Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Reluctant Readers

Book Cover
Rowling, J. K.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

For people who want to enjoy an intriguing, fast paced novel, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the perfect book to read. It keeps you involved throughout the book as most chapters have cliffhangers at the end. This novel is the first of the seven famous Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling.

The book is about 11 year old Harry Potter, who receives a letter saying that he is invited to attend Hogwarts, school of witchcraft and wizardry. He then learns that a powerful wizard and his minions are after the sorcerer’s stone that will make this evil wizard immortal and undefeatable. Harry decides to go after the sorcerer’s stone before the wizard reaches it, but his loyal friends, Hermione and Ron don’t let Harry face this danger alone.

This book is full of fantasies and imagination like at one point, Harry Potter is asked to catch a flying golden ball while flying on his broomstick. Eventually Harry Potter stands on his broomstick and tries to reach for the ball, but he falls off the broomstick in a very tense moment. He unexpectedly throws up the golden ball winning the game for his team.

Harry Potter and a sorcerer stone is a good book to spark joy and imagination for anyone, regardless of age. But I would say it is most enjoyable for elementary school students, who can very well relate to the fantasy world. So I would say that it is a must read for younger audiences, but it’s a good read in general.

Reviewer's Name: Gurman G.
Book Cover
Grabenstein, Chris
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Twelve year old Kyle Keeley loves games, and his favorites are created by Mr. Lemoncello, owner of the famous Imagination Factory. When Kyle finds out there will be a lock in at the brand new library, and Mr. Lemoncello is involved, he is determined to be there. The only thing standing in his way is an essay contest. All he has to do is write a prizewinning essay. No problem - or is it? Because the essay is due this very morning, and he hasn't got one.

I loved this book because it was full of puzzles that the reader can solve along with the characters. The characters themselves were all likeable, and my favorite was Sierra. I love how she is always reading a book! I would definitely recommend this book for anyone who loves libraries, puzzles, or games. It was fantastic!

Reviewer's Name: Madeline A.
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.
Inside Out and Back Again
Lai, Thanhha
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
I Am Number Four
Lore, Pittacus
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

I am Number 4 is the first book in the lorien legacy series. The story takes place in Paradise Ohio following number 4 as he is on the run from a alien race. He is one of the survivors of the destruction of his home planet. I first found this book because my english teacher had recommended it to me. This book is only the first of many and all of the other books in this series were great. I would recommend this book for ages 12 and up.

Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Rob A.
Booked
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This poetic form of literature was but another outstanding work by the Newbery Medal award winner for his well known book: "The Crossover", Kwame Alexander. This book is a sensational work from what I think is one of the greatest masters of the art of literature. His book... uh... "Booked" is one of the greatest pieces of literature that I've read in my life as a teenager. This BOOK (get it?) has a great mix of drama, moral dilemma, and romance (well, more or less).

Reviewer's Name: Haegan
Rebound
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This follow up from Kwame Alexander's Newbery Award winning book, "Crossover" was a sensational masterpiece! This New York Times Bestseller has struck me with its drama, moral dilemma, and when the story got all casually on me, it "Rebounded" with sadness and passion.

Reviewer's Name: Haegan
The Crossover
Alexander, Kwame
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This phenomenon of a book has great detail and a mix of drama, sadness, and love. Kwame Alexander has really proven his expertise in his book "Crossover." This book is a great source of human literature for all ages. This book was "Cross" of drama, brotherly love, and loss. The recipe for a great book.

Reviewer's Name: Haegan
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In "The Hunger Games", sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her young sister's place in the cruel Hunger Games, an annual televised competition where children fight to the death until one remains. Although I'd watched all the movie adaptations before reading this book, I was still completely hooked. Everything about this book is absolutely fantastic -- the characters, the plot, the writing. The characters are complex and complicated, blurring the line between good and evil -- Katniss, in many ways, makes a phenomenal anti-hero. The plot moves quickly -- every chapter leaves on a cliffhanger, making it impossible to put the book down. The writing is succinct and gripping. The only criticism I could think of is that the beginning is a little slow, but it picks up very quickly from there. Everyone should read this book -- it's possibly one of the greatest books I've ever read. "The Hunger Games" is simply amazing.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
Wintergirls
Anderson, Laurie Halse
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

My friend recommended this book to me and I was a little weary after hearing her description. Once I actually managed to pick the book up and read it, I instantly fell in love with this book. The subject matter is super heavy as the main character, Lia, struggles with an eating disorder and self harm but this book still managed to have me laugh once or twice. The story follows Lia after she finds out the news that her former best friend had died from her own eating disorder. I think this book is truly an amazing read because not only is it a good source of entertainment, it manages to help people who haven't gone through what Lia has get a better understanding of eating disorders and self harm. The way that Lia's calorie intake is marked in the book and her hidden thoughts helped to make the book stand out and be unique from other novels I read. While I can fully admit this isn't a book that everyone can stomach, it's a book that managed to make its way to my top ten favorite books of all time. I'm glad my friend recommended it to me and I would gladly recommend it to someone else.
Reviewer Grade:12

Reviewer's Name: Brenna C.
Skink No Surrender
Hiaasen, Carl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Richard's cousin, Malley, has always been rebellious. However, this time Richard is really worried about her. Malley ran off with some guy that she met online and the cops can't find her. Richard knows that he can find her so he embarkes on an adventure along with Skink, a moderately sane one-eyed wandering vigilante. Skink No Surrender is awesome. Complete with daunting storms, poisonous snakes, giant gators, flying bullets, and a supposedly extinct woodpecker. Skink No Surrender is full of twists and turns that makes it impossible to put down. I read this book in under two days and I highly recommend it for any middle schooler or high schooler that is looking for a great adventure story.

Reviewer's Name: John B.
Code of Honor
Gratz, Alan
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Kamran and Darius Smith made a code of honor when they were kids; be
the bravest of, the brave strongest of the strong ,help the helpless, kill
all monsters. But when Darius graduates at west point, and then joins the
army, he is captured by the Al Qaeda and forced to make public broadcasts
about threats from the terrorist group. After that happened Kamran is taken
to a government facility and decides to prove that Darius is innocent. He
gets the help he needs from Ex-special forces officer Dane Redmond, Aaliya
sayid, Jimmy Doran ,and Mickey Hagan. Together they help Kamran rescue
Darius, but wait, one of someone might be a traitor to the team.

Reviewer's Name: Brendan M.
Awards:
The Hunger Games
Collins, Suzanne
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Hunger Games has a futuristic setting were there are 12 districts in Panem, the only civilization left in the world. The Hunger Games was a punishment for the districts who rebelled against the Capital, in the Hunger Games people 12-18 are chosen to fight to the death is a arena literally big enough for a whole natural habitat. Our main character Katniss Everdeen is a 16 year old girl who lives in district 12. Her sister was chosen to participate in the Hunger Games, but Katniss took her place as a tribute. How will she survive against other people chosen to partake in the Hunger Games, an a few mutants every hear and there.

Reviewer's Name: Brendan M.
Th1rteen R3asons Why
Asher, Jay
2 stars = Meh
Review:

I read this book because I had heard a lot about the show, but I wanted to read the book rather than watch it. I was a little disappointed. It was a quick read, but it seemed to lack strong characterization. I especially did not like the narrator, Clay Jensen, just because he does not have much depth of character. The writing style is intriguing and mysterious, but it did not make up for the two-dimensional characters. This book was not bad, and it presented many meaningful issues, but the way it was written made it drab and even repetitive. However, I would still recommend this book to those who are interested in the show.

Reviewer's Name: Sabrina J.
Divergent
Roth, Veronica
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Divergent is part of a 3-book series. It's about a 16 year old girl named Beatrice Prior who lives in a Dystopian society. There are five factions, Candor, Amity, Dauntless, Erudite, and Abnegation, each of which represent and practice one virtue that the government believes to be the causes of war when they are lacking. When each child in the society reaches the age of 16, they must choose one faction to dedicate their lives to. An aptitude test displays to them which faction they would most belong in, however, Beatrice comes out as Divergent, someone who contains the attributes of more than just one faction. Being Divergent is a threat toward the society and the government, and if they find out you're Divergent, you will be killed.

Divergent is a moving story based on the character Beatrice Prior who goes through a series of events that help her to determine who she is and where she belongs. We watch her struggle with insecurity and doubting herself, a common struggle throughout all teenagers, and we see her overcome them. She becomes confident in herself and her decisions, just like we must all learn to do.

This book is honestly one of my favorites. It's packed with action and suspense, while at the same time it inspires and teaches. It's unique and different from other action stories and definitely keeps the reader intrigued. However, I'd recommend it ages 12+. There's a decent amount of violence, some of which might be hard to read for some kids, and a few other scenes and questionable content that might not be age appropriate for children under the age of 12. Overall however, I loved this book and strongly recommend it for teens.

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Maybe a Fox
Appelt, Kathi
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book was a great book, it was beautiful! It was also a B.O.B book for seventh grade from what I know. I loved the characters because they are so relate-able. It all starts when Sylvie, one of the two main characters, goes missing one morning on her daily run to get in shape for track. There is only one explanation for her disappearance, the Slip, which is a mysterious body of water. Jules the other main character is crushed, Sylvie is her only sister, and after Sylvie drowns all she has left is her father. The family of two is torn apart by the loss of their mother and now, oldest daughter. Life goes on, and when the time comes for Jules to go back to school, she sees a sign of luck, but even that is not enough. While all this takes place, deep in the woods, three fox kits are born, two males and one female, who happens to be a kennen. After many adventures Senna, the kennen fox and Jules meet, drawn together by a force of nature. Then something terrible happens. It leaves Jules is in shock, but she makes a discovery of a lifetime. With all the switching from points of view, the book can be a little bit confusing, but it still is great is the reader can understand. I highly suggest this book to anyone looking for a fairly quick read, I was able to read it in about a week. This book was very enjoyable and the reader could feel like they are a part of the book. Highly suggested!
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Ella S.
Awards:
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.
everlost by neal shusterman
Shusterman, Neal
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Over the past year or so, Neal Shusterman has quickly become one of my favorite authors, which can probably be attributed to this fantastic novel.

Everlost is the first of three novels, which follows the story of two teenage characters, Nick and Allie, who have just awoken in a ghostly parallel to the real world after drying in a car crash. They are somewhat like ghosts, and retain the exact appearance they had when they died. The book follows these characters as they traverse through this ghostly world, and try to find their purpose among the other dead children, known as the "afterlights". Along the way, these two characters encounter many lifelike characters, and Neal Shusterman is able to effectively depict each event with imagery and descriptive language. I found myself actually excited to read the next chapter, which is coming from someone who is not typically an enthusiastic reader. Therefore, I would recommend this book to anyone who has spare time and is willing to delve themselves into a truly great book.

Reviewer is in grade 11.

Reviewer's Name: Alex K.
Awards:
Scars
Rainfield, Cheryl
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In Scars by Cheryl Rainfield, Kendra, a young teenager, struggles with self-harm, depression, and having the constant fear of her rapist following and threatening her. All throughout the book she struggles with many things, and Rainfield describes her journey with passion and accurately describes what depression can and does feel like. I really liked that this book brought attention to in-home neglect, as her mother does not pay much attention to what is happening with her daughter more as how her daughter is being portrayed. I didn't like how fast paced everything is, although it does positively affect the book in some aspects it is a bit overwhelming in certain chapters. I picked this book because of the title and the cover, I have struggled with self-harm and it seemed like I relate to it, which I could in so many ways. This book was very surprising and it made me gasp out loud when the big truth was revealed. I could definitely relate to Kendra, as I said before I struggled with self-harm and have plenty of scars I need to heal. But not only in that way, she and I both have homophobic mothers who at first did not accept the "choices" we made. This book was really, really, great and it truly is one of the best books I have read this year.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Gemini K.

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