Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Mystery

The Lying Game
Ware, Ruth
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In this book, you follow four childhood friends (shown from the perspective of Isa Wilde) as the secrets of their past actions come back to haunt them.
I was intrigued by the premise of the story, but for the most part, the story was pretty boring and predictable. The concept of a lying game in the past was interesting and I was excited to see how would play into the story. The secret about what happened almost 20 years earlier seemed really overplayed to me. What actually happened didn't really seem as much of a big reveal as I thought it would be. The final twist at the end of the book wasn't anything special and I figured it out pretty quickly compared to other stories. The ending was anti-climactic; by the end of the story, I wasn't invested. The characters were fine: originally, they seemed relatable and human for the most part, but as the story progressed, I grew to dislike a couple of the main characters. Their actions seemed abnormal and irritating, and even within the context of the story, I still couldn't get over it. This could have been a better book, but the payoff wasn't there.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Antwaan
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The average reviews for this book are lower than usual, but it really surprised me. The story felt like a true story and dystopian and fiction all at once, not to mention the plot twist. The setting of an isolated vacation island set the background for a unique storyline between a few families with dark secrets. I enjoyed the main characters' personalities too, though there were some comments they made about homophobia and racism that were kind of weird and sounded like the author didn't do much research about the LGBTQ+ and POC communities. It was very entertaining still, and I would recommend it if you need a suspenseful story to read quickly.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
And Then There Were None
Christie, Agatha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

And Then There Were None is one of the best that I have ever read. I loved watching the characters, especially because of the incredible detail that Agatha Christie used to describe them and their unique personalities. They all seem real to me. The book itself was ingenious, incorporating suspense and making every character a plausible suspect and a possible victim. I found myself turning back pages to get the facts again and again, without having a clue as to who was the murderer. I recommend this book for ages 13+ as all of the details and situations can be extremely hard to process.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
When You Reach Me
Stead, Rebecca
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When You Reach Me is one of my favorite books of all time. It is such a compelling mystery from the perspective of a sixth-grader who is wise for her age. Miranda contemplates theories of time travel and the effect of the past on the future in a light-hearted manner that makes this story impossible to put down. I love every character and reading their dialogue always gets me to think about the importance of kindness and our relationships as humans during such a short time on Earth. If you love a philosophical mystery or are just looking to get out of a reading slump, give this book a try!

