Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

Restore Me book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Restore Me" by Tahereh Mafi is a breathtaking continuation of the Shatter Me series, deserving a perfect 5 out of 5 stars. Mafi's prose is as mesmerizing as ever, drawing readers into Juliette's tumultuous world with its vivid imagery and emotional depth. The character development is superb, as Juliette grapples with the weight of her newfound power and the responsibilities that come with it. The dynamic between Juliette and Warner crackles with intensity, adding a layer of complexity to their relationship that is both compelling and heart-wrenching. Mafi expertly balances action and introspection, keeping readers on the edge of their seats while delving into the inner workings of her characters' minds. The plot twists and turns with unpredictable ferocity, culminating in a jaw-dropping cliffhanger that will leave readers clamoring for more. "Restore Me" is a masterful addition to the series, showcasing Mafi's talent for storytelling and cementing her status as a powerhouse in the YA genre.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
You've Reached Sam book jacket
Thao, Dustin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"You've Reached Sam" by Dustin Thao is a heart-wrenching contemporary romance that earns a solid 4 out of 5 stars from me. Thao's writing is emotionally resonant, capturing the complexities of grief and healing with sensitivity and depth. The protagonist, Julie, navigates the aftermath of losing her boyfriend, Sam, with authenticity and grace, allowing readers to empathize with her journey of self-discovery. Thao's exploration of love and loss is both profound and thought-provoking, reminding us of the fragility of life and the importance of cherishing every moment. The themes of forgiveness and letting go are woven seamlessly into the narrative, adding layers of emotional depth to the story. The pacing is steady, immersing readers in Julie's world as she grapples with her grief and finds solace in unexpected places. Overall, "You've Reached Sam" is a beautifully written debut novel that will tug at your heartstrings and linger in your thoughts long after you've finished reading.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Ignite Me book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Ignite Me" by Tahereh Mafi is an electrifying conclusion to the Shatter Me series, earning a well-deserved 5 out of 5 stars. Mafi's poetic prose and raw emotion ignite the pages, drawing readers into the tumultuous world of Juliette Ferrars. The character development is exceptional, as Juliette evolves from a fragile girl into a fierce and empowered leader. The chemistry between Juliette and Warner sizzles with intensity, adding an extra layer of tension to the narrative. Mafi's exploration of power, identity, and love is profound, resonating long after the final page is turned. The action-packed plot is relentless, keeping readers on the edge of their seats with each twist and turn. Overall, "Ignite Me" is a breathtaking conclusion that will leave fans of the series completely satisfied.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"One of Us Is Lying" by Karen M. McManus is an addictive blend of suspense, secrets, and teenage drama. McManus crafts a gripping narrative filled with twists and turns that kept me hooked from start to finish. The characters are multi-dimensional, each with their own motivations and secrets, making it impossible to trust anyone completely. The story unfolds through multiple perspectives, allowing for a deeper exploration of each character's psyche and adding layers of complexity to the mystery. McManus's writing is sharp and atmospheric, creating a palpable sense of tension that lingers throughout the novel. As the plot unravels, the stakes escalate, leading to a thrilling conclusion that will leave readers on the edge of their seats. "One of Us Is Lying" is a must-read for fans of suspenseful thrillers with a compelling cast of characters.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
The Inheritance Games book jacket
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Inheritance Games" by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a captivating rollercoaster of mystery and intrigue. Barnes masterfully weaves together a tangled web of secrets, puzzles, and unexpected twists that kept me guessing until the very end. The protagonist, Avery Kylie Grambs, is a complex character whose journey from obscurity to inheriting a billionaire's fortune is both thrilling and thought-provoking. The dynamic between Avery and the Hawthorne family is filled with tension and suspicion, adding layers of depth to the plot. Barnes's writing style is engaging, with vivid descriptions and sharp dialogue that bring the story to life. The pacing is brisk, ensuring that there's never a dull moment as Avery navigates the treacherous waters of the Hawthorne estate. Overall, "The Inheritance Games" is a gripping read that will leave you eagerly anticipating the next installment in this thrilling series.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Hallowe'en Party book jacket
Christie, Agatha
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Agatha Christie is an author you can rarely go wrong with, and Hallowe'en Party is no exception. The book is another Hercule Poirot mystery. In this one, his friend Ariadne Oliver attends a Halloween party where a girl named Joyce claims that she once saw a murder. Later in the night the girl is found drowned in the barrel of apples.

