Skip to content
How do I...?
Find your next book using our nifty booklists!
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 Karen
Here we are, a generation born at the turn of the twenty-first century. One would probably think the world now is a much different place than it was a hundred years ago. Although A Tree Grows in Brooklyn was published in 1943, and the story opens in the year 1912, it has proven to be an ageless story about growing up. Upon opening the book, you are introduced to Francie Nolan and her family consisting of her younger brother, hardworking mother, flighty but loveable father, and somewhat eccentric aunts. Even today, it is easy to relate to Francie’s concerns about her relatives, education, and future. The story follows Francie as she evolves from a delicate, introverted child into an intelligent, strong-willed young woman. By the time the story closes in 1918, you have already become a part of the Nolan family. Even though Francie’s life is not constantly packed with action, the excitement of her daily adventures compels you to continue reading. Betty Smith’s use of simple words allows for easy comprehension and her vivid descriptions help you to visualize each character as if he or she were an old friend. I consider A Tree Grows in Brooklyn to be one of the best books I have read. Because of some mature elements, I would recommend this book to teenagers above the age of twelve.
Genre: Classic Fiction
Reviewed by Avery
Samantha Kingston lives a charmed life. She's part of the popular crowd, has glittering friends, the ideal boyfriend and a loving family. But everything turns upside down when she dies in a car crash, and gets to relive her last day. Over and over again. It seems the universe needs her to fix something. Before I Fall is a fast paced novel, and is one of those books that is so enrapturing that you'll just have to read it in one sitting! Honestly after I read the first chapter I really didn't care for the main character, she was a bit rude and snobbish. In spite of this I made myself read a little bit more of the story and that's when I fell in love with it. And truly that's what the book is about disregarding one's initial judgments to dig deeper and find the real character of others.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reviewed by Ivanica
Before high school starts, five completely different teenagers are put together as a group during freshman orientation in a small New York town. There is a daughter of a superstar, a boy struggling with his sexuality, a girl who supposedly has it all, a boy hoping to grow up, and a girl trying to erase the stereotypes given to her in middle school. They all decide to write letters to their future selves, and meet back up on the day they graduate high school. In the four years that follow, these teens experience everything from first love to death to heartbreak. But what they all don’t know is that by the end of high school, their lives had all been intertwined in some small or big way. Mackler writes a painfully realistic story of the ups and downs of high school, and illustrates the different perspectives of these troubling four years. Her story isn’t just about some random teenagers, but is unique and unlike any other young adult novel because she weaves the contrasting lives of these teens in a way that is almost enchanting. I chose to procrastinate on homework and abandon sleep because of this book, and it was definitely worth it! I highly recommend this book to teens over the age of 15.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Cecily Von Ziegesar
Reviewed by Ariana
The Gossip Girl series by Cecily Von Ziegesar are all filled with scandal and rumors, but Nobody Does It Better is definitely one of my favorites. Serena, Blair, Nate, Dan and Jenny are all teenagers who attend a prestigious private school in New York City. They have all been accepted into ivy leagues and are deciding which ones they want to go to. Deciding which college they'd like to attend is nearly impossible without upsetting someone in their group, because not everyone got into the college of their choice. Jenny, being a freshman, is trying every possible thing to get thrown out of school so her father will send her to boarding school. Buying designer clothing, stealing their parents yachts, random french girls falling in love with boys only they can have... this book is filled with betrayal, laughter, and spoiled teenagers who have no idea. I definitely recommend this book to anyone who wishes to disappear to a world filled with games.
Genre: Teen Drama
Reviewed by Samantha
Romancing the Dark in the City of Light by Ann Jacobus addresses many serious topics including suicide, depression, and addiction. It is about a girl named Summer Barnes who is redoing her senior year for the second time in Paris. The granddaughter of a man who made a fortune off of chickens, she has been left a considerable amount of money. The only catch is that she has to graduate from a four year university before she turns twenty two in order to receive her inheritance. This wouldn’t be a huge deal if Summer wasn’t battling depression, alcoholism, and the overall feeling of being tired of life. In Paris, Summer meets two guys, one mysterious and alluring; the other sweet and real. She falls in love with both, not realizing that the first is a love she can’t control and doesn’t understand. The message of this book was really great and I definitely wanted Summer to get help and survive the entire time. However, the actual book itself was very boring despite the great concept and the personification of death. I loved the thought of the book once I understood its meaning, but the way it was written was hard to follow and sometimes slow. I wouldn’t recommend this book because to me, it was a waste of my time and none of the characters were very appealing.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Cheryl A. Rainfield
Reviewed by Avelyn
Sarah Meadows spends almost every moment of her day writing comics and wishing she was somebody else, someone prettier and without the port-wine stain covering her cheek. Nick is a comic-book artist and Sarah’s secret admirer who mostly everyone avoids. The two classmates seem like the perfect duo, and Nick wishes they were; if only Sarah would notice him. “Stained” offers relatable topics such as self-hate, bullying, and not fitting in, making it an excellent youth-read, but the thriller aspect adds the perfect intensity to make it different from your typical high school story. When she least expects it, Sarah is kidnapped and taken somewhere where no one can find her or hear her screams. Her days of obsessing over flawless models from magazines seem pointless compared to the ones she spends in her torture cell. Sarah’s time in her kidnapper’s cave is everything you would imagine and worse. Things back home turn devastatingly mournful. Nick can’t help but want to help Sarah’s parents find her, so he spends every moment he can trying to get the uncooperative police to do their job. I would personally suggest “Stained” as a novel best intended for older readers, since it gets realistically graphic at times. But if thrillers are your cup of tea, then this is one of the best there is. Though, admittedly, you must be willing to persevere through a few cliché chapters until you can’t wait to find out what happens to Sarah and if she survives her torturer’s wrath.
