Fiction

Book Review: The Girl Who Played with Fire

The Girl Who Played with Fire
Author: 
Stieg, Larsson
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Despite some of its weaknesses, some of which were due to my reading it via audiobook, The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo is a great book. In its sequel, The Girl Who Played with Fire, some of these weaknesses were addressed, but others manifested in their place. Again, these faults might be attributed to the audiobook format, but are fairly minor when considering how fantastic the story is as a whole. In fact, I probably like The Girl Who Played with Fire more than its predecessor. Of course, part of this was how events in the first book carried over to influence the plot of the second.

In the first book of the Millennium series, I didn’t realize just how much sex was in it. This was mostly because of the rape scene that made everything else seem tame in comparison. In this book, the sex is still there, but there’s so much of it at the beginning that it starts to become distracting. At least when book one included it, it was generally through the guise of a budding friendship. This time, it felt more like the author was trying to hammer home the point that the two main characters were sexually liberated. Other than that, it was also a little challenging to keep track of the timeline, since it jumped around a bit when it followed different characters. This is perhaps a limitation of the audiobook format.

Overall, though, the plot of The Girl Who Played with Fire is superb. Uncovering the past of our favorite, titular character was a great way to continue a series that started with such an engaging and enigmatic figure. With less mystery present in this volume, the twists are still believable and entertaining while also focusing more on the action that centers on Lisbeth Salander’s desire to remain as disconnected as possible.

A fantastic follow-up to a great book, I give The Girl Who Played with Fire 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Unwanteds

The Unwanteds
Author: 
McMann, Lisa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In the town of Quil, there is an odd tradition. On kids’ thirteenth birthdays, they participate in the purge, where the government judges kids by their creativity and separates them into three groups. The Wanteds get to stay in Quil to train to be warriors. The Necessaries also stay, but only to do farm work. The last group is the Unwanteds--the group of kids who have shown too much creativity. They are sentenced to death.

When Alex Stowe's thirteenth birthday comes up, he isn't excited. He already knows that he will be an Unwanted because of all his infractions. When the purge comes and he is sentenced to death, he thinks it is his death date. But, when he gets to the lake of boiling oil, the place where the Unwanteds are sent to be killed, a strange man comes and offers them a second chance.

Instead of punishing the Unwanteds, he wants to bring them into the magical world of Artime, harness their creativity, and use it to give them magic. But if Artime is discovered by Quil, it might ruin Artime forever. Can Alex help save Artime or will it be discovered and destroyed?

I originally got this book from finishing the Barnes and Noble Summer Reading Challenge. I don't usually read or enjoy fantasy books, but I loved this one. I really enjoyed the concept of the story and loved all of the creative characters. It was also cool how they not only got to learn magic but also got to create new spells. This is the first book in a series of seven. I can't wait to read the rest of them.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben C

Book Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Looking for Alaska follows the ordinary story of a boy by the name of Miles "Pudge" Halters. In his chaotic first year at Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets many people who guide him in his search for himself, including Chip Martin and Alaska Young. Love, friendship, and innocence are tested in this rapid novel as John Green marvelously weaves unpredictability and relatability in between the lines of this gripping book. I liked this book because of its intricate simplicity; the telling of the story made it feel like it was specific to Pudge, but within the awkward relationships and persistent daydreams I saw a bit of myself reflected back at me. I picked this book up in an effort to empty my bookshelf, and as it cleared my shelf it filled my heart with raw emotions that I was not expecting. My favorite part was the contrast of the before and after of the pivotal point in the story. The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the undeveloped relationships between characters that were evident in some chapters. Overall, Looking for Alaska was worth my time and told a unique story that twisted the basic "new kid" story into an unpredictable plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Anya G

Book Review: Elijah of Buxton

Elijah of Buxton
Author: 
Curtis, Christopher
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The book "Elijah of Buxton" is incredible. While it's meant for younger readers, the book had several thought-provoking moments, which can captivate older readers. The protagonist, Elijah, is well-developed and his journey is full of fulfilling comedy, adventure, and surprises. The book is written in a light-hearted manner, which keeps it from being too depressing. There are some gruesome moments, but they all contribute to the story. It also relates to slavery from a unique perspective, although it does a great job addressing other values. The only thing I found wrong with the book was that it did have a somewhat weak plot. Other than that, I would recommend this book to almost anyone, as its messages can relate to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L

Book Review: I Am Number Four

I Am Number Four
Author: 
Lore, Pittacus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I am Number Four is one of the best books I have ever read. An alien race, known as the Loriens, send nine children along with their guardians to Earth to save their kind. The Loriens have been invaded by the evil Magadorians and their only hope are these nine children. The Loriens have special powers and magic associated with them, yet look like humans. I am Number Four follows the journey of the fourth Lorien child sent to Earth and his thrilling quest to stay hidden and alive. This novel blends science fiction, action, and romance in a fantastic roller coaster that will have you on the edge of your seat and will pull at your heartstrings. While it contains violence, I recommend this book to anyone, but especially middle and high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: A Study in Charlotte

A Study in Charlotte
Author: 
Cavallaro, Brittany
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

A new take on Holmes and Watson, two teens in an American boarding school bond over their family's shared history. Both of them are descended from the infamous Sherlock Holmes and his infamous partner Watson, and they find a way to live up to their history. They become detectives of their own stories when they are framed for murder. Thrilling and exciting, the story of Charlotte and Jamie kept me captivated with every turn of the page. I am sure readers who enjoy mystery and romance alike will enjoy it. Recommended for ages 15+
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: The Rough Patch

The Rough Patch
Author: 
Lies, Brian
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Evan and his dog did everything together. They shared many adventures and created a beautiful garden, but when the dog passes away Evan is devastated. The Rough Patch, by author/illustrator Brian Lies, would be a wonderful place to begin a discussion about death and grief with young children. Children and adults will identify with Evan and how he works through his sorrow. This beautifully written and illustrated picture book for ages 3 - 10 is a 2018 Caldecott Honor winner.

Reviewer's Name: 
Barbara

Book Review: The Great Alone

The Great Alone
Author: 
Hannah, Kristin
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

I loved The Nightingale and was hoping this would be another great story by Hannah, but I wasn't impressed. The story takes place in Alaska, but the story has to do with marital abuse and I just couldn't get into the story. It was horrible, but I can't recommend.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anonymous

Book Review: Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale

Poor Doreen: A Fishy Tale
Author: 
Lloyd-Jones, Sally
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

My boys and I loved reading this book over and over. The story line begins with Doreen the fish heading off on an adventure to visit a family member. She ends up where she wanted but there were many unusual adventures along the way. We laughed at the cleverness of the author's story and enjoyed learning some of the alphabet that was hidden the illustrations. The pictures really enhanced the story and the kids interacted with the story as we read. It was delightful!

Reviewer's Name: 
Julie

Book Review: Hello Lighthouse

Hello Lighthouse
Author: 
Blackall, Sophie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

From the cutaway of the inside of a lighthouse to the rescue of shipwrecked sailors, Hello Lighthouse, a beautifully designed book by Sophie Blackall, is sure to fascinate children and the adults who read to them! Intriguing illustrations and information illuminate the daily life of lighthouses and their keepers. Hello Lighthouse is the 2019 Caldecott Medal winner. It is just right for repetitive readings for children ages 4 - 10.

Reviewer's Name: 
Barbara

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