Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Mystery

We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

We Were Liars is a mysterious young adult novel about a wealthy family who spends every summer on their private island. The story focuses on the main character, Cadence. After Cadence suffers a head injury during one of the summers, she cannot remember almost anything from that trip to the island. The next summer things are very different and Cadence has to try and remember why.
This book is quite a page-turner. As Cadence slowly remembers more and more details of the mysterious summer when she suffered her head injury, it is nearly impossible to put the book down. However, not all page-turners are necessarily great books. The story of We Were Liars may have been intriguing, but the content was not very substantial. There didn’t really seem to be any morals, and if there were, they weren’t very clear. Things just happened throughout the story, and although it was a mystery, nothing was truly deep or thought-provoking. The ending was shocking, but after thinking on it I thought, “That’s it?” I think that the drama of the story tricks you into thinking it’s a deep book, but the longer you think on it the more shallow it becomes. Basically, this book is purely entertainment, which is not all bad, but it was one of those books that after I read it, I thought about how I could have used my time differently.
Overall I would not read We Were Liars again, but it wasn’t a terrible book. If you are looking for a book that is just entertainment and won’t make you think much, this is the book for you. If you are looking for an exciting mystery novel, I would say look elsewhere.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn P.
Genres:
Beneath
Smith, Roland
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book beneath fallows the story of a teenage boy trying to find his older brother in the abandoned subway systems of New York City. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes suspense books. I would maybe read this book again but for me it was just a one time read.

Reviewer's Name: Ashlyn H
Awards:
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I think this book could easily be one of my all time favorite books.
I love the "and if anyone asks you how it ends, just lie" was a really cool concept that I didn't get until the end. I'll admit there were parts of this book that felt like weren't anything groundbreaking and like it could've been like any other book on my bookshelf, but probably around the last fifty to seventy five pages, there was no way I could put it down. At the beginning of the book it truly does seem like it'll be just another teen-beach-romance story but it truly is so much more and there's so much more than I could've ever expected to happen in a rather short book like this. I always have a hard time reading stand alone books because it always leaves me wanting more, but I feel like this book doesn't need anything else. It was a super easy read too, I believe I read it over the course of two days. I even recommended it to a friend who doesn't like reading at all, and she said she truly loved it and would read it again. If that's not enough to convince someone to read this book, I don't know what is.

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Genres:
Skink No Surrender
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Richard's cousin, Malley, has always been rebellious. However, this time Richard is really worried about her. Malley ran off with some guy that she met online and the cops can't find her. Richard knows that he can find her so he embarkes on an adventure along with Skink, a moderately sane one-eyed wandering vigilante. Skink No Surrender is awesome. Complete with daunting storms, poisonous snakes, giant gators, flying bullets, and a supposedly extinct woodpecker. Skink No Surrender is full of twists and turns that makes it impossible to put down. I read this book in under two days and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or high schooler that is looking for a great adventure story.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Code of Honor
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kamran and Darius Smith made a code of honor when they were kids; be the bravest of, the brave strongest of the strong ,help the helpless, kill all monsters. But when Darius graduates at west point, and then joins the army, he is captured by the al qaeda and forced to make public broadcasts about threats from the terrorist group. After that happened Kamran is taken to a government facility and decides to prove that Darius is innocent. He gets the help he needs from Ex-special forces officer Dane Redmond, Aaliya sayid, Jimmy Doran ,and Mickey Hagan. Together they help Kamran rescue Darius, but wait, one of someone might be a traitor to the team.

Reviewer's Name: Brendan M.
Paper Towns
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a thrilling tale of a high school senior trying to locate and win over the elusive and mysterious Margo Roth Spiegelman. I enjoyed this book because, as a high schooler, many aspects of the characters are very relatable. When I first started reading Paper Towns, I didn’t particularly like the writing style and the way the characters were portrayed, but as I read on, the characters seemed to get more and more complex and real. My favorite part of this book is Margo Roth Spiegelman’s adventurous yet despondent characterization. Despite the slight predictability of this book, I would definitely recommend it.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
We Were Liars
Lockhart, E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

AWESOME! This book is the type you can not set down until you've reached the author's note! It is really inventive, relatable and written in a whole new perspective of things you would have never thought about. Takes you through a roller coaster ride of emotions and very great book overall.

