Reviews of Teen Books

The Fourteenth Goldfish
Holm, Jennifer L.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Fourteenth Goldfish is about a girl whos grandfather finds a way to be young again. When Ellie's grandfather shows up at her doorstep as a teenager, her life gets crazy. Her grandfather found a cure to aging, but can't get into his lab due to the fact that he is unrecognizable. Ellie, her grandfather, and a couple of friends must get the T. Melvinus from the lab, before it is relocated to Malaysia.
This book was awesome. While it isn't a middle school level book, it is a great quick read. It is entertaining and was easy to read. Everyone should read this book.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

William Goldings Lord of the Flies is a classic read. It follows a group of British schoolboys stranded on an island after being shot down. Over their span on the island, with no adult supervision, the children start separating into their own groups, based on their priorities on the island, and their personalities. The entire book looks at a lot of Freudian theories, and the moral conciseness of people stripped of a society. The psychological elements involved in the book are written quite flawlessly, and there is a good balance of action, and story throughout the book. In my opinion, the book is quite unpredictable and is a very valuable read no matter the audience.

Reviewer's Name: Judah
Genres:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is quite the definition of a classic book. The two main characters, George and Lennie wander around Soledad California in the 1930s, pursuing their dream of owning their own farm. Throughout the book, there is a lot of conflicts involving Lennie, who battles with intellectual disabilities. Of Mice and Men does a fantastic job of highlighting the ups and downs of a relationship, especially when George is left to a lot of "caretaking" roles. The book was not excessively predictable, however, this is a definite element of foreshadowing that could add predictability. The entire story involves the idea of pursuing your dreams, as well as the difficulties people ran into during the great depression, and some of the sexism, racism, and overall discrimination. I think that this is a very important topic to bring awareness to, especially during the time, and I believe that Of Mice and Men does a great job illustrating that.

Reviewer's Name: Judah
The Girl from the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún, Volume 1
Nagame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I started reading this book because I found the art style appealing. I continued reading because I found the storyline to be different and intriguing. The story features two main characters: Shiva and Teacher (Sensei). Teacher finds Shiva, a little girl, in the woods and cares for her as she waits for her auntie to return for her. The curse that Teacher suffers from is transmitted by skin contact, which prevents him from being able to touch Shiva and leads to interesting situations. Teacher must attempt to protect Shiva, both from the curse he bears and from outside forces that wish to bring her harm.

This book surprised me by creating a strong connection with the characters. It showed the reasoning behind the actions taken, but also revealed that unwise actions had negative consequences. Teacher's lies are intended to keep Shiva safe, but they endanger her more than he could have foreseen.

Teacher was relatable, to an extent, because it can seem appealing to conceal or lie about things in order to make people feel comfortable. However, when the truth gets out, it can damage relationships and endanger the person you were trying to protect.

The Girl From the Other Side: Siúil, A Rún Vol. 1 was one of the best books I've read all year. I would highly recommend reading it!

Reviewer's Name: Haven
Awards:
The Art of Impossible: A Peak Performance Primer
Kotler, Steven
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

As the title would suggest, "The Art of Impossible", by Steven Kotler, prescribes a regime for achieving what he calls the "Infinite Game". In other words, achieving goals to continually improve, even in ways that might be considered impossible. Kotler depicts what top performers do on a daily, weekly, and yearly basis, and even adapts such habits into ways the average reader can understand and implement them. And while he does so in a systematic and understandable fashion, he also goes in-depth into the science behind each of the things he says. Although it sometimes gets deeply analytical, it never stops being intriguing. There are some parts that aren't completely family friendly, but the content remains solid.

