Reviews of Teen Books

Into the Drowning Deep
Grant, Mira
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I was viewing some of the recommended books in the PPLD website and I
found this book. The title seemed suspenseful and interesting, and it drew me
in, so I decided to read this book. It's about mysteries wanting to be
discovered and uncovered. Years ago, the "Atargatis" filmed a documentary
about bringing ancient life back and discovering mythical creatures. It was
all going fine until the crew disappeared- and what's weird is how footage of
the crew getting slaughtered by mermaids got leaked out. Because of this, the
public grew suspicious and began to wonder if this was just to mock. Because
of this, Theodore Blackwell is curious and forms a new group of people to
voyage to the Mariana Trench. Each person in the crew has their own specialty
and has their own reason of wanting to explore the same area. Along the way,
they discover that a lot of the "myths" are true while finding fheir way to
safety.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus
Bowling, Dusti
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is about a girl named Aven who has no arms. Avens parents
get a job which makes them have to moves to an amusement park in Arizona. She
struggles because people look at her like she dose not belong, someone even
asked her if her having no arms in contagious! She meets a boy named Conner
with Tourette's, and they become good friends. They think there has been a
murder at the amusement park and try to solve it while over coming stuff they
both have been struggling with. This book will leave you wondering what is
going to happen next, with a big twist at the end. This book is a must read
for anyone that wants an entertaining book with twist hidden in it.

Reviewer's Name: Estella
Punching the Air
Zoboi, Ibi and Salaam, Yusef
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a boy, Amal Shahid, who gets treated differently
because of his race. He had always been smart, artistic, and poetic, but
because of biases in his school, his good work is ignored and he is only seen
as disruptive. Everything goes downhill for him one night in his
neighborhood. A group of white teens and a group of black teens fight and he
is caught in the middle of them. He is caught in the middle and is charged
guilty of a crime that he didn't commit, and he is sent to prison. This ruins
everything for him, including school and college plans. I think that this is
a really interesting and informative book, but it uses a lot of slang
language and harsh language such as swearing too, so younger ages should be
aware.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
The Girl from the Channel Islands
Lecoat, Jenny
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Hedy is a Jewish girl who went to Vienna to escape the Nazis but she unfortunately trapped herself amongst them. This time, she has no escape. Her life gets into greater and greater danger everyday. She hides with her friends and family and becomes a translator and tries whatever she could to keep herself hidden and safe. She meets a German officer who gives her sympathy and feels the position she's in. Kurt is his name, and he and Hedy start to develop feelings for each other. I feel like readers would enjoy the characters and their useful friendships in the book. Overall, this book is a little more mature because of the situation and the events, especially since it's based on true events, but it is still a great read.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Bless Me, Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Taking place just after World War II in New Mexico, this novel follows the coming of age of Antonio (Tony). The story is told through the perspective of adult Tony who reflects on his childhood, starting at the age of seven when an elderly curandera, Ultima, moves in with him and his family. Throughout the novel, Tony struggles with understanding his destiny, and whether he should embrace the vaqueros of his father's family or the religious farmers of his mother's. Torn between his parents' different dreams for his future, Tony forms a close bond with Ultima, who serves as his middle ground. During the course of his childhood, Ultima shows Tony how to embrace all sides of his identity to create something new.

I enjoyed this book because it covered a variety of important themes, and although it's centered around Chicano culture and literature, its message transcends cultures. Tony's story was full of heartbreak, adventure, love, and hope, and in one way or another, I found that I could relate to his story and the characters around him. The 2013 film adaption also does a good job of following the original storyline.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Set during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, this novel is told through the perspective of Nick Carraway, who moves to Long Island New York for work. There, Nick meets Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multi-millionaire who has an obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy. Throughout the course of the novel, Gatsby makes several attempts to get Daisy's attention, and with the help of Nick, the two eventually begin a secret affair. Ultimately, however, Gatsby's disillusionment with Daisy ends in tragedy.

I gave this novel a three-star rating because I felt that while the plot and storyline were interesting, it doesn't resonate with young adults so I got bored reading through it. None of the characters are likable because they all commit or help in a crime, and many of their motivations are morally corrupt. Given the time it was written, some of the characters also reflect biases held at the time, which are outdated and borderline offensive now. I did like the overall themes and message of the book, and the 2013 film adaption is the best adaption of the four.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Hate U Give
Thomas, Angie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Starr is a sixteen-year-old Black teen living in Garden Heights. Although she lives in a poor neighborhood, Starr attends a private school in a predominately white affluent neighborhood. While Starr is at a party in her neighborhood, a shooting forces her to leave with her friend, Khalil. On their way back, they're pulled over by police, and when Khalil is asked to step out of the car, he's shot and killed. Following his death, Starr finds it increasingly more difficult to balance her two lives, and gains attention when she takes getting justice for Khalil into her own hands.

I loved this book! Besdies the fact that it addresses a real world issue, it was also full of the everyday and the mundane, which was a good balance to the overall conflict in the story. I also liked how the ending was realistic, even if it was sad. Starr is my favorite character because her story is an important example of how each of us has a voice that is valuable, and she also shows that advocacy doesn't always have to be through demonstrations or riots.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Date
Jensen, Louise
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book consisted of several twists and turns that kept me wanting to read more. The author created a surreal feeling and connection between the reader and the main character. Throughout several chapters, the author does not want the audience to pity the main character for what she experiences. She would rather have the audience and the character go through these feelings and motions together. The climax seems as though it is in the earlier chapters of this book, but the suspense only builds from there.
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
Man's Search for Meaning
Frankl, Viktor E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Man’s Search for Meaning gives a rare perspective on life during the Holocaust. Psychiatrist Viktor Frankl was forced into four different labor camps during WWII, and ultimately survived, while his family members were all slaughtered. Most books from the Holocaust are centered around horror stories from prison camps, and the sheer brutality of one of human history’s most devastating genocides. Frankl gives the psychiatrist’s view on life after camp and works to answer one essential question - how do we move on from grief? He recounts the moment he was free to leave as confusing - almost more shocking than freeing. What do you do after your entire family is killed? Where do you go after being released from a death camp hundreds of miles from home?

The book’s storytelling is devastating and beautifully crafted, and its exploration of humanity’s search for lives worth living - lives significant for the individual - has become one of America’s most influential pieces of literature. The book is heartbreaking, but so is any story worth telling. It has everything to be expected from such a terrifying chapter in our history, but what makes it so unique is the way it addresses life after the terror ends. Anyone wanting to search for meaning in their own lives, or at the very least get a new perspective on the Holocaust, needs to read this.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
A Good Man
Katz, Ani
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book was a little rough to get through at the start. However, once they reached the rising action, it was hard to put down. The word choice Ani Katz puts into each and every paragraph truly justifies the situations of this man's perspective. While reading, I felt as if I was being told a story by someone close to the main character about this man's adventures and tales. The ending of this book is sure to be remembered.
Reviewer's Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
If I Stay
Forman, Gayle
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I've watched the movie of this book, so I decided to read the book too. Mia was a 17 year old girl who went through a treacherous car crash and lost everything. She was deciding whether she wanted to go to Julliard or spend the years with her boyfriend before this happened but because of this accident, all her dreams shattered. It's a really emotional story, as she loses her entire family because of the accident, and has to restart her dreams from square one. I think that teenagers would love reading this book because it's a bit of every genre and it has a mix of happy and sad emotions.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Stung
Wiggins, Bethany
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is the first book in a series. I love this book. Fiona wakes up with her world totally altered. She has a weird tattoo on her hand. The honey bees population has collapsed and the world is separated by a wall. People turn into beasts, and she is on the wrong side of the wall. I loved how Bethany Wiggins turned this book into a mystery of who, why, when what? This book was totally unpredictable, surprises around each page! I related to this book because it is about a worldwide pandemic. Honestly I think we can all relate to each and every character in this book! I know I did.

Reviewer Grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Hope
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Han, Jenny
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is absolutely amazing compared to the hit film on Netlfix; TonAll The Boys I've Loved Before. The movie covers the basic climax diagram andnonly runs through shallow waters. In the meantime, the book adventures moreninto Lara Jean's life and world. The places described and the moments thatnoccur make the reader feel as if they are a friendly neighbor walking by.nEven though this book has been made into a film, I was shocked about how thenbook set the scene in various ways and made each moment special.

Reviewer's Name: Savanah
Losing Hope
Hoover, Colleen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Losing Hope is about a guy named Dead Holder meeting a troubled girl named Sky. This book continues from Hopeless, a book in Sky's perspective. Losing Hope is in Dean's perspective, as it reveals the truth about Dean. We find out that Holder had been stressed about the girl because he couldn't save her from grave danger. Because of this, his life has been filled with guilt and anger over himself. This book was very interesting when I started to read, but when I kept going, I realized that it might be for an older and more mature age level, as there might be some things I don't completely understand. Also, it could be slightly disturbing to younger readers because of how Dean is addicted to stalking and searching for her, which is odd. I will probably continue reading the book when I'm older, so I could get the complete context of it. Overall, it's a very interesting book and good book for older readers.
Reviewer's age- 14

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls
Snyder, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In Batman Volume 1: The Court of Owls, writer Scott Snyder crafts an interesting mystery for Batman to solve. And while Snyder's storytelling is great, so is Greg Capullo's artwork. I really enjoyed this comic, and I liked the mystery of the the Court of Owls. In the comic, Batman discovers that a mysterious organization has been ruling Gotham City from the shadows for years, and he has to take them down. This excellent Batman story introduces new characters, such as The Talon and Harper Row. One of favorite parts of this comic was that instead of just fighting criminals, Batman has to solve a mystery. The Snyder and Capullo Batman series is one of my favorites, and in my opinion, Batman Vol. 1: The Court of Owls is one of my favorite comics I have ever read. I think that this volume is a great start to Snyder and Capullo's run on Batman.

Reviewer's Name: Camden
Batman. Last Night On Earth
Snyder, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Batman: Last Knight on Earth is the stunning end to Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo's epic Batman run. This amazing comic ties in things from all over Snyder and Capullo's run, from The Court of Owls to Endgame to Bloom. In this story, set sometime in the future, Bruce Wayne wakes up in Arkham, to discover that the world has drastically changed from what he remembers. Earth is now basically an apocalyptic wasteland, and Gotham City is now being controlled by a mysterious villain called Omega... And so Bruce sets out on a journey to try to find out why the world is like this, and to take back Gotham from Omega. As a huge fan of Snyder and Capullo's run, I really enjoyed this comic. This story can function on its own, but really its the continuation, and the end, of the New 52 Batman series, and this story especially ties in things from Endgame and Superheavey. (Batman Vols. 7 &8.) Like the Court of Owls story, this comic was also a mystery story, because Batman has to gradually piece together the why the world is like this, and he also begins to discover who Omega is... Snyder and Capullo make an epic finish to their amazing run.

Reviewer's Name: Camden
Catching Fire
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

SPOILERS FOR THE HUNGER GAMES!

Catching Fire by Suzane Collins is recommended for 11 and above. This book involves the Hunger Games, in which people have to kill each other until one person is left who will be the victor. The main characters in this book are Katniss Everdeen, Gale, and Peeta. Katniss and Peeta are both friends because they were chosen as the two tributes from District 12. They both made a team and won the 74th Hunger Games. Peeta and Katniss were living together happily until the Quater Quell, (75th Hunger Games). This year tributes will be chosen from the group of victors from previous years. I personally liked this book. Although this book involves a lot of blood and fighting, it is intense and fun to read.

Reviewer's Name: Pranav
Rage of Dragons
Winter, Evan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Winter cultivates a nearly tangible world with his words and skillfully executes almost anything that he writes. Taken from African mythos and culture, the story follows Tau, a member of one of the lower caste systems, who starts with only ambition but uses it to fuel what he achieves and what he does. Almost everything in this book is tied together. The caste system is directly related to the magic system, while the magic system is tied to political structures, and those structures are then connected to the plot. I think the biggest strength in this book is the characters. Each is created with understandable motivations, and each with aspirations that maybe aren't so noble. Everyone feels very real when reading this book, and even the politics are linked logically. Winter displays how much Tau sacrifices for his goals, and how much he's suffered for it. And afterward, he's not much of a hero. He still has the same goals, but is driven by things that aren't as pure. I would definitely recommend this book, and it seems to have promising leads to the coming sequels.

Reviewer's Name: Noah
Genres:
The Fifth Season
Jemisin, N. K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the post-apocalyptic Stillness, where nothing is Still, N. K. Jemisin creates a cast of interconnected characters, an intriguing plot, and a fantasy world that masterfully entails factions, a magic system, and history that is weaved into the current time of the book. Jemisin goes through three different perspectives, but still maintains a sense of total engagement and interest for the reader. We follow the stories of these three, and with each learn how much of a curse each blessing can be. This series is very real and doesn't shy away from concepts that would be expected from societies in such a situation, but at the same time, is surprising in a number of ways. I really enjoyed this book; I gasped internally several times throughout, from plot twists, reveals, and realizations, and enjoyed almost every part of The Fifth Season.

Reviewer's Name: Noah
Hounded
Hearne, Kevin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Hounded is the first book in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. The series follows Atticus O'Sullivan, the last druid on earth living in Tempe Arizona. Atticus draws his power from the earth and has many encounters with gods, deities, and monsters. The series is in 1st person, and Kevin Hearne's writing style shines through Atticus's wit and intelligence. The story is incredibly gripping, imaginative, and fresh. Every book maintains such a strong story and writing I never found difficulty imagining the scenes with great detail.

Reviewer's Name: Judah