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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.

The Diviners

Libba Bray

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Jason

The Diviners, written by Libba Bray, is a horror/thriller combination aimed toward the older teen audience. The setting is in the 1920, during the Prohibition, and revolves around the life of Evie O’Neill, a seventeen year old party-seeker with a strange gift she’s kept secret for years. After causing a terrible scandal because of her loud mouth and special powers, she is shipped off to New York. Nothing seemed better, the parties, the guys, and the money, but her fun is abruptly brought to a crushing end when an unknown killer goes on a rampage. She is thrust into a world of spirits, chaos, demons, and cult rituals with her obsessive professor and uncle. Will she survive in this world she’s never known? Find out for yourself. I would recommend this book to older teens, as some of the scenes of this book, especially the murders, are particularly gruesome and are not suitable for the younger teens. Overall, this books is an amazing page turner, I was able to read this novel in one day. Libba Bray does an excellent job of developing a complex storyline, and finishes with a satisfying ending that brought together several seemingly unrelated characters. Although it gets off to a slow start, The Diviners escalates quickly, and will definitely send everybody reading on a shocking roller coaster ride. Enjoy!

Genre: Paranormal, Historical Fiction, Thriller, Horror

Better Off Friends

Elizabeth Eulberg

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Alyssa

Why can't girls be friends with guys without people thinking they're together? Well, that's what Macallan and Levi have been going through since the first day they met in 7th grade. In the book Better Off Friends, Macallan Dietz and Levi Rodgers develop and share a close friendship, but they clearly stated that they can never be more than just friends. I absolutely LOVE Better Off Friends because Elizabeth Eulberg writes about a relatable friendship between a guy and a girl from the day they met to senior year in high school. She also writes from both Macallan and Levi's perspective throughout the whole book, so you will get to experience both their lives and changes. Their friendship has an amazing story and is very likable. This book brings out the true meaning of friendship and, of course, has humor.

Genre: Fiction, Romance, Contemporary

City of Heavenly Fire

Cassandra Clare

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Jacy

A satisfying conclusion to a wonderful series, City of Heavenly Fire lives up to its last book-hype. This over 700-page novel follows Clary and Co. through the last chapter of their journey to finally defeat Sebastian, who has been antagonizing them through the past two books. While at the same time, they deal with relationship issues, such as not being able to get over your warlock boyfriend who broke up with you because you tried to shorten his life. Characters from Clare’s next series, The Dark Artifices, are also introduced, including Emma, Julian, Mark, etc. There are beautiful moments in the book, tests of faith and courage, and more of the witty dialogue Cassandra Clare is so talented at writing. The alternating third person POVs also add tension and draw readers in, all the way to the last page, however the book could’ve been much shorter. The length and almost too-much detail makes the book feel tedious to read at times, but the suspense manages to keep the pace up. Fans won’t be disappointed as the shadowhunters face their final battle of the series and understand the sacrifice of love.

Genre: Paranormal, Fantasy

Confessions of an Almost-girlfriend

Louise Rozett

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Annaluz

You have undoubtedly heard the phrase “Don’t judge a book by its cover.” I however, judged this book by its title before reading it. Although the title seemed superficial to me—I expected the book to be some goopy love story that did not work out—the intriguing summary convinced me to read it. Confessions of an Almost-Girlfriend did have the expected romance, or at least the advertised unsatisfactory relationship, however the book hardly seemed to revolve around this. In fact, the book covers some very important themes such as loss of a family member, drug abuse, physical abuse, tolerance, and finding oneself. In the end, I am glad I decided to overlook the bad title and read it. Rose Zarelli, the protagonist, starts sophomore year of high school hoping it will be completely different from her previous year. She wants to try out for a musical, be fashionable, talk to her crush, and avoid the school bullies. Meanwhile she has to deal with the antics of her psychologist mother, the occasional phone call or visit from her drug-addicted brother, her best friend’s new-found fame, and the death of her father. Although I could do without the romance that didn’t seem to belong, I eventually decided that it makes the story more realistic. Rose’s crush, Jamie, serves as a distraction and shows that a real relationship is not always the best idea. All in all, the book is a great read and I definitely recommend it.

Genre: Romance

Gone

Michael Grant

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Sanduni

Sam Temple is sitting in his classroom one day when his teacher suddenly vanishes. In a blink of an eye, gone. Minutes later, Sam realizes that not only has his teacher vanished, but so had all the other adults. A bubble has formed around their small hometown, and hunger threatens the kids of Perdido Beach. Lost in a sea of confusion and fear, Sam and his friends start to seek help, but find that no phone or computer works. In addition, the animals have started to mutate, and the kids themselves find out that they also have abilities powerful enough to stop a train. Bullies take over and there is no one to stop them from doing so. Sides are being chosen, and Sam finds himself being selected as a leader against a mysterious and powerful adversary. The kids of Perdido Beach are far from survival. Michael Grant creates a unique story about endurance and perseverance that keeps readers on edge from the very first page. With its numerous cliffhangers and riveting story plot, Gone is a summer must-read.

