Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Adventure

Black Water
McHale, D.J.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Black Water is the fifth book in the series Pendragon by D. J. MacHale. The story is engaging and tells of the protagonist's, Bobby Pendragon, endeavor to save a world by the name of Eelong. Saint Dane, the antagonist, allows the cat inhabitants of Eelong to spread mysterious plague, which could destroy their own civilization. The book excels at depicting the universe of Halla and creating a society that could function in today's world. The characters and their self-doubts are communicated to the reader in depth, and the book continues to expand the universe of the series. It also seems to show the problems with racism and oligarchy through the book's deeper meaning. The only problem that I have with the book is that it doesn't include or really expand upon the side characters much. I saw ample opportunity for the author to do this, and the book felt somewhat blank without it. I would recommend this book to people who like science fiction or adventure, as the book is filled with many of those elements.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Ender's Game
Card, Orson Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ender's Game is an enthralling and thrilling sci-fi following a young boy as he is prepped to save the world. Ender departs for battle school at the ripe age of 6, where he is thrust into a world were children go head to head in a competition to be the best, fight in an all out war, and earn all the glory.
Although young and inexperienced, Ender is the best. But things seem to be stacked against him....
Orson Scott Card writes with incredible dexterity and Ender's Game pulls you into a new world.
(Reviewer Grade: 12)

Reviewer's Name: Lynzie M.
A Dance with Dragons
Martin, George R.R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Not only has the release of George R.R. Martin's "Song of Ice and Fire" book trilogy garnered international acclaim, but it has also brought together a diverse community of fans, all of whom share an appreciation for the masterpiece they see in Martin's work. From novel to novel, Martin has continued to enthrall his fans with plots upon counter-plots, timeless lore, and brutally realistic characterization. Suffice it to say, fans were displeased when the six-year waiting period struck between the third and fourth installment. Now, with "A Dance with Dragons" well past its release, fans beg the question, "How does the fourth novel stack up to its prequel 'A Feast for Crows' and the other books?" To answer that question, I would say A Dance with Dragons has trumped the three previous novels, and exceeds the quality of Martin's previous work.

In A Feast for Crows, the plot left out the happenings of Tyrion, Jon, and Daenerys. Luckily, however, this new novel pays most of its 1000+ pages to these plotlines. With the war over, attempts for peace in King's Landing are made, but as Tyrion reaps havoc in the capitol, he flees across the Narrow Sea to meet with the rumored "Daenerys Targaryen".

She has done quite well for herself, having managed to take power, wealth, and respect form the former masters of Slaver's Bay. Though as old conflicts are settled, new ones arise, and Daenerys soon finds that governing over a foreign city is a challenge.

Up in the North, the 998th lord commander of the Night's Watch, Jon Snow, faces distrust among his brothers. Yet in spite of their squabbling, a bigger threat looms across the Wall, with the Others inching closer to the Seven Kingdoms.

In addition to these major plotlines, there are of course reappearances from a range of other characters. Their plots are befit to twists, turns, and outright bewilderment, able to surprise even some of the most observant readers.

I read this book immediately after finishing the last, and can say that I am pleasantly surprised with it. The plotlines continue to complicate, and intrigue readers ever-further in this timeless trilogy.

One complaint I would file with this novel is that due to Martin's fragmented writing style, for which certain books focus primarily on particular plotlines, I felt that some information was hard to remember or keep track of. I would definitely recommend brushing up on a summary of "A Storm of Swords" beforehand, as a way to refresh yourself on those details.

If you decide to not continue with the trilogy, my recommendation has to go to J.R.R Tolkien's "Lord of the Rings" trilogy. While it's true that the novels are highly similar, Tolkien's work makes up for some of the imperfections in Martin's.

