Reviews of Teen Books

The Metamorphosis
Kafka, Franz
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

After turning into a bug, Gregor realizes he is late for work. However, it soon becomes apparent that Gregor will no longer be able to work. His family's view of him quickly changes as his previous contributions to it are quickly forgotten. This thought provoking book questions people's worth after they are lo longer able to contribute to society. Although the writing style is dry, the book is filled with allegories and symbolism that comment on the nature of individuals in society. This leaves readers to examine their own views on an individual's worth to society.

Reviewer's Name: Mark
Heartless
Meyer, Marissa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Based off Lewis Carroll's character the Queen of Hearts, Catherine is a young woman living in Hearts with her parents in their bakery. Catherine knows that the King intends on proposing to her, but she doesn't want to marry him, convinced that he's infatuated with her beauty, but not in love with her. At the King's ball, Catherine meets Jest, the joker, and she falls in love with him. In an attempt to be with Jest, Catherine tries to run away with him to Chess, but doesn't make it.

I like how this book is one perspective of why the Queen of Hearts is 'heartless'. The characters are very similar to Carroll's characters, but the plot is a little different, which makes it more exciting! I also enjoyed how the book touched on the idea of fate, and whether people can outrun their fate, like Catherine tried (and failed) to do. My favorite character was Jest. Being a Joker, he was naturally an amusing character, and his ending hurt me just as much as it hurt Catherine! Hatta was my least favorite character because of all his tricks, and I was surprised when he confessed to Catherine at the end and went mad. This book had the perfect balance or romance, drama, adventure, and heartache.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Acts of King Arthur and His Noble Knights
Steinbeck, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Acts of King Arthur and his Noble Knights by John Steinbeck is a vivid retelling of the already immortalized myths of legendary Arthur Pendragon and the knights that serve him. I enjoy the stories contained within and it is wonderful to have all the myths collected in one spot and rephrased by Steinbeck. However, there is one recommendation I have for readers and that is to go slowly because the wording in the book itself is fairly complicated and the text sometimes switches into extended metaphors without warning, leaving the reader lost and confused. I would not let this stop you from reading it, the book itself is amazing and the stories of King Arthur are captivating. I would recommend this book to everyone who has an interest in mythology or old stories, or simply anyone who wants an entertaining and captivating story.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
The Lovely Bones
Sebold, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Susie Salmon is a 14-year old girl who is killed by her neighbor Mr. Harvey after school on her way home. Mr. Harvey disposes Susie's body and throws her charm bracelet into a pond. Susie's spirit flees from her body and runs towards her personal heaven where she watches as her family and friends struggle to move on with their lives while she also tries to come to terms with her death.

My favorite part about this book is the theme of accepting death. Susie's family struggled with closure, and as a result, Susie's soul was restless and she wasn't able to enter into 'Heaven'. Even though she's only 14, Susie explored themes such as love, friendship, the after-life, and forgiveness. Personally, I don't think Mr. Harvey's ending was enough, but I was happy that Susie and her family found closure. The book felt very personal; like I was with Susie the whole time, and I felt very connected to her and attached throughout her whole emotional growth. Ironically, Susie does the most growing when she's dead, because that's when she does the most soul searching. I also thought this book pointed out how flawed adults are, and that they aren't the perfect put-together image young teens have about them. I watched the film adaption after, and if you prefer films, the movie is just as awesome!

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Terrorist
Cooney, Caroline B.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I normally would not rank a book this high but this one is well-deserved. The story is very well-written and easy to understand but is still filled with suspense and mystery. The Terrorist is the story Laura Williams whose brother dies in a terrorist attack in London. This event changes her life and she has to try to navigate it with her brother gone. I would highly recommend this book to any teen as it is very well written and over all one of my favorites. Caroline B. Cooney's writing is very nice because it is well written but still easy to understand unlike many books.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
The Witch of Blackbird Pond
Speare, Elizabeth George
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Witch of Blackbird Pond is the story of sixteen-year-old Kit Tyler who arrives in Connecticut in 1687. All the townspeople believe she is a witch after she does some "unusual" things such as swimming and acting out bible stories. Because of this separation she begins to hang out with the towns "witch" Hannah Tupper. This friendship leads to some major problems in the future.

This book is very dull and not very exciting. I cannot find any reason to enjoy this book as it is so predictable and a very happily-ever-after type of story. I would not recommend this book because of its lack of suspense and very predictable plot.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
Twelfth Night
Shakespeare, William
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Twelfth Night is a play written by William Shakespeare. It is about multiple love triangles that take place in Illyria. The main problem is that two twins both think the other is dead and are mistaken for each other which creates many problems.

Twelfth Night is a horrible play/book. It is very dull and extremely confusing as people's names are changed throughout the play and people are constantly being mistaken for each other. Unless you have to read this, I would not recommend this book to anyone unless they want to sit through a very confusing, dull play.

Reviewer's Name: Emily
The Secret Life of Pronouns
Pennebaker, James W.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book looks at what our pronoun usage in our language says about us. There is also an online website which uses the same tools Pennebaker uses in his studies, providing the reader with an interactive aspect as well. The concepts in the book about how different pronouns correlate with different social status, group dynamics, gender, and other factors provide an insight on an aspect of daily life most people never think about. It also includes charts and graphs to help convey information, although Pennebaker does not provide his raw data for portions of the book, only his conclusion. By the end of the book many points he makes feel repetitive, making the later chapters less interesting to read.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Life of Pi
Martel, Yann
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Life of Pi starts off slowly, with a lot of details that I thought were irrelevant to the story. While Pi is moving with his family and their zoo, their ship sinks in a storm. Pi makes it to a life boat, but there are also four animals from the zoo on it. One of the animals is a tiger, which Pi must learn to control. He must also get food, water, and protection from the sun and sea in order to survive. This book shows the struggles to survive while isolated from society and also shows the fight to retain one's humanity throughout this struggle.

Reviewer's Name: Mark T.
Dune
Herbert, Frank
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I chose to read Dune in anticipation of the coming movie, and as a much appreciated suggestion from my father. Dune follows the adventures of a young boy Paul as he enters manhood. He fights to keep the planet of Arrakis, and then goes on to fight for the title of emperor. It addresses a group of people, the Fremen and their religion of turning Arrakis, the desert planet, into a beautiful land through terraformation. This book draws you in and keeps you hooked, telling a story of becoming a man, while also making it a book worthy of praise, always surprising you with one twist or another.

Reviewer's Name: Sam W.
The Selection
Cass, Kiera
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Selection by Kiera Cass, is the first book in The Selection series. I have read this book multiple times for it is one of my favorite stories. With intriguing twists, the story carries you through the story of America and her journey into the unknown. While this story has many parts that have you on the edge of your seat, I also found myself feeling scared, angry, happy, sad, and many more emotions. With an interesting love triangle, the romance parts are what keep you drawn in. A book has never stood out to me in the way this story has.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
The Elite
Cass, Kiera
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Heir by Kiera Cass is the second book in the series The Selection. While this is one of my favorite series, this book is my least favorite of the three books. Even with turning twists and unnerving events, I feel the story did not get too far along with the plot. This book was still very well written and gave us a backstory on many characters. Although it was my favorite book, I highly recommend the read for it will help readers understand the third and last book of the series. Overall, this book was thought out well and brings many new emotions to the readers.

Reviewer's Name: Kate
Paper Girl
Wilson, Cindy R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Paper Girl is about a girl whose world is caving in around her, and is not able to cope very well with it, until a boy comes into her life. All the characters are so well developed and all have great backstories. The whole book is a big question if she will overcome and has you wondering the whole time, which I loved. Something that I did not love about the book is how the main character's mental illness is portrayed. It is very hard to relate to I feel, unless you have felt similarly. This did not take much away from the book's overall greatness though. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a good, cute teen romance book.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
Crave
Wolff, Tracy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Crave is about a girl who must move to a school where not everything is as it seems, after her parents die. This school is full of creatures. I absolutely loved this book. It is a very thick book that I had to finish in one day, that's how good it is. The characters are so fun and the whole book is interesting. There comes a time when it seems like it will get boring, but then come the plot twists that make it so much better. The romance between the main characters is amazing and always keeps you guessing. Overall this book is so good and I would recommend it to anyone who wants a teen romance/ supernatural book.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
All In
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

All In is a sequel in The Naturals series that focuses on 5 teens with natural talents that make them special, so they work with the FBI to solve cases. The book/series is absolutely amazing and so well written. Every character has a great backstory and all are very well developed. In this book there are so many twists and turns that keep you absolutely hooked. The details and how creative the ideas in the murders and investigations are amazes me. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great book to keep you hooked and anyone who loves the show Criminal Minds.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Ocean at the End of the Lane is set when the protagonist returns to his childhood town for a funeral. He drives aimlessly down a lane and arrives at the Hemstock Farm, where he starts to remember part of his childhood. Throughout the book, the protagonist recalls his fanatical past, which he forgot about Lettie Hemstock and the Hemstock farm. The author does a fantastic job of describing the protagonist and blending the fantasy world in perfectly. This book always surprised me, although some parts can be a little confusing, but personally, I found this book to be an interesting read and would give it 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia S.
Genres:
Bad Blood
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Bad Blood is about 5 teens with natural skills that lead them to work with the FBI to solve cases. In this book they are going back to look into their pasts especially the main female character to try to lead to a murderer, or multiple. I was not able to put the book down and ended up finishing it in a day. Everything comes together so nicely. All the details play into each other and I can not imagine how the author came up with such elaborate ideas that are so complex. This book is for anyone who loves the show Criminal minds because they are so similar or is looking for an amazing crime book.

Reviewer's Name: Jana M.
The Lover's Dictionary
Levithan, David
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The book "The Lovers Dictionary" by David Leviathan gets a "meh" review. While the book seems like it'll be a hopeful love story, it actually spins a web of lies and heartbreak. Each chapter is a new word, and the chapter explains the definition, through a story. While this seems to be a cool idea, it was not well planned out in this book. Sudden changes in setting, as well as changes in the timeline, leave this book quite confusing. It makes you want to get entranced by the book, but also makes it difficult to do so. Had the author better explained both the timing and the reasoning behind the flashbacks of sorts, the story would have been better able to comprehend and relate with. The story also has these thought-changing scenes that make no sense. One second the narrator is madly in love and very happy about it, and the next he is broken-hearted and considering leaving his partner. The constant back and forth is difficult to follow and honestly quite frustrated. I think the idea of the book was a great idea, however, I do not believe the author knew quite how to plan it out.

Reviewer's Name: Star B.
Cut

Cut

McCormick, Patricia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book tackles some very tough topics in very realistic and accurate ways. Main character Callie has been placed into a residential treatment center, shortly after her family discovers that Callie had begun to use self-harm to cope with many issues. The stress of being in this facility, as well as familial and mental stress, leads Callie to silence. Acting on selective mutism, Callie chooses to stop talking. Many people try, and yet fail, to help her open up and speak. Through the book, from memories and dialogues that run through Callie's brain, we discover that Callie has an extremely stressful home life that has become detrimental to her mental health. This book speaks on the reality of mental health facilities in America, as well as the type of home life that many live and suffer through silently. This story faces the reality of self-harm and mental illnesses. These topics are very uncomfortable for many, and almost taboo, but "Cut" breaks through that and breaks down the walls of real-life issues, and progress through mental health issues.

Reviewer's Name: Star B.
Awards:
Becoming Mrs. Lewis
Callahan, Patti
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Becoming Mrs. Lewis, by Patti Callahan, is the fictionalized retelling of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman's unlikely love story. It is based around the correspondence between the two, their writings, and Joy's copious love sonnets. While C.S. Lewis is primarily known for his works of literature, his relationship with Joy was just as big--if not bigger--a part of his life as his work. The story is told entirely from Joy's perspective, with bits of correspondence sprinkled throughout her narration. Right out of the gate, Joy has an epiphany one night while living in a house in upstate New York with an abusive husband and two small sons. This holy experience leads to Joy's conversion to Christianity; then, searching for answers about faith, she comes into contact with the renowned author C.S. Lewis and they begin corresponding frequently. Eventually, Joy makes the choice to go to England because of health problems and her husband's abuse, and meets C.S. Lewis (whom she calls Jack) for the first time. The rest of the book is an agonizingly slow journey to their marriage, which happens under unfortunate circumstances at the very end.

I had awfully mixed feelings about this book. I was interested in learning more about the life of C.S. Lewis, but instead I received the sad, angsty story of Joy Davidman, and unfortunately, Joy Davidman--as portrayed by Callahan--is not a likeable character. She is impulsive in nearly all her actions, self-pitying and self-motivated (as exhibited by the fact that she leaves her two young sons in an abusive household while frolicking off to Europe), naive, obnoxious in much of her dialogue, excruciatingly desperate to be loved, and altogether irritating. However, I did like Jack's character, and overall there was some good character development. The plot itself was slow and redundant: dialogue dragged and nearly every conversation felt the same to me; I often found myself bored. It seemed like Callahan was running the plot in circles without ever achieving a climax. Also, as the story took place over several years in real life, Callahan was forced to glaze over several months at a time, never really going in depth about what took place in between Joy and Jack's meetings. As for the writing style itself--nothing to compliment. Callahan's syntax was unengaging and at times poorly executed, the story lacked imagery, and the use of British slang seemed forced, coming from an American author. Over the course of the book, Joy's feelings for Jack develop more quickly than his for her, and I couldn't help feeling disturbed by her physical attraction to a man 17 years older than her. Callahan should've backed off on Joy's excessive, out-of-the-blue thoughts of physical desire--they were disturbing and took away from Jack and Joy's friendship.

I believe the love story of C.S. Lewis and Joy Davidman would've been best left alone. While Callahan's novel is historically accurate, the fictionalization of intimate details and dialogue that belonged to the real Joy and Jack in their time did not sit well with me. I appreciated Callahan's inclusion of literary history--especially learning about Jack's life and how
it influenced his writing--and the last fifty pages of the book redeemed itself slightly, as the characters' growth was revealed and some important life lessons shone through. Occasionally I was immersed in the story and
rooting for Joy, but the mundane, repetitive, boring moments overshadowed those, and Callahan's Joy was not the female character I'd hoped she would be. I wouldn't call this book a romance, because it's simply desperation on
one side and friendzoning on the other until a dire situation wakes up the latter party to reality. Becoming Mrs. Lewis did not do it for me, and I don't recommend it unless you immensely enjoy poorly-written, many-liberties-taken fictionalized accounts of famous historical figures' lives. I believe Joy Davidman and C.S. Lewis were probably wonderful individuals in reality, and I wish Callahan had done them justice.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa H.
Awards:

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