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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 Alyssa
Now that the factions have been destroyed leaving everyone factionless, Evelyn Johnson, Tobias’s mother, becomes the new leader of the city. Because all the factions are gone, a group called the Allegiant has formed. The Allegiant is a rebel organization that acknowledges the purpose of the factions and fights against the new city government. Tris is asked by the Allegiant to gather a couple of friends and explore the world outside their city- Chicago. There they discover the Bureau of Genetic Welfare. At the Bureau, Tris and Tobias discover many secrets about the factions, Tris’s mother, and the Divergent. In the novel Allegiant, you will be thrilled by all the action and the decisions being made from the perspectives of both Tris and Tobias. All the betrayal, trust, and sacrifice that take place will truly shock you. In addition, you will also understand the true meaning of bravery and courage. This story is a remarkable adventure that will last forever.
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
Reviewed by Alina
Anna Oliphant is being sent to a boarding school in Paris, the City of Light, and she doesn’t like it one bit. But when she gets there, Anna meets Étienne St. Clair who’s handsome, charming, and intelligent, but also in a serious relationship. As the school year progresses, Anna begins to realize that she and St. Clair might have a chance together. This book was recommended to me by a friend I trusted with good book reviews so I decided to read it. Anna starts off well- it is cute and quirky. Anna gets adjusted to life at The School of America in Paris, meets new people, and forges friendships. However, as the attraction between Anna and St. Clair grows, the teen angst increases as well. On top of that, Anna’s character becomes increasingly annoying, whiny, and hypocritical. I felt the story kept repeating itself, which greatly frustrated me. On the other hand, I enjoyed the lightness of the book, and the dialogue was witty and funny. I recommend this book as a sweet and fluffy read for hopeless romantics.
Genre: Romance, Fiction
Reviewed by Ellie
After looking at the cover for this rather intriguing novel, I came to the conclusion that whatever was written within those pages had to be special. This statement (rattling around in my head as I stared at the cover featuring a worn mask covered in flames) ended up being partially true. All books tend to have, among other elements, faults. This book was no different. The story is of the life and troubles that teenagers, human or normal, have to face. Mallory, one of the essential characters, suffers from an identity crisis, while Kaleb, a boy fighting for his life, just wants to make it through another day. Featuring pain as a regular occurrence throughout her novel, Marr (the author) spins a tale about the torment a person living within rigid social classes can face. Depressing? Yes. Passionate? Very much so. Violent? Maybe a tad. But within those depressing, passionate, and violent scenes, there is potential for a powerful story. I'd give it an overall B+ simply because some parts seem exaggerated and are a little sketchy in detail. Though it is rich in angst and full of drama, I couldn't help but laugh as the story developed because some scenes, however serious they seemed, were downright funny, cliché, and predictable. Want to see how it ends? Despite all of the faults, I certainly would if I were you.
Reviewed by Victoria
For years, Lara’s family has been breeding borzoi dogs for the mighty Tsar Nicholas of Russia. Borzoi were used mainly for one purpose—killing wolves. However, when Lara’s mother gives birth to a son, Lara finds herself replaced. With her trusted borzoi companion, Ryczar, Lara strives to prove herself worthy of a kennel steward. When a pack of wolves threatened the estate, Lara sees her chance. Hiding in a sledge, Lara secretly follows her father as he sets off to terminate the wolves once and for all. After realizing his daughter’s gift with the dogs, Lara’s father decides to let her inherit his title. Annemarie O’Brien takes readers back to the Imperial Times, when Tsars ruled Russia. O’Brien cleverly informs readers about what it was like to be a kennel steward, and about the beloved borzoi breed. Readers will be inspired to follow their dreams and to never stop believing.
Genre: Historical Fiction
Reviewed by Annaluz
Imagine leading a regular everyday life and then turning into a movie star overnight. Margaret Frobisher is a typical teenager living in Pasadena during the 1930s when she is scouted out by a professional. Although Hollywood is Margaret’s dream-come-true, it is an embarrassment and nightmare for her parents and they instantly disown her. At first the story seemed incredibly shallow and superficial, right down to the Chinese Red lipstick she and her friend love to slather on their lips. However, the writing improves as the story progresses and at the verge of ridiculous, the plot becomes very intense. What seems like bad writing at first is really the development of the main character’s thoughts. It really is genius how the author manages to show Margaret’s transformation through her writing style. Margaret’s perspective of Hollywood changes completely, from enchantment to disgust, after just a few days of stardom. Lingering fear revolving around a missing star also adds great suspense. Starstruck manages to encompass the glamour of movie stars and the horrors of the Great Depression all in one book. Adding to its historical nature are clever references to works and authors such as Sherlock Holmes, The Wizard of Oz, Shakespeare, Fitzgerald, and Oscar Wilde. The Dust Bowl is also mentioned, adding authenticity to the novel. Some of the many themes covered are feminism, drugs, racism, sexual orientation, and other prejudices. This book is most definitely recommended especially for the shockingly mind-blowing ending. The sequel, Love Me, will be released next year.
