Realistic

Book Review: Pop

Pop
Author: 
Korman, Gordon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Pop is about a boy named Marcus. In his second year of high school, he moves to a new city and a new school. In his old town, he was a Junior Varsity football player and he wants to try out for varsity this year. After he trains all summer, he shows up to tryouts to discover that he is unwanted on the team. The last season, they went 11-0 and won the championship, so they don’t want to risk losing another perfect season. He barely makes the cut but knows he will be sitting on the bench a lot.

One day while he is practicing, a strange middle aged man appears. Besides being able to catch, throw, and hit like a truck, he has an impeccable sense of balance. While Marcus is getting better at football, he wonders who the mysterious guy he practices with is and his oddities. Meanwhile, the team is headed for its second perfect season and, with Marcus’s monster blocking, they are unstoppable. Marcus finds out that the guy who has been helping him is really a ex-NFL player, but doesn’t remember because he has Alzheimer’s Disease. The family is hard at work keeping the disease a secret but it is getting Marcus in trouble. Will Marcus be able to get himself and Charlie out of trouble without spilling the big secret?

I loved this book! While I enjoy Gordon Korman’s books, I don’t usually enjoy books about sports, but this one was really great. It touched me how Alzheimer’s Disease affects not just people’s everyday lives, but how it affects the person themselves. I don’t know how you keep living when the truth is revealed to you and you are so confused.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben D.

Book Review: The Serpent King

Book Review: The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Dillard Early is the son of a snake handling preacher that is in prison for child pornography. He and his two best friends, Travis and Lydia, struggle to survive in small town Tennessee, where they clearly don't belong.

This is not your typical young adult book. The story defies the genre by containing minimal (although some) naval gazing and overt attempts at being angsty and hip. The story is real and the subject matter interesting. Who doesn't want to hear about snake handlers in the deep south? The twist in the middle was surprising, but I was a bit disappointed by how it occurred. Overall, darn good for young adult fiction. I listened to it on audio and it was fantastically well done.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" is about a student named Simon who is 17 and is closeted. He emails his unknown friend that goes by the fake name Blue frequently and also goes the fake name Jacques. Everything is fine, until Martin sees Simon's email one day in the library. Martin uses the emails as a way to blackmail him. Simon is forced to do everything Martin asks in order to keep his sexual orientation a secret from the outside world. Martin does terrible things to get what he wants which is a chance with Simon's friend Abby. While this is happening Simon becomes closer with Blue and eventually develops a crush on the unknown boy who goes to the same school. Many things happen between Martin and Simon but everything ends when Martin takes things too far. As a result of Martin's extreme act, he is forced to come out to everyone. Simon becomes even closer with Blue and things escalate to them knowing each other's identity. Blue and Simon end up dating in real life and everything ends happily despite the many issues Simon had to face with coming out and Martin.

I read this book because I had heard good things about the movie Love, Simon and wanted to read the book it was based off of. "Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda" was an amazing book. I loved the LGBT+ representation. Simon's feelings were very real and relatable. I finished the book in a day because I enjoyed it that much. I would definitely recommend to anyone and I would definitely classify it as one of the top three books I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Illegal

Illegal
Author: 
Colfer, Eoin
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ebo is a boy from Ghana with a tough life. First his parents have died and he has to live with his alcoholic uncle. Then his sister left Africa for the nearly impossible journey to Europe, seeking a better life. Then Ebo’s brother does the same thing. Ebo refuses to be left behind, so he too embarks on the dangerous journey. He travels across his country, then through a desert, and then across something even more dangerous the ocean. Can Ebo find his brother and overcome the dangers of his journey?

With tons of adventures in this past and present story, readers will find out what it was like for refugees to try and get to Europe. Millions of people attempt the journey, but only some survive. People died of many things--sickness, dehydration, old age, drowning, and even getting killed by others are just some of problems they face.

This is a stand alone graphic novel with a great story and wonderful illustrations. It really showed me how hard it was to live in Ghana and how difficult it was to make the journey to Europe. Besides all the ways a person might die, they also could be sent back for not having the proper immigration paperwork.

This is one of my favorite books that I have read in the last few months. Even if you aren’t normally a fan of graphic novels, I would recommend reading it to gain insight about the migrant crisis around the world.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben C.

Book Review: Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda
Author: 
Albertalli, Becky
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Have you ever felt out of place? Felt that you were hiding who you really were, or a big part of you? Incorporated with themes of self acceptance as well as humor, Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda is for you. This book tells the story of Simon, a junior growing up in a small, conservative town. He is gay, and has not shared it with anyone and is not ready to yet. Keeping up a relationship via email with a boy with the pen name Blue, he accidentally leaves his email logged on in the school they both go to. When a boy named Martin finds this email, he blackmails him. Help Martin win over his crush (one of Simon's closest friends), or get revealed on one of the most personal things a human can have, their identity and sexuality. Keeping up this correspondence with his crush, turning more flirtatious daily, while hiding from a close group of friends, is sure to cause all kinds of trouble.

I love this book, because it is full of heavy topics, along with humor and adorable romance. This is recommended to anyone learning about such controversial themes, and to a lower reading level audience, because it is a very easy read. However, the more mature the better, because many cuss words and descriptions of romance are used in this book along with imagery on underage drinking and more. If you have ever felt like you don't fit the description of the normal human being, check out simon vs the homo sapiens agenda today.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anna C.

Book Review: Zebra Forest

Zebra Forest
Author: 
Gewirtz, Adina Rishe
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The book Zebra Forest, by Adrina Gewirtz, tells a story of four lives that are held captive by their father and... the book is essentially just that. The plot is incredibly dull and basic, the characters have no real life to them, the book just seems ramble on and on, and here, everything that can be wrong with a book is present. The title doesn't even have any real importance in the book! I get how maybe a few people might like this book, but from a writing perspective, this book lacks in everything. The book tries so hard to address a somewhat difficult-to-cover topic but forgets that it's meant for older audiences and fails at both. Overall, I would only recommend this book only to the most desperate of readers, or a younger kid.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L.

Book Review: Ms. Bixby's Last Day

Ms. Bixby's Last Day
Author: 
Anderson, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Ms. Bixby is a special teacher. She makes a difference in the lives of her students including Topher, Steve, and Brand. As each boy narrates the story, we realize what she means to each of them and we understand the lengths they go to to tell her this.

Reviewer's Name: 
Carol

Book Review: Wish Girl

Wish Girl
Author: 
Loftin, Nikki
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Peter Stone needs a reason to live. Annie Blythe doesn't want to die.
When Peter's parents find the notes he hid, they move the family to Texas Hill County. But he still can't escape their swelling noise... until he sneaks off and discovers a seemingly magic valley, bursting with simply beautiful wildlife and nature. He meets the mysterious girl, Annie. She's a budding artist with terminal cancer, and in less than tow weeks, she's undergoing an extremely dangerous treatment to stop it before it spreads. Her eccentric and dreamy 'live-art' creates a haven for both of them, an escape from chaotic lives.
This book was pretty good, because I felt like the style of writing was meant for a slightly younger audience, which is interesting, because the topics it handled were mature and tough. -Jordan, Grade 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Serpent King

The Serpent King
Author: 
Zentner, Jeff
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

'The Serpent King' gripped me in its coils and kept me turning its pages late into the night. A triumph of love and dignity," (New York Times Bestselling author, Stephanie Perkins). In the depths of a small Tennessee town, Dill Early struggles with a reputation that isn't even his. With an insane, jailed minister for a father and a brainwashed, beat-down mother, Dill does not expect to escape from the recesses of poverty and shame. "The Serpent King" tracks the senior year of outcasts Dill and his best friends Travis and Lydia. Throughout this exhilarating novel you experience joy, heartbreak, hope, and thankfulness for your own situation.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie K.

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