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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.

Dare You To

Katie McGarry

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Annaluz

Beth has a hard life. Hard because her mother is a drug addict, should be in jail, and hasn’t really been there for Beth. However, Beth still loves her mother and the last thing she wants is to be ripped from her by her baseball-star-uncle and aunt—who don’t really want her. Beth is forced to go to a new school where she is unhappy. However things take a turn with Ryan, a boy she meets at Taco Bell. Ryan asks Beth for her number on a dare. Although Beth refuses, this is the start of their relationship and the “dares.” Ryan doesn’t have a choice life; his is just as troubled in different ways. Together they make a seemingly perfect couple as they support each other and come to rely on each other. However with Beth’s trust issues, things get complicated. Dare You To can be a difficult book to get through because of Beth’s attitude. Readers may become extremely frustrated with her because of her inability to trust. However the plot, two points of view, and emotional themes make it a captivating read. Dare You To is the second book in the Pushing the Limits series.

Genre: Fiction, Romance

Her Dark Curiosity

Megan Shepherd

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Danielle

This is the second installment of The Madman’s Daughter trilogy; however, this is also a spoiler-free review. Megan Shepherd’s stories are simply amazing. I was glued to my bed and didn’t leave it for hours because I was so enthralled by this vivid and haunting story. I look back at my rating for The Madman's Daughter guiltily because, even though I did like it, I did not like Juliet and I did not like the love triangle. I found Edward to be rather dull in the first book; now I'm so confused as to who I love more -- Edward or Montgomery? And I understand why Juliet is so conflicted and constantly switching who she chooses. Her reasons and sentiments are valid. But there's a lot more to this masterpiece than the love triangle -- friendship, secrets, betrayals, giving and taking, science, coming to terms with who you are... and this is merely a PIECE of Her Dark Curiosity. The friendship between Lucy and Juliet is by far one of the best I've ever read. I adored it so much -- no judgments, no contradictions. I'm loving how Shepherd is wrapping this story up. I recommend getting your hands on these books and prepare for a rather fun haunting. Shepherd’s retellings of timeless classics are something new brought to the table of Young Adult literature.

Genre: Fantasy, Romance, Gothic, Retellings

I Am Number Four

Pittacus Lore

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Victoria

On the planet Lorien, millions of miles away from Earth, the Loric lived peacefully among one another. Lorics look like humans, but they can do things that humans can only dream about. Some Loric, called the Garde, possess legacies, or powers, and their job was to protect Lorien. Lorics born without legacies were called Cêpan. Cêpan helped keep the planet in order and helped the Garde develop their legacies to their full potential. When Lorien gets taken over by the planet Mogadore, the Lorics quickly send nine Garde and nine Cêpan to Earth, in hopes that the nine would one day be able to win back Lorien soil. A spell was cast on the Garde, ensuring that the nine could not be killed out of order unless they found each other. Four is one of the Lorien Nine. All of his life on Earth has been spent running away from the Mogadorians, moving from city to city, switching from one identity to the next, in fear of being caught. One, Two, and Three are dead. Four now has to be more careful than ever... because he’s next. Pittacus Lore crafted a masterpiece filled with action, romance, and suspense. Readers can follow Four through the twists and turns of his journey to save his race and maybe even find love along the way. “I Am Number Four” is the first book of the Lorien Legacies. If you are looking for an exciting summer read, you may want to consider this book!

Genre: Science Fiction, Thriller, Adventure

Les Miserables

Victor Hugo

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Jason

Les Miserable, by Victor Hugo, tells the dramatic, heart-wrenching tale of Jean Valjean, a peasant who was unjustly imprisoned for nearly two decades. After escaping on probation, he finds shelter in a monastery, and turns over a new leaf to begin life as an honest man. The novel follows Jean Valjean on his journeys, describing each emotional struggle he experiences as he fights to remain honest while preserving his freedom. As Jean Valjean’s story draws to a close, it is soon replaced with that of Cosette, a young girl adopted by Jean Valjean to save her from the cruelty from her original guardians. Les Miserable follows her as she blossoms from a malnourished, overworked child into a beautiful woman. I would recommend Les Miserable to the older teen audiences because of the complexity of the plot and the length of over 800 pages. It’s a fascinating read, as Victor Hugo takes on the role of an investigator and often times gives various accounts of the same story. Hugo’s writing style paired with a masterful storyline creates an inviting, colorful world. I highly recommend this book for everyone to read. If you’re unsure about reading this book, consider watching the movie Les Miserable, directed by Tom Hooper.

