Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question
Munroe, Randall
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What If? by Randall Munroe is an amazing series of completely impossible and extremely strange scientific questions that are answered with complete scientific accuracy, and a bit of humor. Munroe takes questions people ask over the web and applies physics, chemistry, and other sciences to answer the questions. One of my favorite hypotheticals is what would happen if everybody pointed a laser pointer at the moon? Munroe approaches this by slowly increasing power, until the moon’s surface explodes, and it propels itself away from earth. The hilarious and entertaining questions can provide fun for anyone with an interest in science, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s thought of an impossible hypothetical question.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Ruin of Kings
Lyons, Jenn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons is an amazingly crafted fantasy story following a young boy named Kihrin as he discovers the secrets of a world filled with gods, demons, dragons, and mages. However, Kihrin finds that his past will come back to haunt him, and he must survive with the help of anyone who will accept him. Including, but not limited to, gods, dragons, and deposed kings. The plot twists and amazing scenery make this book amazing. I enjoyed reading it very much, and would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Sheinkin, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is a must-read for history buffs everywhere. It features the history of nuclear science, including the first nuclear reactors and the building of the initial Manhattan Project team. It follows the progress of the Manhattan Project, while also detailing US and Soviet efforts to prevent German bomb development. It speaks of the heroism of commandos destroying enrichment facilities, and the long nights pulled by sleep-deprived scientists, as well as the fantastic power of the first Trinity tests. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in nuclear or WWII history.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Dune
Herbert, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most iconic science fiction novels of all time. Featuring an imaginative universe filled with strange aliens and even stranger planets, Dune provides a sense of adventure and wonder to every reader. It follows the story of a young noble as the Emperor gives his family control over the planet responsible for generating the most valuable resource in the universe, spice. But this advantageous appointment is not without its risk, and soon rival houses come to try and take control of the planet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of science fiction, and it is a must read for every Star Trek and Star Wars nerd out there.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Wrong Train
De Quidt, Jeremy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A boy is trying to get home by train, but he ends up on a strange platform with no one around and no idea when the next train is coming so he can get home. A man suddenly appears and sits with the boy, telling him rather strange stories while they wait.

This book is a collection of short stories that revolve around a bigger story. All of the stories are creepy and mysterious. If you are the kind of person who likes to be creeped out just a little, but would still like to sleep at night, this book is for you. I am not a huge horror fan, but I could not put this book down. I found this book in the kids section (the little ghost sticker on the binding intrigued me, so I thought I would give it a try) so this could be the reason I found it more bearable and less creepy than other books of that genre. No matter what grade, if you are looking for a spooky book, you should give The Wrong Train a try (unless you find it not scary at all, in this case I suggest you read it anyway because it's still pretty good.)
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A group of boys crash on an uncharted island. The boys are left with no adult supervision, leaving them to survive on their own. They begin to create a form of order, but soon that order collapses and terror begins.

I had to read Lord of the Flies for school, but it exceeded my expectations. This book made me want to cry, stare at it and ponder what I had just read and throw it across the room all at the same time, but in the best way possible. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. There will be a character or characters that you can relate to and root for. This book is a little more on the violent side. I would definitely recommend it for an older audience. Even though classics are considered boring and bland, this one is definitely worth a try. It's an emotional roller coaster that you don't want to miss.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Schlosser, Eric
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Fast Food Nation is a nonfiction book that is extremely informative about the fast food industry. The book starts with the history of fast food and then informs the audience of business deals, the horrors of fast food, and ways the fast food industry affects others. I picked this book because I wanted to know the truth to what happens in the fast food industry and all of the gross things that are done to the food. Fast Food Nation has several local and state references from Cheyenne Mountain to Greeley, Co. I really liked this book since it was outstandingly educational about every aspect of the fast food industry such as the meat industry, fast food employees, advertising, food poisoning and more; however, I would have liked it more if it went even more in-depth about all the ways the food is handled. Overall, I recommended this book if you want a good nonfiction read and if you want to be more educated about the five to ten dollar meal you buy frequently.

Reviewer's Name: Lana
Awards:
Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In eighth grade English class, we had to read the Hunger Games, but the third book, Mockingjay. Instead of reading all of this without knowing how it started, I decided to first read the first book first. Now I'm really glad I did. The first book of this series is about a girl, Katniss, who volunteers herself as tribute to attend the Hunger Games instead of her 12 year old sister, Prim. At the age of 16, Katniss struggles to survive the Hunger Games, along with her partner, Peeta, after they announced that they didn't want to kill each other. This book starts at the reaping while ends with Peeta and Katniss stepping out of the train- holding hands for the camera. Why? Read this book to find out.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Eliza and Her Monsters
Zappia, Francesca
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I enjoyed reading Eliza and Her Monsters, which, as the title suggests, is about main character Eliza who created a well-known webcomic called Monstrous Sea, but remains anonymous online. It was fun because I could relate to Eliza as an artist (not a visual artist, but the world-building aspect) and Wallace, the inevitable love interest, as a writer. Also, of course, the whole fandom idea tends to be very relatable for many teenage readers. Eliza starts to fall for Wallace at school when they connect after discovering that they're mutual fans of Monstrous Sea, though Eliza keeps her identity as the creator of Monstrous Sea secret. Their story goes through the predictable, somewhat cookie-cutter stages of a YA romance before concluding with... actually, I won't spoil it, but you'd probably be able to guess after reading the first few chapters of the book. Besides the predictability – which you'd honestly get with just about any YA romance – my other complaint is the characterization. A lot of Eliza's development or the introduction of her personality was done through telling instead of showing, and Wallace felt rather flat and underdeveloped. The book was entertaining though, and I might recommend it if you're looking for something quick, fun, and easy, and don't mind knowing what's going to happen ahead of time. In terms of content, it's clean besides the occasional profane language.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Awards:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I'll be honest. The main reason I picked up this book was because I kept hearing people talk about how 42 is the meaning of life and I had no idea what they meant. I also read it because I'm generally a big fan of science fiction, but it was mostly to understand the 42 reference. Despite my less-than-admirable intentions, though, I massively enjoyed it. The author is very creative and the writing itself is well-crafted, but, at the same time, the book doesn't take itself too seriously. It's hilarious. From the "42 is the meaning of life" idea that everyone talks about to the name "Slartibartfast," this book made me laugh out loud several times, which isn'ta common occurrence when I'm reading. I also read it as an audiobook, and Stephen Fry as the narrator makes it that much better. My only complaint about it is that the ending was a bit abrupt, but that's what sequels are for, so all in all, I would highly recommend.

Review grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Of Giants and Ice
Bach, Shelby
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I adored this series in middle school. Now that I'm older, I'm better able to recognize that it isn't exactly high literature, but it was fun to read. Putting a twist on middle grade and YA fiction's beloved fairy tale retellings, in Of Giants and Ice, main character Rory discovers she's a "character" when she joins Ever After School, which is supposedly an unassuming after-school program but actually a school where characters go on missions and eventually end up in "tales." As the name suggests, tales are when characters become characters in a fairy tale. Rory and her two friends, Chase and Lena, are thrown into a Jack and the Beanstalk tale, but discover there's something waiting for them that's more sinister than just giants. Of Giants and Ice follows a fairly typical middle grade fiction structure, with a "chosen one" middle school protagonist on an adventure with some friends and eventually solving a massive problem that, for some reason, the adults are incapable of handling without the help of kids, but it's an entertaining read with a fun premise. I would recommend for younger readers who are looking for something light and diverting.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Anne of Green Gables
Montgomery, L. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Red Pencil
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I actually analyzed The Red Pencil as a choice book for English class, but I really enjoyed it. It's told through a series of first-person poems, rather than the standard prose, which I liked because it helped me go deeper into the main character's perspective and her feelings about the things that were happening to her. The book tells the story of Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose village is destroyed by the Janjaweed as part of the Darfur conflict. She aspires to go to school where she can learn to read and write, and, among her numerous trials, finds relief through her art. The book is a work of fiction, but pulls from many stories that Andrea Davis-Pinkney gathered from real survivors of the Darfur conflict who faced similar challenges to Amira. The Red Pencil is very well-written and effective at evoking emotion and empathetic responses, and it provides the reader with insight into a life very different than the typical American's. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man untainted by sin and unworn by his years, or so he seems. The Picture of Dorian Gray follows Dorian after having his portrait done by a friend, and finding the painting, not his face, bears every mark impurity of evil and age. As a result, Dorian acts however he wants, knowing the outside world will still regard him as innocent and youthful, with no suspicions of his true character. The novel carries important themes of honesty, virtue, forgiveness, and sin. Highly recommended for lovers of period drama, mystery, and light horror. The book is also quite short which makes for a quick read.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Genres:
Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a young girl, Fanny Price is sent to live with her cousins the Bertrams at their large estate in Mansfield Park. The book follows Fanny from her childhood living at Mansfield into her early adult life. Although they are family, Fanny has no one to rely on. She is isolated from the world and finds comfort in reading. Austen most wonderfully masters the art of empathy in this novel, as the reader feels incredibly broken whenever Fanny is hurt or emotionally worn. Mansfield Park has been called controversial for the fact that Sir Thomas, Fanny's uncle, owns a plantation with slaves. Although this is wrong, it is an uncomfortable reality of the time that is era-appropriate. Besides this, Sir Thomas is not made out to be a good person worth emulation. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Austen or Jane Eyre.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Wild Swans
Chang, Jung
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jung Chang recalls the experiences of her grandmother, her mother, and finally herself, all in distinct eras of China in Wild Swans. While the book is about Chang's family and the hardships they faced under changing authorities, the account is just as much about the consequences of ideologies, and how our loyalties shape who we are. Chang describes the brutalities of Japanese occupation, as well as the callous nature of China under Mao Zedong. The book is slow at first but becomes thrilling with the rise of Mao, and Chang's detailing of life under Communism. Highly recommended for those interested in learning more about China in the twentieth century.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Awards:
The Happiness Advantage
Achor, Shawn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Happiness Advantage is a wonderfully helpful book. Through many staggering statistics, Shawn Achor proves beyond a doubt that a positive mindset is essential for success and well-being. In addition, Achor's seven simple practices are easy to implement and will have a drastic impact in your career and personal life. This book is also easy to read and quickly moves from point to point so as not to be too repetitive. Whether you are a student, well into your career, or are retired, this book can have a dramatic effect on your life. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Fix Her Up
Bailey, Tessa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Travis, a once super popular baseball star gets hurt and can’t play baseball anymore gives up on life. Enter Georgie, a once Tom-boyish now super hot girl who has always had a crush on Travis (She’s also his best friend's sister) this roller-coaster of a book tells Travis and Georgie's adorable love story, and you can’t put it down. While definitely meant for an older crowd, this story will leave you smiling. Its characters are so cute, and you are just rooting for them the whole time. If you are looking for a more mature, rom-com book then you should check out this book!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Two teens, one struggling from cancer, one a cancer survivor, meet and start becoming close. The struggles of cancer, the chance of death, the fear of not leaving a mark on the world and so much more make their relationship hard at some points. John Green is a fantastic author who really draws you in. You get really invested into the characters and their lives and you start to feel their pain. This book will make you laugh, smile, cry, and jump up and down and it’s amazing. I would definitely recommend!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie

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