Reviews of Teen Books

Nectar in a Sieve
Markandaya, Kamala
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This novel follows the life of a young Indian girl named Rukmani, who is married off at the age of twelve. She marries a poor farmer, Nathan: because she has three older sisters and is not as "desirable" by Indian standards, her parents cannot find a better suiter besides a poor farmer. Throughout their marriage, Rukmani and Nathan struggle with poverty, and misfortune. In addition, British colonizers have set up posts in their town, further destroying Rukmani and her family's sense of community and opportunity.

My favorite character is Rukmani because of her complexity. She is a flawed and interesting character because, on one hand, she breaks the gender norms of her culture and often finds ways to support the family even when Nathan can. However, I will argue that Rukmani is complacent in her poverty and accepts things as the way they are knowing she could do better. I also really liked how this book touched on intergenerational conflicts. Rukmani often finds herself detached from her children because they're growing up in westernized society. Nathan is my least favorite character because he's just...there. Overall, this was a good book because it exposed me to a different culture.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Answer Is....Reflections on My Life
Trebek, Alex
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Answer Is by Alex Trebek is a well crafted autobiography and masterpiece. Alex Trebek is the beloved television host of Jeopardy and he reflects on his life in this book. Trebek goes into further details about his personal life which he has rarely discussed with anyone. Trebek also mentions his tough battle with stage four pancreatic cancer. I choose this book because I have always been a huge jeopardy fan since I was 5 and I wanted to learn more about this great man. I really liked this book because of all the great moments that were highlighted. I also really liked the very truthful and honest reflections that Trebek gives about his own life. My hope is that more people will read 'The Answer Is' because it is excellent read and it's about a legendary figure that we tragically lost this past year due to cancer.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Tolkien, J.R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Fellowship of the Ring is about a company of people of different sizes, shapes, and cultures, living in an imaginary world: Middle Earth. These people come together when Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit, runs away from his house after his 111th birthday, but he leaves behind the Ring of Power. Hobbits are short people who live in Hobbiton, a place in Middle Earth. The Ring of Power is a ring that one of the antagonists, Sauron, created for the destruction of Middle Earth.

The company now comes together to destroy this Ring, but it can’t be destroyed with ordinary means, like stomping on it or casting it into fire. The ring can only be destroyed if it is thrown into the place it was created at, Mount Doom, a volcano in Sauron's evil layer known as Mordor. The company knows that Sauron will search all of Middle Earth for the Ring, so the company decides to take it to Mount Doom.

At a petrifying moment, the company goes over a mountain range, but it is too cold for people to survive, so they head to the Mines of Moria, an underground series of tunnels. Everything was going fine until a person accidentally made noise by throwing something down a well. Then, they have to run to the exit because they awakened their evil pursuers, like the Balrog of Moria, a giant humanoid creature with a whip. The Balrog drags a member of the company down a cliff, and they fall for over 8 whole days.

This book is full of fantasies, and it really holds a grip and is hard to put down, and for that reason, I'm going to go with 4/5 stars for The Fellowship of the Ring.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman
Shoe Dog
Knight, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shoe Dog by Phil Knight is a book that you do not want to miss out on! This book is a memoir about the life of Phil Knight, the founder and creator of Nike. I really liked this book because I love Nike shoes and I am also very passionate about starting my own business someday. So this book gave me a lot of encouragement and motivation to start a business. Shoe Dog goes in depth about all the challenges Phil endured to create the empire that Nike is today. I choose this book because it seemed interesting to get the experiences as well as the ups and downs endured in the process of trying to create a world famous brand. I would highly recommend this book to anyone dreaming of becoming a successful entrepreneur!

Reviewer's Name: Ananth S.
The Couple Next Door
Lapena, Shari
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Couple Next Door by Shari Lapena is a suspense thriller that kept me wanting to read more until the end! Anne and Marco go to a dinner party and come home late on one fine evening, only to find out that their beautiful 6 month old infant is missing. It was soon discovered that this is horrifying incident was the result of a kidnapping. Will Marco and Anne be able to find and rescue their daughter before its too late? And even if they find their daughter, will she be found alive? There are just too many unknown questions to be answered. Family secrets are exposed and this book will grasp your attention until the very end! I really liked the way that the author was able to craft suspenseful moments. I also really liked how the different characters' personality traits and secrets were revealed. The Couple Next Door is filled with plot twists. The Couple Next Door is a must read and I would highly recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Ananth S.
Starters
Price, Lissa
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I read this book for school Freshman year of high school. It’s about a girl named Callie who lives in the future where everybody from 20 years to sixty years old has died. Old people can take control of younger peoples' minds, so they can ‘be young’ again. To me, it just felt like a poorly executed variation of the Hunger Games. I wouldn’t really recommend this book as I thought it wasn’t very well-written and had a poorly thought out story-line.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
The Circle
Eggers, Dave
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Circle is an incredibly interesting book. The novel centers around Mae Holland, who sets off to work at The Circle after graduating from college. As she works through her career, Mae starts to question this highly acclaimed tech company and its Three Wise Men. Its main ideas discuss privacy, and specifically, how corporate run privacy standards lead into modern governmental systems. The ideas play into the fascinating world building around Mae Holland and her ideas of digital utopianism. The way she questions mob mentality behind the hive mind that can be global datafication is unique and provides for a great read. While the characters are somewhat lack luster, the novel makes up for it with its social construction and suspense. While there are some plot holes, the holistic concept is incredible. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the digital world or dystopian-like settings.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas, Alexandre
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas is an amazing novel about betrayal and revenge. It follows the life of Edmond Dantès, a young first officer of a shipping company in Marseille, France, as he draws into port, ready to greet his enchanting fiancée Mercedes. However, Dantès’ happiness is short lived as he is betrayed by his closest friends and his life is upended for several decades. When Edmond finally returns as the Count of Monte Cristo, he is determined and set on vengeance, and he has the money and intelligence to annihilate those who dared to betray him. The Count of Monte Cristo is without a doubt my favorite book as it vividly describes the manipulations of the count and how his enemies struggle to break free of his grasp. I would recommend this book to everyone, especially those who enjoy complex stories where not all actions of the characters are written on the page but must be deduced by the reader.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison B.
Into the Wild
Hunter, Erin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I read this book when I was in the 3rd grade. I loved cats, so this series seemed really interesting. The series “Warriors” is HUGE!! There are so many books, and after reading “Into the Wild” I read all of them. This book is about a normal house cat named Rusty. He finds out about a group of cats that live in the wild. His curiosity lures him ‘into the wild’ to be with the warriors. For my third grade self, this book was the coolest thing ever! There’s drama and a mystery. While I definitely think that the target audience for this book is probably late elementary to middle school, this is a good read for anyone. I loved this book, and would highly recommend to anyone who loves cats and has a good imagination!

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
Genres:
Night
Wiesel, Elie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The autobiography Night by Elie Wiesel is a gripping nonfiction retelling of his experiences during the Holocaust. Starting with Elie’s normal life before World War II and continuing onto the horrors of the concentration camps. Elie was a young boy growing up in the town of Sighet, Romania when he was taken to a concentration camp with his family. The book saddens me every time I read it. It draws the reader in and makes them feel as though they were there, starving in a camp or trudging across the frigid wilderness with no end in sight. I would recommend Night not because it makes the reader happy but because it is the best depiction of the horrors of the Holocaust.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison B.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For years, I had heard of The Lunar Chronicles and thought people were referring to the two Sega Saturn video games, Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. However, seeing as most people haven’t heard of these video games, I eventually figured out that they referred to the Young Adult series of books. While 2012 was definitely around the height of the re-imagined fairy tale craze, I do have to admit that this science-fiction take on these classic stories is a fresh new way of adapting the plots that we all grew up with through Disney movies.

The first book in the series, Cinder, takes Cinderella's down-and-out heroine and updates her to a cyborg unaware of her royal origins. What made this story engaging was figuring out how the standard trappings of the Cinderella story would be adapted to this futuristic setting. Granted, this made some of the plot points more than obvious well before they happened, but I usually ended up smiling at the bits of homage that Cinder paid to its origins—such as a “pumpkin” of a car and the leaving behind of certain footwear.

While the plot was mostly predictable, I appreciated the awkward “teenager” dialogue of the titular protagonist but only to a point. I’ll admit that YA books have a kind of frenetic style that matches their main characters' emotional turbulence, and Cinder certainly reads like a teenage girl replete with the insecurities, slang, and missed steps that a full-grown adult wouldn’t necessarily have as character quirks. The problem is that having to follow such a snarky young individual for so long through the story makes it eventually grate on my nerves, especially when the path she needs to take in her life is so obvious. Then again, perhaps I’m just a crotchety old man who isn’t in-tune with the youth anymore.

A great sci-fi Cinderella retelling, I give Cinder 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I had to read this book in English class Freshman year. I honestly wasn't expecting to like it as much as I did. It's a true story called "Night" written first hand by Elie Wiesel about the Holocaust. It's about a young boy and his family that got sent to Auschwitz and Buchenwald concentration camps. This book is extremely well written, and is a really sad story. There was one part, I won't spoil it, but I couldn't stop crying. "Night" really gives you a look at what it would have been like to be in Elie's shoes. Overall, of course this is quite a sad book, but I would highly highly recommend!!

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
Awards:
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Wrinkle in Time is unlike any Science Fiction novel I have ever read. It is exciting and scientific and even a little romantic like every other science fiction novel, but it grapples with other ideas like how one thing (yet to be revealed) helps to conquer the darkness inside us and all around. It follows Margaret (Meg) Murry in the search for her missing father but at the same time follows a search in understanding herself. She wants more than anything to find her father because he was the one who made her feel like herself and now that he is gone, she feels lost. Her genius younger brother Charles Wallace is a major player in Meg's journey to find herself and in the end is what will trigger the one thing she has that the darkness does not.

I first read this book in third grade as required reading, but since then I have probably read it over ten times. It is one of those books that you get something new out of every time you read it. I have also never read such a creative book. Madeleine L'Engle makes it interesting and unpredictable while at the same time tying in internal struggles. Everyone can relate to Meg and will learn from her struggles by reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
Starship Troopers
Heinlein, Robert A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Starship Troopers exemplifies the signature writing style of Heinlein: an outrageous setting that still manages to capture familiar aspects of everyday life. I marveled at the intricate universe Heinlein crafts. He describes every aspect of political relations with alien species and the intricacies of a military that ranges across the stars. The book follows a boy named Juan Rico as he comes of age and joins the infantry. Heinlein describes every aspect of Juan’s life in basic training and the great battles of his career like an ancient epic; sparing no detail and giving elaborate descriptions of the enemies of humanity and the battles in which they were defeated. Starship Troopers is the perfect science fiction novel for someone who is looking for heaps of action combined with drops of philosophy and social commentary, all brought together into one spectacular and dazzling universe.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Emperor of All Maladies
Mukherjee, Siddhartha
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Emperor of all Maladies is an informative and gripping history of cancer. Starting with the first recorded cases in ancient times and the remedies used by ancient doctors and progressing to the medical breakthroughs of chemotherapy and radiation, the book provides a wealth of information in a riveting tale. Dr. Siddhartha Mukherjee tells the stories of cancer’s most prominent adversaries like Dr. Sidney Farber as they work to develop life-saving treatments and procedures. The book is quite lengthy but kept me engaged throughout while teaching me about cancer history and treatment in a form that feels more like a novel than a textbook. If you want to learn more about one of the most prolific diseases in human history while viewing history through the lens of cancer researchers, The Emperor of all Maladies is perfect for you!

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Lightning Thief is a book starting with the premise that the Greek Gods are alive, and Percy Jackson is thrown into the middle of a war between them. Rick Riordian blends Mythological details with humor and regular teenage actions into an otherwise peaceful world. The main reason I liked this book was that you learned about the ancient Greek Gods while reading a fun book. If you read this one, I would highly recommend reading the other four books, as well as The Heroes of Olympus series.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Wrinkle in Time is an amazing book that brings fantasy mechanics into science, and makes it as real as possible. It starts off with Meg, a brilliant child in a family of brilliant people, who is struggling with grades. She blames it on herself, but she goes on and explains that it's because her father suddenly left, upsetting her natural world. A Wrinkle in Time brings together amazing description techniques, and interesting science mechanics, with quite a bit of humor. Overall, this book is one of my favorites of all time.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Gathering Blue
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Gathering Blue is the second book of The Giver quartet by Lois Lowry. Although it has different characters and a different setting than the preceding book, Gathering Blue has just as much to love and cherish. Similar to The Giver, Gathering Blue has themes of secrecy, dystopia, and destiny. The protagonist, Kira, questions her authority's judgments and cares deeply for the safety of her friends. Lois Lowry delivers convincing worldbuilding, relaxing scenes, and sequences, and charming characters. The book itself can be slow at times but is balanced by moments of suspense and short escapades.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Compass South
Larson, Hope
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Compass South is the thrilling story of Alexander (Alex) and Cleopatra (Cleo) Dodge, twins in 1850s America. With their single father missing, and no money left to live, the twins abandon their gang-ridden home in Manhattan. Cleo and Alex set out to impersonate missing boys who are heirs to a rich uncle in California. Along the way, they meet suspicious characters, new friends, and obstacles of every kind. This graphic novel is a thrilling adventure with lush artwork, a solid story, and lovable characters. Each chapter slowly unravels the journey of the Dodge twins and was good enough for me to read in a single sitting. Highly recommended to lovers of graphic novels, adventure/mystery, and Mark Twain-type stories.

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

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a chilling tale of animals' uprising against humans to form an idyllic society. Without the rule of humans, animals expect equality, prosperity, and utopia. Over the course of this fable, however, the characters slowly devolve into new forms of oppression, greed, and violence against one another. Each chapter is more suspenseful than the last. The book is not entirely scary, but unsettling more than anything else. Orwell writes characters who are worth caring about, and antagonists that are easy to dislike.

Reviewer's Name: Lily

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