket
Gardner, John
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

it was the worst book ever. pointless.

*spoiler alert* Beowulf is ugly and mean and rude and abusive and does not understand the concept of consent it made me cry for days what's the point of a book if it has the stupidest ending ever created.

Reviewer's Name: Grendel
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel about Jean Louise Finch (Scout), living through her father Atticus' controversial decision to defend a black man in court. Along with experiencing the tribulations of racism in her home town of Maycomb County, Scout, her brother Jem, and her friend Dill explore the curiosities of the town and investigate the mysterious Boo Radley. The plot gave me excitement to continuing reading, and the joining of the two plots at the end created a perfect ending to the story. I thought that the book was really good due to the knowledge that was gained about the history during the Great Depression and the progression throughout the book that helped develop the main character. This was a school required book, but I would definitely recommend it to readers in high school and above.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
Admission
Buxbaum, Julie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Chloe Wynn Berringer is a privileged teen in Beverly Hills who leads a normal life, with a movie star mom, a genius sister, and a cool best friend. But everything is flipped on its head when Chloe's mom is arrested as part of the famous admissions scandal. As the paparazzi swarm her house, as she loses old friends, as the nation turns again her, and as the charges are brought forward, Chloe must grapple with her part in the matter. Will this ruin her family? Do they deserve it? Did she know? Or did she choose not to know?
This story was very interesting, as it takes the average admission scandal story and flips the perspective. Instead of shaking our heads from the sidelines, the audience is meant to sit in her perspective, in the shoes of the child who must grapple with their worth after their parents spend hundreds of thousands of dollars and commit hundreds of misdemeanors and crimes to get them into college. It also forces the reader to confront the toxic culture of college applications in America. The parents in this book often end up in prison just to get their child a name-brand college. It exposes the obsessive culture of the elite, while also exploring the way wealthy parents feel obligated to give their children everything their wealth can buy. The characters in this book all play a part in this narrative of privilege and college culture. Every part of the story is focused towards the main goal, with no throwaway side characters, which made the story tight and more memorable, in my opinion. While the prose wasn't excessive in this book , the thing that bumped it up to 4 stars for me was the main character, Chloe, and her development. Chloe goes from believing herself a complete victim, to questioning herself, to reconsidering her life of privilege and her worth. Another notable thing is, in the end, everyone gets what they deserved. No punches are pulled, and the characters are forced to learn from their mistakes. Overall, while this was in no way a perfect book, it was a page turner, and I really enjoyed it!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Shadow and Bone book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The fantasy novel Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo follows a young soldier named Alina who has been realized to have hidden powers, powers that no other magic user contains. Alina's powers are destined to save her country, but with great power comes greater responsibility--responsibility Alina may not want.
I rated this novel three out of five stars because the general plot was pretty creative, and the writing was also not bad. However, maybe since this is only the first book out of the three-part trilogy, I found myself not super invested in the characters or the conflicts that unfold in the story. The romantic subplot in the story was also not very interesting and everything in this novel seemed pretty predictable and lukewarm. Overall, it was an okay book. It wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible. I was a little disappointed though since this series had received lots of attention and was even made into a Netflix series, but maybe the next two books in the trilogy will capture my attention more.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Gideon the Ninth
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Gideon the Ninth is about the rebellious Ninth House acolyte, a prodigious fighter, who is forced to become the protector of her most hated enemy Harrowhark, the necromancer of the Ninth House. The two of them travel to the First House, to compete against the necromancers and cavaliers of the other houses for the treasured position of Lyctor. They must battle bone monsters, hidden murderers, the laboratories of the dilapidated castle, fellow competitors, and their burning desire to murder each other to, maybe, make it out alive.
I hadn't read sci-fi/fantasy for a long time before I read this book, and this was a brilliant example of everything I'd been missing. The characters are hilarious and likable, the stakes are high, the magic system is somewhat complicated yet explained brilliantly without long periods of exposition, and the undercurrent of science fiction is always present and contrasted beautifully with the fantasy. The idea of a a hyper-advanced society with spaceships and planets is bound to the aesthetic of necromantic power and fighting primarily done with swords, creating a world that has all the fun elements of imaginative science melded with magic. Beyond this, the story is also really tight. There's not really a moment that the book sits you down and explains everything. It just grabs you and goes and it's up to you to catch up, which is a nice change of pace. But, as I've mentioned, the shining gem of the story is likely the characters. The cast is large, but memorable in its own right. If you can't remember the names, just a few sentences of them speaking will clue you in to their distinct personality. And the gem of the story is probably Gideon herself, who's always hilarious and fun and somewhat tragic, and has a great comradery of hatred with Harrowhawk. The character development, the plot, the world, the magic system, and the mystery of this book make it easily one of my favourite books of this year.

