Reviews of Teen Books by Genre: Contemporary

Book Cover
McManus, Karen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of Us is Lying is a mystery novel about four high school students who are suspected for the murder of their classmate. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, Nate, and Simon go into their after school detention following a normal day at school, but the events that happened after weren't so normal. Simon, the outcast and the creator of the high school's gossip app, has been murdered and the other students in detention claim they know nothing. Yet after his murder, the posts on his gossip app don't stop, eventually revealing some shocking things about the suspects. Bronwyn, Addy, Cooper, and Nate decide to join forces and find out the truth behind Simon's murder.

Overall, this book was really good. I would have given it 5 stars but I feel like the description (from the book) is a little misleading. The book focuses on their lives after the murder of Simon Kelleher and not as much of them trying to solve the murder. While I really do like the way it explains the details of their lives, I just found it a bit misleading. Other than that, the book is great. I absolutely love the character development in this novel.

In the beginning Addy is what you might call a "dumb blonde" but later on she becomes much more independent and her character develops in many ways. I also really liked the plot twists, they completely blew me away! I can't reveal much more than that but I truly didn't expect some of the things that happened, to happen.

Reviewer's Name: Prarthana
Nineteen Minutes
Picoult, Jodi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book offers a different perspective and a compelling, as well as frightening story that is well written and easy to read. It's a very tough subject, and really gives some insight on how people get pushed to their breaking point.

Reviewer's Name: Kelly K.
Awards:
Big Little Lies
Moriarty, Liane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Big Little Lies is about a group of parents who come to know each other when their kids all start kindergarten together and all their drama collides and ends with a death. I loved how this book kept me interested the whole time. Every chapter something new is thrown at the reader. All the characters were very well developed and everything came together very nicely. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good book that can keep you interested through the whole book just wanting to get to the end to know what happens.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Geekerella
Poston, Ashley
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Your classic Cinderella story, but with a geeky twist. Geekerella takes us on the story of Elle Whittimore and Darien Freeman. They are two teenagers in love with an old TV show, and they fall in love with each other over a series of text messages. A take on the classic story Cinderella, we get to sit back and watch as all of the fandom-filled fun plays out between the two characters, who only know each other over text, and mostly hate each other in real life. Darien Freeman is taking over the role of Prince Carmindor, from the TV series that both of the characters love, for the movie adaptation, and Elle runs a scathing blog that is starting to make Darien's life much harder than it needs to be. As both of the characters face many different challenges in their separate lives, everything leads up to ExcelsiCon, a con started by Elle's late father, and a con where the two both happen to be in the same place at the same time. I chose this book because I am a long time lover of the Cinderella story, a story that is classic and I have seen played out on the screen many times. That is what originally drew me to the book. But as I started reading the book I was immediately enraptured in the world that Ashley Poston has created. Starfield, although it may not be a real television show and was just created for the sake of the novel, is a show that I would be happy to watch. I think it is safe to say that if it ever did become a show, it would stand beside science fiction classics such as Star Wars and Star Trek. The tale of the two characters, Elle and Darien, while it is a fun and lighthearted story to read, is also filled with grief and loss and love. Both of the characters are dealing with their own drama, and while I may not personally understand the drama that Darien as a celebrity is dealing with (a manager he doesn't like, a somebody sneaking onto set and leaking pictures of him), I do know about the drama that Elle has to go through: drama with friends and drama with school. The story had me reading late into the night, anxiously awaiting to see what would happen next. Geekerella takes on the themes of loss and grief, as Elle is dealing with the loss of her father and mother. We see Elle deal with this grief in many different ways, and she is also forced to deal with her terrible stepmother and stepsisters on a day-to-day basis. Darien is coping with loss as well, but not in the typical sense, and not like Elle. He is dealing with the loss of himself, because we see him dealing with who he used to be before he was famous, and get a sense of grief about who he is now that he is famous. If you love the Cinderella story, and geeky and nerdy TV shows, Geekerella is the book for you.