Reviewer's Name: Francesca J.
Pretty Little Liars
Shepard, Sara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While you have probably heard of the famous TV series, Pretty Little Liars, you may not have known that they were based off of an incredible book series by Sara Shepard. Four girls who used to be losers turn into the most popular girls at their school when a beautiful, sassy, bubbly girl named Alison leaves her best friends to start a new clique. Once, when the five girls were sleeping over together, Alison mysteriously vanished. An anonymous individual kept texting them threats, supposedly knowing all of their dirty secrets. The texts were all signed by A. The four girls immediately think that it's Ali who's texting them because she's the only one who knows their deep, dark secrets. When some landscapers discover Alison's body buried under a gazebo, Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer become extremely nervous. Who is A? Who killed Alison? Is A going to tell everyone our dirty secrets? The Pretty Little Liars series is a carefully crafted mystery with lots of drama. Sara Shepard's characters are all very well-developed and have very different personalities. The books are very creative and I'd reccomend them to everyone who loves mysteries or drama. Grade 9

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Awards:
Genres:
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Coral Queen, a very profitable casino boat, is dumping all of its sewage into the ocean. The only problem is that Dusty Muleman, the owner of the Coral Queen, is getting away with the illegal dumping since there is no evidence. Noah's Dad is concerned with the environment and always likes to do the right thing. However, he sometimes gets carried away. Therefore, Noah's Dad decides to sink the Coral Queen, but gets caught in the process and sent to jail. Now it is up to Noah to clear his dad's name and bust Dusty Muleman.
This book is hilarious and has a great moral. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to all middle and early high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
One Of Us Is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is an exciting murder mystery book. I enjoyed all the difrent perspectives of the four main characters. All four of the main characters were flawed in some way, but still likable. The reader will enjoy the mystory until the very end when it is reveald. The author throws you in many directions and when you think you know who did it, new evidence will come up.
I took off one star simply because I thought the ending was a little predictable. Overall I enjoyed this book and I recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Amelia W.
Jackaby
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The year is 1892. Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, England, in search of work when she meets the strange young detective R. F. Jackaby. After a series of unusual murders strike the town, Abigail and Jackaby work to crack the case and catch the killer. "Jackaby" is a fun, engrossing read that I couldn't put down. Every twist and turn left me dying to know more. The plot, characters, and setting were very interesting and excellently crafted. That said, I will admit that the end was a little predictable. I figured out who was the killer about half-way in, but the details surrounding the truth were unexpected enough for me to forgive that. If you are a fan of "Sherlock" and/or "Supernatural", this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Spy School
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Spy School, by Stuart Gibbs, is a really good, light, and easy read. The book's main attraction is its plot twists. The unknown double agent, hidden 'spy' school, and secret organization all combine to make a great action-packed, half-romance novel. The ending also gets the reader hyped up for the next book in the series. Stuart Gibbs uses great foreshadowing throughout the book, and hints at every little detail in the plot. Although the plot is sort-of cliche and some characters are kind-of bland, the book sums up to be a highly entertaining read. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to put in the little time it takes to read it.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
Three Times Lucky
Tumage, Sheila
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Three times lucky is an amazing book filled with lots of epic adventure and mystery. Mo will become forever attached to you, as her and her best friend Dale will crack the case of Mr. Jesse's murder as the Desperado Detectives. Mo will forever search for her lost, Upstream mother, obsess over Lavender, and find that her real family was right in front of her the whole time! This is a great story for mystery book lovers and drama as well!

Reviewer's Name: Danielle
Genres:
Took: A Ghost Story
Hahn, May Downing
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Took: a ghost story is about a family the moves to a not well known tiny town. The town has a person named Old auntie and her hog named Bloody Bones. They have been haunting the town for over 150 years. It is up to the 13 year old, Daniel, to stand up to the witch and make her stop. I liked the book because there was a good mystery factor. Overall, I would recommend this book to kids who like mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
Shift
Bradbury, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shift is a story about two boys that go cross country on their bikes and learn something not only about the other person but about themselves. The novel does a good job explaining what it’s like to lose friends and how to cope with it. I really liked this book because I was able to know what was going on and relate to some of the characters. Jennifer Bradbury did an outstanding job with the suspense factor of the story. Overall, I would recommend this story to a teenager who likes mystery stories.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
'Book Review: The Snowman'
Nesbo, Jo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Have you ever heard of Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? Freddy Krueger? Good. Because if you like those kinds of killers and movies, then you will absolutely love this novel, The Snowman. The book follows the path of a detective with a dark past who is forced to hunt down one of the most deadly and disturbing killers he has ever faced, as he simultaneously struggles with the battle within himself. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy thrillers, horror novels, or anyone who enjoys getting a little disturbed sometimes.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
Truly Devious
Johnson, Maureen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Stevie Bell loves all things crime, true or otherwise. She loves to dive into the fictional encounters of the likes of Hercule Poroit and Sherlock Holmes almost as much as she loves to solve cold cases. So when she gets the opportunity to study at Ellingham Academy, site of one of the most famous unsolved murder/kidnapping cases of all time, she jumps at the chance. She doesn't get too far into her murder investigation, however, when a fellow student is found dead in the same tunnel as a murdered girl from before.

For the most part, this is just a straight-up mystery with a quirky setting and side characters, but it really works. The book goes back and forth from the events of the 1939 Ellingham murders to present day, and I found myself equally interested in both stories. Our main character, Stevie, is extremely likable, and gives us some smart, biting commentary about her life and her classmates along with a lot of interesting tidbits about past crimes and mystery authors. Stevie's classmates all have distinct personalities and are quite the diverse cast of characters. Students at Ellingham are selected for having some sort of ability or interest, and her roommates are an artist, an inventor, a coder, a writer and a YouTube star which makes for some fun interactions and conversation in the group. There's a bit of a meh romance, but it didn't detract from the rest of the book and it will be interesting to see where that heads in the sequel.

The main appeal here is the dual mysteries. Both were a lot of fun to read, and I was dead wrong about the identity of the present day killer which is always fun. Really, the only downside for me was the ending. It ends on a massive cliffhanger, and I actually wish a few things were a bit more tied up. I found it to be jarring and a bit off-putting. That said, I'll probably check out the sequel.

If you are looking for a really solid mystery featuring clever and engaging characters, then this is for you! You can put Truly Devious on hold now - thanks to Edelweiss and HarperCollins for the electronic review copy. If it weren't for that ending it'd be a 4 star read for me, but...3 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The novel “Paper Towns” by John Green is an amazing journey that takes a boy named Quentin to places he never thought he’d be. It starts off with a girl named Margo sneaking into his room to then convince him to sneak out with her. They have an amazing night full of adrenaline. Margo made Quentin step out of his comfort zone and see a whole new world. But the next morning when Quentin wakes up, Margo is gone. She goes missing for weeks, and no one knows why. Quentin then starts finding clues left by Margo which starts his adventure to find the mysterious Margo. I enjoyed this book because something interesting happened every chapter and I couldn’t put the book down. This book is also about people in high school, so I can relate to it. This book is a drama/mystery novel which makes it very intriguing. This book was not very predictable, it tends to leave you in edge. I’d recommend it to someone who like to read high school stories. I also watched the movie before reading this and still loved the book!
Reviewer grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Reaghan D.
I Hunt Killers
Lyga, Barry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer. After his father was captured, Jazz has just been trying to live like a usual 17 year old. But when a new killer appears who seems to be trying to mimic his father, Jazz knows that it's only a matter of time before people start to believe he's the new killer. So he decides to join the police in tracking down the murderer, not only to convince the town he isn't like his father, but himself. I Hunt Killers has a good mystery, with plenty of twists, and is difficult to predict. However, it isn't the mystery that makes the story addicting; it's Jazz. While some of the minor characters suffer from a lack of proper development, Jazz's interesting (and disturbed) mind makes this book difficult to put down. He is a morally gray character, incredibly messed up, but sympathetic. His fears of being a sociopath are not without reason. In the hands of a different writer, his struggles could be seen as heavy handed or melodramatic. But here, he is written as completely believable. The mystery is a good one, but it's the protagonist (the likes of which you rarely see in a young adult story) that makes this book really good.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
Ghostly Echoes
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series. It covers the death of the resident ghost of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh. She was murdered ten years ago, and her fiancé (a scientist involved with some suspicious
people) disappeared. She has hired Abigail and Jackaby to investigate her death. But when a similar crime happens, they realize Jenny's case is connected.
Because of the fact that this not only deals with the murder of a liked character, but also includes peeks into Jackaby's past and how he became the seer, this is the darkest book in the Jackaby series. But it also has plenty of humor, mainly in the bantor between Jackaby and Abigail. They feel like The Doctor and their companion from Doctor Who, if they had to take up the role of Holmes and Watson for a day. This also tackles a whole new part of the world building. This always had folklore involved, but now it includes mythology.
As good as this was, there were some problems. I feel like this book series needs more details; I can't see the character's faces all that well. Also, it is implied that Jackaby has feelings for Jenny, which I think needed much more foreshadowing. I only got close friend vibes from them in the first two books. And the side characters still needed some development; they were important parts in the book, but they didn't make much of an impact on me.
Overall, I think this was the best book in the series thus far, and sets up the events for the fourth (and final) book well.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.

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