Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

 The Catcher in the Rye
Salinger, J.D.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

This book is about a boy named Holden's life. Holden has decided to run away from school after he was suspended. He had to figure out life because he didn’t want his parents knowing. I didn’t like this book because I found it wasn’t very interesting. The reason being is it’s not very adventurous and keeps repeating negativity throughout the book.
(Reviewer Grade. 9)

Reviewer's Name: Theanna
A Very Large Expanse of Sea
Mafe, Tahereh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi is an amazing book. The novel isma coming of age/romance story, based around a 16 year old, muslim girl named Shirin. Shirin experiences horrible acts of Islamaphobia at her new high school and in public because of her hijab. Things get even worse when Ocean, a popular white boy at the school befriends her. The interracial aspect of their relationship makes not only Shirin vulnerable towards acts of hate, but Ocean as well.

Once I started reading this book, I could not stop! I am very thankful my teacher recommended it to me. The story was engaging and fast paced! I loved how beautifully the story was written, and the powerful message behind the words. It is important that teens learn about serious topics like racism and religious discrimination to help prevent hate in the future. There are a few parts in the book with mature language and topics, but I still recommend that teens and adults read this novel!

Reviewer's Name: Aztin
Four: The Traitor
Roth, Veronica
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“Four the traitor,” is one of four stories told by the perspective of Tobias Eaton aka Four. This book take place two years after “The Son.” Within that time he’s been keeping busy with spying and keeping in touch with his mother. While spying on Mac and Jeanine he learns of their devious plan to take over Abnegation. All though the book isn’t as detailed and goes though his feelings and adventures like Beatrice is a pretty good book.

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

It’s a really good book about a shy girl who has a hard time expressing her feelings. Lara Jean, main character, writes love letters to boys that she’s had a crush on but keeps them afraid of their reaction. Eventually the letters got out and one of the recipients of one of the letters goes to her school. At first there relationship started of fake but the more they fake it the more their feeling become real. It’s a really good book highly recommend!

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
The Couple Next Door
Lapeña, Shari
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is so good full of suspense and mystery every chapter having me on my toes. The book starts off with a small get together at the neighbors house with two couples one with a baby. But then a crime was committed at Anne and Marco house but have been blamed for the crime. The book has so many twist and turns containing so many secrets. Just such a really good book.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Breaking Dawn
Meyer, Stephenie
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

“Breaking Dawn” is one of my favorite books out of the twilight saga. The book is separated into three parts Edwards and Bella’s wedding and honeymoon, Jacob Blacks Perspective and Bella’s new life as a vampire. Also let me just say this book is the most brimming with details and so many events. This book always just find a way to keep me interested, never dries out. I would say that the book is way better than the movie 10 out of 10 recommended.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Awards:
City of Bones
Clare, Cassandra
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The summer of going from eighth grade to freshman year I was required to do a book report of my choice as a summer project. I chose “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare. It’s pretty good and in my opinion it somewhat has to do something with religion. The book talks about demons and angels especially when it mention Ángel Gabriel and Micheal some of the most mentioned angels in the Bible. “City of Bones” is a fiction book about two separate worlds, one with ordinary humans (mundane) and shadow hunters
(nephilim). Anyways, the book is very detail as to talking about the battles and descriptions of demons and certain settings. Its just a really good book, always keeping it interesting.

Reviewer's Name: Miguel
Awards:
The Unteachables
Korman, Gordon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Unteachables is about seven students who instead of going to regular eighth grade classes, stay in one classroom and learn all the subjects from one teacher. This is called SCS-8 (Self-Contained Special Eighth grade Class) also known as the Unteachables. Kiana is a new girl from California who isn't supposed to be in the SCS-8 class, but due to a crazy first day, she is never properly registered in the school. Mr. Kermit is a fifty-five year old teacher who just needs to teach for one more year to qualify for early retirement. The Superintendent of the school does not like Mr. Kermit because of an incident that happened in the nineties. He is trying to fire Mr. Kermit before he can qualify for early retirement, so he gives him the SCS-8 class thinking that Mr. Kermit will give up and just quit during the year. The book follows the SCS-8 students, Mr. Kermit, and newfound allies as they try to keep Mr. Kermit's job and his chance for early retirement. What drew me to the book was the author because I love Gordon Korman's books. This book was really funny and it kept me wanting to read more. Korman puts a lot of thought into his characters and he fills them with fun twists and surprises that get discovered the farther you go into the book. At some points I was surprised at what happened in the book because it was something that I least expected. This book reminded me of the Gordon Korman's other book Ungifted. This is a great read for a funny, lighthearted book.
Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Genres:
Everything Everything
Yoon, Nicola
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Everything Everything is about a girl named Madeline Whittier. Madeline is sick, she has been sick for a long time. Her brother and dad died when she was very young and it was only her and her mother. She was so sick that she couldn't leave her house and was practically allergic to the world. Then all of a sudden a new neighbor moved in and that changed her life. The neighbor, a boy named Ollie, moved in and they became fast friends through emailing. After awhile, Carla, Madeline's nurse, let her see Ollie as
long as he got decontaminated beforehand. Madeline was so happy till she went outside and her mom found out and she got grounded and she couldn't see or email Ollie anymore to the point where she made some decisions that questioned her health. Throughout the year she was eighteen, she found out that she was lied to and became a new person.

Reviewer's Name: Kaitlyn
Aurora Burning
Kaufman, Amie & Kristoff, Jay
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Aurora Burning by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is the second book in the Aurora Cycle series. It picks up after the ending of the first book, with the crew of Squad 312 dealing with the loss of one of their own. With prices over their heads and enemies building around them all wanting a bite of the squad, Tyler Jones and his crew quickly have to decide where to turn to next. I thought this book was pretty good, having the same sort of humor and sarcasm as the first book. Some of the decisions or responses were a bit
stereotypical in my opinion (and some of the plot twists weren’t as shocking as you would’ve hoped), but every book has its flaws. Despite this, I still enjoyed it, and it was a fun read. I liked the character development of Finian and Zila throughout the book and, as always, the futuristic galaxy world was very enjoyable to read about. I think this book is worth picking up if you have read the first book.
Reviewer grade: going into 11th

Reviewer's Name: Cora
I Am Number Four
Lore, Pittacus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I am Number Four is about the main character John Smith. John and his caretaker Henri try to live in the world without being noticed. At the start of the book, John and Henri go from Florida to Paradise, Ohio, where John try's to stay unnoticed at another new school. John doesn't usually make friends because he moves alot but in Paradise he makes friends with a alien conspirator Sam Goode and and a pretty girl named Sarah Hart. And an enemy named Mark James.

The reason I chose this book is because its about a teenager trying not to be noticed in a world where he doesn't belong. Many events like a scare where Henri seems to be missing makes John become more aware of the world and the people it it. My favorite part about this book is when John actually becomes aware of the world and grows in many ways throughout the book. My least favorite part about the book is when John has to leave Sarah behind and go somewhere with Sam and Someone like him Six.

Reviewer's Name: Kaitlyn
Awards:
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is about a fan girls life. The protagonist started college and is very anxious. She spends her 1st semester in her dorm room. In the second semester her life changes she has a few friends. The girl is obsessed with a book series that makes her life worth living. In the end the book ends in the best possible way.

Reviewer's Name: Jaime
Homegoing
Gyasi, Yaa
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi follows two bloodlines, from half sisters in Ghana. Each chapter is about one descendant, switching between families somthat two chapters in a row are one generation. The book is well written and includes details that tie well into real life history or beliefs, and each chapter is in fact written in correlation with a major historical event. Through these tie-ins, the book is able to remain exciting, and each chapter could be read as a standalone short story. Each character has an important story, and is revisited in following chapters from their bloodline, either from memory or real life interactions between their children or grandchildren. In addition to the basic storytelling and history included in the book, there is also an aspect of mysticism, and values/traditions that are native to African culture, making it a solid read for increasing knowledge or understanding of Ghanan culture. For me, there are moments in the book that seem unnecessary to the general plot and sometimes vulgar, but they end up being essential in the consistency of the way the story is told. Readers are able to attach themselves to each character, story arc, anddetail, then follow them throughout the series of stories.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Genres:
The Mother-Daughter Book Club
Frederick, Heather Vogel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Mother-Daughter Book Club is about four girls, whose mothers start a book club with their daughters in the hopes to try and get the girls to become friends. Emma and Jess are already friends, but Cassidy has just moved from California, and Megan is friends with the fab four, the fashionable girls who rule the school and are snarky to their peers. I've read this book and the others in this series many times and I can read them over and over because the series starts when the girls are in sixth grade and they continue all throughout their middle school and high school years, so I feel as if they are the same age as me depending on the book. A fun twist is how the author takes the story-line from the book and uses those events in her book, especially if you have read the book the girls are reading for book club before. This book is good for someone who likes realistic fiction.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Book Cover
Zusak, Markus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is my favorite book of all time. The story follows a young girl named Liesel Meminger growing up in Nazi Germany. Her love of books progresses throughout the plot, and the cast of characters she meets along the way help make the story the loveable masterpiece I know it as (personally, my favorite characters include Max Vandenburg, Rudy Steiner, and Hans Hubermann). This book is historical fiction, but I recommend it for most (if not all) readers. I typically read fantasy books, but I adore The Book Thief. The plot isn’t fast paced like adventure stories, and the events are on the ordinary side, but in my opinion the author does a brilliant job with descriptions and human connections within the book. Another reason I love this book is the use of the narrator--the way colors are described and the story is told is unique and wonderful to read. It’s a story about WWII told in a different perspective than other books we typically read at school, such as Night by Elie Wiesel or The Diary of Anne Frank. Even if you don’t particularly like the historical fiction genre, I would recommend giving this book a try. I first read it in 6th grade, but it is definitely not a story for just children. It is good for any age, and common sense media rates it for kids 13+.

Reviewer's Name: Cora G.
Book Cover
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If you're like me, you've been looking forward to the new Hunger Games prequel, The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, since its announcement last year. After all the anxious waiting and counting down the days, I found that this new novel, focusing on future villain, Coriolanus Snow, is not as good as the original trilogy but still holds its own and has its place in Collins' universe of Panem.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is a villain background story. The main character-- for I certainly would not call him a protagonist, even 65 years earlier-- is Coriolanus Snow, future tyrant president of Panem and one of the most despised villains in all of young adult dystopian literature. Here, Snow has an ego, he has big plans, dreams and ambitions for the future of his country. Coriolanus is an orphan after the war that spurred the Hunger Games. The Snow household is broken down and poor, and Coriolanus lives with his grandmother and fellow orphaned cousin, Tigris (yes, that very same Tigris from Mockingjay that Katniss and her squad hid with while in the Capitol. This connection is one of the most interesting in the book, because here, Tigris and Coriolanus are best friends as well as cousins, always looking out for one another and sharing a tight bond. The obvious deterioration of their relationship is never addressed in the book, and I desperately want to know what went sideways between them now.) Coriolanus is a student at the Academy, a high school, and is chosen as one of the 24 best and brightest Capitol students to mentor a tribute in the 10 Hunger Games.

One important thing to note and understand about this book is that the Hunger Games are very very different from where we join them 65 years later. The tributes are abused and starved. The arena is not high-tech or glamorous. The television viewership is low. Most people do not even watch the games at all. All of that changes after this book, I would presume.

Coriolanus, who is hated by the leader of the Academy, Dean Highbottom, is consequentially assigned to mentor District 12 female tribute, Lucy Gray Baird. Lucy Gray is the true protagonist of this novel, and a strange one at that. She is part of a 'Covey', a traveling musical family who got stuck in District 12. She is strange to Coriolanus and the other Capitol children. She is musical, cunning, and not to be underestimated.

One of my wishes for this book is that there would be a romance between Lucy Gray and Coriolanus. There was, and unfortunately, it did not live up to my expectations, which greatly added to my minor issues with this book. Collins greatly crafted a love triangle in the original Hunger Games trilogy, and I was so excited for more of that great romance that made you root for two people to end up together. The romance between Coriolanus and Lucy Gray seemed disjointed, rushed, and absurd. It almost seemed like Coriolanus was using Lucy Gray, which of course is false since he had nothing to gain from loving a poor girl from District 12.

Coriolanus prepares Lucy Gray for the arena while some Hunger Games traditions are introduced-- the betting, mutts and TV host and interviews are all started in this book. The Head Gamemaker at the time is Dr. Gaul, a psychotic and mutation-obsessed woman who takes interest in Coriolanus. Readers should expect to be creeped out and disturbed by Dr. Gaul throughout the novel.

Drama unfolds before the Games even begin, and there are many, many characters and side plots introduced and finished before the Hunger Games even begin. The actual part of the Hunger Games was my favorite part of the novel. Collins truly is a master of writing stories set in the arenas. I will not spoil who wins the 10th Hunger Games, but expect to be surprised by the turn of events right after the Games conclude.

My only other problem with this book is it actually felt like three books instead of one. Like the rest of the series, it is divided into three sections, and each felt like it's own standalone story. The third section Iread very fast. The first was very slow. And the middle was the best, with the arena and Hunger Games.

One of the things about this book that I enjoyed tremendously is that it does not paint Coriolanus as a hero, even back then. He is still cunning and a little evil, especially at the surprising ending. Coriolanus is never written as a good person. Instead, the good people around him are at his disposal.

Another thing to note is the literalness of the title. There are all three-ballads, songbirds, and snakes, in this novel. It is in no way symbolic or metaphorical. There is a lot of music, for Lucy Gray, and to add a lighter tone. I liked the inclusion of all the music, though it was a little strange to have so many songs included in full, with all their lyrics and everything. There are several songs from the original trilogy in this book, The Hanging Tree among them, and I enjoyed the inclusion of those.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes does not feel like a Hunger Games novel. It feels like a companion to Collins' original trilogy, but not directly connected to that world. That being said, it is a very compelling and originally imaginative story, that only suffered from a few disjointed elements. This prequel does not quite live up to the original beloved stories of The Hunger Games, but comes very close and presents a new take on Suzanne Collins' world of Panem.

Reviewer's Name: Allie S.
Book Cover
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is fantastic! The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes adds a whole new level of depth to the Hunger Games Series main antagonist, Coriolanus Snow, and to Suzanne Collins' dystopian world. This novel shows the journey of Coriolanus Snow from an eighteen year old boy trying to find his place in the world to the ruthless president in the Hunger Games Trilogy. I could not put this book down. It is the perfect addition to a fantastic series. I highly recommend this novel for any teenaged reader or fan of the Hunger Games Series.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Book Cover
Emmich, Val
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is the book that inspired the musical Dear Evan Hansen. In the book there is a tragedy. It is written in two point of views. The situation benefits one person but not the other. There are many lies as well. The book ends in a happy sad state, but overall it is a good book.

Reviewer's Name: Jamie
The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes is the story of Coriolanus Snow and how he becomes who he is in the Hunger Games Trilogy. It is the tenth hunger games and Coriolanus has been given the job as mentoring the girl tribute from district 12. The other mentors are Coriolanus's classmates and they all have the chance to win a spot at the university, something that Snow has wanted for years. This book follows Coriolanus through the games and after where the reader gets to see why and how Coriolanus Snow becomes the president that we all love to hate. I thought this book was fantastic. Collins does a great job connecting this book to the trilogy, which is why I suggest rereading the other books before you start this one because there is little things that could go unnoticed if it has been awhile. It gave a new perspective on the games than the trilogy so it does not feel repetitive and like a rip off version of the first book. If you have read or are about to read the Hunger Games I definitely would give this a try as well.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Genres:
The Book of Polly
Hepinstall, Kathy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Polly is a southern mother who doesn't put up with anybody. She is a confident individual who knows everything there is to know about gardening. The life she knew soon changed when her husband (Captain) dies, and she is left with an unexpected baby. Willow was born when Polly was in her late fifties, and death has always been a constant fear. Besides the fear of her mother's passing, there's only one other thing that pesters Willow.....secrets. Polly's past is a closed book, even a slight mention of the topic is forbidden. As the novel continues, Willow races against time to both save her mother and learn about the wounds from the past. The Book of Polly is filled with twists and turns, with times of tears and roars of laughter. Every page is filled with surprises. From aggravating neighbors to the love-hate relationship with squirrels, the book truly emphasizes the bond between mothers and daughters. I highly recommend this book! I have read it twice, and it truly is incredible.

Reviewer's Name: Isabella
Genres:

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