Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

Between the Sea and Sky
Dolamore, Jaclyn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Esmerine has just been proclaimed a siren, the highest honor a mermaid can have. She's excited to be a siren alongside her sister Dosia, but when she goes missing, Esmerine is sent out to find her. Along the way, she meets up with a childhood friend of hers named Alander after years of being apart, and in the search for Dosia, they rekindle their friendship and possibly even more.

Overall, this story was okay. It did a great job with visual imagery and making intriguing and three-dimensional characters. However, the story itself could have gone through a few rewrites. The plot itself is almost obnoxiously cliche for a teen novel, the transitions between scenes and locations are sloppy and out of nowhere and the finale is very dissatisfying and anti-climactic. It's a book which plot gets on my nerves! However, at the same time, I couldn't stop reading because of pretty much everything else.

Reviewer's Name: Naomi S.
The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins
Aaron, Jason
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Mighty Thor Thunder in her Veins offers a wonderful introduction to Thor's self-titled series. The graphic novel follows Jane Foster as the all-new Thor as she battles cancer and every war in the ten realms. The novel provides a wonderful introduction to her character without succumbing to the cliché of retelling her origin story in the first issue; it successfully portrays her character to the audience while seemingly dropping them in the middle of her story. Although the story is not unique, it purposefully follows a version of a classic Thor story while being very self-aware of the connections and explicitly stating them in some instances. However, the story is now told from the point of view of Jane Foster as Thor, offering a refreshing take on the original story. The novel's magical art style and deliberate writing make it an incredible contribution to the world of Thor, and it leaves the reader invested in her compelling story. Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Julia
They All Fall Down
Cohen, Tammy
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

They All Fall Down is a psychological thriller about a woman named Hannah, who lives in a psychiatric ward due to something shocking she did in her seemingly normal life. After two patients from the ward die, Hannah is convinced there is a murderer but no one else believes her. Her mother Corinne helps Hannah from the outside, and proves that the psychiatric ward isn't as innocent as it seemed to be. The novel included many twists and turns which kept me engaged through it all. However, there was more than one time when I felt lost and didn't understand what was happening. As I read along, I could eventually predict what the ending was going to be like, and I was accurate. While the ending didn't have the greatest "wow factor", itstill surprised me. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in reading about what goes through different people's lives after facing the loss of someone close to you.

Reviewer's Name: Prarthana
Ghost Story
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After Dresden becomes a ghost, he goes back to Chicago to help his friends. Dresden struggles to acclimate to being a ghost and being unable to directly help his friends. Although this book starts off slowly, it quickly picks up
to a climactic end. This book adds new depth to the supernatural world Jim Butcher has created and continues to tie past character into the story. This book adds a refreshing change to the series by mixing up the style of storytelling through Dresden's more passive role in the story. Although Butcher's style of adding a ticking time clock to every story feels quite repetitive, this book was still entertaining to read.

Reviewer's Name: Mark
Plague
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the fourth book in the Gone series, Plague, Michael Grant spins an amazing tale of fear and danger as the Darkness once again threatens Perdido Beach and those still alive must do anything in their power to stop it. The horrors of Lies are gone but, the children’s newfound solidarity is challenged when they are threatened by a plague and carnivorous insects that challenge even the most powerful of the mutants. These blights leave no one unscathed and the reader is again immersed in a frightening and chaotic world where nothing is certain. Plague is guaranteed to satisfy science fiction readers and anyone who enjoyed the first three books is guaranteed to love this one.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Lies
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Lies, the third book in the Gone series by Michael Grant is another riveting story. Filled with mystery, intrigue, and Drake, the tentacle-wielding psychopath who is back for vengeance. The anti-mutant sentiment has grown, and full-scale violence is not far behind. Now only the wits of Sam, Astrid and their loyal friends can keep the children in the FAYZ alive and unharmed. But this will be no easy feat, lies spread by those who claim to be prophets have filled the ears of many and the zealots are capable of anything and they threat they pose is greater than all others. Lies is an amazing combination of the best parts of the first and second books in the series and puts a sense of dread in the reader as if they were living through the terror of the FAYZ. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first two books, this novel follows the same great storytelling style.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Hunger
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Hunger, the second volume of Michael Grant’s Gone series, the bleakness of the FAYZ sets in as anti-mutant sentiment rises and conflict seems inevitable. Hunger runs rampant through Perdido Beach and famine is not far away. However, these problems fade into the background when an evil voice begins to speak to some of the children, trying to persuade them to do various tasks. This novel does not sugarcoat the difficulties of survival and the resulting story is a supernatural version of Lord of the Flies which snares the reader in an amazingly complex and mysterious universe. I found myself imagining that I was a character in the events and could picture many of the fantastical elements of the story with great detail, as if I had seen them firsthand. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first novel in the series, Gone, and who enjoys survival novels like Hatchet.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Gone
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Sci-fi novel Gone by Michael Grant is an amazing story of ingenuity and intrigue wrapped up into a young adult novel that combines the best elements of classic fantasy and science fiction. It follows the children in Perdido Beach California when everyone over the age of 15 vanishes and those that remain are trapped inside an opaque dome that surrounds the town. To make matters worse, some of the children start to develop superpowers and not everyone gets along. The children must work together to survive what is coming next… and they are definitely not ready for it. Gone is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys science fiction and who enjoys survival stories like Hatchet.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This Shakespeare classic tells the story of two star crossed lovers. While the story is well known, the play script is still rewarding to read. While the writing style can take a bit of time to become accustomed to, the thoughtfulness of the dialogue can be appreciated much better than while watching the play. While the ending of the book is somewhat spoiled in the prologue, the story telling is almost more important than the story. The writing is filled with word play and jokes in addition to the famous lines of eloquent iambic pentameter. Sometimes a translation is needed to fully understand what Shakespeare means in certain lines, but this book will leave readers with a new appreciation for poetry and writing.

Reviewer's Name: Mark
The Metamorphosis
Kafka, Franz
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After turning into a bug, Gregor realizes he is late for work. However, it soon becomes apparent that Gregor will no longer be able to work. His family's view of him quickly changes as his previous contributions to it are quickly forgotten. This thought provoking book questions people's worth after they are lo longer able to contribute to society. Although the writing style is dry, the book is filled with allegories and symbolism that comment on the nature of individuals in society. This leaves readers to examine their own views on an individual's worth to society.

Reviewer's Name: Mark
Heartless
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Based off Lewis Carroll's character the Queen of Hearts, Catherine is a young woman living in Hearts with her parents in their bakery. Catherine knows that the King intends on proposing to her, but she doesn't want to marry him, convinced that he's infatuated with her beauty, but not in love with her. At the King's ball, Catherine meets Jest, the joker, and she falls in love with him. In an attempt to be with Jest, Catherine tries to run away with him to Chess, but doesn't make it.

I like how this book is one perspective of why the Queen of Hearts is 'heartless'. The characters are very similar to Carroll's characters, but the plot is a little different, which makes it more exciting! I also enjoyed how the book touched on the idea of fate, and whether people can outrun their fate, like Catherine tried (and failed) to do. My favorite character was Jest. Being a Joker, he was naturally an amusing character, and his ending hurt me just as much as it hurt Catherine! Hatta was my least favorite character because of all his tricks, and I was surprised when he confessed to Catherine at the end and went mad. This book had the perfect balance or romance, drama, adventure, and heartache.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
Steinbeck, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck is a vivid retelling of the already immortalized myths of legendary Arthur Pendragon and the knights that serve him. I enjoy the stories contained within and it is wonderful to have all the myths collected in one spot and rephrased by Steinbeck. However, there is one recommendation I have for readers and that is to go slowly because the wording in the book itself is fairly complicated and the text sometimes switches into extended metaphors without warning, leaving the reader lost and confused. I would not let this stop you from reading it, the book itself is amazing and the stories of King Arthur are captivating. I would recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in mythology or old stories, or simply anyone who wants an entertaining and captivating story.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Lovely Bones
Sebold, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Susie Salmon is a 14-year old girl who is killed by her neighbor Mr. Harvey after school on her way home. Mr. Harvey disposes Susie's body and throws her charm bracelet into a pond. Susie's spirit flees from her body and runs towards her personal heaven where she watches as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she also tries to come to terms with her death.

My favorite part about this book is the theme of accepting death. Susie's family struggled with closure, and as a result, Susie's soul was restless and she wasn't able to enter into 'Heaven'. Even though she's only 14, Susie explored themes such as love, friendship, the after-life, and forgiveness. Personally, I don't think Mr. Harvey's ending was enough, but I was happy that Susie and her family found closure. The book felt very personal; like I was with Susie the whole time, and I felt very connected to her and attached throughout her whole emotional growth. Ironically, Susie does the most growing when she's dead, because that's when she does the most soul searching. I also thought this book pointed out how flawed adults are, and that they aren't the perfect put-together image young teens have about them. I watched the film adaption after, and if you prefer films, the movie is just as awesome!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Terrorist
Cooney, Caroline B.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I normally would not rank a book this high but this one is well-deserved. The story is very well-written and easy to understand but is still filled with suspense and mystery. The Terrorist is the story Laura Williams whose brother dies in a terrorist attack in London. This event changes her life and she has to try to navigate it with her brother gone. I would highly recommend this book to any teen as it is very well written and over all one of my favorites. Caroline B. Cooney's writing is very nice because it is well written but still easy to understand unlike many books.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Speare, Elizabeth George
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is the story of sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler who arrives in Connecticut in 1687. All the townspeople believe she is a witch after she does some "unusual" things such as swimming and acting out bible stories. Because of this separation she begins to hang out with the towns "witch" Hannah Tupper. This friendship leads to some major problems in the future.

This book is very dull and not very exciting. I cannot find any reason to enjoy this book as it is so predictable and a very happily-ever-after type of story. I would not recommend this book because of its lack of suspense and very predictable plot.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
Twelfth Night
Shakespeare, William
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Twelfth Night is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is about multiple love triangles that take place in Illyria. The main problem is that two twins both think the other is dead and are mistaken for each other which creates many problems.

Twelfth Night is a horrible play/book. It is very dull and extremely confusing as people's names are changed throughout the play and people are constantly being mistaken for each other. Unless you have to read this, I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they want to sit through a very confusing, dull play.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
The Secret Life of Pronouns
Pennebaker, James W.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book looks at what our pronoun usage in our language says about us. There is also an online website which uses the same tools Pennebaker uses in his studies, providing the reader with an interactive aspect as well. The concepts in the book about how different pronouns correlate with different social status, group dynamics, gender, and other factors provide an insight on an aspect of daily life most people never think about. It also includes charts and graphs to help convey information, although Pennebaker does not provide his raw data for portions of the book, only his conclusion. By the end of the book many points he makes feel repetitive, making the later chapters less interesting to read.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Life of Pi
Martel, Yann
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Life of Pi starts off slowly, with a lot of details that I thought were irrelevant to the story. While Pi is moving with his family and their zoo, their ship sinks in a storm. Pi makes it to a life boat, but there are also four animals from the zoo on it. One of the animals is a tiger, which Pi must learn to control. He must also get food, water, and protection from the sun and sea in order to survive. This book shows the struggles to survive while isolated from society and also shows the fight to retain one's humanity throughout this struggle.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Dune
Herbert, Frank
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I chose to read Dune in anticipation of the coming movie, and as a much appreciated suggestion from my father. Dune follows the adventures of a young boy Paul as he enters manhood. He fights to keep the planet of Arrakis, and then goes on to fight for the title of emperor. It addresses a group of people, the Fremen and their religion of turning Arrakis, the desert planet, into a beautiful land through terraformation. This book draws you in and keeps you hooked, telling a story of becoming a man, while also making it a book worthy of praise, always surprising you with one twist or another.

Reviewer's Name: Sam W.
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Selection by Kiera Cass, is the first book in The Selection series. I have read this book multiple times for it is one of my favorite stories. With intriguing twists, the story carries you through the story of America and her journey into the unknown. While this story has many parts that have you on the edge of your seat, I also found myself feeling scared, angry, happy, sad, and many more emotions. With an interesting love triangle, the romance parts are what keep you drawn in. A book has never stood out to me in the way this story has.

Reviewer's Name: Kate

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