Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Romance

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 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
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
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
Beach Read book jacket
Henry, Emily
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Beach Read by Emily Henry is a feel good book that will leave you rooting for January and Augustus. These two famous authors have nothing in common except that they are neighbors. One night, they make deal. Augustus will write something happy with the help of January’s expertise in romance and January will interview surviving members of a cult to write the next Great American novel. Whoever writes the bestselling book wins. Nothing else will happen, right? Beach Read reveals how being opposite in every way could quite possibly be the best thing. I highly recommend this book to anybody who needs a feel good book.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Traitor to the Throne book jacket
Hamilton, Alwyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A sequel to Rebel of the Sands, Amani continues her fight for the Rebellion after being captured and sent to the palace. Thrust into the center of the regime, she's determined to bring the tyrant down. Acting as a spy, she tries to uncover the Sultan's secrets, but the longer she stays, the harder it becomes to forget that Jin's disappeared, and the more she questions whether the Sultan is really the villain she'd been told he is and who the real traitor is to her beloved homeland.

I like this series because it's action-packed, has elements of fantasy, and romance. Each chapter never disappoints, and I felt like I was being sucked into the heart of the Rebellion just from reading about it. Amani quick-witted passionate personality makes her an admirable character, and her closest friends have stories that make it really hard not to love them too. I can't wait to read the last book!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
People We Meet on Vacation
Henry, Emily
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

People We Meet on Vacation by Emily Henry tells a story everybody can relate to: what to do when a friendship becomes something more. Alex and Poppy have been best friends since college and as a tradition, go on a spectacular one week vacation every summer. Until two years ago, when everything collapsed and neither have spoken to each other since. Now, Poppy hopes to rekindle this friendship by convincing Alex to go on a final vacation. Will this week long vacation be enough to fix the past or was this “friendship” never meant to be? People We Meet on Vacation will have you rooting for Poppy and Alex as they maneuver through love, life, and lies. I highly recommend this book to anybody who craves unpredictability.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo
Reid, Taylor Jenkins
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo by Taylor Jenkins Reid is a historical fiction novel that you won’t be able to put down. Amateur journalist, Monique Grant, is requested to do a private interview with one of the most mysterious Old Hollywood stars, Evelyn Hugo. We follow Evelyn as she retells her elegant and scandalous life as a movie icon. But why does Evelyn want to do an interview now and why did she choose an unknown journalist, Monique Grant? The Seven Husbands of Evelyn Hugo will lead you through the twists and turns of Old Hollywood life and how a single mistake can change a persons life in an instant. I highly recommend this book to anybody that wants a captivating book that will leave you guessing until the very end.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
The House in the Cerulean Sea
Klune, T.J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J Klune is a must read, feel good book unlike any other. We follow Linus in his journey to make sure Marasyas Island Orphanage abides by the rules for housing magical youth. Although he is on an highly classified assignment for his job, Linus starts to blossom into his true potential and sees the world for what it could be. Yet, Linus faces a hard decision, do what’s right for the children or what society wants him to do. The House in the Cerulean Sea will leave you feeling refreshed and wanting more. I would highly recommend this book to anybody who is in a reading slump or needs a pick me up.

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Flipped
Van Draanen, Wendelin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Flipped is the story of a cute romance between 2 kids that grew up together as neighbors. The story first begins when a young girl named Julianna moves in next to a boy named Bryce. After their meeting, she immediately falls in love with him, and begins chasing him around. Bryce however, is not feeling the same way, and thinks she's a little crazy. I really enjoyed this book because it was very cute and funny to see them falling in love and chasing each other throughout their lives. One thing that bothered me was how rude Bryce was to Julianna. If I were to give this book a grade out of 10, I would give it a 9.

Reviewer's Name: Lilleah
Shadow and Bone
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shadow and Bone is a fantasy book that follows a young woman living in a world full of mystical creatures and human soldiers with magical powers called the Grisha. To summarize, a young woman named Alina comes to find out that she has magical powers just like the Grisha, the people who were either treated like royalty or monsters, and is taken in by the Grisha to embark on a journey with them to train not only her power, but to fit in with the rest of them. However, while on this journey, she uncovers a secret that changes her life as she knows it. Shadow and Bone is the first of 3 novels of the story, and I have enjoyed every bit of it, whether it be looking into the magical but dark world of the Grisha for the first time just like our main character, or the interesting conflict between Grisha and other humans, this book is very entertaining and it didn't leave me bored for a moment. Although, I was rather annoyed that the Grisha were being treated like monsters by some people. If I were to give a grade out of 10, I would give it an 8.

Reviewer's Name: Lilleah
Rule
Goodlett, Ellen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Rule, a book of mystery, suspense, and drama. Zofi, Ren, and Akeylah are each citizens of a different Reach. The Reaches are all ruled by Kolonya, and torn by war. Each girl has something to hide and each one fears the other. But when it comes to light that someone in Kolonya knows all of their secrets, they must band together to find out who is blackmail them. "Rule" paints a world that immerses the reader so that they feel they are in the story.

Reviewer's Name: Caden
Stargirl
Spinelli, Jerry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Stargirl, a classic story that almost everyone's read before, is truly worth reading. The novel follows Leo, a completely average high schooler who meets Stargirl, a new student at his school. Except Stargirl isn't quite as normal as everyone else is. She sings happy birthdays to strangers at lunch, carries around a ukelele, and has a pet rat named Cinnamon that follows her everywhere.
The gist of this story is that it teaches acceptance and how being unique isn't something to be frowned upon. It's a sweet message, and the overall story is pretty light-hearted and innocent. Spinelli also incorporates many magical quotes into the novel such as these lines that describe Stargirl:
"She was elusive. She was today. She was tomorrow. She was the faintest scent of a cactus flower, the flitting shadow of an elf owl. We did not know what to make of her. In our minds we tried to pin her to a corkboard like a butterfly, but the pin merely went through and away she flew."
Clearly, Spinelli is a beautiful writer, and the story mirrors his lovely words. Stargirl may be a cute and lighthearted story about the problem with fitting in, but I don't think it's just for kids. I think readers of all ages can appreciate this story.
However, I rated the book a four out of five stars because at some points, the story did kind of get a little over-bearing with the "unique= good" message. Stargirl sort of displays some traits that I found a little annoying, since even when kids are embarrassed and tell her not to sing happy birthday to them in front of their whole school, Stargirl ignores their requests and carries on doing whatever she wants. Of course, being unique isn't something to be scorned, but neither is being normal. I'd like it if Spinelli showed both sides, and how being normal wasn't something to be ashamed of as much as being eccentrically different was.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Normal People
Rooney, Sally
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

It's definitely hard to describe the plot of Normal People. Let's just say the novel is a complicated "edgy" romance about two polar-opposite high schoolers who connect again in college.
This novel is definitely difficult for many people to get into. I'll admit that it took me two or three reads to finally finish the whole book, but after I got through half of the book, I found myself enjoying it more.
I think whether you enjoy this unusual writing style that lacks speech quotations, and a unique story is entirely up to you. I understand that this kind of story, especially one that has many questionable moments or descriptions won't be everyone's cup of tea, but I enjoyed it. Even after attempting to read this story two or three times, I'm glad that I finally finished it. Though, I warn that this story involves a couple of trigger warnings such as emotional abuse, physically abusive family relationships, manipulation in relationships, and suicide. There are also some mature scenes, so most people recommend that you probably shouldn't read this if you're 18 and under. However, I think if you can handle some mature scenes and are able to understand tougher topics, you could probably empathize and completely understand this story. I do agree that a younger audience shouldn't read this story though, mainly because I don't think they would be able to completely understand or benefit from the whole reading experience of Normal People.
Marianne and Connell are the most painfully realistic and relatable main leads I've ever read about. Even if they made questionable choices, I found myself understanding their thoughts and actions, and I could see why they said or did the things they did.
Sally Rooney does an excellent job of writing characters that aren't perfect and completely redeemable. Instead, she crafted characters that are real, ones that actually act human and aren't the perfectly molded book protagonists we so often see. She also tackles many commonly talked-about topics in a new and fresh way.
Overall, this story is hard-hitting, realistic, and sometimes hard to understand. If you're looking for a standard innocent, fairy-tale ending, and cute love story, I don't think you'll enjoy this read.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

They Both Die at the End follows the tale of two teens, Mateo Torrez (18) and Rufus Emeterio (17), who both receive phone calls from Death-Cast, a national service that notifies people who have only 24 hours left to live. Mateo and Rufus, being two complete strangers living in New York City, meet up with each other via the Last Friend app, and decide to spend their last 24 hours alive with each other.
The idea and creativity behind this plot is something I really enjoyed, and the very blunt title already set me up for inevitable sadness. I liked the basic gist of this story, and the romance that formed between Mateo and Rufus was very sweet to read, although as their romance progressed I felt myself getting sadder and sadder as I read because all of us readers knew what was going to happen to end.
However, even though I enjoyed the plot, characters, and unique title, I have to say I was let down a little. They Both Die at the End spiked in popularity, and because everyone was raving about how sad and amazing it was, I couldn't help but feel like it was a little overhyped. Yes, the story was generally good, but I think the internet fame it received made my expectations be way higher than the novel actually was. The writing was fine, the characters were fine, the idea was there, but that was pretty much it. The story was nice, but not as amazing and tear-wrenchingly heartbreaking as everyone claimed. To be honest, I didn't even cry once when reading this book.
Overall, the story and writing were there, but the novel was given way more credit than was needed.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Broken Beautiful Hearts
Garcia, Kami
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Kami Garcia's Broken Beautiful Hearts is a heart-felt teenage romance that highlights the importance of mending broken hearts and learning how to trust again. As a high school senior with a scholarship for soccer, Peyton is thrown into a dark time when she and her boyfriend, Reed, are at odds and he pushes her down a staircase causing a big injury that puts her out for many months. When it becomes uncomfortable to live in her town due to her pushy ex, she moves in with her twin cousins and uncle. There, she meets Owen, a fighter in the same league as Reed. Peyton distrusts the feelings she begins to feel for Owen because of the hurt from her past. As their relationship grows, Peyton learns how to trust again, and the heart Reed broke is slowly healed by Owen. If romance and healing hearts are your pace, Broken Beautiful Hearts will be a great fit.

Reviewer's Name: Sophi
Wait For Me
Leech, Caroline
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Beautifully written by Caroline Leech, Wait For Me embodies the importance of love and learning other peoples' stories before passing judgement. Lorna, a teenage Scottish girl growing up during World War II is quick to pass judgement for a German POW (prisoner of war) who has been assigned to her father's farm to work. Paul, a scarred German teenage soldier is quiet and hard-working, helping wherever he is needed. As Lorna begins to warm up to Paul and Paul to her, they begin to build a friendship, and Lorna's original view alters as their relationship builds even though the views of her schoolmates, church friends, and fellow townspeople remain the same: judgmental and unkind. When Lorna receives news of her brother's disappearance, she reacts unkindly toward Paul, but their love for one another mends their broken bond over time. A sweet, romantic historical fiction that is sure to have you feeling for the characters and thinking of how your reaction may be similar or different from that of Lorna's.

Reviewer's Name: Sophi
If I Stay
Forman, Gayle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If I Stay is about Mia, a 17 year old girl who used to have everything: a family that she loved, a boyfriend that cared about her, and a future with music. After, a tragic accident everything she loved is taken away from her. She has a choice to live or die, which will she choose?
I loved this book so much that I read it in under three hours. This is definitely a book to get lost in, you will forget that you are reading. I could relate so much to Mia and the thoughts that she was having when she making her choice to live or die. This book was also made into a movie, which is really good. It follows the book almost perfectly. This book is one of my favorites and it gets readers thinking about life, and what it means to live.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Hayden
Shatter Me book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is by far the best book I have ever read!!! Shatter Me is about a 17 year old girl named Juliette living in a dystopian world. She can't touch anyone because if she does, she kills them. The leader of her sector wants to use her as a weapon, but her childhood friend wants to save her. I love, love, love this book! The plot, characters, and everything about the book is incredible. Also, the love triangle that goes on throughout the series will leave you thinking about the book for days. I have read the entire series, including the series finale that just came out: Believe me. I can't say enough about this book series. Mafi does an amazing job bringing the readers along, she always has a deeper meaning to what she is saying, and her writing style is truly one-of-a-kind! I love the whole series and have reread each book about three time. This book is my all time favorite and its worth taking time to read.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Hayden