Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Historical

The Nightingale book jacket
Hannah, Kristin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Originally I was interested in this book because it was highly praised among those who read it. It portrays two sisters and their lives in World War II. One named Isabelle and one named Vianne, it shows the different courses of their lives but in the end their own impact made on those around them. If you are interested in learned about women’s contribution in war this book is for you! I would recommend this book to anyone looking to expand their perspective on war, but be aware this book does touch on some topics that may be triggering. Overall, the Nightingale was a wonderful read that gave me more insight to women’s lives at the time and their contributions.

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Lilly
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 Book Thief book jacket
Zusak, Markus
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was awesome! I had to read it for school, but I ended up really loving it and the way Markus Zusak wrote it. This book takes place in Nazi Germany and follows a young girl named Liesel who loves words and stories but can’t read. The book is interesting because the narrator isn’t Liesel and it isn’t in third person, instead it’s narrated by Death himself. Through Death, we learn about Liesel’s development and the environment she is living through. We watch as she gets older and continues her love for stories and writing. While this story can be heartfelt, the focus still takes place in Nazi Germany where all kinds of tragedies were taking place and made me tear up more than once. This book was amazing but it’s something you have to read slowly because of all the figurative language and metaphors being described at once. You have to think about what Death is telling you and then compare it to Liesel’s story. I loved this book but I was ready to cry by then end of it because of all the events taking place.

Reviewer's Name: Cara
Atonement book jacket
McEwan, Ian
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Atonement" is the story of thirteen year old Briony and her misunderstanding of the world. It begins in the Tallis household in 1935. Obsessed with fantasy and books, she sees sinister motivations in the blossoming romance between her sister and the son of the family's house cleaner. When something terrible happens, Briony makes a mistake that will change the lives of everyone around her.

The characters in this story are all well developed, but Briony is the stand out in this regard. Her motivations straddle the line between clearly defined and mysterious. She has a clearly defined character, dramatic, self centered, and eager to please. Cecilia and Robbie are less defined, but still sympatheic and interesting. I found Robbie slightly unpleasant in the second half of the book, but it was understandable considering the circumstances.

The plot cannot be properly discussed without getting into spoilers. However, it unfolds in a clear manner. All the plot points are set up before they happen, and given proper foreshadowing. At the end, there is a plot twist. Since I highly recommend this book, I will not be spoiling the twist. However, I will say that it makes everything else that happened in the book unclear (in the best possible way).

This book contains a depiction of rape, extreme violence, and rather gruesome hospital scenes. If any of these subjects upset you, I would not recommend this book. If you are able to handle these topics, and you appricate books that focus on pyschology and character exploration, I would definitely recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
Demon Copperhead book jacket
Kingsolver, Barbara
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The sole way to describe Demon Copperhead by Barbra Kingsolver is a long, dark coming-of-age narrative. Demon Copperhead, born and raised in the southern Appalachian mountains by a single drug-addicted teenage mother, is seemingly designed for failure the moment he was born. Throughout his childhood, Demon confronts an abusive stepfather, an addicted mother, exploitive fosters, and selfish friends. As he faces a life of mistrust, inadequacy, and poverty, Demon relies on his wits to survive. While the book is lengthy, there is never a dull moment or lull in the plot, and the characters within the narrative are dynamic, adding depth to the story. The writing style effectively lures the reader into the constructed world of Lee County.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
American Dirt book jacket
Cummins, Jeanine
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Against all odds, Lydia and her son, Luca, survive a brutal cartel massacre, leaving them with only one option: to embark on a dangerous and arduous journey to seek safety in the United States. American Dirt by Jeanine Cummins is a harrowing story about the survival, resilience, and hope of migrants fleeing north to the United States. Cummins skillfully captures the hardships, fears, and hopes of these characters, providing a window into the harsh realities faced by those making the perilous trek north. American Dirt humanizes the migrant experience by creating empathetic and multifaceted characters, illustrating the diversity within the migrant community and their shared aspirations for a better future.

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

I loved this book! The detail in these stories was terrific and made the book a lot easier to follow. The story was entertaining and kept you on the edge of your seat at some parts. My only dislike about this story is that in the beginning of the book when Patroclus is naming all of the different Greek gods and demigods and such, so many names did get a bit confusing. It was a bit hard to follow but only lasted for about the first chapter and was an easy read after that. I rated this book 5 stars because the Greek mythology base in the story was very interesting, and you grew to love the characters as you read it. It made me smile, laugh, and cry. Genuinely a great book. In my opinion, this book is meant for young adult readers, I would say 15+ in my opinion. It does contain some violence but nothing too graphic and one brief sexual content scene but does not go into much detail. Would definitely recommend it!

Reviewer's Name: Ashley
Island of the Blue Dolphins book jacket
O'Dell, Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Scott O'Dell's novel, Island of the Blue Dolphins, is a fantastic book about a girl named Karana who has to learn to survive on an island all by herself. She goes through many sad and painful experiences, but also exciting and interesting ones. Karana meets many animals, and has to make a new life on her own at the island. I think this was one of the best books I have read this year, because of its unique plot and thrilling events. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who loves animals, survival, and adventure.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Ella
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
Where the Crawdads Sing book jacket
Owens, Delia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Where the Crawdads Sing, written by Delia Owens, detail the fictional account of Kya and her survival in the marsh of North Carolina. After her mother is beat one too many times by her father, Kya's mother leaves, leaving Kya to fend for herself - against her abusive dad and the wilderness. Kya learns the value of self-reliance, she falls in love with the marsh and its functions and importance to the ecosystem. She also, however, feels the urge of having human company, and her adventures of falling in love (and back out) are incredibly detailed and heart wrenching. My favorite part about this book was the imagery; the way simple things, like leaves falling off of a tree, were described it felt as if I was standing right next to Kya, watching the leaves fall with her.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
The Call of the Wild book jacket
London, Jack
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Call of the Wild," written by Jack London, is a novel set in Yukon, Canada during the Klondike Gold Rush. Buck, a rather large, domesticated dog, is stolen from his comfortable life and sold into the brutal world of sled dog teams in the harsh wilderness. Buck quickly learns to adapt to his new environment, tapping into his primal instincts as he navigates the challenges of survival. He forms a bond with John Thornton, a kind-hearted prospector, but Buck never feels free, and he contemplates breaking his friendship with John Thornton to escape into the wild. I enjoyed the book because I am an animal lover and I liked reading about the events that Buck endured. Subsequently, I would recommend this book to animal lovers because, after all, it is about a dog and his strive for freedom.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
A Farewell to Arms book jacket
Hemingway, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Farewell to Arms, written by Ernest Hemingway, details the account of Frederic Henry, a medic for the Italian army during the Italian campaign of World War One. He is sent to the front lines of the war, and while he is eating dinner, a bomb explodes over him and he is injured. During his recovery process, he falls in love with Cathrine Barkley, an English nurse. Henry soon desires to leave the army and will do so in any means possible so that he can escape and be with his Ms. Barkley. I enjoyed the book because it was quite satirical, except the humor was quite advanced, so I would recommend this book to teenagers and adults. Overall, however, it was grammatically unique and I believe that I have become not only a better reader from reading this book, but a better writer as well.

Reviewer's Name: Finn
Tess of the D'Urbervilles book jacket
Hardy, Thomas
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

WARNING: This reveiw and this book contains discussion of sexual assult.

Tess of the D'urbervilles is an excellent book. It tells the story of Tess Durbyville, who's father has become obessed with the idea of their noble heritage. After an incident with the carriage, the family is left in financial peril. Tess agrees to work for her supposed relations. However, this leads her into the arms of Alexander D'urberville (who is not actually related to her).

Tess herself is a great protagonist. She's well defined as a dreamer who is devoted to her family. Both of these traits help her, but cost her dearly. Alexander is a more complex antagonist than you'd first assume, while still being hatable. Angel Clare is a good character as well, he has well defined traits, but I was not able to end up liking him. He admits to not being a Christian, and not believing in all of the doctrines of the Bible (just to clarify, almost all of today's Christians would take issue with the way Angel treats Tess). Furthermore, he openly admits to his parents that he does not have the same beliefs he does. Yet, he still abandons Tess because of these beliefs (that he doesn't have).

That brings me to the major problem. Tess is constantly thinking about how Alexander is her true husband, and how she is ruined. While these are realistic things for someone in her predicament to think, I felt that the book does not take a strong enough stance against these beliefs. If it wasn't for this, I would have given the book 5 stars (if I had the option, I would have given it 4.5). Tess of the D'urbervilles has excellent prose, shocking twists, tragic moments, and great character progression. If you are not uncomfortable reading about sexual assault and you enjoy classic literature, I would recommend this book.

Reviewer's Name: Rose
The Golem and the Jinni book jacket
Wecker, Helene
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book, "The Golem and the Jinni" was a fantastic book for several reasons. However, before I get to those reasons, I'd like to explain more about how I chose this book. I was in need of a book for entertainment. Typically, I like to investigate what books are similar to others that I have enjoyed before I visit the library, but this visit was more impromptu. A book was grabbed off the shelf, and I began to read it.
As for the book itself, I enjoyed the historical accuracy the most. Although I was not alive during the described time period, I enjoy the subtle nuance in architectural designs and consistent description between different characters (albeit with a different view for each character; Saleh obviously doesn't describe location unless it reflects faces, until... a spoiler). I enjoyed the inconclusive details the least; without spoiling too much, a lot of the information explained about a Golem's behavior simply never matters, or never comes up. When I first catalogued the details provided to me, I assumed that at least some of it would be relevant to the plot. The vast majority never was. The book was still surprising; the information dump near the climax was amazing for how much it concluded, even if I still complain about the information that was never resolved. The characters are relatable because they aren't relatable. Social situation are difficult for both the Golem and the Jinni, albeit for different reasons. This isn't one of the best books I've read this year, but I'll give it a 4/5 for amazing descriptions of the setting and lovable characters.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ryder
A Very Large Expanse of Sea book jacket
Mafi, Tahereh
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

This book suffered from a lot of major flaws, ranging from one-dimensional characters to confusing (and silly at times) plotlines. Mafi not only leans into harmful stereotypes, but she further exaggerates them and emphasizes them as the norm. The relationships between chatacters are largely shallow, their development rushed, and their personalities bland. I remember next to nothing about these unremarkable characters. This book is an infuriatingly simple tale of stereotypical people following a messy and illogical story, and I advise readers to avoid it whenever possible. The greatest strength of this book is its relatively short reading time.

Reviewer's Name: Samah
Jane Eyre book jacket
Bronte, Charlotte
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is one of my favorite pieces of classical literature that explores the human experience through the story of an orphaned young woman, Jane Eyre, who remains steadfast in her beliefs despite the challenges she faces. Bronte's writing style is emotional and descriptive, immersing the reader in a detailed and symbolic representation of 19th century England. The novel's structure is well-crafted, with each chapter building upon the last to create a story that is hard to put down once you're reading. The character development is impressive, with Jane and supporting characters adding depth and complexity to the narrative. The novel explores universal themes of love, morality, and social class, making it a timeless classic that truly can resonate with any reader. Jane becomes a relatable character throughout the novel as she overcomes a variety of issues, and I found most of the drama she was involved in to be both intriguing and entertaining. Overall, Jane Eyre is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a good story or classic literature, especially one that explores coming-of-age and romantic ideas. Personally, this is one of my favorite novels across any genre as I have read it multiple times.
Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name: Addison
Anne of Windy Poplars book jacket
Montgomery, Lucy Maud
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

When Anne finishes her schooling at Redmond, she decides to start a new life away from Green Gables. She finds herself in her tower room at Windy Poplars, befriending two old widows, Aunt Kate and Aunt Chatty. She arrives at Windy Poplars looking for a job. She gets one as the principal of Summerside High School. Anne is then made aware that she was not the person they wanted as the principal, but they couldn’t find anyone better. Over time, Anne also becomes friends with the housekeeper, Rebecca Dew. Anne loves her students, but she greatly misses her lover, Gilbert Blythe, who is currently in medical school. Anne of Windy Poplars is a book in the Anne Of Green Gables series. It was less interesting and active than the other books, but it had a decent plot. I am a person who likes action and drama, but this novel did not satisfy me. Contrasting to the other books in the series, it was very drawn out and not very suspenseful. It left me with the urge to not continue reading. I want a book that makes me want to read more and never stop, but this did not meet those expectations. The only reason I kept reading was to keep the series going. I finally finished the book, and I’m glad I did. The storylines following Anne of Windy Poplars were much more interesting, but the books later on had flashbacks and connections to it.

Reviewer's Name: Katherine
Grenade book jacket
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Alan Gratz, bestselling author of Projekt 1065 and Refugee, returns with another thrilling novel about the human side of war. The novel follows two protagonists, the young Japanese conscript Hideki and the teenage American Marine Ray. As World War II rages on, the pair are brought closer and closer together without either being aware, until suddenly their paths cross in one ultimate twist of fate.
Grenade is a gateway for middle school readers to understand the complexity and horrors of war without being pushed towards a more adult story like Saving Private Ryan. The story shows that despite the Japanese and Americans fighting each other at war, the soldiers battling are just people underneath the uniforms (or lack thereof). Gratz weaves mature themes with easily comprehensible language in a way that I find increasingly rare for young adult authors, and it serves his purpose well. As an older reader, I find myself coming back to Grenade for its gripping storytelling and the nuanced characters it conveys. I believe Grenade is a must-read for those interested in history and a perspective not often seen in the United States.
The story of two conflicting ideologies and the events bringing them together, Grenade is a masterfully crafted story of the horrors of war and the importance of understanding others' perspectives.

Reviewer's Name: Locke
The Good Earth book jacket
Buck, S. Pearl
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Good Earth follows a man named Wang Lung accompanied by his wife, O-Lan. This story is told surrounding China in the early 20th century told in a classic rags to riches tale. Important themes are told through this story to express what China in the 20th was going through and challenges the people had to face. Some of these themes include the oppression of women and man’s relationship with the earth.
I have to admit, the first time I read this book I didn’t really like it. After talking to someone about the book, I decided to read it again and recognized its importance. Not only is the book informative, but it’s also an all around good book. There are many different plot points and character development pieces that go into this story. While reading it, it made me think… is this what people had to endure in China in the 20th century? Knowing this, it pulled at my heart strings a little bit. I absolutely love this book and would recommend.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever book jacket
O'Reilly, Bill
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Killing Lincoln, written by Bill O'Reilly, is a historical fiction novel detailing the account of the Civil War and the events that led up to the assassination of Abraham Lincoln. The narrator takes the reader along a tale of battle, and a timeline of Booth growing more and more anti-Lincoln until he finally decides to buy a gun and shoot Lincoln. I enjoyed the book because there is so much information, it's almost as if the narrator were there, writing everything down in the present. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes history, as well as anyone who is possibly enrolled in a history class.

Reviewer's Name: Finn