Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

Renegades
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Renegades is an action-packed, intriguing, forbidden romance-filled story. Unlike classic "hero vs. villain" stories, this story shows the ups and downs of both sides, and makes you question who the real villains are and what makes someone a real hero. The dual main character style from both Nova and Adrian's point of view adds a real depth and feeling to the book. It was easy to tell each point of view, and they collided and cooperated with each other, showing the inner workings and feelings of both characters and what they were faced with. The duality not only allows you to get to know each character better, but also lets you see the world from both different points of view, the Renegades, and the Anarchists. Nova and Adrian were both likable and understandable. From Nova's want for vengeance, and Adrian's want for justice, you get to see and experience the choices they make, the sacrifices required, and the unknowing relationship and connection between the two as they pursue their desires. Paired with the amazing setting of a futuristic utopia yet broken society, the flow and purpose of the story is just fantastic.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Awards:
Unwind
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Okay let's get the bad stuff out of the way. To start things off, many times throughout the book it feels a bit slow. I find myself trying to read a part of the book, hoping that something exhilarating will happen, but it turns out to be slow. Following that, sometimes things felt the opposite and felt rushed. At some points of the book, I feel like some plot twists/reveals were forced into happening and being revealed. I would think to myself that it's a bit cliche. But otherwise, there's nothing else that really bothers me.

Now the neutral/mixed emotions. Sometimes the transitions are very good; making the audience know another character's POV at the time of an event. Other times... well it's a little dull. For example, one scene you'd be at an action paced-fight, the other, you'd be having a conversation. But yeah this is the only neutral/mixed emotion factor.

Now the amazing stuff. The characters are absolutely amazing, the plot is amazing, and the action-paced scenes are amazing. I cannot use words to describe how much I love Neal Shusterman's unique way of writing. The way that the characters interact with the world around them, and overcome the problems and struggles put before them really draws you in, and they dynamic between the characters themselves is also amazing. Really love it!

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. The journey put forth, following William, is truly a gem that makes you think about what could've happened if something had been different. I loved reading it because I felt every details of William's journey to develop his windmill that put him on fame. His determination to prove that science is 'real' and can make a difference, especially during a time and in a culture that rejects it, shows his character and his want for a better life in his land. He perseveres through the struggles of drought and hunger, and overcomes the ridicule thrown from all sides to be able to rise up and rise above, and make his visions come true. A really inspirational story, that shows a hero's journey in a way not usually thought.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Awards:
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book just has it all. Whether it be fantasy, crime, mystery or romance. It was a real heart-wrenching novel. The fact that she shows the story from the perspective of all six characters and tells their personal stories too is amazing. Although this book is manly based on a heist, we also get to know about the setting/world around them, and get a unique look into the lives of each character and why all of them are in the situation they're in. And the fact that so much is going on in this novel, but doesn't feel chaotic or difficult to understand at all, and has amazing flow and structure, really adds to the immersive sensation. Altogether the character and world building in this story is amazing, and each and every character’s perspectives were enjoyable to read. The backstories of each character is amazing, the setting is amazing, and the slow-burn to fast-acting action and story progression keeps you on edge and wanting more.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Scythe
Shusterman, Neal
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Scythe is the first book of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, that follows dual main characters Rowan and Citra. Set in the far-future, natural death has been practically eliminated thanks to technology and the "Thunderhead," and only those dubbed "scythes," which are basically reapers, can truly kill someone. This book set up the perfect utopian world, whilst being filled with joy and sorrow. Throughout the book you learn about the interactions and struggles of characters that aren't so different from today's people. The flow was fantastic, always making you want to know more and making the jump between character perspectives really work. The inclusion of 'scythe journals' in between the chapters adds a personable feature and gives an insight into the lives of characters that while they may not be specific to the story, and important to the context and groundwork. Every character that was introduced felt so human and real and makes you wonder what it would be to live in their world. The two main characters felt like they were connected in a deep and important way, yet they also felt so different and so alive that the dual-lead works. From the world to the characters, this book will have you wanting to know more, and wondering about life in an era without true death.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Dave Barry's Greatest Hits
Barry, Dave
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dave Barry’s slapstick comedy has never been funnier than it is in Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits. It is filled with the funniest columns of his career, and they are certain to please. Barry’s style of humor will make even the sternest of audience chuckle, and it is sure to brighten your day. I enjoyed this book very much, and it has helped me through some stressful times. I would recommend it to anyone in need of a pick me up, or just looking to have a couple laughs.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Genres:
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question
Munroe, Randall
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What If? by Randall Munroe is an amazing series of completely impossible and extremely strange scientific questions that are answered with complete scientific accuracy, and a bit of humor. Munroe takes questions people ask over the web and applies physics, chemistry, and other sciences to answer the questions. One of my favorite hypotheticals is what would happen if everybody pointed a laser pointer at the moon? Munroe approaches this by slowly increasing power, until the moon’s surface explodes, and it propels itself away from earth. The hilarious and entertaining questions can provide fun for anyone with an interest in science, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s thought of an impossible hypothetical question.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Ruin of Kings
Lyons, Jenn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons is an amazingly crafted fantasy story following a young boy named Kihrin as he discovers the secrets of a world filled with gods, demons, dragons, and mages. However, Kihrin finds that his past will come back to haunt him, and he must survive with the help of anyone who will accept him. Including, but not limited to, gods, dragons, and deposed kings. The plot twists and amazing scenery make this book amazing. I enjoyed reading it very much, and would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World's Most Dangerous Weapon
Sheinkin, Steve
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin is a must-read for history buffs everywhere. It features the history of nuclear science, including the first nuclear reactors and the building of the initial Manhattan Project team. It follows the progress of the Manhattan Project, while also detailing US and Soviet efforts to prevent German bomb development. It speaks of the heroism of commandos destroying enrichment facilities, and the long nights pulled by sleep-deprived scientists, as well as the fantastic power of the first Trinity tests. I enjoyed this book very much and would recommend it to anyone with an interest in nuclear or WWII history.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Dune
Herbert, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most iconic science fiction novels of all time. Featuring an imaginative universe filled with strange aliens and even stranger planets, Dune provides a sense of adventure and wonder to every reader. It follows the story of a young noble as the Emperor gives his family control over the planet responsible for generating the most valuable resource in the universe, spice. But this advantageous appointment is not without its risk, and soon rival houses come to try and take control of the planet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of science fiction, and it is a must read for every Star Trek and Star Wars nerd out there.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Wrong Train
De Quidt, Jeremy
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A boy is trying to get home by train, but he ends up on a strange platform with no one around and no idea when the next train is coming so he can get home. A man suddenly appears and sits with the boy, telling him rather strange stories while they wait.

This book is a collection of short stories that revolve around a bigger story. All of the stories are creepy and mysterious. If you are the kind of person who likes to be creeped out just a little, but would still like to sleep at night, this book is for you. I am not a huge horror fan, but I could not put this book down. I found this book in the kids section (the little ghost sticker on the binding intrigued me, so I thought I would give it a try) so this could be the reason I found it more bearable and less creepy than other books of that genre. No matter what grade, if you are looking for a spooky book, you should give The Wrong Train a try (unless you find it not scary at all, in this case I suggest you read it anyway because it's still pretty good.)
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A group of boys crash on an uncharted island. The boys are left with no adult supervision, leaving them to survive on their own. They begin to create a form of order, but soon that order collapses and terror begins.

I had to read Lord of the Flies for school, but it exceeded my expectations. This book made me want to cry, stare at it and ponder what I had just read and throw it across the room all at the same time, but in the best way possible. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. There will be a character or characters that you can relate to and root for. This book is a little more on the violent side. I would definitely recommend it for an older audience. Even though classics are considered boring and bland, this one is definitely worth a try. It's an emotional roller coaster that you don't want to miss.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Schlosser, Eric
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Fast Food Nation is a nonfiction book that is extremely informative about the fast food industry. The book starts with the history of fast food and then informs the audience of business deals, the horrors of fast food, and ways the fast food industry affects others. I picked this book because I wanted to know the truth to what happens in the fast food industry and all of the gross things that are done to the food. Fast Food Nation has several local and state references from Cheyenne Mountain to Greeley, Co. I really liked this book since it was outstandingly educational about every aspect of the fast food industry such as the meat industry, fast food employees, advertising, food poisoning and more; however, I would have liked it more if it went even more in-depth about all the ways the food is handled. Overall, I recommended this book if you want a good nonfiction read and if you want to be more educated about the five to ten dollar meal you buy frequently.

Reviewer's Name: Lana
Awards:
Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In eighth grade English class, we had to read the Hunger Games, but the third book, Mockingjay. Instead of reading all of this without knowing how it started, I decided to first read the first book first. Now I'm really glad I did. The first book of this series is about a girl, Katniss, who volunteers herself as tribute to attend the Hunger Games instead of her 12 year old sister, Prim. At the age of 16, Katniss struggles to survive the Hunger Games, along with her partner, Peeta, after they announced that they didn't want to kill each other. This book starts at the reaping while ends with Peeta and Katniss stepping out of the train- holding hands for the camera. Why? Read this book to find out.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
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

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