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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.

Antigoddess

Kendare Blake

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Cara

In Antigoddess, Kendare Blake reveals the consistency of human emotion through the ages by bringing Greek mythology into a twenty first century context. From the descendants of Circe's coven running a consultation and/or escort service to a used up and worn out goddess of the earth, nearly every aspect of the mythos is essentially translated into modern society, reminiscent of the Percy Jackson series. What does not need translating, however, is the remorse of Athena, the goddess of knowledge and strategy, and how it affects her in the present; like most people, her past and all the regrets of it are hitting her in full force. A brother of hers, Apollo, is experiencing the same thing -- his past actions are beginning to affect the life he now has with Cassandra, the girl he is in love with and a reincarnation of a prophet whom he practically destroyed and whom hated him for it. This book reminded me that the repentance we feel in the present does not always align perfectly with the morals of our past or the atonement of our future. Also, the intermittent themes of romance and friendship softened the serious message of the story and made it even more enjoyable for me. Over all, this book is a riveting story of the near impossibility of making amends for past actions and the crippling terror that comes with facing the inevitable. I would recommend this book to anyone with a penchant for mythology or unconventional adventure stories.

Genre: Fantasy, Adventure, Greek Mythology

Jane

April Lindner

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Gabrielle

Why do bad things happen to good people? Welcome to the life of Jane Moore, one who would be considered "good" by most anyone's standards. Right from the get go of April Lindner's Jane, it is made apparent that Jane has been the victim of one misfortune after another. As a child, Jane was never considered to be good enough for her parents; She was perpetually confined to live in the shadows of her older siblings. Now nineteen, Jane receives news of her parents' sudden deaths. Unable to afford her college tuition, Jane desperately seeks a job via a nanny agency. Because of her level head and lack of interest in celebrity gossip, Jane lands a position at Thornfield Park, home to world famous rockstar Nico Rathburn and his daughter Maddy; although it seems that Mr. Rathburn himself is MIA.Throughout the following weeks, once Mr. Rathburn finally arrives, Jane finds herself inexplicably drawn to him despite the fact that he is a middle aged rockstar with a troubling past, not to mention a six-year-old daughter, and she, a nineteen-year-old college dropout working for him. Can their forbidden love triumph over Nico's threatening past? Based on Charolotte Bronte's Jane Eyre, Jane by April Lindner explores the heartbreak and healing that lingering love brings. I thoroughly enjoyed this fast paced read, with its likable characters and preservation of the storyline from the original classic, and hope that you will enjoy it as well! ^-^

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

Legend

Marie Lu

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Michell

A civil war rages between the Republic and the Colonies in the crumbling sectors of the post-apocalyptic western coast of the “United” States. Born from opposite sides of the dystopian government, June, an elite, respectful prodigy, and Day, an inferior, notorious criminal on the run, lead separate opposing lives. Coming from broken families, a fateful night draws the two distant life stories and writes it as one: the murder of June’s brother, Metias, and the accusation of Day as the prime suspect. The passion and efforts to fulfill their overlapping missions and their undeniable chemistry drive the story along. Lu has ingeniously crafted a fast-paced page-turner narrated in the alternating voices of the compelling, young leads. Composed with a balance of internal emotion and conflict, you are maneuvered through acts of love, betrayal, kindness, mischief, and revenge. The bumpy road of twists and turns keep you invested in the plot as June and Day shed light upon the dark secrets of the government masked by years of unquestioned lies and public deception. Naturally, you may perceive “Legend” as an echo of the Hunger Games or some cliche dystopian fiction, but it can be assured you will be left with a long-lasting impression if you give it a chance. You can say this novel will indeed become a promising “Legend”.

Genre: Dystopian, Science Fiction

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Serafina

Jacob Portman grew up hearing amazing stories of a home for peculiar children, children who could levitate and had bees living inside them. When he grew up though, he dismissed his grandfather's stories and pictures as a fabricated way to cope with the horrors of World War II and it wasn't mentioned again. Years later, Jacob is now just a short while away from turning 16 and he witnesses his grandfather die in a mysteriously brutal way. Jacob comes to the startling revelation that his grandfather's stories might be true and in order to fulfill his grandfather's dying wish he needs to find Miss Peregrine and her home for peculiar children. I loved reading this book so much and I honestly couldn't put it down; every page was filled with intrigue and new adventures! With a lovely mix of history, romance, and peculiarities this is the perfect book for any teen who loves to read Gothic fiction.

Genre: Dark Fantasy, Adventure

PathFinder

Angie Sage

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Sarah

Angie Sage’s newest installment in the Magykal world of TodHunter Moon, PathFinder, is just as captivating as her other books. Humor and adventure fill every page. Alice Todhunter Moon (A.K.A. Tod) comes of age and begins to follow her father in becoming a PathFinder. Unfortunately, not long after beginning this journey her father and her best friend’s sister disappear and they are not the only ones to vanish with barely a trace. It is not until an attempted kidnapping on Tod herself that she and Oskar (Oskie) begin to find out who is behind the dastardly plot and why. Sadly, the misfortune does not end there. With their village nearly destroyed, the finger points to her aunt, who she never really liked in the first place. Confused and saddened, Tod decides to do what her mom wished for her: to go to the Wizard Tower. Anyone who reads Pathfinder is sure to find themselves sucked into a land of magic and adventure. (That is a good thing.)

Genre: Adventure, Fantasy

Steelheart

Brandon Sanderson

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Shriraj

When I read Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson, the bold, metallic letters on the cover gave me the impression that I would be reading a heroic novel of epic proportions. After just a few pages, however, I was proven quite wrong. The story actually revolves around the post-apocalyptic city of Newcago, overrun by gangs and mobs, where carrying a gun is a necessity and firing it is encouraged. These abject conditions were caused by Epics, humans who had acquired superhuman powers, incredible arrogance, and total supremacy over the human race. Delving further into the book, I uncovered more about the protagonist, a teenager named David, whose father was slain by the Epic tyrant Steelheart. At first, I found all his somber depictions of the human race somewhat depressing, but I was pleasantly surprised to find that the first person narration provided a bit of comic relief. David’s playful tone and use of intentionally bad metaphors sets a great contrast to the stark world that is David’s home. Sanderson, through his powerful storytelling, provides humor, thrills at an unprecedented level of action, and even a little bit of romance, all set in world that is incredibly realistic, given how fantastic it sounds. My conclusion: Steelheart is one of the most enjoyable novels I have read; I would recommend this to anyone who appreciates a riveting yet unpredictable action story, explosions included.

Genre: Action

The Bell Jar

Sylvia Plath

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Jeffrey

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath centers on the protagonist Esther Greenwood. Throughout the course of the novel, Esther faces internal conflicts with herself such as depression, suicidal tendencies, and the feeling of loneliness. The novel is told in the 1st person narrative and describes the various obstacles Esther encounters.Esther is introduced to us as an intelligent individual who won a scholarship to work for a magazine company in New York. As the book goes on, she becomes a person on the brink of suicide. We are introduced to characters that play an important role to the plot, which may even be the reason for why Esther is driven to depression. The novel overall had a suspenseful, yet melancholy mood that had me on the edge of my seat. I read this novel within three days because I just couldn't put it down. Although I enjoyed this book quite much; however, I did encounter some negativity while reading. The book is intended to be a gloomy and serious novel, but there were times where I felt that the seriousness was a bit much. Other than that, I really had a pleasure reading about Esther Greenwood. So, if any readers are interested in finding out what was Esther's fate at the conclusion of the novel, then this is the book for you.

Genre: Classic Fiction

The Blood of Olympus

Rick Riordan

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Caden

The last Heroes of Olympus Book, Blood of Olympus, by Rick Riordan, was an amazing ending to a fantastic series. It keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time, always anticipating what is coming next. We follow Percy, Annabeth, Jason, Piper, Leo, Hazel, Frank, Raina, Nico, and their companions as they continue on their quest to defeat the goddess Gaia and her army of monsters. The story follows them as they travel from Rome, Italy, to Athens, Greece, defeating monsters along the way and gathering information to vanquish Gaia. We also follow Nico and Raina, who are traveling from Rome to Camp Half Blood with the Athena Parthenos in order to help the Greek and Roman camps find peace. The plot of this book was really good, but I do have some things that bothered me while I was reading it. First, we didn't get any chapters from Percy or Annabeth's POV. I was really hoping to get some POV from them because this is the last book that we will ever see them in. Secondly, there were a few open endings on moments in the story. It almost felt like I was reading a first draft. But other than that, I really enjoyed Blood of Olympus and how Rick Riordan ended the series. Being somebody who has followed these characters since the very beginning, I was very satisfied. I think fans of the original series will enjoy the adventure of reading this story very much!

Genre: Fantasy, Action, Adventure

The Winter Horses

Philip Kerr

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Kelli

Can one girl save all the wild horses? In this novel by Philip Kerr, Kalinka is a fourteen year old Jewish girl who is abandoned on the Ukrainian steppe during the winter of 1941. Her family is dead, and the Nazis could easily kill her. There is no sanctuary for Kalinka. Fortunately, she meets two Przewalski (shel-VAHL-skeez) horses, who have been on Earth since the days of the Neanderthals. Brutally murdered, these horses’ numbers are decreasing rapidly. Together, Kalinka and the horses, named Temüjin and Börle, flee from the Germans. Will Kalinka, Temüjin, and Börle survive, or will the Nazis find them first? There are several reasons why I enjoyed this book. Unlike many teenage books, romance is not present, which is rare these days. Having a strong protagonist is also important. Kalinka is a very human character that you feel sympathy for. Although she is orphaned, Kalinka is not at all helpless, but instead proves her resourcefulness throughout the novel when put in sticky predicaments. Unfortunately, she still cannot muster tears for human deaths, but instead animal deaths. Fortunately, there was no foul language or mature themes that would draw one away from the worth of Kerr's masterful work. Despite the title, this book is not just for horse fans. I would recommend The Winter Horses to any teenager who loves historical fiction or a tale of strength and survival, for all of these themes are present.

Genre: Historical Fiction

yolo

Lauren Myracle

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Olivia

With a few curveballs, Lauren Myracle’s ‘winsome threesome’ strikes a somewhat high note with the next installment of the Internet Girls series. Told entirely through texts/IMs, Yolo is a dramatic novel that revisits Zoe, Angela, and Maddie in their freshman year of college. Angela is all Greek when she joins her sorority, but with all the hazing rituals and frat parties, she begins to wonder whether she wants to be an Alpha Zeta. Maddie is staying far away from Georgia as she possibly can by going to California for college, but her rooming situation will make or break her time there. For Zoe, she’s flying high and close to her boyfriend, Doug, except, why can’t she focus on class and stop thinking about him? I found myself reading this book constantly. I applaud Lauren Myracle for trying to include a bunch of pop culture references in an inconspicuous way, but she was unable to hide them that well. I am an avid reader, but I love to takes breaks from strenuous reads to enjoy a novel that even a not so diligent reader would enjoy. As many know, Lauren Myracle’s Internet Girls series is on the top list for banned books. Of course, this one doesn’t shy away from topics such as sex and alcohol, but this book wins with its unbreakable friendships. I would recommend this book to anyone who has read the other Internet Girls books, but honestly, Yolo is not as good as any of the others.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction