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Teen Book Reviews
These a-MAZ-ing reviews were written by the teens on our Teen Book Review Board. New reviews are posted monthly.
Reviewed by Avery
In young Vera's life, tragedy is all around her with an absent mother and the death of a sister. She copes with this by running away from her home and everything she knows. Her new home is in an old mining town in the California desert, which is full of misfits and colorful characters. Vera finds her spot in the town by getting a part-time job and home, but is still haunted by her sister's sudden death.The 17-year-old also indulges in her passion for geology, going on long, sweaty rock-hunting hikes. All of these activities temporarily distract her from her pain, but at night, alone in her home (nicknamed "the Hovel"), she bitterly recalls the actions of her neglectful, absentee mother ("the Moth") and composes postcard messages to her older sister, Carole, in which she blames her for not preventing Amy's death. Vera buries the postcards under her bathroom floor, where they serve as a not-so-subtle metaphor for her own state of mind. Visions of her sister's ghost, as well as a tragic turn of events in the old mining town, force Vera to confront her grief head-on. Chaltas beautifully maps out Vera's journey from profound sadness to eventual redemption. The story is written in prose which lends it self to enable the delicate suggestion of ghostly horror and tender romance. This book is an enthralling read for all contemporary readers!
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Reviewed by Karen
Raised by her great-grandmother in a Maryland beauty shop, fourteen-year-old Abbey Garner has made it her goal to be independent and reliant on no one, the exact opposite of her divorced parents, a volatile mother and alcoholic father. Change is rather hard to find in Abbey’s small town, until the beauty shop is finally rented out after more than two years on the market. Its new patron, Gena, a determined young businesswoman, becomes a strong influence on Abbey until Abbey’s mother returns following a four-year absence. Although Beauty Shop For Rent is not crammed with action, it is still compelling and very relatable without being melodramatic. Laura Bowers breathes life into her colorful cast of characters, giving them realistic personalities through vivid descriptions and amusing dialogue. Told in first person, Abbey is a very likeable protagonist. Though she has faults of her own, as any human being does, it is very easy to root for her as the story goes on. I recommend Beauty Shop For Rent to any reader seeking an enjoyable story filled with a balanced ratio of laughter and tension.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reviewed by Maria
In the science fiction book, Breaking Point by Kristen Simmons, the two main characters Ember Miller and Chase Jennings fake their deaths in order to escape from prison . Their only goal is to stay hidden until the Federal Bureau of Reformation forgets they escaped, but most importantly that they never existed. Days after escaping, Ember and Chase come across a poster tape by the government of the most wanted people. Amber begins to get anxious when she sees that their numbers are the ones at the top of the list. The government is ordering to shoot and kill both prisoners if they are seen insight. Once Amber and Chase fake their death, they are taken by a group of people that want to overthrow the government. The FBR soldiers are dying slowly by an anonymous and mysterious assassin who is working with the rebels. I would highly recommend this book. Especially for those that love a little mystery and crime. I love how the author added the death faking -- this allowed the story to appear more suspenseful to the reader. I would suggest that people who love to read science fiction read this book.
Genre: Science Fiction
Reviewed by Ivanica
From an outsider's perspective, teen Audrey may seem strange with her seemingly nonexistent voice and dark glasses worn at all times. But Audrey's little quirks are there for a reason; she suffers from a social anxiety disorder and was severely bullied by her peers, resulting in her spending some time in a mental institution and dropping out of high school. Audrey spends her days at home in England with her mom who's obsessed with reading Daily Mail articles, her video game- obsessed brother, and also spends a few days out of the week with her trusted therapist Dr. Sarah. When her brother's friend Linus begins spending time at Audrey's house, Audrey finds herself opening up to someone besides her family and it causes her whole world to shift. Finding Audrey is not at all a heavy book about mental disorders, but is written with a light, humorous tone that warms the reader's heart. Audrey's character is quirky, funny, and honest, making this novel enjoyable and incredibly insightful to what Social Anxiety Disorder is, without being dark. I highly recommend this novel to any teen, as it is a story that appeals to all.
Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary
Reviewed by Ariana
Of Poseidon by Anna Banks was the complete opposite of what I was expecting. Banks manages to cover an impressive range of emotions, everything from grief to complete elation. It's an irresistible first love story of two characters named Galen and Emma, who meet on one of the saddest days of Emma's life. With the help of Galen, Emma discovers she's not like everyone else... and more like Galen, who belongs under the water. Emma has an unusual gift, and Galen tries to convince her of this, and how she can save his kingdom. However, Emma is forbidden to Galen, although she doesn't know this. There is, of course, a cliffhanger, but it is the best kind. This novel had me laughing, crying, and egging on the love story between these two animated characters. I would definitely recommend Of Poseidon to anyone who wants a charming romance with a twist.
Genre: Romance, Fantasy
Reviewed by Samantha
Alice Monroe is angry and tired. For as long as she can remember, her twin sister Cellie has ruined her life. This time, Alice has been pushed to her limit. She’s back in a mental ward on Savage Isle after trying to escape the first time with her boyfriend Jason. Alice knows the only reason they didn’t succeed in escaping was because of Cellie. Now, Jason is dead, she is being charged for murder, and her everyday thoughts are consumed with the desire to get revenge on Cellie. With the help of a new patient named Chase, Alice is determined to find Cellie and kill her before Cellie finds her first. However, there are things about Alice that she herself don’t know or understand. Is Cellie really the messed up one in the family… or is it her? The plot twist in this book We’ll Never Be Apart by Emiko Jean was deliciously dark and I didn’t even see it coming! Usually I can predict what the outcome of a book will be, but this one had me clueless the entire time! I honestly loved this book as Alice was someone that I felt I could know and befriend… at least until the end. I strongly recommend this book if you are looking for a good, well written story with a twisted ending.
Genre: Psychological Thriller
Reviewed by Brandon
A book about love, magic, and monsters, who could ask for more? Carry On by Rainbow Rowell follows Simon Snow, the Chosen One, the person who will overcome the malevolent Humdrum from destroying magic. Simon’s arch nemesis and rival for the 8 years in the magical school of Watford is a sarcastic, charming, vampire wizard named Baz, who later on becomes much more than just an enemy as Baz works with Simon to figure out the mystery behind his mother’s death. This novel obviously draws from the Harry Potter series, as it has many parallels such as the schools, characters, and overall plot, but the book itself covers topics relevant to young adults while still maintaining a fantasy element to it. Carry On is an engaging book that can easily be one of the most fun books I have read so far.
Reviewed by Avery
Addy and Beth are more than best friends, they're closer than sisters. It's always been Captain Beth and her lieutenant Addy, but a new school year brings the winds of change. Both girls are integral members of the school's cheer squad, and this isn't your every day squad they live and breathe the sport. A new coach has arrived, and with her and Beth it's basically a battle of the queen bees. Addy's problem is she's right in the middle of this battle and when things go awry, a side needs to be chosen. Dare Me is a beautiful, dark, and captivating novel. The premise of the book does have a shallow feel to it, and that's what I thought when I started, but it's so much more than popular cheer girl drama. Abbott truly has a gift with language, and every sentence draws you closer into the story. The complexities of the characters and relationships between them really made the book for me. There's no giant twist at the end, Abbott is purposeful in her use of subtle, unexpected, turn of events that kept me on my toes and never guessing what would happen next. Definitely check this book out next time you're looking for a refreshing, artfully crafted page turner.
Genre: Contemporary Thriller
Reviewed by Ariana
Fallen by Lauren Kate is one of those novels that I can just read over and over again. It starts off in the 1800's with a mildly confusing scene about two lovers, then switches over to modern day with the same characters… but with new lives. The main character Lucinda “Luce” Price is sent to reformatory school for supposedly murdering a boy she was infatuated with. On Luce’s first day at her new school, Sword & Cross, she meets a set of new kids who all seem to know each other, and all treat her a little strange. One of them is a boy, Daniel Grigori, and Luce has a strange feeling that she’s met him before. However, Daniel says he wants absolutely nothing to do with Luce. Daniel and Luce continually have little run ins with each other, and Luce swears there is something just a little bit off about him. The ending is a total plot twist and completely surprising, and of course, ends on a cliff hanger. The series gets more fascinating and intriguing with each book, and I would definitely recommend it.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Reviewed by Karen
When her free-spirited mother decides that it is time to move to yet another new home, Tessa finds herself on the road again, on her way towards a spiritual retreat. Set in the early 1980’s, the fascinating atmosphere is filled with counterculture and good music. However, Karma for Beginners does not live up to its interesting premise. Though the beginning of the novel is compelling, it starts to drag on until it slowly morphs into a dark story involving a cult-like organization and many questionable situations. Upon opening the book, I expected a coming-of-age tale and instead found sinister subjects being lightly touched upon as if they were nothing. The story is narrated in first person from Tessa’s point of view. She, like many of the other characters, was very ignorant and selfish most of the time. I found it nearly impossible to like or relate to any of them. I do not recommend reading Karma for Beginners because its excitement wears off quickly and its plot is rather aimless.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction