Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Fiction

Daughter of the Pirate King
Levenseller, Tricia
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Alosa is the daughter of the infamous Pirate King. She's also half-siren, a secret she wants desperately to be kept hidden. After staging her kidnap by a rivalry pirate crew, Alosa is tasked with finding a map that will lead her father to a legendary island full of treasures untold. It should be easy: she's one of the best pirates on the sea, and being half-siren has its perks. But cleverly and annoyingly attractive first mate Riden makes her task much more difficult, and for the first time in her life, she has something to fight for...or rather someone.

My favorite part of the entire book was Alosa herself. She's smart, witty, and defies the odds given that she's a female pirate (and the only woman on the ship for most of the novel). Her budding relationship with Riden is amusing, and it's the typical enemies to lovers trope. The novel was full of some nice surprises, and I'm anticipating what's going to happen in the sequel!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Things They Carried
O'Brien, Tim
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brian is a pretty good book about the Vietnam war. The book jumps around a lot with the characters in the war, after the war, and before the war. While it could be a little confusing at times, it was still an entertaining book. If you like reading books about Vietnam, but that also go in depth on the character, this would be a great book to read. Overall, I'd recommend this book!

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Red Queen
Aveyard, Victoria
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Red Queen" is set in a world where people are divided based on their blood color, with "reds" being on the lowest part of the social hierarchy and being kept in line and ruled by the "silvers". The silvers have powers, but the reds are normal and have no powers. The book follows Mare Barrow, a red, who gets a servant job at the summer royal castle. While working it is found out that she has powers. The precautions are taken by silvers to prevent unrest in the community, take Mare on a journey, forcing her to leave her world behind for another.
"Red Queen" is beautifully written, from the world-building, to the characters, you get to see all the parts of the arguments and the world. The renowned twist that brought me to this book was amazingly crafted and so hard to see when you get immersed in the story. When the twist happened it surprised me and made me rethink so much that had happened in the book. This book shows moral problems so well, you understand why the books problem is so hard to solve. There are many action scenes/ intricate fighting scenes that you may tune out but it is still a great read because of the writing style. You learn to care for Mare and all her friends as they try to make changes. Your heart will go out to Mare and her mission, so beware, but it is so worth it. This book is so in-depth and makes you care so much about what happens. It would be an amazing addition to any fantasy lovers library and a great read.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan
Anne of Green Gables
Montgomery, L.M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Anne of Green Gables is a popular classic novel about a quirky redheaded orphan named Anne. When Anne is adopted by the Cuthberts at their farm up in Green Gables, we follow Anne as she struggles to adapt to her new life.
Unlike most older classic novels, Anne of Green Gables was a very easy and fast read. I really enjoyed this book, and the story drags you into a youthful and whimsical world. The problems Anne faced, such as her first day at school, or the issues that her overactive imagination would lead her into, were all very fun and lighthearted to read about. This novel filled me with emotions of nostalgia, and the read was a very peaceful and enjoyable one.
Overall, this novel tackles the topics of growing up, being young, and fitting in, all in a very charming way.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Jackson, Holly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A Good Girl's Guide to Murder is a YA mystery novel following high schooler Pippa Fitz-Amobi. What first started as a school project, Pippa begins to dig into the murder of high schooler Andie Bell, a case that occurred five years ago, in her small town. The case is apparently closed. Everyone, including the police and jury, ruled Sal Singh, Andie's boyfriend at the time, to have murdered the young girl. Of course, with Sal Singh also pronounced deceased by suicide, there was no way for him to plead guilty or otherwise.
When Pippa begins to research this closed case, she's not so sure that Sal Singh is the killer. So, enlisting Sal's younger brother Ravi Singh, the two investigate this murder mystery together, determined to bring Sal to justice. However, their small town, desperately holding onto their long-shared belief that Sal Singh is a murderer, may not be so easy to convince. But if Sal isn't the killer, who is?
This book was really well written. Written through interviews, articles, and reports, the story truly feels like your solving the murder just as much as Pippa and Ravi are. I loved how intricately the plot was crafted, and whenever new details the public didn't know about the case popped up, I was just as excited and shocked as Pippa and Ravi were. Throughout the book, many questions arose as I read along. Who is the real killer? Could Andie be alive? Did Sal actually do it?
I loved the plot twists and suspense the story put me through, and the fact that the true killer could be someone amongst their town, or someone close to Ravi or Pippa, made the plot all the more exciting. Additionally, I enjoyed the dynamic between Ravi and Pippa. While Ravi is easygoing and calm, Pippa is technical and daring. I enjoyed the balance between the two, especially some of the banter that we got to see between them.
The story also brought up some other important topics such as racial discrimination, unhealthy family relationships, drug use, and sexual assault, which I found was explained in an insightful and realistic way.
Overall, I enjoyed this book, and I was surprised by how thoughtfully it was written.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Night Circus
Morgenstern, Erin
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is about two young magicians who have been trained since childhood to engage in a duel against each other. However, the two said magicians, Celia and Marco, although being raised to fight each other, both fall into an unexpected love.
I have to admit, the plot sounds pretty promising. However, when I read this novel I found that it was incredibly difficult for me to actually push through and finish it.
The writing is beautiful, but I think it was too beautiful in a way. Everything was written in a very flowery way, in which the whole story was made up of very gorgeous-sounding lines, but nothing really past that. To put it straight, there was no substance in the plot. The majority of the novel was just long pretty sentences describing what was happening, but not exactly drawing us into what the sentences were trying to describe. It was like the author was telling us about everything and how everything looked to the eye, but I felt no spark. It was all descriptions and no action. I didn't feel or read any emotional lines or even felt much of a fondness towards the two protagonists. Celia and Marco kind of just seemed like two mannequins placed in the story for show, but there wasn't really anything that built up their characters to make them seem real or three-dimensional. The characters were all flat, and I couldn't see myself rooting for them, or really caring about anything they did.
Overall, while Morgenstern has a beautifully poetic way with words, I didn't see myself being pulled into the plot she was attempting to conceive.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

