Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
DiCamillo, Kate
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane is a book from the very unique perspective of a toy rabbit. Edward is a narcissistic, cold-hearted rabbit, incapable of love, until something unspeakable (by Edward's standards) happens to him and his life takes a drastic turn. Over the course of his "life", he meets many different people, all in need of him, whether he likes it or not.
The first time I heard about this book was when one of my elementary school teachers read it aloud to the class. And when I reread it just recently, it almost made me cry for the second time. I love this book and it remains one of my favorites because of multiple reasons, including its interesting perspective and excellent development of characters. Each and every one of them seem like actual, real, living people.

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This Book Is truly a classic, this I book that we've all read either as a assignment or for fun. This book was set in the Jazz era of New York, this novel tells the story of a self-made millionaire Jay Gatsby and journey to finding the love of his life Daisy Buchanan who also is a very wealthy women. In this novel we start out with a man named Nick who is also Daisy's cousin, he is basically the narrator of it all. He walks us through how he met Jay, and their journey finding daisy. Throughout this story we go through happiness, loss, and love, and it all unfolds out to be a really great novel. So if you like a tragic love story, I think this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Makaia
I Am Number Four
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore is an entrancing sci-fi/fantasy adventure that is definitely worth the read. The story follows a boy called “Four”. Four, and his guardian Henri, are aliens from another planet. Four is one of nine children with magic powers who escaped their home planet when another alien race (called the Mogadorians) invaded. Now, it is only a matter of time before the Mogadorians, who intend to take over Earth, catch up with Four and Henri.
I love this book. I have read it upwards of ten times, but it still remains entertaining every time. Even though Four is an alien, he has completely human feelings and that makes him a really likable and realistic character. There is never a dull moment in the story, and although I have already read the second book, I want to know what happens next. I recommend this book to all sci-fi enthusiasts, and even those who don’t love it. You absolutely cannot go wrong with reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Alayna
She Drives Me Crazy book cover
Quindlen, Kelly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

She Drives Me Crazy opens with Scottie Zajac horrendously losing the first basketball game of the season to her ex-girlfriend. And it keeps going downhill after that. After a horrendous fender-bender in the parking lot after the game, Scottie is forced to carpool with Irene Abraham, the beautiful head cheerleader with a heart of stone. But after a few twists and turns, Scottie comes up with a perfect way to get back at her ex: fake date Irene until their next basketball battle. But within their fake relationship, Scottie finds that maybe feelings, relationships, and exes aren't as simple as she thought.
This book was fairly simple. It was a standard rivalry turned forced cooperation turned love story, with lots of shenanigans along the way. The things that made this book stand out from the simplistic romances of its peers was surprisingly not how the main love story was handled, but rather how the previous one was. Scottie had been in a nasty breakup caused by a nasty relationship, and it shows. She's torn about her ex and is constantly conflicted over whether ending the relationship was a good idea or not, something that's sadly very common for victims of toxic relationships. Her self esteem is noticeably impacted, and she has to struggle with this throughout the rest of the book. The book also handles a lot of other difficult subjects really well, like the demonization and trivialization of cheerleading, and the criticisms given to gay athletes. Despite these heavy topics, the book still delivers the fun romance it promises, with a few interesting twists thrown in that complement the themes of toxic relationships and moving on. The characters of the book were also surprisingly endearing. Scottie was loveable despite her flaws, Irene was one of the coolest female characters I've read in years, and even the side characters each shone and grew in really unique ways.
All in all, this was a great book, which I'd definitely recommend for lovers of romance, rivalry, character growth, and some 90's era romantic gestures!

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Restart book cover
Korman, Gordon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Restart is about a boy who fell off a roof, forcing him to relearn his entire life. His old life, however, is nothing like what he envisioned. From throwing rotten tomatoes at cars to terrorizing the school, Chase is no longer who is friends want him to be. I liked this book because you never know when a bit of his old life will pop out of a clear blue sky. The moral of the story, don't hide things on a roof.

