Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Fantasy

A Court of Thorns and Roses book jacket
Maas, Sarah J.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fairies are terrifying, violent creatures; they haunt the humans’ worst nightmares. A wall and a twisted treaty are the only barriers between these terrifying creatures and the vulnerable, weak humans. However, the wall is weakening, fairies are venturing through the cracks, and the humans have long forgotten the treaty's terms.

Ferye’s family relies on her hunts, but over time, she has to venture deeper into the woods toward the wall dividing the fairies and the humans. These hunts are risky and dangerous, and it’s only a matter of time before she might have to confront a fairy. When Ferye accidentally breaks the treaty's terms, she has no choice but to follow Tamlin, a fairy, into his lands, the Spring Court. Ferye can never return to the human world and will live out her days in the fairylands, away from her family and home. She expects cruelty but finds beautiful, stunning lands and kind, generous fairies. As she adapts to her new home and overcomes her original opinions, she falls in love with the mysterious Tamlin and the fairies.

The plot is immaculate, the world-building is absolutely stunning, and the characters are enthralling; A Court of Thorns and Roses is a must-read for anyone who loves high fantasy and romance. It is one hundred percent a page-turner and will keep you enthralled until the last word.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Before the Coffee Gets Cold book jacket
Kawaguchi, Toshikazu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Before the Coffee Gets Cold” is a story about a cafe that can send you back in time, so long as you drink your coffee in a particular seat. A variety of customers come to the cafe to meet with people they’d otherwise have no chance to see. However, there are several rules. The two most important are that the present will never be changed and that the time traveler must return before the coffee gets cold.

Each story is interesting and heartfelt in its own right. My personal favorite was Hirai’s story about her sister, particularly because of how it was up in the previous stories. That’s another aspect of this book. These stories are all interconnected. Aside from the first woman, each main character is shown beforehand. This book also keeps the stories from being repetitive. There’s enough of a twist on each story, one woman wants to meet her husband who’s losing his memory. Another wants to express her feelings to her ex-boyfriend. All the reasons are different enough to keep the story fresh.

The characters are all likable too, although there are a few strange moments in the beginning. All of them are given a little backstory, but not much. All in all, it’s nice without being extraordinary.

This is a quick and cozy read that I’d recommend to almost anyone. Especially if you’re interested in speculative fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Song of Achilles book jacket
Miller, Madeline
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller is a stunning and deeply moving retelling of the Iliad that captivates from beginning to end, earning a solid 5 stars. Miller skillfully weaves a tale of love, friendship, and heroism, focusing on the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles. The narrative beautifully explores the complexities of their bond, providing a fresh perspective on the legendary characters. Miller's prose is both lyrical and evocative, effortlessly transporting readers to the ancient world. The emotional depth and nuance she brings to the characters make this retelling a triumph, resonating with readers on a profound level. "The Song of Achilles" is a masterpiece that seamlessly combines rich storytelling with timeless themes, earning its well-deserved 5-star rating.

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

TW: A main theme of this book (and thus the review) is suicide. If this topic makes you uncomfortable, I would suggest finding a different book.

“The Midnight Library” is a story about Nora Seed, whose life has not gone how she’s expected. Worse yet, she feels as though it’s all her fault and her regrets weigh heavy on her. One night she decides to end her own life, but she wakes up in a library with her elementary school librarian. That’s when she gets the opportunity to live the lives she could have led if she’d made different decisions.

As the story goes along, we see many of Nora’s alternative lives. Some of them are just as disastrous as her regular life (her best friend dies, her husband cheats on her). Others are nearly perfect, but can’t be truly satisfying when she didn’t create them. I was glad that some of the alternate lives were good, otherwise it would have seemed like Nora’s original life was simply the lesser of two evils. All of them are interesting to read about. Another interesting aspect of the book is the library itself. The author knows when to reveal information and when to keep things vague.

There aren’t many characters to keep track of. Nora is the main character, and the reader gets a good sense of her interests and aspirations through her various lives. Her friends and family all get a decent amount of depth as well, though they’re not in focus most of the time.

I can’t pretend that I really resonated with the message of the book. I would have preferred if it focused a bit more on the good things that could happen in Nora’s future rather than the good things that happened in her alternate lives. However, that could be a problem exclusive to me.

Overall, I would recommend this book to almost anyone. It’s a fast read and a good story.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Unseelie book jacket
Housman, Ivelisse
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Unseelie" is a fantasy book by Ivelisse Houseman. It centers around Iselia 'Seelie' Graygrove, an adopted changeling and her sister Isolde. One day a heist goes wrong and she's stuck with a magical compass in her arm. However, this gives the sisters an opportunity to team up with Raze and Olani to find the treasure of the Wildline family.

The characters are all fairly well done, if not a bit dull. Raze and Olani were the highlights for me, both having their hidden depths teased without being drawn out. Though I didn’t find Isolde particularly interesting, she was likable and understandable. Seelie was a bit unpleasant at times, but I always ended up liking her. The plot was a bit dull in the first half. It often felt like a car that drove for a few miles before sputtering out. Or else it felt more like a checklist than a story. However, it found its footing by the time they entered the fairy realm. After that the plot was engaging and hard to put down. It felt like the dreamy fantasy world I was looking for.

Now, the main selling point of this book is the autistic representation. Though I am autistic, obviously I don’t speak for all autistic people (so keep that in mind). Having an autistic protagonist at all is definitely amazing. I can count on one hand the number of confirmed autistic characters I’ve seen in media. However, I was a bit disappointed in how Seelie turned out. Though this book was intended (as written in the author’s note) to be a story about autism, it didn’t feel like one.

Seelie feels like an outsider, but that’s more due to people thinking she’s dangerous than thinking she’s incapable or strange. Her arc is more about trying not to hurt people than trying to relate to them or feel useful to them. Furthermore, the story tries to address the topic of parents feeling that their children have been ‘stolen away’ by autism. However, in a world where changelings literally replace human children, the argument loses a bit of power. There are occasional references to Seelie avoiding eye contact, having trouble with social cues, and having difficulty with loud areas, but these are always brief and never impact the story much. That said, there are smaller moments that capture autism quite well.

Finally, I found the writing style to be distractingly anachronistic. It felt more like watching two tik-tok users collab than reading an epic story about the fae. Then again, many people enjoy that kind of writing. So maybe it's just me.

Overall I found this to be an enjoyable read that slightly disappointed me. However, I fully intend to pick up the second part as soon as it hits the shelves. Not only because I hope the author has improved her craft, but because I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Genres:
Life of Pi book jacket
Martel, Yann
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Life of Pi" by Yann Martel recounts the major events of Pi's life before going into detail about him being stranded on a lifeboat with a tiger. It has frequent anecdotes about zookeeping and religion, especially near the beginning. The main character, Pi Patel, is an extremly likable main character. Though he is not particularly colorful or eccentric, his devotion to God and resilience make the audience instantly emphasize with him. Richard Parker, the tiger, is also made interesting. Though he doesn't do anything out of the realm of possibility, it's always left unclear how he's going to respond to the current situation. The rest of the characters are not particularly deep, but they all serve their purpose.

The plot is fairly simple, focusing more on describing Pi's struggle in detail than twists and turns. Sitting on a boat for seven months is hard to make interesting, but this book rises to the occassion. Every change in circumstance is explored, and Pi has to respond in creative ways. In between the speeches about how to train a tiger and why a hyena is dangerous, there are themes about faith that are masterfully done. While I can't say I agree with everything that's said about religion, I do appriciate how it is explored.

I would reccomend this book to animal lovers, people who enjoy survival stories, and anyone looking for a unique story that will keep them hooked.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
House of Roots and Ruin book jacket
Craig, Erin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

House of Roots and Ruin is an intriguing sequel to the popular novel House of Salt and Sorrow by Erin Craig. The previous novel primarily focused on the Thamus girls, with a particular emphasis on Annaleigh, as they delved into the mystery surrounding the death of their sister, Euliea. In contrast, the story in House of Roots and Ruin revolves around Verity, the youngest Thamus sibling.

The plot begins with Verity's journey to the mainland, where she visits Chantiule and Bloem. During her stay there, she receives a commission to paint a portrait of Alexander, the son of the wealthy Laurent family. However, as she spends more time in the family's mansion, she senses an underlying air of uncertainty and becomes curious about the family's enigmatic past.

As the narrative progresses, Verity uncovers several buried secrets that the family has been hiding, leading to betrayal and sparking chaos within the manor. She grapples with accepting her ability to see ghosts, which she had initially rejected. However, she eventually learns to harness her gift to uncover the Laurent family's secrets.

House of Roots and Ruin is an engrossing novel that captivates readers and keeps them on the edge of their seats. The author successfully weaves together a complex and suspenseful plot that explores themes of betrayal, loss, and family dynamics. The book is a must-read for anyone who enjoys House of Salt and Sorrows and those who are fans of the mystery and fantasy genres.
The book in question is an enthralling and captivating read that is a perfect choice for anyone who is just starting in the fantasy genre and wants to try out some mystery books. The plot of the book is structured in a way that keeps the reader on the edge of their seat as it advances with each chapter. The book is full of unexpected twists and turns, which adds to the overall excitement and thrill of the read.

One of the notable aspects of the book is how the story moves back and forth yet still manages to stay in line with how the story ends. This aspect of the book keeps the reader engaged and intrigued till the very end. The book is well-written and easy to follow, making it a perfect shallow swim for anyone new to the genre.

The book balances fantasy and mystery perfectly, making it a thrilling and exciting adventure for readers. The book's overall quality and the balance of its elements make it a perfect recommendation for anyone looking for a great read in the fantasy-mystery genre.

8th grade

Reviewer's Name: Belle
Mistborn: The Final Empire book jacket
Sanderson, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A high-stakes fantasy book about love and sacrifice, Mistborn is absolutely outstanding and a definite read for people who love fantasy. As with any excellent fantasy book, the worldbuilding is enthralling, and the magic system is incredibly distinctive yet easy to grasp. The characters are complex, relatable, and flawed, complemented by the third-person omniscient narration. With this cast of characters, the reader will be taken on multiple emotional rollercoasters before the book concludes. And yes, of course, there is romance layered on evenly throughout the narrative. While it does follow a typical plot, a revolution, or overthrow the corrupt leader, it is done uniquely, and there are twists, and there are turns. Honesty, I could not predict the ending and was left gaping on how intense the book got within the last quarter. As I said, I one hundred percent recommend Mistborn. It is an unforgettable read.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Genres:
Crooked Kingdom book jacket
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Crooked Kingdom is a sequel to Six of Crows, both of which are set in the Grishaverse. It is the story of how Kaz Brekker and his crew as they try to con Jan Van Eck out of his money before he builds an empire with the deadly substance, parem.

As with the last book, the characters are the standouts. Every member of the cast is fleshed out, and you can understand every decision they make. Jesper, Matthias, and Wylan are the standouts in this book. Each of them continue on their arcs in a natural way that leaves their characters feeling complete. Jesper realizes that many of his problems come from hiding his true self as a grisha. Matthias finally sees the beauty in the grisha. Wylan overcomes his father's influence and sees him for what he is.

The plot has constant twists and turns, but is still easy to follow. As the story progresses, the challenges the group faces continually grow more difficult. The characters have to change their plans multiple times to keep up with the growing influence of their adversaries. This story markets itself as a fun fantasy heist, and it more than succeeds in that. It might not say anything particularly meaningful, but it has a few nice messages sprinkled in there.

My main problem with this book is with Inej. Her arc was more or less completed in the last book, and this book doesn't have much for her to do. There's a brief crisis where she believes Kaz only keeps her around because she's useful, but that's resolved rather quickly. She has a rivalry with a character named Dunyasha, but nothing is done with that either. She beats Inej once, then loses the next time they fight. It doesn't make Inej grow or change. It just exists. It might not have bothered me so much if it wasn't built up as this incredible rivalry. I felt that the book wanted her to remain one of the main characters, but had to make up excuses for her to still be in the spotlight.

However, that one critique is rather small. Overall, Crooked Kingdom is a delightfully fun book. I would recommend it to any Grishaverse fans, fantasy fans, or heist fans.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a prequel story taking place before the events of the hunger games, and is about president Snow before he becomes president. This book was interesting because it shows Snow as a mentor to a tribute from district 12 during the tenth annual hunger games. You also hear a lot about Snow’s internal monologue which can get a little creepy because some of his actions actually make sense despite them being twisted. The book was a lot longer than any of the original hunger games books so it was a little slow which made it boring at times, but it was interesting to see Snow slowly morph into the twisted and feared villain he is later. The love story in the book was also strange because Snow would be the last person you would think of to show compassion and even Suzanne Collins can confirm this throughout his internal monologue. Overall, I think this is a great book to read if you enjoyed the hunger games series and there is a movie adaptation coming out this November which was one of my reasons for reading it.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Winter book jacket
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was the absolute perfect ending to the Lunar Chronicles! There was so much action and fairytale elements in the book that were all easy to follow, and fun to read! Marissa Meyer was a genius when she incorporated an adaptation of a sci-fi Snow White, while still be able to keep the story flowing and add growth to the characters. It is important to read the series in order, but Winter was by far my favorite in the series!

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Gregor the Overlander
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I read this book during middle school and recently reread the series. The book is about a boy named 'Gregor' Gregor falls into a laundry shoot with his sister and finds himself in a new world with a quest. He searches for his dad. He's learns to survive in this new environment picking up new skills and learning this new worlds rules.
I loved the idea of the 'Underland' a world with completely different creatures and how they interact with each other. I loved the story filled with giant animals like bats, rats, and cockroaches. How it goes into detail how Gregor and the people of the Underland get around in the dark. And how the lack of light affects their appearance. The book is very detailed and the well thought through.
The book is definitely worth a read. This book is a part of a 5 book series. Each book provides a new challenge for Gregor. And the last book just leaves you wanting more
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Hana
The Sword Defiant
Ryder-Hanrahan, Gareth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Sword Defiant" by Gareth Ryder-Hanrahan is the greatest exploration of what lies beyond the "happily ever after" that I have ever read. There are two main protagonists; Aelfric the Lammergeier and his sister, Olva. Aelfric, or Alf, is a member of the most famous adventuring party, called the Nine. They famously defeated a malevolent force of darkness 20 years before the events of "The Sword Defiant". Large elements are immediately reminiscent of a Dungeons and Dragons campaign. However, rather than focusing directly on battles, duels, and direct combat, Hanrahan instead uses these 20 years to explore how a world is altered after a massive war through Alf's perspective. My least favorite part of "The Sword Defiant" was when Olva was the primary focus. Olva's sections take an even larger step back from action, but the purpose of Olva is unclear even after the climax. I struggled to understand the purpose of Olva. She appeared to just be a thing that Alf needed to protect, or she appeared to be just a tool for the author to see the world from the view of a commoner. This leads to the best part of the book: the world-building. Every single detail about the environment, the populace, culture, class division, species division, species interaction, species history, magic, and more felt important to understand. Each of those elements were also explored, typically through Alf. The Nine have their own interesting backstories, and each member also represents an archetypal Dungeons and Dragons character. Too many beautiful interactions occur between members to present but even the smallest remarks are hitting on the previously mentioned elements of world building. There are the typical fantasy races like Dragons and Dwarves, but there are also the stranger ones like Vatlings and Witch Elves. When Gundan (a dwarf) talks about the Elves, it's always something negative. When anyone ever mentions Peir (the dead one who sacrificed himself 20 years ago), they always talk about his best characteristics. The ending will make that interesting, as well as the development of the secret villain in the end. All in all, this would have been the best fiction book I have read this year if it wasn't for the slog also known as Olva's sections.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Ryder
Genres:
The Poppy War book jacket
Kuang, R. F.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

When I picked up The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang, I sought a good, possibly wonderful, fantasy book, as one would expect from a New York Times best-selling author. What I was not expecting was to be enlightened and disturbed to the same degree within its 544 pages. Now let me back up; The Poppy War is a historical and grimdark fantasy that draws its plot from mid-20th-century China, with the main conflict based on the Second Sino-Japanese War. The book provides insight into the brutality of war and its aftermath. While the book is based on the Second Sino-Japanese War, the author does a wonderful job constructing an immersive plot and charming characters taking creative liberties to make the book a story of its own. I would highly recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Constellations of Scars book jacket
Ousley, Melissa Eskue
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is definitely an eventful book. "Constellations of Scars" follows Amelia Weaver. For unexplained reasons, she grows pearls on her skin every month. Her mother keeps her shut inside the house, restricting her freedom. One day she decides to escape and try her hand at the real world. She ends up working for a freak show, though they are unaware of her own oddity.

Let's start with the characters. Amelia herself is perfectly acceptable. She doesn't have any noteworthy character traits, or anything to help her stand out besides the whole pearl thing. However, her motivation is clearly defined and all of her choices make sense. Gabe is probably the best character in the book. His backstory is interesting, and his somewhat reclusive demeanor is off putting without being unlikeable. Unfortunately, most of his character development happens within ten pages. Peter is... interesting. I'll talk about him in the spoilers section.

The best part about this book is the writing. It keeps the reader engaged the whole way through. While the descriptions are detailed, the author does not dwell on them long enough to bore the reader. One interesting thing about this book is the chapter length. While there are long chapters, there are also chapters that only last a few pages. I found that this kept the story at a fast pace, further keeping me involved.

The plot is the main failing of the book. Spoilers from here on out. It starts off strong, setting up themes of isolation and hiding. Several conflicts were set up, most notably Amelia's mother and the possibility of the world finding out about her secret. However, all of these conflicts are suddenly solved halfway through the book. From that point on, it shifts to a thriller about Peter secretly being a serial killer. I'm not kidding. There are hints that Peter isn't as nice as he appears, so it doesn't come out of nowhere. However, it drastically shifts the course of the story, to the point where it feels like two separate stories.

Despite this criticism, this wasn't a bad book. I enjoyed myself while reading it. Furthermore, it's a quick read (perfect for car trips or bedtime). If you're looking for an engaging story with twists and turns, this is for you. If you're looking for a cohesive story with interesting themes, this book isn't for you.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Graveyard Book book jacket
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Graveyard Book, written by Neil Gaiman, is a mystical, interesting book. In the book, a young boy is taken in and cared for by ghosts of a graveyard. The boy is kept in secret, and is named Bod, short for Nobody. The book follows Bod's adventures in growing up and continuing his life, in and out of the graveyard. I thought this was a great book, packed full of magic special characters. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone, but mostly a more mature audience, because there are some parts that I feel are harder to understand if you are younger, and at some parts the book is a little slow. But overall I think this was one of the best books I've read this year!

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Ella
The Time Traveler's Wife book jacket
Niffenegger, Audrey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"The Time Traveler's Wife", written by Audrey Niffenegger, is the fictional account of Henry DeTamble, a man with a unique genetic condition that causes him to involuntarily time travel, and his wife Clare Abshire. The narrative follows their love story as they navigate the challenges posed by Henry's sporadic disappearances and unpredictable reappearances at various points in time. I really enjoyed how the plots all came together; while Clare aged normally, she would see Henry at different stages of his life. For example, when Henry time travels, he sees Clare when she is 13 and when he is 35. Another time Henry was 28 whilst Clare was 20. Clare's development was linear, while Henry's was sporadic. I would recommend this book to adults who enjoy a good love story. However, there is some adult content in the book so I would not recommend it for children or teenagers.

Reviewer's Name: Finn G.
The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue book jacket
Schwab, Victoria
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a French girl who did not want to get married and prayed to a dangerous higher being made a deal. The deal makes Addie cursed to live until she gets tired of living and not being able to remember as she lives. Throughout the novel Addie is alone for 300 years her only company this higher being who enjoys to mock her. Finally after 300 years someone remembers her.
The novel is written in a bit of a slow pace, but it slowly builds up as it goes on. The novel switches between the past of characters lives and the present. The ending is a little surprising. The book is worth the read.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Hana
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you have read the Hunger Games series, then you know that President Snow is the main villain and set a iron grip on the Districts of Panem. I you haven't read the trilogy, then might I highly suggest you do.
This book takes place decades before the trilogy starts and we read through Coriolanus Snow's eyes before he becomes the president and monster of Panem. Coriolanus has already set himself up to be in a position of power even as a young adult, and after his city was besieged, and his parents died, the Snow name and fortune left in ruins. Coriolanus Snow has decided that he will never be the weaker side again. The Hunger Games were not a new event for Panem during the time yet they were never popular, now though Coriolanus and his class are each assigned a tribute to make the Games finally noticed. Coriolanus has been assigned the girl of District 12, perhaps the worst choice available, or so he thinks.

Reviewer's Name: Xzavier
The Hunger Games book jacket
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The "Hunger Games" by Suzanne Collins is a suspenseful novel about 16-year-old Katniss in the dystopian land of Panem. In this world, the 13 districts protested against the government. In punishment, they must provide two tributes (one boy and one girl) from each district. When Katniss's sister was chosen as tribute Katniss stepped up to protect her. Now she must fight to the death with the other 23 tributes for a chance to continue with her life.

Reviewer's Name: Cailyn