Genre: Adventure, Dystopian, Science Fiction

Good Enough

Paula Yoo

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Alina

Patti Yoon is the best amateur violinist in Connecticut, but despite her tremendous musical talent, her parents continuously push her towards applying to the Ivy Leagues. Patti’s parents emigrated from Korea, and don’t believe that a career in music can bring financial success. However, through Patti’s first semester of senior year at high school, she discovers the difference between what her parents want and what she wants. And they are not the same. This book was recommended to me by my orchestra teacher, and I can definitely relate to the novel’s protagonist. Patti is a relatable and realistic character who is not whiny or annoying. She is a flawed character, and I appreciate how Paula Yoo illustrates Patti’s growth as a musician and person. This novel does not focus on a boy-girl relationship; instead it focuses on a girl’s relationship with her parents and her studies. I recommend this novel to anyone who plays a musical instrument, and to those who are unsure of their future beyond high school.

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

How to Ditch Your Fairy

Justine Larbalestier

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Victoria

Charlie Steele lives in New Avalon, a self-absorbed city where everyone has their own fairy. Charlie has a parking fairy—and she hates it. So, she decides to walk everywhere to starve her fairy, in hopes of getting a new one. However, she keeps on getting demerits for being late to class, and Danders Anders, the water polo star, keeps kidnapping her so he could use her fairy. After Charlie's concerned parents tell her to do community service to work off her demerits, she finds herself tending to gardens with the girl she hates, Fiorenze Burnham-Stone. Fiorenze has a boy-attracting fairy, and Charlie dislikes her. On the other hand, Fiorenze's parents are fairy experts, and they might be able to help Charlie get rid of her fairy. After much convincing, Charlie finally agrees to visit Fiorenze's house to see what Fiorenze's parents have to say. Unexpectedly, Charlie and Fiorenze manage to become friends, and Charlie learns that Fiorenze wants to get rid of her own fairy as much as Charlie does. The two decide to switch fairies, using one of the methods in Dr. Burnham Stone's top-secret fairy book. However, switching fairies also means switching the problems that come with them. Now, Charlie and Fiorenze must find a way to completely get rid of both of their fairies. Author Justine Larbalestier crafts a hilarious tale filled with laughs, gasps, and lots of fairies. Readers will be fully entertained by this great read. I would definitely give this book a 5/5!

Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary

Just One Day

Gayle Forman

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Danielle

Is it possible for a novel to make me more wanderlust than I already am? I’m pretty sure Just One Day did just that. Forman’s writing is gorgeous; it felt as though I was in Paris for that one day with Willem and Allyson. I've never read any of Ms Forman's previous works; after reading this, I'm looking forward to doing so. I now believe in the possibility of falling in love with someone in one day. I shouldn't, but I do thanks to Willem and Allyson. That's how cute and amazing Part One of Just One Day was... how believable, too. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling Part Two much, I'm guessing due to the fact Allyson is back in America and in college. We had to leave the beautiful descriptions of Paris; the bubbly feeling of adoration from the romance. Don't get me wrong, Part Two was more about Allyson realizing who she was and that was done right, but I felt it was a bit slow and most of it was redundant. However, the last one hundred pages makes up for it all... just thinking about that ending makes my eyes water. I recommend this novel to everyone.

Genre: Romance, Contemporary

Of Poseidon

Anna Banks

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Ellie

In this story, purple eyes aren't just rare. They determine who you are. In the book, Of Poseidon by Anna Banks, a young girl named Emma literally crashes into the life of Galen, a mysterious boy with an unusual past as well as future. Though Galen's sister is convinced that the clumsy human girl is just that, clumsy and human, Galen is sure of otherwise. She may be the key to connecting two underwater kingdoms, one of which he was raised in. For Galen is a Syrena, otherwise known as a mermaid. This is something Emma will soon be intimately acquainted with. And there will be consequences. Well, where should I start? I absolutely loved this book! So much so that I recommended it to many of my friends. It made me think of mermaids on a completely different level, and the lovable, funny characters stayed with me for a long time. If you're looking for a romantic summer read with a twist, this book is for you!

Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary, Romance

The Queen of Attolia

Megan Whalen Turner

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Cassandra

Sequel to The Thief, The Queen of Attolia does not disappoint. The book takes on a darker tone, changing from first person narrative to omniscient third person—a stark contrast with our protagonist Eugenides’ unreliable point of view in the first book. Picking up where the first left off, the sequel continues with the Queen of Attolia seeking revenge upon Eugenides, the Thief of Eddis, who outwitted her in the past. When she finally captures him, she cuts off his hand to restore her reputation as a savage, powerful, cold queen. Stakes are high with an impending war between three kingdoms and an outside empire trying to unseat Attolia. The plot takes a political turn, as the one-handed thief must steal more than a tangible object by manipulating situations and outwitting his enemies. Author Megan Whalen Turner still weaves inventive stories of the kingdom’s deities between the politically heavy plot, and Eugenides retains his infamous sense of dry humor in his daring jibes at the queen of Attolia. Turner writes with elevated language that sets her novel a cut above other children’s books. Filled with plot twists that will have readers exclaiming out loud, The Queen of Attolia will certainly capture readers’ hearts with well-rounded characters shrewdness and vulnerability.

Genre: Fiction