Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Mystery

Pretty Little Liars
Shepard, Sara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

While you have probably heard of the famous TV series, Pretty Little Liars, you may not have known that they were based off of an incredible book series by Sara Shepard. Four girls who used to be losers turn into the most popular girls at their school when a beautiful, sassy, bubbly girl named Alison leaves her best friends to start a new clique. Once, when the five girls were sleeping over together, Alison mysteriously vanished. An anonymous individual kept texting them threats, supposedly knowing all of their dirty secrets. The texts were all signed by A. The four girls immediately think that it's Ali who's texting them because she's the only one who knows their deep, dark secrets. When some landscapers discover Alison's body buried under a gazebo, Hanna, Emily, Aria, and Spencer become extremely nervous. Who is A? Who killed Alison? Is A going to tell everyone our dirty secrets? The Pretty Little Liars series is a carefully crafted mystery with lots of drama. Sara Shepard's characters are all very well-developed and have very different personalities. The books are very creative and I'd reccomend them to everyone who loves mysteries or drama. Grade 9

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth P
Awards:
Genres:
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Coral Queen, a very profitable casino boat, is dumping all of its sewage into the ocean. The only problem is that Dusty Muleman, the owner of the Coral Queen, is getting away with the illegal dumping since there is no evidence. Noah's Dad is concerned with the environment and always likes to do the right thing. However, he sometimes gets carried away. Therefore, Noah's Dad decides to sink the Coral Queen, but gets caught in the process and sent to jail. Now it is up to Noah to clear his dad's name and bust Dusty Muleman.
This book is hilarious and has a great moral. There are unexpected twists and turns throughout the entire book. I highly recommend this book to all middle and early high school aged readers.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
One Of Us Is Lying
McManus, Karen M.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is an exciting murder mystery book. I enjoyed all the difrent perspectives of the four main characters. All four of the main characters were flawed in some way, but still likable. The reader will enjoy the mystory until the very end when it is reveald. The author throws you in many directions and when you think you know who did it, new evidence will come up.
I took off one star simply because I thought the ending was a little predictable. Overall I enjoyed this book and I recommend it.

Reviewer's Name: Amelia W.
Jackaby
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The year is 1892. Abigail Rook has just arrived in New Fiddleham, England, in search of work when she meets the strange young detective R. F. Jackaby. After a series of unusual murders strike the town, Abigail and Jackaby work to crack the case and catch the killer. "Jackaby" is a fun, engrossing read that I couldn't put down. Every twist and turn left me dying to know more. The plot, characters, and setting were very interesting and excellently crafted. That said, I will admit that the end was a little predictable. I figured out who was the killer about half-way in, but the details surrounding the truth were unexpected enough for me to forgive that. If you are a fan of "Sherlock" and/or "Supernatural", this book is for you.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Spy School
Gibbs, Stuart
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Spy School, by Stuart Gibbs, is a really good, light, and easy read. The book's main attraction is its plot twists. The unknown double agent, hidden 'spy' school, and secret organization all combine to make a great action-packed, half-romance novel. The ending also gets the reader hyped up for the next book in the series. Stuart Gibbs uses great foreshadowing throughout the book, and hints at every little detail in the plot. Although the plot is sort-of cliche and some characters are kind-of bland, the book sums up to be a highly entertaining read. I would recommend this book to anyone willing to put in the little time it takes to read it.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Genres:
Took: A Ghost Story
Hahn, May Downing
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Took: a ghost story is about a family the moves to a not well known tiny town. The town has a person named Old auntie and her hog named Bloody Bones. They have been haunting the town for over 150 years. It is up to the 13 year old, Daniel, to stand up to the witch and make her stop. I liked the book because there was a good mystery factor. Overall, I would recommend this book to kids who like mystery novels.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
Shift
Bradbury, Jennifer
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Shift is a story about two boys that go cross country on their bikes and learn something not only about the other person but about themselves. The novel does a good job explaining what it’s like to lose friends and how to cope with it. I really liked this book because I was able to know what was going on and relate to some of the characters. Jennifer Bradbury did an outstanding job with the suspense factor of the story. Overall, I would recommend this story to a teenager who likes mystery stories.

Reviewer's Name: Kate B.
Awards:
Genres:
'Book Review: The Snowman'
Nesbo, Jo
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Have you ever heard of Leatherface? Hannibal Lecter? Freddy Krueger? Good. Because if you like those kinds of killers and movies, then you will absolutely love this novel, The Snowman. The book follows the path of a detective with a dark past who is forced to hunt down one of the most deadly and disturbing killers he has ever faced, as he simultaneously struggles with the battle within himself. Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would recommend this novel to people who enjoy thrillers, horror novels, or anyone who enjoys getting a little disturbed sometimes.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C.
Awards:
Paper Towns
Green, John
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The novel “Paper Towns” by John Green is an amazing journey that takes a boy named Quentin to places he never thought he’d be. It starts off with a girl named Margo sneaking into his room to then convince him to sneak out with her. They have an amazing night full of adrenaline. Margo made Quentin step out of his comfort zone and see a whole new world. But the next morning when Quentin wakes up, Margo is gone. She goes missing for weeks, and no one knows why. Quentin then starts finding clues left by Margo which starts his adventure to find the mysterious Margo. I enjoyed this book because something interesting happened every chapter and I couldn’t put the book down. This book is also about people in high school, so I can relate to it. This book is a drama/mystery novel which makes it very intriguing. This book was not very predictable, it tends to leave you in edge. I’d recommend it to someone who like to read high school stories. I also watched the movie before reading this and still loved the book!
Reviewer grade 10

Reviewer's Name: Reaghan D.
Thr3e
Dekker, Ted
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Thr3e by Ted Dekker (great title after reading the book) is one of the greatest murder mystery novels out there. The book begins with the main protagonist, or so it seems, Kevin Parson. He receives a phone call from a psychopath in Killer named Slater saying that he has three minutes to confess his sin to the world or else his car will blow up. This is just one of the many events that take Kevin, Samantha, his greatest friend, and Jennifer, an FBI agent, through a world of mystery and motives. The twists and turns are the main attraction of this novel, as the reader won't expect what comes next. Character backstories also play a gigantic role in this novel, and all of them are well crafted to fit the plot. Anyways, I would recommend it to anyone willing to take the time to read a book.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:
I Hunt Killers
Lyga, Barry
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Jasper "Jazz" Dent is the son of the world's most notorious serial killer. After his father was captured, Jazz has just been trying to live like a usual 17 year old. But when a new killer appears who seems to be trying to mimic his father, Jazz knows that it's only a matter of time before people start to believe he's the new killer. So he decides to join the police in tracking down the murderer, not only to convince the town he isn't like his father, but himself. I Hunt Killers has a good mystery, with plenty of twists, and is difficult to predict. However, it isn't the mystery that makes the story addicting; it's Jazz. While some of the minor characters suffer from a lack of proper development, Jazz's interesting (and disturbed) mind makes this book difficult to put down. He is a morally gray character, incredibly messed up, but sympathetic. His fears of being a sociopath are not without reason. In the hands of a different writer, his struggles could be seen as heavy handed or melodramatic. But here, he is written as completely believable. The mystery is a good one, but it's the protagonist (the likes of which you rarely see in a young adult story) that makes this book really good.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
Ghostly Echoes
Ritter, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ghostly Echoes is the third book in the Jackaby series. It covers the death of the resident ghost of 926 Augur Lane, Jenny Cavanaugh. She was murdered ten years ago, and her fiancé (a scientist involved with some suspicious
people) disappeared. She has hired Abigail and Jackaby to investigate her death. But when a similar crime happens, they realize Jenny's case is connected.
Because of the fact that this not only deals with the murder of a liked character, but also includes peeks into Jackaby's past and how he became the seer, this is the darkest book in the Jackaby series. But it also has plenty of humor, mainly in the bantor between Jackaby and Abigail. They feel like The Doctor and their companion from Doctor Who, if they had to take up the role of Holmes and Watson for a day. This also tackles a whole new part of the world building. This always had folklore involved, but now it includes mythology.
As good as this was, there were some problems. I feel like this book series needs more details; I can't see the character's faces all that well. Also, it is implied that Jackaby has feelings for Jenny, which I think needed much more foreshadowing. I only got close friend vibes from them in the first two books. And the side characters still needed some development; they were important parts in the book, but they didn't make much of an impact on me.
Overall, I think this was the best book in the series thus far, and sets up the events for the fourth (and final) book well.

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
Flush
Hiaasen, Carl
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Flush, written by Carl Hiaasen was about a boy, named Noah. Noah has a father who is in jail for sinking a boat called the Coral Queen. His father has been put in jail before, and never regrets what he has done because he believes that he is responsible for his actions, and it is worth it for what he has done. Noah is used to his father doing crazy stuff like this, because when Noah's father sees something that upsets him, he will do whatever he can to stop it, especially with people hurting and damaging wildlife. The reason he got recently put in jail is because he claimed that he saw the boat putting all of their sewage into the ocean water. Even though his dad does lots of crazy and unpredictable things, Noah thinks his dad would never lie to him about what he saw. He starts to investigate and tries to prove that the Coral Queen did in fact put sewage into the ocean. This book did surprise me in some ways, and the book got more and more interesting as it went on.

Reviewer grade:

Reviewer's Name: Riley C.
The Girl on the Train
Hawkins, Paula
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I haven't always been a big fan of mystery, but this book changed that. The Girl on the Train is about a woman with some difficult events in her past who becomes a crucial part in solving a missing person case. This book resembles a psychological thriller, which keeps the level of suspense high. It shows multiple people's perspectives, which makes following the mystery so much more intriguing. I absolutely recommend this book, whether you like mystery or not. Chances are you won't be able to put it down.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
One of Us is Lying
McManus, Karen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One of Us is Lying is like The Breakfast Club, as it it involves a bunch of "teen movie stereotypes", during an interesting detention. These include Bronwyn, the "brain", Nate, the "criminal", Addy, the "beauty", Cooper, the "athlete", and Simon, the "outcast". However, the similarities end there, as one of them, Simon, dies from a suspicious allergy attack during the detention. Simon was the creator of the gossip app known as "About That," which shared other students' secrets and gossip. He had been planning to post about the other four before his death, making them all suspects in his murder. Or is it all a frameup? The reader has to decide whether one of the incredibly likable four leads is a lying murderer, or if they're all victims.

This book was very addictive. McManus' writing was detailed, and she was able to distinguish the four's voices as their own. No one sounded or felt the same, and each of their narratives were equally enthralling. Each lead character is a deconstruction of the stereotype they're based off of, and in a way, this is a deconstruction of the mystery genre in general; unlike most, it's more character driven than plot driven.

My main complaint is that some of these students seem overly capable in a way. Not just the four, but the supporting character's talents are beyond most high schoolers. It may have made more sense if the setting was in college. However, this is something I see a lot of in YA fiction today, so it doesn't overly bother me, and it didn't lessen my enjoyment of the book.

I recommend this if you like mysteries and character driven stories where every character, both leading and supporting, are developed, fleshed out characters.

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Kate D.
NERVE
Ryan, Jeanne
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Nerve is about a coward named Vee who decides to try this game online called NERVE. In this mysterious game, you can either be a player or a watcher.

Watchers must pay money to watch, and players get paid to do dares. Vee thinks this is a stupid idea, but then begins to wonder if it actually a fun thing to do. She decides to try it out. One challenge leads to another, and the dares begin to become deadly. Should Vee risk her life for a good prize, or will she lose NERVE?

This is a great book for anyone obsessed with online games, or thrills in general. I definitely recommend this book for any thrill seekers.

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Written on my Heart
Rogers, Morgan Callan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Written on My Heart tells a tale of young Florine Gilham and Bud Warner, a couple soon to be married. As the wedding approaches, Florine's memory is drawn back to her mother. She disappeared when Florine was only twelve years old. Florine and Bud face the challenge of trying to solve the mystery of her vanishing mother all while raising a family. It comes to a path that shows them the power of families, not only the one's you are born into, but the one's that are because of friendship.
Overall, this fiction was fun to read, but does get a little bit boring in the beginning. It does speed up, and the author's impressive writing creates the whole scene for the book.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kristin V.
Genres:
L.A. Mental
McMahon, Neil
2 stars = Meh
Review:

In L.A. Mental, after a freak incident with his brother Nick, Tom Crandall investigates his bizarre breakdown and discovers something gigantic.
He may be in over his head. I really liked the mystery that kept me intrigued throughout the novel. I didn't like how confusing it was, although every few chapters the book explains what is going on and helps you understand. I pick this book because I wanted something to keep me on the end of my chair, and while I was mildly interested this wasn't a book I just could not put down.
Mostly this book was completely predictable but it did throw in a few surprising twist and turns. I could partly relate to Tom because i don't have the best relationship with my siblings just like him. This book was an okay book definitely not my favorite but I would recommend.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.
Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
Weingarten, Lynn
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls by Lynn Weingarton, June, a high school junior, investigates the mysterious "suicide" of her ex-best friend, Delia.
Throughout the book she discovers new mysteries and experiences betrayal and numbness. Her character develops quickly to adapt to what events occur. I liked how the book connects with June's feelings about the events, and describes them in detail, like any good book should. I did not like how the author only included two point of views, I would like to read what the other characters thought about and how they reacted in their thoughts. I pick this book because I wanted a mystery novel and the title as well as the cover piqued my interest immediately. Suicide note from beautiful girls had surprising moments, that made me think 'wow, I can't believe that just happened' but it had moments where I could predict what was going to happen.
I could semi relate to June, she as well as I have lost a best friend. I would say this isn't the best book I've read this year, but it is up there with a good story plot.

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.

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