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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 Sorin
Despite the fact that Black Ice is 392 pages, I completed it in 2 hours because, within the first 2 pages, I was hooked. Fitzpatrick spins a dangerous tale of murder, love, and suspense as a teenage girl winds up in the middle of an unsolved murder case. When Britt Pheiffer is caught in a snowstorm, she seeks the help of two strangers who hide dark secrets. It isn’t until it’s too late that she realizes the danger she’s in. Held at gunpoint, she’s forced to lead them through the woods. After having secret conversations with the more approachable of the two, Britt realizes that he may not be the bad guy she thinks him to be. They team up against the murderer, only to discover that the true murderer was there the whole time and not at all who they thought it was. I absolutely love this book and I would recommend it to anybody who has a chunk of time on their hands because once you start it, you won’t stop till you finish it. I felt as if I was there right alongside Britt, feeling the tingly feeling when you know something is wrong and the heart wrenching feeling when you have to choose between two people you love, or thought you loved. Even better, I immediately fell in love with Mason’s midnight hair, piercing gaze and bad boy demeanor. So, will Britt make it out of those woods alive? Or will she fall victim to the same crime that took place a few years back?
Genre: Romance, Thriller
Reviewed by Amber
"Call Me María" is a short, beautifully crafted epistolary novel. Each page is rich and vibrant with culture. As the chapters unfold, we learn about the life of a fifteen year old Puerto Rican born girl by the name of María. Her colorful and tropical young life on the island of Puerto Rico unfortunately didn’t last as her American born father longed to move back to New York. María’s transition to the American life in a New York barrio leaves her feeling empty and she dreams of her homeland back with her mother. María is a girl caught living between two worlds. She speaks three languages, English, Spanish and Spanglish. Spanglish is what she admires most because of the fact that it has such a diverse lexicon. María enjoys writing poems, holds on tight to her native born language of Spanish each and every day, and adventures through the barrio with her unique friends Whoopee and Uma. María’s character is set on waiting for the springtime in which she’ll burst through the cold and gray concrete atmosphere she’s consumed in, just like a spring flower. Overall, I'm still fascinated to have read a latino/a based novel written by an actual latina, Judith Ortiz-Cofer. You’ll find Cofer’s novel to be authentic with a genuine story to tell.
Genre: Realistic Fiction
Reviewed by Stacy
Exciting and thrilling, the book, “ Genius: The Game” by Leopoldo Gout will pull you into a vortex of adventure and danger. Three geniuses named, Naija Boi (Tunde) , Rex, and Cali are not your average geniuses. Each one has a mission. Tunde wants to improve the lives of the people living in his town (he even built a solar power tower from scratch). Rex has designed a program (from scratch) to find his brother and just needs to find a quantum computer. Cali wants to expose as many rotten and corrupt government officials as she can. Tunde’s gift catches the attention of a corrupt military man and he demands Tunde build him a machine capable of disrupting other machines close to it. It’s dangerous and Tunde knows it, but he can’t do anything because he has been threatened by this military man to do what he says. If he doesn't then something bad might happen to the people in his village. Meanwhile, the game has begun. Everyone has things at stake, but they all know they have to go in order to help Tunde save his village from destruction. I honestly love this book because it is something that I haven’t read before and keeps you interested all throughout the book. If you are looking for a book with suspense, then this is the book for you.
Reviewed by Samantha
The name Mather doesn't mean much in most towns. Then again, Salem isn't most towns. Samantha Mather discovers that real quick when she first moves to the home of the witch trials three months after her father falls into a coma. Related to Cotton Mather, the man responsible for the deaths of many women declared as "witches" her last name attracts the attention of everyone at school, especially the group called The Descendants. Descended from the original women accused of witchcraft, their immediate interest in Sam reveals the hostile feelings they still harbor toward her long dead relative Cotton. As much as Sam tries to avoid them, odd occurrences begin happening around her and people start to die. Unfortunately for the Descendants and Sam, they must team up together to solve the reason behind the mysterious events before it's too late for all of them. "How to Hang a Witch" by Adriana Mather has an interesting story line, but the book does not live up to its intriguing title. To me, the book started out strong, but became too disjointed and flat as the plot progressed. I wouldn't recommend it as I had a hard time finishing the book.
Reviewed by Tori
Have you ever fantasized about a zombie outbreak? Already created an escape plan for when the undead take over your city? How about wondered who you'd have to leave behind in the event a zombie was chasing your friends? All of the above can be said for high-schooler Brian and his group of friends. Brian and his buddies are misfits and dropouts, meaning they don't do schoolwork and frequently miss class. When the day of the outbreak arrives they have the advantage of not being locked in a classroom, a fact that is both a blessing and a curse. On one hand it's good to be locked away from the zombies, but how do you escape the class room? And what happens in the event your sister and ex-girlfriend (whom you have unrequited feelings for) are in their respected class rooms somewhere on campus? Brian is stuck with the choice of saving the lives of his friends and his own, or risking everything in attempt to save the ones he loves. In general I love zombie movies, books, and anime. So, when it came to this book I was beyond stoked to find a story that was easy to relate to on the high school spectrum, but had enough zombies and action sequences to satisfy my zombie craving. Tom Leveen cleverly executes the story line and you have to read to the end to discover Brian's fate!