Overall, from my opinion, A Dance with Dragons is certainly an improvement on the last installment in the trilogy, and stands to be one of the better "Song of Ice and Fire" novels. If you are this far into the series already, I would have to say that it's worth continuing. The timeless and rich storytelling found in Martin's novels makes for a read that simply cannot be passed up!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
The Hobbit, or, There and Back Again
Tolkien, J. R. R.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Originally written for his children, J.R.R. Tolkien's fantasy novel “The Hobbit” is hailed among book critics as a remarkable, introductory-level fantasy novel. It manages to engage readers with an epic and timeless plot, while also avoiding the use of profane language and violent scenes.

The tale is set in Middle Earth, home to a number of human-like species including the Hobbits, Dwarves, and Elves. Over the course of the novel, Tolkien provides a rich background of the history of these three species.
Namely, the majority of backstory is setup around the dwarves- who originally inhabited the “Lonely Mountain” and made their fortune off of mining gold. Their empire prospered until at last, a greedy, gold-seeking dragon named “Smog” wreaked havoc to their way of life.

Enter Bilbo Baggings, a middle-aged Hobbit settling down in the Shire. After he hosts a seemingly ordinary dinner party, his life is turned inside out, and the inner spirit of adventure is awakened with him. He joins in a quest to reclaim the dwarf home, and takes part in a number of adventures along the way.

I originally read this book after finishing the “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. While it’s true that this novel is aimed at a younger demographic, it is certainly still an engaging read for older teens and adults. J.R.R. Tolkien embeds a number of rich storytelling devices into his writing, and it makes the read an absolute pleasure!

If you decide not to try this novel, I would suggest reading “A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin. It is certainly not as child-friendly, and has some pretty gruesome scenes, but Martin’s writing makes up for many of the imperfections of Tolkien’s work. Overall, The Hobbit is most aptly suited for readers aged 8-12, and serves as a great introductory novel to fantasy literature. For older readers, I might suggest a different read, but all the same, and in spite of your age demographic, The Hobbit is truly a timeless masterpiece of literature and is worth giving a try!

Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
a man on a horse reaches out over the words 'the books of umber'. Underneath is a close up of a face.
Catanese, P.W.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Happenstance doesn't know who he is or where he's from. When he's found in a cave by a team of explorers, he's whisked away into a world of magic and mystery, where he must come to terms with his elusive past and a strange new enemy. I couldn't put this book down. It was fun, adventurous, and surprising, with interesting characters and an engaging plot. I'd highly recommend to those who love fantasy and adventure stories.
Reviewer Grade 9

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
silhouette of two figures against a sunset
Lee, Stacey
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I really enjoyed this book because it was such an adventurous and suspenseful story: just my type. The main character in this story goes through so much I know I could never endure myself, but she kept pushing through it all and made it out all right. There were so many surprising things in this amazing book that happened that I never would have guessed.

Under A Painted Sky was probably the best book I've read this year. Like all books, it had a little blunder here and there, but overall I absolutely loved it.

Reviewer's Name: Adelaide R.
Awards:
A Dangerous Path
Hunter, Erin
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I have always been a Warriors fan, but I found that the fifth book of the Original Series really spoke to me. The protagonist, Fireheart, struggles with the knowledge about the evil leader Tigerstar, but he prevails. I would definitely recommend this book, but it is violent at parts. I probably wouldn't let anyone under the age of 10 or 11 read this, but other than that it's an amazing book full of action and adventure, following cats.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn U.
the Count of Monte Cristo
Dumas, Alexander
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Count of Monte Cristo" by Alexandre Dumas is a fantastic whirl-wind of unforgettable characters and interweaving story-lines that left me awestruck and yearning for an even deeper glimpse into this world of treachery, romance, adventure, and mystery. This book is as deceivingly witty as it is over-flowing charisma and has nestled its way to a special place in my heart as one of my favorite novels of all time.

The novel starts out with a scenic over-look of an Italian waterway in Marseilles as it carries along a lofty ship named Pharaon with one passenger in particular who is unlike any other named Edmond Dantès. A dashing young and honest man dawning with potential who has just returned with news that will change the course of his life, and the lives of many others, forever. He is falsely accused of traitorous activity and is sentenced to life on a prison located on an island off the coasts of Marseilles forcing him to leave behind his family, his friends, and the love of his life Mercédès. This marvelous tale unfolds within the walls of this prison and among its outer-walls as Dantès attempts to make a dashing escape with a kind mannered preacher. But, this is only the beginning of his tale. As the life of Dantès unfolds, so does the life of the many others who have been lucky enough to fall into his life.

This novel is truly unforgettable as it follows not only the life of Edmond Dantès, but also the lives of his lover, best friend, family, and even his partners from his shipping company. Filled to the brim with treacherous plots, revenge, heartache, mystery, and pirating; it also contains young love, faith that knows no bounds, and families filled with the knowledge that blood truly is thicker than water.

I would recommend this book to anyone looking to fall in love with not only a menagerie of unforgettable characters, but to a reader who is looking to fall head-first into a world that they will find themselves cherishing forever.

Many blessings and happy reading : ),

Reviewer Grade Level 11.

Reviewer's Name: Haley J.
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ever since the release of Suzanne Collin's dystopian novel "The Hunger Games", her work has garnered international acclaim from some of the world's most reputable critics. Adopted into a series of wildly popular films and having been printed more than 23 million times, the staggering success of her novel begs the question, "Does The Hunger Games truly live up to its notoriety?" Well in fact, after having read it multiple times, I can personally say that it far exceeded my expectations.

After the ruin of North America and the collapse of democracy, an authoritarian government arises. In order to maintain oversight of its people, the capitol divides its dominions into twelve districts, each specializing in a different pursuit. Every year, the capitol hosts "The Hunger Games", in which a boy and girl from each district are randomly pooled into a survival competition. Participants must fight to the death in a futuristic arena, all the while being broadcasted live on TV.

Enter Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old teenager from the impoverish District 12. In an effort to protect her sister, she volunteers as a tribute to the game, but as she heads to the capital, she realizes that her life will never be the same. Through the course of the story, Katniss struggles to balance her conflicting emotions, and comes to understand the harsh reality of life in Panem.

As Katniss makes these revelations, the reader has the chance to pick up on a number of powerful themes, examples of which include the dangers of reality shows, the ever-growing obsession with fashion trends, and the consequences of desensitization to violence. Not only is this novel an action-packed and engaging read, but it also leads readers to share meaningful conversations about changing ideologies in the 21st century.

I picked up this read after watching the book-inspired film, and have been pleasantly surprised with it. While the movie makes fair and accurate adaptions to the story, it misses out on many of the themes presented in the books. For this reason, I would certainty recommend continuing on to read the novel after watching the movie, as there is plenty of unique content from the book. If you have not watched the movie, I would advise even stronger to pick up this read. For the reasons previously mentioned and more, I honestly am so glad to have read this book.

One complaint I might bring up is that while a large majority of book readers are young, the novel has some extremely gruesome scenes. If you are to read this book, be forewarned of violence. Furthermore, I found some passages difficult to read, due to the choppy-sentence structure used by Collins. This may just be a personal preference, but I felt that it was of detriment to the story.

Overall, "The Hunger Games" will certainty appeal to teens 13 and up and leave readers with discussion points about government, free-speech, sacrifice, moral desensitization, and other thought-provoking themes. It mixes an enthralling plot with rich and powerful messages- a formula bound for literary success.

Reviewer Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M.
A Game of Thrones
Martin, George R.R.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

“A Game of Thrones” by George R.R. Martin tells the tale of various clashing households and their quest to conquer control over the seven kingdoms. Set in a distant, but vaguely familiar medieval-Europe, the story bears parallels to England’s “War of the Roses,” while also introducing its share of unique fantasy elements. As the reader progresses through the book, they follow the politics of the Iron Throne- a metaphor representing the complete and utter control a King possesses in a feudal government system. Furthermore, the reader tracks 8 character perspectives, which are alternated through passing chapters.

