Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Science Fiction

A Darkling Plain
Reeve, Philip
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

With the way Infernal Devices ended, I immediately knew there had to be a fourth book to finish this unique series. Few books resolve their respective series as well as A Darkling Plain does, which I can appreciate. In fact, the final epilogue was as beautiful as it was tragic. Along the way, the little loose ends tie up nicely so that all the characters are given some closure—whether or not they deserve it.

I wasn't wild with the time-skip tactic that Infernal Devices used since it basically split this series into two larger stories. Mortal Engines and Predator's Gold covered Hester and Tom's relationship, while the last two books covered their daughter's adventures. Of course, I was shocked with the ending of Infernal Devices, which did get an explanation in this book, even if it lessened the impact of that plot twist. That being said, some of the characters' fates were foreshadowed well ahead of this book, which left their ultimate fate somewhat anti-climactic.

Overall, I enjoyed how the idea of mobile cities eating each other in an evolutionary survival of the fittest came to its logical conclusion in this book. It's such a peculiar concept that was thoroughly explored in the previous three volumes so that this book could wrap up this phase in the post-apocalyptic timeline with enough room to give some hope for a future. After all, I have yet to run across a science fiction series that combines so many tropes so well and manages to conclude its complicated plotlines in such a satisfying way.

A satisfying ending of a unique series, I give A Darkling Plain 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
V for Vendetta
Moore, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

V for Vendetta follows V as he fights against an authoritarian government and trains a successor. The book questions the cost of losing art, literature, and beauty in an attempt to create complete control over society. The art adds another dimension to the story, and the colors used in V's house compared to the outside world emphasize the underlying message. V's character is captivating because he possesses such knowledge and culture yet brings destruction. This leads readers to consider the necessity of violence to preserve culture. V's mask holds similarities to Guy Fawkes', and certain actions between the two are also similar, adding historical parallels to the story. V's strong ideals and actions to back them up lead him to become the face of a revolution but at what cost?

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Awards:
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ready Player One, a book by Ernest Cline, takes place in a dystopian future in 2045. The majority of the population spends most of their time inside a massive VR MMOSG, massively multiplayer online simulation game, called the Oasis. When the billionaire creator of the Oasis died, he left clues for an Easter Egg that he had hid in his game, and the first one who finds it gets his entire fortune. This story is about the adventure of Wade Watts, a kid from the Stacks in Columbus, Ohio, as he searches for that egg. This book is amazingly written, and you will be wanting to know what happens next as you read. You may have seen the movie, but the book is a masterpiece, the story is much richer, and definitely worth the read!

Reviewer's Name: Torin K.
Book Cover
Lu, Marie
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 Cover
Lu, Marie
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.
Anomaly
McGee, Krista
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

"Anomaly" a Christian dystopian novel grabs a reader's attention quickly. Thalli, the main character, is being chased by The Ten, a group of scientists who are trying to annihilate her. According to The Ten, Thalli is considered an anomaly and is dangerous to their current society. Through many trials, she has learned about the Designer from a friend named John. He shares with her that she was made to be like this and that she has been being lied to her whole life. She then realizes that she needs help; help that cannot come from humans. She needs the Designer's help. With some help from a few friends, Thalli tricks the ten scientists into thinking that they have cued her, but it doesn't work. They find out that she was tricking them. The Ten then decide to annihilate them all. As Thalli bravely volunteers to go first, her friends try to rescue her. Will she make it to freedom or will she be stuck in The Ten's grasp and never make it out?

Reviewer's Name: Mikayla B.
Ready Player One
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I was given Ready Player One for my birthday. I would suggest this book to readers interested in science fiction and immersive video games. The author writes with surprising detail, going through Wade's thought process and adding twist and turns at each chapter. The author makes semi-relatable characters, fighting to win the ultimate prize. The entire book speaks of the time, heart, and soul the author spent writing a fabulous book.

Reviewer's Name: Samuel
Ready Player Two
Cline, Ernest
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I received Ready Player Two as a gift. I would suggest this book to anyone who enjoyed the first book. Although this book is not as good as the first one, I enjoyed it immensely. Wade hunts down shards for a new Easter egg in the oasis. Wade's compelling character meets new people and gains a completely new quest. Ernest leads you on a journey you don't want to end.

Reviewer's Name: Samuel
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Brave New World is a classic dystopian novel, written in the early 1930s by Aldous Huxley. Set in a society in which humans are manufactured and programmed depending on their assigned social class, it addresses individualism, conformity, and the dangers of complete government control. Citizens in this dystopia frequently take a drug to subdue their emotions, living in a state of ignorance and 'bliss' as they go through the motions unquestioningly. In order to keep the system of manufacturing people running smoothly, certain things are considered taboo--such as literature, religion, and family--while what we typically consider unorthodox is commonplace in this society.

The story follow several central characters who don't completely fit in or believe there could be more to life than what they experience every day. Huxley takes readers to a 'Savage Camp' where John, the protagonist (whose ideals are completely different from everyone else's), is introduced, and the other characters experience an extreme contrast to their advanced and ordered society. Readers experience John's intense internal conflict as he attempts to find his place in the new world into which he is thrust; they also learn more about the ideology of the dystopia, and what goes on behind its 'perfect' facade.

I enjoyed most aspects of Brave New World, and would recommend it to dystopian readers who appreciate a deeper meaning. However, there were some parts of this novel that I found disturbing, as what's considered taboo is the opposite of how we view things in our world. Sometimes I had trouble connecting with the story emotionally, and I would've liked more specifics about how the dystopia came to be. But looking past the negatives, the themes Huxley brings up are very important, and even pertinent to society today. His characters have depth, the underlying themes make readers think, and overall it is an interesting concept of a future world with complete dictatorship. Brave New World is a classic that I believe everyone should read.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Ready Player Two
Cline, Ernest
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ernest Cline has written another masterpiece. While Ready Player One could have remained a stand-alone novel, Ernest Cline has given us a better look into his dystopian universe with this sequel. After James Halliday posthumously releases another quest, The High Five must once again unite to solve all of the riddles. However, this time the stakes are higher as the lives of the majority of OASIS users are on the line. With adventures that include John Hughes movies, Prince, The Lord of the Rings, and many more pop-culture references, Ready Player Two is a thrilling action-packed adventure. I highly recommend this novel for any middle school or high school aged reader, or any lover of pop-culture from the later part of the previous century.

Reviewer's Name: John
We All Looked Up
Wallach, Tommy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book We All Looked Up is from the point of view of what would happen if the world was ending very soon. There is no certainty that the world will end but they also can't be sure that it won't. I really enjoyed this aspect of the book, the uncertainty that there is throughout the whole story. I thought the choices the characters made were realistic and that it was all very well thought out and written. I loved how the book made me think about what I would do if I only had a certain amount of time left to live and what I would want to be doing with this time.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Starters
Price, Lissa
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

I read this book for school Freshman year of high school. It’s about a girl named Callie who lives in the future where everybody from 20 years to sixty years old has died. Old people can take control of younger peoples' minds, so they can ‘be young’ again. To me, it just felt like a poorly executed variation of the Hunger Games. I wouldn’t really recommend this book as I thought it wasn’t very well-written and had a poorly thought out story-line.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
The Circle
Eggers, Dave
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Circle is an incredibly interesting book. The novel centers around Mae Holland, who sets off to work at The Circle after graduating from college. As she works through her career, Mae starts to question this highly acclaimed tech company and its Three Wise Men. Its main ideas discuss privacy, and specifically, how corporate run privacy standards lead into modern governmental systems. The ideas play into the fascinating world building around Mae Holland and her ideas of digital utopianism. The way she questions mob mentality behind the hive mind that can be global datafication is unique and provides for a great read. While the characters are somewhat lack luster, the novel makes up for it with its social construction and suspense. While there are some plot holes, the holistic concept is incredible. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone interested in the digital world or dystopian-like settings.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
Cinder
Meyer, Marissa
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.
A Wrinkle in Time
L'Engle, Madeleine
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Wrinkle in Time is unlike any Science Fiction novel I have ever read. It is exciting and scientific and even a little romantic like every other science fiction novel, but it grapples with other ideas like how one thing (yet to be revealed) helps to conquer the darkness inside us and all around. It follows Margaret (Meg) Murry in the search for her missing father but at the same time follows a search in understanding herself. She wants more than anything to find her father because he was the one who made her feel like herself and now that he is gone, she feels lost. Her genius younger brother Charles Wallace is a major player in Meg's journey to find herself and in the end is what will trigger the one thing she has that the darkness does not.

I first read this book in third grade as required reading, but since then I have probably read it over ten times. It is one of those books that you get something new out of every time you read it. I have also never read such a creative book. Madeleine L'Engle makes it interesting and unpredictable while at the same time tying in internal struggles. Everyone can relate to Meg and will learn from her struggles by reading this book.

Reviewer's Name: Abigail
Starship Troopers
Heinlein, Robert A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Starship Troopers exemplifies the signature writing style of Heinlein: an outrageous setting that still manages to capture familiar aspects of everyday life. I marveled at the intricate universe Heinlein crafts. He describes every aspect of political relations with alien species and the intricacies of a military that ranges across the stars. The book follows a boy named Juan Rico as he comes of age and joins the infantry. Heinlein describes every aspect of Juan’s life in basic training and the great battles of his career like an ancient epic; sparing no detail and giving elaborate descriptions of the enemies of humanity and the battles in which they were defeated. Starship Troopers is the perfect science fiction novel for someone who is looking for heaps of action combined with drops of philosophy and social commentary, all brought together into one spectacular and dazzling universe.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Skinner
Asher, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Skinner is set in a distant future where science and technology have advanced to the point where humans live nearly infinite life spans and travel the stars with ease under the unified governance of the Polity. Neal Asher crafts a complex universe in which this story seems a miniscule part of a gargantuan timeline, I could spend countless wonderful hours studying the history preceding the novel! He crafts complex main characters: Janer, an employee of an insectoid hive mind; Erlin, a scientist with a strange past; and Keech, a reanimated corpse with unfinished business. The three unlikely acquaintances set out on the planet of Spatterjay, a world covered almost entirely with water, inhabited by humans known as hoopers who are infected with a virus that gives them superhuman strength and regeneration. When a mysterious hooper myth proves true, the intrepid visitors must work together to survive in an adventure-packed and mystery-filled journey with all the best elements of Robert Heinlein but with a 21st century audience in mind.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In 10th grade we had to read Ender's Game for class. I wasn't excited as I normally don't like any of the books we read in class. However, I really liked it! This book is kind of a science fiction novel set in the future. The main character, Ender Wiggen, gets sent to battle school to train to fight their enemy, the buggers. In battle school he meets friends and some enemies too. And Ender's Game has a really good twist ending. Overall, I really liked it and would read it again!

Reviewer's Name: Emani
Predator's Gold
Reeve, Philip
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:
Infernal Devices
Reeve, Philip
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Wow. OK. Maybe this series isn’t for children as much as I thought it was. Sure, a post-apocalyptic world has many subjects that can be considered dark—death being the main one—but Infernal Devices certainly went all in here and pushed the ugliness of humanity to the forefront of the plot. Of course, one wonders if the POV change to focus on the progeny of the two characters who comprised the first two books is part of why the tone of this book changed so drastically. Sure, there was violence in the previous two books; it just didn’t seem so gratuitous then. Aside from all the killing, which I suppose was meant to signify Hester’s character development, there wasn’t too much new in terms of world-building in this book. I appreciated all the developments in Mortal Engines and Predator’s Gold, but the addition of the African and Middle Eastern cities didn’t expound the “city-eat-city” world that much. Sure, there was more exploration of the Lost Boys concept, but it didn’t necessarily go any deeper than the basic idea presented in Predator’s Gold.

Despite the huge time gap between book two and Infernal Devices, I did find a few things to stand out in this part of the series. First was the epic battle between automatons. I felt the action in this scene, along with the other action scenes in this book, were well-described. Second, I don’t want to give away too much, but the twist ending was a bit of a shock—even if it made complete sense. For a series that usually hits many clichés and tropes of relationships, I was honestly shocked that the author went for this ending. Of course, the ending also leaves things unresolved enough to require another book, so there is that aspect to it which I can understand.

A jump ahead in time and the amount of violence, I give Infernal Devices 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. W.

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