Review Crew - book reviews by teens, for teens

Machine
Bear, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Machine is a sci-fi space opera set in the same universe as Ancestral Night, but with completely new characters and a new writing style. It revolves around a trauma doctor, LLyn, a specialist in search and rescue. Her body has a flaw, however. She deals with nerve-drilling pain, a side-effect of living on a backwater planet with no medicine, and relies heavily on an ai-driven exo that supports her and hides her pain. When an assignment brings her to the far reaches of space, she discovers a relic of the ancient Earth. A generation ship. Sent when earth was thought to have no hope of survival, this relic has drifted across space a time, with all of its crew in cryo-sleep, and its shipmind ravaged and torn by conflicting imperatives. This book is a great read for lovers of sci-fi and mystery.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
Red Rising
Brown, Pierce
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

4 stars(Good, but not enough conflict)
Red rising is a sci-fi book set in the far future, where caste systems are a given and the lowest caste, red, is forced to mine Mars to make way for other, higher castes. The book follows the perspective of a red, Darrow, who lives a completely familiar yet grueling life as a helldiver. As he toils in the mines and in the life of an unfortunate red, his entire life is picked up and tossed in the garbage as his wife first dies, then he is inducted into a mysterious society known as the Sons of Ares, where the truth of his former life is revealed to him. I didn't like this book because there's little to no challenge to him in the overall story, but I also find this book strangely calming. I suggest this book to anyone looking for a story of growth, strategy, friendship, and betrayal.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Shadow and Bone
Bardugo, Leigh
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Allie
Stalking Jack the Ripper
Maniscalco, Kerri
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I absolutely loved this fast paced murder mystery! With awesome likeable characters to an exciting plot, this book has it all. A good murder mystery should always have an exciting ending, and this book did not disappoint. I was totally engrossed in this master piece from start to finish, and cannot wait to start the second one. Stalking Jack the Ripper blew away my expectations and more.
Reviewer Grade: 9.

Reviewer's Name: Sage
Ancestral Night
Bear, Elizabeth
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Ancestral Night is a book set in the far future, where our equivalent of supercomputers are built into people's brains and alien races have made a siblinghood with Humans. This book follows a salvage specialist that uncovers an ancient spaceship that mysteriously malfunctioned and then vented the crew into space. When she discovers who caused it, how it was caused, and why it was caused she is deeply disgusted. I enjoy this book because of the feel of Sci-fi that is real, and the mystery of the ancient races lost to time.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise
Gemeinhart, Dan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about a girl and her father who are constantly on the road, living in a bus, trying to save a memory. When Coyote Sunrises mom and sisters died her father couldn't stand the memories, so they got on the road. 5 years later, Coyote finds out a park her, her sisters, and her mom created a memory box is getting destroyed and being made into some buildings. Coyote must get to Washington, without her father knowing, from Florida within a week if she hopes to get that memory box. I really liked this book. It was a great mix of emotions. I felt happy, nervous and sad throughout the book. I would rate this book a 9/10.

Reviewer's Name: Mackenzie
Genres:
The Proposal
Guillory, Jasmine
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

A romance filled with heartwarming moments, and powerful women this book is pretty good! If you want a cute, quick read this might be the book for you. The main character is a hard worker who puts her priorities first, which is very refreshing to see. She dose not take anything from anyone and it’s great! If your looking for a cute book with a strong female lead definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
The Eyes of the Dragon
King, Stephen
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is definitely over shadowed by many of Stephen kings other books, which is sad because it is SO GOOD! Not like his other works, this quick read is so fun it’s hard to put down. The main character is so easy to root for and the villain is so easy to hate. A great story, characters, and plot what more could you ask for? If you like Stephen king or old timely fantasy books definitely check this one out.

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Genres:
The Inheritance Games
Barnes, Jennifer Lynn
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book is perfect for anyone who loves a good puzzle or even just a good story. This book is hard to put down once you start, you get so involved in the mystery, and the characters. If you like the movie ‘Knives Out’ you will definitely love this book. The characters are well rounded and feel realistic, and the plot is amazing! If your looking for a good book to really make you think check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Red, White & Royal Blue
Casey McQuiston
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is perfect for all of the hopeless romantics like me who love to imagine an epic love story. This is a super cute LGBTQ+ book that will make you want to jump with joy as you read it. The characters are amazing and so easy to root for. The more you read it, the hard it is to put the book down. This book while super cute is definitely a 16+ book. So if your looking for a heartwarming story then look no further and check out this book!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie M.
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The World to Come
Horn, Dara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For lovers of art, WWII history, and philosophy, Dara Horn's "The World to Come" packs quite the punch with it's mixture of topic materials and introspection on family, religion, politics, and the concept of preservation. This book follows a family's history from before birth to the afterlife and it's attachment to a very famous painting. In terms of literary analysis, this story has some of the most vivid and interesting imagery and metaphors I have ever seen in a book. Also, it's interpretation of the Jewish afterlife is incredibly interesting, although maybe that is just because I am outside the faith. However, this book is a beautiful, sometimes gorey, piece of
literature that expanded my perspective on many aspects of global life and connection, especially the impact of war on families and time in general.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
Awards:
Genres:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Neil Gaiman's novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives an interesting perspective on the nature of childhood and the truth of reality. A folktalishly fantastical novel, this book follows a man as a he thinks back on his childhood and the magical and sometimes terrifying experiences he had as a kid. I at first found this book a little confusing because I didn't quite understand the time switch and whether or not it was meant to be serious or mystical. However, reading this book is very enjoyable as it gives very homely vibes and contains interesting mysteries to uncover. With an open ending that leaves the reader wanting, this is a great quick read for fans of Neil Gaiman or just general fiction enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
See, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As both a tea lover and someone who is interested in world cultures, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an absolutely fascinating read. The story follows the path of a minority Chinese woman who grows up in the Yunnan province tea mountains and her journey back to someone she lost. With a focus on the fermented tea Pu' erh tea, the book details the many processes for making, aging, and steeping the highly sought after tea. I really enjoyed that the author went in depth on the tea making process, especially the Chinese traditions and culture surrounding the practice of drinking tea. Unlike any book I have read, this educational and inspiring piece of literature is a must read for any bibliophile.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
Genres:
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a short play about characters who are indeed NOT earnest. Algernon, a bachelor living in London, has an imaginary friend called Bunbury whose false existence he uses to get himself out of unpleasant social gatherings. Similarly, Jack—who lives in the country with his ward, an orphan named Cecily—has a made up brother named Ernest, whose constant state of “illness” allows him to visit the city when he pleases. From these false identities arises a huge misunderstanding, when Algernon decides to visit Jack’s country home posing as Ernest, the imaginary invalid brother whom Jack had planned to kill off that very day in order to end his pretending once and for all. The two friends must sort out the misunderstanding with their respective fiancées, and end up making an ironic discovery in the process.

This play is highly amusing, with its opinionated characters and witty commentary. It has a satisfying denouement; from start to finish the plot is engaging, and it doesn’t drag on. I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest to anyone who likes a clever and entertaining comedy, or just a good laugh!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
The Maze Runner
Dashner, James
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The young adult book genre for the most part fells boring and stale to me. However, there was one book that I found to be great, and a real page turner, it was called Maze Runner. The book took me two days to finish, because it was such a page turner. The characters are great, the mystery is intriguing, and the drama is fun to read about. This book is one of my favorites and is a must read for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Eragon
Paolini, Christopher
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Eragon is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story and its characters drew me into this new and existing world. The author also made me want to learn more about the world history and culture. While the story was somewhat like Star Wars, it had enough new elements to make it different. This book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves fantasy or for people looking for an adventurous book to read.

Reviewer's Name: McKinley
Heartless
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book is about the Queen of Hearts and how she became so evil. Catherine's dream in life is to be the best baker of all of Hearts. These skills end up wooing the king and he eventually asks for her hand in marriage. Her mother wants her to agree, but Cath soon finds her heart is drawn to someone else, the mysterious Joker. With Hearts under attack by the dangerous Jabberwocky, Catherine gets pulled into an adventure that soon unfolds the reasons behind her infamous tale in the book: Alice in Wonderland.

I really liked this book mostly because of the characters. They were really well developed and I felt as if I knew them and was a part of their story. The plotline gets really slow in the middle, but by the end, I really enjoyed it. Meyer is the same author who wrote the Cinder Series. Even though this book is not like the Cinder Series, they are still really similar, so if you enjoyed that series, you will like this book.

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fablehaven
Mull, Brandon
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book has you reading it and asking, what the heck is going on? The more you read it, the more you find out and the more you want to find out. Brandon has built a fun, magical world with this book, and it is so easy to get lost in it. I read it and fell in love with the characters and all of the mystical beings. It's such a fun fantasy book, and the creatures range from cute, to beautiful, to scary, to downright murders and I love it. If you are looking for a good fantasy book definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: Rylie
Awards:
All American Boys
Reynolds, Jason and Kiely, Brendan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

My friends told me about the tv show All American, so I decided to read the book All American Boys first. I thought it was the same thing at first, just one as a book and the other as a movie, but it isn't. Both have different plots and stories even though they both talk about racism.This book is about police brutality and racism from the eyes and perspectives of two young high school boys. It's a very emotional and sad book even though it could be and was very true in the past and still in the present. This book strongly mixes up your emotions into a twist but overall, is a really good book. The book starts with Rashad getting beaten up by cops and Quinn seeing the whole thing, starting their fight for justice.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha

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