Reviews of Teen Books

Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Book Review: Invisible Man
Ellison, Ralph
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an essential American classic. Written in the late 1940s, it tells the story of a young African American man who moves north during the Harlem Renaissance and faces many trials as he attempts to find his place in society. This novel is a candid portrayal of life for Black Americans in the pre-Civil Rights era, exposing the hardships and prejudices that are often overlooked in retrospect but were all too real for Blacks during this time. It is honest, reflective, and blunt; often unsettling and disturbing. A central theme of Ellison's novel is the idea of blindness and how it affects identity. The protagonist is left confused and misguided as a result of the blindness of those he encounters, trying to fit into the expectations of others, until at last he realizes that he is, and has always been, "invisible" to society. With this revelation, the invisible man at last finds his own identity.

The novel recounts all of the events leading to the protagonist's discovery of his invisibility, beginning at his colored college in the south and taking the audience north to Harlem. The protagonist faces many different circumstances which reveal just how marginalized Blacks were in the United States in the 30s; each episode is a testament to the challenges faced by African Americans (even a reflection of the challenges faced by African Americans today) due to the blind discrimination of white people. Each incident faced by the invisible man is largely a reiteration of previous ones, merely taking place in different circumstances, which emphasizes his lack of identity--even his own blindness. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident, the protagonist loses all sense of who he used to be, and this is what allows him to begin to make change--for better or worse. There are numerous violent and suggestive scenes in this novel, so I would recommend it to older, more mature teenagers.

Ellison takes his readers on a powerful, enlightening journey with Invisible Man. His compelling writing is intertwined with tragic humor and soulful undertones of blues and jazz, the backdrop for an incredibly raw and moving novel. The invisible man's story is very relevant to society today, and Ellison's messages should serve as reminders to us all. I believe every American would benefit from reading this novel at some point in their life; it illustrates such an important part of our nation's history, and that of African Americans. Ellison portrays the protagonist's emotions with such introspective depth, every conflict and thought explored in all its complexities. Invisible Man may not be a particularly fun read, but it is important and it is worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Book Review: Caraval
Garber, Stephanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Caraval was an exciting and very original take on Alice in Wonderland, and I loved it. From two strong female leads to a heart wrenching romance, Caraval has it all. This book is filled with all sorts of twists and turns, and was completely unpredictable. I loved the magical world that Caraval is set in, and was a huge fan of the mystery theme in the story. The character development was extremely good, and I loved the tone that the author wrote the story in. Caraval is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

Reviewer's Name: Nicholas
Nomad
Anderson, R. J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Flight and Flame Trilogy - Here is the legend-like tale of Ivy of the Delve: how a wingless piskey girl (considered least among her people) ends up learning how to fly and eventually becoming the queen of her tribe. It is also a murderer's story of redemption: readers familiar with the character of Martin (introduced in the previous Faery Rebels/No Ordinary Fairy Tale series) will witness a transformation of villain-to-hero. This trilogy is both its own story and a semi-continuation of the first series. Readers will be able to briefly catch up with some of the characters from the previous books, as some of the play important new roles.
In Nomad, the second volume, R.J Anderson now reveals the world of the spriggans through Ivy's mysterious dreams. Captivating and compelling, intriguing and exiting, humorous and delightful - Nomad is all this and more. If I could give out awards to books, Nomad would certainly have a shiny medal on its cover. A detailed portrait of the characters is drawn in her deep words, and the story and its world deepens and richens, leading up to the edge-of-your-seat. It's quite a journey - don't overlook this jewel

Reviewer's Name: SL
Genres:
Light
Grant, Michael
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This was an amazing ending for the Gone series and although I am sad that it has come to an end the author was able to end the series in a way that satisfied all of its viewers without fan servicing.

Reviewer's Name: Jayden
Renegades
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Renegades is an action-packed, intriguing, forbidden romance-filled story. Unlike classic "hero vs. villain" stories, this story shows the ups and downs of both sides, and makes you question who the real villains are and what makes someone a real hero. The dual main character style from both Nova and Adrian's point of view adds a real depth and feeling to the book. It was easy to tell each point of view, and they collided and cooperated with each other, showing the inner workings and feelings of both characters and what they were faced with. The duality not only allows you to get to know each character better, but also lets you see the world from both different points of view, the Renegades, and the Anarchists. Nova and Adrian were both likable and understandable. From Nova's want for vengeance, and Adrian's want for justice, you get to see and experience the choices they make, the sacrifices required, and the unknowing relationship and connection between the two as they pursue their desires. Paired with the amazing setting of a futuristic utopia yet broken society, the flow and purpose of the story is just fantastic.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Awards:
Unwind
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Okay let's get the bad stuff out of the way. To start things off, many times throughout the book it feels a bit slow. I find myself trying to read a part of the book, hoping that something exhilarating will happen, but it turns out to be slow. Following that, sometimes things felt the opposite and felt rushed. At some points of the book, I feel like some plot twists/reveals were forced into happening and being revealed. I would think to myself that it's a bit cliche. But otherwise, there's nothing else that really bothers me.

Now the neutral/mixed emotions. Sometimes the transitions are very good; making the audience know another character's POV at the time of an event. Other times... well it's a little dull. For example, one scene you'd be at an action paced-fight, the other, you'd be having a conversation. But yeah this is the only neutral/mixed emotion factor.

Now the amazing stuff. The characters are absolutely amazing, the plot is amazing, and the action-paced scenes are amazing. I cannot use words to describe how much I love Neal Shusterman's unique way of writing. The way that the characters interact with the world around them, and overcome the problems and struggles put before them really draws you in, and they dynamic between the characters themselves is also amazing. Really love it!

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. The journey put forth, following William, is truly a gem that makes you think about what could've happened if something had been different. I loved reading it because I felt every details of William's journey to develop his windmill that put him on fame. His determination to prove that science is 'real' and can make a difference, especially during a time and in a culture that rejects it, shows his character and his want for a better life in his land. He perseveres through the struggles of drought and hunger, and overcomes the ridicule thrown from all sides to be able to rise up and rise above, and make his visions come true. A really inspirational story, that shows a hero's journey in a way not usually thought.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Awards:
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book just has it all. Whether it be fantasy, crime, mystery or romance. It was a real heart-wrenching novel. The fact that she shows the story from the perspective of all six characters and tells their personal stories too is amazing. Although this book is manly based on a heist, we also get to know about the setting/world around them, and get a unique look into the lives of each character and why all of them are in the situation they're in. And the fact that so much is going on in this novel, but doesn't feel chaotic or difficult to understand at all, and has amazing flow and structure, really adds to the immersive sensation. Altogether the character and world building in this story is amazing, and each and every character’s perspectives were enjoyable to read. The backstories of each character is amazing, the setting is amazing, and the slow-burn to fast-acting action and story progression keeps you on edge and wanting more.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Scythe is the first book of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, that follows dual main characters Rowan and Citra. Set in the far-future, natural death has been practically eliminated thanks to technology and the "Thunderhead," and only those dubbed "scythes," which are basically reapers, can truly kill someone. This book set up the perfect utopian world, whilst being filled with joy and sorrow. Throughout the book you learn about the interactions and struggles of characters that aren't so different from today's people. The flow was fantastic, always making you want to know more and making the jump between character perspectives really work. The inclusion of 'scythe journals' in between the chapters adds a personable feature and gives an insight into the lives of characters that while they may not be specific to the story, and important to the context and groundwork. Every character that was introduced felt so human and real and makes you wonder what it would be to live in their world. The two main characters felt like they were connected in a deep and important way, yet they also felt so different and so alive that the dual-lead works. From the world to the characters, this book will have you wanting to know more, and wondering about life in an era without true death.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Dave Barry's Greatest Hits
Barry, Dave
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dave Barry’s slapstick comedy has never been funnier than it is in Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits. It is filled with the funniest columns of his career, and they are certain to please. Barry’s style of humor will make even the sternest of audience chuckle, and it is sure to brighten your day. I enjoyed this book very much, and it has helped me through some stressful times. I would recommend it to anyone in need of a pick me up, or just looking to have a couple laughs.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Genres:
Swift
Anderson, R. J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Flight and Flame Trilogy - Here is the legend-like tale of Ivy of the Delve: how a wingless piskey girl (considered least among her people) ends up learning how to fly and eventually becoming the queen of her tribe. It is also a murderer's story of redemption: readers familiar with the character of Martin (introduced in the previous Faery Rebels/No Ordinary Fairy Tale series) will witness a transformation of villain-to-hero.This trilogy is both its own story and a semi-continuation of the first series. Readers will be able to briefly catch up with some of the characters in the previous books, as some of them play important new roles.
In Swift, the first volume, R.J. Anderson expands her world of magical folk even more to include the piskeys of Cornwall: a race of faerylike people who are adamantly against associating with faeries and, especially, their ancient enemies the spriggans. Seventeen-year old Ivy, however, ends up breaking these traditions when she meets a stranger who offers to reunite her with her lost mother. She discovers a world beyond her tiny one that is both beautiful and dangerous, filled with secrets and mysteries, and discovers her people are in grave danger and that she, with help, is the only one who can save them. Swift is a bit darker than the previous series, but it sets the stage for an even more epic adventure in book two - don't miss it!

Reviewer's Name: SL
Genres:
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question
Munroe, Randall
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What If? by Randall Munroe is an amazing series of completely impossible and extremely strange scientific questions that are answered with complete scientific accuracy, and a bit of humor. Munroe takes questions people ask over the web and applies physics, chemistry, and other sciences to answer the questions. One of my favorite hypotheticals is what would happen if everybody pointed a laser pointer at the moon? Munroe approaches this by slowly increasing power, until the moon’s surface explodes, and it propels itself away from earth. The hilarious and entertaining questions can provide fun for anyone with an interest in science, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s thought of an impossible hypothetical question.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Ruin of Kings
Lyons, Jenn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons is an amazingly crafted fantasy story following a young boy named Kihrin as he discovers the secrets of a world filled with gods, demons, dragons, and mages. However, Kihrin finds that his past will come back to haunt him, and he must survive with the help of anyone who will accept him. Including, but not limited to, gods, dragons, and deposed kings. The plot twists and amazing scenery make this book amazing. I enjoyed reading it very much, and would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Sheinkin, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is a must-read for history buffs everywhere. It features the history of nuclear science, including the first nuclear reactors and the building of the initial Manhattan Project team. It follows the progress of the Manhattan Project, while also detailing US and Soviet efforts to prevent German bomb development. It speaks of the heroism of commandos destroying enrichment facilities, and the long nights pulled by sleep-deprived scientists, as well as the fantastic power of the first Trinity tests. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in nuclear or WWII history.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Dune
Herbert, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most iconic science fiction novels of all time. Featuring an imaginative universe filled with strange aliens and even stranger planets, Dune provides a sense of adventure and wonder to every reader. It follows the story of a young noble as the Emperor gives his family control over the planet responsible for generating the most valuable resource in the universe, spice. But this advantageous appointment is not without its risk, and soon rival houses come to try and take control of the planet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of science fiction, and it is a must read for every Star Trek and Star Wars nerd out there.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Wrong Train
De Quidt, Jeremy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A boy is trying to get home by train, but he ends up on a strange platform with no one around and no idea when the next train is coming so he can get home. A man suddenly appears and sits with the boy, telling him rather strange stories while they wait.

This book is a collection of short stories that revolve around a bigger story. All of the stories are creepy and mysterious. If you are the kind of person who likes to be creeped out just a little, but would still like to sleep at night, this book is for you. I am not a huge horror fan, but I could not put this book down. I found this book in the kids section (the little ghost sticker on the binding intrigued me, so I thought I would give it a try) so this could be the reason I found it more bearable and less creepy than other books of that genre. No matter what grade, if you are looking for a spooky book, you should give The Wrong Train a try (unless you find it not scary at all, in this case I suggest you read it anyway because it's still pretty good.)
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A group of boys crash on an uncharted island. The boys are left with no adult supervision, leaving them to survive on their own. They begin to create a form of order, but soon that order collapses and terror begins.

I had to read Lord of the Flies for school, but it exceeded my expectations. This book made me want to cry, stare at it and ponder what I had just read and throw it across the room all at the same time, but in the best way possible. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. There will be a character or characters that you can relate to and root for. This book is a little more on the violent side. I would definitely recommend it for an older audience. Even though classics are considered boring and bland, this one is definitely worth a try. It's an emotional roller coaster that you don't want to miss.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Schlosser, Eric
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Fast Food Nation is a nonfiction book that is extremely informative about the fast food industry. The book starts with the history of fast food and then informs the audience of business deals, the horrors of fast food, and ways the fast food industry affects others. I picked this book because I wanted to know the truth to what happens in the fast food industry and all of the gross things that are done to the food. Fast Food Nation has several local and state references from Cheyenne Mountain to Greeley, Co. I really liked this book since it was outstandingly educational about every aspect of the fast food industry such as the meat industry, fast food employees, advertising, food poisoning and more; however, I would have liked it more if it went even more in-depth about all the ways the food is handled. Overall, I recommended this book if you want a good nonfiction read and if you want to be more educated about the five to ten dollar meal you buy frequently.

Reviewer's Name: Lana
Awards:
Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:

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