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" begins with a straightforward introduction to its main character and narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick fancies himself a man of high morals and while he does not always succeed, he tries his best to adhere to his principles at all times. Nick comes from a prominent family in a middle western city; however, after fighting in the Third Infantry Division during World War I, Nick tires of the monotony of the Midwest and goes east — to New York — in order to learn the bond business and in pursuit of more adventure. Nick settles in West Egg, a village that is described best as housing those who are "new money," and is a direct counterpart to East Egg, home to New York's most elite. It is in New York that the we are introduced to Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin; Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband and Nick's former schoolmate; Jordan Baker, the Buchanans' close friend and renowned golfer; and finally, to Jay Gatsby, Nick's neighbor and the titular character of the novel. Nick becomes entangles within the affairs (both literal and figurative) of these characters, as both his fascination and friendship with Gatsby grow.

At face value, "The Great Gatsby" may appear almost to be a soap-opera, but in truth, it is the very opposite. Much like its characters, beneath its shimmering facade, "The Great Gatsby" houses profound and poignant messages and themes — about societal roles, the ever-elusive American dream, and human nature.

Reviewer's Name: Elaine
Things Fall Apart book jacket
Achebe, Chinua
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In things fall apart we met the main character, Okonkwo, who once gained fame and respect by his village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is an ambitious man within the Umuofia clan of the Igbo tribe. By the time the British colonial administrator arrives everything that Okonkwo holds dear becomes threatened after an accidental shooting. Okonkwo must flee with his family from his beloved village for seven years, losing the life that he worked so hard to gain. He gets through his seven years of exile only to go back home and discover that everything has changed. White missionaries have come to convert Africa to their ways. we liked Things fall apart because it had this idea that capture African culture, specially Nigerian culture. Okonkwo is an interesting character because his unwillingness to adapt to the new change represents an internal struggle many pre-colonized Africans faced in the wake of colonization. The ending is symbolic because it represents the ultimate death of culture as a result of European exploration. Overall, the writer tried to make us see how Africans struggle to keep their culture and identity from colonization.

Reviewer's Name: Arsema
Unbroken book jacket
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken (teen version) is a well crafted biography written by Laura Hillenbrand. Unbroken tells the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian and bombardier of World War II. Louie was mischievous and trouble-making as a young boy until his older brother, Pete, introduced him to running. As Pete urged Louie into the sport of running, Louie began to desert his old ways and commit himself to running. Louie soon was at the top of his school in running, setting new records and winning numerous races. Louie’s skill carried him all the way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Reaching the strongest point of his life, Louie hoped to travel to Tokyo for the following Olympic games. Unfortunately, terror came and his dreams were to be put on hold. World War II struck, causing Louie to enter into the Army Air Forces as a bombardier. Louie and his team of airmen faced many near death experiences. Although these were blood-curdling situations, none would compare to what Louie was soon to face. On a rescue mission in May of 1943, Louie’s plane crashed. The crash led to a terrifying and unfathomable journey on which Louie survived life on a raft and the wrath of Japanese guards of the POW camp he resided at. Louie went through incomprehensible pain from being beaten by his captors, having to perform forced labor, going through starvation, and constantly battling a sickness. He was also robbed of his self-esteem and was treated like he was worthless. Consequently, Louie’s story is breathtaking and intriguing. Unbroken provides insight on the torturous lives of POW during WWII and the determination and perseverance of many during WWII.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a WWII buff, history lover, or is in search of a thrilling and breathtaking story. I enjoyed it because I am interested in learning about World War II and I found the book to be moving. Unbroken is fascinating and is not dull or boring. The book will leave you wanting more and you will find it hard to put it down. However, I found the beginning part to be a bit uninteresting and tedious, as it told about the planes and equipment for World War II. Once that part is over, though, the book is quite exhilarating. I would caution that younger children should not read the book, as there are some graphic and gruesome scenes of how the POWs were treated. I would suggest the book for teens between the ages of 13-16, since there is an adult version of the book for those older than these ages.
Unbroken is one of my favorite books, and anyone who is interested in history or is seeking an electrifying story should read it.

Reviewer's Name: Ava W.
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Darrow is a sixteen-year-old Red Helldiver from Lykos, Mars. At the bottom of the social class, Darrow believes that his toil under the surface of Mars is to benefit all of humanity-- to make Mars' surface inhabitable for others like him. But after his wife is hanged for treason, Darrow learns that all of this was a lie--that on the surface, there are large cities and all ranges of Colors. Motivated by his wife's dream, Darrow is transformed into a Gold and sent to destroy the Color system that keeps Reds enslaved.

I really enjoyed this novel because it is set in a dystopian future where the other planets have been colonized. The sci-fi aspect of it is very cool, and it makes me excited to think about making Mars and other planets inhabitable. Darrow's transformation is sad because he's fueled by revenge, but reading him become more forgiving and see the good in Golds while also recognizing the bad in Reds makes his story more emotional. He defeats the odds on both sides, and he rises above his vengeance and realizes that his goal is not to destroy the Golds and make Reds powerful but to reform the Society. Its theme is parallel to society today, shedding light on marginalized communities fighting for equality.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Glass Castle
Walls, Jeanette
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book The Glass Castle is an autobiography by Jeanette Walls, going through her hectic life and how she handled everything. I liked this book, but it's about a really sensitive topic, and it could go through a lot of overwhelming and gross details towards the middle of the book, so I recommend for more sensitive readers not to read this. I picked this book because I saw that we had to read it in school, so of course, I wanted a little peek of what it was about. The start of the book was more calm, but readers could start to tell that her family isn't the way it's supposed to be. Throughout the book, there will be a lot of surprising and unexpected events, most not very wanted. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" the book because that would sound wrong, but I felt the need to keep reading, seeing what happens next. I feel like a lot of students could relate to Jeanette. Maybe our conditions might not be as bad as hers, but readers could feel luckier and safe to be living a better life. But overall, I do recommend this book to less sensitive readers.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
The Skin I'm In
Flake, Sharon G.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake is a realistic fiction novel from the point of view of seventh grade Maleeka. Maleeka has low self-esteem and poor body image because of people teasing her for being too black and too tall. When Maleeka meets Miss Saunders, the new English teacher, who has messed up skin from a rare skin condition, Miss Saunders is taunted by the children. But, she never lets it get to her. Throughout the book, Maleeka rethinks her biases and her insecurities. This book's story is powerful, and there is a lesson to be learned through Maleeka's experience about overcoming low self-esteem. The author illustrates the problems of this century perfectly and guides the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Bridge Kingdom
Jensen, Danielle L.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

All her life, Lara has been trained to be the perfect wife to a man she's never met, the King of Ithicana. She's also been trained to maim, kill, and torture anything and anyone, and now she's been sent to tear down her enemy and bring his kingdom to its knees. But when she meets Aren, his loyalty to his people and passion for the truth puts a rent in her mission. And when she learns that her father is the reason for her kingdom's poverty, she realizes that Aren was never her enemy, her father is.

I liked this book because it uses one of my favorite tropes, enemies to lovers. Although Aren is meant to be the antagonist, you learn that Lara's father is the reason why both kingdoms are suffering, and seeing Lara realize she's been lied to and change alliances was the most satisfying part of the book. There's a healthy balance of passion and action in the novel, and the end left me itching to read the sequel.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Neverwhere book jacket
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Neverwhere is the story of a regular man who is thrown into a completely nonsensical world beneath the London streets. Richard Mayhew is just a normal person, with an accounting job and a troll collection. When he does a good deed for Door, a street kid who's more than she seems, he is plunged into a grimy, grim, and glorious world full of Hunters and rat-speakers and angels, where's the two of them fight to escape the clutches of an unfathomable enemy and his unbeatable henchmen.
I was originally recommended this book, and had enjoyed previous books by Neil Gaiman, so I gave it a shot. All in all, I loved it. London Below is painted in vivid, horrible detail. It was definitely interesting in having a magical, fantastical world that didn't feel like somewhere one would want to live, but did feel like it was somewhere adventure happened. The final antagonist was amazing, as were the smaller one's as the story passed! They were just so full of personality, like almost all of the characters in the book. The story was crooked and strange and often sad, but beautiful and hopeful all the same. And the ending was perfect! I'd definitely recommend to any fantasy or adventure fans, although the language and content and gore makes this book not for the too faint of heart.

Reviewer's Name: Eve M.
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fahrenheit 451" is a short story that tells about Montag's transformation from finding a pleasure in burning books, to loving books and all the knowledge that comes with it. Montag lives in a society where the government has forbidden to read books and seek knowledge through writing. Montag is part of a group called "Fireman" who are supposed to put out fire, but that's not the case since they do the opposite. He lives with his girlfriend and has a bad relationship with her. They don't really talk and just look after themselves. Deep down, he cares for her, we'll find out when Montag gets home and see she's fallen over because of an overdose, where he called the ambulance and the police. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, Montag escapes the city and joins a small community of survivors who have successfully fled the repressive society and are dedicated to memorizing books. The group is moving north to start anew, and for the first time in his life Montag has a future to look forward to.

The short story is one of the few books I find interesting. Usually, I do not read many books and definitely not with the genre "dystopia". If you compare this short story to the society we live in right now, you can see they are opposite to each other so for me it is very interesting to hear how the people in "Fahrenheit 451" were dehumanized. The introduction was very boring, but the further you got into the short story, the more interesting it became. In the end, someone was really good. I still think this short story is relevant to us today because it proves what good conditions we live in, and I certainly appreciate more the privacy and freedom I have. "Fahrenheit 451" has a lot of themes, such as the power of books, because you can really see how much a book can have meaning. All the power a book may have manifested in this particular short story. There are also other themes, such as, Loss of Individuality, Role of Technology and ignorance and Knowledge. All these themes have an important meaning in this short story.

After I read this book, I was trapped by the dystopian world and all the social problems they had. I wonder a lot what our society would look like if the government had banned reading books, would I have read this?

Reviewer's Name: Sadiiq
Fireborne
Munda, Rosaria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Revolution. The end of the dragonlord's reign. The sole survivor, Lee, having been spared by the revolutions leader, is a natural at dragon riding. After being left at an orphanage, forgotten by the people, he forms an unlikely bond with a peasant girl named Annie. She also is a natural at riding and the two having been training together since their dragons chose them. But the tournament for First Rider is coming up and them having to duel is throwing a wedge in their friendship. Not only that, but when Lee receives a message from survivors of the old regime, he must make a choice. Throw away all his hard work and rejoin his family or stick by his friends and fight for his new way of life. This exhilarating tale will leave you breathless and windswept, grasping for more. Would recommend for anyone that enjoys dragons, awesome fights and an underlying feeling of romance. Fireborne will forever be burned into my mind as a fork of fantasy and powerful story telling.

Reviewer's Name: Caden
Genres:
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Lightning Thief follows a twelve-year-old boy named Percy Jackson through his quest in retrieving Zeus' lightning bolt back. Percy is a normal kid who's always had trouble in school and behaving, only to find out he's a half blood. With this discovery, he's sent to Camp Half-Blood, home of the half-children of Greek Gods and mortals. We journey along with Percy when he's sentenced to a quest to find Zeus' precious weapon- his lightning bolt rod, and experience adventure, exciting battles, and new friendships.
I consider the Percy Jackson series to be a staple in every teenager's reading list. This series is similar to the Harry Potter series, and I enjoy the mythical adventures throughout both. I recommend the Percy Jackson series to anyone who wants a light but entertaining read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Alchemist
Coelho, Paulo
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Alchemist is a novel about Santiago a shepherd boy, who goes on a journey to find treasure. I've heard lots of hype around this story, but I have to admit that this story did not live up to its name.
Sure, the writing was pretty good, but I could not find myself getting into the story at all. I wasn't connected to any of the characters, and I couldn't care less about what happened to them.
Maybe this novel wasn't exactly meant to have a detailed and structure plotline, since it was more of a metaphorical piece, but the journey the main character took throughout the novel was written in such a way that made it completely uninteresting. The writing was more philosophical and seemed more like a long lecture rather than an actual story. Maybe I missed something, but as much as I wanted to like this book, I couldn't. Toward the end, I found myself only skimming the pages to skip to the end and get the story over with.
Maybe the experience with this book is different for everyone, but I'll have to say that it was definitely not for me.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Fault In Our Stars
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A romance novel about a teen struggling with cancer, this story is down-to-earth, beautiful, and painfully sad. As an avid reader of John Green's works, Green's writing style continues to blow me away. The constant memorable and hard-hitting lines still linger in my mind from time to time, even after years of reading this novel.
I loved this book when I was in middle school, and as a high schooler, I'd still have to say that it's one of my favorites. Normally, YA romance stories have me rolling my eyes at the cliché lines or unrealistic premises, but The Fault in Our Stars did not do that.
Our protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, has been struggling with cancer for almost all her life. But when she meets Augustus "Gus" Waters, a cancer survivor, her life completely changes. Sounds cheesy, I know. But unlike other YA romances, this novel was beautifully and heartbreakingly realistic. The chemistry between Hazel and Gus seemed genuinely real like I was standing there with them, and I really enjoyed the many gorgeous lines written in the story.
I know some people have mixed emotions about this book, but I recommend you give it a try. It'll make you laugh, scream, and cry.
However, the reason why I docked one star off of this book, was because there were a few things I didn't particularly like very much. For example, a few scenes seemed a little odd and out of place, like they were trying too hard to be "quirky."
The movie was also far less enjoyable than the book, which is why I would still recommend giving the story a try even after watching the movie since there are some pretty different scenes.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about a farm of talking animals that push out their farmer after the abuse that they endure and proceed to create their own form of government. The animals form their government without the realization of the need to work for survival and have to adapt to the situation which causes discrepancies and arguments. I thought that this book was really good due to the surprising climax, ruthless betrayal, and the historical relation that it contains, but it does have some dragging parts. The plot is unpredictable and very interesting throughout. I had to read this book for school and thought it would be boring, but after reading it I gained knowledge of history through symbolism and recommend this book for history enthusiasts such as myself. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola