All Book Reviews

Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I picked this because the plot seemed very captivating, and it turns out it was! I also picked this because it was a different genre than what I normally read. The book kept me very hooked and contained many plot twists. Divergent has easily become one of my favorite books of all time.
The setting is a dystopian setting, in a post-apocalyptic era in Chicago. Society is divided into factions, which members stay in their whole lives after the Choosing Ceremony. Depending on which faction you are in, you abide by different rules. Tris Prior got an unusual result from her aptitude test, a dangerous result called Divergent. This means that she doesn’t belong to one faction. She transfers factions and does her best to keep her Divergence a secret, all the while making friends, and enemies, in her new faction. And then war breaks out, and suddenly, her Divergence comes in handy.
This book is absolutely amazing and kept me hooked the entire time. I was actually disappointed when I finished it because I wanted to keep reading, but it is one of the best books I have ever read.
Reviewer Grade: 8.

Reviewer's Name: Beatriz
Circe
Miller, Madeline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In a world where Titans and Olympians exist, Circe is born. Daughter of the sun god Helios and ocean nymph Perse, Circe is not as beautiful as her sister, or as powerful as her brothers. And having an unusual fascination for mortals, Circe is shunned and ignored by her family. After learning she is a witch, Circe is exiled to an unknown island where she will be a prisoner forever. There, Circe learns to hone her witchcraft, finds love, and learns that her divinity doesn't come from her immortality, but her will to live.

This author also wrote The Song of Achilles, and both books are so good! I loved all the references to Greek mythology and Circe's powerful perspective. Circe, of course, is my favorite character, and her growth from a meek push-over to a fiercely independent and resolute person was such a relief. If you like Greek mythology, romance, and coming-of-age, this book is perfect for you!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Anya and the Dragon
Pasternack, Sofiya
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Anya and the Dragon is a captivating, magical book for any reader looking for a coming-of-age adventure tale. Anya, the only Jewish girl in her Russian village, is being evicted from her home because her family can’t afford to pay the anti-Semitic magistrate’s ridiculous fees. When a family claims they’ll pay her if she captures the last dragon in the region, Anya can’t resist the opportunity to help out her family. But it turns out, an evil Varangian warrior wants to use the dragon for nefarious purposes. I found it to be an incredibly unpredictable book, filled with plot twists and character development. I enjoyed seeing Anya change from a girl trying to make a living to a young woman determined to support her family. Although there were many characters that were difficult to keep track of, overall, this was a phenomenal book that kept me turning to the last page.
Reviewer: 8th Grade

Reviewer's Name: Audrey
Legendborn book jacket
Deonn, Tracy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book has an amazing magical twist on the story of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. So, before I start this review, I want to warn y'all that it will be harder to catch on without that background knowledge. Now, onto the review!

This book, as above mentioned, has a twist on King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table. But, this book also touches on some racial issues (all good and supportive), so I would definitely consider this a YA novel. The magic in this is somewhat hard to keep up with but again, stunning and creative. This book touches on the bloodlines of all the knights but there is also magic from other lines.

Bree just got into Early College with her best friend and is trying to escape her hometown - and the grief associated with it. Losing her mother has been harsh, and After Bree is starting to take over. But one chaotic night on her first day switches her college experience-for better or for worse.

Nick stepped into Bree's life as a mentor to help her get her adjusted, but ends up as a strong support system for her-and begins to depend on her for support as well. Nick Is a part of one of the most important bloodlines, but all he wants to do is escape it. Bree helps, but can you ever escape your destiny?

Speaking of Nick, Bre and Nick have a romantic relationship-which I think is kinda cute- but if that makes you uncomfortable then just put that into consideration. It is not excessive, like maybe a 5 out of 10, but it IS important to the plot. This book is stunning and will keep you up till midnight. Gripping, fun, and creative, this is the ideal book for anyone who likes fantasy!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Priya
Genres:
State of Terror book jacket
Clinton, Hillary Rodham and Penny, Louise
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

State of terror was was a great read. Multiple terrorist attacks take place across the world, which causes turmoil. Can the US Secretary of State find out who’s behind these attacks before it’s too late? Can she help prevent the next attack? I liked the plot twists in this book. State of Terror was unpredictable and keeps readers engaged throughout the book. I would definitely recommend reading State of Terror.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Daughter of the Siren Queen book jacket
Levenseller, Tricia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After having recovered all three pieces of a map leading to legendary treasure, Alosa and her crew are leading a fleet and bringing the pirates that kept her captive to justice. But when her previous captor, Vordan, reveals a secret, Alosa and her crew find themselves in a deadly race against her father, the feared Pirate King. Calling upon her siren sisters of the sea, and her loyal pirates above on land, Alosa promises to end the tyranny of her father and become the Pirate Queen. Without a doubt, she knows that she will take her father down...she is, after all, the daughter of the Siren Queen.

This sequel to Daughter of the Pirate King didn't disappoint! It's very refreshing reading about a female pirate with a female crew that the best on the sea. Alosa is iconic for her wit, selflessness, and fierceness when defending her crew and those she loves. Her blooming relationship with Riden is neither too fast or too slow, and I liked how Alosa grew as a person more after meeting him. In the end, Alosa gets to keep both parts of herself--her siren side and her human nature--and it's the perfect ending to a new beginning.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Vanishing Half
Bennett, Brit
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Vanishing Half by Brit Bennett is a literature novel that has a unique writing style. Bennett switches between characters quickly which can be hard to comprehend at times. Eventually, the style becomes common and the book begins to flow better. The story line follows Desiree Vignes and Stella Vignes, the twins, and their daughters, Jude Winston and Kennedy Sanders from 1968 to 1986. Bennett does an stunning job at conveying the contrasting lives of these girls and the hardships that each one goes through, produced by their own actions or not. Yet, the lesson they learn is that all secrets will be spilled and how you react matters most.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Jurassic Park
Crichton, Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

One of the greatest science fiction novels of the past century, Jurassic Park is a genius blend of thrills, likable characters, and philosophy deep enough to interest more mature readers while allowing younger adults and teenagers to be invested as well. The story revolves around a group of temporary advisers to an eccentric millionaire who has created his own dinosaur theme park. The park becomes far more dangerous, however, when a series of events leave the beasts free to roam the island.
The main cast is a group of fully realized characters of a variety of backgrounds, working together from their respective roles of the island to ensure their survival along with the others. Far from being simple Godzilla style creatures of destruction, the dinosaurs feel like characters of their own, with intelligence (especially among the raptors) and capabilities that are both realistic and terrifying. The scenes involving both the human and dinosaur cast are tense but still controlled, and no situation feels contrived or forced.
Jurassic Park is a classic novel for young adults or older people, perfect for anyone interested in a book that will keep them turning the pages until it's over.

Reviewer's Name: Locke
Mistborn
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To start off, I would recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy and feels like they need something harder than Shadow and Bone, or Legend. (both are great books btw there's reviews for those elsewhere) Slight disclaimer: it is more of a mature book than the two mentioned before. Still great. One of the reasons this book is so highly recommended by me is because I am a hardcore fantasy lover, and Brandon Sanderson has a way of creating fantasy universes in his books and making them intricate and complicated enough to make a good trilogy out of them... one of the best trilogies I have ever read. But enough ranting, onto the review.

The world where Mistborn takes place is known as Luthadel, and the whole realm is controlled by a mysterious figure known as the Lord Ruler. The social rankings are basic. Skaa (slaves, basically), peasants, and Noblemen. The only other possible social group is the Mistborn, who have magical powers... and only occur in noblemen. Mostly. Vin is a skaa who escaped from her plantation and was taken into one of the rebellions. Her brother was an influential character in her life- taught her not to trust anyone by betraying her himself. The one thing keeping her in this band of misfits is her "Luck", and the band leader realizes that things go better when she's around. But when her rebellion gets overthrown and she gets taken in to be trained as a Mistborn, that one rule she lived is becoming harder and harder to follow.

Kelsier's only goal is to overthrow Lord Ruler. He's the strongest Mistborn around... and maybe ever. He's the only known skaa Mistborn, and the entire crew depends on him. He leads his crew around, preaching his vision of freedom to skaa plantations, trying to get them to form his task force to make his dream come true. His crew of Mistings is slowly growing. One day, he runs into a girl who calls herself VIn, who seems to have Mistborn powers as well... without even realizing. Despite her reserved and untrustful exterior, she could, if trained properly, change his life... forever.

As you can see, the story of Mistborn is detailed and complicated, with social classes, characters, powers and so much more. I would highly encourage and recommend this book to any fantasy lover who is willing to embrace a challenge... and fall in love with it.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Priya
Genres:
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There's Someone Inside Your House follows Makani Young as she tries to escape her past and create a new life in small-town Nebraska with her grandma and two best friends. She also is developing a crush on town outcast, Ollie. Suddenly, members of her small high school are found viciously murdered, one after another, and her and her friends will have to scramble to find the killer before they become their next victim.
I originally read this book because of the movie coming out under the same name, based on the book. In the trailer, the story seems to follow a serial killer who kills his high school victims while wearing a mask of the victims face, while seemingly holding them accountable for their past digressions. Obviously, this sounds amazing to read, so I read this book. The result was somewhat disappointing. For one, the actual murder mystery at the center of the story is no where near as interesting as the one the film outlines. In fact, despite the pretty good terror the book can get across, its pretty typical. When the murderer is revealed, both them and their motive are pretty disappointing. Other mysteries also turn out to be pretty disappointing, like some of the characters pasts or motives. Furthermore, the murder mystery isn't really the center of the story. More time seems to be devoted to what is meant to be a romantic subplot, but quickly becomes the main plot, leaving the vicious massacres on the side. Now, on the good side, the romantic subplot is pretty good, even if it takes up way too much time. As I said, the murder scenes have a lot of good tension and gore, all told from the victims perspective. The trauma the characters go through is pretty well explored, and the characters themselves are pretty well rounded, well characterized, and pretty funny. And even if the story was basic murder mystery, it was still a fun murder mystery.
All in all, while I found this book pretty disappointing, I do think its a fun ride. This would be a great read for fans of mystery, thrillers, pretty cool gore, and emotional love stories!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
All These Bodies
Blake, Kendare
2 stars = Meh
Review:

All These Bodies follows the country wide mystery of the Bloodless Murders, murders that leave every victim sucked dry without signs of struggle or bloodstains. Michael Jensen, the son of the sheriff who has followed the mystery as a hopeful journalist, one day witnesses the aftermath of the final murder in his hometown: the Carleson's family is found dead, with every ounce of their blood found drenched on one Marie Catherine Hale. As the nations whips itself into a frenzy over a fifteen-year-old murderess, Michael scrambles to, with Marie's help, solve the mystery of the Bloodless Murders, no matter how fantastical the answer may be.
I really wanted to like this book. See, I bought it impulsively about a month ago, hoping for a classic "How evil is the child that has done evil things?" that has been done so well in the past (None Shall Sleep, House on the Cerulean Sea, Good Omens, etc.). I was looking for some fun prose, debates on nature versus nurture, and a good thriller mystery. This book, sadly, did not live up to my expectations. For one, the writing is surprisingly prosaic for Kendare Blake, who's written other books I love. One could see this as an attempt to show that a teenager is telling the story, as the jist is that Michael is writing this story, so it makes sense that the writing is very to the point. However, even if this was intentional, it doesn't change the fact that the writing isn't very fun to read. There are some well written scenes that get across the small town vibe and deep horror of the book, but most of it was very simple. For another thing, I don't really like the way Marie was characterized. She's introduced as this worldly, weary teenager that has seen and committed many horrors. But despite this powerful image, for most of this book Marie seems very powerless and apathetic. This could be seen as accurate regarding her trauma, but it makes her much less of her own character and more a thing for Michael to protect and the world to judge. Finally, while some scenes were very scary, many of them simply described a maybe scary thing and didn't drive home the terror of the moment. Again, this could be accurate since many of these moments weren't necessarily scary out of context, but again, less interesting. The general theme of this book seems to prioritize the realistic over the dramatic, which is to be commended, but does decrease certain people's, including my, general enjoyment. Still, this book had a good ending, solid characterization, some good discussions on the public court, and accurately depicting the suffocating small town aesthetic.
All in all, this book could still be enjoyed in someone likes realistic writing, the 1900s aesthetic, discussions on justice, and nebulous mysteries, and I recommend anyone to read Kendare Blake's other works!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
We Are Not Free book jacket
Chee, Traci
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

We are Not Free, by Traci Chee is about the point of view of Japanese people throughout World War two. The book starts by showing slight racism from "ketos," and how their lives are getting torn apart because of the war. They then get shipped off to internment camps because Americans don't trust them enough to let them be free. The book focuses a chapter on each character to get the full amount of emotions and feelings about being trapped, not being trusted, and racism against each person in the book.
This book is the best book you will ever read. It gives such a great mix of emotions (I was jumping with joy one minute and crying the next.) It opens your eyes to bigger problems in this world and how lucky you might have it. Don't walk, run to the nearest library and read this book!

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Mercy book jacket
Baldacci, David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mercy is the name of Agent Pine’s long lost sister. When the Pine sisters were very young, someone kidnapped Mercy. It has been 20 years since Mercy went missing, but suddenly her trail becomes hot. Agent Pine is determined to find her sister and find out her captors. I really liked how certain emotions were displayed by the main characters. I disliked the descriptions of the violence. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves reading thrillers and mysteries. Mercy is action packed, suspenseful, and has a feel good ending.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
A Slow Fire Burning book jacket
Hawkins, Paula
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Slow Fire Burning is a great book which the reader won’t put down. A gruesome murder takes place, and the police swiftly need to find who was responsible. The three main characters all seem guilty and are unwilling to cooperate with the investigation. They personally knew the victim but withhold any information about the murder. Which can only mean one thing. That the murderer is among the three characters! I enjoyed the plot and suspense. A Slow Fire Burning is a thriller that has an unpredictable but a wholesome ending. This was an excellent read and I strongly recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
The Traitor Queen book jacket
Jensen, Danielle L.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

After unknowingly betraying her new homeland of Ithicana to her father, Lara has been thrown into exile by Aren, the king of Ithicana, and her husband. When she hears that Aren has been captured and imprisoned by her father, Lara knows that she has to get him back. Both because Ithicana is doomed to fall without Aren in command, and because she needs his forgiveness, even if that means he won't take her back. Rallying her sisters together, Lara sets out to free Aren and ultimately kill her tyrannical father. She will die a hundred times over if it means protecting Ithicana and Aren.

I was so excited to read this sequel to The Bridge Kingdom, and it didn't disappoint! I was hooked from the very beginning and kept on edge with every page. I especially enjoyed the development of Lara and Aren's relationship, and the important lesson it taught about forgiveness and focusing on the future rather than the past. Although the third and final book of the trilogy shifts away from Lara and Aren, I'm still very excited to read it!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Switch book jacket
King, A. S.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Switch is the story of a world where time has stopped. People keep moving, the sun keeps turning, but every single clock in the world is seemingly stuck. Tru Beck lives in this world, and continues going to school on schedule, following N3WCLOCK.com, an artificial clock that keeps humanity on schedule through fake seconds and minutes and hours. Tru lives in a house where there is a switch in the center, that her father continues to build boxes around, boxes that engulf the whole house. Her mother left them. Her sister isn't spoken of. Her brother is hiding. And Tru recently realized that she can throw a javelin further than any human in history.
A. S. King is one of my favorite writers, and her writing doesn't make sense at all. Not as in "I can't follow the story" but as in "I genuinely can't tell what's real and what's not." Every story of hers has a strange fantastical element that is both meant to be an allegory and meant to be taken extremely seriously. Everything is a metaphor. Nothing is a metaphor. It's super confusing, but I adore it. For one, A.S. King's writing style is extremely distinct. While certain stylistic choices fluctuate from book to book, the writing puts you in a headspace of a strange, surreal, light melancholy that is utterly distinct from any emotion ever experienced, yet so strangely familiar. The best way I can describe it is like arriving somewhere after a long drive, and being fully aware of both where you came from and your new, strange reality. It can be confusing at times, and could be said to muddy the story, but the strange tone and feeling of this writing gives every story an entirely new depth and meaning. Also, the characters in this book are very intriguing. The main character contains this apathy that sits within each of us, and which she fully embraces. She knows that the N3WCLOCK is futile, and knows that its important that the boxes come down. She doesn't try to do anything she doesn't want to do, and learns throughout the novel how to harness her energy, and how to move on. Despite being a YA novel, she has an air of tiredness that is very relatable to teenagers. She's also stubborn, caring, and willing to stand up for herself. The audience immediately latches on to her, and wants to learn more about her. She instrumental to the theme of the story, of which there is only one, tightening up the story and making everything focused. All the supporting characters don't get nearly the same development, but all of them are fully fleshed out and given understandable motivations. The premise of the story is also interesting, and creates realistic reactions in the fictional world that force one to look closer at our own world.
All in all, I felt this was a very moving story about family trauma and how to flip a switch and move on. Despite the often confusing writing, this book is a pleasure, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to feel strange and strong emotions, as well as some fun confusion!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of Us is Lying is about four high school stereotypes: the Smart Girl, the Jock, the Homecoming Queen, and the Bad Boy. One day, all four of them, plus the Class Gossip, wind up in detention. When the Class Gossip dies, it soon becomes evident that foul play was involved, and that the Class Gossip knew a secret each of them is desperate to hide. As the rumors fly and reporters circle, all four will have to figure out what happened before they become convicted, caught out, or killed.
At this surface, the book has a wildly simple premise. It's almost like a clue game: a group of simplistic characters with a simple defining theme rushing to find a shadowy murderer while they all hold their own secrets. And this is fine for a mystery. If I'm being quite honest, I've read about five hundred different iterations of this plot, with a high school murder and a killer on the loose and the main characters with secrets and suspicions. The song and dance is familiar and comforting, but, excluding the mystery itself, lacking in individuality and flavor. However, this book makes a few key deviations that make the plot feel new and exciting without diverting from the familiar high school murder plot. For one, the characters each have adequate and interesting development, specifically tailored to bring them out of the labels the book put them in itself. And the development isn't token, like a pretty girl learning to love the joys of football or the jock getting into baking or the usual clichés. The development is relevant to the modern era, like the crushing need for perfectionism in the college application process, or the way mental health struggles can wreck a family, or the superficial weight our society assigns to looks. In a lot of ways, its not the characters learning to overcome their stereotype, since each of them feels they don't live up to their's perfectly. It's about how society at large forced them into that stereotype. It's actually really impressive that the author managed to pull of five substantial character arcs! On that note, the book creates a far more realistic high school environment than most YA books. There's no really token "popular group" that is played up too much and taken too seriously. School is a genuine issue, and there are struggles with maintaining grades. There are more named characters than the main cast, and you get a sense other people have an actual life outside the central plot. Also, the book is just paced really well, letting you see the lives of each character while moving the plot along at a steady and fascinating pace. It can be funny or heartbreaking at times, and the mystery itself is satisfying and interesting upon reread.
All in all, this was in no way a groundbreaking novel. The plot is predictable mystery, with the usual twists and turns and not much beyond it. However, the deviations this book makes to the usual mystery formula make it a worthwhile and fun ride!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald, in my opinion, is a very confusing novel to say the least. Switching between past and present, we follow Nick Carraway who narrates the story from his point of view about the main character, Jay Gatsby. Gatsby is a millionaire that throws outrageous parties to anybody willing to come. Nick takes the reader through the journey of discovering who Gatsby really is, including his secrets and fears. The Great Gatsby is a classic novel that might just take a couple reads to fully comprehend.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
The Midnight Library book jacket
Haig, Matt
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I strongly recommend this book. It is very interesting, there are so many topics that can be evaluated regarding the main character Nora Seed and how she appreciated her life, people, friends, lover, opportunities (mainly opportunities) and how the "Boat of Opportunity" can pass again in this in between place called " The Midnight Library". Nora represents in many aspects, when a person reaches the lowest point of her / his life, with lack of hope, depression maybe and when as a person you fell unwanted or unappreciated, however there are always opportunities to correct your path. She had so many versions or opportunities to choose a life that can suit her completely, however those versions did not give her that sense of "ownership" and many were "good " lives, (almost ideal), she felt in that way (i.e. Marriage with Ash and a completely family).

The narrative is very light.- The introduction of topics like Quantum Physics, traveling between this kind of "dimensions" provide certain explanation to the situation that she is experiencing. I think that the main message will be that: We as human beings need to pay attention to the small things that are around us and that forms our lives which are very important. Don`t waste your life, try to life as possible, take opportunities and enjoyed but the only way to enjoy is by living it fully and learning and deciding and making yourself ready to take control of your life and decide to live it as "full" as you can.

Reviewer's Name: Ingrid V.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo
Lefteri, Christy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Christy Lefteri's novel The Beekeeper of Aleppo is a beautifully written and powerfully relevant story about a Syrian couple escaping their war-torn country and attempting to heal what is broken. Lefteri portrays the challenges faced by refugees in intense and emotional detail, bringing to life the stories which often get lost behind statistics and news headlines.
Nuri is a thoughtful, gentle beekeeper; his wife, Afra, is a painter who creates beautiful landscapes of Aleppo, where they lead a peaceful life. But when war strikes Syria, their lives are eternally altered. The couple must grapple with grief and pain as they make a dangerous journey to the United Kingdom, along the way facing strange lands and strangers who will do anything they can to survive. Afra has gone blind, and every day Nuri faces demons from the past, but they must press on.
Each chapter of the novel is split into present and past, transitioning from Nuri and Afra's daily happenings in the UK to their journey there from Syria. Lefteri's writing is poetic, raw, and compelling as she intelligently weaves together the past and present alongside themes of light and darkness, hope and sorrow, memories and grief. Nuri and Afra's transformation is a symbol of hope; their story and those of the other refugees they encounter show the persistence of life even in the midst of death.
The Beekeeper of Aleppo is meant for a more mature audience; with that in mind, it should be read by anyone who does not fully comprehend what refugees face, wants to gain a new perspective, or is privileged enough to live in a country that has not been destroyed by war. It is an incredibly eye-opening book.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa