Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Adventure

This Tender Land
Krueger, William Kent
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Orphaned and alone, Odie and his brother, Albert are sent to Lincoln Indian Training School where they spend the next four years of their lives. However, the superintendent is cruel and abusive, and after committing a grave crime, Odie is forced to run away. Together with his brother, Mose his friend, and Emmy, an orphaned girl, Odie and his newfound family take a canoe down the Minnesota River with plans to go to Saint Louis and settle down with their family. During their odyssey, the friends change in different ways as each of them grapples with their heart's truest desires.

This book is an allusion to a different popular story, and I loved the different references and allusions. The main characters are all children, but each of them brought me so much insight into the world and what it means to "find what's in your heart". The novel is also full of great surprises that kept me wanting to read even more! It's mostly an adventure novel, but there is some romance and elements of fantasy and magic, so there's a bit of everything for everyone. The ending was also beautiful, and although it was a bit sad, it was fitting.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Shadow and Bone
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Allie
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The young adult book genre for the most part fells boring and stale to me. However, there was one book that I found to be great, and a real page turner, it was called Maze Runner. The book took me two days to finish, because it was such a page turner. The characters are great, the mystery is intriguing, and the drama is fun to read about. This book is one of my favorites and is a must read for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Eragon
Paolini, Christopher
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Eragon is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story and its characters drew me into this new and existing world. The author also made me want to learn more about the world history and culture. While the story was somewhat like Star Wars, it had enough new elements to make it different. This book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves fantasy or for people looking for an adventurous book to read.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book has you reading it and asking, what the heck is going on? The more you read it, the more you find out and the more you want to find out. Brandon has built a fun, magical world with this book, and it is so easy to get lost in it. I read it and fell in love with the characters and all of the mystical beings. It's such a fun fantasy book, and the creatures range from cute, to beautiful, to scary, to downright murders and I love it. If you are looking for a good fantasy book definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 2
Gotoge, Koyoharu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

While the first volume of this wonderful series was a straightforward backstory, volume 2 presents a glimpse at what makes Demon Slayer so entertaining. The sub-plots start being developed with Tanjiro joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Much of the main cast is introduced, and the real thrill and dangers of the series are introduced. The atmosphere of the series comes out in full force during these chapters, and as just the second volume, many events are set up perfectly. Overall, I would recommend this graphic novel series to anyone continuing the series. If you are looking to get into this fantastic world, starting with the TV show or volume 1 is the way to go.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1
Gotoge, Koyoharu
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The first volume of Demon Slayer serves as a fantastic exposition to the main protagonist Kamado Tanjiro. It builds up his basic backstory and also sets the plot of the story. The art style and designs of the graphic novel are captivating and seeing some of the intricate foreshadowings during a reread is entertaining. As much as I love the series altogether, the introduction is rather basic and is not very innovative other than through its concept. Overall, I would recommend this volume to anyone looking for a new graphic novel or series to get invested in.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Six of Crows
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I absolutely loved this book. The plot was amazing, and the world building was really well done. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how dynamic the characters were. While I couldn't necessarily relate to any of the struggles the characters were going through, I really appreciated the diversity and uniqueness in each of them. This book was completely unpredictable with the plot constantly taking all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. Overall, Six of Crows was one of the best books I have read all year.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Sage
Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Book Review: Caraval
Garber, Stephanie
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Caraval was an exciting and very original take on Alice in Wonderland, and I loved it. From two strong female leads to a heart wrenching romance, Caraval has it all. This book is filled with all sorts of twists and turns, and was completely unpredictable. I loved the magical world that Caraval is set in, and was a huge fan of the mystery theme in the story. The character development was extremely good, and I loved the tone that the author wrote the story in. Caraval is definitely a book I would recommend to anyone looking for a bit of adventure.

Reviewer's Name: Nicholas
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
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
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
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
The Martian
Weir, Andy
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Martian, by Andy Weir, is a near-future realistic fiction novel. The base plot is Mark Watney, a botanist, is a part of the Ares 3 Mission, the NASA Mars Program. During an emergency take off, Mark is inadvertently left behind and assumed dead. However, this is not the case. Now Mark must find a way to survive alone on Mars, a planet trying to constantly kill him. Will he survive and make it back home? Read to find out. Even if you have seen the movie, read the book. The movie is very good at staying true to the book, but the book will still blow you away. *There is some adult language, so I would recommend this book for teens and adults.*

Reviewer's Name: Torin
White Fang
London, Jack
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

After reading “Call of the Wild” by Jack London, I wanted to read his other book about a dog, White Fang. While “Call of the Wild” will always be my favorite, the novel “White Fang” is still a really really good book! It’s about a wolf dog named White Fang. If you like books about animals, especially books written from the animals perspective, this is a really good classic. Overall I would highly recommend this book, but it does have some violence in it, so keep that in mind.

Reviewer's Name: Emani K.
The Wild Robot
Brown, Peter
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Wild Robot is about a robot who is stranded on an island after a hurricane wiped out the boat that was bringing 500 robots to work. At first, the robot is viewed as a monster and is avoided. As she continues to try and figure out how to survive on the island, the robot accidently squishes a family of geese, but one baby goose survives. Realizing that the robot squished the baby's family, she adopts the baby so that he can survive. Because she had no idea how to take care of a goose, she asks for help. All of the animals pitch in to help and throughout the journey, the animals realize that she is not a monster and the become friends.
I loved this book. It drew me in within the first 2 chapters. It did get a little boring in some parts, but other than that it was an awesome book. I would rate it about a 9/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Plague
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In the fourth book in the Gone series, Plague, Michael Grant spins an amazing tale of fear and danger as the Darkness once again threatens Perdido Beach and those still alive must do anything in their power to stop it. The horrors of Lies are gone but, the children’s newfound solidarity is challenged when they are threatened by a plague and carnivorous insects that challenge even the most powerful of the mutants. These blights leave no one unscathed and the reader is again immersed in a frightening and chaotic world where nothing is certain. Plague is guaranteed to satisfy science fiction readers and anyone who enjoyed the first three books is guaranteed to love this one.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Lies
Grant, Michael
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Lies, the third book in the Gone series by Michael Grant is another riveting story. Filled with mystery, intrigue, and Drake, the tentacle-wielding psychopath who is back for vengeance. The anti-mutant sentiment has grown, and full-scale violence is not far behind. Now only the wits of Sam, Astrid and their loyal friends can keep the children in the FAYZ alive and unharmed. But this will be no easy feat, lies spread by those who claim to be prophets have filled the ears of many and the zealots are capable of anything and they threat they pose is greater than all others. Lies is an amazing combination of the best parts of the first and second books in the series and puts a sense of dread in the reader as if they were living through the terror of the FAYZ. I would recommend it to anyone who enjoyed the first two books, this novel follows the same great storytelling style.

Reviewer's Name: Harrison

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