Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

Dealing With Dragons
Wrede, Patricia C.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dealing with Dragons is a novel about a princess named Cimorene. What's unusual about this particular princess is the fact that she is very improper. Unlike most princesses, she actually has a brain. When she learns of plans to wed her off to some cotton brained Knight, she runs away. She runs, not to the Enchanted Forest, not to some abandoned tower, but to a dragon's lair. I enjoy this book because of how well it puts you in the story. Once you start reading, you can't put it down. I recommend this book to anyone reading fairy tales, but not content with how stupid some of the characters are.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
Genres:
School's Out -- Forever
Patterson, James
2 stars = Meh
Review:

After the amazing complexity of The Angel Experiment, James Patterson’s School’s Out-Forever, is a slightly less-complex sequel in which the teens must navigate the muddy waters of public school while trying to stay out of the grasp of their previous captors. It features one large new addition to the story, an imposter among the group. Who could this imposter be? What is their purpose? There is only one way to find out, read the book. I enjoyed this book less than The Angel Experiment, primarily because it can get confusing at times in its complexity, but I would still recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first book.
Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Angel Experiment
Patterson, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Maximum Ride series by James Patterson is an amazing young-adult science-fiction series which follows the journey of six individuals who were given wings and other bird-like abilities by a genetics experiment. In the first novel, The Angel Experiment, the six have escaped the laboratory where they were held prisoner and are trying to remain free while being hunted by human-wolf hybrids that the experimenters have also sent to hunt them. I enjoyed the complexity of The Angel Experiment and would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed movies like Wolverine.
Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Midnight Library
Haig, Matt
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Matt Haig's unique novel The Midnight Library ponders the infinite possibilities of life. It is about a young woman named Nora Seed, who lives a monotonous, ordinary life and feels unwanted and unaccomplished. One night, her despair reaches a peak and she commits suicide. But the story doesn't end there--Nora gets a chance to experience various ways her life could've unfolded had she made slightly different choices. She finds herself in a place called the Midnight Library, which exists between life and death and is filled with books in which lie endless parallel lives she might've lived; she is given the chance to undo her regrets by trying out these lives, starting right where her alternate self would've been on the night she ended her life. While in the Midnight Library, Nora lives hundreds of lives and becomes hundreds of different versions of herself--some she'd never even fathomed--but she is faced with a difficult decision. She must decide what she is willing to sacrifice in order to live permanently in one of these 'ideal' lives, where they seem perfect for a time but, as she realizes, there are really new sets of challenges awaiting. Nora's exploration of herself is captivating as she attempts to discern what is really important in life.

This novel is very well-written and thought-provoking. Nora's emotions are deeply portrayed, and I was captivated by the depth of Haig's storytelling. While the concept is simple, it drew me in as a reader and encompassed so many different emotional experiences that come with life. I spent much of The Midnight Library reflecting on my own life and the decisions I've made, as well as looking to the future and imagining the infinite possibilities--this is a sign of a talented author. While I appreciated the depth of this novel, sometimes it took on a repetitive, almost pedantic tone when an important idea was already clear but kept being elaborated on--this was common when life lessons came up. There were also attempts to make Nora's life-jumping seem scientifically possible, with reference to quantum physics, and I didn't think this was necessary, as the focus was on Nora's life and personal growth. Overall, I very much enjoyed The Midnight Library. The character development, setting, and plot are engaging, while also discussing important themes such as mental health.

I would recommend The Midnight Library to teens and adults alike. It's a short, worthwhile read that will get you thinking and have you on the edge of your seat. And it may just awaken you to how much unlocked potential you have!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Legion: The Many Lives of Stephen Leeds
Sanderson, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I devoured this book (a set of three novellas) in three days and really enjoyed it. Brandon Sanderson is such a creative author, and here's yet another book of his that doesn't fail to impress. It tells the story of Stephen Leeds, who creates hallucinatory "aspects" with certain specialties to help him compartmentalize his knowledge to learn things and master abilities. He uses their help to solve mysteries as a way to give himself a purpose. Stephen's cases were intriguing to follow, and his aspects were really fun characters to get to know and get invested in. Stephen himself felt rather flat at the beginning, but as I read further, I realized that was an intentional decision. Because of his aspects, his personality is contained in all of them, so without them, he's sort of empty. It was awesome to watch him grow in this.

The only reason I gave the book 4 stars instead of 5 is because, as a set of novellas, the first two don't relate very much to the third, or to each other. I wish he had found a way to tie the cases into the finale more than he did. Otherwise, a great read, especially for a quiet weekend at home. I would definitely recommend!
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Alchemyst
Scott, Michael
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Alchemyst is a book following a pair of seemingly ordinary twins, Sophie and Josh. When the truth comes out about their role in the future, Nicholas Flamel races against time to keep them safe. At the same time, Dee, an old enemy of Flamel, is holding his wife captive. This adds extra stress on Flamel, with the already strenuous task of keeping the twins safe. One of the things I enjoy in this book is the magic involved. To create the magic spells and objects, you have to sacrifice something. For example, when Sophie creates some very sudden fog, she sacrifices a lot of calories and most of her self-replenishing aura. This is a good book for anyone looking for magical adventures, and a mystery as old as Earth itself.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Genres:
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've read this book so many times, and I always love it. It tells the story of the child prodigy Ender Wiggin, who starts the book at only six years old. In a dystopian world that's in the midst of a war with the alien Buggers, Ender and other highly gifted children are taken to Battle School to prepare them to fight in the Third Invasion, when Earth plans to invade the Buggers and hopefully beat them once and for all. Ender is smart, creative, and compassionate, while also sometimes being cruel in moments he needs to protect himself. He's such a well-developed and dynamic character, and I can always find myself relating to him, whether it's as a gifted child, as he questions who he is, as he grows up, or as he misses home and the way things used to be. It's easy to feel for him, from outrage at the officers to treating him unfairly to warmth in your heart when he builds relationships despite his forced isolation. He faces the trials of Battle School, but he also faces the trials of childhood and growing up. The book tackles themes of lies, control, isolation, free will, family, childhood, compassion, enemies, and prejudice in ways that are always very well-done. It balances action and shocking twists with character development and philosophy into a narrative that flows beautifully and keeps you engrossed from the first page to the last. Everything about it is exceptional, and I don't think I could ever get tired of it. I would recommend to anyone, any gender, any age, because it is certainly very near the top of the best books I've ever read.
(note: there is a small amount of language)

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Unlocked
Messenger, Shannon
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I was honestly kind of disappointed with this book, and it felt like a cash grab to me more than anything. I've been enjoying the Keeper of the Lost Cities series for years and I was looking forward to this release as much as any other, but it was anticlimactic, to say the least. As advertised, the majority of the book isn't actually story, but "exclusive Keeper details" that had me excited at first, but after I read the book, felt more like the author had copy and pasted her world building document. I understand that world building is fun and that she wants to share all these interesting details she's come up with, but most of it was information people already know if they've read the rest of the books, and I'm disappointed she mixed it in with a book in the series, forcing everyone to buy unnecessary content when the only actual series content is a short novella at the end that's hardly able to advance the plot. I wish that, if she wanted to release an extra world building book, she had done it separately from the yearly release so that people can read it if they want, but don't have to. The novella though, that actually continued the series, was great! I loved the alternating point of view between Sophie and Keefe.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Genres:
The Golden Compass
Pullman, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Golden Compass is elegantly crafted with beautiful word choice, and I would definitely recommend it. The plot was gripping with many exciting twists and revelations along the way as protagonist Lyra Belacqua and her daemon, Pantalaimon, who's basically an animal manifestation of her soul, embark on a journey across their world to the North. There, Lyra intends to both rescue her friend and find her uncle. Lyra is such a fun character to read about, being clever and witty and ultimately someone the reader will root for and invest themself in through the whole book. The world-building, too, is really well done. Pullman paints a picture of a world parallel to ours, yet different in so many ways, and things like daemons, gyptians, armored bears, and dust are all incredibly creative. The one thing I would warn against is some somewhat anti-religious commentary (not so much in this book, but it grows more prominent in the Subtle Knife and the Amber Spyglass) that may make some readers uncomfortable.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Genres:
Throne of Glass
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Throne of Glass is about an 18-year old assassin named Celaena Sardothien. She was put into the slave camp, Endovier, to serve her sentence. As Celaena stays in Endovier, the King of Adarlan holds a competition to find his personal assassin. Celaena as well as other assassins from the area have come to compete. If she wins, she wins her freedom from Endovier and the freedom to live in the Kingdom.

The author, Sarah J. Maas, does an amazing job giving each of her characters throughout the book a very deep back story that impacts the plotline of Throne of Glass as well as the later books in the series. She gives the book lots of details and twists while adding bits of humor. The protagonist Celaena is very humorous and relatable while also being a strong, confident female lead. All in all, I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Natalie
Genres:
Empire of Storms
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Empire of Storms is the 5th or 6th book (depending on which way you read it) in the Throne of Glass series. The protagonist Aelin Galathynius is beginning to learn of the important part she will play in the war against Maeve and Erawan as she learns the history of her ancestor’s past. Rowan Whitethorne, Aedion Ashryver, and Lysandra journey with Aelin to find allies to aid them in the war. Manon Blackbeak, heir to the Blackbeak throne, calls a meeting with Erawan to discuss what their next step will be. Erawan orders her to fly with her 13 other witches and bring Dorian Havilliard to him. Manon has sent the niece of one of Erawan’s cruel follows with a Wyrd Stone to find Aelin.

This book was very well written. The author, Sarah J. Maas really starts to take details that were mentioned in the first few books and really starts to make them key elements of the plot. The book is very interesting as all the characters began to meet each other and form alliances. If you choose to read this book, the ending is very sad and has a major cliffhanger, but it is so worth the read. The whole series is amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Natalie
Genres:
Clockwork Angel
Clare, Cassandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare follows the protagonist Theresa (Tessa) Gray. She has just moved to London to live with her brother after her grandmother’s death. Upon arrival, two elderly ladies pick her up saying that her brother sent them. The ladies whose names are Mrs. Dark and Mrs. Black take Tessa back to their house. Tessa quickly finds out that her brother didn’t send them. They try to force her to change. Being from New York and the mundane realm, she has no idea what they want her to become. After about six weeks of being forced to change, a young Shadowhunter named William Herondale saves her from the ladies and takes her to a safe haven. From here on out, Tessa begins to learn of the Shadowhunter world and all it has to offer.

Clockwork Angel, being the first book in Cassandra Clare’s series, The Infernal Devices, does an amazing job of hooking the reader within the first few pages. The Infernal Devices is somewhat of a prequel series to the original series, The Mortal Instruments. Cassandra Clare creates a very interesting and thorough job of creating a plot that doesn’t give everything away too soon. The characters are also very believable and relatable. All in all, I would recommend reading The Mortal Instruments before The Infernal Devices because there are small details that will make the Clockwork Angel even more interesting and enjoyable.

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

In the book City of Bones by Cassandra Clare, just 16-year-old Clary Fray and her best friend Simon head out to the New York club called Pandemonium. While there, Clary witnesses a murder committed by three teenagers. But, the peculiar part of the murder is that the person dissolves into nothing. As the next few days progress, Clary Fray becomes thrown into the Shadowhunter world and all of their politics and problems.

Cassandra Clare really hooks her reader in the first few chapters of the book. Not only does she create funny and engaging characters, but she also mixes so many worlds and makes it all sensical and realistic. The New York City world also blends quickly with the Shadowhunters, werewolves, faeries, vampires, and warlocks. All in all, I would totally recommend this book, it’s highly enticing.

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

The book Cinder by Marissa Meyer follows Cinder, a cyborg in New Beijing. Cinder is a mechanic in the futuristic city of New Beijing. She lives with her adopted mother Lihn Adri and her two adopted sisters Peony and Peral. One day, while she is in the market square, the Prince Kai of the Eastern Commonwealth, comes to visit her about his droid. The droid Nainsi had key information about the lost princess, Selene, of Luna. With the new disease Letumosis spreading rapidly around the globe, a cure needs to be found immediately.

The futuristic retelling of the classic tale Cinderella was truly amazing. There were lots of hints at the original story that were incorporated into the plot consistently. Marissa Meyer even includes the ball at the end of the book with her own twist on the tale. All in all, the book was truly amazing and very engaging.

Reviewer's Name: Natalie
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book The Selection by Keira Cass follows the protagonist America Singer. As Prince Maxon of Illea comes of age to pick a wife, all the eligible girls of the Kingdom submit a form to the palace. Then Prince Maxon chooses 32 of the thousands upon thousands of girls to come to the palace and meet with him. Their society is ranked by numbers, one being royal and eight being the untouchables. America is a five, part of the entertaining class, and Maxon has taken interest in her.

The Selection is a very sweet love story that quickly turns more and more enticing as the book progresses. It gives the reader a feel of a utopian future and a medieval past. Each of her characters has a different past and personality giving the book a lot of different perspectives. All in all, the book is very sweet and an amazing read.

Reviewer's Name: Natalie
Darkest Minds
Bracken, Alexandra
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken follows the protagonist Ruby. When the disease the IAAN (Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration) plagued the United States, rarely any of the children survived. If they did survive, they develop superpowers. There are five levels of power that they can develop. Green gives the person enhanced intelligence, Blue is telekinesis, Yellow is electrokinesis, Orange is telepathic mind control and Red is pyrokinesis. If they show signs of having one of these powers they are shipped off to a containment camp until they are able to find a cure for the disease.

Alexandra Bracken creates characters that are funny and relatable. She also places the story in real towns around the United States that you can look up to help imagine the places where the story is set. I had a very fun time doing this and would recommend doing this as you read the book.

Reviewer's Name: Natalie
Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children
Riggs, Ransom
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children tells the story of a teenage boy called Jacob, who, after witnessing his supposedly crazy grandfather die, is led by his last words to the island of Caernhome, where his grandfather grew
up in a foundling home. Jacob discovers that maybe his grandfather wasn't as crazy as everyone thought, and that all the stories he told about children with magical powers may actually have been true.
I did enjoy this book, but some of the characters felt a bit flat and the plot wasn't as good as it could have been. A large section in the middle, during what would be the "trials" in the "Hero's Journey," was mostly just Jacob playing around with the peculiars and not really doing much. The book was still an interesting read, though, with a creative premise, and I look forward to reading the sequels to see where the author takes them, and if he develops the characters
more.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Wild Robot
Brown, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Wild Robot is about a robot who is stranded on an island after a hurricane wiped out the boat that was bringing 500 robots to work. At first, the robot is viewed as a monster and is avoided. As she continues to try and figure out how to survive on the island, the robot accidently squishes a family of geese, but one baby goose survives. Realizing that the robot squished the baby's family, she adopts the baby so that he can survive. Because she had no idea how to take care of a goose, she asks for help. All of the animals pitch in to help and throughout the journey, the animals realize that she is not a monster and the become friends.
I loved this book. It drew me in within the first 2 chapters. It did get a little boring in some parts, but other than that it was an awesome book. I would rate it about a 9/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Middlewest, Book One
Young, Skottie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

After Abel's mother left, he was forced to live alone with his toxic father. One night during a fight with his dad, Abel discovers that his father's anger issues correlate to a destructive power that he might have just inherited, so he runs away with his talking fox. The novel follows him as he travels through a dystopian land and meets many people, friends and foes, along the way. Although the story is fantastical, it explores very adult themes; Middlewest offers a raw coming of age story while diving into challenging family relations, as Abel attempts to find his own identity. This series addresses difficult problems that many people face through the lens of a magical world. Each aspect of the story is wonderfully done and cannot receive enough praise; the novel expertly tackles difficult human problems and inner turmoil. The art by Corona is also captivating and a fantastic visual of what Abel feels throughout the story. This graphic novel and the entire Middlewest series is genius and executed beautifully and should be at the top of everyone's must-read list. Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Julia
Awards:
A Darker Shade of Magic
Schwab, V.E.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A Darker Shade of Magic introduces the concept of four separate Londons from different worlds. Grey London: grim and without magic, Red London: vibrant, fantastical and full of magic, White London: losing its magic from an ongoing war and numerous power shifts, and Black London: a mystery that was closed off after a mysterious accident. The main character, Kell, is one of two people who are able to travel between the Londons through the use of a type of blood magic. He is the official messenger for Red London and brings messages to the kings of the different cites; however, unofficially he is a smuggler who sells objects from other worlds. He runs into a thief in Grey London after coming into possession of an artifact from Black London, and they must navigate its power and defeat the people that want to abuse it. Schwab's world building and magic systems are incredibly compelling and the concept as a whole sets up a fantastic series. However, the book overall was quite a let down as the story itself was quite overdone, which would not have been much of a problem if the characters were written well. In some parts of the book it become difficult to like the two main characters, which was disappointing because they had all the elements to be great. All of these faults were not the downfall of the book, and Schwab could have potentially gotten away with them; the main flaw was the pacing. At times the pacing was slow and uneventful, making it difficult to want to read the book. A Darker Shade of Magic had the potential to become an amazing fantasy novel because of its ingenuity, but its execution was lackluster.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Julia
Awards:

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