Reviews of Teen Books

Eliza and Her Monsters
Zappia, Francesca
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I enjoyed reading Eliza and Her Monsters, which, as the title suggests, is about main character Eliza who created a well-known webcomic called Monstrous Sea, but remains anonymous online. It was fun because I could relate to Eliza as an artist (not a visual artist, but the world-building aspect) and Wallace, the inevitable love interest, as a writer. Also, of course, the whole fandom idea tends to be very relatable for many teenage readers. Eliza starts to fall for Wallace at school when they connect after discovering that they're mutual fans of Monstrous Sea, though Eliza keeps her identity as the creator of Monstrous Sea secret. Their story goes through the predictable, somewhat cookie-cutter stages of a YA romance before concluding with... actually, I won't spoil it, but you'd probably be able to guess after reading the first few chapters of the book. Besides the predictability – which you'd honestly get with just about any YA romance – my other complaint is the characterization. A lot of Eliza's development or the introduction of her personality was done through telling instead of showing, and Wallace felt rather flat and underdeveloped. The book was entertaining though, and I might recommend it if you're looking for something quick, fun, and easy, and don't mind knowing what's going to happen ahead of time. In terms of content, it's clean besides the occasional profane language.

Reviewer grade: 10

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

I'll be honest. The main reason I picked up this book was because I kept hearing people talk about how 42 is the meaning of life and I had no idea what they meant. I also read it because I'm generally a big fan of science fiction, but it was mostly to understand the 42 reference. Despite my less-than-admirable intentions, though, I massively enjoyed it. The author is very creative and the writing itself is well-crafted, but, at the same time, the book doesn't take itself too seriously. It's hilarious. From the "42 is the meaning of life" idea that everyone talks about to the name "Slartibartfast," this book made me laugh out loud several times, which isn'ta common occurrence when I'm reading. I also read it as an audiobook, and Stephen Fry as the narrator makes it that much better. My only complaint about it is that the ending was a bit abrupt, but that's what sequels are for, so all in all, I would highly recommend.

Review grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Of Giants and Ice
Bach, Shelby
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I adored this series in middle school. Now that I'm older, I'm better able to recognize that it isn't exactly high literature, but it was fun to read. Putting a twist on middle grade and YA fiction's beloved fairy tale retellings, in Of Giants and Ice, main character Rory discovers she's a "character" when she joins Ever After School, which is supposedly an unassuming after-school program but actually a school where characters go on missions and eventually end up in "tales." As the name suggests, tales are when characters become characters in a fairy tale. Rory and her two friends, Chase and Lena, are thrown into a Jack and the Beanstalk tale, but discover there's something waiting for them that's more sinister than just giants. Of Giants and Ice follows a fairly typical middle grade fiction structure, with a "chosen one" middle school protagonist on an adventure with some friends and eventually solving a massive problem that, for some reason, the adults are incapable of handling without the help of kids, but it's an entertaining read with a fun premise. I would recommend for younger readers who are looking for something light and diverting.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
Anne of Green Gables
Montgomery, L. M.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Red Pencil
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I actually analyzed The Red Pencil as a choice book for English class, but I really enjoyed it. It's told through a series of first-person poems, rather than the standard prose, which I liked because it helped me go deeper into the main character's perspective and her feelings about the things that were happening to her. The book tells the story of Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose village is destroyed by the Janjaweed as part of the Darfur conflict. She aspires to go to school where she can learn to read and write, and, among her numerous trials, finds relief through her art. The book is a work of fiction, but pulls from many stories that Andrea Davis-Pinkney gathered from real survivors of the Darfur conflict who faced similar challenges to Amira. The Red Pencil is very well-written and effective at evoking emotion and empathetic responses, and it provides the reader with insight into a life very different than the typical American's. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man untainted by sin and unworn by his years, or so he seems. The Picture of Dorian Gray follows Dorian after having his portrait done by a friend, and finding the painting, not his face, bears every mark impurity of evil and age. As a result, Dorian acts however he wants, knowing the outside world will still regard him as innocent and youthful, with no suspicions of his true character. The novel carries important themes of honesty, virtue, forgiveness, and sin. Highly recommended for lovers of period drama, mystery, and light horror. The book is also quite short which makes for a quick read.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Genres:
Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a young girl, Fanny Price is sent to live with her cousins the Bertrams at their large estate in Mansfield Park. The book follows Fanny from her childhood living at Mansfield into her early adult life. Although they are family, Fanny has no one to rely on. She is isolated from the world and finds comfort in reading. Austen most wonderfully masters the art of empathy in this novel, as the reader feels incredibly broken whenever Fanny is hurt or emotionally worn. Mansfield Park has been called controversial for the fact that Sir Thomas, Fanny's uncle, owns a plantation with slaves. Although this is wrong, it is an uncomfortable reality of the time that is era-appropriate. Besides this, Sir Thomas is not made out to be a good person worth emulation. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Austen or Jane Eyre.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Wild Swans
Chang, Jung
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Jung Chang recalls the experiences of her grandmother, her mother, and finally herself, all in distinct eras of China in Wild Swans. While the book is about Chang's family and the hardships they faced under changing authorities, the account is just as much about the consequences of ideologies, and how our loyalties shape who we are. Chang describes the brutalities of Japanese occupation, as well as the callous nature of China under Mao Zedong. The book is slow at first but becomes thrilling with the rise of Mao, and Chang's detailing of life under Communism. Highly recommended for those interested in learning more about China in the twentieth century.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Awards:
The Happiness Advantage
Achor, Shawn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Happiness Advantage is a wonderfully helpful book. Through many staggering statistics, Shawn Achor proves beyond a doubt that a positive mindset is essential for success and well-being. In addition, Achor's seven simple practices are easy to implement and will have a drastic impact in your career and personal life. This book is also easy to read and quickly moves from point to point so as not to be too repetitive. Whether you are a student, well into your career, or are retired, this book can have a dramatic effect on your life. I highly recommend this book to everyone.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Fix Her Up
Bailey, Tessa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Travis, a once super popular baseball star gets hurt and can’t play baseball anymore gives up on life. Enter Georgie, a once Tom-boyish now super hot girl who has always had a crush on Travis (She’s also his best friend's sister) this roller-coaster of a book tells Travis and Georgie's adorable love story, and you can’t put it down. While definitely meant for an older crowd, this story will leave you smiling. Its characters are so cute, and you are just rooting for them the whole time. If you are looking for a more mature, rom-com book then you should check out this book!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
The Fault in Our Stars
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Two teens, one struggling from cancer, one a cancer survivor, meet and start becoming close. The struggles of cancer, the chance of death, the fear of not leaving a mark on the world and so much more make their relationship hard at some points. John Green is a fantastic author who really draws you in. You get really invested into the characters and their lives and you start to feel their pain. This book will make you laugh, smile, cry, and jump up and down and it’s amazing. I would definitely recommend!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Albertalli, Becky
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Molly is a bigger girl, who has never had a boyfriend (but has had
many crushes) her twin sister, who is beautiful and never has had problems
dating becomes love sick over a girl they meet at a concert. Molly’s moms,
finally have the chance to get marriage. With all this going on Molly meets a
cute boy who she thinks is perfect for her, but what happens when she starts
falling for her coworker instead? This book is a quirky romance story that
really hits you in the feels. It’s beautifully told and when anything
happens to your character you feel like it’s happening to you! If you want
a romance with twist and turns and a heartwarming story in the middle, then
read this book!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Perfect Chemistry
Elkeles, Simone
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This is a very cute, enemies to lovers story, with characters that you get very invested into. Brittany, the main character may in the outside seem to be an annoying popular girl but this book gives her so much complexity. Her love interest, Alex feels the pressure of being in a gang and protecting his family. As their romance blossoms, you really start to see how much they care for each other. If you like a romance/drama book, this is definitely for you!

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

The Great Gatsby by Fitzgerald brings the audience flying back to the roaring 20s. The roaring 20s where prohibition is in effect, there is a lot of money, and people are going to speakeasies. Throughout the Great Gatsby the reader sees the insides of the richer citizens of New York lives, which involves scandalous events, lies/cheating, and glamours parties. The story is told through the perspective of Nick Carraway about his neighbor, Jay Gatsby's life. Overall, the novel is very well-written and it keep me wanting to read more and more. I really liked the novel because it allowed me to see more into the roaring 20s rather than what a history books educates you on. Once you finish this book, you will be in complete and utter shock due to the surprise ending.
Reviewer grade:11

Reviewer's Name: Lana
Awards:
The Thing About Leftovers
Payne, C. C.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was by far my favorite book, as it's very emotional but at the end, heartwarming. Fizzy is a 12 year old girl who has a strong passion for cooking. She's very good at it, but because of her divorced parents, she feels like no one cares about her and she is a leftover that no one wants. Through the book, she learns that just because her parents are divorced doesn't mean either side doesn't care, it means both sides care. This could also be very relatable for kids with divorced parents who don't seem to fit into either side. At the end, Fizzy realizes that each side is proud of her and loves her and that she could find good qualities in each other step parent.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Awards:
To All the Boys I've Loved Before
Han, Jenny
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I've heard a lot about this book, so I decided to try and read it. What I enjoy about this book is that it could relate to a quite a few teenagers, and it has a bit of every genre. It's sad but happy, weird but funny, and dramatic but real. I could safely say, that this was one of the best books I've read this year. It starts off with a sixteen year old girl, Laura Jean. She was always a very good kid, listening to her parents and having good grades. Her older sister, Margot, was one of her best friends. She was just about to move to college, so she broke it off with her boyfriend, Josh. Seeing this, Laura got devastated because Josh had always been like a part of the family. Josh was upset too, since they've been together for two years. Laura thinks it's all just temporary and her sister would want to get back together with him. Margot soon was thinking about it, until she heard something from Josh. Something about her sister. This got her furious. I'm going to let you read about that by yourself. Later along in the book, like every other teenage girl, Laura has those few people that she's liked over the years. For those few guys, she's always wrote love notes for them and hid them away in a box, so she could know why she liked them, but forget about them because they were in the past. Until one day, when everything changed... Read to find out what happens.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Dealing With Dragons
Wrede, Patricia C.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dealing with Dragons is a novel about a princess named Cimorene. What's unusual about this particular princess is the fact that she is very improper. Unlike most princesses, she actually has a brain. When she learns of plans to wed her off to some cotton brained Knight, she runs away. She runs, not to the Enchanted Forest, not to some abandoned tower, but to a dragon's lair. I enjoy this book because of how well it puts you in the story. Once you start reading, you can't put it down. I recommend this book to anyone reading fairy tales, but not content with how stupid some of the characters are.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
Genres:
Dark Sky
Box, C. J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dark Sky is a masterfully crafted thriller that strings together webs and webs of suspense through character development and wit. The novel takes place in the expansive wilderness of Wyoming, where Joe Pickett, a normal game warden, must evade a killer after his and his client's heads. Box does an incredible job of building up his characters and leaving room for the reader to question certain decisions and traits. The way the author ties everything together for an eventual climax will leave the reader on the edge of their seat, especially when the build-up leads to a nail-biting cliffhanger. The setting is also beautifully used to expand on both the plot and scenic writing in general, as the author clearly knows the terrain and all of its attributes. Overall, I would recommend this novel to anyone who loves a good thriller.

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

To Kill a Mockingbird is a novel entirely worthy of its praise. The humor, subtlety of the impact left by the narration from a young girl's perspective, and incredibly real themes all fit together perfectly. The story is a straightforward read and combined with the intricate storytelling based on the author's own life, the topics surrounding race and justice feel meaningful. The story follows Scout Finch, a young girl, and her friends Jem and Dill while depicting their views on life in the South during the Depression. The juxtaposition of childish natures and mature outlooks on violence, prejudice, and societal struggles brought about by the narration stand out. Each instance of injustice and depiction of the imperfections of humanity in a struggling society tie the development of the characters and rise to the climax together well. Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone, as it is a fantastic, and rather light read.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Villette
Bronte, Charlotte
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Villette is an incredibly hard read. The novel follows Lucy Snowe in her escape from England. She reminisces on her life's story and the overall storyline is intriguing. The side characters play their parts well, and certain tragedies in the story do leave hard-hitting impacts. Nevertheless, the book is over four-hundred pages of intricate literature with an incredible range of advanced vocabulary. However, the complexity of the read does add a bit of fun to the book, despite drawing attention away from the story itself. Looking up advanced English and French vocabulary almost makes the novel a neat, theatrical dictionary. While hard to understand and read, it allows the reader to dive deeper into each character and develop them more on a personal level. Overall, I would only recommend this book to people looking for a challenging read and with time on their hands.

Reviewer's Name: Steven

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