Fantasy

Book Review: Middlewest, Book One

Middlewest, Book One
Author: 
Young, Skottie
Rating: 
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

Book Review: A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade of Magic
Author: 
Schwab, V.E.
Rating: 
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

Book Review: I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After

I Hate Fairyland, Volume 1: Madly Ever After
Author: 
Young, Skottie
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I Hate Fairyland explores the concept of a young girl, Gertrude, falling into a fantastical world and taking on the quest of finding a key that would allow her to leave. After 27 years she has yet to complete her mission and is still stuck in her 8 year old body. She makes her way through Fairyland killing anything that offers her any semblance of inconvenience; after spending years trying to get back to her home, she has gone crazy, to say the least, and developed a murderous attitude. Young creates a blaring contrast between the excessive gore and violence and the fluffy backdrop of Fairyland. Young's writing and art is amazing as always, and I Hate Fairyland offers an interesting story backed by great visuals and lettering. The story explores a spin on the original Wizard of Oz type story, and any reader would have a fun time reading this humorously dark series. Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Julia

Book Review: Between the Sea and Sky

Between the Sea and Sky
Author: 
Dolamore, Jaclyn
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Esmerine has just been proclaimed a siren, the highest honor a mermaid can have. She's excited to be a siren alongside her sister Dosia, but when she goes missing, Esmerine is sent out to find her. Along the way, she meets up with a childhood friend of hers named Alander after years of being apart, and in the search for Dosia, they rekindle their friendship and possibly even more.

Overall, this story was okay. It did a great job with visual imagery and making intriguing and three-dimensional characters. However, the story itself could have gone through a few rewrites. The plot itself is almost obnoxiously cliche for a teen novel, the transitions between scenes and locations are sloppy and out of nowhere and the finale is very dissatisfying and anti-climactic. It's a book which plot gets on my nerves! However, at the same time, I couldn't stop reading because of pretty much everything else.

Reviewer's Name: 
Naomi S.

Book Review: The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins

The Mighty Thor, Volume 1: Thunder in Her Veins
Author: 
Aaron, Jason
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Mighty Thor Thunder in her Veins offers a wonderful introduction to Thor's self-titled series. The graphic novel follows Jane Foster as the all-new Thor as she battles cancer and every war in the ten realms. The novel provides a wonderful introduction to her character without succumbing to the cliché of retelling her origin story in the first issue; it successfully portrays her character to the audience while seemingly dropping them in the middle of her story. Although the story is not unique, it purposefully follows a version of a classic Thor story while being very self-aware of the connections and explicitly stating them in some instances. However, the story is now told from the point of view of Jane Foster as Thor, offering a refreshing take on the original story. The novel's magical art style and deliberate writing make it an incredible contribution to the world of Thor, and it leaves the reader invested in her compelling story. Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Julia

Book Review: Ghost Story

Ghost Story
Author: 
Butcher, Jim
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After Dresden becomes a ghost, he goes back to Chicago to help his friends. Dresden struggles to acclimate to being a ghost and being unable to directly help his friends. Although this book starts off slowly, it quickly picks up
to a climactic end. This book adds new depth to the supernatural world Jim Butcher has created and continues to tie past character into the story. This book adds a refreshing change to the series by mixing up the style of storytelling through Dresden's more passive role in the story. Although Butcher's style of adding a ticking time clock to every story feels quite repetitive, this book was still entertaining to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
Mark

Book Review: Plague

Plague
Author: 
Grant, Michael
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In the fourth book in the Gone series, Plague, Michael Grant spins an amazing tale of fear and danger as the Darkness once again threatens Perdido Beach and those still alive must do anything in their power to stop it. The horrors of Lies are gone but, the children’s newfound solidarity is challenged when they are threatened by a plague and carnivorous insects that challenge even the most powerful of the mutants. These blights leave no one unscathed and the reader is again immersed in a frightening and chaotic world where nothing is certain. Plague is guaranteed to satisfy science fiction readers and anyone who enjoyed the first three books is guaranteed to love this one.

Reviewer's Name: 
Harrison

Book Review: Lies

Lies
Author: 
Grant, Michael
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Lies, the third book in the Gone series by Michael Grant is another riveting story. Filled with mystery, intrigue, and Drake, the tentacle-wielding psychopath who is back for vengeance. The anti-mutant sentiment has grown, and full-scale violence is not far behind. Now only the wits of Sam, Astrid and their loyal friends can keep the children in the FAYZ alive and unharmed. But this will be no easy feat, lies spread by those who claim to be prophets have filled the ears of many and the zealots are capable of anything and they threat they pose is greater than all others. Lies is an amazing combination of the best parts of the first and second books in the series and puts a sense of dread in the reader as if they were living through the terror of the FAYZ. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first two books, this novel follows the same great storytelling style.

Reviewer's Name: 
Harrison

Book Review: Hunger

Hunger
Author: 
Grant, Michael
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

In Hunger, the second volume of Michael Grant’s Gone series, the bleakness of the FAYZ sets in as anti-mutant sentiment rises and conflict seems inevitable. Hunger runs rampant through Perdido Beach and famine is not far away. However, these problems fade into the background when an evil voice begins to speak to some of the children, trying to persuade them to do various tasks. This novel does not sugarcoat the difficulties of survival and the resulting story is a supernatural version of Lord of the Flies which snares the reader in an amazingly complex and mysterious universe. I found myself imagining that I was a character in the events and could picture many of the fantastical elements of the story with great detail, as if I had seen them firsthand. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoyed the first novel in the series, Gone, and who enjoys survival novels like Hatchet.

Reviewer's Name: 
Harrison

Book Review: Gone

Gone
Author: 
Grant, Michael
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The Sci-fi novel Gone by Michael Grant is an amazing story of ingenuity and intrigue wrapped up into a young adult novel that combines the best elements of classic fantasy and science fiction. It follows the children in Perdido Beach California when everyone over the age of 15 vanishes and those that remain are trapped inside an opaque dome that surrounds the town. To make matters worse, some of the children start to develop superpowers and not everyone gets along. The children must work together to survive what is coming next… and they are definitely not ready for it. Gone is the perfect book for anyone who enjoys science fiction and who enjoys survival stories like Hatchet.

Reviewer's Name: 
Harrison

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