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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 Brandon
The Jungle by Upton Sinclair follows a Jurgis Rudkus, a Lithuanian man, and his tragic life. His dynamic character is a manifestation of the uncertainty of man, and how life can just be a beautiful mirage. He immigrates to Packingtown, Chicago in the United States to pursue the promised American dream. Life seems too good. He married the woman of his dreams and the world seems like his oyster. Then Jurgis’ world crashes down in front of him -- his life becomes a tragedy. This book is filled with page-turning details. The sorrowful accounts of the life of a once optimistic immigrant speak volumes on the meaning of life. After reading this novel I can personally say that my perspectives have changed, my mind has been opened to new ideas, and my capacity for empathy has grown.
Genre: Classic Fiction
Reviewed by Avery
17-year-old Lennie not only is dealing with the issues of an average teenager, but the sudden death of her older sister as well. Lennie is reevaluating all her relationships; falling away from some, and growing closer to those she'd never expect. For instance her best friend is more distant than ever, but the boys in her life are suddenly becoming more present. This poignant juxtaposition of death and new love is artfully created throughout the novel. Each chapter begins with a snippet of poetry that Lennie has written, which just adds another intricate layer to the story telling. Lennie is dealing with a myriad of emotions and the reader is taken on this roller coaster with her. Those emotions are relayed very purposefully though, with language that echoes Lennie's poetry. With the combination of talented writing and complex characters, The Sky is everywhere, is sure to be an enjoyable read for all.
Genre: Contemporary, Romance
Reviewed by Ariana
Let's Get Lost by Adi Alisaid was intriguing, smart, and had a bit of everything in it. It's from five different characters point of view, while being focused on one girl: Leila. Leila is the epitome of mystery and experience. Each character has a problem that they think is the end of their world, and Leila breezes into their lives and solves everything. Living in her car, Leila is on a mission to see the northern lights on a solo road-trip. Leila increasingly becomes more interesting throughout the novel as her reason for wanting to see the lights changes. First she meets Hudson, whom she forms a rapid love at first sight relationship with. Then Bree, a lost soul, which was a thrilling section as they got into trouble with the law. Then Elliot, who Leila first meets in a scary encounter but quickly becomes a mission to get the girl. Finally she meets Sonia, where they go on a quest to discover different ways to cross a border. At the end the novel switches over to Leila's point of view, which comes with a twist. Experiencing hope, loss, and letting go of the things that humans can't control, Leila learns who she really is. This book was very interesting. While it did get slow at times, the exciting parts were really well done.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reviewed by Ivanica
A Little Something Different definitely lives up to it’s name as soon as the story begins. The novel follows the growing relationship between two college students named Gabe and Leah, who are both shy, innocent, but unique in their own ways. Gabe and Leah slowly fall in love through missed opportunities, far too many English Literature essays, and frequent visits to their beloved Starbucks. However the sweet and heartwarming tale of Gabe and Leah is told by everyone but Gabe and Leah, as the whole novel is written in fourteen different points of view. From the barista at Starbucks, to their caring college professor, to each of their closest friends, their love unfolds through the eyes of everyone around them. This book is simple yet captivating because of the way it is told and how Gabe and Leah’s story is weaved together beautifully. A Little Something Different will capture your heart and make you smile more times than you can count, and make you wish to be a part of Gabe and Leah’s adorable tale.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Reviewed by Maria
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children by Kirstin Cronn-Mills, tells the story of a teenage boy named Gabe, who's birth name is Elizabeth. Seventeen year old Gabe knows he's a boy - he's known this for a long time. Gabe's new job as a DJ allows him to be himself through his late night local radio station. It doesn't take long until Gabe's identity becomes a difficulty when facing the challenges of being a teenager: falling in love, self acceptance, and your parents, but most importantly the struggle of coming out as transgender to a small high school community. Through the help of his 70 year old neighbor/ friend, John, and his best friend since middle school, Paige, Gabe learns how to accept who he is but most importantly learns who he is. I would personally recommend this book to anyone. I really liked how the book is told from Gabe's perspective, it allows the readers to put themselves in Gabe's shoes and feel what he does - anger, sadness, and confusion.
