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Fantasy

Book Review: Renegades

Renegades
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Renegades by Marissa Meyer is an average, but fun book about superheroes. The plot centers around Nova who has to join a team of superheroes to spy on them while secretly being a villain. Since I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, I thought that this book was pretty cliche. I could figure out every twist before I read about it happening. I also thought that the pacing of this book was weird. Some scenes that were unimportant to the plot seemed to drag on while other important scenes went by way too fast. This might have been intentional, but I don't see the point of it. I thought that this book was average. It was an extremely forgetful book, which was very disappointing because I love some of Marissa Meyer’s previous books. One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of anarchy which is very rare, especially in young adult books. I don't think that this would be a good book to read if you have seen a lot of superhero movies since it uses a lot of cliches from that genre. However, if you are interested in science fiction, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Scarlet

Scarlet
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: The Carpet People

The Carpet People
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Having now read one of Terry Pratchett's books, I thought it might be interesting to go back and read his very first work. Many authors don't manage to become famous with their very first book, and I think Terry Pratchett is no exception here. The Carpet People is an amusing book with his standard British charm, but I think it never goes far enough in its exploration of the idea. After all, I was expecting this book to be more along the lines of The Borrowers instead of just a straight-up fantasy with a few references to the fact that these creatures lived in the carpet.

Part of the problem I seemed to have with this book was the incessant need for fantasy books to create new names for objects and creatures that already (mostly) exist. If you took away the carpet setting, I think this book could be practically indistinguishable from any other fantasy book. This is what disappointed me the most. I believe there are plenty of potential moments to highlight the size disparity between creatures that live in the carpet, and the rest of the world we're familiar with (a la Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989)).

Granted, I will give this book some grace considering that Terry Pratchett originally wrote it when he was a teenager. For this reason alone, I do have to say that it should be an inspiration for young writers, just to show that it can be done. Pratchett clearly improved his writing skills over time to become a bestselling author, but it's important to recognize and realize that he didn't start out that way. Ironically enough, though, I almost preferred the serialized version of this story that he originally wrote over the more "standard" version that aligns with his later styles.

An amusing book and impressive first novel for a teenage Terry Pratchett, I give The Carpet People 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: 
Sophie L.

Book Review: Ganymede

Ganymede
Author: 
Priest, Cherie
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

Now that I’ve read the first three books in the Clockwork Century series, any hope I had of some cohesive narrative is essentially gone. While following a new character for each book helps to provide a different setting of the steampunk alternate universe, when I know these characters won’t matter outside their own books, I kind of stop caring about them. Even previous heroines are relegated to cameo and minor character status as the persistent series of somewhat pointless events drags on. And don’t even get me started on the zombies, which are a distraction to any actual story in my opinion.

I think the main problem I have with these books is the fact that things happen without much lead-up or foreshadowing. Sure, there are some fascinating factors involved with making a submarine work in the Civil War era, but the resulting battle and conclusion went exactly as I expected them to. This isn’t foreshadowing as much as it is conforming to clichés. There doesn’t seem to be much at stake in any of the character arcs, which is made all the more prevalent by the relatively uninteresting characters themselves. Some have distinguishable quirks, but they all feel flat in a world that could be that much more interesting.

As for the “twist” near the end involving one of the characters, I feel it was poorly executed, let alone unnecessary. Considering the medical techniques at the time, even in an alternate universe, the individual in question probably didn’t have the necessary “assets” to convincingly pull this deception off. If anything, it was only hidden via clothing, but since there were no hints or foreshadowing about this surprisingly minor character, I had no way to even know if anything was off to begin with. I can believe that some of them might exist in that timeframe, but it just felt like a cheap add-in for the sake of “inclusion.”

Another steampunk book in a series that isn’t going anywhere, I give Ganymede 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Aru Shah and the End of Time

Aru Shah and the End of Time
Author: 
Chokshi, Roshani
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a habit of lying. She exaggerates her life to her pretentious classmates in the hopes of fitting in. But, when she lights an ancient cursed lamp to impress them, she accidentally brings about the end of days and a dark creature known as the Sleeper. Together, with her new friend Mini, they have to stop the Sleeper and save humanity. "Aru Shah and the End of Time" is an exciting, funny, heartwarming book that reminded me ofsome of the earlier "Percy Jackson" books by Rick Riordan -- and I thought Mini and Aru's unlikely friendship was a charming, very compelling part ofthe story. There were some parts that were slow and seemed to meander a little, but, nevertheless, this story was a blast. From the minute the story starts, you will want to follow Aru and her friends to the very end.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: Jackaby

Jackaby
Author: 
Ritter, William
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The year is 1892. Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, England, in search of work when she meets the strange young detective R. F. Jackaby. After a series of unusual murders strike the town, Abigail and Jackaby work to crack the case and catch the killer. "Jackaby" is a fun, engrossing read that I couldn't put down. Every twist and turn left me dying to know more. The plot, characters, and setting were very interesting and excellently crafted. That said, I will admit that the end was a little predictable. I figured out who was the killer about half-way in, but the details surrounding the truth were unexpected enough for me to forgive that. If you are a fan of "Sherlock" and/or "Supernatural", this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: Dread Mountain

Dread Mountain
Author: 
Rodda, Emily
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The fifth book in the Deltora Quest series, Dread Mountain, is quite the entertaining read. Like the seven others in the series, it is an adventure novel that lives up to its name. The characters fit perfectly into the story, and are well developed. You really get to know Barda, Lief, and Jasmine as they work together to defeat the evil Shadow Lord. In this case, they struggle together to push through tough news and the environment along their journey to Dread Mountain. Along this part of the quest they meet several side characters, and while the unique 'races' of the characters are extraordinary, most stay lacking in development. The only other main fault in the book is the evil boss monster Gellick, as he doesn’t seem like a real threat to the characters. The book has more of a self vs self conflict, and I wish the big 'baddies' like Gellick were featured more as a sort-of fear than some sort of pushover. Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone willing to spend a good 45 minutes reading.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L.

Book Review: Knights of the Borrowed Dark

Knights of the Borrowed Dark
Author: 
Rudden, Dave
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Well-crafted masterpiece from beginning to end. The author described this book as a response to the "twee" children who are immediately drawn into a fantastic scenario. The main character here is a self-described skeptic and almost chooses not to follow the plot.

Lots of suspense in the middle section when the almost-Lovecraftian antagonists are sneaking around the orphanage. The author plays with the format; for dark sections, the pages are black with only the sounds visible. Recommended for anyone who is interested in writing, as you can feel all the work that went into making this book, and those who like adventure children's books (Charlie Bone, Harry Potter). Even if you think children's lit is too cute, you should still read this--it's great!

Reviewer's Name: 
Jennifer

Book Review: The Luster of Lost Things

The Luster of Lost Things
Author: 
Keller, Sophie Chen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Dreamlike magical realism which combines beautiful prose and thoughtful insight into a young boy's life with a motor speech disorder and the shadows cast by the disappearance of his father. An enchanting read for fans of Alice Hoffman and Sarah Addison Allen.

Reviewer's Name: 
Rebecca

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