Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Dystopian

The Giver book jacket
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I picked The Giver by Lois Lowry because it is on the Skyview Middle School Battle of the Books list. All books from this list have been amazing, and this particular one has a main character with the same name as my brother: Jonas. I enjoyed hearing about their way of life, the simplicity yet complexity of it. I also liked how everyone knew when to apologize, and everything about their life and job. Each job in the Community is given to a person who seems they would enjoy it. However, as the book goes on, you see the compassion of the community, or lack thereof. This book was very surprising to me at first. But it was easy to guess what was going to happen in Chapter 20 after the events of Chapter 19. I do find it a not very relatable book, but it does remind me of history. Seemingly perfect, wealthy, kind countries with dark, gaping holes underneath the pretty exterior. The ending of this book, I feel, is incomplete. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.

(Grade: 7)

Reviewer's Name: Ruby
1984 book jacket
Orwell, George
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

1984 is kind of a dystopian novel written in the 1940's about the 1980s. It's not the "Hunger Games" type of novel (which I also don't really like), where a bunch of teenagers overthrow the corrupt government. It's about a middle aged man living in a society where a Stalin-like figure rules. It is kind of a depressing book, and for the most part is kind of slow and uneventful. Overall, while this book makes some interesting points, I don't know if I would recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Emani
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Giver is an eloquent novel that contains a meaning that eludes to a greater concept. It contains several twists that are revealed at the end making the book an interesting and exciting read. At the beginning of the novel, you are shown a world of gray and conformity, yet as the story progresses, you are introduced into a world of color and prominence. The characters are what make the book the great piece it is, and the way they are written allows you to relate to each of the characters. Overall an excellent book that I would absolutely read again.

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

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel following a group of farm animals who want to topple their human farmer's regime, creating a society that is perfect for themselves. While Animal Farm starts off a bit ridiculous, using pigs and other farm animals as the main characters of the story, I think that Orwell using farm animals to explain the message of his story was actually very imaginative, and made the story much more intriguing and unique. Since Animal Farm's main theme is about revolution and the obstruction of democracy, I enjoyed analyzing the symbolism that was placed in the novel, seeing the hidden parallels between the farm animals and the historical events that were occurring during that time. I liked being able to link events from the story to real historical events, such as the communist movement, the Soviet Union, and World War 2. Personally, I think that Orwell's technique in linking his novel to these historical events by using only symbolism was very creative and was written in a very thoughtful and intelligent way. Seeing how some of the book events contrasted with historical events was very strange and interesting for me, and it made me wonder how Orwell could have even thought of linking the two subject matters by only using farm animals.
Overall, I would recommend this classic novel to anyone who is open to an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Awards:
Morning Star
Brown, Pierce
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After a year being tortured by Adrius Augustus, better known as The Jackal, Darrow has escaped capture and resumed his campaign against the tyrannical rule of the Sovereign of the Society. But Darrow isn't the man he was a year ago: he's been broken down, dehumanized, and kept in a dark cell for over a year, and now has more doubts than ever. The people he thought were his best friends betrayed him, and the last time he saw the woman he loves, she was walking away from him after learning the truth about his Carving. While Darrow knows that he is likely the last chance at destroying the Society and bringing peace, his own self-doubts and struggles could be the thing that gets him killed.

Compared to the first two books of the trilogy, this book's plot is slower and admittedly, harder to get through. I did appreciate how there is more of a focus on Darrrow's growth from a teenager to a man, and his overall growth in shifting from fighting for himself to fighting for others and a better world for everyone, not just the Reds. However, the book is lengthy and I felt there was an unnecessary amount of "fluff" and plot points that weren't relevant to the overarching plot of the novel. The ending was nice (if not bittersweet), and I'm content with where each of the characters ended.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The House of the Scorpion book jacket
Farmer, Nancy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The House of Scorpion is a book set in the future in a place called Opium with a boy named Mateo who is a clone of a huge drug lord who goes by "El Patron". This book has always been a favorite of mine since I read in 6th grade for the first time, it stuck out to me because the creativity, plot, setting, it is such a fun book to read and the book also has a sequel, so its great that the book continues. There wasn't really a time I disliked the book, it always had my attention, and I think that truly matters when reading a book. I choose this book not only because its a childhood fave but I feel like others might love to read this book as much as I did.