Genre: Contemporary Fiction, LGBTQ
Reviewed by Karen
Upon skimming the inside cover flap of Born of Illusion by Teri Brown, one is led to believe that he or she is about to unearth the truth behind a teenaged girl with psychic powers, who just might be the illegitimate daughter of the legendary Harry Houdini. However, the story is not compelling or very exciting at all and it is paired with a flat, one-dimensional cast of characters that include Anna, the monotonous protagonist, as well as her passive-aggressive narcissistic mother, airheaded friend that married rich, an irrelevant stalker that appears out of nowhere, and two unappealing love interests: one is strange combination of formal and affectionate, while the other is supposedly charming, aside from his deeply-rooted hatred towards his entire family. Over the course of the novel, Anna stresses her desire to be able to control her powers, which include mind reading and speaking to the dead, in order to live a “normal” life. I thought the story was mundane and repetitive, just like Anna’s character. The questions brought up by reading the excerpt are almost ignored. For example, I was very excited to discover whether Anna is really Houdini’s daughter or not. Houdini was mentioned a few times, as well as seen, but the other characters barely interacted with him. I would not recommend this book to anyone, unless you enjoy a slow-moving plot, bland characters, and being left with a mountain of unanswered questions.
Reviewed by Ivanica
Dumplin’ is the story of Willowdean Dickinson who has proclaimed herself the “fat-girl” of her small town in Texas. Willowdean is proud of who she is, but still does struggle with her body image because of her slim, charming mother who is known for hosting the town’s beauty pageant each year. Willowdean finishes up her sophomore year of high school feeling lost and confused about where her life is going, as she has ended up having her heart broken and losing her best friend all in a few days. But in the summer that follows, Willowdean impulsively decides to round up some of the girls at school who are seen as “freaks” and they all enter in the town’s beauty pageant. Willowdean endures a crazy journey throughout the summer, and in the process she learns more about herself, life, and her family. Murphy’s writing is funny and heartwarming all at the same time, and is the perfect book for any teen. I highly recommend this unique book, as it was very enjoyable to read and hard to put down until the very end.
Genre: Fiction, Contemporary
Reviewed by Samantha
For most of his life, Eon has been training to become a Dragoneye, the male companion of one of the twelve dragons connected to one of the twelve heavenly animals: Rat, Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, and Pig. Every year one of the dragons ascends and chooses a new boy for its apprentice so that the previous one may become the official Dragoneye. Now, it is time for the Rat Dragon to once again ascend, and Eon knows that he must be chosen to continue being useful to his master. The only problem is Eon is not even a boy. He is actually Eona, a 16 year old girl impersonating a 12 year old boy. Women are not welcome to the world of the Dragoneye, and her secret could lead to her death. Her only hope is to be chosen by the Rat Dragon, who’s current Dragoneye, Lord Ido, is allies with the king’s brother, a man who wants the throne for himself. One the day of the choosing, Eona ends up getting chosen by the Dragon Dragon, the famed Mirror Dragon who had been missing for 500 years. With her new powers, Eona will be the empire’s only hope to stop Lord Ido and preserve the royal family. This book Eon, by Alison Goodman, was extremely interesting, but very long and complicated, so I would suggest only reading it if you have enough time to actually enjoy the story.
Reviewed by Maria
It's About Love by Steven Camden is the story of Luke and Leia. Luke is a teenager from the rough part of the city who attends college on the other side of the city. Luke's life revolves around films. On Luke's first day in college, he meets a girl named Leia. Both Luke and Leia come to realize they have some things in common. A bond then begins to evolve. Throughout the course of the story, Leia and Luke both learn that romantic love is not the only kind of love that matters. But also family love and friendship love. But most importantly loyalty. This novel was far off expectations. I thought that based on the title the story would be a simple typical boy meets girl story. However, I was surprised. I loved how Luke and Leia came from different backgrounds yet their love of film brings them close.
Genre: Romance, Contemporary
Reviewed by Ariana
A cocky, immortal love goddess is matchmaking her fellow gods up in Olympia as sport. Only Everything by Kieran Scott is the first novel in a unique, romantic series. With gifts to help her see people’s true desires and feelings, Eros regularly matches up both people on Earth and Olympia. When an immortal match goes wrong, Eros feels responsible and uses her new unusual powers to try and fix it. By fixing it, she accidentally falls for a forbidden love. When her forbidden love is found out, Eros is banished to Earth to match three humans without her powers, or else her love will be killed. Calling herself True, Eros pretends to be a high school student, but being a gorgeous goddess with no clue of normal teenage behavior, she easily stands out. Running out of time to save the love of her long life, Eros uses drastic measures to accomplish her goal. Ending with a surprising twist, this novel was witty, interesting, and a perfect spin on cupid.