Genre: Action, Suspense
Reviewed by Kaitlyn
In The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken, a disease has killed 98% of America’s population of adolescents. The remaining 2% have developed strange powers including creation and control of fire, mind control, control of electricity, telekinesis, and geniousness. Fearing the kids’ abilities, the government has put them in so called “rehabilitation” camps where they are made to work all day and suppress their abilities. Ruby Daly is one of the dangerous ones and has kept her powers a secret for fear of being killed like the rest of the more destructive ones. On the verge of being discovered, Ruby escapes with the help of a nurse and once she's outside the gate that has been her world for the past six years, she realizes how much the country has changed. Ruby joins a group of kids that have also escaped their camp and learns of a place called East River that is supposed to be a safe haven for kids where they can use their abilities freely and learn how to control them. In hopes of finally being able to control her abilities, Ruby helps them in their search traveling all over Virginia and West Virginia. Filled with excitement and twists, The Darkest Minds offers an new take on dystopian society in a very realistic way while still including important fictitious aspects that make it seem surreal.
Genre: Fiction, Dystopia
Reviewed by Leslie
The Midnight Star is the third book in the Young Elites series, and initially it doesn’t seem like a very deep read, but as the novel progresses, it paints a larger theme of atonement, guilt, and regret. Adelina is the ruler of the vast empire she has conquered with the help of her ability to cast illusions of pain and fear in her enemies, but she is haunted by whispers that urge her to give up control and unleash fear and fury and pain to everyone around her. Because of this darkness, she has cast away everyone she ever loved and the sister who helped her keep the voices at bay. At the same time, something is poisoning the world, and Adelina and a group of young people with extraordinary powers, the young elites, have to relinquish their powers in order to restore balance to the world. The voices that haunt Adelina and her loneliness and guilt over the murders she’s committed make The Midnight Star a story of repentance and the importance of sacrifice, not just for the sake of others, but for personal redemption and so that we can live with ourselves afterwards. This book nudged a few tears out me and encourages pondering the question of when it is right to sacrifice oneself completely. The Midnight Star revealed that no one is ever completely dark, and there is always hope for redemption and a better life.
Genre: Dark Fantasy
Sarah J. Maas
Reviewed by Leslie
As the King’s Champion, Celaena Sardothien is charged with assassinating enemies of the crown, warned that if she doesn’t, the king will kill her friend Nehemia, the visiting princess of a conquered land, and Chaol, the captain of the guard with whom she may be in love. In order to protect them, Celaena rebels secretly, but only when she can deceive the king with regards to her actions. However, when the king assigns her to kill a friend from her past life, Celaena discovers a plot to put the last survivor of a conquered country on the throne again, and finds that the king is close to controlling all of the three ancient power sources that would render him unstoppable. Celaena has to choose between remaining inactive to protect her friends and hide from her past, or fighting and risking everything. Yet the longer she remains inactive, the more circumstances press upon her and betrayals, losses, and her past come rushing to meet her. Although The Crown of Midnight is fairly slow moving and slightly frivolous at first, the plot and quality improve as it advances, and it grows enthralling. If you have the patience to get through the beginning (which is very much worth it!) then I highly recommend Crown of Midnight.
Reviewed by Samantha
Frances Mace knows that her parents were murdered on the ship Persephone. She knows that out of the 327 passengers, only 4 survived the massacre while the others were killed. She knows that Libby, the friend she made on the cruise, and survived seven days with at sea, wasn't saved in time by the ship that was sent to find her. What she doesn't know is why the other two survivors, Senator Wells and his son Grey, lied about the whole ordeal to the entire world. Now, at eighteen, four years after the devastating event that ripped apart her life, Frances Mace is dead... but Libby is back. When Libby's father realized that Frances could be in danger due to the suspicious circumstances regarding the ship's demise he proposed she become an entirely different person: his daughter. Frances has spent the last four years of her life becoming Libby... and planning her revenge on Senator Wells and his family. She wants answers and nothing will get in her way, not even the forgotten love of Libby's past, Shepherd, or Grey, who Frances first fell in love with on the Persephone. Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan will take you through a masterfully articulated scheme that evolves from a girl so consumed with pain and hatred that she loses herself. The book was somewhat chaotic, but overall quite interesting. Besides a bit of a disappointing ending, the book was enjoyable and I would definitely recommend it.
Reviewed by Amber
Willowdean Dickson is Dumplin’ and she is a star. She is a curvy Texan teenager with a heart as true as the beloved Dolly Parton tracks she listens to. Willowdean lives in a little town where The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant is on everyone’s mind (including her formerly crowned, now organizer mother) except her own. She works at a local burger joint where she has an undeniable crush on her coworker, Bo Larson, ever since the first time they met. Or at least that is what she thought. I was caught up with reading how her life began to unfold over her summer vacation as she and Bo developed a magnificent chemistry. Only, instead of her being overcome with bliss, doubts are surfaced as her character’s boldness is overcome with feelings of insecurity about her body. Willowdean’s life is very real and poignant as her personality starts to crack and dwindle until a sign from her beloved deceased aunt Lucy gives her the unexpected decision of a lifetime and a chance for her to surely shine again. I truly admired Willow’s will to regain her self-confidence by entering the one thing she had always glossed over, The Miss Teen Blue Bonnet Pageant. She, as much as anyone, deserves to steal the show. Euphoric and inspiring, Willowdean will take you on an adventure of a lifetime. Anyone who has ever gone through insecurities about their bodies should definitely read Dumplin’.
Genre: Young Adult Fiction, Contemporary, Romance