Reviewer's Name: Makaia
Thunderhead book jacket
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The sequel to the dystopian novel, Scythe, Thunderhead delves deeper into Citra and Rowan's stories. Citra, now newly ordained Scythe Anastasia, is an up-and-coming junior Scythe, and already has begun to stir the pot in the community. With her unique gleanings, and progressive thoughts and opinions, Citra becomes a highly respected and wise Scythe, a Scythe who even the Thunderhead recognizes of value. Rowan on the other hand, after escaping the Scythedom, becomes the feared Scythe Lucifer, a black-cloaked vigilante Scythe who gleans Scythes that are driven by corruption. An equally as fast-paced and page-turning novel as the first book in the trilogy, Thunderhead was a fantastic installment to the series. I especially loved how this novel dived deeper into the inter-workings of the Thunderhead, and it's thoughts and opinions. I found it to be very interesting to see how an inanimate being like the Thunderhead, could still have morals and a conscience. This book, just like the first book in the Scythe series, was just as beautifully written, and the plot twists continue to be well developed and unexpected. The cliffhanger was also very interesting, and it was enjoyable to see the Thunderhead and it's "character development" that led to said cliffhanger. Overall, this novel was just as good as the first book in the trilogy, and I could not recommend it more.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It's hard to express how beautifully written this book is. A novel that follows a dystopian plotline where the world has found a way to eliminate all diseases and achieve immortality, from start to finish, Shusterman keeps you hooked. We meet two teenagers, Rowan and Citra, both of whom are selected to become "Scythes," people whose jobs are to randomly kill, keeping the population under control. While the plot sounds intriguing, the way Shusterman tells the story makes it even more so. The extensively detailed world-building that was created in this story was beautiful and made the novel seem thought-provokingly realistic. I couldn't wrap my head around on how the author could think up of such creative details, such as the rules all Scythes must follow, and the premise of "splatting" and "gleaning." While the novel is supposed to be fantasy, it's written in a way that seems all too realistic. The way Shusterman writes makes all of his characters come to life, and the small details he injects into characters makes them seem shiveringly human. While reading, I completely could understand each and every character (even the minor ones) and their actions. Every single character in this novel is written in a completely realistic way-- fatal flaws and all.
The plot twists also completely awed me. Scythe is one of those novels that sprinkle in tiny minor hints that may seem insignificant at first, but come together to form a huge, whopping plot twist. I can honestly say that before actually reading the twists, I would have never guessed any of them. The plot also flowed very naturally, so much so that all the twists included all seemed to be important, and not just stuck in for shock factor. Lastly, I thoroughly enjoyed the journal entries written before/after each chapter, and when reading them, I was awed at the depth and meaning included in them. It's pretty rare for a book to make you think so hard, but this book was one that made me contemplate many, many things. I would recommend this book for anyone, and although it's listed as Teen Fiction or YA, I believe that due to the very meaningful way this story is written, anyone can read this novel, also including the next two books included in the trilogy.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Hunger Games book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hunger Games is a thrilling novel that kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time I read it. It is a dystopian fiction novel with lots of action aspects as well. I chose this book because I heard many great things about it, and I absolutely loved it!
In the setting of The Hunger Games, there are 12 Districts that the people live in. Many years before the story takes place, there were 13 Districts. However, there was a rebellion against the government, and the Districts lost and the 13th District perished. The government holds annual Hunger Games to remind the citizens what happened during the rebellion. The Hunger Games takes two kids from each District and force them to compete in a fight to the death match in an arena. Katniss Everdeen volunteers as a tribute when her little sister’s name is drawn during the Choosing Ceremony. During the Hunger Games, she makes friends and enemies, and learns some of the schemes behind the government.

