Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

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
Awards:
Genres:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Neil Gaiman's novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives an interesting perspective on the nature of childhood and the truth of reality. A folktalishly fantastical novel, this book follows a man as a he thinks back on his childhood and the magical and sometimes terrifying experiences he had as a kid. I at first found this book a little confusing because I didn't quite understand the time switch and whether or not it was meant to be serious or mystical. However, reading this book is very enjoyable as it gives very homely vibes and contains interesting mysteries to uncover. With an open ending that leaves the reader wanting, this is a great quick read for fans of Neil Gaiman or just general fiction enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
See, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As both a tea lover and someone who is interested in world cultures, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an absolutely fascinating read. The story follows the path of a minority Chinese woman who grows up in the Yunnan province tea mountains and her journey back to someone she lost. With a focus on the fermented tea Pu' erh tea, the book details the many processes for making, aging, and steeping the highly sought after tea. I really enjoyed that the author went in depth on the tea making process, especially the Chinese traditions and culture surrounding the practice of drinking tea. Unlike any book I have read, this educational and inspiring piece of literature is a must read for any bibliophile.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
Genres:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a short play about characters who are indeed NOT earnest. Algernon, a bachelor living in London, has an imaginary friend called Bunbury whose false existence he uses to get himself out of unpleasant social gatherings. Similarly, Jack—who lives in the country with his ward, an orphan named Cecily—has a made up brother named Ernest, whose constant state of “illness” allows him to visit the city when he pleases. From these false identities arises a huge misunderstanding, when Algernon decides to visit Jack’s country home posing as Ernest, the imaginary invalid brother whom Jack had planned to kill off that very day in order to end his pretending once and for all. The two friends must sort out the misunderstanding with their respective fiancées, and end up making an ironic discovery in the process.

This play is highly amusing, with its opinionated characters and witty commentary. It has a satisfying denouement; from start to finish the plot is engaging, and it doesn’t drag on. I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest to anyone who likes a clever and entertaining comedy, or just a good laugh!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The young adult book genre for the most part fells boring and stale to me. However, there was one book that I found to be great, and a real page turner, it was called Maze Runner. The book took me two days to finish, because it was such a page turner. The characters are great, the mystery is intriguing, and the drama is fun to read about. This book is one of my favorites and is a must read for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Eragon
Paolini, Christopher
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Eragon is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story and its characters drew me into this new and existing world. The author also made me want to learn more about the world history and culture. While the story was somewhat like Star Wars, it had enough new elements to make it different. This book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves fantasy or for people looking for an adventurous book to read.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Heartless
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about the Queen of Hearts and how she became so evil. Catherine's dream in life is to be the best baker of all of Hearts. These skills end up wooing the king and he eventually asks for her hand in marriage. Her mother wants her to agree, but Cath soon finds her heart is drawn to someone else, the mysterious Joker. With Hearts under attack by the dangerous Jabberwocky, Catherine gets pulled into an adventure that soon unfolds the reasons behind her infamous tale in the book: Alice in Wonderland.

I really liked this book mostly because of the characters. They were really well developed and I felt as if I knew them and was a part of their story. The plotline gets really slow in the middle, but by the end, I really enjoyed it. Meyer is the same author who wrote the Cinder Series. Even though this book is not like the Cinder Series, they are still really similar, so if you enjoyed that series, you will like this book.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book has you reading it and asking, what the heck is going on? The more you read it, the more you find out and the more you want to find out. Brandon has built a fun, magical world with this book, and it is so easy to get lost in it. I read it and fell in love with the characters and all of the mystical beings. It's such a fun fantasy book, and the creatures range from cute, to beautiful, to scary, to downright murders and I love it. If you are looking for a good fantasy book definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason and Kiely, Brendan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

My friends told me about the tv show All American, so I decided to read the book All American Boys first. I thought it was the same thing at first, just one as a book and the other as a movie, but it isn't. Both have different plots and stories even though they both talk about racism.This book is about police brutality and racism from the eyes and perspectives of two young high school boys. It's a very emotional and sad book even though it could be and was very true in the past and still in the present. This book strongly mixes up your emotions into a twist but overall, is a really good book. The book starts with Rashad getting beaten up by cops and Quinn seeing the whole thing, starting their fight for justice.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 3
Gotouge, Koyoharu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Volume 3 is a perfect introduction to the real world of the demon slayers. After Tanjiro faces off against two powerful demons, we meet Zenitsu, the second main protagonist. The lore of the demon race really starts to unfold in this volume, and seeing it be almost as fleshed out as that of the Demon Slayer Corps is very intriguing. As the exposition starts to pick up the pace towards the main plot, the action and drawing are beautiful. Again, I would recommend this volume to those continuing the series. This graphic novel is relatively light and easy to get invested in, so anyone could get into it!

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 2
Gotoge, Koyoharu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While the first volume of this wonderful series was a straightforward backstory, volume 2 presents a glimpse at what makes Demon Slayer so entertaining. The sub-plots start being developed with Tanjiro joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Much of the main cast is introduced, and the real thrill and dangers of the series are introduced. The atmosphere of the series comes out in full force during these chapters, and as just the second volume, many events are set up perfectly. Overall, I would recommend this graphic novel series to anyone continuing the series. If you are looking to get into this fantastic world, starting with the TV show or volume 1 is the way to go.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1
Gotoge, Koyoharu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The first volume of Demon Slayer serves as a fantastic exposition to the main protagonist Kamado Tanjiro. It builds up his basic backstory and also sets the plot of the story. The art style and designs of the graphic novel are captivating and seeing some of the intricate foreshadowings during a reread is entertaining. As much as I love the series altogether, the introduction is rather basic and is not very innovative other than through its concept. Overall, I would recommend this volume to anyone looking for a new graphic novel or series to get invested in.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Many have probably heard of this book, one of Shakespeare's best dramas written. Everyone has probably heard about how it's of how two lovers who try to keep a relationship through their parents' everlasting feud, but there's much more to it. It's not only about love, but also about trust, death, and interconnecting relationships. It's about heartbreak and pain washed away with heartache and drama. But one thing is for sure, the two won't stop trying to be together until death takes them apart.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Cruel Prince
Black, Holly
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Cruel Prince was an amazing and extremely unique book that I absolutely loved. I fell in love with the characters, and while this book was a bit predictable, I loved it anyway. The world that this book took place in was completely magical, as was the plot and the characters. From a strong female lead, to a charming prince, these characters could not have been more perfect. The writing was very poetic, and only added to the magic of the story.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Sage
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I absolutely loved this book. The plot was amazing, and the world building was really well done. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how dynamic the characters were. While I couldn't necessarily relate to any of the struggles the characters were going through, I really appreciated the diversity and uniqueness in each of them. This book was completely unpredictable with the plot constantly taking all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. Overall, Six of Crows was one of the best books I have read all year.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Sage
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
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:

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