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
There's Someone Inside Your House
Perkins, Stephanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As an avid Stephanie Perkins reader, this book is not her best work but still worth your time to read. There was ample suspense as Makani Young navigated the unfolding of an active serial killer's crimes in a small town, with a fast pace to not bore readers. Similar to thrillers like One of Us is Lying, I was constantly changing my mind as to who the killer could be. Do we pay attention to Ollie, the typical loner, or even one of Makani's own friends? Unfortunately, the movie adaptation did not do this story justice. Do not waver from trying it out if you stumbled across the movie first! It's not the darkest thriller I've read, but still disturbing enough to introduce a passion for the genre and keep you up at night.
Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Songbirds
Lefteri, Christy
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Songbirds is about the disappearance of domestic workers in Cyprus--women who had no choice but to leave their families in Sri Lanka or Vietnam or the Philippines and find work as maids in the homes of Cyprus's wealthy class. Nisha, whom the story centers on, is a Sri Lankan woman who has faced much loss. She comes to Cyprus, leaving her daughter behind, and becomes a mother figure for Aliki, the daughter of a somber, grieving widow named Petra. Though Nisha has such an impact on the people around her, especially Petra and Aliki, she is merely seen as a maid, overlooked, taken for granted. In a parallel plot line, Yiannis is a poacher who hunts songbirds for a living. He and Nisha have a secret relationship, which would jeopardize everything if discovered by Petra, and when he finally tells Nisha about the poaching, she is deeply disappointed in him, though Yiannis doesn't stop his senseless killing of songbirds. One night, Nisha goes missing. What ensues is a long, agonizing search in which the police refuse to do anything and Petra begins to realize that she relied on Nisha for nearly everything and didn't appreciate her while she was there. Petra and Yiannis team up, determined to find out what happened.
In my opinion, this story could've been told so much better. The metaphor of the songbirds was far too loud and became redundant and irritating. Lefteri could've more effectively woven together the plot lines of Petra and Yiannis without being so blunt with her metaphor. However, I did find it very interesting--and saddening--to learn about the missing domestic workers of Cyprus. Just as in The Beekeeper of Aleppo, Lefteri brings to light real issues that go beyond news coverage and should be talked about but somehow aren't. These maids are just as human as anyone, having sacrificed lives in their home countries for the benefit of their families. I would have enjoyed this novel more if the pacing had been faster and the plot hadn't been so repetitive; the characters also weren't the most likable.
I wouldn't necessary recommend this book, but the premise is worth knowing.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
One of Us Is Next
McManus, Karen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is the sequal to One of us is lying. In this book, there is a person who would like to continue Simon's legacy. A boy who framed 4 teenagers in detention on his death. But, it's a game of Truth or Dare. You do a crazy dare, like kiss someone or get one of your deepest secrets exposed. It turns out, this is just based on a revenge plan from 2 people, looking to ruin someone's life based off of past incidents.
This book is AMAZING. It was just a good as the first book, if not better. It has a great story line and plot and truly does keep you intrigued the whole time. I loved this book and would rate it a 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is about 4 highschool students who are in the classroom when another student dies. Since they are the only ones in the room, they are the ones who have to fight to prove that they are innocent and try to get their normal lives back. Throughout the book, each person gets framed at least once, with new evidence. You get a point of view of each person and others on who did it, and why.
This book was AMAZING! It kept me engaged the whole entire time and had me gasping at every plot twist. I know that alot of people have been posting about this book, but it is definitely worth the read. There is also a sequal, called One of us is next. I would rate this book a 10/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Hunting Prince Dracula
Maniscalco, Kerri
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In the second installment to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, this time we follow Audrey and Thomas to Romania, mainly to escape the grief and memories that London contains, but also to attend one of the best schools of forensic medicine. However, Audrey and Thomas are once again thrown into another murder mystery, this time facing Vlad the Impaler.
Even though the plot of this novel seemed interesting enough, like the first book of this series, I still couldn't find myself connecting to Audrey or Thomas at all. Both of them just seemed like the stereotypical cookie-cutter fantasy romance interests, with no dimension and no personality. While I enjoyed some of the interesting cultural legends and information about Romania, I felt like the novel was going way too slow. I couldn't find myself getting into it, and none of the characters really interested me and kept me focused on the novel. Once I practically forced myself to finish the book, I didn't find myself thinking about the book ever again. There was nothing interesting or unique about the novel and all the characters just seemed like the same characters that I've read about over and over again in the fantasy genre. The murder was also pretty generic and simple to solve, so there wasn't much suspense or build-up. Overall, I could see why some people would like this book, but it wasn't for me.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Spy Camp
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Spy Camp is the 2nd book in the Spy School series. During the summer, Ben Ripley is called to Spy Camp, with is basically the same thing as Spy School, but outdoors. While he is there, an evil organization called SPYDER offers him a deal. Join them, or be killed. Ben now has his life at stake. So he refuses. He now has to be on his every move. If SPYDER finds him, he knows the consequences. Will Ben be able to outsmart SPYDER again? Or will his vacation end in disaster.

Reviewer's Name: Chase
Lightning Strike
Krueger, William Kent
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Lightning Strike is an excellent thriller. Cork O’Connor lives in his hometown of Aurora. Everything is normal and is going smoothly, until Cork discovers a dead man in the forest. It is deemed as a suicide. But Cork and his father have their own suspicions. Can they uncover the truth before it’s too late? I liked the setting and enjoyed the suspense. I chose this book because the book jacket captured my attention, and I wanted to find out what happens next. Cork O’Connor is curious about what took place, and also is great young sleuth. I appreciate Cork’s determination to solve the mystery. Lightning Strike was a great read and I would highly recommend it.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Spy School
Gibbs, Stuart
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Spy school is about a 12 year old boy named Ben Ripley who has been recruited by the CIA to train to be a spy. The plot (without spoilers) takes place at the CIA Academy of Espionage. Ben can't tell anyone that he is a spy, including his parents. While he is there, he finds out that there is a mole lurking in the shadows of the school. Ben just got his first unofficial mission. Find the mole, find who they're working for, and to try no to be captured. If he succeeds, he will earn the trust of everyone at the academy. If he doesn't, he'll find himself in big trouble.