Reviewer's Name: Kai
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel following a group of farm animals who want to topple their human farmer's regime, creating a society that is perfect for themselves. While Animal Farm starts off a bit ridiculous, using pigs and other farm animals as the main characters of the story, I think that Orwell using farm animals to explain the message of his story was actually very imaginative, and made the story much more intriguing and unique. Since Animal Farm's main theme is about revolution and the obstruction of democracy, I enjoyed analyzing the symbolism that was placed in the novel, seeing the hidden parallels between the farm animals and the historical events that were occurring during that time. I liked being able to link events from the story to real historical events, such as the communist movement, the Soviet Union, and World War 2. Personally, I think that Orwell's technique in linking his novel to these historical events by using only symbolism was very creative and was written in a very thoughtful and intelligent way. Seeing how some of the book events contrasted with historical events was very strange and interesting for me, and it made me wonder how Orwell could have even thought of linking the two subject matters by only using farm animals.
Overall, I would recommend this classic novel to anyone who is open to an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Awards:
Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Pride and Prejudice is an 1813 classic novel that follows Elizabeth Bennett, an outspoken and bold woman for her time, and her journey through romance with Mr. Darcy, an anti-social and cold man. I really enjoyed this novel, and although the plot sounds pretty generic, I found myself falling in love with the characters. I especially liked seeing Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy's romance unfold, and the clear chemistry between them was also exciting to read about. Both of the characters were well written and I liked the enemies-to-lovers trope the novel followed. Seeing Mr. Darcy opening up and being able to understand why he was the way he was, was also very satisfying.
Overall, this classic novel is a classic for a good reason, and for anyone who enjoys a good healthy romance, with actual depth, Pride and Prejudice is the book for you.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Hunting Prince Dracula
Maniscalco, Kerri
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In the second installment to the Stalking Jack the Ripper series, this time we follow Audrey and Thomas to Romania, mainly to escape the grief and memories that London contains, but also to attend one of the best schools of forensic medicine. However, Audrey and Thomas are once again thrown into another murder mystery, this time facing Vlad the Impaler.
Even though the plot of this novel seemed interesting enough, like the first book of this series, I still couldn't find myself connecting to Audrey or Thomas at all. Both of them just seemed like the stereotypical cookie-cutter fantasy romance interests, with no dimension and no personality. While I enjoyed some of the interesting cultural legends and information about Romania, I felt like the novel was going way too slow. I couldn't find myself getting into it, and none of the characters really interested me and kept me focused on the novel. Once I practically forced myself to finish the book, I didn't find myself thinking about the book ever again. There was nothing interesting or unique about the novel and all the characters just seemed like the same characters that I've read about over and over again in the fantasy genre. The murder was also pretty generic and simple to solve, so there wasn't much suspense or build-up. Overall, I could see why some people would like this book, but it wasn't for me.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Dorothy Must Die
Paige, D.M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dorothy Must Die follows Amy Gumm, a trailer-park living girl from Kansas, who has battled through a not present mother, school bullies, and a life of loneliness. However, all things change for Amy Gumm when she is transported into the land of Oz. But things don't seem to be the same, cheerful, yellow brick road Oz that Amy has always heard about, and she fears that she may be in for a much more sinister adventure than she'd planned.
Dorothy Must Die is a fantasy novel that is based on The Wizard of Oz but with a dark twist. Personally, I enjoyed Amy as a character and felt that all her hard experiences in life really turned her into a dynamic character. I also enjoyed seeing how the other turned the happy tale of Oz into something way more dark and deeper. Many of the new twists the author applied to this classic tale were very imaginative and applicable to today's society, and I enjoyed the creativity the novel displayed. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reworked fairytales, and dark fantasy.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Diary of a Young Girl book cover
Frank, Anne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Diary of a Young Girl is a series of diary entries written by Anne Frank, a young girl who recounts her experiences during the Holocaust. Anne writes her experiences using memorable quotes, and even through her tough experiences, still manages to write with a sense of hopeful optimism, and Anne's belief in the world and humanity are both inspiring and tear-jerking. Anne writes in the voice of a young girl but also writes in an astonishingly real and mature way. Reading her diary entries will educate all readers on what it was truly like to live through the Holocaust, and will help those who want to be informed to be more educated on the event. The Diary of a Young Girl carries out the message of hope and teaches readers the horrors of history. All age groups should most definitely read this novel, as it holds majorly valuable lessons and will hopefully teach all audiences not to repeat our past mistakes.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle Y
500 Words or Less book cover
del Rosario, Juleah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

500 Words or Less is about Nic Chen, a girl now hated by her high school after cheating on her beloved boyfriend. Nic is trying desperately to salvage her senior year, when she stumbles upon an opportunity to write admission essays for her frighteningly ambitious peers. As she writes and learns more about the people around her, she begins to understand how much she needs to learn about herself.
This book is almost entirely in verse, which is interesting. In some parts, it's basically a normal book, just put in a more vertical format. Other times, the structure really benefits the prose, and the beautiful writing lends to the more whimsical medium. The book was almost entirely sad, and crossed into heartbreaking at the end, making it great for catharsis. Although the story itself was fairly standard high school drama, the underlying currents of mental illness, grief, and acceptance lent it a lot of weight. The book made good use of repetition and symbolism to represent cyclical thought, and had some good twists, especially one at the end that was really gut punching. The main characters were really well fleshed out, especially some side characters that helped make the story less one note. The main characters conflicts also felt very realistic, and made her sympathetic despite many of the things she did.
All in all, this was a good book. I would recommend this to anyone who likes poetry, drama, and lots of introspection.

Reviewer's Name: Eve M
Charming as a Verb book jacket
Phillipe, Ben
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Charming As A Verb" follows Columbia-ambitious professional dog walker Henri, who works hard at the prestigious FATE academy to secure his future. When intense classmate and neighbor Corinne Troy threatens to expose the fraudulencies of his dog walking business, Henri is forced to help her increase her social standing to boost an application to a dream school of her own. Before long, the two of them become close, but will their college ambition tear them apart?
This book states what it is right on the cover: charming. The atmosphere of the book is calm and cool, easily laying out a protagonist with sparkling personality and quick wit. The setting is a hectic but homey New York, the perfect set for a cautionary tale on doomed ambitions. The characters and dialouge feel real and grounded, with their own flaws and quirks that keep them loveable and relatable. The plot is relatively slow-paced, but still draws in the audience with the underlying tension of college admissions. The book was fairly standard for its genre, but it does stand out with the conflict at the end. In short, near the end of the book the protagonist does something the audience finds unthinkable, but is still understandable after all that we've grown to know him. And the consequences afterward are realistic and dire, really nailing the lesson of the story home. I only had a couple criticisms. The first was that the love interest of the story was so over the top that she sometimes came off as a caricature rather than person, although this was improved over time. I also felt that the ending didn't fully follow through the consequences of the conflict, making it a bit flat.
All in all, this was still a really good book, which I'd definitely recommend to anyone who likes well written romance, fun characters, and cute descriptions of dogs.

Reviewer's Name: Eve
Johnny Tremain book jacket
Forbes, Esther
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

If you like historical fiction or love tales of friendship through rough times, Johnny Tremain is one of those books you need to add to your reading list. Johnny Tremain is set during the revolutionary war as Johnny starts work as a blacksmith until an accident where he then turns to a more political job. Johnny also works alongside his friend Rab, who wrote for the Boston Observer and through the book, the two become close friends, working alongside each other throughout the revolutionary war. It can be a slow burn at times, but once the action picks up, it picks up highly and it is a very fascinating book to read. I love the very close friendship built between both Johnny and Rab and how it adds to their characters as the book progresses as characters who build off of each other is a favorite trope of mine. I did wish the book ended a bit differently as well, but it is still an amazing read for anyone of any age, whether you love historical fiction or not.

Reviewer's Name: Alexis
Binti book jacket
Okorafor, Nnedi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're a fan of science fiction novels like I am, and you love to see a good book with a diverse lead, you have to check out Binti! Following the story of a young girl with strong cultural ties, Binti is going to study at the prestigious Oozma Uni, but when the Meduse attack, she has to stay strong. The story is amazing but can get confusing at a few points, however, the imagery expressed within the novel is gorgeous. You can visualize everything in your mind as you read, and the storyline itself is one that will leave you thinking about it for hours. Binti also is one of the only novels of its kind in a subgenre of science fiction known as africanfuturism, a twist on afrofuturism where instead of being set in North America or another country, it is set in Africa. If you're looking for a quick sci-fi read with a gorgeous diverse lead and beautiful imagery along with a fascinating plot, you have to check out Binti.

Reviewer's Name: Alexis
Tuck Everlasting book jacket
Babbitt, Natalie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you want a very fascinating book you can be sucked into for hours, wanting more, I have to recommend Tuck Everlasting. The idea of the spring water basically making everyone immortal is amazing and after you read it, it leaves you wondering, what would you do if you had water that kept you basically immortal? The idea of a magical spring such as the Fountain of Youth has always been pondered, but this story asks more than just "what would you do if you found it?". It makes you think, would you want to share it with anyone? How would being immortal be? Would you have to live in secret? The book is great if you want to follow an amazing and magical story of friendship and if you want to wonder, what really would happen if you met an immortal family and found magical immortality water?

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

“The Fault in Our Stars” is about Hazel Grace, Augustus Waters, and many other things. We follow Hazel and Gus through their lives which seem to involve a lot of cancer. Hazel's lungs are not good lungs, they fill up with water with causes problems due to cancer. Augustus has one leg due to cancer but is doing fine. Gus and Hazel develop a relationship over reading Hazel's favorite book, An Imperial Affliction. The book leaves behind a lot of questions when it ends. In the novel we watch Hazel and Augustus navigate through their lives and become close to each other. We watch Hazel and Gus live their lives and watch life happen to them.

“The Fault in Our Stars” is a book that will break your heart, be prepared for it. Both Augustus and Hazel will make you fall in love with them. Their dynamic is adorable and so adorable and so enjoyable. Isaac was such a wonderful character. He was a friend of Augustus and personally he is one of my favorite characters. The medical accuracy is probably meh but it made sense to me, who is not a medical person. This book is part realistic, romantic, and bittersweet. The writing style describes the emotions so well. The figurative elements are used in such fun and creative ways. This book is beautiful, the characters are beautiful, the plot was beautiful, and the writing style was beautiful. The book shows the characters getting screwed over by life and it was great at showing that life isn’t perfect and that sometimes life seems to bite you in the butt. This book progresses at the perfect speed, makes you love the characters, and then breaks your heart. This book is perfect for anyone searching for an emotional book that just is realistic and beautiful.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan
These Violent Delights
Gong, Chloe
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book does a wonderful job of educating readers about history of the 1920's in Shanghai while still being an action-packed and entertaining story. The plot of two gang heirs clashing as they each work to solve the mystery of an unleashed monster in the city is unique and captivating. I love the devotion of each character to protect their loved ones and battle the conflict of values in Shanghai. This book also keeps readers on their toes. The moment I felt like the story was predictable, it proved me wrong! The longer read is worth it for being immersed in these characters' experience. I look forward to reading the sequel.

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Morning Star
Brown, Pierce
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After a year being tortured by Adrius Augustus, better known as The Jackal, Darrow has escaped capture and resumed his campaign against the tyrannical rule of the Sovereign of the Society. But Darrow isn't the man he was a year ago: he's been broken down, dehumanized, and kept in a dark cell for over a year, and now has more doubts than ever. The people he thought were his best friends betrayed him, and the last time he saw the woman he loves, she was walking away from him after learning the truth about his Carving. While Darrow knows that he is likely the last chance at destroying the Society and bringing peace, his own self-doubts and struggles could be the thing that gets him killed.

Compared to the first two books of the trilogy, this book's plot is slower and admittedly, harder to get through. I did appreciate how there is more of a focus on Darrrow's growth from a teenager to a man, and his overall growth in shifting from fighting for himself to fighting for others and a better world for everyone, not just the Reds. However, the book is lengthy and I felt there was an unnecessary amount of "fluff" and plot points that weren't relevant to the overarching plot of the novel. The ending was nice (if not bittersweet), and I'm content with where each of the characters ended.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom
Sutherland, Tui
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wings of Fire: The Hidden Kingdom, is one of my favorite books of all time. Escaping their captivity in the Sea Kingdom, the dragonets of destiny flee to the rainforest. There, they meet the infamously lazy tribe of dragons, who shelter them. But someone, or something, is disturbing this peaceful and colorful tribe. Can the dragonets save the missing dragons, and find a way to save the world before the brightest night? Well, you’ll only find out by reading the book. Although this book is about dragons, the qualities we find in our society are replicated in theirs. Each of the characters have flaws and strengths. Their personalities vary, and show emotions like greed, kindness, and sadness. As said before, qualities in our society are portrayed in the dragon society too. For example, racism, politics, and rivalries exist, and Tui. addresses these problems through the characters and their actions. By having anti racist characters, and peacekeeping characters, Tui. presents solutions to the problems in our society. All in all, I definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read.

Reviewer's Name: Jenny
Spy Camp
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Spy Camp is the 2nd book in the Spy School series. During the summer, Ben Ripley is called to Spy Camp, with is basically the same thing as Spy School, but outdoors. While he is there, an evil organization called SPYDER offers him a deal. Join them, or be killed. Ben now has his life at stake. So he refuses. He now has to be on his every move. If SPYDER finds him, he knows the consequences. Will Ben be able to outsmart SPYDER again? Or will his vacation end in disaster.

Reviewer's Name: Chase