Reviews of Teen Books

We All Looked Up
Wallach, Tommy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book We All Looked Up is from the point of view of what would happen if the world was ending very soon. There is no certainty that the world will end but they also can't be sure that it won't. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, the uncertainty that there is throughout the whole story. I thought the choices the characters made were realistic and that it was all very well thought out and written. I loved how the book made me think about what I would do if I only had a certain amount of time left to live and what I would want to be doing with this time.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Deep in the Alaskan Woods
Harper, Karen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Deep in the Alaskan Woods is a mystery thriller that will keep you wanting to read till the end. Alex decides to visit her cousins in the Alaskan wilderness to serve as a gateway from her toxic relationship. Alex loves the Alaskan wilderness and enjoys getting to be unplugged from the internet. It is a great vacation until someone is found dead! Can Alex and the others find out what or who is responsible for this action? I liked this book because I love reading thrillers and this book was definitely a thriller. I disliked that the author repeated a lot of information through the book.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Disloyal: A Memoir
Cohen, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Disloyal is a personal account of Michael Cohen's time as President Trump'spersonal attorney. Cohen describes in depth about his various experiences as serving as Mr. Trump's personal attorney and adviser. Cohen goes into detail about things and topics that the mainstream media does not report on. I liked this book because of how it it was a personal and first hand account from working in the Oval Office and with President Trump. I choose this book because I am very interested in politics and learning more about happens behind closed doors. This book was surprising and not at all what I was expecting. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading books about politics and political leaders.

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

Animal Farm by George Orwell was published in 1945 16 years after Joseph Stalin came to power in the Soviet Union. The book chronicles the formation of the Soviet Union as well as major historical soviet events. The on twist, all Soviet leaders and classes of citizens are represented by farm animals! I love this book because the reader must infer who each animal represents. Once you have that figured out, there are many events in the book that can be tied to real-world events! I enjoyed this book a great deal and I would recommend it to anyone who has a desire to learn about Soviet history or enjoys books that make the reader piece together missing story elements.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Mythology: Timeless Tales of Gods and Heroes
Hamilton, Edith
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Edith Hamilton's collection of Greek and Roman stories covers the gods, creation, and earliest heroes; stories of love and adventure, the great heroes before the Trojan War, the heroes of the Trojan War, the great families of Mythology, the 'less important' myths, and the mythology of the Norsemen. There are over 100 Greek/Roman/Norse stories, and a family tree and glossary of all the gods and goddesses included. A bonus was the illustrations which were really detailed. I read this book because I wanted an introduction to the Greek gods and goddesses before reading the PercyJackson and Olympians series, and I think it's a great book to gain somefamiliarity with the mythological characters.

My favorite short stories were: The Underworld, Cupid and Psyche, Pyramus and Thisbe, Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, and Antigone.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Honeymoon
Patterson, James & Roughan, Howard
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Nora is desired by every man and envied by every woman. She's beautiful, charming, and intelligent, but every man she's been with is dead, and FBI agent John O'Hara wants to know why. When Nora's millionaire fiance suddenly dies of a heart attack, John goes undercover as Craig Reynolds, the insurance man that will help manage Connor's finances. The more John learns about Nora, the more convinced he is that she's a killer...and the more he becomes attached to her.

The beginning of the book was a bit slow, but once Connor dies-wow!. As much as Nora is a serial killer, she's the most interesting character. We never know why she kills all the people she does, so the reader is left with a bunch of questions: Was she abused by a previous partner? Was she raised in an abusive household? Does she just hate men? Whatever the reason, Nora is good at what she does. This murder mystery book puts some murder shows to shame!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

George and Lennie are two laborers searching for work in California. While George is small and quick, Lennie is a man of tremendous size and has the mind of a young child. Despite their differences, they have formed a "family", clinging to their dream of owning an acre of land and producing their own produce. When they find a job at a ranch in the Salinas Valley, fulfilling their dream seems to be within their grasp, but conflict arises when Lennie begins a flirtatious relationship with the ranch owner's wife, and even George can't protect him from that.

I liked this book! Lennie and George's relationship is heartwarming, and it shows that having close friends can make even the hardest life bearable. My favorite characters were Crooks and Lennie. Crooks, who lives by himself because he is the only black man on the ranch, shows how discrimination affects mental well-being. Like Lennie, Crooks has been outcasted and looked down upon by society for something he can't control, and I liked how Steinbeck brought two very different characters together by sharing their shared loneliness. George is a complicated character because, at the end of the book, he does what he believes is 'best for Lennie' but it begs the question of how far a friend should go if it's in 'your best interest'. I watched the movie as well, as it was also really good!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Awards:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Jonas lives in a society where everyone is treated equally and given the same opportunity. Except for the Committee of Elders and special people lie The Giver, no one has 'special privileges'. Jonas, like everyone in his society, has a sister and two parents who were specifically handpicked to be his 'perfect parents'. In Jonas' society, no one sees color or has memories of the 'time before' beside The Giver. Eventually, Jonas is picked as the next Giver and begins his training once he officially becomes a teenager. During his training, Jonas experiences pain and happiness for the first time, and he's granted the ability to see color. After The Giver dies and Jonas becomes the new Giver, he finds it difficult to cope with the burden of enduring all the pain and suffering from the past and decides to run away.

I liked this dystopian novel. Jonas' society seems perfect on the outside, but once I met The Giver, I realized that people like Jonas could live perfect lives at the detriment of people like the Giver and Birthmothers who are isolated from the rest of society and treated based on what they can provide instead of their actual character. At first, I didn't like Jonas because he didn't think for himself and he always followed the rules. By the end of the book, after he's received all The Giver's memories, he starts to stand up for what he believes in. He even tries to save his family but sees that they're too brainwashed by the Committee of Elders.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
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:

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