Reviews of Teen Books

Unbroken book jacket
Hillenbrand, Laura
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unbroken (teen version) is a well crafted biography written by Laura Hillenbrand. Unbroken tells the story of Louie Zamperini, an Olympian and bombardier of World War II. Louie was mischievous and trouble-making as a young boy until his older brother, Pete, introduced him to running. As Pete urged Louie into the sport of running, Louie began to desert his old ways and commit himself to running. Louie soon was at the top of his school in running, setting new records and winning numerous races. Louie’s skill carried him all the way to the 1936 Berlin Olympics. Reaching the strongest point of his life, Louie hoped to travel to Tokyo for the following Olympic games. Unfortunately, terror came and his dreams were to be put on hold. World War II struck, causing Louie to enter into the Army Air Forces as a bombardier. Louie and his team of airmen faced many near death experiences. Although these were blood-curdling situations, none would compare to what Louie was soon to face. On a rescue mission in May of 1943, Louie’s plane crashed. The crash led to a terrifying and unfathomable journey on which Louie survived life on a raft and the wrath of Japanese guards of the POW camp he resided at. Louie went through incomprehensible pain from being beaten by his captors, having to perform forced labor, going through starvation, and constantly battling a sickness. He was also robbed of his self-esteem and was treated like he was worthless. Consequently, Louie’s story is breathtaking and intriguing. Unbroken provides insight on the torturous lives of POW during WWII and the determination and perseverance of many during WWII.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who is a WWII buff, history lover, or is in search of a thrilling and breathtaking story. I enjoyed it because I am interested in learning about World War II and I found the book to be moving. Unbroken is fascinating and is not dull or boring. The book will leave you wanting more and you will find it hard to put it down. However, I found the beginning part to be a bit uninteresting and tedious, as it told about the planes and equipment for World War II. Once that part is over, though, the book is quite exhilarating. I would caution that younger children should not read the book, as there are some graphic and gruesome scenes of how the POWs were treated. I would suggest the book for teens between the ages of 13-16, since there is an adult version of the book for those older than these ages.
Unbroken is one of my favorite books, and anyone who is interested in history or is seeking an electrifying story should read it.

Reviewer's Name: Ava W.
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
The Glass Castle
Walls, Jeanette
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book The Glass Castle is an autobiography by Jeanette Walls, going through her hectic life and how she handled everything. I liked this book, but it's about a really sensitive topic, and it could go through a lot of overwhelming and gross details towards the middle of the book, so I recommend for more sensitive readers not to read this. I picked this book because I saw that we had to read it in school, so of course, I wanted a little peek of what it was about. The start of the book was more calm, but readers could start to tell that her family isn't the way it's supposed to be. Throughout the book, there will be a lot of surprising and unexpected events, most not very wanted. I wouldn't say I "enjoyed" the book because that would sound wrong, but I felt the need to keep reading, seeing what happens next. I feel like a lot of students could relate to Jeanette. Maybe our conditions might not be as bad as hers, but readers could feel luckier and safe to be living a better life. But overall, I do recommend this book to less sensitive readers.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
The Skin I'm In
Flake, Sharon G.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Skin I'm In by Sharon G. Flake is a realistic fiction novel from the point of view of seventh grade Maleeka. Maleeka has low self-esteem and poor body image because of people teasing her for being too black and too tall. When Maleeka meets Miss Saunders, the new English teacher, who has messed up skin from a rare skin condition, Miss Saunders is taunted by the children. But, she never lets it get to her. Throughout the book, Maleeka rethinks her biases and her insecurities. This book's story is powerful, and there is a lesson to be learned through Maleeka's experience about overcoming low self-esteem. The author illustrates the problems of this century perfectly and guides the reader through a rollercoaster of emotions.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
The Bridge Kingdom
Jensen, Danielle L.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

All her life, Lara has been trained to be the perfect wife to a man she's never met, the King of Ithicana. She's also been trained to maim, kill, and torture anything and anyone, and now she's been sent to tear down her enemy and bring his kingdom to its knees. But when she meets Aren, his loyalty to his people and passion for the truth puts a rent in her mission. And when she learns that her father is the reason for her kingdom's poverty, she realizes that Aren was never her enemy, her father is.

I liked this book because it uses one of my favorite tropes, enemies to lovers. Although Aren is meant to be the antagonist, you learn that Lara's father is the reason why both kingdoms are suffering, and seeing Lara realize she's been lied to and change alliances was the most satisfying part of the book. There's a healthy balance of passion and action in the novel, and the end left me itching to read the sequel.

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
Fireborne
Munda, Rosaria
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Revolution. The end of the dragonlord's reign. The sole survivor, Lee, having been spared by the revolutions leader, is a natural at dragon riding. After being left at an orphanage, forgotten by the people, he forms an unlikely bond with a peasant girl named Annie. She also is a natural at riding and the two having been training together since their dragons chose them. But the tournament for First Rider is coming up and them having to duel is throwing a wedge in their friendship. Not only that, but when Lee receives a message from survivors of the old regime, he must make a choice. Throw away all his hard work and rejoin his family or stick by his friends and fight for his new way of life. This exhilarating tale will leave you breathless and windswept, grasping for more. Would recommend for anyone that enjoys dragons, awesome fights and an underlying feeling of romance. Fireborne will forever be burned into my mind as a fork of fantasy and powerful story telling.

Reviewer's Name: Caden
Genres:
The Lightning Thief
Riordan, Rick
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Lightning Thief follows a twelve-year-old boy named Percy Jackson through his quest in retrieving Zeus' lightning bolt back. Percy is a normal kid who's always had trouble in school and behaving, only to find out he's a half blood. With this discovery, he's sent to Camp Half-Blood, home of the half-children of Greek Gods and mortals. We journey along with Percy when he's sentenced to a quest to find Zeus' precious weapon- his lightning bolt rod, and experience adventure, exciting battles, and new friendships.
I consider the Percy Jackson series to be a staple in every teenager's reading list. This series is similar to the Harry Potter series, and I enjoy the mythical adventures throughout both. I recommend the Percy Jackson series to anyone who wants a light but entertaining read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Alchemist
Coelho, Paulo
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Alchemist is a novel about Santiago a shepherd boy, who goes on a journey to find treasure. I've heard lots of hype around this story, but I have to admit that this story did not live up to its name.
Sure, the writing was pretty good, but I could not find myself getting into the story at all. I wasn't connected to any of the characters, and I couldn't care less about what happened to them.
Maybe this novel wasn't exactly meant to have a detailed and structure plotline, since it was more of a metaphorical piece, but the journey the main character took throughout the novel was written in such a way that made it completely uninteresting. The writing was more philosophical and seemed more like a long lecture rather than an actual story. Maybe I missed something, but as much as I wanted to like this book, I couldn't. Toward the end, I found myself only skimming the pages to skip to the end and get the story over with.
Maybe the experience with this book is different for everyone, but I'll have to say that it was definitely not for me.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Fault In Our Stars
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A romance novel about a teen struggling with cancer, this story is down-to-earth, beautiful, and painfully sad. As an avid reader of John Green's works, Green's writing style continues to blow me away. The constant memorable and hard-hitting lines still linger in my mind from time to time, even after years of reading this novel.
I loved this book when I was in middle school, and as a high schooler, I'd still have to say that it's one of my favorites. Normally, YA romance stories have me rolling my eyes at the cliché lines or unrealistic premises, but The Fault in Our Stars did not do that.
Our protagonist, Hazel Grace Lancaster, has been struggling with cancer for almost all her life. But when she meets Augustus "Gus" Waters, a cancer survivor, her life completely changes. Sounds cheesy, I know. But unlike other YA romances, this novel was beautifully and heartbreakingly realistic. The chemistry between Hazel and Gus seemed genuinely real like I was standing there with them, and I really enjoyed the many gorgeous lines written in the story.
I know some people have mixed emotions about this book, but I recommend you give it a try. It'll make you laugh, scream, and cry.
However, the reason why I docked one star off of this book, was because there were a few things I didn't particularly like very much. For example, a few scenes seemed a little odd and out of place, like they were trying too hard to be "quirky."
The movie was also far less enjoyable than the book, which is why I would still recommend giving the story a try even after watching the movie since there are some pretty different scenes.

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

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about a farm of talking animals that push out their farmer after the abuse that they endure and proceed to create their own form of government. The animals form their government without the realization of the need to work for survival and have to adapt to the situation which causes discrepancies and arguments. I thought that this book was really good due to the surprising climax, ruthless betrayal, and the historical relation that it contains, but it does have some dragging parts. The plot is unpredictable and very interesting throughout. I had to read this book for school and thought it would be boring, but after reading it I gained knowledge of history through symbolism and recommend this book for history enthusiasts such as myself. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Little Prince
Saint-Exupéry, Antoine de
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Little Prince is a story about a pilot who crash lands in the middle of a desert, attempting to repair his broken plane. Whilst he tries to do so, he meets a strange young boy who he calls the "little prince," and ignites an odd friendship with the boy.
I've found that my experience in reading this classic tale has been different each time. My first time reading, I vaguely remember thinking how childish and confusing the story was. However, through my most recent and second time reading, I've finally understood the popularity surrounding the book. Although this story is meant to be a children's story, I think that people of all ages can read and appreciate this book, as it contains some deep and meaningful themes and quotes.
This story speaks incredible volumes on the journey of growing up and is assisted in delivering this message through beautifully crafted sentences. Reading this book was an unforgettable experience, and I cannot express how stunning this book is. The illustrations in this story add some childlike charm, and the whole time I was reading, I was so content with the sweet writing style that I didn't want it to end. During the last few pages, I felt a bittersweet emotion as the story began to close, and I think the ending was perfect and added the right amount of sadness and hope.
Overall, this book is one of my all-time favorites, and I cannot recommend it enough. You will not regret reading this story, and I hope some of the lines written in this story stick with you as they have for me

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue
Schwab, V.E.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Addie LaRue, a girl who lived in Paris, made a deal. She gets to live as long as she wants, however, nobody has the ability to remember her. Until 300 years later, when a boy remembers her name.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is a book that will leave you in tears!! I really liked reading this book, all though it was not my all time favorite. The book had incredible character development (which is really important to me) and increasing plot to keep readers engaged. The only reason why I didn't give this book five stars is because about 8 of the chapters felt like they just repeating itself. Overall, it was a great book and I would read it again.

Reviewer's Name: Hayden
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
We Were Liars book jacket
Lockhart, E.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

We Were Liars is about a family called the Sinclair's. The plot follows Cadence or "Cady," a member of this rich and privileged family, and illustrates the friendships she has with the other four teenagers who vacation on the private island that the Sinclairs own. The novel has an interesting writing style and the premise is that Cady has been suffering from memory loss, and can't remember parts of what happened last summer on the island. However, there is clearly something bad that happened last summer that nobody will talk about. This leaves Cady to figure out herself and put together the pieces on why her memory is blank on the events of last summer, and what exactly happened. We readers have to solve the clues to figure out what this huge unspoken secret is along with Cady.
I understand the gist of what the author meant to do here. When I first began to read, it wasn’t a bad story. I actually didn’t mind the writing style unlike most readers, and yes, while the main character was pretty privileged and slightly ignorant, she wasn’t the worst character. However, the thing that was the dealbreaker for me was the big secret. The plot twist that the author had been hinting at for most of the book. The issue was, is that the big revelation wasn't very interesting or something to gasp about at all. I feel like there wasn’t enough groundwork laid in the earlier portions of the story for the plot twist, so when the huge secret was unveiled, it seemed very abrupt, random, and unsatisfying. There were too many holes and loose ends, and I think as a reader, most people will leave very unsatisfied and slightly confused after finishing this book.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Rebel of the Sands
Hamilton, Alwyn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Amani is a sixteen-year-old gunslinger and sharpshooter from Dustwalk. Orphaned, she lives with her abusive aunt, uncle, and cousins, but wants to run away from the desert and flee to Izman, the capital city. When she meets Jin, a mysterious foreigner, she takes her chance to leave her dead city and runs away with him. They encounter many dangers along the journey as they defend themselves against mythical creatures such as the "Nightmares" and "Skinwalkers". Along the way, Amani discovers that she can control the sand, and other secrets about herself, Jin, and the Rebel Prince.

My favorite character in this novel was obviously Amani. She is around my age, adventurous, and just wants a better life for herself. Living in Dustwalk, many of her opportunities are limited because she is female, and she represents an important theme about female autonomy and feminism. There's a bit of everything: adventure, fantasy, romance, and lots of events that kept me hooked. I liked how there were a lot of unexpected events and that the ending has some ambiguity to it. This book is the first of a trilogy, and I'm just as excited to read the other books!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Isle of Blood and Stone
Lucier, Makiia
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Isle of Blood and Stone" is an engaging story of Elias the mapmaker who lived on the island kingdom of St. John Del Mar. When he was very young, his father was lost in a plot of kidnap the princes of the kingdom, one that was never fully solved. Elias, eighteen years later, has returned home to solve this conspiracy and avenge his father. With the help Mercedes and the king, Ulises, he begins to unravel the mystery that his father, who may still be alive, has left for him. "Isle of Blood and Stone" encompasses the qualities that good books do: suspense, tension, and a little bit of love. I would recommend this book to anyone that enjoys a good book and a good plot twist.

Reviewer's Name: Caden
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