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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.

Forbidden

Syrie James

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Ellie

Anticipation. This one dangerous feeling swirled through me as I turned the pages slowly, reading through a world that enticed me from the start. Forbidden, by Syrie James, blends suspense, the supernatural, and romance into a perfect summer read. It’s entertaining and light, filled with humor that’s witty and clever, making you laugh out loud as the characters face their own comical battles. Claire Brennan, a teen desperate to find the home she’s been looking for, has only just settled into Emerson Academy when what do you know, Alec MacKenzie comes barreling into her life with some secrets best left unsaid, and maybe some answers to the psychic visions she just can’t will away. As danger unfolds around the two and new questions arise, just how far will Alec go to keep Claire from harm? This book is perfect for those lazy summer days, and with vacation coming up, I swear this book will not disappoint if you’re looking for a romance with a twist. :-)

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Angelfall

Susan Ee

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Alina

It’s the apocalypse, and angels have come down to wreak havoc upon the world. Seventeen-year-old Penryn must get her mother and her little sister, Paige, to safety. However, when Paige is taken by the angels, Penryn would do anything and everything to get her dear sister back. Making a deal with a broken angel, she travels with Raffe through California to rescue her sister and to seek the help of his worst enemies for the chance to be made whole again. I enjoyed this book very much. It is action-packed and once it begins, the action doesn’t settle down until the ending. On that same note, Susan Ee really takes her plot twists seriously, and I was blown away by her imaginative writing. Her vivid descriptions enabled me to picture the terrifying and morbid apocalyptic world in my head. The dialogue between Penryn and Raffe is witty and funny; it brings light to a dark and melancholy genre. Miss Ee lets the romance between Penryn and Raffe develop at a realistic pace; beginning with uncertainty and slowly building to trust and companionship. With an original storyline, characters, and style, I would definitely reread and reread this book. I strongly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction, supernatural, and fantasy.

Genre: Science Fiction, Supernatural, Fantasy

Fly on the Wall

E. Lockhart

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Jacy

This thoughtful and funny read is short but builds up and breaks down all teenage stereotypes within its 180 pages. Gretchen Yee attends Ma-Ha, an art school, but always feels like she can’t fit in—not because she’s different, but because she’s not different enough. Then you add boy problems to the mess and Gretchen wishes she were a literal fly on the wall in the guy’s locker room, just to understand more what boys are like. And the wish comes true. Lockhart paints a raw and insightful look, in the perspective of a fly, into how we like to build people up to something, and hold them in stereotypes, when in reality; all of us are just human. And we all have the same vulnerabilities, doubts, and secrets. This is a quick, entertaining, and powerful novel on how much stereotypes, reputations, and identities can weigh people down, especially in high school, and how one girl comes to understand the truth.

Genre: Fantasy

Following Christopher Creed

Carol Plum-Ucci

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Cassandra

This is one of those rare instances where the sequel lives up to the standard of the first book. Written by Carol Plum-Ucci, Following Christopher Creed tells the story of what happens four years after the events in The Body of Christopher Creed, in which the weird kid in the town of Steepleton suddenly disappeared without a trace. Now, Mike Mavic, a budding journalist, visits the town after hearing about the recent discovery of a dead body. He hopes to write a story on whatever happened to Christopher Creed. However he gets much more than he bargained for as he runs into the town’s inhabitants, who still house the same streak of cruelty as they did four years ago. As Mike digs deeper into the town’s unsolved mysteries, he realizes the town is suffering from being the center of what he calls “bad frequency.” The last book left readers on what seemed to be a cold case, and this novel provides most of the answers in the tricky narration, a style unique to Plum-Ucci. The clues are so subtly hidden in coincidences here and there, skillfully weaved in—never sidetracking the reader. It is an interesting different perspective on the beloved characters from the first book. Fans of Christopher Creed will appreciate the compelling plot and the author’s honesty in the truth about human nature in this hard-to-put-down sequel.

Genre: Mystery, Realistic Fiction

Forgotten

Cat Patrick

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Sanduni

Every night when London Lane goes to sleep, her memory is wiped and the only things she remembers are events that happen in the future. She can’t remember the outfit she wore to school the other day, but somehow she knows which girl is going to fall for which boy. London can’t remember if she had finished all her homework the night before, but somehow she knows which classmate in science is going to have great success, while another is going to end up in jail. But when a new boy in school triggers actual memories from her past, are things not what they seem? Suddenly, London starts to remember. Actually remember! But the memories aren’t happy ones and London is thrust into searching for a person who had stepped out of her life a long time ago. Cat Patrick tells a riveting tale about self-acceptance and perseverance in its truest form. Readers will realize that though the road ahead is rough, it is definitely the journey that counts.

