Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Classics

The Hound of the Baskervilles
Doyle, Arthur Conan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Hound of the Baskervilles is another outstanding Sherlock Holmes novel. After wealthy landowner Sir Charles Baskerville is found dead, Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson must investigate the rumors of an otherworldly hound with glowing eyes and jaw. The Hound of the Baskervilles once again showcases Sherlock Holmes brilliant deductive capabilities and the mental chess-match he plays with villains. However, this novel also shows Dr. Watson's wit and all that he has learned throughout his years with Holmes.
This gripping adventure will keep you on your toes and leave you guessing until the very end. I highly recommend this book for any fan of classic mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: John
The Catcher in the Rye
Salinger, J. D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Catcher In The Rye is about the life of Holden Caulfield and his views on the world as well as life. Holden drops out of a prep school in Pennsylvania to explore New York City. This book captures living in the 1950's and 1960's brilliantly, as well, as the spirit of rebellion that Holden has. I did not like this book because Holden complains way too much and has negative views on the world around him. He also has a bad habit of using profane language in every sentence. The message of the book however is meaningful as it discuses how kids should enjoy being themselves and to stop worrying about growing up and becoming an adult so fast.

Reviewer's Name: Ananth
Cover of the book The Hunchback of Notre-Dame
Hugo, Victor
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Hunchback of Notre Dame is about four men who are captivated by a mysterious gypsy dancer. The story begins on a holiday where a play is going on until everyone becomes distracted by the gypsy girl dancing in the square. This is where we meet Esmeralda the gypsy and Gringore the playwright. Many things happen until Esmeralda ends up meeting Pheobus, a soldier, who is very egocentric, when he saves her from the deformed bell ringer - Quasimodo - and a priest named Claude Frollo. Esmeralda is soon accused of witchcraft and is sentenced to be hanged. Fortunately, she is able to find shelter in Notre Dame before that can happen. Many want to kill her, but some want to save her.

I had to read this book for school, and my English teacher recommended it. And the first chapter was not very interesting so I became skeptical, but at the end, I thought the book was really good. There are some parts where the author goes into detail about a location to better help set the scene, and this is where I struggled to focus on the book, but you should push forward because the story line is worth it. The Disney movie did not do this book justice and there is some adult-themed content in the book so I would not recommend this book to middle-schoolers or younger. I do think that sooner or later, everyone should at least give this book a try because it really made me think.

Reviewer's Name: Emma M.
Matilda
Dahl, Roald
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Roald Dahl's Matilda, is a good short read. The concept of a heroine rising to action is decently intriguing. However, the book feels very lackluster with its characters being so one dimensional. While the characters are great for its intended audience, creating some depth to characters can always benefit a novel. Overall, the book is great for younger reader and those looking for a short book that has a lot of fun packed into it.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Awards:
Cry, the Beloved Country
Paton, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Cry, the Beloved Country is a very good novel. It depicts the lives of Reverend Stephen Kumalo and white landowner, James Jarvis, during a time of turbulence in their lives. All of the characters in the novel are extremely well written and the character development is superb. The conflict in the novel feels very realistic and thrills the reader. The moral decisions and emotions faced by the two protagonists feel very weighty and captivate the reader. Overall, the book is a great novel that I would recommend to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Awards:
The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes
Doyle, Arthur Conan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is a masterpiece of short stories. Sherlock Holmes continues to dazzle readers with his incredible deductions in these eleven short stories. From the beginning of Holmes' career in "The Gloria Scott" to large-scale crimes in "The Naval Treaty," the Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes. The introduction of Sherlock's brother, Mycroft, and his most notorious nemesis, Professor Moriarty, ensure that readers will be captivated by these stories. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes is phenomenal and I highly recommend it for any fan of Sherlock Holmes or crime fiction.

Reviewer's Name: John
Book Cover
Knowles, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In his award-winning book, A Separate Peace, John Knowles writes a compelling story about a friendship at a New Hampshire boarding school. Revolving around the time of World War 2, two sixteen-year-old boys find themselves stuck between the brightness of youth and the solemn disparity of adulthood brought on by war. Gene is a studious serious loner who is the opposite of Phineas, the handsome and popular athlete. Although their personalities may be fundamentally different, they are best friends and roommates who do everything together. The book is narrated by Gene, the protagonist, who slowly begins to resent Phineas for his athletic talent and widespread popularity. In his mind, the once-trusted bond grows into a rivalry, and a rift begins to develop and separate them. Knowles writes the book in rich tones, laced with symbolism and meaning. As it dives deep into themes, this book is often required to be read in high school English class. It is admittedly slow moving, but still filled with marvelous lessons and morals. While I would definitely recommend reading this book at least once and praise it for its depth, personally, it was not incredibly engaging or life-changing for me. While A Separate Peace is an American classic, it lacks the emotional sentimentality that really makes a book stand out.

Reviewer's Name: Hope M.
 The Catcher in the Rye
Salinger, J.D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book is about a boy named Holden's life. Holden has decided to run away from school after he was suspended. He had to figure out life because he didn’t want his parents knowing. I didn’t like this book because I found it wasn’t very interesting. The reason being is it’s not very adventurous and keeps repeating negativity throughout the book.
(Reviewer Grade. 9)

Reviewer's Name: Theanna
Book Cover
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book of all time. The story follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger growing up in Nazi Germany. Her love of books progresses throughout the plot, and the cast of characters she meets along the way help make the story the loveable masterpiece I know it as (personally, my favorite characters include Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Hans Hubermann). This book is historical fiction, but I recommend it for most (if not all) readers. I typically read fantasy books, but I adore The Book Thief. The plot isn’t fast paced like adventure stories, and the events are on the ordinary side, but in my opinion the author does a brilliant job with descriptions and human connections within the book. Another reason I love this book is the use of the narrator--the way colors are described and the story is told is unique and wonderful to read. It’s a story about WWII told in a different perspective than other books we typically read at school, such as Night by Elie Wiesel or The Diary of Anne Frank. Even if you don’t particularly like the historical fiction genre, I would recommend giving this book a try. I first read it in 6th grade, but it is definitely not a story for just children. It is good for any age, and common sense media rates it for kids 13+.

Reviewer's Name: Cora G.
The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes
Doyle, Arthur Conan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Sherlock Holmes and his assistant Dr. Watson have captivated audiences for generations. This collection of twelve short stories is fantastic. From stolen jewels to mysterious circumstances and brilliant crimes, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes has it all. The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes is full of mesmerizing deductions and wonderful short adventures. I highly recommend this collection of short stories for every Sherlock Holmes fan and anyone searching for great mystery novels or short stories.

Reviewer's Name: John
Things Fall Apart
Achebe, Chinua
2 stars = Meh
Review:

“Things Fall Apart” follows Okonkwo as he becomes a very successful man with many yams, several wives, and political power in Umuofia. The whole first part of the book focuses on his characterizing Okonkwo and showing what tribal culture was like. The author uses subtle references to Europeans to set up the main conflict of the book, European culture. Before the Europeans reach Umofia, Okonkwo accidentally kills a clansmen and is exiled. For the period of his exile, Okonkwo watches from the outside as his own village is changed radically by Christian missionaries.
Overall, I think this book is worth a read for the powerful theme, it wasn’t something I would want to read again because so much of the book was just about life in Umuofia, which was a bit mundane. Onkonkwo was also a pretty static character, there was no character development either. He just wanted to be the opposite of his father, was very strict, harsh, and closeminded. I did like the metaphors and proverbs in the book. I remember a metaphor that stood out in particular was, “Living Fire begets cold,
impotent ash.” I also enjoyed the later portion of the book where the Europeans missionaries arrive and the Onkonkwo provides a different perspective on the situation, and the theme is more clearly defined and developed.

Reviewer's Name: McKenzie
The Trial
Kafka, Franz
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Trial is a brilliant novel. Throughout the story the reader follows K., the protagonist, who tries to figure out what he was arrested and charged for. On his journey, K. meets several different types of people all which contribute to the book's questioning of bureaucracy and totalitarianism. Its finale left me a bewildered state, probing at the depths of existence and reality. Whether or not this feeling was a good one, I cannot tell, however Kafka's ability to use the mysteries of existentialism and expand upon them is truly amazing. I highly recommend this novel.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Awards:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is very interesting because of many things. There are very strict rules in the community. The changing of age ceremony is the best part. The main character gets a job nobody thought would happen. This changes his whole perspective of the community. In the end, it ends happily.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
The Sign of Four Book Cover
Conan Doyle, Arthur
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The brilliant adventures of Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson continue with The Sign of the Four. Holmes' deduction ability continues to amaze as he unravels mysteries as if they are elementary. Doyle's brilliant writing will keep you intrigued to the very end as his creativity is unmatched. The Sign of the Four is full of murder, thievery, romance, action, adventure, humor, and incredible solutions. This novel will challenge your detective capabilities and I highly recommend it for any reader searching for a classic mystery novel.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
Lowry, Lois
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I read this book in my eighth grade L.A. class and surprisingly it stuck even though I thought it was boring and had a hard time comprehending most things. The book does have a PG-13 vibe where it does carry some “sexual content”, but it’s basically about a really strict and emotionless society. A society where everyone was equal which sound really boring. I’m not going to lie that this was the most boring part in the book, learning about how strict it is and how love is forbidden kinda lame. The only interesting parts were when the main character would rebel against the society’s values by expressing his emotions, finding love and most importantly running away so he could give baby Gabriel a less uncompromising and more unconfined life. The most annoying part of the book is the ending not knowing what happens to Jonás and Gabriel. (The movie was better)