Genre: Contemporary, Thriller
S. E. Hinton
Reviewed by Maria
The only thing spinning in Bryon's mind is who he wants to be. Mark, being the complete opposite only lives and thinks in the present. In the emotionally intense book, That was then, this is now by S.E. Hinton, Bryon and Mark were as close as brothers since childhood. When Bryon's mother undergoes a surgery, they must get a job to help support the family. Bryon soon realizes that Mark is bringing a lot of cash home and discovers that Mark has been selling drugs to hippies. Bryon must make a decision. A decision that can change the relationship he has with Mark, the future for both him and Mark. That was then, this is now is personally one of my favorite books because it ends in the most realistic way. However, S.E. Hinton manages to emotionally insert you into the book. I thought the ending was amazing, raw, tragic, and heartbreaking.
Genre: YA Fiction
Reviewed by Jerry
Rick Riordan writes yet another mythological fiction, this time on Norse gods, "Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer", about a troubled sixteen year-old who adventures as a dead man. In Norse Lore, there are 9 worlds each inhabited by various beings from gods and elves to humans and the dead. It begins with Magnus, a homeless sixteen year-old orphan, dying. Quite an unusual introduction to any story, which followed the discovery of his Norse heritage and Viking ancestry. Riordan's books are, as always, hilarious and entertaining. This has to be one of his most humorous stories yet. The book also has an unusual first-person narration style which puts the reader not in the shoes of the protagonist, but rather in his shadow or by his side. Magnus's story is told almost as if he were speaking directly to you in thorough and concise detail, which kept me both engaged and entertained. Unlike most of his other books, Riordan finishes this tale with a unique ending, uniting the worlds of Percy Jackson's Greek and Roman mythology with Magnus Chase's Norse gods. I would recommend this book to all teens simply for its humor and the uniqueness, as well as the new insight on Norse mythology.
Genre: Mythological Fiction, Fantasy
Reviewed by Sandy
Captivated. That’s all I could feel as soon as I immersed my mind into Thirteen Reasons Why. The story begins with Clay Jensen, a reserved, kind high-school kid, who receives a package one day when he comes home from school. The package contains seven cassette tapes, all recorded by Hannah Baker. Prior to this moment, Clay’s classmate and crush, Hannah, had mysteriously committed suicide a few weeks back. Everyone in town grieved, but no one knew the real story as to why it happened. Clay clicks on the first tape, and from there the reader is delved quickly into the journey of Hannah narrating her side of the story on the events leading up to her death. Hannah claims she has thirteen reasons as to why she committed suicide, providing a list with each reason linked to an individual. There are two rules to this twisted tale: the first is to listen, and the second is to pass the tapes along to the next individual. Clay spends the night following an accompanying map and unraveling the tale to see how he is connected to his crush’s death, while learning dark secrets about the town and more importantly, its people. This book was a perfect mixture of suspense, tragedy, and a hint of romance as the main character mourns the one who got away. The roller coaster of emotions I received throughout the novel, from sadness to guilt to hope, was more than enough for me to recommend to mature teens!
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reviewed by Samantha
The Walking Dead has got nothing on Gena Showalter’s book Alice in Zombieland. Not only are the zombies in her book spirits, but they are also only visible to certain people. Alice Bell, the main character of the story, is one of those lucky few. After her entire family dies in a car crash and she witnesses zombies for the first time, Alice moves in with her grandparents. When she meets Cole Holland at her new school, his mysterious bad boy aura is more than she can handle. Oh and the fact that they have weird visions of them kissing every time they look into each other’s eyes. That probably adds to the attraction. Anyways, before long, Alice becomes immersed in Cole’s group, a tightknit band of teens who can all see zombies. They teach Alice how to fight and how to care for people again. Unfortunately though, her problems have just begun and just when she begins to be happy again, her life is once again struck with tragedy and she is forced to make a heartbreaking decision. Sadly that decision will remain a secret so I highly recommend you go read this book! Not only is it full of intense fight scenes between zombies and humans, but Alice is a character that anyone can relate to and want to know in person.
Genre: Paranormal, Zombies