One of Us Is Lying follows four high schoolers who all fit into different social circles. Bronwyn is the staple "nerd," she's smart, ambitious, and a model student. Addy is the queen bee. She's pretty, popular, and the typical girl that everyone likes. Nate is the rule-breaker. Dealing with illegal substances, and being on probation for drug dealing, he fits the mold of a "bad boy." And then there's Cooper. The golden boy, a star baseball player, and high up on the social rungs, he's adored by many.
The interesting factor about this though, is that all four of these students are being suspected for the murder of a fellow student named Simon. Simon is an outcast, the creator of a popular, yet infamous gossip app that airs out the dirty secrets of fellow Bayview High students.
So when all five of these students are called into detention one day, what happens when Simon is the only one who doesn't leave the room alive? Which one of these four students is a murderer?
A very interesting plot, McManus builds up a fair deal of suspense, giving us POV chapters from each of the four suspects, allowing us to take a look into their lives and sympathize with them. I enjoyed that the author forced us to relate to the suspects, making it all the more difficult to pick out who the killer would be. However, although the plot twists were interesting, there was something generally lukewarm about this novel. Maybe it was because each of the four characters are all walking stereotypes, or because some things seemed a little too cliche, the novel, although having its good moments, fell flat at points as well.
Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good YA novel or a teen fiction story, but the stereotyping and cliches that were indulged by this novel, such as a "bad boy and good girl" relationship, or how Cooper, the typical golden boy, even has a Southern accent to enunciate his supposedly Southern boyish charm (??) made the story feel like it was at times targeted for a much younger audience than advertised to.
Overall, One of Us Is Lying isn't a terrible book, but also isn't super amazing.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe
Saenz, Benjamin Alire
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

”Why do we smile? Why do we laugh? Why do we feel alone? Why are we sad and confused? Why do we read poetry? Why do we cry when we see a painting? Why is there a riot in the heart when we love? Why do we feel shame? What is that thing in the pit of your stomach called desire?”
A quote from Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe, Saenz has truly mastered the art of poetic prose. This novel is filled with countless more beautiful lines, and I have to say that this story exceeded my expectations.
Aristotle (Ari) is a Mexican-American boy who lives with his PTSD racked Father and loving Mother. Dante is the opposite of Ari. Instead of being a "traditionally" boyish boy, Dante enjoys art and poetry. Dante is emotional and sensitive, while Ari tends to deflect the same feelings.
I really enjoyed this book for countless reasons.
For one, the POC main characters and LGBT romance. I consider diversity to be an important factor in novels, and the author of this story did a good job of illustrating these topics.
Secondly, I liked the pacing of this story. It was pretty relaxed and slow. Reading this story felt mellow and personal, like we were just watching Ari and Dante discover themselves and each other, all in the slow hum of everyday life.
Last, the realism of this novel was something I appreciated. We saw Ari and Dante act like the teenagers they are, and tackle common everyday problems most teenagers face. I liked how nothing was overly dramatized, and while that may seem "boring," I thought this calm, slow, and realistic take on a typical Coming of Age novel was very enjoyable.
Overall, although Aristotle and Dante don't follow much of a plot, I enjoyed watching the novel unfold at its own pace.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Last Cuentista book jacket
Higuera, Donna Barba
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Petra Peña wants to be a cuentista, a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is about to change forever. Earth is gone-destroyed by an asteroid. Petra and several hundred humans are voyaging hundreds of years into the future in the hope of saving humanity on a different planet. Before arriving on the new planet Petra and the others will remain in a sleep stasis, downloading information that will help them start over a new planet.

When Petra wakes up, hundreds of years later, she soon discovers the original plan has drastically changed. There is a new group in charge of their spacecraft with a different agenda for those left on board. What does the future hold for Petra and the others? Will she be reunited with her family, and preserve the art of storytelling for future generations?

This is an enjoyable book for ages 12+ who are interested in sci-fi but who might be intimidated to pick up a traditional title from the genre. It’s layered with a beautiful message of family, perseverance, and the lifesaving power of storytelling.

Reviewer's Name: Sarah H.
A Deadly Education
Novik, Naomi
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Deadly Education follows a young sorceress, Galadriel, struggling to survive inside the Scholomance, a school floating outside our reality in a dark void. The school is home to thousands of mals that want nothing more than to tear apart the school's young, squishy magicians, and after the fabled graduation that usually kills about half of the already picked-off graduating class, barely a quarter of students make it. Galadriel, known as El, has to dodge these murderous mals, classmates turned dark, treacherous beasts in the vents, punishing curriculum, her own inclination towards dark magic, and a suspiciously helpful and heroic classmate if she hopes to graduate junior year.
Like all Harry Potter obsessed children, I've read my fair share of the magic school knockoffs that popped up to rake in our sweet, sweet income after the former's stunning success. I've read about fun schools, dark schools, elf schools, schools with just a little magic, schools with way too much magic, complicated schools, normal schools with some sparkle, and everything in between. While these have all varied in quality, none have come close to replicating the same unique nature of the Harry Potter franchise, likely in large part to their resemblance, as readers see "magic school" and can only think of it as a less impressive Hogwarts. This book stands out heavily from the rest, and is one of the first one of these I've read and genuinely thought "Hey, maybe this isn't a blatant attempt to capitalize on my generation's Harry Potter obsession." Instead of capitalizing on the fun shenanigans and beautiful imagery of magic as the Harry Potter books, and most subsequent knockoffs, this book is immediately sobering. Instead of trying to transport the reader to a world of magic beings and sparkling wands, the book opens with a near death experience of the main character, then proceeds to hammer in the normality of the situation. It introduces a strict barter system, the mundaneness of horrible deaths, the need for constant vigilance, and the constant threat of a horrible demise looming over every characters head in El's matter-of-fact, blunt voice. There's no funerals or scandals when someone dies, only remembering where there body is to watch out for the mals that will devour it. Every minute of these teenagers' lives is calculating the odds and risks to get them out alive, fully knowing that most of those with them won't make it out. And its a really, really fun read.
The way the authors shows the creative and all-encompassing ways these characters keep themselves safe from monsters that are literally everywhere makes every moment and character decision fascinating. Just getting a meal involves putting wards on tables, finding sun lamps to sit under, making sure your food isn't poisoned, avoiding the mals hiding in or around the food, and getting a spot far enough from the doors to make sure you aren't first in line if something large and hungry charges in. The amount of thought and detail and danger the author weaves into her world is truly astounding, and gives it that special flavor that finally isn't "Harry Potter but a little to the left." The tone and voice of the book is completely distinct from anything I've ever read. Lots of books try to sell that "we're constantly in danger" bit, but it rarely works since the main cast has plot armor and all the side characters that die get appropriate sadness and deep reflections on the fragility of life from the main characters. When someone dies in this book, they're dead, and that's it, and the characters have to move on or their distraction will get them dead too. It's like a war story set inside a high school, with children talking about rationing empathy and leaving their friends corpses on tables like its just a part of life. And its sad, sure, but the bluntness of it all makes it such a no-nonsense, tight narrative that you can't really grudge it that.
It helps that the narrator, El, is a very logical person, who views deaths as inconvenient but inevitable while still seeming to be a generally kind person. El herself is also very well fleshed out, clearly given her own distinct motivations and temperament. She's hardworking and resourceful, while also being bitingly sarcastic. She has flaws and problems, but watching her work through these throughout the story is immensely satisfying. Her friends and foils get the same treatment. While they're definitely not as well explored as El, they're all characters in their own right, who are also fun to watch survive. And we're all aware of the fact that it would be very easy and in character with the world for them to die, making the stakes gripping and giving the book a quality that makes it almost impossible to put down. There's also this really great main side character who acts like the classic YA protagonist with a ton of idealism and heroism and genuine kindness, and El just thinks he's a huge idiot for some really good reasons that are kind of a reflection on the usual idea of the "hero" as a whole, and their dynamic is super fun!
I read this book maybe six months ago, and I'm rereading it now, and I'm thinking of buying it because it is just that good! It has a distinct tone and a unique world that is explained by a main character we like and fleshed out by a school we can't help but want to know more about. The only real critique I have of this book is the fact that its a bit heavy on exposition, especially in the beginning, but the world is so strange and intense that I was fine learning about it, no matter how long it dragged on. All in all, this book is amazing, and I would recommend it to anyone who wants salty and cool heroines, side characters with protagonist flavor, an extremely vivid and dangerous world, some good emotional wringing, and a conclusion that promises so much more!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Genres:
The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Powers of a Squirrel book jacket
North, Ryan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I was first made aware of this somewhat obscure Marvel superhero because I am a regular reader of Ryan North's Dinosaur Comics webcomic series. While I sat on the knowledge of Squirrel Girl's existence for some time, I finally broke down and bought the two-volume collection of North's imagining of the hero. In this first volume, Powers of a Squirrel, we get to know Doreen Green (aka Squirrel Girl), a computer scientist student studying at Empire State University.

As a much more comedic superhero compared to the likes of Iron Man or Captain America, Squirrel Girl's claim to fame is the fact that she is "Unbeatable." This includes defeating some of Marvel's most fearsome and powerful villains in unique ways that don't involve violence. Sure, sometimes Squirrel Girl has to get her paws dirty, but the more amusing storylines are the ones where she saves the day using unconventional squirrel-based techniques. That being said, it's a funny gimmick the first few times, then it gets repetitive near the end of this volume.

The art for this comic was decent, but the writing was certainly worth the price of admission. Even the little author notes at the bottom of the page were fun to read, despite being in a minuscule font that my 35-year-old eyes had trouble reading. There's a lot of suspension of disbelief in this collection of the first eight issues of Unbeatable Squirrel Girl, but honestly, what superhero comic book doesn't have some amount of this? And while Squirrel Girl is a bit more quirky than other superheroes, I do hope that she'll get her own MCU movie in the future.

A quirky and fun Marvel super hero, I give The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl: Powers of a Squirrel 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Stars Above book jacket
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Something I feel is underappreciated in book series is when authors don't try to cram in as much material and side stories as possible to pad each of the books to be longer than they should be. Keeping the core books of a series concise helps drive the main plot forward without requiring larger and larger volumes to tie up all the loose ends introduced along the way. The Lunar Chronicles excels in this. Look no further than the "prequel," Fairest, and the collection of short stories and epilogue that is Stars Above for proof of this restraint.

I can appreciate that worldbuilding will often create so much content that it doesn't always make sense to include it in the actual storytelling. Still, some origin stories might seem interesting, only to find out that most of these moments of exposition happened along the way as the character's motives are revealed to the reader. Ergo, some stories don't need to be told. Stars Above has some stories like this, but it also contains a few worth reading, the best of which is the pseudo-epilogue to the Lunar Chronicles.

With so many different fairy tales to pull from into the Lunar Chronicles, I'm glad that Marissa Meyer had some restraint in recognizing when some of them wouldn't work with the main narrative of Cinder's rise to claim her rightful throne. The "Little Mermaid" story in this collection works on its own, but I would find myself hard-pressed to see how it would add anything to the overarching plot of the Lunar Chronicles without reworking the whole thing. Even so, it's a good story that any fan of this series will likely enjoy.

Some necessary (and not so necessary) short stories that round out the Lunar Chronicles, I give Stars Above 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Winter book jacket
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If there's one thing I appreciate with a series, it's when all the loose ends are tied up by the end. In the fourth and final installment in the Lunar Chronicles series, Marissa Meyer manages to wrap up all the disparate parts of the story that had been running in parallel for three books. Not only does this series have a satisfying ending, but there's even enough time to flesh out the titular character, Winter, so that her presence makes sense in the context of the whole series. Still, even if the backstory for Levanna in Fairest isn't directly needed to understand more of Winter's character in this book, it certainly helped that I had already read it going into this final chapter of the series.

While my standard qualms with the "teenage girl" style of characterizations remain for this book (as it has for the entire series), the dialogue feels very natural (as it has for the entire series). Ultimately, though, it feels like the ending takes forever to arrive, especially since the audience has already known for some time that Cinder is the true heir—a fact that only became apparent to her in the last few books. Plus, there's the almost constant sexual tension that runs through these books as well. I've never wanted to scream at fictional characters, "Kiss already!" so much in my life.

I will say that the sci-fi fairy tale reimagining Meyer does in the Lunar Chronicles is unique in its interpretation while also remaining relatively close to the source material's references. And while there were moments where the characters might have been annoying, all of their motivations were clear and drove them to make decisions that felt logical based on their background. Overall, I think this has become one of my favorite series lately, and I'm now looking forward to reading more of what Marissa Meyer has to offer.

A satisfying ending to the best series of sci-fi fairy tale reimaginings, I give Winter 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Gearbreakers
Mikuta, Zoe Hana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Gearbreakers is a story with two subjects. First, there's Eris, a revolutionary with a burning hatred for Godolia, the all powerful government that killed her parents and regulates her home with the giant mechas known as Windups. She has dedicated her life to destroying these Windups, and any who dare pilot them. Second, there's Sona, a Windup pilot that is scheming to destroy Godolia from the inside. When the two of them meet after one of Eris' destructive escapades goes sideways, their clashing backgrounds and mirrored desires forges an unlikely friendship, one that will change both of their lives as they know it.
This book is unusual for its genre from the get go. It's clearly a YA dystopia, with its young, child soldier protagonists with appropriately angsty personalities set against a terrifying yet monolithic totalitarian government. I've read plenty of these in my time, like most of my generation, and I'm very familiar with the elements. In this book, the usual elements are subverted immediately. Instead of starting out with a bland everyman that, despite having a hard life, isn't usually directly opposed to the system they're in, this book cuts to the chase. The first voice of the story, Sona, is introduced already chock-full of rage. The entire first chapter begins in medias res, completely skipping the usual revelations and training montages and directing us straight to a character who has just been transformed and is very ticked about this. This is something the book does very well: it trusts its audience to grasp the situation at hand, without needing the exposition many books like this are heavy in, often using heavy and lyrical prose to do so. This is another thing: the prose. The book is unexpectedly poetic in many places, which is also generally strange for the genre. I'm not talking about clunky metaphors about birds and technology, although there is a lot of stuff about technology. Just the writing itself is beautiful, interweaving metaphors and similes and personification and all that fun stuff seamlessly with the literal. This also makes the novel seem older than its setting and genre, more like an old folk tale about ancient gods and classic heroes than a YA dystopia about robots and lasers. Another bright spot in the novel is its vibrant tone, especially with the characters. Every character is brimming with emotion and character and motivations. And they're all unspeakably angry. This author is younger than most, and this definitely shows in the portrayal of the younger characters in the novel. In many books written by older authors, the teenage characters often exhibit the cynicism and stoicism of that older generation in the face of social injustice. While this leads to cool-headed, logical heroes to aspire to, none of them have the same instant relatability with the younger generation as these angry characters do. Most teenagers, in the face of unfairness, get unreasonably angry. Its a fact of life, and having unabashedly angry female teen characters who scream and yell and blow stuff up in the face of their terrible circumstances instead of passing out or something is surprisingly refreshing. The two main characters, and their deep seated anger in the face of trauma and injustice, as well as their different ways of reacting to their similar demons, makes for some great chemistry and explorations of their characters. I will admit, most other characters didn't get similar levels of development, but they were each memorable and likable in unique and fun ways.
All in all, I would simply describe this book as fun and refreshing. The action and characters and writing is all fun, and the way the author subverts typical expectations in unique and interesting ways is refreshing! I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for lots of robots, good emotional conflicts, lots of sadness, lots of laughs, and some cathartically angry female characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Falcon Quinn and the Black Mirror
Boylan, Jennifer Finney
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Falcon Quinn and his friends Megan Crofton and Max Parsons get on a bus that they think is taking them to their normal mundane school...
Well are they in for a surprise... They do go to a school, but not just any school. They go to The Academy for Monsters, where they are supposed to learn how to suppress their monster sides. Falcon however doesn't even know what his monster nature is.. and he certainly doesn't want to suppress it. Then on the day when they have to find out their monster natures... Falcon discovers that although he is half monster, he is also half Guardian or Monster killer. While Falcons old and new friends discover their roles; Max is a Sasquatch, Megan is a wind elemental, and his new friends Pearl, Destynee, Lincoln, Sparkbolt, and Weems are a Chuprakabra, a Giant Slug, a Werebear, a Frankenstein, and a Ghoul respectively, Falcon has to worry about getting killed for what he is. Read the book to discover which side Falcon will take, whether he will ever truly find himself, and whether his friends will still stick with him once they find out the truth...... A Review by Valkyrie a 9th grader.

Reviewer's Name: Valkyrie
Genres:
So Cute It Hurts!! Vol. 3
Ikeyamada, Go
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Two fraternal twins named Megumu and Mitsuru Kobayashi decide to swap places for a week (Mitsuru is bad at studies and Megumu is good at them). Megumu otherwise known as Mego is a shy sweet girl who loves the feudal ages. Mitsuru meanwhile is a tough boy who goes to an all boy school full of delinquents. Mego gets saved by and accidentally kisses the top delinquent of Mitsuru's school; Aoi Sanada. When she next meets him in the guise of her brother, he luckily does not recognize her, and she finds out that he has a severe phobia of girls... which does not currently apply to her as she is dressed like a boy and he does not know she is female. Mego is somewhat saddened by this because she has a crush on him, but decides she is happy with just being around him. Aoi meanwhile starts to develop feelings for Mego, and is very confused by this, because Mego is currently his best friend... so he thinks he has homosexual feelings for his best friend. Mitsuru meanwhile has encountered Aoi's half sister Shino Takenaka and has fallen in love with her but she doesnt know he is male or that he has any feelings for her beyond best friends. The School bully Azusa Tokugawa meanwhile has found out that he is a boy and is in love with him, but he thinks she hates him. Aoi also finds out that Mego is a girl and she switches back with her brother thinking that he hates her. Aoi however really does love her and goes looking for her. Altogether a very good if confusing read.

Reviewer's Name: Valkyrie
Hero at the Fall
Hamilton, Alwyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In this final book to the Rebel of the Sands trilogy, seventeen-year-old Amani is the leader of a rebellion to overthrow the Sultan. With all her friends captured and imprisoned, she's forced to step into the role of the temporary leader of the Rebellion and find a way to rescue her friends and put an end to the Sultan's tyranny. Tired, scared, and doubtful, Amani tries to keep together what's left of the rebellion without dying, when it seems like death is all that is around her.

This book was amazing! It kept me on the edge of my seat with every chapter. Reading it was a turbulent rollercoaster of laughter, crying, hope, dread, and everything emotion in between. The writing of the book itself was beautiful, and I loved that it was a combination of magic, action, romance, and was full of diverse characters. I wish there was more to the series to read!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Harrow the Ninth
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harrow the Ninth is the second book in the Locked Tomb series, and it follows a necromancer, Harrow, as she learns to become a Lyctor to God himself, the emperor of the First House. But as the teaching progresses, the century-old secrets of God and his immortal Lyctors, the intangible death monsters hell-bent on destroying them, and Harrow's own crippled psyche threaten to crush her under their weight.
The first book in this series, Gideon the Ninth, is undoubtedly both bizarre and amazing from the very first page, all the way until the last. I read this book because I adored the first one, and I have to say it is even more bizarre and amazing, but there's an emphasis on the 'bizarre' part in the beginning and an abundance of 'amazing' in the end.
For the first thing, a good chunk of this book is told in second person. For another, the beginning is very confusing, mimicking the main characters confused state. For a third, much of the book seems to contradict the first book, or itself, giving a whole new meaning to the 'unreliable narrator'. Now, at the end, this all comes together and makes perfect sense and blows your head off in a fit of epiphany. And, having read the entire book cover to cover, I applaud the author for the bold choices and tantalizing ending. But for the beginning, it may be a bit more a struggle to push through, and the brilliance of the first book is really needed to help accomplish this.
So, the book is pretty confusing, but for the most part its understandable, and it maintains the first books commitment to levity. This book is pretty funny, even though it can be heart wrenching or gory in some bits. The main character, Harrow, is both very sad and very cool, like a skinny Batman, which I really like! She's also well developed, with understandable actions and motives. The supporting cast is fleshed out well, and highly entertaining, and very sad. All of this is very good. The plot, while confusing at first, is concluded nicely, and is well paced. The worldbuilding of this book does this thing I really like, where it never really sits down and fully explains anything, but still leaves you getting the gist of everything by passing remarks and impressions and vague implications. It did this better in the first book, but since the second book had a lot more complicated necromancy stuff to explain, I'll let it slide.
All in all, this was an extremely good book, which took risks with its material and just expected all of us to push through the bizarre for the amusing and sad characters and an unknown payoff, which we all did, and which was totally worth it! Highly recommend, but read the first book first, and if you've read the first book and you're looking for a reason to keep reading, definitely do so!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Decameron  book jacket
Boccaccio, Giovanni
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In plague struck Italy around the 1350s, 3 young adult boys and 7 teenage girls as well as their servants hide out in various castles while telling each other stories to pass the time. Each of them has to tell one story per day. For each day there is a new theme decided by the"ruler" of that day. These themes include; Misadventures with happy endings,Tragic loves, Bawdy loves, Munificence, and Avoiding Misfortune with witty remarks.

Though this is a good and classic book it is not for everyone due to it having mature sexual themes, so if you do not like such things either dont read this book or stick to the days that arent about things like those... also watch out for Dioneo's stories because he can say a story on whatever he likes. Alltogether a good book if not for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: Valkyrie
The Things They Carried
O'Brien, Tim
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien horrifically recalls Tim’s time during war, in what he calls “A true war story that isn't real”. This book recreates the experiences O’Brien went through during wartime, and is written in a very grotesque manner. The story jumps around from timeline to timeline, in a way that a lot of the time you aren't sure what perspective you’re reading from. While written very well, O’Brien has a habit of making every character seem like a horrific person and puts himself on kind of a metaphorical pedestal, in what seems to be an attempt to reconcile with the guilt he faced from the atrocities committed by him and his platoon. I would definitely recommend this book to others, despite its faults, but I believe the most important thing to know going into this book is that the events described are so grotesque they seem like made up fantasies or true stories that have been modified to seem worse than they actually are, which is part of O’Briens intention of telling the story the way he remembers it happening, not the way that it actually happened.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala