Reviews of Teen Books

Nothing But The Truth
Avi
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"Nothing But the Truth," an documentary novel by Avi, depicts a small student-teacher quarrel that became a national headline. The book starts with one's average teenage boy named Philip Malloy. He runs track and is a fairly good student. His arch nemesis and least favorited teacher, Miss Narwin, thinks poorly of Philip, especially after he is switched to her homeroom. The day is always begun with the playing of the national anthem, but when Phil starts to "sing" along, Miss Narwin starts to lose it. After suspensions, interviews with newspapers, and nation wide fame, Philip must not only figure out how to deal with his newly renowned fame, but also how to deal with being honest about what is really going on. This book was a great, quick read. The way the book was composed made for easy reading and enjoyability. "Nothing But the Truth" was written in 1992, but the topic is still relevant decades later. With the kneeling during the national anthem in the NFL to other highly debated political topics, "Nothing But the Truth" is a great book for a quick but thoughtful read.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S
Genres:
The Scarlet Pimpernel
Orczy, Baronness Emmuska
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Scarlet Pimpernel is a wonderful book that incorporates the idealism of the French Revolution to create a unique setting. The historical adventure story is filled with a great blend of suspense, thrills, and romance. The developments included in the story are well-executed and the characters are all full of life. The overarching plot is also intriguing and will captivate the reader until the end of the book. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, especially those who like a bit a history.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Sense and Sensibility
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In the classic Jane Austen novel "Sense & Sensibility", three sisters -- Elinor, Marianne, and Margaret -- face a new life after their father dies and they are forced to move to a new home. The sisters' relationships are tested as they balance emotional turmoil, suitors, and new beginnings. I loved this book -- partly because Austen's writing style is straightforward and far easier to read than most classics -- and because of how much time Austen took to masterfully develop her characters. The relationship between Elinor (who is sensible and logical) and her sister Marianne (who is emotional and has a love for drama) is deep and complicated. As the story progresses, we see different sides of the sisters as they struggle to grow in their new environment. I absolutely loved this story. Honestly, there isn't a single negative thing I can say about it. I would highly recommend it to someone who doesn't like classic novels, because I think "Sense & Sensibility" could definitely change their minds.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Frankenstein
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Mary Shelley's classic novel "Frankenstein", a young ambitious scientist decides to play God and, in the process, creates a monster. As the monster struggles with self-identity and the meaning of his life, he enacts revenge on his creator by destroying everything he loves. Any time you dive into a classic novel, it can be difficult to keep your expectations from getting too high. This novel met pretty much all of mine -- the rich character development of both Frankenstein and the monster, the excellent use of suspense and foreboding to create tension, and the well-paced action. There were definitely some slow parts, but that's mostly because the writing style has changed so much between then and now. However, the multiple perspectives helped keep things moving when they began to slow down. I really enjoyed this novel but I had one fairly big complaint: the ending felt rushed. I felt that we were building up to a much more action-packed ending, but things fizzle out very quickly and the novel ends on a strangely unsatisfying note. I think that there could've been more time spent creating a strong conclusion to a really strong story. Besides that, this classic is excellent and definitely worth a read.
Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Awards:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Of Mice and Men is a true classic. It is a gripping tale of friendship and tragedy that takes place during the Great Depression. Lennie and George are very well-developed characters and their story of fulfilling their American Dream is one that you won't want to put down. Of Mice and Men is a surprisingly short read, but its story is enormous. While the book does include some controversial topics, it is still a very good read that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of Charlie through his letters to someone he seeks guidance from, although we do not know the name or identity of the person who receives his letters. It is Charlie’s first year of high school and he writes to find comfort in simply telling his story to someone else. This was a beautiful book about the actuality of the dark corners of life and the necessity of good friendships. I picked this book up out of interest in watching the movie afterward, and it was a good decision to read it because I learned so much about true love and life through Charlie’s search for who he wants to be. This story is specific to Charlie’s life but is relatable to anyone who is struggling through the questions of their own personality and relationships. Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who just need to feel love and to learn that even in loss they will be okay.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
The Power of Six
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The sequel to I am Number Four is just as thrilling and action packed as the first. John, Sam, and Six set out as fugitives and work to find the others as we meet Seven. Seven is also known as Marina and lives in a convent/orphanage in Spain while she convinces her Cepan to rejoin the fight and develops her legacies. Complete with numerous battles, close escapes, incredible powers, and fun characters, The Power of Six is an excellent read for any middle or high schoolers.

Reviewer's Name: John B
Armada
Cline, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In a science fiction world shown by Ernest Cline, the protagonist, Zack Lightman, seems to have the whole world against him. His Dad has died in a freak accident, his school as well as his social life is miserable, and to make things worse everyone thinks he has gone crazy after breaking under this pressure. Having no interest in the real world, Zack throws himself into the vast world of science fiction and video games. One of his favorite games is a game called “Armada”, which is essentially a flight simulator involving space based combat. Not all is as it seems after a slew of strange missions and movements by the military it may be that this game is all too real. In this amazing work of science fiction by Ernest Cline, the future of Earth’s survival is seen through the eyes of Ernest’s protagonist. I greatly enjoyed this book, mostly due to the nature of the protagonist, Zack Lightman and the light humor played out on more serious concepts. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Saga
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book gives its audience a look into a virtual world that has run without human intervention for many decades. In this world the many NPCs have developed intelligence and personality, becoming almost human. This world is run by a strict, class based society, where each class is separated by “color”. Originally used to represent levels like in a game, it now is used by the matriarch of this society to suppress the many artificial intelligences that make up this world’s citizens. One of these citizens, Ghost, fights back against the system which eventually ends up with her in a bit of trouble. Soon after this, some familiar characters show up, such as Erik and from then on the story continues. In this virtual world shown in Conor Kostick’s book, the real world concepts of artificial intelligence interweave with the many dynamic characters’ actions and thoughts. Due to this and the premise of the story, this book has turned out to be one of my favorites so far. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a blend of dystopia and science fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Prodigy
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the second book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have escaped the Republic’s forces and are heading towards Vegas. When they arrive, the dictator of the Republic, the Elector Primo, dies and his heir takes his place. Presented with a mission from a rebel group known as the Patriots, the duo is tasked with assassinating this new leader. June, seeing this new ruler is different, is conflicted by both the world she left behind as a member of the Republic and the world she now knows from her experiences with Day. In this action packed book, Marie Lu explores many concepts that are both relevant to the reader and thought invoking, through the conflicting perspectives presented by her two protagonists. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters breath as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Epic
Kostick, Conor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book presents a colony world far from Earth, in which power in a virtual reality based game means everything. The protagonist, Erik, lives in a less privileged community suppressed by the policies of the ruling administration. In an attempt to get even at the unfair treatment of his parents and their community, Erik attempts to best them in an in game arena with a team of his friends. The team they are against doesn’t necessarily play fair and Erik loses. Angry with this loss, Erik creates a new character completely on a whim, focusing on other attributes people typically don’t use. Having gone against the status quo Erik has some mysterious encounters that lead him on a quest to rediscover this virtual world. In this work of science fiction, Conor Kostick introduces his protagonist and the many other characters into a living breathing world. The openness of the world and the protagonist’s dual nature were some of the main aspects I enjoyed about this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, particularly one that revolves around virtual reality.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Champion
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the final book in the Legend trilogy, the story begins in a world shattered by an extreme rise in sea level. The protagonists, Day and June have overcome the Republic’s forces and are now trying to maintain balance in the nation along with their Patriot and Republic allies. When it seems the peace has just started, the neighboring nation, the Colonies, is hit by a terrible plague outbreak. Blaming the Republic, war seems inevitable. Day and June must now overcome yet another threat in the final book in the series.
Marie Lu demonstrates one last time, the conflicting yet agreeable perspectives presented by her two protagonists and how they make this story so interesting. The world put out before this book’s audience gives its characters depth as well as gives the reader a stunning view into a different world. One of my favorite aspects of this book is the dynamic protagonists and the direct look into their development throughout the story, especially in comparison to the first book.. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in a dystopian science fiction story placed in the not so distant future.

Reviewer's Name: Liam G
Throne of Glass
Maas, Sarah J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Throne of Glass is the first of many in the series by Sarah J. Maas. The story follows Celaena Sardothien, a young woman assassin who was imprisoned for a year by the King of Adarlan. The King’s son, having heard of who she is, requests her to become the King’s champion, but first she must compete with all the other assassins and thieves to get the title officially. If she wins, after she serves for 4 years, she will be granted freedom. But there is something more going on when as the competition goes on, bodies start piling up.

The reason I enjoyed this book is it has a very well done mystery aspect to the book along with an immersive fantasy setting with a land of magic, fantastic creatures, and being unpredictable with what’s going to happen next. What I enjoyed the most about the book is the mystery involved because it was the perfect addition to a story that already had my attention. My reasoning for picking the book is the same for why I enjoyed it. I wanted a fantasy book with a story that’d keep me reading and that’s exactly what I got, but I wouldn’t say it’s the best book I’ve read this year, but it did introduce me into the series that keeps getting better as you read it.

While the book itself felt as if it hadn’t been written well in the beginning, the story was entertaining and intriguing enough, that kept me reading through the full book and onto the next in the series.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Gregory B
Genres:
Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry
Taylor, Mildred D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

"Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is about an African American family living in the South during the Great Depression who faces the daily struggles of racism. The novel is told through their oldest child's, Cassie Logan, point of view. The Logans own their land and are successful which makes them a prime target for lynching or other racist acts. Cassie's family perseveres through the situation due to their independent lifestyle.

I wouldn't recommend "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry". I found the book extremely boring and uninteresting, but other people might not. I read this book with my class because I had to. I couldn't relate to any of the characters, however what the Logans faced can relate to other people. In my opinion it was predictable and it was by far not the best book I have read this year. "Roll of Thunder, Hear My Cry" is not a bad book I just found it boring.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Keeping Corner
Sheth, Kashmira
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Keeping Corner" by Kashmira Sheth is about a young Indian girl named Leela who struggles with the unfair traditions of her culture. She is about to get married and everything seems to be going well until her fiance is bitten by a poisonous snake and dies forcing Leela to become a widow. Since she is a widow she must keep corner which is an Indian tradition for female widows where women and young girls must stay inside for a year, shave their head, remove their jewelry, etc. While she is forced to keep corner she sees how unfair things really are and that she must use her voice to make a difference.

I would recommend this book. "Keeping Corner" really made me realize the unjust things women have to go through in other countries. I read this book for a geography project, but I ended up liking it. I couldn't relate to Leela but I could relate to her brother because when he tried to introduce modern ideas no one listened to him or valued what he was trying to say. The book was not predictable. "Keeping Corner" is the best book I have read so far this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana O.
Genres:
Artemis Fowl
Colfer, Eoin
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the movie adaptation of this book coming out in a few months, I figured the premise of Artemis Fowl looked interesting enough that I’d want to read it before seeing the film. After all, a child genius going up against fantasy forces sounded like it would be entertaining. Overall, this was true. Granted, this book starts one of those classic Young Adult series that’s actually meant for children, so I can forgive a bit of its bathroom humor—but only to a point. Still, I found the fusion of modern technology and fantasy elements to be the strength of this book.

Much in the vein of the science fantasy genre, Artemis Fowl uses scientific principles and concepts to explain the numerous phenomena connected to creatures like fairies, dwarves, and trolls. It only makes sense that these creatures would evolve technologically along with humanity. Being able to explain how these creatures could remain undetected for thousands of years was nearly as engaging as the technology used to find them. The fact that this book only gave me a taste of what’s capable in this universe makes me want to come back and read the rest of the series.

Aside from the aforementioned bathroom humor (and some more adult jokes that probably aren't for children), my one qualm with this book is that the titular character doesn’t seem to play a huge role in the proceedings. I mean, I get that he’s a criminal mastermind working from the shadows, but I found the character so interesting in the few moments where he appears that I wanted more of him. Instead, many chapters focused on the military-fantasy world of the fairies, and I’m not that into military-based stories anyway.

A classic YA military science fantasy, I give Artemis Fowl 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Genres:
Sleep No More
Pike, Aprilynne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I could not put it down. Surprise
ending that didn't end the way most books do. I am excited to have found this
author, cant wait to read another by Aprilynne Pike.

Reviewer's Name: Janelle
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Red Rising adds maturity and depth to the dystopian novel genre, culminating into something more interesting and deep than the average dystopian series. The plot is set on Mars in a society separated into castes with the lowest of castes being extorted into serving the higher ones. The story is raw, emotional, and overall a worthwhile read. However, at times the plot progresses at a slower pace than desirable and occasionally the main character is rather robotic. Taking this into account the book remains enjoyable and I would recommend it to people looking for more out of the dystopian genre.

Reviewer's Name: Evan T
World War Z
Brooks, Max
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After finding myself slighlty underwhelmed by the movie; the book proved a welcome change. World War Z manages to capture the spirit of the zombie apocalypse trope while still remaining original. The story is told through chronological, short, personal naratives and expertly paints a large picture of disaster while continuing to feel intimate. People in the story act realistically and despite revolving around a fantastical event, the book always seems like a series of believable recounts. The story replaces continuous characters with a narrative of humanity as a whole and the reader become invested in this larger concept. Overall, the book is an entertaining read and completely worth the time.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

There is a reason the Great Gatsby is considered an important work of American literature. Both a highly accurate depiction of the 1920s, a deep reflection on American morals, and the reality of the American dream, and an entertaining novel in general. While some of the book struggles with some strange pacing and slightly scattered plot, it is a worth while read. This book both appears frequently in popular culture and overall is a subject that is important to know. The Great Gatsby may not be a novel for everyone, however, it is relatively short and worth reading.

Reviewer's Name: Evan
Awards:
Genres:

Pages