Contemporary

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

Book Review: Dear Evan Hansen

Dear Evan Hansen
Author: 
Emmich, Val
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I would recommend Dear Evan Hansen to any teen looking for an interesting book to read. The book was different from the usual book I used. It gave an insight into mental health issue that many teens struggle with today. The book was not predictable and had many surprising moments. I chose the book because it sounded familiar and I ended up making a good choice.

Reviewer's Name: 
Marvin

Book Review: Focused

Focused
Author: 
Gerber, Alyson
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Focused by Alyson Gerber is about a middle school student Clea who has a hard time concentrating, getting her homework, and following directions. She knows that she can’t say everything that comes into her head but can’t help herself. It’s becoming a huge problem in school, with her friends, and in the chess club. Will she be able to figure out her mind before she misses the big chess tournament? The author does a great job by illustrating the troubles of balancing schoolwork, friends, and extracurriculars of teenage life. Personally, I feel like I could connect with the characters in the novel and enjoyed the light outlooks on teenage years. All in all, this book was somewhat predictable and mainly focused on a middle school audience. Still, I found it to be an easy read and would give it 4 out of 5 stars.
Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Lucia S.

Book Review: Crazy Rich Asians

Crazy Rich Asians
Author: 
Kwan, Kevin
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Rachel Chu expects to be met with an average trip when her boyfriend Nick Young invites her to Singapore, but when she arrives she is met with Nick's childhood home that is beyond anything she could ever imagine. She has
unknowingly been dating one of Asia's most eligible bachelors. Rachel is eventually met by the crazy rich of Singapore and is forced to endure their strong criticisms, especially by Nick's judgmental mother Eleanor. Kwan exposes the vast riches and glamorous lives of the crazy rich of Singapore. Though the massive Young, T'sien, and Shang family tree can be confusing at times, it allows every reader to personally connect to at least one character and expresses and variety of personalities within this grand family. The novel will transport you to a world that is all too real. If you have seen and enjoyed the movie, I can guarantee that you will definitely be blown away by the book. The novel expands beyond the movie's humor and highly emotional scenes and drastically improves its impact.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jenna W.

Book Review: They Both Die at the End

They Both Die at the End
Author: 
Silvera, Adam
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"They Both Die at The End" by Adam Silvera takes place in a world where people receive a call informing them of their death on the day they die. When strangers Matteo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both receive this call, they stumble across each other and set off for one last great adventure. I really loved this book. Though you already know how it ends from reading the title, the book did not feel unnecessary at all. It reminded me of a sad dog movie in the sense that you know how it will end, but you still find yourself becoming attached to the characters and crying when the credits roll. I liked the characters and their relationships in the story, as well as how the story itself was told. The author’s writing style is captivating, and I definitely recommend it to those who like young adult novels. It’s definitely become one of my favorites.

Reviewer's Name: 
Cora

Book Review: Tweet Cute

Tweet Cute
Author: 
Lord, Emma
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

This rom-com style book while can be cheesy at times is over-all heartwarming and charming. Pepper always has something going on, from swim practice to running her Baking account online. When she meets a mystery boy on an anonymous website, they spark a connection; pepper cant wait to find out who this mystery person is. This adorable story, is heartwarming and very sweet. If you like a cute romance story, this book is definitely for you! Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: The Heartbreakers

The Heartbreakers
Author: 
Novak, Ali
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

This book, while a cute story was not for me. This book felt like it was a middle school fantasy instead of a story. The story is that Stella meets a famous rock star and soon enough their lives become entangled. It was good, but the story felt to un-realistic and cheesy. While this book wasn't my cup of tea it could be someone else's. If you like romance books or have ever wanted to date a rock-star this book is probably for you! Grade:8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: The Lies About Truth

The Lies About Truth
Author: 
Stevens, Courtney C.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is amazing, I have read it twice and I still just fall in love with the story. 5 teens in a traumatic car accident 4 walk away but are scarred for life. This book is all about healing and moving on from the past. Watching the characters face the trauma and make new connections is beautiful. It's hard to put down, because as the story goes on you find out more and more about the characters, the accident, and the story. If you want a book to get invested in, I would definitely recommend this book. grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

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