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Find your next book using our nifty booklists!

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Teen Book Reviews

These a-MAZ-ing reviews were written by the teens at our LA County Libraries. New reviews are posted monthly. If you are in grades 7-12, and would like to submit a review for our website, please fill out our review form.

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Lies We Tell Ourselves

Robin Talley

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Tori

Lies We Tell Ourselves is a story of Linda and Sarah, that takes place in 1959. Both girls are on opposite sides of the civil rights movement. An event that will change their lives as much as they change one another's. Sarah is on the forefront of the integration movement. She and seven other African American students are integrating into a local "whites only" high school, the first of its kind in Virginia. Sarah is starting her senior year of high school, a year that's meant to be full of college acceptances and fun times with friends. But she is met with torment and constant ridicule for her skin color as she becomes part of the student body. Life is anything but fun for Sarah, especially when she butts heads with Linda, the daughter of the towns chief newspaper editor. A girl who is as strongly supportive of segregation as she is beautiful. As Sarah fights for the integration of the school, she also battles with her conflicting romantic feelings toward Linda. This fantastic book takes a realistic view of the integration fight of the 1960's and the still relevant topic of gay rights. Since this is my final review, I wanted to find a great book to end with. Lies We Tell Ourselves was a real eye opener and had me captivated throughout every chapter. Thank you to everyone who read these reviews and have fun reading!

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Lord of Shadows

Cassandra Clare

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Leslie

Cassandra Clare makes a riveting comeback in Lord of Shadows, the second book in her new series, The Dark Artifices. The story of Emma and Julian’s forbidden love and quest to stop the Black Book—a tome of powerful dark magic that could destroy all Shadowhunters—from falling into the wrong hands is enthralling, though melodramatic at times. The novel’s theme of forbidden and unrequited love is not original, and the writing, though still good, is not the author’s finest, since the narrative switches frequently and rapidly from one character’s point of view to another’s. However, the novel has a strong underlying message about the horrible pervasiveness of racism, homophobia, sexism, and corruption in society and government. In spite of its flaws, Lord of Shadows is a book that everyone should read, not just for its fastly moving plot, but for its honesty in discussing the need for a more open attitude in the way we view autism, the LGBTQ+ community, and racial minorities.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance

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That Burning Summer

Lydia Syson

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Samantha

The one thing that keeps coming to my mind when I think of the book, That Burning Summer by Lydia Syson, is the fact that the title is the exact way I feel about the weather here in the Antelope Valley. So moving on, That Burning Summer is the perfect summer read for all you history buffs! Set during WWII, specifically the Battle of Britain, the book is told from the third person perspectives of three different people: Henryk, the Polish pilot who crash lands in a marsh, Peggy, the British girl who finds him, and Ernest, Peggy’s younger brother. The book itself is simple, but heartfelt. Henryk is emotionally and mentally destroyed from his experiences in the war. Peggy sees a man she can help and find a friend in. Ernest, only twelve, is trying desperately to be brave. In my opinion there isn’t much of a plot to this story, but overall, it was a good read. The one thing that did drive me crazy was that I could not find the name of the town Peggy and Ernest lived in anywhere in the book! I might have missed such a minor detail, but I would have liked that information to be a little clearer.

Genre: Historical Fiction

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The Young Elites

Marie Lu

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Kaitlyn

Adelina Amouteru in The Young Elites by Marie Lu is a very different take on the classic dystopian heroine. Having become an abomination after losing her eye in a fever that devastated her society, she saves for years to be able to leave her abusive father and travel to the capital city where she hopes to make a life for herself. When things go south in her escape, Adelina finds herself at the mercy of the government and then the Daggers, a secret organization of people with powers like hers. They decide to take her in, some more reluctantly than others, and begin teaching Adelina to control her powers. But the more control and power Adelina gains, the darker she becomes until she makes an unforgivable mistake that costs the Daggers almost everything. The Young Elites is full of twists that will truly take readers by surprise and keep them hooked until the very end.

Genre: Dystopian

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Clockwork Angel

Cassandra Clare

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Kaitlyn

In Clockwork Angel by Cassandra Clare, “all the stories are true.” Every story about supernatural beings--the fair folk, werewolves, vampires, demons, warlocks--is true. They all coexist together under a tense system of laws called the Accords. The Accords were created by shadowhunters; half human half angel beings that were selected to rid the world of demons. In the reign of Queen Victoria, Tessa Gray travels from New York to London to find her brother and is picked up by the Dark Sisters who force her to use a strange new ability to assist them in a mysterious work. They claim to be preparing her for a man they call the Magister. Tessa escapes with the help of Will, a Shadowhunter, whose wit and recklessness hides a broken spirit. While she takes refuge in the Shadowhunter institute, Tessa meets Jem, Will’s best friend, whose caring heart also carries a secret. Tessa finds herself torn between the two boys as she becomes more familiar with the shadow world and the darkness it hides. She discovers that some of this darkness is directed at the Shadowhunters and a plot to destroy them. A plot that involves her. Clockwork Angel is a beautifully written story of love, betrayal, and magic set to the backdrop of 1870’s London.

Genre: Fiction, Supernatural

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Everything, Everything

Nicola Yoon

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Tori

Everything, Everything is the story of Madeline, a girl that has spent the last seventeen years of her life locked up in her house with only her mother and nurse to talk to. She is diagnosed with an immune deficiency disease which is commonly known as 'Baby Bubble Disease'. But, Madeline's routine life is thrown for a loop when a boy her age named Ollie moves in next door. As they begin IM'ing one another something greater than friendship begins to blossom. Read as Madeline experiences a number of firsts ranging from love to heart break, and everything in between. Will their love be able to tempt fate or even death? It is rare for me to find a young adult story about sickness (the only other I know is The Fault In Our Stars by John Green), but I digress. I thoroughly enjoyed this book seeing as to how it was quite the page turner. Madeline tells her story and you get the unique perspective of a person who knows nothing of the world. You get to see the world as she sees it, a place of wonder and untouched possibilities. As the book reaches its climax, you will get thrown for a plot-twist that is relatively predictable. But all in all, I would have to recommend this book if you are stuck on which book to read next. Also, the movie comes out on May 19th (so now's the time to say you read it).

Genre: Romance

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Hush, Hush

Becca Fitzpatrick

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Stacy

Patch: He has teased, annoyed, and confused Nora ever since the day their teacher decided to switch the class seating chart. As much as Patch screams out danger there is a connection between them. Attraction? Maybe, but it might not be so ideal especially since there might be a side of him that he is hiding from Nora. Apart from dealing with Patch, Nora has been feeling a sensation of being watched and she has evidence to back up that notion. Twice she has encountered the person who may have been watching her. The third ended up with her friend in the hospital. As if Nora’s life wasn’t full of chaos already, the two new kids ,although friendly, might not be all that friendly as they seem… Nora’s sophomore year is going to one to remember. If there was a scale out of ten, I would give Hush, Hush by Becca Fitzpatrick a seven out ten. The first half of the book was mainly crafting a foundation for the book to build upon so it wasn’t as interesting as one might hope it would be. The last half of Hush, Hush is where there is action seen. However, there were suspenseful moments that had my eyes glued to the book. This isn’t my favorite, but it has an interesting plot and definitely had my attention.

Genre: Mystery, Romance

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Love Lies and Spies

Cindy Anstey

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Samantha

The last thing Juliana Telford expects to find in London is a suitor. She has no desire to be wed and only wishes to see her, and her father's, research on lady beetles published. Spencer Northam is in London on a special mission. His orders: discover which of the wealthy British families are traitors smuggling money or perhaps even valuable information to the French. Two people meet. Neither are looking for love. But that is exactly what they find. Love, Lies and Spies by Cindy Anstey is a quirky, romantic journey set in England during the early 1800's. At first, it was a little difficult to determine the exact time period, but I was able to figure it out later in the book when Napoleon was mentioned. This book was extremely entertaining as it switches from Juliana's point of view to Spencer's chapter by chapter. It was a little obvious who the traitors were, but other than that, the book was sweet and the writing was engaging.

Genre: Historical Fiction, Romance

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Openly Straight

Bill Konigsberg

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Leslie

Sixteen year old Rafe is tired of being defined by his sexuality in his small liberal community in Boulder. Although Rafe’s town is extremely tolerant, he feels that they cannot see past his sexuality to the rest of his personality, so when the chance arises, Rafe transfers to an all boys’ boarding school in New England, where he chooses not to disclose the fact that he’s gay. For the first time, Rafe feels that he can be a part of something; he can play soccer and be a jock and have friends who’ll treat him just as they would anyone else. Asides from dismay at Rafe’s wanting to conceal his sexuality from his parents, everything seems to be running smoothly for Rafe until he starts to fall in love with his friend Ben. Ben has never questioned his sexuality before, and believes that the same goes for Rafe, which becomes increasingly problematic as their feelings develop. Openly Straight is heartfelt, eye-opening, and so delightfully hilarious that you won’t be able to go a page without laughing.

Genre: Fiction

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Return to Paradise

Simone Elkeles

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Sorin

First off, this is the second book in an amazing series, so if you haven’t read Leaving Paradise yet, then go do that. I’ll wait. You’ll be hooked one page in and, soon enough, you will be reading this incredible novel. It has been eight months since Caleb Becker left Paradise with a secret he swore to never reveal and Maggie’s broken heart. Piece by piece, Maggie put herself back together and recreated a life without Caleb. When Maggie embarks on a summer trip, she is shocked to see Caleb’s sexy, bad boy smirk welcoming her to her vacation, yet she is not about to let this little hiccup ruin her vacation. Caleb soon discovers that Maggie has grown thicker skin to protect herself after his devastating departure. Winning her back won’t be as easy as he thought it would be, especially with Maggie pursuing other love interests… Every page of this book is filled with suspense, love, humor and the importance of honesty. The book teases you, one moment foreshadowing a scandalous make out session and, next thing you know, Maggie is furiously yelling at Caleb about trust, then ending the insane emotion rollercoaster curled up in Caleb’s arms. I loved every minute of this book, and I absolutely love this author. The characters seem so real, like you could see them in Costco and already know their entire life’s story. So, does Caleb’s decision to reveal the truth heal the wounds between them or does it annihilate any chance the two ever had at love?

Genre: Romance, Contemporary