Reviewer's Name: Chase
Awards:
Last Girl Ghosted
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Last Girl Ghosted was a great read. A young woman named Wren frequently does online dating. She meets a charming young man named Adam. Wren thinks Adam is the perfect match, until he completely goes cold turkey. Wren is baffled and completely heartbroken, until she finds out Adam has done the same exact thing to other women. And not just that, but Adam has a long history of being with women who later go missing. Can Wren quickly find out who Adam really is before it is too late? I chose this book because it’s a thriller and the plot seemed interesting. This book is full of surprises and will keep the reader interested throughout the whole book. Last Girl Ghosted goes in depth about the darkside of online dating and the Internet. I really liked the suspense and the countless cliffhangers. I would highly recommend reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Confessions on the 7:45
Unger, Lisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Confessions on the 7:45 was an excellent read. Selena barely makes the 745 train home, when she sits next to a strange woman whom she she makes an instant connection. This is when Selena confessed that her husband is having an affair with the nanny. And the strange woman listens and relates to Selena’s confession. Shortly after this train ride home the nanny goes missing. And a police investigation is launched. Was Selena’s husband involved? Or did does change woman have anything to do with? This book is a gripping novel that focuses on marriage and revenge. I picked this book because the book jacket seemed interesting. Confessions on the 745 is full of plot twists and will keep the reader on the edge of their seat. I really enjoyed the plot twists and the in depth descriptions of the character’s personality’s. I would highly recommend this book.

Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Horton Halfpott book jacket
Angleberger, Tom
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Horton Halfpott is a comedy novel about a kitchen boy's life, love, and mystery. Horton Halfpott follows its titular character as he navigates the cruelty of the nobles, a new-found crush, and the investigation of a stolen "Lump". The book's core is its comedy, with a narrator adding to each movement with foreshadowing and direct acknowledgement of the reader. Targeted for kids ages 8-12, the humor is clever but not so much as to confuse a younger audience. Characters are likeable and the main characters are well-developed considering how short the novel is. Although the mystery's conclusion is evident to the reader, watching the detectives' and antagonist's plans in work adds an element of tension to the book, especially during the second half. The only major issue I had while reading was pacing. Most chapters are quite short, and the book could easily be reduced from almost 50 4-5 page chapters to 15 longer chapters. With such short chapters comes some whiplash as certain characters take control of the perspective for a page or two before the reader swaps to a different character. This had some jarring results, especially around the 3/4 mark of the book.

Overall, Horton Halfpott is a great story with some formatting problems holding it back from being a fantastic one. This story is still a worthwhile read for pre-teens, however.

Reviewer's Name: Locke
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Maniscalco, Kerri
2 stars = Meh
Review:

To start off, I would say that I can see why many people enjoy this novel. Following a young woman during the Victorian era in London who studies anatomy and enjoys dissecting cadavers, I can see why this would be interesting to read about, especially since during this era, it was a bit taboo to hear of a woman studying anatomy, much less, dissecting dead bodies. I have to admit that the plot of this novel did intrigue me, especially when I read that somehow, Audrey Rose Wadsworth-- the said woman who has a knack for dissecting, would find herself involved in the case of infamous murderer, Jack the Ripper. However, the characters really made this story fall flat for me. Audrey was pretty much your typical "not like other girls" protagonist, and the author seemed very insistent in enunciating that Audrey was definitely NOT like other girls. This pretty much came in the form of having Audrey being intelligent, snarky, bold, and disliking typical "girlish" topics such as boys and dances and the such. While Audrey may have been a promising character, I really didn't like how the author made traits such as being intelligent or bold seem so unique, as if "other girls" did not carry any of these completely normal characteristics. Even more so, the author made pretty much every other female character in this story (with maybe the exception of one), seem very ditzy and typically "girly" and feminine, utilizing these other girls to make Audrey look better. While Audrey wasn't a character I particularly hated, I didn't really enjoy the way she was written. Adding on, the love interest in this story, Thomas Cresswell, was also boringly generic. Other than helping Audrey solve the murders of Jack the Ripper, Thomas didn't really add much to the story. His character was just as cliche as Audrey's, him being sarcastic, mysterious, and handsome-- not to mention the token tortured backstory he had, which seems very prevalent in many male love interests. I'll also add that Thomas wasn't a character I hated either, he was just a very flat one, and pretty boring to read about. While I've read some novels that also contain love interests with traits like Thomas and liked them, I'll have to say that Thomas was definitely not one of these. I wish the author, while also writing about how snarky and mysterious Thomas is supposed to be, gave him more dimension. Audrey and Thomas both felt like very token characters, ones that we've seen and heard of before, making both of them not really seem like people, and more like a walking stereotype. Overall, while this novel had a intriguing plot, the generic characters made the story fall flat for me.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
I Am the Messenger book jacket
Zusak, Markus
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I am the Messenger is about an ordinary guy that makes something of himself when he gets playing cards in the mail telling him to help people. I thought this book was ok. It tried to have a quick and clever writing style, but there are other books that are much better for that. The plot is ok, and it is entertaining. While I'm not going to spoil the ending, it is kind of a disappointment. Overall, I would say that this book is ok, but there are much better books out there.

