Contemporary

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: 
Zappia, Francesca
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I enjoyed reading Eliza and Her Monsters, which, as the title suggests, is about main character Eliza who created a well-known webcomic called Monstrous Sea, but remains anonymous online. It was fun because I could relate to Eliza as an artist (not a visual artist, but the world-building aspect) and Wallace, the inevitable love interest, as a writer. Also, of course, the whole fandom idea tends to be very relatable for many teenage readers. Eliza starts to fall for Wallace at school when they connect after discovering that they're mutual fans of Monstrous Sea, though Eliza keeps her identity as the creator of Monstrous Sea secret. Their story goes through the predictable, somewhat cookie-cutter stages of a YA romance before concluding with... actually, I won't spoil it, but you'd probably be able to guess after reading the first few chapters of the book. Besides the predictability – which you'd honestly get with just about any YA romance – my other complaint is the characterization. A lot of Eliza's development or the introduction of her personality was done through telling instead of showing, and Wallace felt rather flat and underdeveloped. The book was entertaining though, and I might recommend it if you're looking for something quick, fun, and easy, and don't mind knowing what's going to happen ahead of time. In terms of content, it's clean besides the occasional profane language.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor
Awards: 

Book Review: Fix Her Up

Fix Her Up
Author: 
Bailey, Tessa
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Travis, a once super popular baseball star gets hurt and can’t play baseball anymore gives up on life. Enter Georgie, a once Tom-boyish now super hot girl who has always had a crush on Travis (She’s also his best friend's sister) this roller-coaster of a book tells Travis and Georgie's adorable love story, and you can’t put it down. While definitely meant for an older crowd, this story will leave you smiling. Its characters are so cute, and you are just rooting for them the whole time. If you are looking for a more mature, rom-com book then you should check out this book!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: The Fault in Our Stars

The Fault in Our Stars
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Two teens, one struggling from cancer, one a cancer survivor, meet and start becoming close. The struggles of cancer, the chance of death, the fear of not leaving a mark on the world and so much more make their relationship hard at some points. John Green is a fantastic author who really draws you in. You get really invested into the characters and their lives and you start to feel their pain. This book will make you laugh, smile, cry, and jump up and down and it’s amazing. I would definitely recommend!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: The Upside of Unrequited

Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Molly is a bigger girl, who has never had a boyfriend (but has had
many crushes) her twin sister, who is beautiful and never has had problems
dating becomes love sick over a girl they meet at a concert. Molly’s moms,
finally have the chance to get marriage. With all this going on Molly meets a
cute boy who she thinks is perfect for her, but what happens when she starts
falling for her coworker instead? This book is a quirky romance story that
really hits you in the feels. It’s beautifully told and when anything
happens to your character you feel like it’s happening to you! If you want
a romance with twist and turns and a heartwarming story in the middle, then
read this book!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: Perfect Chemistry

Perfect Chemistry
Author: 
Elkeles, Simone
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This is a very cute, enemies to lovers story, with characters that you get very invested into. Brittany, the main character may in the outside seem to be an annoying popular girl but this book gives her so much complexity. Her love interest, Alex feels the pressure of being in a gang and protecting his family. As their romance blossoms, you really start to see how much they care for each other. If you like a romance/drama book, this is definitely for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: The Thing About Leftovers

The Thing About Leftovers
Author: 
Payne, C. C.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book was by far my favorite book, as it's very emotional but at the end, heartwarming. Fizzy is a 12 year old girl who has a strong passion for cooking. She's very good at it, but because of her divorced parents, she feels like no one cares about her and she is a leftover that no one wants. Through the book, she learns that just because her parents are divorced doesn't mean either side doesn't care, it means both sides care. This could also be very relatable for kids with divorced parents who don't seem to fit into either side. At the end, Fizzy realizes that each side is proud of her and loves her and that she could find good qualities in each other step parent.

Reviewer's Name: 
Trisha

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before

To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Author: 
Han, Jenny
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I've heard a lot about this book, so I decided to try and read it. What I enjoy about this book is that it could relate to a quite a few teenagers, and it has a bit of every genre. It's sad but happy, weird but funny, and dramatic but real. I could safely say, that this was one of the best books I've read this year. It starts off with a sixteen year old girl, Laura Jean. She was always a very good kid, listening to her parents and having good grades. Her older sister, Margot, was one of her best friends. She was just about to move to college, so she broke it off with her boyfriend, Josh. Seeing this, Laura got devastated because Josh had always been like a part of the family. Josh was upset too, since they've been together for two years. Laura thinks it's all just temporary and her sister would want to get back together with him. Margot soon was thinking about it, until she heard something from Josh. Something about her sister. This got her furious. I'm going to let you read about that by yourself. Later along in the book, like every other teenage girl, Laura has those few people that she's liked over the years. For those few guys, she's always wrote love notes for them and hid them away in a box, so she could know why she liked them, but forget about them because they were in the past. Until one day, when everything changed... Read to find out what happens.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Trisha

Book Review: Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud & Incredibly Close
Author: 
Foer, Jonathan
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Was very reluctant to start book because I usually don't lean towards heartbreak stories. After reading it, its so much more than that. Its a book about a boy who thinks different than the most of us. The difficulties that this 9 year old boy faces with social interaction and phobias really keeps you intrigued. Oskar the nine year old boy is probably one of the most interesting protagonist characters I've ever met and you just have to read to find out why.

Reviewer's Name: 
Adan D.

Book Review: Dash & Lily's Book of Dares

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Author: 
Cohn, Rachel and Levithan, David
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares, co-authored by Rachel Cohn and David Levithan, is a lighthearted romance set at Christmastime. When Lily, a spunky nerd, leaves a red notebook filled with mysterious clues at the Strand in New York City, an unexpected relationship begins. Her notebook is found by Dash, a cynic who detests Christmas, and thus begins a montage of absurd dares as the red notebook is passed back and forth around New York City by the two teenagers and their strategically-placed relatives. Along the way, Dash and Lily come to believe they love each other, though they’ve never set eyes on each other before.

This book lacks a stable plot and character development. Lily’s character is unbearably obnoxious and immature, while Dash’s cynicism is over-the-top and irritating. Lily undergoes virtually no change through the duration of the book; however, Dash does open up and become slightly less self-absorbed. The authors’ excessive use of big, flowery language did not fit the characters. It seemed as though the authors believed this was necessary in order to portray Dash and Lily (mostly Dash) as intelligent and intellectual beyond their years, but I found it to be distracting and inappropriate for the context. The plot of this book was severely lacking. It was chaotic and disjointed, and never reached a strong climax. I was irritated with the unrealistic and completely bizarre parts, and disappointed when the ‘romance’ fell flat.

I understand that this book is meant to be fun and amusing, but it would have been much higher quality with likable characters and a coherent plot. I enjoyed the Christmas-y setting, but I believe the authors could’ve used New York City in a more impressive way for the dares. Only read this book if you’re in the mood for a fluffy, vapid story with no substance whatsoever. There are lots of Christmas romances out there, and I’m sure most are better than this one.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa

Book Review: The Midnight Library

The Midnight Library
Author: 
Haig, Matt
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Matt Haig's unique novel The Midnight Library ponders the infinite possibilities of life. It is about a young woman named Nora Seed, who lives a monotonous, ordinary life and feels unwanted and unaccomplished. One night, her despair reaches a peak and she commits suicide. But the story doesn't end there--Nora gets a chance to experience various ways her life could've unfolded had she made slightly different choices. She finds herself in a place called the Midnight Library, which exists between life and death and is filled with books in which lie endless parallel lives she might've lived; she is given the chance to undo her regrets by trying out these lives, starting right where her alternate self would've been on the night she ended her life. While in the Midnight Library, Nora lives hundreds of lives and becomes hundreds of different versions of herself--some she'd never even fathomed--but she is faced with a difficult decision. She must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in order to live permanently in one of these 'ideal' lives, where they seem perfect for a time but, as she realizes, there are really new sets of challenges awaiting. Nora's exploration of herself is captivating as she attempts to discern what is really important in life.

This novel is very well-written and thought-provoking. Nora's emotions are deeply portrayed, and I was captivated by the depth of Haig's storytelling. While the concept is simple, it drew me in as a reader and encompassed so many different emotional experiences that come with life. I spent much of The Midnight Library reflecting on my own life and the decisions I've made, as well as looking to the future and imagining the infinite possibilities--this is a sign of a talented author. While I appreciated the depth of this novel, sometimes it took on a repetitive, almost pedantic tone when an important idea was already clear but kept being elaborated on--this was common when life lessons came up. There were also attempts to make Nora's life-jumping seem scientifically possible, with reference to quantum physics, and I didn't think this was necessary, as the focus was on Nora's life and personal growth. Overall, I very much enjoyed The Midnight Library. The character development, setting, and plot are engaging, while also discussing important themes such as mental health.

I would recommend The Midnight Library to teens and adults alike. It's a short, worthwhile read that will get you thinking and have you on the edge of your seat. And it may just awaken you to how much unlocked potential you have!

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa

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