Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Science Fiction

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
The Last Cuentista book jacket
Higuera, Donna Barba
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Petra Peña wants to be a cuentista, a storyteller, like her abuelita. But Petra’s world is about to change forever. Earth is gone-destroyed by an asteroid. Petra and several hundred humans are voyaging hundreds of years into the future in the hope of saving humanity on a different planet. Before arriving on the new planet Petra and the others will remain in a sleep stasis, downloading information that will help them start over a new planet.

When Petra wakes up, hundreds of years later, she soon discovers the original plan has drastically changed. There is a new group in charge of their spacecraft with a different agenda for those left on board. What does the future hold for Petra and the others? Will she be reunited with her family, and preserve the art of storytelling for future generations?

This is an enjoyable book for ages 12+ who are interested in sci-fi but who might be intimidated to pick up a traditional title from the genre. It’s layered with a beautiful message of family, perseverance, and the lifesaving power of storytelling.

Reviewer's Name: Sarah H.
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.
Gearbreakers
Mikuta, Zoe Hana
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Gearbreakers is a story with two subjects. First, there's Eris, a revolutionary with a burning hatred for Godolia, the all powerful government that killed her parents and regulates her home with the giant mechas known as Windups. She has dedicated her life to destroying these Windups, and any who dare pilot them. Second, there's Sona, a Windup pilot that is scheming to destroy Godolia from the inside. When the two of them meet after one of Eris' destructive escapades goes sideways, their clashing backgrounds and mirrored desires forges an unlikely friendship, one that will change both of their lives as they know it.
This book is unusual for its genre from the get go. It's clearly a YA dystopia, with its young, child soldier protagonists with appropriately angsty personalities set against a terrifying yet monolithic totalitarian government. I've read plenty of these in my time, like most of my generation, and I'm very familiar with the elements. In this book, the usual elements are subverted immediately. Instead of starting out with a bland everyman that, despite having a hard life, isn't usually directly opposed to the system they're in, this book cuts to the chase. The first voice of the story, Sona, is introduced already chock-full of rage. The entire first chapter begins in medias res, completely skipping the usual revelations and training montages and directing us straight to a character who has just been transformed and is very ticked about this. This is something the book does very well: it trusts its audience to grasp the situation at hand, without needing the exposition many books like this are heavy in, often using heavy and lyrical prose to do so. This is another thing: the prose. The book is unexpectedly poetic in many places, which is also generally strange for the genre. I'm not talking about clunky metaphors about birds and technology, although there is a lot of stuff about technology. Just the writing itself is beautiful, interweaving metaphors and similes and personification and all that fun stuff seamlessly with the literal. This also makes the novel seem older than its setting and genre, more like an old folk tale about ancient gods and classic heroes than a YA dystopia about robots and lasers. Another bright spot in the novel is its vibrant tone, especially with the characters. Every character is brimming with emotion and character and motivations. And they're all unspeakably angry. This author is younger than most, and this definitely shows in the portrayal of the younger characters in the novel. In many books written by older authors, the teenage characters often exhibit the cynicism and stoicism of that older generation in the face of social injustice. While this leads to cool-headed, logical heroes to aspire to, none of them have the same instant relatability with the younger generation as these angry characters do. Most teenagers, in the face of unfairness, get unreasonably angry. Its a fact of life, and having unabashedly angry female teen characters who scream and yell and blow stuff up in the face of their terrible circumstances instead of passing out or something is surprisingly refreshing. The two main characters, and their deep seated anger in the face of trauma and injustice, as well as their different ways of reacting to their similar demons, makes for some great chemistry and explorations of their characters. I will admit, most other characters didn't get similar levels of development, but they were each memorable and likable in unique and fun ways.
All in all, I would simply describe this book as fun and refreshing. The action and characters and writing is all fun, and the way the author subverts typical expectations in unique and interesting ways is refreshing! I would recommend this to anyone in the mood for lots of robots, good emotional conflicts, lots of sadness, lots of laughs, and some cathartically angry female characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Harrow the Ninth
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harrow the Ninth is the second book in the Locked Tomb series, and it follows a necromancer, Harrow, as she learns to become a Lyctor to God himself, the emperor of the First House. But as the teaching progresses, the century-old secrets of God and his immortal Lyctors, the intangible death monsters hell-bent on destroying them, and Harrow's own crippled psyche threaten to crush her under their weight.
The first book in this series, Gideon the Ninth, is undoubtedly both bizarre and amazing from the very first page, all the way until the last. I read this book because I adored the first one, and I have to say it is even more bizarre and amazing, but there's an emphasis on the 'bizarre' part in the beginning and an abundance of 'amazing' in the end.
For the first thing, a good chunk of this book is told in second person. For another, the beginning is very confusing, mimicking the main characters confused state. For a third, much of the book seems to contradict the first book, or itself, giving a whole new meaning to the 'unreliable narrator'. Now, at the end, this all comes together and makes perfect sense and blows your head off in a fit of epiphany. And, having read the entire book cover to cover, I applaud the author for the bold choices and tantalizing ending. But for the beginning, it may be a bit more a struggle to push through, and the brilliance of the first book is really needed to help accomplish this.
So, the book is pretty confusing, but for the most part its understandable, and it maintains the first books commitment to levity. This book is pretty funny, even though it can be heart wrenching or gory in some bits. The main character, Harrow, is both very sad and very cool, like a skinny Batman, which I really like! She's also well developed, with understandable actions and motives. The supporting cast is fleshed out well, and highly entertaining, and very sad. All of this is very good. The plot, while confusing at first, is concluded nicely, and is well paced. The worldbuilding of this book does this thing I really like, where it never really sits down and fully explains anything, but still leaves you getting the gist of everything by passing remarks and impressions and vague implications. It did this better in the first book, but since the second book had a lot more complicated necromancy stuff to explain, I'll let it slide.
All in all, this was an extremely good book, which took risks with its material and just expected all of us to push through the bizarre for the amusing and sad characters and an unknown payoff, which we all did, and which was totally worth it! Highly recommend, but read the first book first, and if you've read the first book and you're looking for a reason to keep reading, definitely do so!
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
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
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stevenson, Robert Louis
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, that has the misfortune of having to control and mask his alter identity, Mr. Hyde. After some unfortunate events partake, others begin to realize that the wise Dr. Jekyll has an alter identity. This novel has an unpredictable ending that left me stunned. I thought that the book was really good due to the continuously moving plot and the amazing characters that create a wonderous mystery throughout the book. I was required to read this book for school and I would definitely recommend it for readers that are in middle school and beyond that enjoy a great science fiction or mystery novel. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
Stevenson, Robert Louis
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, who struggles with controlling his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. As he attempts to mask his other personality, horrifying events occur that present the horrible personality of Mr. Hyde. Other citizens begin to discover the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the novel finishes with a jaw dropping climax and resolution. I was required to read this book for school and I would recommend it for readers middle school and above. I really enjoyed the progression of the plot and the ending that was unpredictable. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
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
Gideon the Ninth
Muir, Tamsyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Gideon the Ninth is about the rebellious Ninth House acolyte, a prodigious fighter, who is forced to become the protector of her most hated enemy Harrowhark, the necromancer of the Ninth House. The two of them travel to the First House, to compete against the necromancers and cavaliers of the other houses for the treasured position of Lyctor. They must battle bone monsters, hidden murderers, the laboratories of the dilapidated castle, fellow competitors, and their burning desire to murder each other to, maybe, make it out alive.
I hadn't read sci-fi/fantasy for a long time before I read this book, and this was a brilliant example of everything I'd been missing. The characters are hilarious and likable, the stakes are high, the magic system is somewhat complicated yet explained brilliantly without long periods of exposition, and the undercurrent of science fiction is always present and contrasted beautifully with the fantasy. The idea of a a hyper-advanced society with spaceships and planets is bound to the aesthetic of necromantic power and fighting primarily done with swords, creating a world that has all the fun elements of imaginative science melded with magic. Beyond this, the story is also really tight. There's not really a moment that the book sits you down and explains everything. It just grabs you and goes and it's up to you to catch up, which is a nice change of pace. But, as I've mentioned, the shining gem of the story is likely the characters. The cast is large, but memorable in its own right. If you can't remember the names, just a few sentences of them speaking will clue you in to their distinct personality. And the gem of the story is probably Gideon herself, who's always hilarious and fun and somewhat tragic, and has a great comradery of hatred with Harrowhawk. The character development, the plot, the world, the magic system, and the mystery of this book make it easily one of my favourite books of this year.

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Darrow is a sixteen-year-old Red Helldiver from Lykos, Mars. At the bottom of the social class, Darrow believes that his toil under the surface of Mars is to benefit all of humanity-- to make Mars' surface inhabitable for others like him. But after his wife is hanged for treason, Darrow learns that all of this was a lie--that on the surface, there are large cities and all ranges of Colors. Motivated by his wife's dream, Darrow is transformed into a Gold and sent to destroy the Color system that keeps Reds enslaved.

I really enjoyed this novel because it is set in a dystopian future where the other planets have been colonized. The sci-fi aspect of it is very cool, and it makes me excited to think about making Mars and other planets inhabitable. Darrow's transformation is sad because he's fueled by revenge, but reading him become more forgiving and see the good in Golds while also recognizing the bad in Reds makes his story more emotional. He defeats the odds on both sides, and he rises above his vengeance and realizes that his goal is not to destroy the Golds and make Reds powerful but to reform the Society. Its theme is parallel to society today, shedding light on marginalized communities fighting for equality.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fahrenheit 451" is a short story that tells about Montag's transformation from finding a pleasure in burning books, to loving books and all the knowledge that comes with it. Montag lives in a society where the government has forbidden to read books and seek knowledge through writing. Montag is part of a group called "Fireman" who are supposed to put out fire, but that's not the case since they do the opposite. He lives with his girlfriend and has a bad relationship with her. They don't really talk and just look after themselves. Deep down, he cares for her, we'll find out when Montag gets home and see she's fallen over because of an overdose, where he called the ambulance and the police. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, Montag escapes the city and joins a small community of survivors who have successfully fled the repressive society and are dedicated to memorizing books. The group is moving north to start anew, and for the first time in his life Montag has a future to look forward to.

The short story is one of the few books I find interesting. Usually, I do not read many books and definitely not with the genre "dystopia". If you compare this short story to the society we live in right now, you can see they are opposite to each other so for me it is very interesting to hear how the people in "Fahrenheit 451" were dehumanized. The introduction was very boring, but the further you got into the short story, the more interesting it became. In the end, someone was really good. I still think this short story is relevant to us today because it proves what good conditions we live in, and I certainly appreciate more the privacy and freedom I have. "Fahrenheit 451" has a lot of themes, such as the power of books, because you can really see how much a book can have meaning. All the power a book may have manifested in this particular short story. There are also other themes, such as, Loss of Individuality, Role of Technology and ignorance and Knowledge. All these themes have an important meaning in this short story.

After I read this book, I was trapped by the dystopian world and all the social problems they had. I wonder a lot what our society would look like if the government had banned reading books, would I have read this?

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

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel about Guy Montag; a firefighter in a world that has illegalized books. His occupation results in burning books that are found in citizens' homes and after witnessing a woman that was burned with her books after refusing to leave them, Guy has a disturbing realization of his society. The progressive plot gave me the excitement of coming home and reading while the ending left me in a jaw dropping manner. I thought that the book was amazing due to the mysterious plot and the relations it has to our world today. I had to read this for school and thought it was going to be boring, but in the long run it became one of my most favorite books I have ever read and I would definitely recommend it for readers who love dystopian novels. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells is a science-fiction novel about a man in England in the 1800s who creates a way to make himself completely invisible without a way to change it. The life of a scientist named Griffin, who uses his invisibility for harm, is described throughout the book with an unpredictable ending. I selected this book for a school report, but I would definitely recommend the book to read if wanting a novel that keeps you on edge and wanting more. I thought that this book was pretty good due to the mysterious plot and ending though there were some dragging parts. I believe it is worth the wait for the surprising ending that left me in shock.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Program
Young, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Program by Suzanne Young is a Dystopian romance novel following the life of young Sloane. There is an epidemic spreading through the world as 1 out of 3 teenagers begin to take their lives. Including her some of her own best friends. The solution: The program.
When Sloane was younger her own brother, Brady, took his life which makes her much more at risk. Soon the couple James, Brady's best friend, and Sloane are on everyone's radar. When James is taken to the Program, Sloane tries to kill herself the same way Brady did.
Once in the Program, Sloane is scared to lose James in her memory so that is all she focuses on. Throughout the book, more people lose their lives as more discover why they are still living. I think the book is very relatable for everyone and is a great read. I loved this book and it brought me many worried yet excited emotions. I would rate it a 5/5!