As the King rides north to Winterfell to meet with his trusted vassal, and friend, Eddard "Ned" Stark, he strikes up an agreement to anoint Eddard as the hand of the king. Reluctant, Ned follows the King back to the South, but as the plot continues to unfold, Eddard learns of a secret unbeknownst to the King and some of his most trusted advisers. With the death of the King and the ruin of Eddard’s house, war rages in Westeros- as several characters attempt to strike their claims on the Iron Throne.

I initially picked this book up after finishing J.R.R Tolkien’s, “Lord of the Rings” series and have been pleasantly surprised with it. Many fantasy readers have speculated that the literary masterpiece of Tolkien’s novels could not be out done, but I am now inclined to disagree. I thought the book was well-crafted and engaging as an intermediate to advanced reader. However, I would file the complaint that the book moves a bit slow for my taste. Some may lose interest in its plot, especially considering the sheer volume of the book series. The old-language also adds to this effect, as it may cause some readers to struggle following along.

Overall, I would say that this book is certainly worth a try for someone who enjoys medieval-fantasy novels. Admittedly, it will take a while to read and is certainly no small undertaking, but by sticking with it, I found myself enjoying every page more than the last!

Grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Ethan M
Awards:
Kingdom Keepers Power Play
Pearson, Ridley
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I recently read Kingdom Keepers: Power Play by Ridley Pearson. This book is the fourth in the series. Unfortunately, Power Play wasn't the best book in my opinion, because it is quite confusing and I feel only appeals to a certain reader.
Kingdom Keepers is a series about a group of teenagers who volunteered to be a part of a revolutionary invention.The Kingdom Keepers consist of five
members: Finn Whitman is the leader of the group, Philby is the brains, Charlene is the athlete, and Willa and Maybeck are the more normal kids. DHIs (daily holographic imaging) was invented by the imagineers to supposedly help guide guests around the parks, but the real purpose of this was the teenagers would actually have to take part in the battle against the Overtakers, a group of Disney villains, set to take over the park, and potentially the world. Power Play begins in Disney Quest, a kind of virtual theme park where the Kingdom Keepers went for a school fundraiser. When a ride the Keepers’
leader Finn goes on with his friend Amanda goes out of control, they find the Overtakers are behind it. Finn goes to the prison where the overtakers are held and tries to stop an Overtaker escape from happening.
I liked the fact this book takes place in the real world, but at the same time seems very futuristic and it's a good story about friendship and courage. Holograms at Disney World is a cool concept, but I think the author makes the story too complicated. There are multiple plots and twists going on at once, I sometimes forget things that happen. There are only 13 chapters in the 400 page book, sometimes up to 60 pages at a time, and most of what's happening in the chapter is completely unnecessary. These unnecessary parts make no difference to the story, other than the fact it leads the characters to the right place at the right time in an interesting way. Also, he uses very unspecific wording when it comes to talking about the characters in the group and you don't always know who he's talking about.
I wouldn't recommend this book, because of how confusing it is.
Unless you are a hardcore Disney fan, in that case you might want to give it a try. There are other books in the series and I think the first three tend to be a better read, it's more fun and the author doesn't get carried away with the story. The first book is the best in my opinion. So, if this type of book appeals to you, then I would definitely give it a try, but if you’re looking for a good or quick read, I wouldn't recommend.
To sum up, Kingdom Keepers: Power Play, the story of friendship and courage, is not the best read for the general audience. If you are sure you want to read I would definitely recommend the first couple books. The first stories tend to be better and less confusing. I am glad I read some of this series, to check it off my list of books to read, but I don’t think I would read this book again.

Reviewer's Name: Mason H.
Wild Born
Mull, Brandon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I liked this book because it featured a world when instead of a
phone or something like that when you turn 12, no you get the chance to call on a spirit animal. I liked how Brandon Mull(the author) described the journey throughout this story as if it where a history book of some awesome new world that you are discovering with the characters. While I read this I felt as though the characters and scenery where right in my backyard.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Jacob M.
I Have A Bad Feeling About This
Strand, Jeff
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In I Have A Bad Feeling About This by Jeff Strand, Henry, a 17 year old boy, is sent to a survival camp by his parents because they think he's a wuss, and to be honest he is kinda wussy. But this camp is not what it seems. I really like how embarrassing Henry was, I could definitely relate. I didn't like that the book was dragged on, it took a few chapters to get to the really good action. I picked this book because it's title was intriguing to me and made me want to find out what happened. This book was extremely surprising and made me have to do a double take. I could relate to all the wimpy kids who were sent to the survival camp because let's be honest I can't throw a ball five feet. This was not the best book I have read this year but if someone asked for a good book recommendation I would totally recommend this.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
The Thief Lord
Funke, Cornelia
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

In Cornelia Funke's "The Thief Lord", the most famous thief in all of Venice is a young boy who goes by the name of The Thief Lord. He has recruited a large band of misfits to aid him in these crimes -- including runaway orphan brothers Prosper and Bo, who are being pursued by a detective hired by their aunt and uncle. The story had a great pace and was fun and engaging. The setting was described vividly and could be considered a character of its own.
The only flaw I saw was in the ending, which seemed out of place and didn't flow right with the rest of the story. But, the book was still great. I'd highly recommend it to readers of all ages.
Review Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Hatchet
Paulsen, Gary
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was very fun to read, it left you on the edge of your seat. It is a fairly short book. The story line has a fast pace. I would recommend this book to a more advanced reader. It is a riveting survival story centered in the Canadian wilderness.This book is now one of my favorites.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Stormbreaker
Horowitz, Anthony
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was suspenseful and amazing, it had several unexpected twists like when the main character finds out about his uncle’s job. This book is about a teenager whose uncle died unexpectedly. This book is a must read but it is a longer series. I recommend this book for a more experienced reader. Those readers will find it action packed and reading it is a worthy use of their time.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Thomas C.
Story Thieves
Riley, James
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Owen, a young book-nerd, desperately wishes he could live inside his favorite series. Bethany, a half-fictional girl, is desperately searching for her missing father within fictional worlds, hopping from story to story. One day, Owen discovers Bethany's secret. He makes a deal - he helps her find her father, she allows him to enter his favorite book. But, as they discover, the worlds of fiction are much more dangerous than they appear on the page...
This book was so much fun! I loved every minute of it! Owen and Bethany are great characters that you root for. I also loved the various references to popular books, such as Harry Potter, Peter Pan, and Percy Jackson. If you enjoy fun and geeky adventure stories, this one is DEFINITELY for you!
Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Throne of Glass
Maas, Sarah
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Celaena Sardothien was the most feared assassin in the country. She killed without mercy or remorse. When she was captured, she was sent to the salt mines of Endovier, a labor camp that few survived longer than a week.
Now, a year later, the crown prince needs a champion to participate in a competition. The winner will, after four years of service, be awarded their freedom. At first, all Celaena wants is to win, but as she begins to care again, she discovers that winning isn't the most important thing, and her competition may not be her most dangerous advisory. This book has amazing characters, and a plot that is sure to keep you reading. Like any epic fantasy, this book has a fair amount of backstory. That being said, this book is full of action, and a great read. I strongly recommend this to anyone that likes fantasy and doesn't mind a little romance.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Hailey K.
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Rowling, J.K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows by J.K Rowling was amazing. This is the book that concludes the whole series, making it a very sad book. In this book there are numerous deaths of characters you love, and it brings back old characters you may want to see again. The book gave closure for those who have read it. The book was well written, well planned out, and showed that not all bad guys are bad, and not all good guys are good.
Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.
Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
Rowling, J.K.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince by J.K Rowling was a fantastic book. If you have read all the books leading to this, it will be very enjoyable to read. It introduces us to more of Tom Riddle’s past. The book is the second to last, and is full of so much, you won’t want to not read it. The book is spectacular, and deserves a perfect 5/5 rating.
Reviewer Grade:7

Reviewer's Name: Emily T.

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