Genre: Mystery, Romance

Half Bad

Sally Green

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Danielle

Nathan has a hard and abusive life due to the fact he’s a Half Code (half White Witch, half Black Witch). He cannot communicate with anyone accept his family, he cannot leave without having permission from the Council, he’s watched everywhere he goes, and every five years or so he has to be assessed by the Council to see if he would be considered a W.W. or a B.W. by the time of his seventeenth birthday. He hasn’t met his father, but he knows the Council is searching for him because he’s a notorious Black Witch… and a murderer. To add on to his problems, he can neither read nor write... and he's on the run. HALF BAD has the potential to be a dark and mysterious read, but I did not enjoy the “magic” that was portrayed in here—the witches had superpowers instead of magic. Think Fantastic Four instead of Harry Potter; not enough “magic” was used in here as well, though we are given descriptions on some of the Gifts witches receive on their 17th birthday. Also, I did not like the world building; it didn't feel as though I were in Wales, Scotland, and London (the places Nathan went to). We're given very little description which felt more like telling rather than showing. I'm really upset I didn't enjoy this like I hoped. This book is either a hit or miss.

Genre: Fantasy, Paranormal, Gothic

Scars

Cheryl Rainfield

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Annaluz

Kendra has suffered a lot for a teenager. When she was young she was sexually abused. Kendra does not know who her abuser was, but she does know that it was someone close to her. Kendra’s abuser used psychological methods to keep Kendra from revealing who he is. He taught her to cut herself to repress memories and release her mental and emotional pain. Now that Kendra is fifteen, she begins having flashbacks. They terrify her and she tries to deal with the pain through art. There is a lot of foreshadowing, from the very beginning, on who the perpetrator is, even though Kendra continues to block the memories. The book is very suspenseful even though it is not too difficult to figure out who the abuser is. What really pulled this book together and made it admirable, is the Author’s Note. The reader finds out that the book has many autobiographical aspects. What seems to be really unbelievable things, actually happened to the author, Rainfield. Even more shocking, the cut arms on the cover of the book actually belong to Rainfield herself. This book is very intense and will let you see people who commit self-harm in a different way.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

The Elite

Kiera Cass

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Victoria

America Singer is torn between two men. She could either choose a luxurious life at the palace with the handsome Prince Maxon or be with hardworking Aspen and live like she had always wanted. Before the Selection, America would’ve chosen Aspen in a heartbeat. They had planned a future together. However, as she gets to know the prince more throughout the Selection, she begins to fall in love with him as well. In the beginning of the Selection, there were thirty-five girls. Now, the group is down to the Elite. The other girls already have their hearts set for Prince Maxon, so America should make up her mind. Throughout the book, America learns about the punishment of disloyalty, the true side of the king, how dangerous rebel attacks can be, and how much Maxon truly loves her. The Elite is the second novel in the Selection series. Filled with drama, suspense, and romance, this book will leave readers on the edge of their seats!

Genre: Romance, Dystopian

The Outsiders

S.E. Hinton

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Jason

The Outsiders, by S.E. Hinton, takes place in Tulsa Oklahoma, where a group of rival gangs, the greasers and the socs, regularly clash. The greasers, the West-side kids of low-income families, generally looked down upon by the socs, the East-side high-income children. The story is told through the eyes of a young greaser, Ponyboy Curtis, and the struggles he experiences in a society prejudiced against his kind. I would recommend this book to everyone, adults and children. The best part of this book is the immersive storyline so from the first page to the last you are absolutely absorbed in the lives of the greasers and the socs. I myself greatly enjoyed this book. I would recommend this to anybody who likes a realistic take on life. Also, if you are interested, Francis Ford Coppola made a movie of the book that is a great secondary source.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

The Testing

Joelle Charbonneau

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Alyssa

Every year, five students from each of the colonies are chosen to participate in the Testing. Being selected to participate is probably the most amazing accomplishment you could ever receive. In the book The Testing, Valencia, or "Cia", is one of the five students chosen in her colony which is Five Lakes Colony. Her dad, a former candidate of the testing, became part of the University after passing the test. Although he passed and experienced the whole Testing stages, the people in charge of it used a process to wipe the candidates' memories of the test. When Cia is selected, her dad warns her not to trust anyone and that the testing is very competitive. Throughout the book Cia learns a lot about herself and to trust her instincts. The Testing is now one of my favorite books. I love how the book gives you time to process and really visualize the scenery that takes place. The Testing is part of a series that will definitely be on my "must- read" list!

Genre: Dystopian