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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.

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Angelfire

Courtney Allison Moulton

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Stacy

A senior in high school and ready to go out into the world, Ellie is your average high schooler trying to make it out alive. From wanting a car to struggling with grades, she is the definition of normal. There is one thing that makes her everything but normal: she has the job to hunt and kill reapers that are a danger to the human race. She is oblivious to this until Will drops into her life. He is her “guardian” and protector that has accompanied her for centuries in fights. She fights and fights the reality that she has the job to kill and hunt reapers. She also fights-or not so much- the growing attraction she is developing with Will. Yes he is centuries old but she can’t help it. This is probably the third or fourth time reading this book and my love for it has not died at all. Courtney Allison Moulton wrote Angelfire in a way that allows you to see and understand what Ellie is going through in the process of being told who she really is and what she has to do. I enjoyed this book very much and highly recommend for readers who are looking for fantasy mixed with adventure and romance.

Genre: Romance, Fantasy, Action

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Much Ado About Nothing

William Shakespeare

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Leslie

When Don Pedro, ruler of Aragon, and his friends, the war heroes Claudio and Benedick, visit their friend Leonato and Leonato’s daughter and niece, Hero and Beatrice, Claudio and Hero fall deeply in love, to everyone’s delight. However, Beatrice has not forgiven Benedick for breaking her heart a long time ago, resulting in a constant stream of insults, pettiness, and malicious jokes between the two. Their friends tire of the incessant fighting and devise a plot to make the two fall in love with each other. Beatrice and Benedick are successfully fooled into falling in love after Beatrice is fed rumors that Benedick is in love with her, and his friends feed him rumors that Beatrice loves him. But in spite of having helped them once, false words come back to ruin the friends’ lives. Don Pedro’s brother and opponent in the war, Don John, is bitter about his defeat and seeks his revenge on the war hero Claudio’s happiness by spreading a false rumor that Hero is cheating on Claudio. In order to pursue the happy ending they so desired, the characters in the play must confront the whole truth, even the parts they had wished to keep concealed. Much Ado About Nothing is full of hidden wit and words that mask a hilarious double meaning, which combine with the comically dramatic plot, making this wonderful play a titillating read for those who read closely.

Genre: Comedy, Drama

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Slasher Girls and Monster Boys

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Sorin

Imagine R.L. Stine’s horror books, now amplify the fear factor 1,000 times and add in a mind-twisting psychological factor that is so terrifying you can barely wrap your head around it. This bloodcurdling anthology written by some of the best horrifying and unnerving writers around will play with your mind until you can’t even wrap your head around what is taking place. The best of these stories are the ones in which the authors take everyday happenings and twist them into unthinkable horrors that make you feel as if the murderer is right there next to you in the grocery store picking up some eggs. This book is is terrifying because these are no superficial, Hollywood boogeymen; these are therapists that turn their patients into psychopaths, murderers that prey on the innocent minds of children, and a Mad Hatter that turns girls into macabre marionette puppets. The sweet innocence of children is manipulated into something that would frighten any parent and make them question the smallest things their kids do. Every one of these stories opens reader’s eyes a little more as they reveal the true horrors that people don’t even want to think about as a possibility. Find a terrifying episode of Criminal Minds and a Stephen King novel, take their most unsettling factors and there you have Slasher Girls & Monster Boys.

Genre: Horror, Thriller

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The Namesake

Jhumpa Lahiri

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Amber

Rich with detail and bursting with cultural vibrancy in every chapter, The Namesake, by Jhumpa Lahiri, is a novel about complex characters whose Bengali roots are hyphenated by the foreign like environment of America. Ashima is a culturally dislocated woman who originates from her homeland of Bangladesh, India. She comes to America only because she is expected to accept her parent’s arranged marriage with another Bengali, Ashoke Ganguli. Everything from the weather to the food in America is completely different to her and, like her, her son who is born in America also goes through a state of otherness. Ashima’s son, Gogol Ganguli, becomes the protagonist of the novel as we see him grow from his early youth to his adulthood. However, like most teenagers, Gogol’s teenage self struggles with himself and goes through this state of alterity because he thinks his name doesn’t conform to him. Life happens and new experiences are what ends up shaping Ashima and Gogol Ganguli. Both Ashima and her son experience different journeys in their lives. Like the characters, I found myself being immersed into a new world and be enlightened on the concept of names and culture. I would absolutely read through this beautifully written novel again.

Genre: Realistic Fiction

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Accomplice

Eireann Corrigan

Ages 13+

Reviewed by Tori

Accomplice by Eireann Corrigan seems like it could be a really good book. The plot of the story circles around two girls that have begun to apply to college. They decide that extracurriculars and A’s in their classes are not enough, so they come up with a plan that will gather enough attention that they will be guaranteed to get into any college they want. Their plan is to set up a fake kidnapping. Wow how exciting! Yeah it could've been, if the author was a better writer. One of the girls; Chloe, hides away for weeks on end as the other girl; Finley, plays the distraught friend. At first it seemed like this book could really go somewhere but with the author's lack of clear sentences, monotonous dialog, and a very anti-climactic ending, I would not recommend this book. Personally, I don't think it was worth me staying up late to finish reading it. I was quite disappointed,and although it had potential, I would not suggest reading it.

Genre: Suspense

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Brave New World

Aldous Huxley

Ages 16-18

Reviewed by Jaslyn

This novel has relevance to our current society. People are happy as they are kept away from thinking, with enough consumer products, entertainment, drugs, and sex to distract them from potentially destabilizing ideas like politics, religion, or morality. The theme of the novel is what you love the most destroys you, which is witnessed through the eyes of John and Bernard. John has feelings and, unlike others, he is brought up in a Native American society with his mother and respects the idea of morality and faith. He also believes in marriage. Bernard is more of the society guy; he has no parents and was brought up with other deltas. Just like John, Bernard too does not feel accepted in society and it is very interesting to see the two men interact, befriend and betray. This book shows how the growing society and technology could affect our lives in a positive and negative way.

Genre: Science Fiction, Utopian and Dystopian Fiction

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Everland

Wendy Spinale

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Kaitlyn

Everland by Wendy Spinale is a new steampunk-style take on the classic story of the boy who never grows up. In this story, Gwen Darling and her little siblings, Joanna and Mikey, have been living in the toxic ruins of London--now called Everland--for a year without their parents and with few encounters with anyone else other than the marauders, an army created by Hook to capture any children still living in the city. Once captured, these kids are experimented on to find a cure for the disease that was released when a bomb was dropped on London's biological weapons lab. One day while out scavenging for food, Gwen spots a boy in a green coat and a little girl with mechanical wings taunting a group of marauders. She uses it to her advantage to safely return to her hideout to find that Joanna had been taken. Desperate to find their sister, Gwen and Mikey join Pete and Bella who take them to the Lost City, a hideout for dozens of "lost boys" that have evaded capture. As Gwen searches for her sister, she encounters new dangers and meets new allies that she never dreamed of. Despite being based on the popular and well known story of Peter Pan, Spinale manages to add creative twists. Everland is sure to thrill readers with this modern take on the timeless characters and tale of flying children, pirates, and adventure.

Genre: Steampunk, Dystopian,

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Flygirl

Sherri L. Smith

Ages 12+

Reviewed by Samantha

The one thing Ida Mae Jones wants more than anything in the world is to fly. She's been in love with flying ever since her daddy taught her how to fly the Curtiss JN-4 resting in their barn. Now, in 1943, WWII is still raging on and women finally have a chance to become pilots: through a program called the Women Airforce Service Pilots or WASP. For Ida Mae, this is her greatest opportunity and only one thing is holding her back: she's black. However, Ida Mae knows her skin tone is light enough to pass for white; and that's exactly what she does. Thus begins Ida Mae's journey, one that will challenge her and be full of hardships; but, throughout it all, Ida Mae holds strong to the only thing she's ever known: just like her daddy, she was born to fly. This book, Flygirl, by Sherri L. Smith was amazing. Although Smith explains at the end that Ida Mae and her life was fiction, the WASP program was not and neither was the discrimination of female and black pilots during WWII. I've currently been studying WWII in history, and in my opinion, this book reminded me of the movie The Tuskegee Airmen mainly because some of the events Ida Mae experienced were similar to the ones the men went though. Overall, this book was inspiring and very humbling.

Genre: Historical Fiction

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Forever

Judy Blume

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Leslie

Forever addresses the difference between first love and true love, tracing the romance between Katherine and Michael during their senior year of high school. Amidst much hesitation, cautiously dating, and coming to the decision that she is in love with Michael, Katherine agrees to have sex with Michael, to whom she gives her virginity. At the same time, Erica offers to have sex with Michael’s friend Artie, who is questioning his sexuality, in order to find out whether he is gay. Although Katherine later questions whether Michael is her true love, the situation surrounding her decision to have sex with Michael is essential. Forever was originally published in 1975, when the discussion around consensual sex and birth control was much more suppressed, so its message of the importance of protected sex, as well as the high importance it places on communication between partners and respecting people’s sexual boundaries was even more relevant. Although today’s discussion regarding sexuality and sex is much more open, Forever is still relevant because it unabashedly talks about adolescents’ feelings about and experiences with sex, details which are not strictly taboo today, but are rarely discussed.

Genre: Romance, Fiction

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Immortal Beloved

Cate Tiernan

Ages 14+

Reviewed by Samantha

Life for an immortal is never ending. For Nastasya, life has become useless as every day is spent partying; a routine she has managed for years. Witnessing an unspeakable act of dark magic performed by her friend Innocencio is the final straw, leaving her frightened and exhausted with her current lifestyle. Unable to bear living one more day with the people she calls friends, Nastasya leaves without a trace and seeks shelter at a place she was invited to years before: River's Edge. Once there, Nastasya meets River and many other immortals, including the amazingly hot Reyn, all who are trying to embrace life and the goodness inside of them. Over 400 years old, Nastasya has spent far too long trying to run away from her past. River’s Edge provides the solitude she needs to rediscover herself and the power she has long forgotten. “Immortal Beloved” by Cate Tiernan is without a doubt one of my new favorite books. Her writing is excellent and she succeeds in creating a realistic, relatable character. Throughout the entire book, Nastasya- even with all her faults- remained someone I wanted to know and befriend. You won't regret reading this book and like me you will most likely end up ordering the next two in the trilogy the minute you finish the first one!

Genre: Fiction