Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Dystopian

Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Brave New World is a classic dystopian novel, written in the early 1930s by Aldous Huxley. Set in a society in which humans are manufactured and programmed depending on their assigned social class, it addresses individualism, conformity, and the dangers of complete government control. Citizens in this dystopia frequently take a drug to subdue their emotions, living in a state of ignorance and 'bliss' as they go through the motions unquestioningly. In order to keep the system of manufacturing people running smoothly, certain things are considered taboo--such as literature, religion, and family--while what we typically consider unorthodox is commonplace in this society.

The story follow several central characters who don't completely fit in or believe there could be more to life than what they experience every day. Huxley takes readers to a 'Savage Camp' where John, the protagonist (whose ideals are completely different from everyone else's), is introduced, and the other characters experience an extreme contrast to their advanced and ordered society. Readers experience John's intense internal conflict as he attempts to find his place in the new world into which he is thrust; they also learn more about the ideology of the dystopia, and what goes on behind its 'perfect' facade.

I enjoyed most aspects of Brave New World, and would recommend it to dystopian readers who appreciate a deeper meaning. However, there were some parts of this novel that I found disturbing, as what's considered taboo is the opposite of how we view things in our world. Sometimes I had trouble connecting with the story emotionally, and I would've liked more specifics about how the dystopia came to be. But looking past the negatives, the themes Huxley brings up are very important, and even pertinent to society today. His characters have depth, the underlying themes make readers think, and overall it is an interesting concept of a future world with complete dictatorship. Brave New World is a classic that I believe everyone should read.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Ready Player Two
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ernest Cline has written another masterpiece. While Ready Player One could have remained a stand-alone novel, Ernest Cline has given us a better look into his dystopian universe with this sequel. After James Halliday posthumously releases another quest, The High Five must once again unite to solve all of the riddles. However, this time the stakes are higher as the lives of the majority of OASIS users are on the line. With adventures that include John Hughes movies, Prince, The Lord of the Rings, and many more pop-culture references, Ready Player Two is a thrilling action-packed adventure. I highly recommend this novel for any middle school or high school aged reader, or any lover of pop-culture from the later part of the previous century.

Reviewer's Name: John
We All Looked Up
Wallach, Tommy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book We All Looked Up is from the point of view of what would happen if the world was ending very soon. There is no certainty that the world will end but they also can't be sure that it won't. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, the uncertainty that there is throughout the whole story. I thought the choices the characters made were realistic and that it was all very well thought out and written. I loved how the book made me think about what I would do if I only had a certain amount of time left to live and what I would want to be doing with this time.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell was published in 1945 16 years after Joseph Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union. The book chronicles the formation of the Soviet Union as well as major historical soviet events. The on twist, all Soviet leaders and classes of citizens are represented by farm animals! I love this book because the reader must infer who each animal represents. Once you have that figured out, there are many events in the book that can be tied to real-world events! I enjoyed this book a great deal and I would recommend it to anyone who has a desire to learn about Soviet history or enjoys books that make the reader piece together missing story elements.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Jonas lives in a society where everyone is treated equally and given the same opportunity. Except for the Committee of Elders and special people lie The Giver, no one has 'special privileges'. Jonas, like everyone in his society, has a sister and two parents who were specifically handpicked to be his 'perfect parents'. In Jonas' society, no one sees color or has memories of the 'time before' beside The Giver. Eventually, Jonas is picked as the next Giver and begins his training once he officially becomes a teenager. During his training, Jonas experiences pain and happiness for the first time, and he's granted the ability to see color. After The Giver dies and Jonas becomes the new Giver, he finds it difficult to cope with the burden of enduring all the pain and suffering from the past and decides to run away.

I liked this dystopian novel. Jonas' society seems perfect on the outside, but once I met The Giver, I realized that people like Jonas could live perfect lives at the detriment of people like the Giver and Birthmothers who are isolated from the rest of society and treated based on what they can provide instead of their actual character. At first, I didn't like Jonas because he didn't think for himself and he always followed the rules. By the end of the book, after he's received all The Giver's memories, he starts to stand up for what he believes in. He even tries to save his family but sees that they're too brainwashed by the Committee of Elders.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Starters
Price, Lissa
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I read this book for school Freshman year of high school. It’s about a girl named Callie who lives in the future where everybody from 20 years to sixty years old has died. Old people can take control of younger peoples' minds, so they can ‘be young’ again. To me, it just felt like a poorly executed variation of the Hunger Games. I wouldn’t really recommend this book as I thought it wasn’t very well-written and had a poorly thought out story-line.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
The Circle
Eggers, Dave
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Circle is an incredibly interesting book. The novel centers around Mae Holland, who sets off to work at The Circle after graduating from college. As she works through her career, Mae starts to question this highly acclaimed tech company and its Three Wise Men. Its main ideas discuss privacy, and specifically, how corporate run privacy standards lead into modern governmental systems. The ideas play into the fascinating world building around Mae Holland and her ideas of digital utopianism. The way she questions mob mentality behind the hive mind that can be global datafication is unique and provides for a great read. While the characters are somewhat lack luster, the novel makes up for it with its social construction and suspense. While there are some plot holes, the holistic concept is incredible. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the digital world or dystopian-like settings.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For years, I had heard of The Lunar Chronicles and thought people were referring to the two Sega Saturn video games, Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. However, seeing as most people haven’t heard of these video games, I eventually figured out that they referred to the Young Adult series of books. While 2012 was definitely around the height of the re-imagined fairy tale craze, I do have to admit that this science-fiction take on these classic stories is a fresh new way of adapting the plots that we all grew up with through Disney movies.

The first book in the series, Cinder, takes Cinderella's down-and-out heroine and updates her to a cyborg unaware of her royal origins. What made this story engaging was figuring out how the standard trappings of the Cinderella story would be adapted to this futuristic setting. Granted, this made some of the plot points more than obvious well before they happened, but I usually ended up smiling at the bits of homage that Cinder paid to its origins—such as a “pumpkin” of a car and the leaving behind of certain footwear.

While the plot was mostly predictable, I appreciated the awkward “teenager” dialogue of the titular protagonist but only to a point. I’ll admit that YA books have a kind of frenetic style that matches their main characters' emotional turbulence, and Cinder certainly reads like a teenage girl replete with the insecurities, slang, and missed steps that a full-grown adult wouldn’t necessarily have as character quirks. The problem is that having to follow such a snarky young individual for so long through the story makes it eventually grate on my nerves, especially when the path she needs to take in her life is so obvious. Then again, perhaps I’m just a crotchety old man who isn’t in-tune with the youth anymore.

A great sci-fi Cinderella retelling, I give Cinder 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Gathering Blue
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Gathering Blue is the second book of The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry. Although it has different characters and a different setting than the preceding book, Gathering Blue has just as much to love and cherish. Similar to The Giver, Gathering Blue has themes of secrecy, dystopia, and destiny. The protagonist, Kira, questions her authority's judgments and cares deeply for the safety of her friends. Lois Lowry delivers convincing worldbuilding, relaxing scenes, and sequences, and charming characters. The book itself can be slow at times but is balanced by moments of suspense and short escapades.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a chilling tale of animals' uprising against humans to form an idyllic society. Without the rule of humans, animals expect equality, prosperity, and utopia. Over the course of this fable, however, the characters slowly devolve into new forms of oppression, greed, and violence against one another. Each chapter is more suspenseful than the last. The book is not entirely scary, but unsettling more than anything else. Orwell writes characters who are worth caring about, and antagonists that are easy to dislike.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 is a dystopian novel about society if books were
banned. Firemen burn books and one of the firemen is Guy Montag. He's the
main character but eventually he goes against the government and reads books.
His wife Mildred reports the authorities about his possession of books and he
is forced to burn his house, escape the city, and create a new life. After
being on the run from the government, he goes down a river to an unknown area
where he finds other people who read books and he joins their group.
Honestly, I thought it was an amazing book. I love how it puts the importance
of books into perspective and I think everyone should read it. I highly
recommend Fahrenheit 451.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana
The City of Ember
DuPrau, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about Ember, a post-apocalyptic city that is built underground to save the human species. Lina Mayfleet, and her best friend, Doon Harrow try to follow a set of clues left behind by the creators of the City of Ember, known as the builders, to get to the real outside world, where nobody dares to go.

But now they must go outside as the 2 centuries of rations of food and water that lasted an extra 40 years, are now coming to an end. But after many generations of living in the enclosed, walled city, nobody knows how to get to the outside world.

Lina and Doon find a box that has the instructions of how to get out of Ember, but Lina’s baby sister, Poppy makes it hard on them. She makes sure that Lina and Doon solve a puzzle because the pieces of paper have been torn, ripped, and eaten by Poppy.

Another challenge the Lina and Doon face is terminology. Because the letter on how to get out is now some 240 years old, the terminology has changed, it has words that are familiar to us like ‘boat’ or ‘candle’, but not familiar with the people of Ember. Lina and Doon figure out what these words mean to solve the already torn up piece of paper.

This book definitely keeps you wondering about the past and the future, and with many intriguing parts, I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for City of Ember.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Brave New World, written by Aldous Huxley, is a personal interpretation of society’s attitude towards technology. It takes place in a future, either dystopian or utopian, where technology reigns supreme, and humans are created in a lab. It offers commentary on where humanity’s values are placed, and where they should be placed. The characters have to choose whether or not conformity is the best option, and whether numbing the pain is better than understanding the suffering. Written in the 1930s, Huxley has a surprisingly modern style and understanding, and knowing that he was unsure of the future makes it an even more exciting book.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Pretties
Westerfeld, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The plot and characters in this book were Amazing! I loved the twists and turns along the way. The story ran smoothly and everything moved at a great pace. If you are interested in a highly engaging, futuristic, adventurous book, this is highly recommended! You will find yourself deep in the pages and unable to put the book down.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Mockingjay
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mockingjay is about a girl named Katniss Everdeen who becomes a warrior in the war against the capitol. She must rebel against the capitol to stop the cruelty that the capitol finds entertaining and to ensure a better future of Panem. Katniss must go through training, injuries, and the lost of loved ones, all while taking down the capitol one attack at a time. I really loved this book. It exceeded my expectations one hundred percent. There are two other books in this series so make sure you read those before this one.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Book Cover
Katsoulis, Gregory Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Imagine never being able to tell someone how much you love them, or knowing the government is aware of everything you say. Every sentence is monitored. Words are no longer free to use. Companies copyright words and gestures, they fine anyone who uses them. Saying "Sorry" is ten dollars and every nod or scream is .99 cents ( per second). No word is free, people are imprisoned by debt and fear. Restlessness stirs and violence is everywhere. People sue left and right for small accidents. Upon turning 15 everything changes for an individual. Cuffs are placed, listening to every word that comes out of your mouth. Retaliating can lead to extreme and inhumane punishments. Speth Jime is a fourteen-year-old who is almost fifteen when she witnesses the suicide of her friend. She decides in honor of her friend to be silent, making the world stand still. "All Rights Reserved" is a very captivating and incredible novel. Every page is filled with various twists and turns. The book represents the importance of words and the power they possess. It also shows the influence we have on others, for better or for worst.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella J.
Awards:
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Maze Runner is the first book in James Dashner's dystopian trilogy. It follows Thomas, a teenager who finds himself trapped in a maze with a group of boys and no memory of his past. This book kept me on my toes, and I couldn't put it down. It was intense and mysterious with a gripping plot and a diverse group of characters. I would definitely recommend this book to teens who love action packed adventure and the ideas presented through futuristic worlds!

Reviewer's Name: Emma
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is a fairly good science fiction novel that deals with the themes of family, love and sacrifice. The novel takes place in the nation of Panem. A nation that consists of 12 districts and a capital which controls the nation. In the nation of Panem there is the annual event called the Hunger Games. It is an event in which each district sends a pair males and females aged 12-18 to participate in a to the death battle that is shown on tv. The story follows the protagonist Katniss Everdeen as she volunteers to participate in the Hunger Games after her sister is chosen. The novel illustrates her journey through the difficulties of the Hunger Games and how it affects her life forever. The Hunger Games is a good novel through which you will think critically about the issues and problems in the story and how they are prevalent in our world.

Reviewer's Name: Talal
Inhuman
Falls, Kat
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Lane is a 17 year old girl trying to safely live her life after a deadly virus attacks the east side of the U.S 19 years ago. She is at a party until she is taken away by the infection safety group. At first, Lane thinks she has Ferae, a deadly virus that turns humans into animals, slowly turning them feral over time. Lane learns that she is not infected with Ferae, but that the head of the infection safety group needs something fetched from Chicago...which is now part of the Feral Zone. To save her dad, she must give him a letter telling him what he needs to get from Chicago in five days or else he and Lane will both die. Lane realizes that she must do the fetch when she cannot find her dad. With help from new friends, Lane attempts the fetch, but can she do it before the time limit, or before something far worse happens to her?

This was a good book, and I could not put it down. The author made the chapters like tiny cliff hangers so it was hard to stop reading especially near the end of the book. The character development was really good and I got to see the different characters evolve throughout the book. I would recommend this book to middle schoolers because it does get intense and is mildly inappropriate at some times. There is another book after this and I can't wait to read it also. Over all a very good book.

Reviewer's Name: Emma M.
Awards:
Catching Fire
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Catching Fire is about a girl named Katniss who gets put into the battle royale of the seventy-fifth Hunger Games. This is the second time she has been put in the arena. This time, the tributes are victors. Katniss competes against different and better tributes, in a different arena, with a different motive. She must think quick on her feet and use new skills if she wants to keep herself and the person she loves alive.

I loved this book. It is the second book of the Hunger Games series so make sure you read the first book, The Hunger Games. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes books with suspense and adventure. This book had many plot twists and always left me in suspense. It exceeded my expectations one hundred percent.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie H.

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