Reviewed by Danielle
After reading a great deal of books, I often come across many flaws I can no longer dismiss: insta-love, love triangles/angst, too many alternating PoV's, being left with questions at the end of a book, unoriginal stories, frustrating/flat characters, confusing/unimportant/unnecessary flashbacks, and when the world building is poorly created or written. Unfortunately, The 100 suffers from everything aforementioned. Morgan’s writing is amazing, but her ability to create a world entirely of her own is not. The 100 reminded me of Across the Universe by Beth Revis. There’s some world building, however, since the story goes by swiftly and the romance is thickly present, it is not noticeable — which is very unfortunate. No one can possibly deny the amazing concept of the story: after a nuclear war on Earth, humans boarded a ship set for outer space. A century passes and the new generation are content with their lives. 100 teens will be sent to Earth to see if there’s still life on the planet. 100 teens who have been labelled “criminals”. When the teens arrive, things seem pretty normal. Only problem? A food – as well as medicine – shortage… not to mention the older teens trying to “take charge”… and the animals that have evolved. This could have been one of those stories that’d leave you biting your nails and wondering what’s going to happen next. I’m shocked this debut novel is being adapted into a TV series as we speak for CW. Not Recommended.
Genre: Science Fiction, Dystopian
F. Scott Fitzgerald
Reviewed by Jason
The Great Gatsby, written by F. Scott Fitzgerald, is told in the perspective of Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate and WW1 veteran, who takes a job in New York’s Long Island as a bond salesman. He rents a small house in the village of West Egg, next door to the flamboyant mansion of James Gatsby, a young millionaire with a mysterious past. Every Saturday, Jay Gatsby holds extravagant parties at his palace. Everybody attends by choice, nobody gets invited. But, when Nick receives a spontaneous invitation to Gatsby’s party, he is pulled into a drama swirling between one of Nick’s Yale colleagues, the Buchanan’s, and Gatsby himself. As he becomes further acquaintances with Gatsby, he uncovers a hidden love uncovered after five years. Fitzgerald weaves a touching tale of love, hate, trust, mistrust, and violence and emotion set in the roaring twenties. I would recommend The Great Gatsby to anybody who is looking for a book that is down to earth, and maybe not as fanciful as fantasy. It is a very quick read, both literally and metaphorically. It is less than 200 pages, but the depth in which Fitzgerald artistically develops these characters makes it an interesting read. Although recommended for high school students, anybody who’s willing to maybe follow through with a quick internet search for the references should read this one. The Great Gatsby is one of the greatest classics of twentieth-century literature, and is a great read for the holiday break.
Reviewed by Sanduni
Charlie West is like any other teenage boy out there. He takes karate, goes to school, worries about impressing his crush, tries to be honest, and attempts to aid his fallen friend. He goes to bed one night, and the next time he opens his eyes, it’s a nightmare. He wakes up in a torture chamber, strapped to a chair and covered in bruises. The weird thing is that he can’t seem to remember how he had even gotten there in the first place. So Charlie sets out to find the only thing that matters: the truth. Edgar Award winning author Andrew Klavan is the man behind this thrilling tale about courage, determination, and perseverance. Klavan expertly weaves this fictional yet plausible tale, and his unique writing style captures the readers’ attention, making them feel Charlie’s frustration and confusion. With one perplexing complication after another, The Last Thing I Remember is the first book in The Homelanders series. But with unpredictable surprises and an even more unpredictable ending, readers will soon be looking out for book two. When you’re life is taken away from you, sometimes all you can do is try to get it back.
Genre: Fiction, Action and Adventure
Megan Whalen Turner
Reviewed by Cassandra
A talented master at infusing wit, humor, and twists into her tales, Megan Whalen Turner pens an excellent narrative enjoyable for all ages, not just young adults. Skillful thief Gen is selected from prison by the king’s magus for a quest that only the most dexterous and brave can survive. Together, with two apprentices and a soldier, they set off on a risky journey to retrieve the precious Hamiathes’ Gift, a jewel that bestows sovereignty upon the wearer. Every character has their own agenda that highlights the complexity of their personalities as they travel over the dangerous lands of Sounis, Eddis, and Attolia. Turner infuses stories of old gods and goddesses throughout their odyssey with style, spirit, and heart. Although it takes a while for their journey to really kick off, Gen’s charming narration hooks readers from the start. The trickster’s pure nerve, his humorously sarcastic jibes, and his paradigms of other characters makes Gen one of the most exceptional characters I have ever rooted for. Turner also weaves in political philosophy as well as snippets of the wide spectrum of human nature, where every character is three-dimensional and fleshed out with care. Young children will love the precarious adventures and older teens will appreciate the plot twists, the arcs in character relationships, and the intricate tale.
Reviewed by Jacy
“I was stupid, the official descriptive phrase for happy.” Min Green is bitter. Her relationship fell apart and now she’s returning a box of things to her ex-boyfriend. Along with each item is a description of how it came about and how ultimately it led to “Why We Broke Up.” This novel by Daniel Handler, who is sometimes known by the pen name Lemony Snicket, features fun colorful, illustrated pictures by Maira Kalman and is a heart-warming story of first love. Handler’s unique narrating voice, mysterious and witty, is accentuated in this novel as readers move between confusion and laughter. He also creates this whole other world with strange movies about igloos and vampires that Min, an aspiring director, refers to throughout her letter (the book). Her story will remind everyone of their own memories of first crushes and heartbreaks as she navigates the hardships of a relationship with Ed Slaterton. And they couldn’t be more different. He’s the co-captain of the basketball team, and she’s the shy, movie nerd. At times complicated and over-descriptive, this heart-wrenching novel will still manage to capture the hearts of young and old readers alike. Through a protractor, a box of matches, a toy truck, and every other strange item Min collects through her whirlwind relationship, she tells to Ed the story of “Why We Broke Up.”
Genre: Contemporary Fiction