All Book Reviews

Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a complicated relationship between two boys, in which one finds it difficult to accept himself and his family, which translates into him bring unable to understand or accept love from the other boy. It develops the ideas of self-criticism and self-acceptance, as well as the multiple forms that love can take on. Aristotle and Dante are the two main characters, who begin as friends and slowly fall in love. Aristotle, Ari for short, deals with a father with PTSD and a delinquent brother who is the black sheep of the family. Dante has a peaceful and accepting family, which causes tension between the boys; while Ari has learned to speak with his fists or remain silent, dante has learned to be diplomatic and express himself at all times.
The fact that they are total opposites is very interesting, because the plot then revolves around a complicated process of trying to understand each other. It is a good read if you are looking for something that is about mental health, love, and how relationships require compromise. It is also written in a nice style, in a sort of blocky, thought-like manner. I would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
The Odyssey
Homer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This epic poem is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature I have ever read. Following the story of Odysseus, it is an epic journey where gods and mythical monsters try and impede his journey home. There is mythology intertwined with adventurous storytelling, and the style of writing, while obviously more difficult than modern writing, is not too challenging that it makes the poem hard to read. I would recommend reading it for both its historical significance and because of how interesting the story itself is. While it will take some time to get through, the story, I believe, is worth the time. The monsters that Odysseus encounters barter with him and tell him stories that deepen the plot; his interactions and relationships reveal mysteries and provide new motivations or points of interest.

Everything is complexly interconnected and it does take a bit of historical context or background knowledge to understand all parts of the story, so it is an undertaking. However, the fantastic and timeless story is entirely unique. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Awards:
The Invaders
Flanagan, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the book, The Invaders, Hal, the protagonist finds himself going after the Andomal. The Andomal is a sacred artifact and treasured by his people in his country. The thief of this treasure, Zavac, has besieged a city to plunder an emerald mine well hidden from the outside world. Hal must help this city to find and take back the Andomal. The main character Hal can be easily related to as he is smaller than many of his other countrymen.
However, he makes up for his lack of physical dominance by being extraordinarily smart. I enjoyed this book because Hal has to decide between going after Zavac or helping his friends. This was interesting to me because he makes choices like I would have made. This is one of the best books I have read this year. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the Ranger’s Apprentice. This series, Brotherband, takes place after Ranger’s Apprentice. However, you do not have to have read any of the previous books to be able to follow along this new series. The author, John Flanagan is one of my top 5 favorite authors. I have enjoyed most all of the books he has written.

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
The Outcasts
Flanagan, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the book, The Outcasts, Hal, the protagonist finds himself being forced into BrotherBand training to become a Skirl, also called a ships captain. Hal, unlike most others from his country relies on his intelligence and wit rather than strength. This makes him an Outcast, pun very much intended.This book kept me on edge since the intro was very suspenseful.
This is one of the best books I have ever read, and I have read many books. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the Ranger’s Apprentice.
This series, Brotherband, takes place after Ranger’s Apprentice. However, you do not have to have read any of the previous books to be able to follow along this new series. Ever since I read the first book Of The Ranger’s Apprentice I have really loved the author John Flanagan. The main character Hal can be easily related to as he is not physically strong but, he is strong in the mind. This is what I liked most about the character Hal.

Reviewer's Name: Alexander M
Awards:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Over the years, I have been assigned to read a multitude of books and plays for English classes - some of those writing pieces I have never committed to and read thoroughly. This year in AP Literature, The Importance of Being Earnest was assigned and was not amongst those writing pieces. In many of the English classes I have enrolled in, there are numerous books or plays - especially Shakespeare - that I have read which might be interesting but the diction is archaic. The words and phrases are not used modernly and therefore, what is written is difficult to understand in the absence of translations or SparkNotes. Despite being published in 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest was an easy read because the play is easily humourous.

The play pursues wealthy and bored protagonists, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, as they court two women, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, pretending to be men named Ernest. Their “Bunburying” depicts the theme that idle hands indulge in mischief. Jack, who resides in the country, introduces a devious and unruly brother named Ernest who resides in the city so that he can be reckless in one place while also being arguably mature in another. Algernon pretends to have to check in on a pale and sickly fellow named Bunbury when he is introduced to responsibilities or events he does not desire to participate in. Eventually, upon hearing of Cecily Cardew, Jack’s ward, from Jack, he pretends to be Ernest as well. The two characters utilize their separate versions of "Bunburying" for their own pleasure rather than for being productive, depicting their own values of dishonesty and deceit.

The characters are self-concerned which is unfortunate because during the 1890s, the time in which this play is set, the Victorian Era endured multiple widespread conflicts including overpopulation, poor sanitary conditions, child labor, and religious insecurity - none of which are mentioned by any of the four characters.
Ultimately, the theme of the play may be applied to the modern era which permits The Importance of Being Earnest to be more relevant when you compare the Victorian upper class to, for example, the Kardashians or other celebrities.
The humorous aspect of the play was Oscar Wilde’s use of epigrams, or clever and paradoxical expressions. Predominantly delivered by Algernon, my favorite of the epigrams was “The amount of women who flirt with their own husbands is scandalous. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.”

Additionally, this play is a short read with only about 75 pages.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W
Genres:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jonas knows only his community and the rules; he doesn't know what lies beyond. With the government watching everything and deciding job assignments based on the citizen's personality, little does Jonas know that his job will impact his community and himself for the rest of his life. With sad, happy, and overall crazy interactions with dreams, Jonas increases his knowledge about his communities past. With still secrets unshared, Jonas looks for answers and his method will shock you! This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and will engage you with the characters and plot line.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
Heidi
Spyri, Johanna
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It was very engaging. With young energetic Heidi and her best friend Klara, it pulls you in and engages with life lessons and memorable quotes. With grandmother and Heidi up on the mountainside, they share poetry, hymns, stories, and love. With Heidi's loveable attitude and glow of Christ everywhere, she tries to turn grandfather's grumpy attitude to a loving, caring grandpa. This book is worth reading and engaging for ALL ages.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
All Out: the no-longer secret stories of queer teens throughout the ages
Mitchell, Saundra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

All Out is a collection of short stories from different times in history.
These short stories keep you on the edge of your seats with every page. Being a LGBTQ+ Short story book I was delighted with detailed stories keeping with historical values and cultures. Everything from Pirates to Runaway Brides this book has it. Lovely storylines and flow. Definitely a must read for teenagers.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Lizzy B
Awards:
American Psycho
Ellis, Bret Easton Ellis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Psycho is a bitter, biting satire about consumerism, and the dark side of the American Dream. The story follows Patrick Bateman who works on Wall Street. He is charming, handsome, and rich. He is also a murderer and a psychopath. We follow him as he falls further and further down the rabbit hole as he becomes more consumed with wealth and money. The satire is biting, the humor dark, and Patrick Bateman feels like a real character that is both relatable and hated by the reader at the same time. This book is amazing. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a great book to read.

Be prepared for some shocking scenes, though!

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Leviathan Wakes
Corey, James S. A.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Leviathan Wakes is the first novel in the science fiction series, the Expanse. It follows the stories of Jim Holden and Detective Miller as they attempt to uncover a plot to start a war within the planets. This book is incredible. Every character feels alive and unique, and you really begin to connect with them as the plot moves forward. The plot itself is stellar, and is relentless in its suspense, intrigue, and action. I would highly, highly recommend to anyone who loves science fiction, or is just looking for an amazing book to read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas, Alexandre
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing. The story follows the tale of Edmond Dantes and his quest for revenge against the three men responsible for his incarceration. It is a very simplistic concept, but upon reading the novel one will find a book filled with characters that live and breathe, action that is relentless, and many subplots threaded throughout the novel in intricate ways. The book, while extremely long, is entertaining all the way through. The ending is satisfying and ends the book well. I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan on action novels, or revenge novels.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the tale of the rise and fall of the fictional Colombian town Macondo, and the stories of the Buendia family that inhabits the town. The novel is stellar. The characters feel alive and breathing -- they all have different motivations, desires, and weaknesses.
The reader truly begins to feel a connection with these characters as the novel progresses, and that's what makes the novel so good -- if you didn't know the town was fake, you would think it was a real place. The novel pioneered the genre of magical realism, which is a novel with a realistic view of the world that includes magical and surreal elements. The inclusion of magical realism elements in the story is what makes the book truly unique and fun to read. However, it is a very dense book, and can become very confusing very easily. If you can get past the often confusing nature of the novel, you will find a very rich and rewarding reading experience that I would recommend for anyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Wonder by R. J Palacio tells the story of a young boy, Auggie, that was born differently from others. Born with different facial features than others, he has not been able to be a mainstream and average student. After a series of captivating events, he becomes the most popular and inspiring of heroes once he becomes a fifth grader.

Wonder was an extremely unique story that took the point of view from a young boy different from others. The story was original and interesting to the reader based upon the course of events that took place. After Auggie is faced with demeaning names and suggesting he is mentally deficient, goodness becomes the better of this situation. The story becomes uplifting and inspiring. Taking place in many different viewpoints, the dialogue is well written and is able to describe each character with a unique tone of writing/speaking. In addition to the story itself, the book demonstrated morals that each reader could decipher for themselves. However, most prominently, the moral that I found when reading the book was the inner character of everybody is the determination of their personality.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is the story that is narrated by Nick Carraway, an old neighbor of Gatsby. Taking place in 1922, Nick tells his story of when he has just moved from the Midwest to West Egg in Long Island to become successful and gain fortune as a bond salesman.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a exemplary book taking place during the Jazz Age. The novel was well written. It was simple, intriguing, clever and witty. Contrary to the deep story/plot line, the writing made it interesting and neither too boring nor extremely emotional. In addition to this, the overall fate upon the Gatsby, Carraway, and Daisy has a strong connection to the reader that allows them to feel the concept of tragedy.

Personally, this is one of the best books/novels. It is a great work of fiction that perfectly crafts the story and the Jazz Age of America.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
The Book Thief
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief is a novel set over the World War II period. It tells the story of a young orphan, named Liesel. She arrives to her new home with her foster parents, Hans Hubermann and Rosa Hubermann. As she lives there, her love for books begins to grow. Taking risky steps, she steals books from many others, even rescuing one from a pile of burning books of the Nazi bonfire.
As time passes by, Liesel and her family secretly shelter a Jewish boy from the father that had once saved the life of Liesel's father, Hans.

This book was well written and enjoyable to read. It took the perspective of two significant characters, Liesel and Death, which offers a standpoint that the reader could decipher themselves. In addition, with the inclusion of dry humor and insightful observations it would demonstrate a more impactful feeling towards the reader with the overall fate of the characters and the story. This is an important detail, that adds much more feeling that is captivating and interesting.

The Book Thief was a book that could not be predictable, nor fast paced.
Rather it was slow and every turn of direction the story had felt dangerous and worthwhile. It is important for the reader to understand it slowly, however is contradictory to the fact that it is highly captivating to want to see what will happen next. The Book Thief is personally a very well written book and is one of my favorites.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Genres:
To Kill A Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To Kill A Mockingbird is a book set in the early 1930s that describes the story of a family in the quiet town of Maycomb in Alabama. Currently suffering in the Great Depression, Scout Finch and her brother, Jem, live with Atticus, their widowed father. During the summer, Finch, Jem and their neighbor Dill explore their street to find an eerie house owned by a man named Mr. Nathan Radley. They learn that he has been living their for years with a brother, Arthur, and has never ventured outside.

The book took a simple setting and turned it into an exciting and intriguing plot line. It was unpredictable for the courses of events that took place, where it was never boring and was continuously captivating.

Personally, I enjoyed most about the creative plot line and course of events that happened in the book. It is an extremely unique book that is in an uncommon time setting, which creates a more enjoyable experience. This is one of the best books I have read.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Heart of Iron
Poston, Ashley
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Heart of Iron is an interesting Sci-fi romance. Following the adventures of Ana, her best friend robot Di, and her spaceship crew, this book gives an interesting perspective of what it is to love and what you know about your own identity. I only gave this book 4 stars because it just hops into the action without explanation which leaves the reader a little confused. It also had many metaphors that were very odd and didn't make sense within the context, but overall I enjoyed the story. Heart of Iron is great for lovers of romance, sci-fi, and pirates.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Night, by Elie Wiesel, tells of the story of the main protagonist Eliezer and the many tragedies he faced in German concentration camps during World War II. The protagonist narrates the entire book in a first-person and unbiased manner, which exposes the emotional truth of the Holocaust and provides an autobiography of the real author’s experience during the war. Eliezer, the main protagonist and counter part to the real Elie Wiesel, is forced to approach his ever-changing relationship with friends and family, many conflicts and struggles, and a plethora of situations that threaten his existence throughout the book. His reactions to these various obstacles exhibit the Holocaust survivor’s unique traits that set him apart from other Protagonists. Like Eliezer, every character in the book is developed fully with vivid traits that the real Elie remembers about them. The autobiography is fascinating and tells a compelling story while informing the reader about what really happened during the Holocaust, and I would reccomend it to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Hound of Rowan
Neff, Henry H.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Join Max on a thrilling adventure throughout the school year at Rowan Academy! This book was a really great book with lots of adventure and magic. It is sort of like Harry Potter (don't compare these two series because as similar as they can be, they can be VERY different too) but in my honest opinion, if someone were to ask me Hogwarts or Rowan? I would probably say Hogwarts. However, this book is an amazing adventurous, magical, good vs. evil type of book.

There are a few kisses throughout this book, including one where David captures a photo of Connor and Lucia and keeps the photograph. There is a few sentences on one page where Connor does something questionable, but they do not focus on it or keep bringing it up.

Overall, this book was really good an besides those few parts that I mentioned above, it is a fine book.

Reviewer's Name: Aubrey S.
Awards:
Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them: The Original Screenplay
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was really excited when Fantastic Beasts came out because Harry Potter was over and I loved the make-believe world of wizards and witches. Before Fantastic Beasts was released I was curious what J.K. Rowling was going to do next, I didn’t think she was done writing books altogether. Fantastic Beasts turned out to be a great read and satisfied my imagination with magic.

Fantastic Beasts, a fictional novel by J.K. Rowling, follows a magical young man named Newt on a journey to find his beasts that escaped. Newt Scamander is a wizard unlike any other, he uses not only his powers but the powers of his magical animals. In Fantastic Beasts Newt has lost some of his creatures and needs to find them before they wreak havoc among the regular people’s lives and more importantly before the truth about wizards being real is revealed to everyone. Newt meets lots of strange people almost as fascinating as his beasts and even befriends a person named Jacob on his journey.

Something I’ve wondered for a long time is why J.K Rowling wanted her book to be designed in the format of a screen play, maybe she thought it would make the characters feel more real and personal. I think that J.K. Rowling really got everything right with Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them even down to the art which creates very detailed imagery and gives you a sense of what she is thinking about when she makes these strange beasts.

Reviewer's Name: Seth
Genres:

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