Reviewer's Name: Noah
Machine
Bear, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Machine is a sci-fi space opera set in the same universe as Ancestral Night, but with completely new characters and a new writing style. It revolves around a trauma doctor, LLyn, a specialist in search and rescue. Her body has a flaw, however. She deals with nerve-drilling pain, a side-effect of living on a backwater planet with no medicine, and relies heavily on an ai-driven exo that supports her and hides her pain. When an assignment brings her to the far reaches of space, she discovers a relic of the ancient Earth. A generation ship. Sent when earth was thought to have no hope of survival, this relic has drifted across space a time, with all of its crew in cryo-sleep, and its shipmind ravaged and torn by conflicting imperatives. This book is a great read for lovers of sci-fi and mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

4 stars(Good, but not enough conflict)
Red rising is a sci-fi book set in the far future, where caste systems are a given and the lowest caste, red, is forced to mine Mars to make way for other, higher castes. The book follows the perspective of a red, Darrow, who lives a completely familiar yet grueling life as a helldiver. As he toils in the mines and in the life of an unfortunate red, his entire life is picked up and tossed in the garbage as his wife first dies, then he is inducted into a mysterious society known as the Sons of Ares, where the truth of his former life is revealed to him. I didn't like this book because there's little to no challenge to him in the overall story, but I also find this book strangely calming. I suggest this book to anyone looking for a story of growth, strategy, friendship, and betrayal.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Shadow and Bone
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Allie
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Maniscalco, Kerri
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I absolutely loved this fast paced murder mystery! With awesome likeable characters to an exciting plot, this book has it all. A good murder mystery should always have an exciting ending, and this book did not disappoint. I was totally engrossed in this master piece from start to finish, and cannot wait to start the second one. Stalking Jack the Ripper blew away my expectations and more.
Reviewer Grade: 9.

Reviewer's Name: Sage
Artemis Fowl. The Lost Colony
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A good fantasy series knows that it needs to keep building its lore as it progresses past its first few volumes. Some might start to sag around the fifth volume, but The Lost Colony doubles down and introduces a whole new species into its universe: demons. The fact that these creatures are both tied to the fairies that have comprised the series up to now and have their own set of rules that tracks with traditional demon lore is a testament to the research that went into this series.

Of course, introducing demons into the series this late in the game isn't necessarily what makes The Lost Colony good. Rather, it's the introduction of a rival for Artemis—who also has the potential to be a rival in love against Holly Short. The last few books in the Artemis Fowl series felt like an episodic "deus ex machina" that didn't change much in the grand scheme of the main character's life. The Lost Colony recognizes it's time for Artemis to grow up and pushes a surprising ending with the potential for character growth in subsequent books.

I'm actually a little surprised that it took five books to get to this point. Most of the character development had been simmering beneath the surface for quite a few books before this one. However, introducing a new character in the form of a demon imp certainly helped keep the focus on more interesting things while also minimizing some of the more childish moments (which are still there, as this is a series for children). Overall, The Lost Colony seems to be a turning point in the Artemis Fowl series, and I look forward to where it goes from here.

Fresh worldbuilding and character development for the Artemis Fowl series, I give The Lost Colony 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Ancestral Night
Bear, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ancestral Night is a book set in the far future, where our equivalent of supercomputers are built into people's brains and alien races have made a siblinghood with Humans. This book follows a salvage specialist that uncovers an ancient spaceship that mysteriously malfunctioned and then vented the crew into space. When she discovers who caused it, how it was caused, and why it was caused she is deeply disgusted. I enjoy this book because of the feel of Sci-fi that is real, and the mystery of the ancient races lost to time.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Gemeinhart, Dan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a girl and her father who are constantly on the road, living in a bus, trying to save a memory. When Coyote Sunrises mom and sisters died her father couldn't stand the memories, so they got on the road. 5 years later, Coyote finds out a park her, her sisters, and her mom created a memory box is getting destroyed and being made into some buildings. Coyote must get to Washington, without her father knowing, from Florida within a week if she hopes to get that memory box. I really liked this book. It was a great mix of emotions. I felt happy, nervous and sad throughout the book. I would rate this book a 9/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
The Proposal
Guillory, Jasmine
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A romance filled with heartwarming moments, and powerful women this book is pretty good! If you want a cute, quick read this might be the book for you. The main character is a hard worker who puts her priorities first, which is very refreshing to see. She dose not take anything from anyone and it’s great! If your looking for a cute book with a strong female lead definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
The Eyes of the Dragon
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is definitely over shadowed by many of Stephen kings other books, which is sad because it is SO GOOD! Not like his other works, this quick read is so fun it’s hard to put down. The main character is so easy to root for and the villain is so easy to hate. A great story, characters, and plot what more could you ask for? If you like Stephen king or old timely fantasy books definitely check this one out.

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
The Inheritance Games
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is perfect for anyone who loves a good puzzle or even just a good story. This book is hard to put down once you start, you get so involved in the mystery, and the characters. If you like the movie ‘Knives Out’ you will definitely love this book. The characters are well rounded and feel realistic, and the plot is amazing! If your looking for a good book to really make you think check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is perfect for all of the hopeless romantics like me who love to imagine an epic love story. This is a super cute LGBTQ+ book that will make you want to jump with joy as you read it. The characters are amazing and so easy to root for. The more you read it, the hard it is to put the book down. This book while super cute is definitely a 16+ book. So if your looking for a heartwarming story then look no further and check out this book!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie M.
Torch
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 Torch, the third and final volume, Ivy and Martin's newfound love is challenged, tested, and tried - while it seems like everything in both of their lives is trying to tear them apart for good. Brimming with wisdom and wonder, humor and irony, trials and tribulations, here is the long-awaited conclusion to the story. With secrets unveiled, prophecies fulfilled, and people under their care in peril, Ivy and Martin now face their greatest challenges yet, before the story comes to its climax, and satisfyingly joyful ending

Reviewer's Name: SL
Genres:
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I continue to be impressed with Marissa Meyer's ability to weave a compelling narrative based on common fairy tale themes but set in a sci-fi framework. A continuation of the story that started in Cinder , Scarlet felt a little distracted as it added in elements from "Little Red Riding Hood" and split its time between the new characters—mainly Scarlet and Thorne—and advancing the plot of Cinder to its next logical step. As long as you realize this series centers around Cinder and her rise to the Lunar throne, this book should provide some great entertainment.

Perhaps what I enjoyed most about this book was how it seamlessly integrated with the lore already established in the previous volume while also being true to its source. Nothing strays too far from the themes of wolves/werewolves, so it's a bit of an obvious connection to make in a series that's titled the Lunar Chronicles. Still, the thought put into constructing a plausible plot from the pieces of a short fairy tale is something that must be applauded. Even so, Scarlet does have some weaknesses that have carried over from its predecessor.

The charm of the characters in this series comes from how realistic they seem. Granted, most of the characters are teenage girls, so there are many quirks that are amusing at first but become irritating over time. In particular, Scarlet seems quite stupid. Her logic is clearly flawed, and it's obvious to the reader that she's going about things all wrong for far too long until she finally "gets it." And—of course—she's going to be attracted to the "Wolf." The other new character, Thorne, seemed underdeveloped as well, but I'm sure we'll see more of him soon.

A somewhat distracted but still excellent follow-up to Cinder, I give Scarlet 3.5 stars out of 5.

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

The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The World to Come
Horn, Dara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For lovers of art, WWII history, and philosophy, Dara Horn's "The World to Come" packs quite the punch with it's mixture of topic materials and introspection on family, religion, politics, and the concept of preservation. This book follows a family's history from before birth to the afterlife and it's attachment to a very famous painting. In terms of literary analysis, this story has some of the most vivid and interesting imagery and metaphors I have ever seen in a book. Also, it's interpretation of the Jewish afterlife is incredibly interesting, although maybe that is just because I am outside the faith. However, this book is a beautiful, sometimes gorey, piece of
literature that expanded my perspective on many aspects of global life and connection, especially the impact of war on families and time in general.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie