YALSA Award

Book Review: One of Us is Lying

Book Cover
Author: 
McManus, Karen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

One of Us is Lying is a mystery novel about four high school students who are suspected for the murder of their classmate. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, Nate, and Simon go into their after school detention following a normal day at school, but the events that happened after weren't so normal. Simon, the outcast and the creator of the high school's gossip app, has been murdered and the other students in detention claim they know nothing. Yet after his murder, the posts on his gossip app don't stop, eventually revealing some shocking things about the suspects. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate decide to join forces and find out the truth behind Simon's murder.

Overall, this book was really good. I would have given it 5 stars but I feel like the description (from the book) is a little misleading. The book focuses on their lives after the murder of Simon Kelleher and not as much of them trying to solve the murder. While I really do like the way it explains the details of their lives, I just found it a bit misleading. Other than that, the book is great. I absolutely love the character development in this novel.

In the beginning Addy is what you might call a "dumb blonde" but later on she becomes much more independent and her character develops in many ways. I also really liked the plot twists, they completely blew me away! I can't reveal much more than that but I truly didn't expect some of the things that happened, to happen.

Reviewer's Name: 
Prarthana

Book Review: Prodigy

Book Cover
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Prodigy is the second book in the Legend trilogy and it is just as enticing as the first. I am obsessed with this plot and again would recommend it to anyone because of the intense romanticism and thrilling fights. Not to forget, the Republic (where the main character lives) is undergoing a pandemic of its own virus, which very much connects to the issues we have faced in 2020 and now 2021 as well. This book wouldn't make sense if you read it before the first book in the series, but it has gorgeous writing nonetheless. There are so many layers to this book, especially because former background characters are being included and are now essential to the storyline. With many book series, the writing starts to lose interest or just depreciates, but absolutely not in this series. And after this book, it gets even more alluring.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.
Awards: 

Book Review: Legend

Book Cover
Author: 
Lu, Marie
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I read the first book of the Legend trilogy (Legend) for a school summer reading assignment, but I fell in love with it and finished the series of books. I would recommend this book to anyone because it is easy to understand, and very entertaining. This was written from the first-person point of view, but each chapter switches off between the two main characters, who are also the novel's love interests. This unique writing style allows the readers to get even more background info than if it was told by one single character. Not only is there an interesting romance twist, but there are thrilling fighting scenes and plenty of unexpected deceit. This is perfect for any gender and anyone from the age of 12+. When reading, I enjoyed this with another friend who also fell in love with the plot and read the whole trilogy, so if thrilling romance books are your thing, try this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.

Book Review: The Program

Book Cover
Author: 
Young, Suzanne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book takes place in a not too distant future. "The Program" puts a spin on a real-world issue and shows what could end up happening in our world if the issue does not get contained. The issue being teen suicide. At the time of this story, teen suicide has been deemed an epidemic. As suicide rapidly spreads, The Program is created to "cure" these teens of the sickness. Their ways of treatment are unconventional, to say the least. Through this book, main character Sloane deals with tragic loss, falling in love, and losing all sense of herself. Suzanne Young writes this story in a way that is both intriguing and heart-wrenching. It is beyond easy to become attached to these characters as you get to know them in both a humorous and emotional way.

Through the ups and downs of the character's lives, you grow and suffer right alongside them. This is a book that just keeps on giving. It is easy to understand but also written in a way that makes you question your life, your thoughts, and your relationships. Full of twists and turns, this book has many surprises that make it hard to put down. As the first book of a series, The Program leaves you wanting more. Plot twist after plot twist leaves you sitting on the edge of your seat as you wait for the next book to be available. You can only hope that soon, you will get all your questions answered in Suzanne Young's "The Treatment"

Reviewer's Name: 
Star B.

Book Review: I Am Malala

I Am Malala
Author: 
Yousafzai, Malala
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"I Am Malala" was a pretty great book, and is now one of my personal favorites. It did not take me long to read and is good for anyone ages 12+. This book does contain some sensitive contents and might not be great for younger kids, unless the parents are okay with harsh and sad topics in the Middle East. The book does not contain a whole lot of content on what goes on in that area of the world, and it mostly focuses on Malala and her story. Malala is a young teen from the Swat Valley in Pakistan. She was raised peacefully, but the Taliban soon started to take over the area. The Taliban started like a little seed, but grew into a giant weed that basically controlled everything. They eventually made it so girls were not allowed to go to school, and women were not aloud out of their house unless they are accompanied by a male relative. Malala would not put up with this, for she has a desire to learn and know answers to her questions. She is the daughter of the principal of her school, and grew up admiring the students that attended. After surviving a bullet to the head, months in the hospital, and a move to England, Malala becomes activist and stands up for girl's rights and
her belief that everyone has the right to go to school. I liked this book because Malala is a great role model and author. She really provides a strong figure for any girl growing up in this hectic world. This is definitely one of the best books I have read and I am sure I will read it again in times to come. Any girl (or boy) can relate to Malala because she described herself as being an ordinary girl that wanted to see change in the world. She shows that anyone can adjust their view on the world if they just use their voice to speak out. I absolutely suggest this book to someone if they are looking for a fairly quick read!

Reviewer's Name: 
Sukhleen

Book Review: Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter

Good Omens: The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter
Author: 
Gaiman, Neil
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Perhaps I’m in the minority here, but I only thought Good Omens was just OK. You’d think that the combination of two of the best British writers would create an incredible story, but I felt it was mostly disjointed, un-climatic, and full of that British humor that tends to be more random than based in actual jokes. Granted, most books by Terry Pratchett or Neil Gaiman that I’ve read have been hit or miss, depending on how peculiarly random the subject might be. Sure, there are elements of a great story here; it just felt distracted from its main purpose half of the time.

The core of Good Omens is split into two parts: following the actual Antichrist who is unaware of his theological significance/role in the end of the world and the journey of an angel and a demon who happened to lose said Antichrist. This idea's strength is enough to give the story some merit, but the execution seemed flawed to me. Too much time was spent in random and meaningless interactions that didn’t add to the story other than to be “humorous” for their pure obscurity. If anything, this type of humor is standard for Pratchett, so I’m not surprised it was there, just disappointed that it seemed to play such a large part of the story.

I’m sure most people loved the relationship between the angel and the demon, but I almost found the actions of the unaware Antichrist to be much more interesting and would have liked that those parts of the book played more in the plot than just being a side story. I know Amazon made a television show of this book, so maybe I just missed something that the show might be able to reveal to me as to why this book was so popular. As for me, it was just kind of “meh.” An interesting plot that suffers from British humor, I give Good Omens 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Cinder

Cinder
Author: 
Meyer, Marissa
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

For years, I had heard of The Lunar Chronicles and thought people were referring to the two Sega Saturn video games, Lunar: Silver Star Story and Lunar 2: Eternal Blue. However, seeing as most people haven’t heard of these video games, I eventually figured out that they referred to the Young Adult series of books. While 2012 was definitely around the height of the re-imagined fairy tale craze, I do have to admit that this science-fiction take on these classic stories is a fresh new way of adapting the plots that we all grew up with through Disney movies.

The first book in the series, Cinder, takes Cinderella's down-and-out heroine and updates her to a cyborg unaware of her royal origins. What made this story engaging was figuring out how the standard trappings of the Cinderella story would be adapted to this futuristic setting. Granted, this made some of the plot points more than obvious well before they happened, but I usually ended up smiling at the bits of homage that Cinder paid to its origins—such as a “pumpkin” of a car and the leaving behind of certain footwear.

While the plot was mostly predictable, I appreciated the awkward “teenager” dialogue of the titular protagonist but only to a point. I’ll admit that YA books have a kind of frenetic style that matches their main characters' emotional turbulence, and Cinder certainly reads like a teenage girl replete with the insecurities, slang, and missed steps that a full-grown adult wouldn’t necessarily have as character quirks. The problem is that having to follow such a snarky young individual for so long through the story makes it eventually grate on my nerves, especially when the path she needs to take in her life is so obvious. Then again, perhaps I’m just a crotchety old man who isn’t in-tune with the youth anymore.

A great sci-fi Cinderella retelling, I give Cinder 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Predator's Gold

Predator's Gold
Author: 
Reeve, Philip
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Taking place a few years after the events of Mortal Engines , I was aided somewhat in my read-through of Predator’s Gold by the fact that I didn’t have a movie to compare against. While the first book in this series helped set the stage, I felt the real story didn’t start until book two. After all, this series really is about the relationship between Hester and Tom. In Mortal Engines, they had only just met; in Predator’s Gold, we see how far they’ll go for each other, even if most of the story beats are somewhat predictable.

I appreciated how thoroughly real this ridiculous concept of monstrous towns roaming the world and devouring each other seems in this book. This post-apocalyptic setting felt thought-out by adding the main setting of Anchorage and the introduction of a charlatan author who cons everyone around him for his sole benefit. So often, an additional concept is added to the world-building, and I’d think, “That makes sense in this context.” I also appreciated how previous ideas were integrated into this story, showing how nothing is a “throwaway” idea.

Despite the excellent world-building, the root of this story is Hester and Tom’s relationship. While the more “romantic” elements were merely alluded to—as this is a series meant for children, after all—I was slightly annoyed with how stubborn these two characters were. If they’d been together for a few years, you’d think they’d have figured out some of these simple relationship issues before they become lynchpins tied to the survival of entire cities. I also felt the “will of God” was in a lot of the plot developments, as these two characters always seemed to be brought to the right place at the right time so they could continue to be together.

Excellent world-building with so-so character relationships, I give Predator’s Gold 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin M. W.
Awards: 

Book Review: Ender's Game

Ender's Game
Author: 
Card, Orson Scott
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Ender’s Game is a science-fiction book set in the future of Earth. Humans have battled with the Formics or “Buggers” three times before. Mazer Rackham was the only reason why the Humans won the first two wars, and he can no longer fight. In anticipation of the third war, and in search of the next Mazer Rackham, Humankind has been training their youth to battle by the use of realistic war games, which are sometimes in zero gravity. When Andrew “Ender” Wiggin joins the other boys in the Battle Room, he clearly exceeds them in battle tactics, and leads his team to victory. Ender eventually finds himself being trained by Mazer Rackham himself as the battle draws nearer. This book displayed excellent character development, along with a sensational plot. Ender’s Game was action packed from start to finish. This book is an easy five stars, despite the author’s use of profanity. I would recommend this book to anyone who wanted to read a quality Sci-Fi Novel.

Reviewer's Name: 
Zach M.

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