Reviewer's Name: Birdie
The Naturals
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Naturals is an amazing book that was so fun to read. The whole book was very exciting and kept me interested the whole time. The ending was so shocking so I was extremely happy to find out that it is a series. All the details of the book are very well thought out and the author did a great job of developing each character to be special. The book is very similar to the tv show Criminal Minds which I thought was awesome.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Awards:
Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine
Honeyman, Gail
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine was a very interesting book that made me feel different every page. The book takes quite a long time to get interesting and once it does it still has weird boring spots. While the book wasn't always very interesting I was hooked because I had to know what the hints at the beginning of the book would lead to. I really liked the end of the book and how the character grows throughout the story though. I would recommend this book to a more mature reader because of some of the topics covered in the book.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Sick Kids in Love
Moskowitz, Hannah
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Sick Kids in Love was a good book; however, throughout the whole book it felt like something was missing. It would skip what seemed like long periods of time and go to the next topic. It also felt like the same thing kept happening or was talked about over and over. There were some minor plot twits that made it interesting, but they didn't last long and were not really developed. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for an easy read that doesn't go into much detail on anything and nothing too sad.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Awards:
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
Dash & Lily's Book of Dares
Cohn, Rachel & Levithan, David
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, by author team Rachel Cohn and David Levithan is a delight of a holiday novel, perfect for anyone who adores Christmastime, New York City, and cute romances based in book stores. I happen to be a fan of all three of those, and found Dash and Lily's Book of Dares to be a super adorable, fluffy, and happy book perfect for the holiday (or any!) season.

Dash is antisocial, moody, prefers to keep to himself and read, and despises the chaos around the holidays, especially with his divorced parents and complicated family life. Lily, on the other hand, adores Christmas with her large family and therefore is disheartened when her parents leave her and her brother alone during the holidays in favor of a trip to Fiji. Lily's brother, Langston, decides that she needs something to occupy the time during the holidays, and gives her the idea to start a scavenger hunt of "dares" in a little red notebook, placed in her favorite bookstore, the Strand. Dash finds the notebook and accepts the dares, and the adventure begins. What follows is a chase around New York City at the holidays, a rapid exchange of dares, dreams, hopes and eventually flirtation between Dash and Lily, both of whom find that corresponding with the other is something that they desperately needed this holiday season.

I loved so much about this book. The descriptions of New York City were detailed and really made me feel like I was in the city with Dash and Lily. The author's note informs readers that Levithan wrote Dash's chapters while Cohn wrote Lily's, and having two authors really gave Dash and Lily their own different and very unique voices. This novel was adorable and sweet, and watching Dash and Lily go from strangers, to friends through the notebook, to a romantic relationship left plenty of room for character arcs and growth in both Dash and Lily. Watching them grow was satisfying and fun. The dares are humorous, and there are touching moments with themes of being brave and getting out of your bubble.

My only issues with Dash and Lily's Book of Dares were the extremely unrealistic scenarios and the characters that sometimes popped up out of nowhere. I started this book fully expecting that it would be unrealistic, and enjoyed it for being so-- to a point. For example, Lily has so many family members in Manhattan that conveniently work at places perfect for dares, who she can call on to aide her in her exploits for Dash, such as a great aunt that works at Madame Tussaud's, a cousin that works at the Strand, and even an uncle who works as a Santa at Macy's, and that seemed way too unrealistic to me. My other issue with this book was that a lot of characters, especially on Dash's side, were not given a proper background as to how they were connected to Dash. Characters seemed to frequently pop up without introduction, and served no point to the plot.

However, those elements did not take away from my enjoyment of Dash and Lily's Book of Dares. It is an adorable holiday romance read that is a perfect read for the holiday season.

Reviewer's Name: Allie
Cover of the book Fight Club
Palahniuk, Chuck
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

If you like the movie Fight Club, or are just looking for a really good book, this one is awesome. I remember after watching the movie it said that it was based upon this novel. And I had to read it! This story is about a man who's bored with himself and his life. He meets a guy named Tyler Durden, and pretty soon things get out of control. Though there is a "fight club," this story is a lot more than just fighting. And, in my opinion, this book has the best twist ending ever. Chuck Palahniuk is a really good author, and this book is a quick read. Overall, I've read this book multiple times and would highly recommend! I would say that it's not for little kids, as the movie Fight Club is rated R.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
Awards:
Five Feet Apart
Lippincott, Rachel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Five Feet Apart is a really good book that I recommend reading. The story is about two teenagers Stella Grant and Will Newman who both have cystic fibrosis. Both of their lives are very different from our teenage lives. They experience lots of ups and downs in life and the biggest one is them falling in love with each other and having to stay five feet apart. They took a major turn in their lives and risked the rule of being five feet apart because Stella had a dream to see the city lights. Lungs had arrived for Stella that's what she needed but she wasn't in her room. Doctors started to panic because she was nowhere to be found. Meanwhile, Stella and Will were out on the ice until Will finds himself trying to save Stella's life. Read Five Feet Apart to find what dramatic accident they come upon.

Reviewer's Name: Kiana
They Both Die at the End
Silvera, Adam
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

They Both Die In The End is about two boys who find out they have one day left to live, and end up finding each other to spend their last day together. The book is very sad, yet really makes you think about what would you do if you only had one day left to live. This book has so many twists and turns, but in the end everything comes together and makes sense, which I loved. The author did a great job of having pieces from everyone's lives play a part in other peoples, but people don't know this only the reader sees these connections. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a sad book that is very well written, and doesn't really touch on any hard subjects.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
All the Bright Places
Niven, Jennifer
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

All The Bright Places shows two teens struggling with suicide and other mental illnesses, but when they find each other things start to look up. I loved how this book did not romanticize suicide and mental illness, but shows them in a very realistic, meaningful way. The book is absolutely heart breaking when out of no where there is a huge tragedy, so you may want some tissues on hand. This book is for a more mature reader who can handle the topic of suicide, and is wanting a sad book. Although the book throws you for a turn it leaves you with a sense of peace at the end.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
We Are Okay
LaCour, Nina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

We are Okay is about a girl who goes through some tragic events in her life, and is now trying to deal with them. The book has quite a few twists and turns that can throw you off, but I really liked that. I did not like how short the book was though, and I felt the author could have added more in. The book ended off at a happy spot, but as a reader I wanted to know more about what happens after. Overall I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for an easy read that you won't want to put down until it is over, which is fairly quick.

Reviewer's Name: Jana
Cover of the Book Dear Sweet Pea
Murphy, Julie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dear Sweet Pea is about a girl named Sweet Pea who is a girl living two lives. Since Sweet Pea's parents are divorced, she has two houses on the same street. In between those two houses lives the towns advice columnist. When her sister gets sick and she has to go out of town, she asks Sweet Pea to mail the letters to her and take care of her plants. Sweet Pea agrees, but while caring for the letters, she runs into friend, parent, and advice trouble.

I loved this book. Some things Sweet Pea said and felt are relatable to anyone. This is a really easy read and I couldn't put the book down. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a fast and relatable book.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie H.
Wild Bird
Van Draanen, Wendelin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Wild Bird is about a girl named Wren who has to go to a Wilderness Survival Camp because she is in a horrible spot in drugs and alcohol. She stays at the Wilderness Survival Camp for eight weeks. At first she hates it and is mad at her family for sending her there, but as she realizes her mistakes and makes a friend named Hannah, she starts to have fun. Throughout the eight weeks, she learns wilderness skills such as how to make a fire without a match, how to make and take down a tent quickly, but most importantly, she finds her true self.
I really enjoyed this book. It is a great fast read and I feel anyone would love it. I related to some things Wren said, nothing with drugs or alcohol. This is a great book and I rate it ten out of ten.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Awards:
A Good Girl's Guide to Murder
Jackson, Holly
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Five years ago in Pippa's small town Andie Bell was murdered by her boyfriend Sal Singh. Everyone believes the case is closed, but Pippa isn't sure. When she decides to look more into the case for her senior capstone (thesis) project, she discovers secrets about the case someone in her town wanted to keep hidden.
The plot of this book was very interesting and fast-paced. It wasn't predictable and the twists at the end were surprising. I really liked Pippa (or Pip) as a character. I appreciated her dedication to her friends and how they would be affected by her investigation. Also because she didn't take things at face value and looked into them more deeply before making a conclusion.
Some things I didn't like about this books is that Pip was a bit unethical in her investigation. She broke into houses, pretended to be a reporter and other people involved with the murder to get the information she needed. Also I had to suspend by disbelief at some parts because it was kinda hard to believe that a seventeen year old with little to no prior investigative experience was so much better then detectives at their job.

Reviewer's Name: Savannah
Book Cover
Zoboi, Ibi & Salaam, Yusef
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Yusef Salaam is one of the "Central Park Five", young men of color who were incorrectly accused of raping and beating a woman jogging in Central Park in the late 80s. After the five had served their sentences of 5-15 years, they were exonerated when the real culprit came forward. This book is clearly heavily inspired by Yusef's story as it tells the story of Amal, a teen in prison for a similar crime that he did not commit. It starts with the conviction and then moves into Amal's experiences in a juvenile detention center.

Every year, there's a book that I promote really heavily in classrooms. This will definitely be that book. It's so good. So sad. So spare in that way that only books in verse can be. It takes a while to read, because sometimes you just kind of have to sit with it for a while to process it. It does such a great job of illustrating just how deeply flawed and racist our "justice" systems are. I dare you not to empathize with Amal. I can't wait to share this important book with everyone I know! Also, like, that cover y'all. So pretty. And it's relevant to the story! Anyway, consider this required reading, especially for all the folks trying to "read woke". 5 stars.

Thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer + Bray for the eARC which I received in exchange for an unbiased review. Punching the Air is out 01 September - put your copy on hold today!

Reviewer's Name: Britt
Book Review: Ghost
Reynolds, Jason
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I had taken a break from reviewing books until I read Ghost. This book is really well written. The narrator is believable and the plot illustrates his struggles and growth. Ghost is a troubled kid who stumbles onto a track team and turns his life for the better. I both loved and hated the ending, because it was so good but I didn't want the book to end. Great quick read. I highly recommended giving it a whirl.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
The Pros of Cons
Cherry, Alison & Ribar, Lindsay & Schusterman, Michelle
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Pros of Cons is a book about three girls at different conventions become friends. Vanessa Monotoya-O'Callaghan is going to a Fan Fiction convention with her friend Soleil. Pheobe Byrd is going to a Indoor Percussion Association convention with her percussion friends. Callie Buchannan is going to a Taxidermy convention with her dad as his assistant.

Vanessa and Soleil had never met but at the convention. They were online friends and they wrote fan fiction together, but they never met. It all started out great. The one issue is that Vanessa thought that Soleil was her girlfriend. On the first day Soleil read her own story in front of people instead of the one they worked on together. This made Vanessa angry but she kept it to herself. Then a few nights later Vanessa kissed her and that's when they fought. She had already met Callie. Soleil kicked her out of the
hotel room, and she went to stay with Callie. The the three friends decide to make a podcast for Vanessa's Creative Corner entry.

Pheobe runs into Callie while her and her friends where bringing percussion equipment places. They run into each other than Pheobe and Callie accidentally switch bags. In the group ensemble performance she realizes that she does'n't have her mallets. Then her friend Scott takes the mallets she was using for a solo. She ends up have to us scalpels from the solo and cuts up her hands. After the performance she has to put band aids on her hands. She gets in a fight with her best friend, Scott, and her roommate. The ends up in Callie's room.

Callie is with her dad and his turkeys. She is her dads assistant. On the first of the convention Callie meets her dads old assistant Jeremy. Jeremy is one of the judges, and Callie makes fun of her dad in front of him. After Jeremy leaves her dad yells at her for making fun of him in front of a judge. Callie is mad at her dad after this because he yelled at her and doesn't know she is even alive sometimes. Callie decides to sabotage her dads turkey seminar. During the seminar he deals with everything as if it was on purpose. Then Callie and her dad get in to a huge fight, because her mom left and court only gave Callie 4 weeks to live with her mom, but her mom offered full time. Her dad without even talking to Callie told her mom she didn't want to go. Callie was upset, but in the end they made up and are all good now.

I chose this book because of the clever title and how it was written in different point of views. I think the plot is excellent.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime

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