This novel was so entertaining and I was hoping that it would never end. I think people who like action and dystopian novels would like this book, and if they don’t mind some violence.

Reviewer Grade: 8.

Reviewer's Name: Beatriz
Golden Son book jacket
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The second book in the Red Rising trilogy, Golden Son continues Darrow's quest to tear apart the Society from within. After having succeeded at the Institute, Darrow is now serving as a lancer in the House of Augustus. A Peerless Scarred of the Academy, his goal is to kill off the Bellona family before they kill him, and overthrow ArchGovernor Augustus of Mars. However, when a mishap throws his plan into jeopardy, Darrow finds himself leading a civil war among the Golds. While he's one step closer to overthrowing the tyrannical rule of the Golds, is at worth it at the cost of losing his friends, love, and loyalty?

Just like the first book, I couldn't set this one down once I started reading it! It's action packed and kept me on my toes the entire time, and the sci-fi elements were fantastical and literally out of this world. I like reading about Darrow's growth and how he's come to trust and see friendship in the Golds, and that while he's still fighting for the same purpose, he's opened his heart to the possibility of reforming the Golds rather than destroying them. Overall, the book is a great reference to power struggles and the inequity of class divisions. I loved all the allusions to Greek mythology, and the philosophical quotes and pieces. I can't wait to read book three and see Darrow's dream finally come true!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Selection by Kiera Cass is a teen-romance novel, following protagonist America Singer. America, along with 34 other girls is chosen to compete in The Selection. The Selection is a chance for these girls, coming from all sorts of social classes to seize a position in royalty. But for Prince Maxon, The Selection is a chance for him to find true love. We join America and the other girls as they journey to the royal palace to meet the Prince and compete for a chance to become future Queen of the kingdom of Ilea.
When I was reading The Selection, it reminded me a lot of the premise of The Bachelor. 35 girls all competing for the hand of a handsome prince? Sounds pretty much like the plot of a reality TV show to me!
And just like a reality TV show, I found myself completely hooked on this series. There was drama, romance, friendships, and even a hint of politics in this first book of the series. And even though some parts of the novel felt very cheesy and overdone, I couldn't help but want more. The Selection is the sort of book that you pick up for some lighthearted fun, just as you would binge a trashy reality TV show. While I definitely wouldn't recommend The Selection if you want something deeply moving, I'd make sure to give it a try if you're looking for something easy and fun to read to get you out of a reading slump.The Selection by Kiera Cass is a teen-romance novel, following protagonist America Singer. America, along with 34 other girls is chosen to compete in The Selection. The Selection is a chance for these girls, coming from all sorts of social classes to seize a position in royalty. But for Prince Maxon, The Selection is a chance for him to find true love. We join America and the other girls as they journey to the royal palace to meet the Prince and compete for a chance to become future Queen of the kingdom of Ilea.
When I was reading The Selection, it reminded me a lot of the premise of The Bachelor. 35 girls all competing for the hand of a handsome prince? Sounds pretty much like the plot of a reality TV show to me!
And just like a reality TV show, I found myself completely hooked on this series. There was drama, romance, friendships, and even a hint of politics in this first book of the series. And even though some parts of the novel felt very cheesy and overdone, I couldn't help but want more. The Selection is the sort of book that you pick up for some lighthearted fun, just as you would binge a trashy reality TV show. While I definitely wouldn't recommend The Selection if you want something deeply moving, I'd make sure to give it a try if you're looking for something easy and fun to read to get you out of a reading slump.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Hunger Games book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Catniss Everdeen is the young girl in District 12 who comes from poverty and hunting. When the Annual Hunger Games start their draft picks, Catniss volunteers as tribute to spare her sister. She has always had talent with a bow and arrow for hunting for food to provide dinner for her family. Catniss uses her skill to win the Hunger Games and eventually eliminate President Snow, the background of the merciless games. I loved the intelligence put into the book of the making of the games. Because of the fighting, there is some violence and gore, but it’s still family-friendly and can be read comfortably. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves quick thinking and thought-out mystery. Hunger Games is intriguing, well-planned, and is an all-time favorite for my family.