The characters are fairly standard, though they're fairly entertaining. The dynamic between Mrs. Oliver and Poirot is particularly charming. The dead characters and the eventual murderer are also given some degree of depth. Other than that, the characters are serviceable but shallow.

The plot mostly consists of Poirot speaking to the various suspects and witnesses. It drags a bit at points, but quickly picks up. The twists are all well built up, and nothing feels like it comes out of nowhere. All the pieces fall together in a satisfying way.

This book is also sold as "A Haunting in Venice". This is because the new Hercule Poirot movie is loosely based on this story. However, the key word is loosely. So, if you watched the movie first, be aware that these two stories have almost nothing in common (aside from the main character).

I would recommend this book to fans of Agatha Christie and mystery fans in general.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Reappearance of Rachel Price book jacket
Jackson, Holly
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Reappearance of Rachel Price tells the story of Bel Price, whose mother has gone missing when she was two, and her family life. In the story, Bel’s family agrees to a documentary about Rachel’s disappearance, only then Rachel unexpectedly shows up. With cameras still rolling, Bel tries to figure out the truth of Rachel’s disappearance and uncovers many buried family secrets on the way, leading her to doubt who she should trust: her “dead” mother, or the family she knew her whole life.
I found this book enjoyable because I love all of Holly Jackson’s novels, and the plot twist in this one truly blew me away! However, it took a little while for things to start happening in the book and it kinda felt like I was forcing myself to read. But when things did start happening, the story really took shape and was a wild book to read! I especially loved Bel’s character development. She wasn’t a very likeable character as she pushes people away and is just a general rude person. But as she continues to grow, her character gets so much better and I love how Jackson incorporated that into the mystery!

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Geiger, Helen M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

“The Zoo on the Mountain” is an inspiring historical tale of The Cheyenne Mountain Zoo. This book follows the famous Coloradoan zoo and its owners through the highs and lows of its existence. Starting with Spencer Penrose’s first bear and carrying through the disastrous flood from the mountain above, the impeccably accurate accounts of this book portray the humble mountain zoo in its true light. “The Zoo on the Mountain” is a interesting and mentally moving piece of literature. It’s a zooful of knowledge!

Reviewer's Name: Dominic
The Great Gatsby book jacket
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is a really good book that I did not expect to like because I was assigned to read it in school. Set prior to the Great Depression, the book sets the stage for how the wealthy lived on the East Coast, while also portraying some of the nation's struggles at that time through various pieces of text and dialogue. The book was a constant surprise to me, and even when I felt confident something would for sure happen the book took an unexpected turn. It is very hard to find a "good" character in the book, seeing as most of them are more "morally gray", and this creates a very interesting dynamic for the reader. Overall it was a very good book, and that's coming from someone who's hated just about every book they've had to read in school.

11th grade

Reviewer's Name: Emily
Alive! book jacket
Reader's Digest Association
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Alive” is a heart-pumping, edge-of-your-seat thrill ride from beginning to end! Dozens of harrowing true stories from ordinary people who have have stared death in the eye and lived have been compiled into one book for the ultimate tale of survival. Whether it’s a devastating tornado, a collapsing ice cave or a bloodthirsty shark, “Alive!” has nothing but nonstop adventures from cover to cover. “Alive!” is a must-read for thrill-seekers everywhere. Kids, don’t try this at home!

Reviewer's Name: Dominic
A Dash of Style book jacket
Lukeman, Noah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation” truly sheds a new light on the mysterious world of punctuation. In his book, Lukeman examines each and every one of the illustrious yet overlooked punctuation marks in the English language. After discussing each mark’s unique qualities and the ways in which to employ them, he turns to the reader and provides simple yet effective exercises to give the them a grasp on the teachings of the chapter. He also uses incredible insight to determine the type of writer that over- and under- uses each type of punctuation mark, and imprints on the reader a better understanding of what punctuation does to a piece of writing. This book is a crucial piece of literature for writers and non-writers alike. “A Dash of Style: The Art and Mastery of Punctuation” definitely leaves a mark on its readers!

Reviewer's Name: Dominic
Genres:
What If 2 book jacket
Munroe, Randall
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

“What If? 2” is a must-have for both information and entertainment! Randall Munroe takes the wildest want-to-know questions from curious minds and presents them with serious — yet hilarious — scientific answers. From filling the solar system with soup to creating raging candy storms, Munroe comically lays out the effects of each silly scenario. Curious minds will devour this book full of the perfect balance of fact and fiction. “What If? 2” finds a whole new purpose for the world of science!

Reviewer's Name: Dominic
The Misadventures of Awkward Black Girl book jacket
Rae, Issa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book follows Issa Rae, a half-Senegalese actress and producer (she was the president in Barbie and also stars in Insecure!). The book follows Issa as she tries to find herself throughout her life because she has always felt awkward and how she has come to terms with herself. This book is extremely funny. While most of the book has humorous undertones, there are sections that are quite serious. Issa Rae writes about her life in an upwardly mobile immigrant family & her painful attempts to be cool. You don't have to be awkward or black to enjoy this book.

Reviewer's Name: Yasmin
Rivals book jacket
Greenwald, Tommy
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book "Rivals" by Tommy Greenwald is a book about two rival middle school basketball teams. The best players on each team are trying to do everything they can to try and beat their rival. A news reporter, named Alfie Jenks, discovers many actions that are not on the basketball court that are just as important to the game as on the court ones. I chose to read this book because the author was coming to visit our school, so I thought I'd read the book. I liked how the book was very much like a middle schoolers life, and the different perspectives. I wasn't the biggest fan of some parts where the book was cringe. But, overall I thought this book would be good for a middle school student, because I feel that it gives a good representation of some of the struggles and problems that kids can have at that age.

Reviewer's Name: Ella
The Devil Wears Scrubs book jacket
McFadden, Freida
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In the fantastical world of medicine, doctors are galavanting around saving lives in the nick of time… or not. Maybe being a doctor is less glamorous than glorified Medical Dramas may suggest. Perhaps, for the newly initiated, the countless sleepless nights on call or mean residents demanding tasks at a dizzying pace, being a doctor is harder than one could imagine. The Devil Wears Scrubs provides a humorous satirical glimpse into the misadventures of a green intern, Jane McGill, as she attempts to navigate the dizzying pace of hospitals and the profession of saving lives. Jane is metaphorically slapped across the face with reality on her first day at County Hospital; she knows nothing and will do everything wrong. It does not help that Jane was assigned under Dr. Alyssa Morgan, who seems to leave out important instructions and make Jane’s life all the harder. As Jane navigates her new hectic environment, McFadden’s humor and satire make this novel about the grueling nature of the medical field largely entertaining.

To be honest, I was skeptical, somewhat expecting a medical supernatural romance, and based on the summary and title, one could infer worse. I judged the book by the cover. However, I was pleasantly surprised. The book flows seamlessly, fast-paced, witty, and entertaining. It made me laugh a great deal with the subtlety of the humor and satire and the quick remarks of the characters. Jane is a compelling protagonist who makes a lot of mistakes and faces dire consequences.

While I enjoyed this book greatly, don’t expect anything too deep. The characters are shallow, the plot not much to fawn about, and the endless loose ends at the end. All of these reasons may seem to discount the potential of this book, but The Devil Wears Scrubs was never intended to be deep; it is supposed to be lighthearted, witty, and entertaining. So if you go into the book expecting depth, save yourself the time, and set it down, but if you want a good-natured laugh at the misfortune of another, written in a satirical tone, then by all means pick up this book right now.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Icebreaker book jacket
Grace, Hannah
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"Icebreaker" struggles to thaw even the coldest of hearts with its repetitive and uninspired intimate scenes, serving as a glaring distraction from its bland plot and overall spineless narrative. The author's attempt at crafting a compelling story falls flat, as the plot meanders aimlessly without any sense of direction or purpose. Despite the potential for intrigue in its premise, the execution falls short, leaving readers feeling disconnected and unengaged. The intimate scenes, far from adding depth or passion to the story, only serve to highlight its glaring shortcomings, becoming tedious and predictable with each repetition. Overall, "Icebreaker" fails to leave a lasting impression, offering little more than a disappointing reading experience that fails to ignite any sense of excitement or satisfaction.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Paper Princess book jacket
Watt, Erin
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

"Paper Princess" falls flat with its lackluster characters, predictable plot twists, and shallow storytelling, making it a bland addition to the young adult genre. The protagonist's journey feels contrived and uninspired, lacking the depth and complexity necessary to engage readers on any meaningful level. The dynamics between characters are superficial at best, relying heavily on tired tropes and clichés without offering anything fresh or innovative. The writing style lacks finesse, with clunky prose and awkward dialogue that detract from any potential enjoyment. Despite attempts at drama and intrigue, the narrative fails to evoke genuine emotion or investment from the audience, ultimately leaving them feeling disenchanted and disappointed. Overall, it's a disappointing experience that I wouldn't recommend to even the most inclusive avid YA readers.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Fracture Me book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Fracture Me" is a novella that delves into the depths of despair and resilience with intense emotional impact, earning its place as a pivotal addition to the Shatter Me series. Tahereh Mafi crafts a raw through the eyes of Adam Kent, offering readers a glimpse into his inner turmoil and shattered heart. As Adam grapples with loss and betrayal, his journey becomes a testament to the strength of the human spirit in the face of adversity. Mafi's prose is hauntingly beautiful, capturing the essence of pain and longing with exquisite precision. The exploration of Adam's relationships, particularly his complex dynamic with Juliette, adds layers of complexity to the story, enriching the reader's understanding of the characters' motivations and struggles. "Fracture Me" is a masterful portrayal of love, loss, and the resilience of the human spirit that leaves an indelible mark on the soul.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Unravel Me book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Unravel Me" is an electrifying sequel that not only lives up to its predecessor but surpasses it in every aspect. Tahereh Mafi's writing is as intoxicating as ever, pulling readers into a world of chaos, romance, and inner turmoil. Juliette's journey of self-discovery continues to unfold with breathtaking intensity, as she grapples with her newfound powers and the weight of her past. The dynamic between Juliette and Warner sizzles with undeniable chemistry, adding layers of complexity to an already gripping narrative. Mafi masterfully explores themes of identity, love, and sacrifice, making every page a visceral experience that resonates long after the book is finished. The plot twists and turns with relentless momentum, keeping readers on the edge of their seats until the very end. "Unravel Me" is a triumph of young adult literature, a rollercoaster ride of emotions that leaves you eagerly anticipating the next installment!

Reviewer's Name: Caroline
Where the Forest Meets the Stars book jacket
Vanderah, Glendy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Where the Forest Meets the Stars" by Glendy Vanderah is a mesmerizing blend of heart-wrenching reality and whimsical fantasy that left me utterly captivated. Set against the backdrop of a serene forest, the story weaves a tale of grief, healing, and unexpected connections that transcend the ordinary. The characters, Joanna, Ursa, and Gabriel, form an unlikely trio whose interactions are enchanting. As they unravel the mysteries of the stars and confront their own inner demons, the line between reality and fantasy blurs beautifully, inviting readers into a world where anything seems possible. The author's prose is both lyrical and evocative, painting vivid scenes that linger in the mind long after the final page. With its rich narrative and emotionally resonant themes, "Where the Forest Meets the Stars" is a masterpiece that reminds us of the magic inherent in everyday life. It's a book that stays with you, stirring your soul and igniting your imagination with every turn of the page.

Reviewer's Name: Caroline