Reviewer's Name: Nicole
Legend
Lu, Marie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Legends by Marie Lu is a novel set in a dystopian and apocalyptic future of Los Angeles. The author does an amazing job illustrating new apocalyptic Los Angeles, especially the divide between the rich and the poor. The rich have lavish meals, houses, and water. While the poor are lucky to just survive. The two main characters June and Day are born with this divide between them. June born to the rich is trained for success in the system while Day born into the poor and is the most wanted criminal. They would have never met but now June is tasked with hunting down Day. The book switches between their viewpoints helping the reader understand the difference in the class system. Not only that but the author does a great job of switching in the right times to reinforce the plot rather than an awkward switch. All in all I couldn’t set the enthralling novel down and would recommend it with 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

"The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells is a gothic literature novel about an albino man in the 1800s who turns himself invisible. The book follows his journey through England as he commits a multitude of crimes and inevitably gets caught and killed. I didn't like reading it because I felt it was boring, and it was hard to keep reading since I had a strong dislike for the main character. Despite not liking the novel, I read it for school during our gothic literature unit, and it is a good example of gothic literature. "The Invisible Man" isn't surprising but rather shocking because the invisible man's actions are so abnormal. It could be relatable if you were wronged by someone or something and want to take revenge on them. It's not one of the best books I've read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana
The City of Ember book jacket
DuPrau, Jeanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The city of Ember is story of Lina Mayfleet, who wants to be a messenger in Ember, however she gets a job called the "pipe worker". Pipe workers have to work all they long in the deep sticky underground. However Doon, wants to be a electrician helper or pipe worker because he likes to work with machines, so he wants to see generator that makes electricity. However he gets job called "messenger", who runs all around the city and send messages to other citizens. Doon trade his job with Lina, and they both got job they want. Every thing is running out of the ember, lightbulb, food, energy, etc. Doon and Lina try to find the secret of the Ember, they try to find the way out of the Ember and for there future.

I give this book, the city of Ember 5-star rating. I loved this story because its adventurous and it hooks me in second page, also it makes reader to think about what's going to happen in future, and also makes readers want to read more and make reader interesting and imagine what is going on.

My favorite aspect of this book was when Doon and Lina was picking their jobs to work in the Ember. It was quite interesting to me because they actually don't get to choose there own job. Lina pick pipe worker, and Doon pick messenger. However they both don't like there jobs. Luckily, because they don't like there job, they trade there job and they'd like there new job now. The all familiar question of reader of Ember: Why Doon want to be a pipe worker? What is going to happen next? Why Ember are having blackouts? Where are Ember?

I also tell you that Ember heavily depends on electricity, and its running out of it. There only food is canned food. The city is dying, everyone knows it. When Lina finds a secret box that her great grand father have left with letter in it, and it was secret of the Ember. However, unfortunately, it was chew by her sister, poppy. Doon and Lina try to find what is the secret mean.

I also really liked the setting of the ember, the dark moon, only shining on the top of the Ember, no lights, dark, deep darkness. I can't spoil where it is but, there are blackout. There are only Ember, the light of the world, there are noting beside Ember. At unknown region, there are only infinity of darkness.

Overall, this is an easy read that adventurous, fun and it keep my eyes on the book whole time i read the city of Ember.

Reviewer's Name: Paul