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Hunting for Hidden Gold book jacket
Dixon, Franklin W.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The dynamic duo, Frank and Joe Hardy are camping in the woods with their friends while also trying to help their father find some information from a man named Mike Onslow that has to do with their father's new case. One evening, they get a call at the local hotel from their father's friend, Hank Shale, who their father is supposed to be staying with in Lucky Lode, Montana. Their father was supposed to be hunting a band of dangerous criminals, Black Pepper and his gang, but Hank Shale, or whoever it was, said that their father was in trouble, and they needed to get to Lucky Lode as fast as they could. The boys decided that they needed to fly to Montana to help their father and are going to attempt to catch a flight to the west in the morning, but first they stumble upon Mike Onslow in the woods finding him injured with a bullet in his leg. They help nurse him to better health and he tells them about his encounter with Black Pepper and his gang. He and three of his other partners are surrounded by Black Pepper and his gang after they had struck it rich. One of them managed to get away with the gold and promised to meet them and split the gold. The guy never showed up and they never heard "hide nor hair" of him ever again. Along with this useful bit of information, he gave them the most probable area for Black Pepper and his gang in Montana. The next morning, they depart, but everything is not as it seems. On one of their airplanes stops, they are kidnapped, and have to escape so they don't miss their flight, and when they arrive in Lucky Lode, they are ambushed again by a shotgun that was booby-trapped on the helicopter that they had to take instead of a plane to get to the small town. There is definite foul play going on and this is only the beginning. From Timberwolves and a cave in, to piano-playing ghosts this book is an amazing puzzle that allows the reader to wonder how the mystery to be solved.

I liked this book because of the reason mentioned above and because the final ending of the book puts the puzzle pieces together in one of the most astonishing ways that I have ever read. I first picked this book for a book report in the 4th grade, and it created such a lasting impression on me that I have read it over and over. The thing that I enjoyed the least about this book was the fact that it felt short. I kind of wish that the story was extended a little and there were a few more key details. I remember when I was first reading the book it was the complete opposite of predictable. The plot twisted and turned in so many directions and I love it for that. I sadly couldn't really relate to any of the characters in this book besides one of them that was only at the beginning, Chet Morton. The only reason I do is because I share the same like of food that he has. This is one of the best books I read in that year that I read it and I would recommend it to anyone who loves a good and high stakes mystery.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Cooper
The Secret History book jacket
Tartt, Donna
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Donna Tartt and her debut novel The Secret History is one that will stick with me for quite a long time.
The Secret History follows insecure Richard Papen, a somewhat timid boy from Plano California. Richard, desperate to leave Plano and his unattentive parents, decides to go to college at Hampden, a school in Vermont, specializing in Humanities. Of course, when Richard arrives, he completely falls in love with Hampden and its very "Dead Poets Society" vibe to the school. Previously wanting to be in the medical field, but soon after developing a distaste for the field, Richard promptly decides to turn to studying the classics. We discover Julian, the only teacher of Greek in the college, who only takes five students a year in his class. Somehow, Richard makes it into this selective course, becoming the sixth member. We as readers are introduced to the slightly odd and quirky members of the Greek class, and come along with Richard as he slowly develops a friendship with each of them. However, Richard deduces that something is off about his new friends, and with this, dark secrets are unraveled, and we watch as each of the classmates descend into madness.
The Secret History touches upon the study of human morality, and the concept that terrible things hold a kind of beauty to them. I really enjoyed reading this novel and being forced to face psychological dilemmas. What is good? What is evil? What makes someone good or evil? The Secret History really led me around by the nose, and I enjoyed the twists and turns I experienced because of this novel. There were many influential quotes in this story and the writing was beautiful. Even though the novel might have a darker mood, I couldn't help but be enraptured by every word Tartt set out for me.
Overall, if you enjoy a "dark academia" style of book, and is willing to read this novel with an open mindset, The Secret History is definitely for you.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Inheritance Games book cover
Barnes, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Inheritance Games is about a 17 year old named Avery who mysteriously is put into someones will and inherits billions of dollars. But, she has to live in the owner of the will's house for a year with his four grandsons. Within the year, Avery goes through a series of riddles to figure out why she was the random person chosen to inherit this mans fortunes. He could have chosen any of his family members, but he chose her. Battling some hate and jealousy, Avery works with the boys to figure why it was Avery and not the family.

I loved this book! It was such an amazing book! The mystery of what would happen next kept me intrigued the whole time. I could not put down the book! I reccomend this book to anyone and everyone who can read!

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie