LGBTQ

Book Review: Heartstopper: Volume Four

Author
Oseman, Alice
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Every time I think, "Alice Oseman can't possibly outshine previous Heartstopper books," she proves me wrong! This graphic novel had beautiful art and great representation. Heartstopper: Volume Four follows Charlie and Nick as they deal with separation anxiety, saying "I love you", and working through Charlie's declining mental health. There are some really important themes introduced, the biggest being Charlie's anorexia and OCD diagnosis. This was a really emotional part of the book, but it is also crucial for more young adult books like this to spread awareness about how common mental illnesses are. Charlie and Nick's relationship is strong, but it was also cool that they discussed how spending time with other loved ones instead will strengthen their relationship. Plus, their friends are diverse, endlessly kind, and could easily be real people. It is always a joy to read this series, and I can't wait for Volume Five!
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Author
Chbosky, Stephan
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

I chose this book because I had watched the movie and was curious as to how the book was in comparison. I found that both were great overall and I don't dislike one more than the other, but the book felt more mature than the movie. Overall I really did enjoy this book, the detail in the book was a great touch, as well as was relatable. Personally, I felt a connection to some of the characters having to leave for college and trying to get the best possible score on the SAT. There is only one thing I did not enjoy about this book though, which is that there is a lot of smoking. The smoking feels a bit excessive, especially when the book follows a freshman in high school, so the amount of smoking I feel like does not portray a true aspect of what that would look like in real life. I would recommend this book to an upper teenage audience since there are mature topics such as brief sexual scenes and smoking. I gave this book 4 stars since I felt like it was very well written and an enjoyable book to read; the deduction of one star was due to the portrayal of smoking. This is honestly a great read that I personally love, I would definitely recommend it!

Reviewer's Name
Ashley

Book Review: Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead

Author
Austin, Emily
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Everyone in This Room Will Someday Be Dead is a story about Gilda, who is an atheist, twenty-something years old, highly anxious, and gay. When she goes to a church after hearing about free therapy and assumed to be applying for the receptionist position, Gilda can't bring herself to correct anyone. Over her term as a Catholic receptionist, Gilda will have to lie about a dead woman, learn the lines for mass, hide her new girlfriend, and discover the hope that can come with the truth.
This book is the type of realistic fiction I usually call "a day in the life." It isn't about extraordinary circumstances or new love or changing lives. It's just someone struggling to survive the way that they always have, perhaps while working to get themselves out of it. Gilda's life is terrifying and constrictive. She's constantly afraid of what other's think of her, of people's disapproval, and yet is often so exhausted that she can barely communicate with the people she cares about. She's also, as the title foreshadows, constantly obsessing over death. Seeing the world through Gilda's eyes is strange and sad and scary. But it's also extremely enlightening. Even though Gilda is definitely an neurotic anomaly, her quirks and struggles are extraordinary relatable. The author really forces the reader to stare in the mirror, to see the fears and embarrassments that hold us back on a daily basis. One example could be Gilda's focus on death, which is almost paradoxical since her fixation on the end of her life keeps her living the life she has right now. I know that when I finished this book, it filled me with the desire to live my life to the fullest. The book also stands out with great prose, memorable characters, and vivid atmosphere!
All in all, this book might be unpleasant to read sometimes due to the depressing subject matter, but it's so educational and important that I'd recommend everyone read this at least once!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: King of Scars

Author
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The dashing young king, Nikolai Lantsov, has always had a gift for the impossible. No one knows what he endured in his country's bloody civil war -- and he intends to keep it that way. But some secrets aren't meant to stay buried -- and some wounds aren't meant to heal. This is not really a book of spills and thrills, but its biggest triumph lies in its deep undercurrents, in the attention and care that Leigh Bardugo pours into her characters -- into their failures and successes, and their responses to trauma, threats, and uncertainties. Bardugo breathes vivid life into each one of her characters, and lays their hearts open to the reader, which is easily perceived through the multiple different point-of-views. As a result, there is a devastating sense throughout that the characters are being stripped down to their essence, revealed in all of their glassy fragility and heartfelt vulnerability. Fantasy, politics, inner-demons, and romance -- all used to support this novel through character development and unexpected turns in the story. The King of Scars duology is my favorite out of the entire Grishaverse series -- combining storylines and characters from both the Shadow and Bone trilogy and the Six of Crows duology. I absolutely loved this book, and would definitely recommend the series.

Reviewer's Name
Nataleigh

Book Review: Last Night at the Telegraph Club

Author
Lo, Malinda
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Last Night at the Telegraph club is set in the 1950's and follows Lily Hu a student in her final year of high school, and follows her life. During a dangerous time for Chinese Americans. It progresses slowly the struggles of Lily slowly begin adding up putting pressure on the characters, in multiple moments you can feel the pressure yourself, and feel the struggles. It confronts multiple stereotypes of the time this book it set women in stem, and the lesbian community. The characters in this book feel like their real, the characters have multiple layers to their personality. It immerses you in the story that you can perfectly picture and see yourself in the settings. The ending it leaves you wanting more, I would love to see a sequel of the following events that happened afterwards.

Reviewer's Name
Hana

Book Review: Radio Silence

Author
Oseman, Alice
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

If I had to convince you to read this book in one sentence it would be this. Multiple times I had to stop reading, set down my book, and contemplate if Alice Oseman was in my head. If there is one thing Alice Oseman can do it is write relatable characters. This book follows Frances, a straight-A student whose heart is set on getting into Cambridge, and Aled, a quiet boy who is secretly the creator of a hit fantasy podcast. Brought together through art/media, Frances and Aled become close friends and tackle life changes, emotionally abusive people, mental health, censorship, and just being teenagers. This book perfectly describes the life of a teen going through high school and showed pure friendships based on a mutual love for something. This was extremely captivating and it helped me get out of a reading slump instantly. If you are looking for a book with characters you can relate to, diversity, true depictions of mental health, or just something exciting to read, I would recommend this over and over.
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Keira
Awards

Book Review: Me Myself and Him

Author
Tebbetts, Christopher
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

Me Myself & Him follows Chris Schweitzer, a graduated high school senior ready for his last summer in small town Ohio. But when he does whippets in an alley, passes out, and ends up in the hospital, his life splits down two paths. The story follows both these possibilities: one where his parents find out and ship him off to spend the summer with his distant father, and a second one where his parents remain in the dark, and he stays in town with his slightly distant friends. No matter which path taken in this multiversal tale, both sides end with Chris' life changed forever.
This book was very solid. I say this meaning no offense: it wasn't boring, slow, tangential, or otherwise hard to read. It was easy to read, and if I recall correctly, I finished it in under two days. I call this a solid story because that's what it is: a story that is very easy to enjoy. The characters are fun and witting and exciting; it's very easy to get invested in them and their choices. Even antagonistic characters (often including the main character) are likable and relatable, despite their horrible choices. The dual story structure stays interesting and fresh, exploring the characters from many different angles. I like how the story expands on its dual universe origin, including science and research to solidify the basis of the premise.
There were a couple things that threw me off. One storyline became, to me, far more intriguing because it delved further into the protagonists relationship with his father, which really helped flesh out both characters. The other side of the story had its merits in evolving the protagonist and his relationship with his friends, but it wasn't nearly as compelling for me. The only other issue was that the ending was slightly anticlimactic. I don't disagree with how the ending turned out, since it resolved both sides of the story, but the ending just felt a bit abrupt.
Still, these are my opinions, and one of the reasons I called this a solid story is because I think anyone could enjoy it. This book is fun, clear-cut despite a complex premise, relatable, and heartwarming. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a story about goodbyes and new beginnings, with some bittersweet laughter along the way!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: They Both Die at the End

Image
They Both Die at the End
Author
Silvera, Adam
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

They Both Die at the End is a perfect book for both tweens and teens! Set in a futuristic time where the "Death-Cast" can predict your death, two teenage boys, Mateo and Rufus, meet through an app that leads you to your last friend. Both of them are on their death day, wanting to live memories they never got to and they learn how much of a gift it is to find love, even in your last hours. Though Mateo and Rufus are total strangers, they connect in a way they never could with anyone else and live the short life they wanted together.
I loved this book because it was deep and meaningful. It gave thought to so many things and made a day last an eternity. I stayed up all night reading this book because I just couldn't put it down, it was entrapping how the author put down their last moments together as a story with so many lessons to learn from. I picked this book because it was different than what I normally read and because I wondered how the author would put it together, knowing that the title gave it all away. I was not disappointed at all! If anything, I was only sad and disappointed about how it ended, otherwise, the book was fantastic. Even though the title of the book is a complete spoiler, by the end you never see it coming and it is so sad when you realize the book is over. The ending was very predictable but it will surprise you even though you know it will happen. It was an amazing book about their story of gay love and I ended up crying at the end because it was so beautiful. The author made the boys very relatable and emotional in a way that truly hooked you into the book. This is one of the best books I've read this year and I would certainly recommend that you read it too!

Reviewer's Name
Ella R.

Book Review: On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous

Image
On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous
Author
Vuong, Ocean
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

On Earth We're Briefly Gorgeous is a fictional autobiography written by Vietnamese-American poet Ocean Vuong. It is written in the form of a letter from a Vietnamese-American son to his illiterate mother.

To me, it was a surprise to hear that this novel was a work of fiction. The scenes constructed were so raw and real and written with so much emotion, that I automatically figured that this was a memoir. However, I later discovered that this book was fiction, with a couple of truths sprinkled in. I really loved the format that Vuong decided to use in this book because the letter format felt very lyrical and poetic at times. The book was refreshing and easy to follow, as opposed to the topics discussed in the book. As an Asian-American myself, there were many topics addressed in the novel that I could really sympathize and relate with, and while the subjects addressed could get pretty heavy and difficult to read through at times, I was grateful that Vuong took it upon himself to shed some light to many real issues and experiences. While I personally enjoyed the lyrical writing and could sympathize with the difficult subjects, I wouldn't recommend this book to everyone. There are many scenes in the novel that could be triggering and too much to handle, and even I felt like I had to put down the book a few times to get a break. I would recommend that before anyone decides to read this book, they should look up the content and trigger warnings. However, those that do decide to start this novel will definitely not be disappointed.

Reviewer's Name
Michelle Y.

Book Review: They Both Die at the End

Author
Silvera, Adam
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

If you aren't prepared for a soul-crushingly beautiful read, don't pick up this book. In a world where everyones' death day is predicted with absolute accuracy, two teenage boys meet for one last day of life together. I admit to throwing this book across the room several times due to the intense, sorrowful nature of the story and feel that I am justified in doing so. Silvera writes a compelling love story with a melancholy twist; I feel that the plot is worth the tears that leaked from my eyes for days after finishing this book. I recommend this to anyone looking for a sob-worthy, artfully written story.

Reviewer's Name
Katherine