Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

Speak
Anderson, Laurie Halse
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Speak is about a girl named Melinda who was raped at a party. She calls the police, but is unable to tell angry partygoers why she did it. As she struggles with her secret, she eventually stops talking. The book follows her as she overcomes her past and finds her voice.

I liked the book. Nothing in it really amazed me, but it wasn't a bad read.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Genres:
Wintergirls
Anderson, Laurie Halse
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In this book, estranged best friends Lia and Cassie both struggle with eating disorders. When Cassie dies, Lia must come to terms with her death and find a way to hold on to hope and recover.

The book was alright. There were a lot of metaphors and other figures of speech, which sometimes proved to be a little excessive. Nothing else really caught my attention in it.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Awards:
Genres:
Unwind
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Unwind is science fiction and takes place in a future built up of new science and terrifying new age laws. I ended up reading about this book from a recommendation from a friend and I couldn't put the book down because of the intertwined story's between the characters. It is hard to relate to these characters because they seem to do things we would like to think we would do but in the moment wouldn't think of but it think that's why I like them so much because they are almost like Hero's that are so close to being anyone of us. I would love this author and highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys action and adventure.

Reviewer's Name: Diego C.
Awards:
The Sword of Summer
Riordan, Rick
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Magnus Chase was an ordinary teenager—if you can consider normal as being a homeless orphan whose mother was murdered by supernatural wolves. Then, of course, things got worse. And weirder. Because Magnus Chase died.
The end? Not so much.
After he dies, Magnus is taken to Valhalla, the afterlife for Norse warriors. There he learns that he is the demigod son of Frey, a Norse god, and that his two best friends Blitzen and Hearthstone are a dwarf and an elf. Oh, and the world is about to end because a wolf is going to bring on Ragnarok. Now Magnus has to face some of his deepest fears, travel across realms, and somehow befriend a talking sword named Jack in order to prevent Armageddon and save the world from Fenris wolf’s wrath.
Written in irreverent first person with equal doses of humor and drama, The Sword of Summer is captivating from the first chapter and holds interest and emotion to the very last word.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Tessa L.
Thirteen Reasons Why
Asher, Jay
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this book, a box of cassette tapes appear on Clay Jenkins' doorstep. Curious, he starts to listen to the first one, only to find out that they're from his crush and former classmate, Hannah, who recently committed suicide. He spends a bewildering and heartbreaking night crisscrossing their town, listening to Hannah's voice recounting the events leading up to her death.

I really liked this book. It was sad, but it was also very insightful. You never know what's going on in someone's life or how your actions might affect them.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Awards:
Just Listen
Dessen, Sarah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In this book, a girl by the name of Annabel suddenly finds herself unpopular. After a lonely summer, she goes back to school and becomes friends with a boy named Owen, whose honesty and passion for music help her to face what happened at the end of year party that changed her life.

This book was okay. I found it a bit confusing in the beginning because it'd skip around between past and present a lot. It wasn't a bad book overall, though.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alex M.
Awards:
Little House on the Prairie
Wilder, Laura Ingalls
2 stars = Meh
Review:

Little House on the Prairie is a mediocre novel about a little girl named Laura, her sisters Mary and Carrie, and her Ma and Pa traveling across a prairie then settling down and building a house. Almost the entirety of the first 18 chapters are mind-numbingly boring (the most exciting thing that happens in the first 240 pages is Ma dropping a log on her foot). The last few chapters were pretty good, but it didn't outweigh the annoyingly long descriptions of prairie grass and dull accounts of cooking supper that dominated most of the story. I do not recommend it to people who like action or adventure stories, however, I would recommend it to anyone who read and enjoyed Little Britches by Ralph Moody or anyone who is a fan of the late 1800's settlement genre.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jacob U.
City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This isn’t your typical book about vampires, werewolves, and warlocks, although they’re definitely present! Set in modern New York City, the novel—the first of a six-book series—is a thrilling story about a 15-year-old girl discovering her true identity, new, complex individuals, and a completely different world coexisting with the one she knew. The novel picks up a little slowly, and the introduction of a the new world is a little jarring. However, because the series was recommended to me by multiple friends, I kept reading, and I was really satisfied with the ending. I enjoyed the character development most, and the protagonist, Clary, is very relatable. I would definitely recommend this book and the series!

Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Awards:
Genres:
Mutant Message Down Under
Morgan, Marlo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is a fascinating and controversial tale of one woman’s experience in Australia traveling with an Aboriginal tribe. She leaves the hotel one morning to attend a meeting with the tribe and ends up on a three-month trek through the outback. Whether the account is 100% true or not, the message can be relevant and provocative: that our society is pulling us away from our true nature and our innate connection with the environment. I really enjoyed the different lessons from the Aboriginal tribe and how perceiving our society in a totally different light can be very beneficial. This is one of the books I have read that stays with me long after I have read it and that I continually ponder, so I would definitely recommend this to anyone looking for a thought-provoking read.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Genres:
Next of Kin
Fouts, Roger
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is one of the best books I have ever read. In an account of Fouts’ experiences teaching chimpanzees to communicate through sign language, he exposes many heartbreaking injustices of animal research that escapes public attention. Even more importantly, to me, he reveals the striking intelligence and “humanity” of great apes and their tremendous capacity to feel emotions and think critically. It is important to note that the book is written through the bias of a man who has befriended chimpanzees for life; however, much of what he describes is backed up by convincing evidence, leading me to truly believe this book. The accounts of chimpanzees, their ability to withstand horrifying situations, and to remember with gratitude those who once helped them, is truly touching. I also enjoyed the scientific discussions interspersed within the narrative elements of the book. For anyone looking to reaffirm their convictions of animals’ feelings or for anyone looking to challenge their current opinion, I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This mystery novel centers on the life of a high school senior, Quentin, and his complicated relationship with his neighbor, Margo. After years of not even speaking to each other, Margo appears at Quentin’s window, and they spend a wild night playing pranks and getting revenge on their friends and enemies. However, the next day, Margo disappears. I picked the book because I have read other novels by John Green, who often incorporates both deep and philosophical themes and hilarious humor in great novels. Paper Towns in particular is incredibly thought-provoking and the character development of Margo as both mysterious yet relatable is superb. This book did surprise me given the typical mystery set-up, and was definitely one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Selena Z.
Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Although it was first published in 1861, this classic novel is still fresh and relevant in the 21st century. It is the story of a poor, rural, uneducated boy named Pip who meets and falls in love with a rich, beautiful, and cruel girl named Estella. Through the generosities of a mysterious benefactor, Pip is able to move to London and become a wealthy, eligible, gentleman. It seems that he may at last be worthy of Estella's love.
If only it were so simple.

Filled some of the most famous characters in English literature, including several murderous convicts, a bizarre and sadistic woman who dresses only in a moldy wedding gown, a law clerk with a double life, and an exceptionally loyal best friend, this book is unforgettable. A commentary on the nature of social mobility as well as a coming-of-age novel, this story is equal parts mystery, romance, and legal drama, with enough plot twists to keep any reader turning pages (trust me -- I read it during finals week).

Most importantly, this book is a good choice for teenagers because it is relatable. It deals with finding yourself, searching for meaning in a seemingly meaningless world, coping with unrequited love, being financially responsible, finding good friends, spending your time and money on the right things, being appreciative and kind towards people who you may believe to be below your station, giving second chances, and the importance of staying close to your family even if you think that they are embarrassing, ignorant, or are not good enough for you.

This is one of the best books I have ever read. Even if you think that classics are boring or that historical fiction just isn't your thing, try Great Expectations. You won't regret it.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Caroline K.
Book Review: Little Bee
Cleave, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was so much better than I thought it was going to be. I had to read it for a school assignment and I can honestly say, I wasn't really looking forward to reading it. Within the first chapter though, I was hooked.

The strong introduction of all the characters and the switch of narration between chapters is very well carried out. The very strong character development is something I look for in a good book and this book definitely had that!

Reviewer's Name: Cayci Jean
Genres:
Planet Tad
Carvell, Tim
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This is an absolutely hilarious book told in the form of an online blog based on the MAD magazine feature of the same name. If you liked Diary of a Wimpy Kid and the Origami Yoda books, or like MAD, you will love this book. It tells a story in journal/ blog form about a 13 year old boy named Tad who is trying to survive middle school along with doing other things such as growing a mustache, doing a kickflip on his skateboard, and finally getting girls to notice him (which all end up in disasters.). He also makes funny observations on just about everything, from Hansel and Gretel to Peeps. It is laughing-so-hard-you-can't breathe type funny and I highly recommend it to anyone who is a fan of the books above.

Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jacob U.
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Similar to the old tale, Cinderella, Cinder follows a cyborg with a mysterious past. Living with a horrible family, much like Cinderella, in the midst of the blue fever, she works as a mechanic and considers herself as useless as her family accuses her of being. That is, until she meets Prince Kai and the Lunar people. What follows is a love story of unbelievable proportions, with action and climax, and every chapter a cliff hanger. A must read for the lovers of the old Cinderella and anyone who wants to experience the story coming back to life in a way that is wholly unexpected.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alyxandra S.
Airborn
Oppel, Kenneth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 3.5

There will always be those stories that manage to completely transport our existence into their pages, and “Airborn” by acclaimed author Kenneth Oppel is one of those page leaping stories. Jump onboard the luxury passenger airship Aurora with young cabin boy Matt Cruse and experience an adventure unlike any other with the most surprising encounters. Experience the freedom that comes with the speeding wind and the mystery of the strange creatures that fly on them.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Summer W.
Awards:
Thérèse Raquin
Zola, Émile
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Actual Rating: 4.5

“Therese Raquin” by Emile Zola is a book that defied the literature of its time and had the people of the late 19th century in an uproar over its shocking content. Content that involved murder, wrongly placed passion, adultery, and a voice that refused to glorify the ever flawed human race. Meet Therese: a quiet woman who is niece to elderly shopkeeper Madame Raquin and wife to the Madame’s son Camille. She finds that sin somehow manages to bring her back to life, but with chilling consequences. Will deceit finally bring her the joy she has so longed for, or result in her doom? Defy the time with this twisted, blood-chilling read.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Summer W.
Storm Front
Butcher, Jim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Actual Rating: 3.75

Are you looking for a series that will get you back into the sport of reading, and will help tackle that stack of books by your bed with a story more thrilling than the last? How about cheeky, ruggedly handsome modern day wizards? The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher are exciting, quick reads that will entice you into a world of unexpected turns, mythical creatures, and the occasional vengeful mob boss in the city of Chicago. Dragged into the chaos of these rarities is wizard/private detective Harry Dresden, who only wants enough money to pay for his next meal. Lose yourself in these pages that will have you coming back to your local library to snatch the next book off its shelf.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Summer W.
Genres:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The giver, is a story about a tyrannical society in which a system called "Sameness" is used. That system irradiates all color, terrain, and climate from its community as well as all the memories from its population. Following Jonas, the Memory Receiver, or the person who stores all memories of a time before Sameness, this book takes rapid turns and can get a bit confusing at times but is all in all a wonderful story of a unlikable situation.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alyxandra S.
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A man who had been in love for years, who had accumulated wealth and power by numerous, secretive ways, Jay Gatsby. A woman who had married another out of need and stayed out of being accustomed to that lifestyle, Daisy Buchanan. And a man who became stuck in the middle, Nick Carraway. The scene is set in the roaring '20's where everyone is wild, young, and free. All except Gatsby as he was stuck in the wild embrace of Daisy's love. This beautifully written book of love, loss, revenge, and dark honesty comes to life as the desperate Gatsby tries to win Daisy back from her oppressive husband. A book with so many twists and turns that its impossible to put it down, The Great Gatsby is an underrated novel that will be read for years to come.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Alyxandra S.

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