Reviewer's Name: Rachel L.
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I picked this because the plot seemed very captivating, and it turns out it was! I also picked this because it was a different genre than what I normally read. The book kept me very hooked and contained many plot twists. Divergent has easily become one of my favorite books of all time.
The setting is a dystopian setting, in a post-apocalyptic era in Chicago. Society is divided into factions, which members stay in their whole lives after the Choosing Ceremony. Depending on which faction you are in, you abide by different rules. Tris Prior got an unusual result from her aptitude test, a dangerous result called Divergent. This means that she doesn’t belong to one faction. She transfers factions and does her best to keep her Divergence a secret, all the while making friends, and enemies, in her new faction. And then war breaks out, and suddenly, her Divergence comes in handy.
This book is absolutely amazing and kept me hooked the entire time. I was actually disappointed when I finished it because I wanted to keep reading, but it is one of the best books I have ever read.
Reviewer Grade: 8.

Reviewer's Name: Beatriz
Legend
Lu, Marie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Legend by Marie Lu is a dystopian novel with its own flair. Some dystopians can feel the same, but Legend is unlike any other. We follow June and Day who couldn’t be more polar opposites. June will someday become the best general the Republic has seen and Day is the Republics most wanted criminal. Yet, they cross paths and June’s ultimate goal is to take down Day. Like a classic dystopian, this novel will take you through twists and turns and you will never expect how it ends. I loved this book because of the relationship June and Day have. I highly recommend this book to anybody who love dystopian novels.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
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
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.
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is an amazing spin on the concepts introduced in movies like The Matrix, combining both a fantastical digital world and intrigue in a crumbling US. Follow Wade Watts as he tries to escape his poverty-stricken life in the slums of a world with a failing ecosystem and rampant poverty and hunger by travelling the OASIS, a gargantuan virtual world where people go to school, conduct business, and recreate. Wade seeks The Egg, the fortune of James Halliday, the creator of the OASIS, who left his immense fortune and control of the OASIS to whomever could solve his 80’s-based puzzles and games. Wade isn’t alone in his search, there are millions of others racing him to find The Egg, and above them all looms IOI, a giant corporation searching for The Egg to monetize the OASIS and remove the freedom that users enjoy in the digital paradise. Follow Wade as he unravels complex puzzles and journeys ever closer to finding The Egg, all the while racing against the other hunters, and IOI. Ready Player One is sure to engage any science fiction fan and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys complex riddles with heaping doses of 80’s pop culture.
Harrison
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Based in the future, Scythe takes place in a world where no one can die. To prevent over population, the Scythes are the only people who can end life. Rowan and Citra have been chosen to be apprentices to a scythe. There they will learn what that it means to take a life.

Scythe is an amazing book. I could not put it down! This book was so well written and thought provoking. I can’t wait to read the next book. Rowan made me cry so much closer to the end of the book and Citra was so easy to relate to. You will be wondering what is coming next at the end of each chapter. Also, the scheme that goes on throughout the book is insane!! One thing I did like about this book is there is not much gore, which is good because in some other books that I have read there is a lot and I don't really get the point of detailed gore; but that is just personal preference. Neal is truly an incredible writer and knows how to get a readers attention.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Hayden
Gone book jacket
Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a little town on the coast of Cali, it's a normal day for everyone. Until out of nowhere everyone over the age of 15 disappears. While fighting for leadership, the kids start getting powers and the animals are mutating.
This book was really good. It's kinda like Maze Runner meets Lord of the Flies and his friend X-men. Overall i really liked it. It definitely a book for middle schoolers through; which is why I gave it 4 starts because I am in high school and am at a college reading level. If I was in middle school, this would probably be my favorite book.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden