All Book Reviews by Genre: Other Fiction

World War Z: An Oral History of the Zombie War
Brooks, Max
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Max Brooks is an agent of the United Nations, tasked with collecting the stories of those who lived through the Zombie War. Having broken out when a young Chinese boy was bitten while swimming, it spread through illegal organ and human trafficking, hidden by governments, until a massive outbreak occurs in South Africa, shining a light in a plague that would bring humanity to the brink of extinction. Max Brooks’ World War Z chronicles the stories of people from all walks of life, from military scientists, to blind old Japanese men, to astronauts aboard the ISS, and their stories of how they survived the terrors of the assault of the living dead.

Reviewer's Name: Ryan P.
Awards:
August
Paula, Romina
2 stars = Meh
Review:

A young woman dealing with grief pours out her emotions in a long emotional letter to her friend who commit suicide. I didn't quite like this book due to the long bland feel of the story. We hear her stories through her thoughts, where she rambles on about rather uninteresting things, like mice, a cat, etc. This emotional woman tends to ramble on and on about the slightest details which can make some parts feel long and drawn out. Overall, I didn't like the depressive, bland and boring mood of the story. Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: Kyle Y
All Our Broken Pieces
Crichton, L. D.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

All Our Broken Pieces is the story of Lennon, a teenage girl with OCD and a tragic backstory, and Kyler, a teenage boy with a sad past of his own. When Lennon moves in with her dad in the famous neighborhood of Bel Air, Los Angeles after a tragic accident, she expects to feel wildly out of place. But then, she is assigned to work with Kyler for a school project and that sparks the beginning of a raw and beautiful romance. This gritty honest novel is a work of art, read this book if you want a heart wrenching, realistic teen romance.

Reviewer's Name: Emma R
The Point
Dixon, John
2 stars = Meh
Review:

***THIS BOOK WAS RECEIVED FROM THE PUBLISHER***

With the rise in popularity of the superhero genre, it was only a matter of time before it leaked into other genres. While some genres like steampunk (like in The Esper Files ) make for an interesting twist, others like military YA sci-fi are so similar as to be just one other entry in the zeitgeist. The problem with this is that other, more famous handlings of supernatural superpowers bring much more to the table than books like The Point (which doesn’t necessarily add much to either genre on the whole).

As far as I could gather, there are only three or four different “types” of mutants in The Point: telekinetic, pyrokinesis, super strength, and “other” (like dream manipulation and energy storage, the latter of which was reasonably original). I suppose franchises like X-Men and One Piece, which give each of their unique characters unique superpowers and rarely (if ever) repeat themselves, is what ruined this book for me. This only added to the sense of the faceless military machine presented in this book, as few characters stood out to me at all.

Furthermore, I didn’t like the main character at all. Sure, most YA (and this is mature YA at that—an oxymoron, I know) start with a character who needs to undergo growth by the end of the story. However, I don’t need a main character that’s so fully flawed for so long that I end up hating her before she even learns anything. This, added with numerous questions I had that were never answered, plenty of redundant and boring sections, and the fact that I wholeheartedly agreed with the villain meant that I didn’t particularly like this book.

A book that’s likely trying to cash in on superhero and/or YA trends, I give The Point 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Suite Francaise
Nemirovsky, Irene
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Suite Francaise is an interesting book detailing the experiences of multiple characters and what they face as they evacuate Paris and deal with the German occupation of France. I read this book for school but still found it very interesting. It was a bit slow at first with exposition of characters in almost every chapter. I did enjoy getting to see how different classes reacted to having to leave their homes and what they faced afterwards. Not only does Nemirovsky use multiple characters to show the difference in experience, but also her use of imagery and figurative language add to the essence of struggle. Overall, I enjoyed this book but wouldn't have chosen it myself.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie K.
Awards:
Batman: Nightwalker
Lu, Marie
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

In "Batman: Nightwalker", the early years of Bruce Wayne is retold in the style of a YA novel. Years after the death of his parents, Bruce struggles with loss, a sense of purpose, and the empire he has just inherited. When a string of mysterious crimes pop up in Gotham City, he soon gets tangled in the web.

First off, when I started this book, I didn't actually know much about the Batman universe, but it was easy to catch up -- especially considering it takes places years before Bruce's story actually begins as Batman. However, I have read Marie Lu's work before, so I had a general idea of what I was getting into. There are quite a few things I liked about this book: the plot was intricate and engaging, the protagonist was likable and interesting, and the twists and turns were really well executed. But, what kept me from giving this book five stars was the writing style. Normally, I really enjoy Marie Lu's writing style, but this book was different than her other work. The dialogue often felt really unnatural (especially when it came to Bruce and his friends). There were lots of lines that I thought were cheesy or robotic and that pulled me out of the story. Had the writing flowed a little more and the dialogue been more natural, I would've definitely given this book five stars. But, I would still recommend it because, despite the flaws, I really enjoyed it for its elaborate, high-paced plot.

Reviewer's Name: Gillian P.
The Lion, The Witch and the Wardrobe
Lewis, C.S.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The book, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis, is a wonderful read. The classic can be read by any ages and provides a fulfilling story in a fantastical world. The straightforward plot and character development also add nicely to the book's universe. The book also provides illustrations adding to the imagery of Narnia, the world in which the book is in. Overall, The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is a phenomenal book that can give any reader a great experience.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Math Curse
Scieszka, Jon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Some days you might feel that you are under a math curse where everything has become a math problem. This is the story of a girl whose life is just like that. Everything – even things that shouldn’t be math – now involve math! Work along with her to solve the problems and therefore, solve the math curse. Read and see if she succeeds.

Reviewer's Name: Carol
One Hundred Years of Solitude
Garcia Marquez, Gabriel
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

One Hundred Years of Solitude tells the tale of the rise and fall of the fictional Colombian town Macondo, and the stories of the Buendia family that inhabits the town. The novel is stellar. The characters feel alive and breathing -- they all have different motivations, desires, and weaknesses.
The reader truly begins to feel a connection with these characters as the novel progresses, and that's what makes the novel so good -- if you didn't know the town was fake, you would think it was a real place. The novel pioneered the genre of magical realism, which is a novel with a realistic view of the world that includes magical and surreal elements. The inclusion of magical realism elements in the story is what makes the book truly unique and fun to read. However, it is a very dense book, and can become very confusing very easily. If you can get past the often confusing nature of the novel, you will find a very rich and rewarding reading experience that I would recommend for anyone to read.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book follows two twin girls heading off to college, and they differ in social skills, interests, and beliefs. They share common ground over their mutual love for a book series revolving around Simon Snow. He is similar to Harry Potter. Cather, though, is much more obsessed with the series and writes fanfiction in her free time. With no interest in attending college away from her dad, unlike her sister Wren, she hides out in her dorm and avoids people until her roomate and her friend Levi drag her out. She slowly overcomes her hatred of university and gets closer with Levi, but struggles between writing what is an original idea of hers and what she takes from the Simon Snow books. I really enjoyed this book because it is easy to relate to in today’s world. With ever-present media and popular shows and books bring in the spotlight, it is hard to be feel genuine in your ideas or opinions.
The book explores different ideas or love and originality and provides a view of family and of university that is atypical. It was very interesting to read about the social dynamics of an introverted university student, but the cute romance aspect of the book also adds to the entertainment. I would recommend it for a young adult read. I would give it three and a half stars out of five.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Sing, Unburied, Sing
Ward, Jesmyn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is a mix of old folklore and spirituality, racism, social stereotypes, and empathy. It revolves around a family who face racism from the white grandfather of black children. The main characters are the mother, the son, and the baby daughter, who relies more on her brother than her own mom. Her mother spends more time doing drugs than raising her kids, so the grandparents have generally brought them up. Their father, a white drug dealer, is in prison, and the book follows the family’s road trip to go and pick him up. The novel switches between a modern setting, and the prison but from the 1940s, when the black grandfather was in jail. The story analyzes the reasons behind a broken family, and brings to light the continued racism in the southern USA. However, the spirituality plays a role because another character who joins the road trip is the mother’s dead brother, who appears as a ghost and brings up the idea of family. I enjoyed this book very much because of its complexity. The book can be a slow read, as all the scenery and characters are continually described in precise detail, but the author leaves no point unexplained. The meanings behind the plot are subtle, and the supernatural aspect is a good point of interest to tie together the past and the present. I loved the honesty behind the author’s writing, and I enjoyed the beautiful writing style. I would highly recommend this book, and would give it four out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Molly Q
Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Neale, Jen
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

I believe there are many factors that will determine whether or not a reader enjoys this book. It is a first novel by this author and the reader's age may impact their willingness to immerse themselves in an environment, however fictional, that is, from the outset, purposefully created to be offensive to one's sensory organs. This is, and continues to be, crucial to both the plot of the book and an underlying message.

The characters are realistic and set in what is generally considered to be a gorgeous part of Canada's Pacific Coast, British Columbia. But the events of the book usually overwhelm one's ability to bask in that beauty for long. While the sadness of the characters' lives and the ugliness of their relationships with their environment are not without purpose, it is a tough read.

Including motherlessness, PTSD, isolation, human destruction of the environment and suicide in one book rarely makes for light reading. But it would be helpful to the reader to envelope those topics in a book that provides some wisdom or hope for progress on more than one front.

The author seems to be presenting some positive rationales for suicide, but these characters are all so far gone by the time the story begins that it is just another false glimmer to think that the outcome is anything more than part of the death all around them.

Reviewer's Name: Catherine
Awards:
The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Chbosky, Stephen
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of Charlie through his letters to someone he seeks guidance from, although we do not know the name or identity of the person who receives his letters. It is Charlie’s first year of high school and he writes to find comfort in simply telling his story to someone else. This was a beautiful book about the actuality of the dark corners of life and the necessity of good friendships. I picked this book up out of interest in watching the movie afterward, and it was a good decision to read it because I learned so much about true love and life through Charlie’s search for who he wants to be. This story is specific to Charlie’s life but is relatable to anyone who is struggling through the questions of their own personality and relationships. Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who just need to feel love and to learn that even in loss they will be okay.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
The Last Holiday Concert
Clements, Andrew
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Last Holiday Concert is an okay book. It tries to address themes of popularity and leadership, but doesn’t do a good job of it. The characters are all bland, and the conflict is generic. Although it's a children’s book, I felt like the author could have done a way better job in all aspects. Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: Steven L
Awards:
Looking for Alaska
Green, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Looking for Alaska follows the ordinary story of a boy by the name of Miles "Pudge" Halters. In his chaotic first year at Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets many people who guide him in his search for himself, including Chip Martin and Alaska Young. Love, friendship, and innocence are tested in this rapid novel as John Green marvelously weaves unpredictability and relatability in between the lines of this gripping book. I liked this book because of its intricate simplicity; the telling of the story made it feel like it was specific to Pudge, but within the awkward relationships and persistent daydreams I saw a bit of myself reflected back at me. I picked this book up in an effort to empty my bookshelf, and as it cleared my shelf it filled my heart with raw emotions that I was not expecting. My favorite part was the contrast of the before and after of the pivotal point in the story. The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the undeveloped relationships between characters that were evident in some chapters. Overall, Looking for Alaska was worth my time and told a unique story that twisted the basic "new kid" story into an unpredictable plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Anya G
The Stranger
Camus, Albert
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Albert Camus was a French philosopher and author who gave rise to the idea known as absurdism, the idea that humans live in a meaningless, chaotic universe. His novel, The Stranger, reflects this idea quite well. The novel is about a man named Mersault who, after his mother's death, murders an Arabic man on a beach and is sentenced to death.

Throughout the novel, Mersault is quite passive to the things around him; to his mother's death, to him shooting the Arab, and to his death sentence. This suggests the idea of absurdism: why should he protest to what is happening when he will one day die? While I like the message and the ideas the book puts forward, the writing can be a big lackluster. For example, the first half of the the novel is quite boring and moves at a snail's pace, which made it hard for me to remain interested. Thankfully, the book is quite short so it's not that big of an issue. I would recommend this novel to fans of philosophy or like novels about existentialism.

Reviewer's Name: Peter C
Awards:
As You Wish
Sedoti, Chelsea
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

"As You Wish" of Chelsea Sedoti, an interesting story of fantasy and myth, shows that wants can shadow what is truly important. The way Sedoti wrote this story is both engaging and interesting. On the surface, it seems cliche and boring, but the pages hold so much depth and wonder it makes the book nearly impossible to put down. I love how this book makes you feel like you are walking and breathing with the characters written in ink. This book is interesting and makes you think. If you love parallel universes, mysteries, and wonder, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Fangirl
Rowell, Rainbow
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
The Haters
Andrews, Jesse
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"The Haters" of Jesse Andrews, a down-to-earth novel about lust and dreams, depicts that life does not always go as planned. This book is by the author who also wrote "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". "The Haters" is a book about two best friends who sneak away from band camp with a girl they met there. This book is both immature and wise... it has a moral and lessons throughout, but the way this story is written lightens the mood and makes it seem as if written by a teenager. I really liked how smooth and easy of a read this book is. It was clear and easy to understand, and entertaining and nearly impossible to put down. This book does include some PG-13 themes, so if you are of a younger audience, this book is not for you. However, if you liked "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" or you just want a fun and engaging read, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: Siena G
Pop

Pop

Korman, Gordon
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Pop is about a boy named Marcus. In his second year of high school, he moves to a new city and a new school. In his old town, he was a Junior Varsity football player and he wants to try out for varsity this year. After he trains all summer, he shows up to tryouts to discover that he is unwanted on the team. The last season, they went 11-0 and won the championship, so they don’t want to risk losing another perfect season. He barely makes the cut but knows he will be sitting on the bench a lot.

One day while he is practicing, a strange middle aged man appears. Besides being able to catch, throw, and hit like a truck, he has an impeccable sense of balance. While Marcus is getting better at football, he wonders who the mysterious guy he practices with is and his oddities. Meanwhile, the team is headed for its second perfect season and, with Marcus’s monster blocking, they are unstoppable. Marcus finds out that the guy who has been helping him is really a ex-NFL player, but doesn’t remember because he has Alzheimer’s Disease. The family is hard at work keeping the disease a secret but it is getting Marcus in trouble. Will Marcus be able to get himself and Charlie out of trouble without spilling the big secret?

I loved this book! While I enjoy Gordon Korman’s books, I don’t usually enjoy books about sports, but this one was really great. It touched me how Alzheimer’s Disease affects not just people’s everyday lives, but how it affects the person themselves. I don’t know how you keep living when the truth is revealed to you and you are so confused.

Reviewer's Name: Ben D.
Awards:

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