Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Classics

To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird is a well thought out, very deep and well executed book. Although it contains some very strong language, I'd say this is a must read for any teenager. Set during the time of the depression, this book deals with many political issues such as racism while also managing to teach very important lessons along the way. The complicated sentence structure in the book, as well as the vocabulary serve to make it a very fun and chalenging read. In my opinion this book is truly one of the best written in history.

Reviewer's Name: Rohan G.
Candide
Voltaire, Francois Whitworth
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Candide by Voltaire is an interesting book about a man who believes everything that happens will be for the good of man (perverted optimism) even though he is faced with incredible suffering. I read Candide with my European Literature class and I found it a very good book to demonstrate perverted optimism and satire. Voltaire uses satire as an effective device to show the horrors of the world at his time. While Candide is mostly based in truth, it has many fictional ideas such as a country called Westphalia and the mythical El Dorado. Overall, I really enjoyed this book even though it is very weird, it still had an interesting use of language and story line.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With this dystopian society reversing positions in society, firefighters burn books and light houses on fire. Montag, a veteran firefighter, soon meets a girl who changes his mind about life, books, and his job. Soon, this mystery girl disappears and Montag soon sets out on a risky adventure to solve the mystery of his lost friend. With him betraying society, reading intriguing literature, and meeting new friends, the society is out to find Montag. Will he escape into the unknown world or will he be caught with his fate unknown? This book is an adventure worth reading!

Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, is a wonderful read. The classic can be read by any ages and provides a fulfilling story in a fantastical world. The straightforward plot and character development also add nicely to the book's universe. The book also provides illustrations adding to the imagery of Narnia, the world in which the book is in. Overall, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a phenomenal book that can give any reader a great experience.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
To Kill A Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is an examination of racial tensions and living as someone who defies the social norms to do greater good. It follows a small family that consists of a father and his two children. The father, a lawyer, becomes the first white man in his time and area to defend a black man in court, alienating himself and his family from the rest of their society (because he did what was practically unspeakable in the town's eyes). A fascinating series of events ensue, in which the children grow up learning what it feels like to feel prejudice and can thus empathize with the struggle that colored people around them face. The father must sacrifice his social standing and endure hatred and threats because he chooses to defend the truth, rather than the race. All in all, I would recommend this book not only for its complex and very interesting plot, but also for its analysis of racism and human nature in regards to the greater good and a sense of humanity. Themes of empathy and sacrifice then escalate the plot to its famous and unexpected finale. It is worth the read even only for the father's speech in court towards the end of the book, where he makes his case in favor of a colored man. I would give this book five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
The Odyssey
Homer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This epic poem is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature I have ever read. Following the story of Odysseus, it is an epic journey where gods and mythical monsters try and impede his journey home. There is mythology intertwined with adventurous storytelling, and the style of writing, while obviously more difficult than modern writing, is not too challenging that it makes the poem hard to read. I would recommend reading it for both its historical significance and because of how interesting the story itself is. While it will take some time to get through, the story, I believe, is worth the time. The monsters that Odysseus encounters barter with him and tell him stories that deepen the plot; his interactions and relationships reveal mysteries and provide new motivations or points of interest.

Everything is complexly interconnected and it does take a bit of historical context or background knowledge to understand all parts of the story, so it is an undertaking. However, the fantastic and timeless story is entirely unique. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Awards:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Over the years, I have been assigned to read a multitude of books and plays for English classes - some of those writing pieces I have never committed to and read thoroughly. This year in AP Literature, The Importance of Being Earnest was assigned and was not amongst those writing pieces. In many of the English classes I have enrolled in, there are numerous books or plays - especially Shakespeare - that I have read which might be interesting but the diction is archaic. The words and phrases are not used modernly and therefore, what is written is difficult to understand in the absence of translations or SparkNotes. Despite being published in 1895, The Importance of Being Earnest was an easy read because the play is easily humourous.

The play pursues wealthy and bored protagonists, Jack Worthing and Algernon Moncrieff, as they court two women, Gwendolen Fairfax and Cecily Cardew, pretending to be men named Ernest. Their “Bunburying” depicts the theme that idle hands indulge in mischief. Jack, who resides in the country, introduces a devious and unruly brother named Ernest who resides in the city so that he can be reckless in one place while also being arguably mature in another. Algernon pretends to have to check in on a pale and sickly fellow named Bunbury when he is introduced to responsibilities or events he does not desire to participate in. Eventually, upon hearing of Cecily Cardew, Jack’s ward, from Jack, he pretends to be Ernest as well. The two characters utilize their separate versions of "Bunburying" for their own pleasure rather than for being productive, depicting their own values of dishonesty and deceit.

The characters are self-concerned which is unfortunate because during the 1890s, the time in which this play is set, the Victorian Era endured multiple widespread conflicts including overpopulation, poor sanitary conditions, child labor, and religious insecurity - none of which are mentioned by any of the four characters.
Ultimately, the theme of the play may be applied to the modern era which permits The Importance of Being Earnest to be more relevant when you compare the Victorian upper class to, for example, the Kardashians or other celebrities.
The humorous aspect of the play was Oscar Wilde’s use of epigrams, or clever and paradoxical expressions. Predominantly delivered by Algernon, my favorite of the epigrams was “The amount of women who flirt with their own husbands is scandalous. It is simply washing one’s clean linen in public.”

Additionally, this play is a short read with only about 75 pages.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella W
Genres:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jonas knows only his community and the rules; he doesn't know what lies beyond. With the government watching everything and deciding job assignments based on the citizen's personality, little does Jonas know that his job will impact his community and himself for the rest of his life. With sad, happy, and overall crazy interactions with dreams, Jonas increases his knowledge about his communities past. With still secrets unshared, Jonas looks for answers and his method will shock you! This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and will engage you with the characters and plot line.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
Heidi
Spyri, Johanna
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

It was very engaging. With young energetic Heidi and her best friend Klara, it pulls you in and engages with life lessons and memorable quotes. With grandmother and Heidi up on the mountainside, they share poetry, hymns, stories, and love. With Heidi's loveable attitude and glow of Christ everywhere, she tries to turn grandfather's grumpy attitude to a loving, caring grandpa. This book is worth reading and engaging for ALL ages.
Reviewer Grade: 9th

Reviewer's Name: Aiden F
American Psycho
Ellis, Bret Easton Ellis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

American Psycho is a bitter, biting satire about consumerism, and the dark side of the American Dream. The story follows Patrick Bateman who works on Wall Street. He is charming, handsome, and rich. He is also a murderer and a psychopath. We follow him as he falls further and further down the rabbit hole as he becomes more consumed with wealth and money. The satire is biting, the humor dark, and Patrick Bateman feels like a real character that is both relatable and hated by the reader at the same time. This book is amazing. I would recommend this novel to anyone who is looking for a great book to read.

Be prepared for some shocking scenes, though!

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
The Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas, Alexandre
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is amazing. The story follows the tale of Edmond Dantes and his quest for revenge against the three men responsible for his incarceration. It is a very simplistic concept, but upon reading the novel one will find a book filled with characters that live and breathe, action that is relentless, and many subplots threaded throughout the novel in intricate ways. The book, while extremely long, is entertaining all the way through. The ending is satisfying and ends the book well. I would recommend this book for anyone who is a fan on action novels, or revenge novels.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the tale of the rise and fall of the fictional Colombian town Macondo, and the stories of the Buendia family that inhabits the town. The novel is stellar. The characters feel alive and breathing -- they all have different motivations, desires, and weaknesses.
The reader truly begins to feel a connection with these characters as the novel progresses, and that's what makes the novel so good -- if you didn't know the town was fake, you would think it was a real place. The novel pioneered the genre of magical realism, which is a novel with a realistic view of the world that includes magical and surreal elements. The inclusion of magical realism elements in the story is what makes the book truly unique and fun to read. However, it is a very dense book, and can become very confusing very easily. If you can get past the often confusing nature of the novel, you will find a very rich and rewarding reading experience that I would recommend for anyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is the story that is narrated by Nick Carraway, an old neighbor of Gatsby. Taking place in 1922, Nick tells his story of when he has just moved from the Midwest to West Egg in Long Island to become successful and gain fortune as a bond salesman.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is a exemplary book taking place during the Jazz Age. The novel was well written. It was simple, intriguing, clever and witty. Contrary to the deep story/plot line, the writing made it interesting and neither too boring nor extremely emotional. In addition to this, the overall fate upon the Gatsby, Carraway, and Daisy has a strong connection to the reader that allows them to feel the concept of tragedy.

Personally, this is one of the best books/novels. It is a great work of fiction that perfectly crafts the story and the Jazz Age of America.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Awards:
To Kill A Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

To Kill A Mockingbird is a book set in the early 1930s that describes the story of a family in the quiet town of Maycomb in Alabama. Currently suffering in the Great Depression, Scout Finch and her brother, Jem, live with Atticus, their widowed father. During the summer, Finch, Jem and their neighbor Dill explore their street to find an eerie house owned by a man named Mr. Nathan Radley. They learn that he has been living their for years with a brother, Arthur, and has never ventured outside.

The book took a simple setting and turned it into an exciting and intriguing plot line. It was unpredictable for the courses of events that took place, where it was never boring and was continuously captivating.

Personally, I enjoyed most about the creative plot line and course of events that happened in the book. It is an extremely unique book that is in an uncommon time setting, which creates a more enjoyable experience. This is one of the best books I have read.

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
Night
Wiesel, Elie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Night, by Elie Wiesel, tells of the story of the main protagonist Eliezer and the many tragedies he faced in German concentration camps during World War II. The protagonist narrates the entire book in a first-person and unbiased manner, which exposes the emotional truth of the Holocaust and provides an autobiography of the real author’s experience during the war. Eliezer, the main protagonist and counter part to the real Elie Wiesel, is forced to approach his ever-changing relationship with friends and family, many conflicts and struggles, and a plethora of situations that threaten his existence throughout the book. His reactions to these various obstacles exhibit the Holocaust survivor’s unique traits that set him apart from other Protagonists. Like Eliezer, every character in the book is developed fully with vivid traits that the real Elie remembers about them. The autobiography is fascinating and tells a compelling story while informing the reader about what really happened during the Holocaust, and I would reccomend it to anyone.

Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
The Giver
Lowry, Lois
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Giver is a dystopian novel that illustrates the story of a young boy named Jonas. Jonas lives in a futuristic society that has eliminated the concepts fear, pain, and diversity. He is the only different person within his society, to which he has unique capabilities and characteristics than that of other individuals. He is put through many challenges and barriers that he must overcome. This leads to his absolute desire to explore the outskirts and find the ultimate truth of his fate.

The Giver is a dystopian novel, where it brought a unique setting and plot-line for the reader. It was interesting and did not follow a dull story-line that was expected. The whole story concludes to be a 4 star rating, as many parts of the story were surprising and unexpected which maintained the attraction and interest into the story. However, the story lacks a consistency with its line of events, which leads to certain parts being extremely intriguing, and other parts of the story being slow and boring. This loses the reader at some point.

Personally, the book was well written and was very captivating for me. It was surprising with its plot-line of action, and I enjoyed most about the futuristic society and the uniqueness of it. I highly recommend this book.

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Nam T
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:

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