Reviews of Teen Books

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
Sleeping in My Jeans
Leonard, Connie King
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Sleeping In My Jeans is about a mom and her daughters who are newly homeless and follows their life through it all. The book has so many twists and turns, around every corner there is a new plot twist. It is very sad and touches on the topics of teen and child homelessness and trafficking. While I thought it was so sad and at times was hard to keep reading, I had to know how it would all end, and read the whole book in a day. I recommend this book to a more mature reader looking for a heartbreaking book you won't be able to put down.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Genres:
The Skinner
Asher, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Skinner is set in a distant future where science and technology have advanced to the point where humans live nearly infinite life spans and travel the stars with ease under the unified governance of the Polity. Neal Asher crafts a complex universe in which this story seems a miniscule part of a gargantuan timeline, I could spend countless wonderful hours studying the history preceding the novel! He crafts complex main characters: Janer, an employee of an insectoid hive mind; Erlin, a scientist with a strange past; and Keech, a reanimated corpse with unfinished business. The three unlikely acquaintances set out on the planet of Spatterjay, a world covered almost entirely with water, inhabited by humans known as hoopers who are infected with a virus that gives them superhuman strength and regeneration. When a mysterious hooper myth proves true, the intrepid visitors must work together to survive in an adventure-packed and mystery-filled journey with all the best elements of Robert Heinlein but with a 21st century audience in mind.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Rita Hayworth and Shawshank Redemption
King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is the best jail break story ever! I loved this short story when i read it in "Different Seasons". I read this book after seeing the movie, and I love both of them! Its about a guy named Andy Dufresne who is sentenced to life at Shawshank for the murder of his wife and her lover. In prison, he meets Red, a guy who knows how to get things. They become good friends. Andy always said he was innocent, and after being there for almost 20 years he escapes. It's a really really good story and I would highly recommend this book to anyone!

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Cohn, Rachel & Levithan, David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, by author team Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a delight of a holiday novel, perfect for anyone who adores Christmastime, New York City, and cute romances based in book stores. I happen to be a fan of all three of those, and found Dash and Lily's Book of Dares to be a super adorable, fluffy, and happy book perfect for the holiday (or any!) season.

Dash is antisocial, moody, prefers to keep to himself and read, and despises the chaos around the holidays, especially with his divorced parents and complicated family life. Lily, on the other hand, adores Christmas with her large family and therefore is disheartened when her parents leave her and her brother alone during the holidays in favor of a trip to Fiji. Lily's brother, Langston, decides that she needs something to occupy the time during the holidays, and gives her the idea to start a scavenger hunt of "dares" in a little red notebook, placed in her favorite bookstore, the Strand. Dash finds the notebook and accepts the dares, and the adventure begins. What follows is a chase around New York City at the holidays, a rapid exchange of dares, dreams, hopes and eventually flirtation between Dash and Lily, both of whom find that corresponding with the other is something that they desperately needed this holiday season.

I loved so much about this book. The descriptions of New York City were detailed and really made me feel like I was in the city with Dash and Lily. The author's note informs readers that Levithan wrote Dash's chapters while Cohn wrote Lily's, and having two authors really gave Dash and Lily their own different and very unique voices. This novel was adorable and sweet, and watching Dash and Lily go from strangers, to friends through the notebook, to a romantic relationship left plenty of room for character arcs and growth in both Dash and Lily. Watching them grow was satisfying and fun. The dares are humorous, and there are touching moments with themes of being brave and getting out of your bubble.

My only issues with Dash and Lily's Book of Dares were the extremely unrealistic scenarios and the characters that sometimes popped up out of nowhere. I started this book fully expecting that it would be unrealistic, and enjoyed it for being so-- to a point. For example, Lily has so many family members in Manhattan that conveniently work at places perfect for dares, who she can call on to aide her in her exploits for Dash, such as a great aunt that works at Madame Tussaud's, a cousin that works at the Strand, and even an uncle who works as a Santa at Macy's, and that seemed way too unrealistic to me. My other issue with this book was that a lot of characters, especially on Dash's side, were not given a proper background as to how they were connected to Dash. Characters seemed to frequently pop up without introduction, and served no point to the plot.

However, those elements did not take away from my enjoyment of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. It is an adorable holiday romance read that is a perfect read for the holiday season.

Reviewer's Name: Allie
The Last Present
Mass, Wendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book The Last Present follows around a group of teens that know things other people don't and two of them are able to go back in time. I really enjoyed the book and thought everything tied into each other well. While at times it can be a little confusing what is happening or why they do what they do, you end up always getting the answers. The author did a great job of making sure all the details made sense and that all the little details were included. While it is a series I had not read the other books and it made perfect sense. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book that will take you on a ride of twists and turns.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
It

It

King, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"It" is a really good book! Although its over 1000 pages it all of it is really good! "It" is about a group of kids that live in Derry Maine. The main character, Bill, looses his brother to Pennywise the clown who terrorizes the kids of Derry every 27 years. Bill and his friends Richie, Eddie, Beverley, Mike, Ben, and Stanley try to stop Pennywise. The book's cool because it also goes back and forth between the characters when they were kids in the 1950's and when they're adults in the 1980s. Lastly, even though its from Stephen King and is a famous "horror" novel, in my opinion its not very scary. If you like stories about kids going on an adventure, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In 10th grade we had to read Ender's Game for class. I wasn't excited as I normally don't like any of the books we read in class. However, I really liked it! This book is kind of a science fiction novel set in the future. The main character, Ender Wiggen, gets sent to battle school to train to fight their enemy, the buggers. In battle school he meets friends and some enemies too. And Ender's Game has a really good twist ending. Overall, I really liked it and would read it again!

Reviewer's Name: Emani
NFL Century: The One-Hundred-Year Rise of America's Greatest Sports League
Horrigan, Joe
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

NFL Century is a book about the lengthy history of the National Football League. Joe Horrigan gives a brilliant overview from the earliest days of the NFL to now. This book is also not just about the history but about the rise of American football to the pinnacle of American sports. The author beautifully describes how football overthrew baseball as America's favorite sport. I loved this book because I am a huge football fan and I was happy to learn to more about NFL history. I would highly recommend this book if you enjoy reading about sports or history.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Genres:
Gone at Midnight: The Mysterious Death of Elisa Lam
Anderson, Jake
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Gone at Midnight is a nonfiction crime book about the mysterious and brutal murder of Elisa Lam. Elisa Lam was a college student from Canada who came to visit Cecil Hotel but went missing. The Cecil Hotel is notorious for having a chilling haunted past. After a week or so Elisa Lam is found dead and an investigation is kicked off. The author goes in depth about how this investigation was messed up and didn't follow the proper procedures. I liked the suspense of the book and learning about how many people on the internet were also trying to solve the case. Finally, the author goes into detail about how this tragic event greatly impacted Elisa's family and on future investigations.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Predator's Gold
Reeve, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Taking place a few years after the events of Mortal Engines , I was aided somewhat in my read-through of Predator’s Gold by the fact that I didn’t have a movie to compare against. While the first book in this series helped set the stage, I felt the real story didn’t start until book two. After all, this series really is about the relationship between Hester and Tom. In Mortal Engines, they had only just met; in Predator’s Gold, we see how far they’ll go for each other, even if most of the story beats are somewhat predictable.

I appreciated how thoroughly real this ridiculous concept of monstrous towns roaming the world and devouring each other seems in this book. This post-apocalyptic setting felt thought-out by adding the main setting of Anchorage and the introduction of a charlatan author who cons everyone around him for his sole benefit. So often, an additional concept is added to the world-building, and I’d think, “That makes sense in this context.” I also appreciated how previous ideas were integrated into this story, showing how nothing is a “throwaway” idea.

Despite the excellent world-building, the root of this story is Hester and Tom’s relationship. While the more “romantic” elements were merely alluded to—as this is a series meant for children, after all—I was slightly annoyed with how stubborn these two characters were. If they’d been together for a few years, you’d think they’d have figured out some of these simple relationship issues before they become lynchpins tied to the survival of entire cities. I also felt the “will of God” was in a lot of the plot developments, as these two characters always seemed to be brought to the right place at the right time so they could continue to be together.

Excellent world-building with so-so character relationships, I give Predator’s Gold 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. W.
Awards:
Infernal Devices
Reeve, Philip
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Wow. OK. Maybe this series isn’t for children as much as I thought it was. Sure, a post-apocalyptic world has many subjects that can be considered dark—death being the main one—but Infernal Devices certainly went all in here and pushed the ugliness of humanity to the forefront of the plot. Of course, one wonders if the POV change to focus on the progeny of the two characters who comprised the first two books is part of why the tone of this book changed so drastically. Sure, there was violence in the previous two books; it just didn’t seem so gratuitous then. Aside from all the killing, which I suppose was meant to signify Hester’s character development, there wasn’t too much new in terms of world-building in this book. I appreciated all the developments in Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold, but the addition of the African and Middle Eastern cities didn’t expound the “city-eat-city” world that much. Sure, there was more exploration of the Lost Boys concept, but it didn’t necessarily go any deeper than the basic idea presented in Predator’s Gold.

Despite the huge time gap between book two and Infernal Devices, I did find a few things to stand out in this part of the series. First was the epic battle between automatons. I felt the action in this scene, along with the other action scenes in this book, were well-described. Second, I don’t want to give away too much, but the twist ending was a bit of a shock—even if it made complete sense. For a series that usually hits many clichés and tropes of relationships, I was honestly shocked that the author went for this ending. Of course, the ending also leaves things unresolved enough to require another book, so there is that aspect to it which I can understand.

A jump ahead in time and the amount of violence, I give Infernal Devices 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. W.
An Unwanted Guest
Lapena, Shari
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

An Unwanted Guest is a fantastic mystery novel that will consume readers till the very end! This book will make you want to stay up all night trying to figure out who the murderer is. An Unwanted Guest is a thriller that consumed me for many hours. This novel is set in a remote countryside motel where the main characters come to spend their weekend to serve as a getaway from their busy lives. At first everyone seems to enjoy the peace and lack of internet connection. But as the first victim is found, the uncertainty, panic, and fear kick in among the guests. A large snowstorm makes it impossible for any new guests or the police to arrive at the scene, so certainly the murderer must be among them! The question is who? I would highly recommend reading this book, especially if thrillers and mysteries are something you enjoy reading. I found this book to be surprising and I really liked the rural setting that this novel is set in. Finally, I really enjoyed the way that the dark secrets of each character is slowly unveiled to the reader throughout the course of the book.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth S.
Cover of the book Final Jeopardy: Man Vs. Machine and the Quest to Know Everything
Baker, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Final Jeopardy is a wonderful read. Final Jeopardy tells the story of Watson, the question-and-answering computer built by IBM to play Jeopardy. Stephen Baker describes the journey of Watson from an abstract idea, to an ignorant computer that took hours to answer a single question, to the great computing wonder that took on two of Jeopardy's greatest players, Ken Jennings and Brad Rutter. Final Jeopardy also gives insight into the great minds that developed Watson and their stressful years of programming leading up to the match. Final Jeopardy is a fantastic book and I highly recommend it for anyone who is a fan of Jeopardy, is fascinated by computers and their programming, or is interested in the future of technology.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Cover of the book Wonder
Palacio, R.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Wonder is a great book. It shows that not everyone is the same, but everyone should be treated equally. In the book, there is this one character, Auggie Pullman, who was born with facial differences. Auggie decides to go to public school, but it's very scary for him not having any friends to start off the school year. Auggie gets settled into school and starts to make friends with a boy named Jack and a girl named Summer. A rumor gets spread around the school that Auggie can pass the plague, so everyone stays away from him. I enjoyed this book because it teaches a lesson that not everyone looks the same and that we all have our differences.

Reviewer's Name: Kiana M.
Genres:
Cover of the book The Crucible
Miller, Arthur
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Crucible is an allusion to the Salem Witch Trails of 1692. The main character, John Proctor, is a well-respected farmer in the small town of Salem, Massachusetts. When the first rumors that there are witches in Salem start stirring, Proctor pays little attention to them: he doesn't particularly believe in witchcraft and believes the townspeople are simply being hysterical. However, when his wife is accused of witchcraft, John has to put aside his personal feelings and find a way to save his wife and friends from hanging.

I hated the ending, but it made the play so much better. John develops significantly as a character. In the beginning, he only cared about protecting his reputation and hiding his affair, but in the final act, John became a martyr for the people of Salem. He's my favorite character in the play, and the movie is just as good!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma M.
Awards:

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