Genre: Historical Fiction

Second Chance Summer

Morgan Matson

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Alyssa

Taylor Edwards always ran away from her problems instead of facing them. So 5 summers ago when things got complicated she ran away and lost her best friend, Lucy, and boyfriend, Henry. Now that cancer has caught up to her dad, Taylor and her family are going back to their lake house in the Poconos to spend one last summer together as a family. But going back to that house meant memories of her past. Memories of Henry and Lucy. Taylor will finally get the chance to make up for everything and maybe has a shot to get a second chance at fixing things. A second chance of love, friendship, and family. Second Chance Summer is a great book that many teens can relate to. I really loved how some of the chapters were flashbacks of Taylor's past, so the readers would be able to fully understand and visualize what had actually happened. Morgan Matson wrote an incredible book that everyone should get their hands on. The story and the journey will change your perspective on friends, relationships, and family. Second Chance Summer illustrates how you should build up courage to face your obstacles and to not run away from them.

Genre: Fiction, Contemporary

Shadow and Bone

Leigh Bardugo

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Jacy

Leigh Bardugo draws readers into the wonderful and mystical world of Ravka in the high-fantasy novel, Shadow and Bone. This is a masterfully crafted tale with grisha, magical animals, and seas of darkness. And there is only one who can defeat the darkness of the Unsea and that’s Alina Starkov, orphan and failing mapmaker. Alina soon discovers the magic she is holding back and is sucked into the world of the grisha, but not without a price. The Darkling serves as the enigmatic ruler of all grisha and Alina is inexplicably drawn to him, leaving behind her childhood friend and possibly herself. Alina’s journey is a crazy one and readers will be drawn into the darkness of Ravka quickly. Bardugo’s hilarious yet ominous voice will resonate with readers as Alina struggles to find the balance between who you are and who you can become.

Genre: Fantasy

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Stephen Chbosky

Ages 14-18

Reviewed by Cassandra

Written in the form of letters from protagonist Charlie, The Perks of Being a Wallflower explores the rocky roller coaster of adolescence. As Charlie makes his way through his first year in high school, two seniors, Sam and Patrick, take him under their wings. For the first time in his life, Charlie feels accepted as part of a group. The book boldly hits issues such as drugs, sexuality, and trauma that the three friends must navigate through. Charlie learns that even in the pitch-black darkness teens experience when they hit rock bottom, there are still moments of embracing the wind and a feeling of infinity. What makes the book such a precious gem lies in Charlie’s straightforward narration. His wallflower personality comes through in the simple sentence structure, honest thought, and silent observations—and yet throughout the whole book Charlie retains the unidentifiable charm that makes him so likable. Charlie’s utter loneliness and confusion leaps off the page, but the book balances poignant moments with a sprinkle of heartbreaking humor and hope. Much like other YA realistic novels out there, Perks is largely character-driven, and author Stephen Chbosky’s creation of quiet Charlie, gorgeous Sam, and wild ring-leader Patrick will live infinitely in the minds of readers.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Contemporary

The Warrior Heir

Cinda Williams Chima

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Sanduni

People instruct you to take your medication for a reason, and Jack Swift, a high school student living an unremarkable life in Ohio, understands that. After all, he’s been taking his prescriptions since he was a kid. One March day however, he decides to skip his treatment, and suddenly finds himself stronger, faster, and more confident. It’s all fun and games until he loses control of himself during soccer tryouts and nearly kills another player. Shortly after the incident, Jack finds out that he is one of the last warriors of Weirlind, an underground society run by the feuding houses of the White Rose and the Red rose. Although there are two houses, only one can rule the Weir, and to determine the ruler, warriors sponsored by the houses play a tournament to the death called ‘The Game’. But warrior numbers are running low, and Jack finds himself as a rope in a game of tug-of-war. The houses want him on their team, and they will stop at nothing to get him to play. Cinda Williams Chima weaves the classic tale of a hero overcoming all adversities, and The Warrior Heir is just the beginning of the story.

Genre: Fantasy, Contemporary

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