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To Kill a Mocking Bird is about the racism and false accusations towards African Americans in the 1930s. The book is for a more mature reader because of the language used and some of the ideas that are introduced. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in learning more about the racial prejudice in the south in a book with a good plot. The characters are also relatable to a reader which I really enjoyed. Overall I think Lee did an amazing job writing this book.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I read this book my freshman year of high school and there are some really interesting parts to this book involving suspense, murder and mystery but the book can be a little confusing if you don’t really pay attention. This book is very well written as it’s showed us how it was during this time period, giving us a whole perspective on how the characters were feeling at this point of time. The characters in this book do have to deal with a couple of problem which some don’t really go their way for example the whole situation with Tom Robinson. Although this book is well written it does carry some inappropriate language include a very discriminatory word, but you do have to keep in mind that this book was written in a very controversial time where saying the n-word wasn’t really frowned upon (not say that is was right). I wouldn’t recommend this book for children because it’s does deal with murder and rape but other than that it is a very good book.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel R.
Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen is my favorite book of all time-- which isn't a phrase I throw out lightly! This book truly has the best of all worlds-- a wonderful romance, lovable characters, humor, and beautiful writing. Pride and Prejudice is the story of a young woman in the 1800's, Elizabeth Bennet. The Bennet family has five daughters, and in an age where the only thing women could do was marry rich, all the girls are pressured to find wealthy matches to secure the family's comfort. Elizabeth, however, refuses to marry the first man the comes along, and only marry when for love. She meets brooding, silent, proud and very rich Mr. Darcy, who at first has no interest in Elizabeth. Over time, he begins to fall in love with her wit and charm. Elizabeth thinks Darcy is the last man she could ever marry, but through the course of the novel, begins to see that her prejudices towards him are fake and that he is a true gentleman who is only shy. The questions remains-- will they overcome their pride and prejudices and get married? I'm not a huge fan of 'classical classics' where the writing style is dull and hard to understand. I was so pleased to find that this is not the case with Austen's writing style. I enjoyed every single page of this wonderful novel, and truly did not want it to end! I will certainly be reading more Austen! I would recommend this book to anyone-- fans of romance, family-oriented stories, comedies, fans of classics, and even reluctant readers of classics who would like an easy gateway into the world of classic novels.

Reviewer's Name: Allie S.
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Five stars (If you don’t laugh at this, then I don’t know what cave you’ve been living in) The HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a sci-fi comedy so specific that it is funny. Between the absurd circumstances and the very specific jokes, I couldn’t stop laughing. The start of the book is normal, but once you get into it it keeps you laughing as it gets weirder and weirder. The events that happen are so improbable that it turns it the other way and makes it very probable. When reading the Guide, don’t forget your towel!

Reviewer's Name: Ethan W.
Book Review: Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 follows the story of a fireman, Guy Montag, who lives in a dystopian society. His job as a fireman is to locate all books around the city and burn them. Books are banned from any individual and is considered to be an inferior type of entertainment in comparison television, which are more supported by the public. As Montag continues to burn more books throughout his job over time, he deals with a variety of external factors that changes his brainwashed and disillusioned perspective to considering books and their significance to society. Being a firemen in this dystopian society, Montag must deal with a plethora of barriers that are blocking his way before he can truly understand the importance of books and to keep them.

Fahrenheit 451 is an intriguing book that takes a different approach in a dystopian society. Instead of implementing a militaristic and governmental style, Bradbury uses firemen which encapsulates a unique and captivating plot line. Fahrenheit 451 demonstrates a story that everyone can enjoy, especially for those who enjoy reading dystopian novels. Bradbury effectively relates character development of Montag to the series of events that occurs. This coherent relationship that virtually happens side-by-side further produces a sense of immersion for the reader.

Personally, I enjoyed Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 novel. It is considered to be one of his best, and most iconic books that he has written to date. I highly recommend any average reader to consider reading Fahrenheit 451. The book is not too long, but it will still produce an immense amount of quality and satisfaction in the end.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T.
Awards:

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