Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

More Happy Than Not
More Happy Than Not
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"More Happy Than Not" is a great LGBT youth novel chronicling a single summer of Aaron, a kid growing up in a poor neighborhood in New York. He struggles with his dad's recent suicide, his own attempt to do the same, and his one-bedroom apartment, but he's coping with the help of his lifelong friends and his amazing girlfriend, Genevieve. One day, Aaron meets Thomas, the interesting but directionless kid next door. They quickly grow to be best friends while watching movies on Thomas' roof and scoffing at those who choose procedures with Leteo, the revolutionary brain surgery which buries painful memories for those who can't deal with their past. But as the book goes on, Aaron's relationship with Geneveive and his friends becomes strained and his attitude towards Leteo becomes less scornful. This book is packed with twists and is a great choice for young readers and for fans of "Eternal Sunshine of The Spotless Mind".

Reviewer's Name: Mckenna R.
Renegades
Meyer, Marissa
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Renegades by Marissa Meyer is an average, but fun book about superheroes. The plot centers around Nova who has to join a team of superheroes to spy on them while secretly being a villain. Since I’ve seen a lot of superhero movies, I thought that this book was pretty cliche. I could figure out every twist before I read about it happening. I also thought that the pacing of this book was weird. Some scenes that were unimportant to the plot seemed to drag on while other important scenes went by way too fast. This might have been intentional, but I don't see the point of it. I thought that this book was average. It was an extremely forgetful book, which was very disappointing because I love some of Marissa Meyer’s previous books. One thing I did like about this book was the depiction of anarchy which is very rare, especially in young adult books. I don't think that this would be a good book to read if you have seen a lot of superhero movies since it uses a lot of cliches from that genre. However, if you are interested in science fiction, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Scarlet
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Scarlet by Marissa Meyer is the thrilling sequel to Cinder. Scarlet is a continuation of Cinder’s story while retelling another fairytale, Little Red Riding Hood. Generally, I feel like the sequels are never as good as the original, but that was not the case for this book. Scarlet was definitely my favorite book in the entire series (besides Winter). I fell completely in love with the new characters (especially Scarlet). Marissa Meyer has a talent for creating likable and relatable characters. She also has a talent for describing the setting. Cinder took place in Beijing while Scarlet took place in France. Meyer illustrated France just as vividly as she illustrated Beijing. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction or anyone who enjoyed Cinder.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is a fast-paced and action-packed book that you can't put down. The book is a futuristic and dystopian retelling of the classic fairytale, Cinderella. This is definitely one of my favorite books. You won't find another science fiction book with as many interesting and diverse female characters. The book has a very exciting plot that kept me on the edge of my seat. In addition to that, Cinder has many amazing characters. I couldn't pick my favorite one. All of the characters are lovable and distinct. Another aspect of the book that I enjoyed was the setting. I loved Meyer’s vision of what the future would look like. She described the setting perfectly. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in science fiction or fantasy genres.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is an amazing story with important underlying themes. I really enjoyed this book. I read To Kill a Mockingbird on my own and then in class, which only made me appreciate the book more. The book explores controversial issues such as prejudice, racism, what it means to be a woman/lady, and growing up, which are all still relevant in today’s society. However, this is not a book for people who enjoy eventful/plot driven stories. To Kill a Mockingbird is more of a character-driven story (in my opinion). Harper Lee’s usage of symbolism, language and setting add to the enjoyment of the book. I could not recommend this book enough. To Kill a Mockingbird is a thought-provoking and classic book that everyone should read before they die.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Meg Murry is an outcast. She feels that she doesn't belong anywhere -- not at school, and especially not among her family of accomplished scientists and visionaries. But, when three strange women appear and offer to help her find her missing father, she is whisked away to another world. With the help of her brother Charles Wallace and their friend Calvin, she works to find her father and save Earth from impeding evil. I originally read "A Wrinkle in Time" back in middle school, but decided to reread it before seeing the film, and found that I loved the book just as much as I did the first time around. The writing is charming and clever. The worlds are vast and imaginative. Meg and her brother Charles Wallace undergo compelling character arcs and discover their true purpose along the journey. I have nothing negative to say about this amazing story. To anyone who loves fantasy, sci-fi, adventure, rich characters, and interesting plots, go read this book!

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Aru Shah and the End of Time
Chokshi, Roshani
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Twelve-year-old Aru Shah has a habit of lying. She exaggerates her life to her pretentious classmates in the hopes of fitting in. But, when she lights an ancient cursed lamp to impress them, she accidentally brings about the end of days and a dark creature known as the Sleeper. Together, with her new friend Mini, they have to stop the Sleeper and save humanity. "Aru Shah and the End of Time" is an exciting, funny, heartwarming book that reminded me ofsome of the earlier "Percy Jackson" books by Rick Riordan -- and I thought Mini and Aru's unlikely friendship was a charming, very compelling part ofthe story. There were some parts that were slow and seemed to meander a little, but, nevertheless, this story was a blast. From the minute the story starts, you will want to follow Aru and her friends to the very end.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Jackaby
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The year is 1892. Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, England, in search of work when she meets the strange young detective R. F. Jackaby. After a series of unusual murders strike the town, Abigail and Jackaby work to crack the case and catch the killer. "Jackaby" is a fun, engrossing read that I couldn't put down. Every twist and turn left me dying to know more. The plot, characters, and setting were very interesting and excellently crafted. That said, I will admit that the end was a little predictable. I figured out who was the killer about half-way in, but the details surrounding the truth were unexpected enough for me to forgive that. If you are a fan of "Sherlock" and/or "Supernatural", this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Dread Mountain
Rodda, Emily
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The fifth book in the Deltora Quest series, Dread Mountain, is quite the entertaining read. Like the seven others in the series, it is an adventure novel that lives up to its name. The characters fit perfectly into the story, and are well developed. You really get to know Barda, Lief, and Jasmine as they work together to defeat the evil Shadow Lord. In this case, they struggle together to push through tough news and the environment along their journey to Dread Mountain. Along this part of the quest they meet several side characters, and while the unique 'races' of the characters are extraordinary, most stay lacking in development. The only other main fault in the book is the evil boss monster Gellick, as he doesn’t seem like a real threat to the characters. The book has more of a self vs self conflict, and I wish the big 'baddies' like Gellick were featured more as a sort-of fear than some sort of pushover. Other than that, I would recommend this book to anyone willing to spend a good 45 minutes reading.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Book Review: Oedipus at Colonus
Sophocles
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Oedipus at Colonus is part of Sophocles’ Athenian tragedies trilogy called the Oedipus plays. Oedipus at Colonus picks up after the events of Oedipus Rex and follows Oedipus’ life after his exile from Thebes. He starts off wandering in strange lands with his daughter, Antigone, trying to find out where they are. A citizen tells them that they are in Colonus, a sacred Athenian city. The King of Colonus, Theseus, comes to see Oedipus, and Oedipus asks Theseus if he can take refuge in Colonus in exchange for eternal prosperity for his city. Oedipus’ second daughter, Ismene, arrives and informs them that Oedipus’ two sons, Polynices and Eteocles, are planning to go to war with each other for the throne. Oedipus asks for refuge in Colonus, as he knows his sons will come for him due to a prophecy that was told: The city that Oedipus is buried in will forever have good fortune. Oedipus promises that if Theseus offers him his trust and protection, he will bring fortune to Colonus by being buried within its confines. Theseus agrees and him and Oedipus form a great bond. With Oedipus’ death nearing and the conflict in Thebes increasing; Antigone, Ismene, and Theseus must figure out how to solve the situation of Thebes as long as ensure Colonus’ security. I love Sophocles’ Oedipus plays because it connects history with tragedy and makes for one of the most revered plays for its age, dating back to 401 BC. I read the plays using the Dover Thrift Editions as their translations are the easiest for me to grasp and understand.

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Genres:
Room
Donoghue, Emma
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Room is from the point of view of a five year old boy named Jack whose mother was kidnapped seven years ago by a man he only knows only as "Old Nick". They've been imprisoned in a shed in his backyard ever since. To spare Jack from the horror of the situation, his mother doesn't tell him Old Nick is actually his father and that some things he sees on the TV, his only link to the outside world, are real. As a result, Jack believes that the only true reality is Room. Their tried-and-true daily routine starts to change as Jack becomes more curious about the outside world and his mother starts to hope again. This book is an incredible and moving read that will make you rethink parenting and your perspective on the world and I would highly recommend.

Reviewer's Name: Mckenna R.
1984
Orwell, George
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Although the year 1984 has long since passed, the reality created in Orwell’s novel 1984 contain aspects that our society is beginning to show. 1984 follows a society where the world is ruled by 3 superstates: Oceania, Eastasia, and Eurasia, each of which have a totalitarian english socialism government. The government of Oceania has surveillance on every citizen through monitors called telescreens that enable them to hear and see what every person is doing and every citizen is required to have a telescreen in
their homes. This enables them to see if the citizens are committing “thoughtcrime” and if they are, the thought police kidnap the person and erase them from existence. Winston Smith is our main character with a quiet rebellion against the totalitarian government of Oceania. He believes that he is an individual and should be allowed to have his own freedom. As Winston tries to avoid being erased from existence and maintain a romance with the love of his life Julia, the government slowly closes in on his treason. This is one of my favorite novels and a masterpiece by Orwell as it shows how a society with a controlling government creates fear and false order for the citizens. Aspects within the novel are present in our own government today, so who is to Orwell’s predictions aren’t slowly but truly becoming a reality.

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Simon vs.The Homo Sapiens Agenda
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Due to the fact that the new movie, "Love Simon", came out recently, I thought it'd be fitting to review the book it's based on! Simon is a mildly popular theatre kid who loves music - and is gay. One day he sees an anonymous message from another boy just like him on his school's Tumblr. His name is Blue, and over a series of emails, they form a kinship as they get to know each other better - without ever revealing their true identities. At the same time, a boy named Martin finds out about Simon and Blue's relationship and threatens to out Simon if he doesn't help Martin get to his crush, Abby. As the months pass, Simon realizes he's fallen in love with Blue and is determined to find out who he really is. The author drops clues throughout the whole novel as to who Blue might be, each one pointing to a different suspect. As each possible candidate was introduced, I felt everything from joy to confusion to dread. All in all, Albertalli creates an engaging and believable narrative of the experience of a gay teen I would recommend everyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: Mckenna R.
Orphan Train
Kline, Christina Baker
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Orphan Train," a touching novel featuring the life stories of orphans in the mid 1900's, explores the importance of friendship and the need for human belonging. This book is a novel that you will remember for awhile. It is also a quick read; a page turner leaving you completely satisfied. This novel is well-written and excitement awaits every chapter. Vivian Daly is orphaned at a young age and is sent away on the famous 'orphan train.' The book unfolds her story; but in between a new character is introduced. Molly Ayer, a girl who needs to do service hours to earn her reputation back, meets Vivian and they instantly connect. Both women tell their stories, and each are left well educated and have a new friend. "Orphan Train" emphasizes the innocence of children and how society's actions can impact the lives of those innocent children. This book is available in a young reader's format, "Orphan Train Girl", which is better adapted for a younger audience. "Orphan Train" does include a few inappropriate scenes; mostly sexually. If you love a historical novel, touching reads, and a tremendously good book, "Orphan Train" is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Siena G.
Genres:
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing! It's kind of like a twist on the show The Bachelor. The Selection would be best for teens due to some mature parts. The main character is relatable and is an awesome person to follow through the story. Romance is the main part of the story so if your a fan of romance then this would be a great book to read. I loved this book and would recommend it to teens who love romantic novels and a great story.

Reviewer's Name: Tierney B
The Cask of Amontillado
Poe, Edgar Allan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This isn’t a full length book but rather a short piece of writing - the first I read of Poe’s but by far the most entertaining. The piece is set in an unnamed Italian city during the Carnival season and depicts the protagonist, Montresor, inviting Fortunato, a former friend, to a wine tasting in his cellar. Fortunato previously insulted Montresor and this invitation isn’t one of forgiveness, but revenge. The language isn’t difficult to understand as most pieces from the 1800's are and there isn’t any research needed to be done beforehand in order to read this piece. The Cask of Amontillado possesses a dark, morbid theme which is entertaining depending on the audiences interests, for example, if increasingly horrifying character behavior is something that surprises you. I felt a range of emotions from suspicious to terrified throughout the piece and if there are any audiobooks you can get your hands on, that definitely assists in terms of establishing a more realistic setting. When I listened to the audiobook, echoes of their voices and droplets of water dripping from the ceiling of the damp cellar were included to contribute to an overall eeriness.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I don’t know where to start with this review because there are a lot of different elements of the novel to discuss. The reason why I rate Ready Player One four out of five stars instead of five out of five is the overwhelming amount of 80's references mentioned in literally every line that honestly only further bored the audience. The references to Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Back to the Future, Dungeons & Dragons and more were tolerable because they were iconic - something an individual born 20 years later still understands. Then, Cline writes paragraphs on Atari consoles and Black Tiger or Joust games which just isn’t relate-able for the majority of the audience the novel is targeting (which is why I assume the director replaced the Joust scene with a car race in the movie). But the dominant issue with Cline’s writing is not even necessarily the amount of references but the fact that he explains every single one. At some points, I thought about how I might’ve read a Wikipedia article for the same informational effect. There are plenty of plot twists to contribute to a surprising manner regarding both the characters and the video game - I was never bored with the plot. Ready Player One is one of the many futuristic dystopian sci-fi novels everyone in this generation reads - which is why the 80's references bothered me. I don’t think this is the type of novel most adults born in the 60's or 70's are going to read, yet Cline tries to appeal to them anyway.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
Awards:
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I read this novel on a whim - I had never read any of Wilde before and did not know too much about him as an author apart from the fact he was put on trial and imprisoned during his life. The Picture of Dorian Gray was thoroughly surprising and unexpected. Dorian Gray, at the beginning of the novel, is perceived by Basil Hallward as an individual worth obsessing over, he is infatuated with him and without knowing Dorian yet, the reader is too.
But then the reader is introduced to him physically and I realized he isn't all that. He's almost pompous but somehow clever and he's beautiful. Both Basil and his friend Lord Henry Wotton are influenced to see him more positively by that but I think the fact that Dorian is not tangible to the reader allows us to see him for who he truely is. According to Lord Henry, beauty is worth more than genius is, depicting which friend he prefers over the other. I wanted to sympathize with Basil because he was more sensitive than the others and I felt pity for him as I realized he was not a character anyone particularly cared immensely for. I preferred Basil over both Henry and Dorian because Henry's beliefs appeared rather traditionalist and were more controversial than common and the fact that Dorian was supposed to be a character without any fault was already a warning for me. Honestly, from the title, I did not know what direction the novel was going in from any point during the reading. To clear a few things up, Basil is an artist who paints a portrait of Dorian because he appreciates him in a more aesthetic manner than others who enjoy his company but the portrait appears to change into something more demonic as time goes on symbolizing how awful Dorian was becoming as a person. I mean, I needed to stop reading for a few minutes because I could not believe how little Dorian cared for others but I will admit that the absurdity of it all was entertaining. There is a lot of murder in this book which definitely makes the novel more interesting but then I guess I should also mention not get too attached to some characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W.
Maybe a Fox
Appelt, Kathi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a great book, it was beautiful! It was also a B.O.B book for seventh grade from what I know. I loved the characters because they are so relate-able. It all starts when Sylvie, one of the two main characters, goes missing one morning on her daily run to get in shape for track. There is only one explanation for her disappearance, the Slip, which is a mysterious body of water. Jules the other main character is crushed, Sylvie is her only sister, and after Sylvie drowns all she has left is her father. The family of two is torn apart by the loss of their mother and now, oldest daughter. Life goes on, and when the time comes for Jules to go back to school, she sees a sign of luck, but even that is not enough. While all this takes place, deep in the woods, three fox kits are born, two males and one female, who happens to be a kennen. After many adventures Senna, the kennen fox and Jules meet, drawn together by a force of nature. Then something terrible happens. It leaves Jules is in shock, but she makes a discovery of a lifetime. With all the switching from points of view, the book can be a little bit confusing, but it still is great is the reader can understand. I highly suggest this book to anyone looking for a fairly quick read, I was able to read it in about a week. This book was very enjoyable and the reader could feel like they are a part of the book. Highly suggested!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Awards:
I am Malala
Yousafzai, Malala
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"I Am Malala" was a pretty great book, and is now one of my personal favorites. It did not take me long to read and is good for anyone ages 12+.
This book does contain some sensitive contents and might not be great for younger kids, unless the parents are okay with harsh and sad topics in the Middle East. The book does not contain a whole lot of content on what goes on in that area of the world, and it mostly focuses on Malala and her story.
Malala is a young teen from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was raised peacefully, but the Taliban soon started to take over the area. The Taliban started like a little seed, but grew into a giant weed that basically controlled everything. They eventually made it so girls were not allowed to go to school, and women were not aloud out of their house unless they are accompanied by a male relative. Malala would not put up with this, for she has a desire to learn and know answers to her questions. She is the daughter of the principal of her school, and grew up admiring the students that attended. After surviving a bullet to the head, months in the hospital, and a move to England, Malala becomes activist and stands up for girl's rights and her belief that everyone has the right to go to school. I liked this book because Malala is a great role model and author. She really provides a strong figure for any girl growing up in this hectic world. This is definitely one of the best books I have read and I am sure I will read it again in times to come. Any girl (or boy) can relate to Malala because she described herself as being an ordinary girl that wanted to see change in the world. She shows that anyone can adjust their view on the world if they just use their voice to speak out. I absolutely suggest this book to someone if they are looking for a fairly quick read!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.

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