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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 Caden
If you like fantasy and dystopian books, An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir is the book for you! Enter a world inspired by ancient Rome that is starting to experience its own civil war between the rebels and the military force, also know as the Masks. Follow Laia as she must join the rebellion to help save her brother; then follow Elias, a Mask who is planning to desert from his military duties to have the chance to live a life free of rules and murder. This book was mesmerizing from the moment I started reading it. I couldn’t help but fall in love with each of the characters! It is fast-paced and fun! I couldn’t put it down! I love how the reader sees so much character development between the two main characters, Elias and Laia, throughout the story as it unfolds in front of your eyes. Sabaa Tahir is a genius! Her writing was so amazing. This book has me wanting to read the next novel in the series right away!
Reviewed by Kelli
Is it a gift or curse to be forced to hunt ghosts? Archivist Wasp is a girl whose job is to hunt ghosts supposedly to fulfill the job of Catchkeep, the goddess. If she does not, the priest of Catchkeep’s temple will kill her. Often, Wasp wishes that she could be relived of her ghastly duty. One day, the girl meets a ghost who can help grant her wish. He wants her to help him find the ghost of a colleague who was tortured to death. Together, Wasp and the ghost venture into the underworld. But will they succeed? And what will become of Wasp’s life? I enjoyed this book for several reasons. It causes one to wonder if human nature causes greed and if it is better to die or live a painful life. The protagonist was also a strong character. She has positive characteristics as well as flaws, and this makes her seem more human. However, this book is not suited to teens under 14 because it is somewhat graphic. There are also some parts that may frighten younger readers. Overall, this was a haunting (no pun intended) story that teenage readers who are into supernatural novels would enjoy.
Genre: Supernatural, Dystopian Fiction
J. K. Rowling
Reviewed by Jeffrey
This month I decided to review one of my favorite Harry Potter novels by J.K. Rowling. In my opinion, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is the best from the series because of the following: the plot is well developed, the intensity during the climax literally had me on the edge of my seat, and the dramatic ending served as the icing on the cake. The plot commences about fifty years before present day with the sudden murder of the infamous, Riddle family. It is revealed that this somewhat of a flashback is actually Harry’s dream, however, it is being viewed by the eyes of the convicted murder, Frank Bryce. The now elderly Frank walks into the Riddle family’s abandoned house, where he stumbles upon his fate by the hands of Voldemort. The plot then shifts to the Weasley residence where they receive notice about a Quidditch World Cup invitation. The games last several days, but on the last day a group of Death Eaters swarm the camp sites, torturing Muggles. Once school begins, the Goblet of Fire selects students from different houses to take part in the Triwizard Tournament. From the selected few, Cedric Diggory, Fleur Delacour, Viktor Krum, and Harry Potter are selected. The competition gets rigorous and Voldemort makes an appearance in the latter part of the novel. All in all, this novel’s resolution and storyline are the two components that make the reading enjoyable.
Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary
Orson Scott Card
Reviewed by Raj
Many people have heard of the bestselling novel Ender’s Game, by Orson Scott Card, or perhaps seen the movie. However, Ender’s Game is only the first book of the Ender Quintet, a brilliant set of books all following Ender’s journeys. One of the sequels to Ender’s Game, called Speaker for the Dead, is adult fiction, not teen fiction, yet it is one of the most insightful books I have read. It is a complete shift from Card’s writing in Ender’s Game, focusing more on controversial ethical topics, questioning the definition of humanity and the rights of a human, as opposed to his earlier, action-filled writing. While many may not appreciate the change, I welcomed it and was glad that I made that decision. Card’s new style invoked emotions within me that I didn’t know existed; without all the tassels and ribbons of a generic sci-fi novel, his words were nevertheless powerful, moving. I found myself gripped not only by the plot’s twists or humor, but by the great empathy that Card evoked in me. I could understand the characters; for a book told in the third person, I felt more than ever that I was living their story. The book does somewhat continue where Ender’s Game left off, though the novel’s setting and characters are altered. I won’t reveal the story, but I will encourage readers looking for a more stimulating and thought-provoking read to definitely take a look!
Genre: Science Fiction
Reviewed by Olivia
Out of all the books I reviewed, “The Truth Commission” by Susan Juby is probably the worst book I’ve ever read. Maybe not the worst book I’ve read, but it was pretty bad. The story focuses on a girl by the name of Normandy Pale, an 11th grader at an art school. Basically the book is written as if Normandy was writing. And Susan Juby degraded 11th graders by making the writing style as if written by a new middle schooler with no writing experience at all. It deals with dark subjects, only at the end (which seemed as if Juby was trying to insert them for “shock value”). And I know it’s very inconsistent with the story because it was only inserted at the end. Normandy falls under the pity character category with a sister who’s already a published graphic novelist. I feel bad because the story was very original. The plot itself could have been executed greatly, but I couldn’t bring myself to read more than a chapter a day. With very little character development and a whole lot of secrets, this book is best left on the shelf.
Reviewed by Michell
How would you make the most of the last two months of your life? That question has probably never crossed your mind, but for these four high school seniors, the answer has been something they’ve had to worry about. At Hamilton High School, Peter, Eliza, Andy, and Anita are defined by their stereotypical labels: the athlete, the slut, the slacker, and the overachiever. With the announcement that the asteroid Ardor is set to collide with Earth in a matter of two months, they question whether the future they have planned now will have any significance later. With the mentality that the end is near, they realize that the best thing for them is to start living in the present. We All Looked Up is written in a third person point of view with each chapter dedicated to outline the perspective of each of the four characters. As Ardor approaches, the characters each begin making appearances in another characters’ chapter and soon enough, the storylines are one. That was a factor I really liked because it showed how a group of diverse characters are brought together in times of chaos. I thought this novel was an interesting but slow read. It was a bit toned down for what I expected to be an action packed apocalyptic novel. I would say that this is a book for anyone who is fond of the whole end-of-the-world plotline and wants to engage in a relatable experience.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction / Realistic Fiction
Sarah J. Maas
Reviewed by Caden
Are you a fan of Sarah J. Maas? If your answer is yes, you will definitely love her newest book, A Court of Thorns and Roses. Follow Feyre a poverty stricken huntress as she fights to help keep her family fed during the winter. But when Feyre travels to far into the woods and to close to the wall separating the humans and the faeries, her life changes forever. When Feyre kills a lone Fey she must pay the price and save her family. The writing in this book is beyond amazing! I could not put this book down! The plot keeps you on the edge of your seat the entire time wanting to find out what comes next. I really loved the character depth in the novel. Ferye is such a strong female protagonist, and Tamlin’s personality and good looks are to die for! The history and background is so incredible! I also really loved that this book was a Beauty and the Beast inspired story. It was very unique and new. It is unlike any book I have ever read! I have always been a fan of this incredible author and storyteller; and I have to say, this book is one of my favorites!
Reviewed by Kelli
Is life after beauty a gift or a curse? This is what Nicole Castro must decide for herself. As the most beautiful and popular girl at her school, she has everything until one fateful day when a mysterious attacker sprays her with acid, ruining her face. Now, she has many eyes following her. One boy, a brilliant computer hacker and outcast named Jay Nazarro, decides to find the person who stole her beauty. He understands what it is like to be treated differently, and befriends Nicole. Soon, he develops feelings for the former beauty queen. But the deeper he delves into the mystery, the more he falls in love with Nicole and the more danger he puts himself in. Will Jay find the person responsible for the attack? I enjoyed this book very much. It was explores the themes of beauty and self-identity, and reinforces the concept of a perfect world not existing. Nicole and Jay are also two human-like characters who made mistakes, but you still love them anyway. However, this book is not suitable for younger readers for several reasons. There were quite a few swear words, as well as a few more mature themes. Younger readers can also be set off by the acid burn. I would recommend this book to any reader who wants a compelling romance that is also realistic.
Genre: Romance, Realistic Fiction
Reviewed by Jeffrey
In Christopher Paolini’s novel, Eragon, the setting revolves around the medieval world known as Alagaesia. Unfortunately, the kingdom is ruled under the fallen Dragon Rider, Galbatorix. Galbatorix wasn’t originally evil spirited, in fact, he was a former peace keeper of the world that is until the death of his dragon. Soon after the traumatic demise of his beloved dragon, Galbatorix went on a rampage massacring his fellow dragon riders. And until then the world of Alagaesia has been under total control of Galbatorix. Moreover, the plot isn’t centered towards the antagonist, instead the plot is directed to our fifteen year old protagonist, Eragon. The story begins with Eragon making the discovery of a strange blue stone while roaming around The Spine, a dark, abandoned area. Soon after this discovery the stone eventually hatches and a dragon emerges. Surprised with his discovery, Eragon names the dragon Saphira and keeps her a secret. As time progresses, Eragon raises his dragon in secrecy, however a complication arises when two dark Ra’zac begin their search of the blue stone. Determined to attain the precious stone, the Ra’zac, who are lemmings of Galbatorix, kill Eragon’s uncle. The plot then proceeds to its climax, however, if you are interested you must read to find out.
Reviewed by Raj
When I read book one of the Reckoners series, Steelheart, I was sure that nothing could top its brilliant writing. I was proven wrong so quickly when I opened book two, Firefight. In the thrilling sequel to the original, Brandon Sanderson provides a fresh and original story, a new take on the unique characters introduced in Book One. Firefight, like its predecessor, is told from the perspective of David, a quirky protagonist with quick wit and a taste for bad metaphors. David is part of a group of assassins known as the Reckoners; this band of allied assassins hunts down powerful and corrupt beings called Epics. These supervillains possess unbelievably dangerous powers, derived by mysterious means, along with an inherent love of evil; David has made it his hobby to kill these criminals. Sanderson manages to slip in humor, action, thrills, and even romance into his impressive novel, despite a wild and fantastical plot. This is certainly one unpredictable book; just the kind of book I love! Over time, I grew a fondness for Sanderson’s cliffhangers and how the plot twisted and ran circles around me. I enjoyed the way Sanderson developed the characters, detailing them so well that they felt alive—I was left speechless, impatiently awaiting the next installment. It’s great to see a sequel provide a story with a new setting and a new concept, while still retaining the feel of its original. I would recommend Firefight to anyone who appreciates a well-written and engaging novel.
Genre: Fantasy, Action