Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Classics

Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is an amazing book! However, if you do not like the classic-book-writing style, this book might bore you out of your mind. You have been warned! But, if you don’t mind the style of writing, you will love this book! Besides from being a classic it is also a romance novel. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will to!

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Verne, Jules
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

They're attacking our vessel Captain! Those savages want to kill us!", "Leave me Conciel! Save yourself my friend!". No doubt these few short phrases from the amazing novel strikes great interest in your mind. 20,000 leagues under the sea is an Adventure Fiction novel written by Jules Verne, and is by far 1 of the best books I have ever read. Professor Aronnax and his faithful servant Consiel board american frigate Abraham Lincoln to embark on a long journey back to France. On the way though, they spot a creature, a monster unlike anyone has ever seen up until that point. After a fierce battle with that monster Pierre Aronnax, Consiel, and a Canadian Harpooner are thrown overboard their frigate lost in the middle of the Vast Atlantic.

Later refuge is found aboard a metal island... Wait? Metal Island? In the middle of the atlantic? Something isn't right. Alast Captain Nemo and his crew surface the mighty vessel and capture Aronnax and his companions.
Sometime later Pierre and his companions alike, awake in a small, pitch black room, not knowing what had happened, or what is about to. Want to find out what happens next? Well go and find this book for yourself! Getting stuck underneath an iceberg in the antarctic! Battling 1 of earths mightiest creatures! Experience the great suspense, action, and adventure this novel brings to you!

Reviewer: 9th Grade

Reviewer's Name: Elijah A.
The Phantom of the Opera
Leroux, Gaston
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a beautiful, classic novel that has an extremely compelling story. The book is about a Parisian opera house that is “haunted” by a mysterious and alluring phantom. The phantom falls in love with soprano Christine Daaè which causes a ton of trouble for the opera house. It is a story about romance, obsession, suspense and mystery. The book was extremely interesting and thought provoking. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of classic literature or the Broadway musical. The story does go more into depth in Christine’s childhood and the phantom’s backstory. I also enjoyed the psychological suspense aspect of the story as well. This book was very detailed and at some points extremely complicated, which made that story even more interesting. There were some boring parts, but most of the time the book kept me engaged. This book is a somewhat hard book because of it’s old fashioned style of writing that may not appeal to the younger reader.
There is no swearing in this novel. Overall, I would recommend this to an older teen who has an interest in Broadway based stories.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
The Outsiders
Hinton, S.E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Outsiders is a beautiful coming of age story that I would recommend for everyone in middle school and high school. The book’s plot is about the rivalry between the Greasers and Socs (focusing on the Greasers). The Socs are the rich, popular kids while the Greasers are the poor, bad kids. The story is about social status, growing up, finding yourself, and rebellion.
Anyone in middle/high school can relate to this book in one way or another.
The problems discussed transcend time and are applicable to today’s teens.
I think it’s very hard to find a book about teenagers that is about real teenagers, not unrealistic heroes that are facing problems that we never face. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that type of book, but it was really nice to find a book that I could relate to. It makes you feel like you are not alone and that other people are struggling with similar issues.
What makes The Outsiders such an amazing book is the characters and their relationships. Each character is important and unique. They are all their own individuals and have complex backstories. They are all “real” people.
Everyone who reads this book can find at least one character they identify with. For example, Ponyboy is an amazing student who feels like he is under immense pressure. And Darry is struggling with the responsibility of taking care of his younger brothers. The book also focuses on the relationships between the characters. All of the Greasers view each other as family members. They are very protective and loving towards each other. The relationship between the Greasers and the Socs is very strained. Most members of each gang despise each other.
A flaw with the book is that the solutions to the plot’s problems seemed simplistic. The plot is all wrapped up in one big bow which doesn’t seem realistic. To be fair, S.E. Hilton wrote this book when she was in high school and that perspective undoubtedly played into this.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+. The book does contain some mild swearing (it’s not too bad). It also contains underage drinking and smoking. It is a fairly short book that was easy to read.
I would definitely recommend The Outsiders by S.E. Hilton because of it’s interesting plot, realistic characters, and relatable story of teenage angst.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Moby-Dick
Melville, Herman
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Mobs-Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville is a novel, in which the narrator, Ishmael, befriends Queequeg, a South Seas harpooner, and together they look for a whaling crew. Eventually, they join Captain Ahab aboard the Pequot.
Ishmael soon finds that Ahab had lost his leg and vessel to a powerful whale, who is called Moby-Dick. The captain and his crew sail around the world to hunt down the whale for revenge. The book does have a very deep and ambitious theme, as Herman Melville addresses many controversies throughout his writing, with subtle remarks. The characters and plot fit perfect together and everything is well developed with some sort of backstory. My only problem with this book is that it includes many useless and boring chapters. They don't add anything to the story, and while they attempt to bring up a deep topic, they completely and utterly fail to. Overall this book is decent and definitely aspires to be the "mighty book" that it's meant to be. I would recommend it to people who like high seas adventure novels.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
Shiloh
Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Shiloh by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is about Marty Preston and his willingness to, in a sense, serve an abused dog. The dog is named Shiloh after he runs away to young Marty, after being abused by Judd Travers. He keeps the dog in secret for fear of being caught by his family or Judd.
Unlike other typical dog books or even movies, the book shows a very deep bond between Shiloh and Marty, in which Marty has to earn Shiloh by working for Judd. Every single character put into the book is well developed and plays some sort of part in the story. Several other conflicts, such as Marty's mother not wanting to keep secrets from her husband, arise, and they are all well though-out. Overall, the book is a very emotional book, and should be deeply felt by the reader. I would recommend the book to any sort of animal lover or people who like realistic fiction.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Number the Stars
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a fascinating tale of a girl named Annemarie who goes through a dangerous trip to save her friend Ellen. I loved this book because it was really hard to put down I just wanted too know what happened next! This is one of those books you can't read just once. I have read this book three times and it is just as interesting every time. It has an aspect of friendship and safety, but at the same time it has danger too. As Ellen try's to save Ellen who is Jewish from the nazis she overcomes many obstacles.
Annmarie is a TrueType brave ten year old and is very mature for her age.
Reviewer grade 7

Reviewer's Name: Khylin V.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Mary Shelley's Frankenstein is a book about the horrors of creating life. The book succeeds in developing most of the sidecharacters. You learn in depth about all of their pasts, and the story fits together well. The tragic plot line of the book shows how the decisions made by Frankenstein, the creator of the monster, comes back to haunt him. It almost becomes a game of cat and mouse when Frankenstein chases around his creation for revenge when really, the monster is haunting Frankenstein for his own revenge. Most of the book's themes include loneliness and rejection, and are explained well throughout the back stories of the characters. I feel that the book's only weak point is how the characters face their end. While the characters do indeed learn many life lessons, they never really accomplish anything. None of the characters have sentimental deaths, other than Frankenstein; the book just tells the reader that the character you have just grown attached to...well, dies. The book moves on from their deaths, and then the cycle repeats for the rest of the book. Overall, Frankenstein is a really good book, and I'd recommend it to people that like horror or mystery fiction.
Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ender's Game is an enthralling and thrilling sci-fi following a young boy as he is prepped to save the world. Ender departs for battle school at the ripe age of 6, where he is thrust into a world were children go head to head in a competition to be the best, fight in an all out war, and earn all the glory.
Although young and inexperienced, Ender is the best. But things seem to be stacked against him....
Orson Scott Card writes with incredible dexterity and Ender's Game pulls you into a new world.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
The Odyssey
Homer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Odyssey is a very famous book by the ancient author Homer. It is about Telemachus, son of the famous king Odysseus, and his journeys. The literary techniques in this epic, including rhyme scheme, reveal a deeper meaning. I was intrigued by Homer's diction and his use of Greek gods to convey important points. Additionally, the abundance of vivid imagery, intricate metaphors, and extended similes give this epic some zest. The Odyssey is both a fun yet complex read, and I recommend it for everyone.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Genres:
Yellow circle with a drawn map on it against an orange background
Coelho, Paulo
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I first picked up this book when I was in maybe 6th grade and I absolutely hated it, I had no clue what it was about and why it was an "adventure" book that didn't really have a lot of action in it. Having picked up this book again this year (and actually finishing it this time) I can honestly say this story made me want to reevaluate how I have lived my entire life. The story follows a boy named Santiago as he searches for his personal legend, in other words, the reason he is alive, his purpose. This is a book that makes you want to go out and chase your dreams no matter what, and it is beautifully written. The novel takes you through the ups and downs of life and proves that sometimes your hard work is worth it in the end, whether you accomplish what you set out to do out not. I think this is a book where the messaged can’t be fully realized until your a little bit older, but to anyone struggling with what they want to do in life or even just where to start, this book is amazing, it made me feel like anything is possible. Just read it, I promise it’s good.

Reviewer: Grade 11

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle K.
Awards:
The Things They Carried
O'Brien, Tim
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In this book, Tim O’Brien gives a very blunt and realistic view
of the Vietnam War, not only including stories from when he served himself, but also explaining what happens to the soldiers when they finally do get to go home. I honestly would recommend this book to anyone who is willing to read it. While we love and respect our military for saving our country, I think it is very important to also learn about what actual happens out on the battlefield, about the little decisions that can change everything in the heat of battle, and most importantly the guilt that comes with killing your fellow man. My father served in the military for 25 years and to me this book is just so important, it tells stories of war that do not always have a happy ending, or stories that do not necessarily end with the good guys triumphing over all evil.

Reviewer's Name: Gabrielle K.
The First Four Years
Wilder, Laura Ingalls
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The First Four Years is the last book in the Little House series. It does not read like a Little House Book. The style is completely different, which is probably because it was an unfinished manuscript which Rose, Laura’s daughter, never edited. A notable difference is that Laura never refers to Almanzo by his name; instead, she affectionately calls him “Manly.” Another thing that differs vastly here from the rest of the Little House books is the sheer amount of tragedy and hardship. At the end of the book everything goes wrong in a cascade of unfortunate tragedies. This book reminded me of Laura’s The Long Winter but without the rewarding change in fortune. The very end manages to be optimistic, but in real life things did not immediately get any better for Laura. However, if you are at all interested in the life of the remarkable Mrs. Wilder, this book is worth the read. I would recommend it not as a Little House book, but as more of an autobiography of the real Laura Ingalls Wilder.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
The Two Towers
Tolkien, John R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The second installment in J.R.R. Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy, "The Two Towers," takes up the challenge of doubling up on the success of Tolkien's previous novel. This is a daunting task, as fans clamored to the brilliant and wonderfully crafted masterpiece of "The Fellowship of the Ring". Though after having read and thoroughly reflected upon Tolkien's most recent work, I am pleased to say that he was able to exceed my expectations.

The novel begins directly where the last left off, with Frodo Baggins having been taken hostage by a group of vicious orcs. In spite of this setback, he is still on a quest to destroy the mystical ring, but as is to be expected in such a story, his journey is neither simple nor straight-forward.

Along the way, Frodo makes encounters with a number of new characters, ever-diversifying this creative and beautifully crafted story. Their journey stands witness to a number of conflicts, wars, and battles, with various different social groups across the realm taking part. Through it all, as Frodo inches closer to his destination, the faded shadow of Mordor- where the Dark Kingdom and Sauron await- gleams in his foresight.

I originally picked up this novel immediately after the last, and am glad to have read it. Some may not enjoy the novel quite as much, due to the fact that the language is very particular and can sometimes present readers with a bit of a learning-curve. However, the story manages to continue to enhance the rich narrative setup in the previous novel, and does a wonderful job with transitioning the story forward. Tolkien’s colorful and imaginative lore’s, histories, and descriptions truly make this novel a must read!

Reviewer’s Grade Level: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Giver, written by Lois Lowry, was about a boy named Jonas who is about to turn twelve. Jonas lives in a community where everything is the same and fair, because with any differences it can cause arguments. Because everything is the same, everyone gets bicycles at the same age, gets their job at the Ceremony of Twelve, and is only allowed to have one boy and one girl child in their "family unit". When the Ceremony of Twelve arrives, Jonas has no idea what job he is going to get, but lots of kids his age do. When the day finally comes, he gets told that he has the rarest and highest of honor job there is- he gets to see memories from a long time ago in history. The person training him, or as Jonas calls him, the Giver, gives him memories of a long long time ago when things were way more strange. Everything in his community is the same- that means no colors, animals, and everyone is treated the same.
The Giver shows him some very important memories, and Jonas sets out on a quest to show everyone these memories that he has. I really enjoyed this book, and it was not predictable. A thing that I enjoyed about the book is that it shows how Jonas started to change and act different, for the better, when the Giver gave him more memories.
Reviewer grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Riley C.
Mask and rose over a knife
Shakespeare, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

As is likely the case with many readers, I was assigned to study the play "Romeo and Juliet" in a high school English class. While it's true that I was led on to read the book out of obligation, I ended up forming some pretty spirited opinions on the novel. I definitely was not engaged in this read, but even still, am able to respect its excellence in the context of Shakespeare's time.

As a reader, you can tell that the language used is vastly different from that of the common, English vernacular. For this reason, it can sometimes be a challenge to understand what is going on in the plot, especially since the story is told through the lens of a play. Before attempting this read, I would certainly brush up on some basic play terms, to grasp a better understanding of the composition of such a work.

Another factor contributing to the difficulty of this read is Shakespeare’s use of Iambic Pentameter, a rhyming scheme ideal for sonnets where three sets of rhyming quatrains and two lines of rhyming couplets are alternated. I found it truly impressive that Shakespeare manages to devise these rhymes with so much detail and insight. To go through with reading this novel, I would have to suggest to understand the rhyming scene of Iambic Pentameter, as doing so allows you to come to terms with a greater appreciation for Shakespeare’s work.

I found the plot itself to be a bit too inconstant. While at first the novel seems somewhat believable, the ending turns totally wild and unpredictable. I don’t mean to critique Shakespeare’s work, as his play was truly revolutionary for its time, but to a 21st century teen, this novel may not be the most enjoyable.

In terms of the themes, the novel excels with powerful and proactive lessons.
Reflecting on the plot, and Shakespeare’s use of literary devices such as foreshadowing, can lead to meaningful conversations and analyses about life, love, and happiness.
Overall, I would pin my recommendation on this book, but only if you take the time to understand the niche delicacies of Shakespeare’s writing. At face value, the novel may not seem the most exciting or engaging to the reader, but by appreciating the literary masterpiece found in Shakespeare’s work, you’ll definitely enjoy the read!

Reviewer’s Grade Level: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Shelley, Mary
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Frankenstein was a disappointment to me. As per the Romantic period, this novel used lots of scenes in nature to explain the characters’ emotional states. I do not mind a few good cries in a storm, but this novel borders on incessant outdoor melodrama. I decided to disregard both the plot and the setting in a vain attempt to enjoy the novel. I would only focus on the characters. As this was written by a female author, I looked forward to the female characters, which were awful. One, Justine, is a servant and seems only to exist in order to die. Elizabeth, who also seems to share this quality, is regarded as an object to be owned in a creepy incestuous manner by her cousin; she is apparently superior and virtuous only because of her noble birth. So, I dismissed the female characters to focus on the males, none of which were believable. Victor, his friend Henry, and his monster all were overly emotional, and they inspired no sympathy from me. With no likable characters and emotions running everywhere, I would only read Frankenstein if required.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Beowulf: a New Verse Translation
Heaney, Seamus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Beowulf is a classic heroic epic written one thousand years ago; I read the version that Seamus Heaney translated into modern English. This translation was excellent, managing to balance the original style and rhythm with a clear and understandable tone. Beowulf is a traditional hero. As a result, some of the plot points are fairly predictable. Nevertheless, I would recommend this epic poem to anyone who enjoys Tolkien or other fantasy series. Reading Beowulf, it is easy to see where more contemporary authors got their inspiration.
Reader Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Caroline J.
Awards:
Candide
Voltaire
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Candide is one of my favorites. Though it does deal with real problems, it is an exceedingly fun read. This is thanks to the sardonic, sharp wit of Voltaire. Satire is executed beautifully in this book. If you pick up this book, chances are you will laugh out loud. I very strongly recommend Candide.
However, if you do read it, please be patient with it. Because Candide was written in 1758, some hilarious and important details can go right over the reader's head. But if you put in some time to understand what Voltaire is really trying to say, it will be worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Genres:
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Tolkien, J. R. R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Originally written for his children, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel “The Hobbit” is hailed among book critics as a remarkable, introductory-level fantasy novel. It manages to engage readers with an epic and timeless plot, while also avoiding the use of profane language and violent scenes.

The tale is set in Middle Earth, home to a number of human-like species including the Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves. Over the course of the novel, Tolkien provides a rich background of the history of these three species.
Namely, the majority of backstory is setup around the dwarves- who originally inhabited the “Lonely Mountain” and made their fortune off of mining gold. Their empire prospered until at last, a greedy, gold-seeking dragon named “Smog” wreaked havoc to their way of life.

Enter Bilbo Baggings, a middle-aged Hobbit settling down in the Shire. After he hosts a seemingly ordinary dinner party, his life is turned inside out, and the inner spirit of adventure is awakened with him. He joins in a quest to reclaim the dwarf home, and takes part in a number of adventures along the way.

I originally read this book after finishing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. While it’s true that this novel is aimed at a younger demographic, it is certainly still an engaging read for older teens and adults. J.R.R. Tolkien embeds a number of rich storytelling devices into his writing, and it makes the read an absolute pleasure!

If you decide not to try this novel, I would suggest reading “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. It is certainly not as child-friendly, and has some pretty gruesome scenes, but Martin’s writing makes up for many of the imperfections of Tolkien’s work. Overall, The Hobbit is most aptly suited for readers aged 8-12, and serves as a great introductory novel to fantasy literature. For older readers, I might suggest a different read, but all the same, and in spite of your age demographic, The Hobbit is truly a timeless masterpiece of literature and is worth giving a try!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M

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