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Ashe Teen Club Online: Book Reviews by Teens

Ashe County Public Library's place for teens (ages 12-18).

An Affair of Poisons

The very first conception I made when I read An Affair of Poisons was that it was inexplicably raw. Author Addie Thorley certainly wastes no time with euphemisms as she tells the enthralling and thrilling story. Nonstop action and misplaced emotional tethers weave together to create a book that’s near impossible to put down. 

Like many of the books I review, this novel alternates between two different perspectives, both being on completely different sides of the spectrum. Mirabelle Monvoisin is the genius alchemist behind her mother, La Voisin, leader of the Shadow Society. The Society is a group most commonly referred to as the Poisoners. Until now, they’ve kept a pretty low profile, distributing hunger tonics and such to the less fortunate. With a desperate craving for her mother’s approval and attention, Mirabelle whips up a deadly brew of Aqua Tofana. Little does she know it’s for the Sun King himself, and that she will be forced to watch the whole thing. 

Josse de Bourbon is the Prince-reject of France. Enjoying a life of mischief and trickery at the palace, everything is as it should be--until the brutal attack of the Poisoners. Filled with the need to guide his siblings to safety, Josse makes a narrow escape, leading most of his family to the suars. Not everyone in his party is so lucky. The royalty and their friends hate the Shadow Society, who now has control. 

Mirabelle doesn’t like all the death and karnage she is helping to cause. She knows that the old Society would do nothing of the sort, and it hangs heavily on her conscience. So heavily, in fact, that she makes an attempt to flee during the chaos of another raid, running smack into the one and only Prince-reject. 

Dark would be one of the initial words coming to mind when reading this novel. The setting and plot both have sort of sinister and wicked undertones. Most of this is due to some of the unhealthy relationships, gore, and treachery presented in the book. When I say this, I mean that she doesn’t shy away at all from the listed topics. It’s not that there is an extremely excessive amount of gore, but she is very descriptive in what events she chooses to include in An Affair of Poisons. 

The characters and relationships displayed are very well built. The author does a great job of describing and representing the intimate and rigid connections held by the characters, whether main or supporting. The setting is also laid out in an enchanting manor. The imagery is so real that I honestly felt as if I was slinking down the cracked cobbled streets, breathing the cool misty air of France. 

I absolutely loved the book. Everything about it was just so vivid. I’ve read several novels that attempt to build the same atmosphere, and the characters just don’t fit it just right, it’s like something is off, or a piece is missing. The author killed it--quite literally--with An Affair of Poisons. No matter what genre you prefer, I highly suggest you read this book, because you won’t be disappointed. 

-Review by Josie

 

Between the Lines

Jodi Picoult’s Between the Lines reads like it’s meant to--a modern fairytale. While the storyline may be something you would fabricate during a long car ride, it’s actually something I was quite excited to read. The book is aimed more at teenage girls like me, and in a way it’s like looking in a mirror. With some humor, romance, friendship, and struggle, the novel doesn’t disappoint. 

The book presents itself in three different angles. The first is the actual novel inside the novel. The book that the main character Delilah is obsessed with and that Oliver is a part of. The second is Oliver. Oliver is the main character in the book Between the Lines, the fairytale that I mentioned a second ago. He is a Prince, unique in the way that he is smart and resourceful, but not brave. Oh, and he’s fatherless. This last piece is the last thing that makes our third perspective, Delilah, fall for him. In the book, he’s perfect--despite his flaws--handsome and cunning. However, in reality (his reality) he’s just as out of sorts as the rest of us. No one would guess that a fairytale character could actually feel and think for himself now would they? He shares the same feeling as our friend Delilah, a feeling of being out of place. But he wants to escape. Escape to somewhere with actual adventure. 

Relating greatly to Oliver, Delilah knows that she doesn’t really fit the stereotype for a teenage girl. Instead of spending her nights with friends, she wastes away reading the fairytale Between the Lines over and over again until she knows it by heart. She starts to slip away from her reality, distancing herself from friends and her mother.  Her thoughts filled completely of Oliver, she only begins to think she’s lost it when she hears him speak. To her. Little did she know that as she was watching him, he was staring straight back. Falling right back. Will she listen to Oliver, and help him escape his madness, or is it all inside her head? 

As I said, throughout reading this book, I made a lot of connections with Delilah. That is honestly one of the reasons that made me pick it up in the first place. That being said, one of the disadvantages with Between the Lines is that not everyone can relate to the characters, which sort of leaves you with a cheesy teenage fantasy romance. That doesn’t intrigue a multitude of people. 

Another complaint I have is that I think that the author(s) sort of dragged the story on and on, to the point where you’re just waiting for it to end. At that point it’s not very interesting.  It’s just a way to waste time. However, the story doesn’t stay that way for too long, when it picks back up again--even better now. 

The novel is good. For people who understand what it’s like to feel as if you should be somewhere else, it’s a fun--and pretty light--way to make a connection to a fictional character. It’s also good writing, which means that it doesn’t make you feel bad for reading it just because of that connection you can make with the character. Maybe it’s not a masterpiece, but if the idea captivates you, then I highly suggest you read it. 

-Review by Josie

 

Dark Shores

I’m always a little nervous to pick up a book like Dark Shores. If the setting, plot, storytelling, or foundation is too weak, the whole book will either fall through or become varying levels of messy. Fortunately, however, the components of this novel are very strong, and work together to weave a tale full of adventure and consequence. 

The story is told from two points of view. One is the Legatus Marcus of the Thirty-Seventh Legion of the Celendor Empire. Mouthful isn’t it? The second is Teriana , who is heiress to the Maarin Triumvirate. This basically means that she is second mate to her mother, the captain of the Quincense. Teriana is a pirate, part of the Maarin people. There are basically two groups of people. The first is the Celendor Empire, who reside on land. The second is the Maarin, who sail the seas. For what seems like forever, the two “tribes” have coexisted in peace, respecting one another and their territory. But now, after the election of Lucius Cassius-- who is reckless and power-hungry--it seems that may not be the case. 

You see, unknown to the Empire, the Maarin travel back and forth across the sea, from the Empire to a land called the Dark Shores. Obedient to their goddess, the Maarin protect this secret from the Empire with their lives. That is, until Teriana spills everything to a dear friend in the Empire, trying to provide what help she can. This, of course, backfires. 

Cassius discovers the Dark Shores from some of the Maarin people, and immediately seizes Teriana and her crew, questioning them to find out more. Because of her betrayal, the goddess does not help her, and she confesses everything she knows to Legatus Marcus on the promise that her people will be saved. This leads to an unexpected alliance between the two. In exchange for her people’s lives, she will show him and his army to the Dark Shores. Along the way, she fears for what she has done, as his motives become more and more unclear to her and the rest of the crew. 

Most of the time, the switching perspectives per chapter gets on my nerves. I feel as if the authors are depriving me of the story while still not giving as much insight as I would like into the character’s heads. With Dark Shores, that isn’t the case. The different points of view build upon each other, and they make the characters more real, more vivid. You know things about one character that others don’t, so throughout the story you’re just waiting and anticipating the reaction and confrontation. I felt so involved with the book, I could almost feel the spray of salty ocean water. The book also blurs the line between black and white, and it makes you really think about the characters and how their past experiences and choices have impacted them. You also get to see them change. The author does a great job with making the characters flawed, and you love them even more because of it. 

 Honestly, one of the many things that kept the story moving was the tension between certain characters. Of course, the second thing that keeps the story moving is the nonstop action. There really never is a dull moment, and I could barely bring myself to take a break. Even through the very end, my heart was racing. 

To any fiction fanatic, this book is definitely something you can pick up and read in one sitting. Two thumbs up.

-Review by Josie

 

The Kinder Poison

In a land where powers are the norm and set up in a hierarchy, Zahru makes a daring plan with her best friend to go see the royals and the start of an adventurous race for the crown. However, what she did not plan was being sent as a competitor for the royals under a fake name. And bad turns to worse when she becomes something more important for the royals that will decide who wins the race and the crown. In her time, she learns much about herself and those she cares about. But, will it be enough to save her in the end?

I wish the second book would come out quicker. Like, I do not think you understand, I have not wanted another book so much since I read Cinder by Marissa Meyer. However, this book reminds me of Red Queen by Victoria Averyard. I say that because of the romance and how the characters act and what they say. Not that it is a bad thing, but that is just what it reminds me of. My favorite thing about the book is the relationships between the three royal siblings. It is really relatable because I have siblings and how the author portrays them is true. Overall, I would recommend this book to all teens and I feel like the humor within the book will be appreciated in many ways. 

# of Stars: 5 Stars(Wish I could put more)

-Review by Victoria

 

The Missing Season

I’ve come across many books that try to get that desired soggy, downtrodden town setting. Something that fits the story and the characters to make the perfect puzzle. However, few have actually succeeded. The Missing Season definitely plays like a well-tuned guitar, all the notes blending together to make one mysterious and intensely eerie masterpiece.  

The story takes off in the rain, in the solumn perspective of Clara; a new girl to the small town Pender, who’s used to being the new girl traveling with her dad’s work. No beauty queen, Clara immediately faces a gang of sophomores who give her a hard time. Thankfully, she finds herself somehow part of a group of skaters and folklore enthusiasts: Sage, Bree, Trace, and Kincaid--among others. The group is welcoming, but the first thing they mention is a seemingly ancient story of a monster called the Mumbler. The Mumbler is a large and brooding thing that lives in the marshes outside of Pendor, choosing a poorly behaved kid every October during the dead of night, then mercilessly killing them. 

Clara isn’t fooled by the serious stares and the deaths of two unfortunate students in the past years, as level headed as she is. But then things start to happen--things that she’s only heard in Kincaid’s haunting verses. Things that all lead back to the Mumbler. 

Then, when October swings around, Clara and her friends are swept off their feet by the startling disappearance of yet another teen. Clara begins to question, the line between reality and fiction blurring before her eyes. 

Honestly, I loved almost everything about this book. The author built up the plot expertly. I’ve never been interested in skating or the culture associated with it, but Gillian French fabricated the characters and their backgrounds so well that it simply made the novel. Usually I don’t get a good feel for all the characters when an author stays in one perspective throughout the whole story, but in this, one perspective is even better, because you don’t have to wait however many chapters to get to the interesting perspective again. 

That’s another thing. The Missing Season never gets boring. But the author doesn’t just use one element to keep the story moving. She uses drama, romance, thrills, and suspense. She keeps everything hidden without making it completely absurd. I jumped from one thought to the next, the possible outcomes varying. 

In the novel, Clara was reading the book A Clockwork Orange, and Gillian French brings it up at various times throughout the story. I think that it makes the book more interesting when I briefly looked it up. If you had read A Clockwork Orange, you probably would have had more insight into the book, and it gives things a double-meaning. 

The only problem I have with The Missing Season is the ending. Throughout the story, everything flowed at a pretty steady pace, hair-raisings here and there but nothing too out of place. Then you get to the end of the book. Everything seems to happen double-time, as if someone pressed the skip button. Everything wraps up like there is a set time limit. 

Aside from the last bit, you can trust that you won’t waste any time with this book. It probably won’t take you long anyway, since I could barely stand to set it down. Everything you could want in a novel is right here. Read it.

-Review by Josie

 

The Waking Forest

The Waking Forest by Alyssa Wees is an enchanting tale that combines reality with the fantasies of the mind. Although it may be considered a fairytale, don’t write this off as “something for children”.

The book starts off with a witch. It’s pretty out of context who exactly she is, but she proclaims herself as the Witch of Wishes. As you can probably infer, she grants the wishes of young children. Then comes an adolescent girl named Rhea Ravenna, who lives with her three sisters, fox, and parents on the coast. She would be a pretty normal girl, if she wasn’t cursed. Mind you, these plots seem to be happening in two completely different places at two completely different times. Anyway, Rhea Ravenna calls herself cursed. This is due to the fact that she has nightmares. Nightmares that seem all too real. Nightmares that sometimes aren’t nightmares at all. Sometimes they happen during the day, when she can’t tell them apart from what is actually there. These visions seem to be leading her somewhere. They do, in fact, lead her to something (or do they lead something to her?). A darkness that comes in the form of a boy who is nameless to her memory. He taunts her, leading her to agree to play a game of which she does not consider the consequences. This is when things start to go haywire--well, more so than before.

The book itself is very ominous. For the duration of my read, I made about one hundred guesses as to what would happen next. The book takes a path as winding and mysterious as the forest itself, with sudden twists and forks in every road. 

The author portrays solid character development. The relationship between Rhea and her family is very sweet and believable. You can see that she and her sisters share a close bond. Also, the stories shared within the novel are very well told and creative. 

When I first started to read it, however, the book seemed to drag on and on. It starts off very slow, and it took some time for me to understand the slightly confusing plot. The opposite seems to occur during part two. The story seems to move well throughout the middle of the novel, but when part two of the book begins, the story begins to rush. I can guess that the author might have gotten a little excited to get the book done, but there is noticeably less detail and everything seems to be happening illogically fast.

Overall, the book was a very enjoyable read. The characters are likable and flawed, and there is a certain suspense throughout that just keeps the pages turning. I would definitely recommend this to fantasy lovers and folklore enthusiasts alike.

-Review by Josie

 

After the Fire

After the Fire is an extreme and gripping novel about a girl trying to overcome her toxic past. Presenting controversial ideas and the darkness’ of humanity we’d rather ignore, the book is a lot to take in and process. After the Fire is different than many other works you’ll come across, due to the skips in time and the major change in character happening throughout the story. It’s definitely worth your time. 

The book alternates back and forth between After, and Before. The perspective, however, stays the same. A girl by the name of Moonbeam. The story starts off with a bang, being during the fire that destroys and kills all that she knows. All that she knows being a cult called the Holy Church of the Lord’s Legion, located in Layfield, Texas. She’s lived there all her life, followed the same rules as everyone else, but they could not read her mind. They could not see the doubt and the fear she was hiding. Led by the Father John, the Legionnaires stay locked inside the compound, living each day believing his words and fearing the Outside with everything they have.  There have been obstacles but their faith has remained. Until the fire. 

The same fire that landed Moonbeam and her surviving Brothers and Sisters here, in the George W. Bush Municipal Center. Now they are forced to face their pasts to help unravel the mystery and sorrow caused by John Parsons. 

One of the things I liked about this book was how it was set up. At first--before I had even the slightest idea what was going on-- it aggravated me because I had to read the “boring” chapters in with the exciting ones. I very soon came to appreciate it though, because it gave you helpful insight to how the characters were actually feeling and how the traumatic experiences had affected them and shaped them into who they were now. 

Another thing was the character developement. The author did a really great job of building the characters and showing their differences and similarities between the time lapses. Also, it really helped that the main character was open and evolved enough to see all her Brothers and Sisters actions as what they were. As how they were engineered. One of the main points covered is that if something is drilled into someone’s head consistently from the time they’re an infant, we can’t blame them specifically for how they act or respond to situations now. 

As I mentioned before, the book covers a lot of dark elements. Unlike a lot of other novels, however, it’s not senseless gore or colorful language. It’s radical and blind belief, abuse, and human nature. The book requires an open mind as well as a mature brain. The characters go through so much. Grief, anger, and hopelessness are common things discussed and felt by Moonbeam and her Family. Will Hill--the author--makes the characters seem so real that you almost feel everything that they feel. 

Based very loosely on the Waco siege, After the Fire is a very tragic story. A very well written tragedy albeit, but a tragedy still. The book is not to be taken lightly, and I found myself in disbelief knowing that something this inhumane can be executed by humans. If you like to read thrillers, mysteries, or (especially) cult fiction, I definitely recommend this book. Just make sure you’ve got nothing else to do, because once you start, you can’t stop. 

-Review by Josie

 

Beware the Night

There are honestly very few books that I have read that keep me absolutely absorbed from start to finish. Beware the Night by Jessika Fleck is one of them. From the moment you read the first word, you will become completely hooked on the characters, ideas, and events that flow throughout the pages. 

We see the book through the perspective of Veda Adeline, a teenage girl who lives on the island of Bellona. There are three groups that Bellona is split into. The first is the Dogio. The Dogio are the leaders of the island, but they are also the unproclaimed upper class. The “lower class” is the Basso, (this is Veda’s group). Both parties, however, agree on two things. One: The Sun is the ultimate power and source of the island. They worship the sun. This includes sacrifices, consisting of both objects and humans. Two: A common enemy known as the Night is a threat and something of fear and evil. The third group on the island is the Night. The Night believes in the moon like the Basso and Dogio believe in the sun. 

Veda lives with her grandfather, as both her parents are deceased. She also shares a close friendship with a head Dogio her age, Nico. A strong fisher and a realist, Veda provides for her and her grandfather, getting through each day by relying on herself more than the Sun. Then she runs in with Dorian, a fellow Basso who strikes her interest. Suddenly everything around her is not so simple and not set in stone. She begins to discover things she never knew or guessed about herself and the island around her. 

Jessika Fleck constructs an enchanting novel with a strong backbone and characters that become real. In some books that I read, the characters are either a: annoying, or b: unrealistic. The main characters in Beware the Night are likeable. They have their talents and good points, but they are also flawed like people tend to be, which makes them relatable. I also applaud her for a strong female lead who has her own opinions and can defend and protect herself. 

Also, the plot and setting that she created is impressive. The idea of a greater power is very common, and in the novel she makes a point about how people will believe anything and follow blindly. Even though the idea of a revolution between two different groups is pretty cliche, Fleck puts her own spin on it. The only comment I have is on the love triangle. Like most love triangles tend to be, the main character bounces back and forth a lot in the novel, but even though this may be irritating, it keeps you involved.

This book is actually perfect in all the right ways. It’s very fast paced, with a good amount of action and drama on each page. The novel holds many of the same elements of a futuristic society, but at the same time it includes some content that suggests a more medieval period. I would definitely recommend this to anyone who likes a quick, smart and action packed book that is so well written that it makes you feel like part of the story.

-Review by Josie

 

Ever Cursed

To summarize, there is a kingdom with a king, queen and their five daughters. However, the kingdom is under a curse as well as the princesses themselves. The curses come on their thirteenth birthdays. As it turns out, there are secrets, pains and stories that are untold within the kingdom. It is up to the princesses to work with the one who cursed them to end their own curses, but also to work to end the curse that plaques the kingdom. 

Personally, I loved the book, but there were a few things that did not work with me. But, let us talk about the positives. The author definitely has the diversity within the book. Ranging from LGBTQIA+ to races to backgrounds and experiences, it was good to see the representation there for the readers. Of course with diversity, you have to prepare yourself for not so good experiences, which is why I would caution some teens with reading this book. Haydu has a warning before you start reading and I would take that seriously. Now, for why I was a little iffy. Haydu’s flow with her alternating between two of the main characters is good, but how she transitions between them seems off. And, some of her wording is weird to me, but that is just my opinion. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to other teens and readers; I would just caution that there is a warning before the book for a reason.

# of Stars: 4 Stars

-Review by Victoria

 

The Lost Book

Natasha Preston writes a thriller that really isn’t a thriller at all. I was really eager to read this book, because it had an exciting plot and potential to be a great novel. Honestly though, while I was reading it, I felt like I was waiting for it to become enthralling the whole time. It’s not as heart-pounding as you might guess. 

The book is written in the perspective of a sixteen year old introvert, Piper. It kicks off quick. She and her best friend Hazel start off in the typical--slightly run down--diner, chatting it up about the recent 11 “runaways” that they think haven’t run away at all. Deciding that there is nothing better for them to do, they decide to go to a party. Oh, and at that party, they plan to interrogate the friends of the most recent runaway, Lucie. What could go wrong at a party filled with teenagers and alcohol? Anyway, they go as planned, getting nothing but some harsh looks. However, as they are walking toward their bikes, they are stopped by a car driven by two (loaded) college boys.  The boys--of which we were introduced prior to this--offer the two girls a ride “home”. They don’t know the boys personally, but they have a good reputation (and good looks), so they accept. At first they are on edge, but the boys break the ice and ease their worries… Except now they aren’t going home, they’re going to a property miles off the main roads… willingly. However, once they get inside the house and through a couple doors, they realize that this isn’t the chill hangout spot that it appears to be. It’s a twisted game, in which three college boys test the lengths that a person’s humanity can stretch. 

When you think of thriller, you probably think of the horror of the unexpected. Honestly that component is thrown out the window right away. Although three sadistic young men are definitely unpredictable, the two girls immediately find out what goes on and where it happens. Basically, the first part of the book is just the girls waiting for something to happen, not knowing what exactly, but knowing the few possibilities. 

Also, I felt like there wasn’t the amount of character development in the book that there should have been. You only know like three things about the main character, Piper. Two of the three things are that she’s an introvert and that she’s sixteen. With her age as well, there is a mix-up in the book that says that her eighteenth birthday happens in ten months, but it clearly states multiple times that she is sixteen. How does that work? 

The book was missing something. It was telling a story, but it wasn’t delving deep into the emotions and thoughts of the character(s) as I would have liked. It was written like, “this happened, then that happened, and I reacted this way”. It was an okay quick read, but not a novel that you can really become enthralled in and have fun with. 

The book definitely had its flaws, but it did have its good parts. The most adrenaline-filled part of the book was at the very last of it, and honestly, for a second you think that going through the book was all worth it just to read that. I wish though, that you could have experienced that all throughout the novel.

-Review by Josie

 

A Song of Wraiths and Ruin

A trio of siblings trek to the kingdom that will give them peace, protection and money. However, they are not truly supposed to be there, for their heritage is unwanted, except for hard labor and the jobs many do not want within the kingdom. An enemy to the kingdom sets out and uses the trio to get what they want done. To kill the princess. The brother of the trio must do what he can to succeed in the mission, or else, his siblings will pay for it. 

This book was really well-written. While I attempted to pronounce some of the words in my head, I feel like I did not succeed, but I tried. I absolutely love it all, from the plot to the characters to the details the author uses to describe the setting. There was nothing I disliked about the book, but it was not targeted towards me, the selected audience and that is fine. But I feel like no matter the race, gender, or anything in between, one would love this book. The adventure, the twists, and the surprises of something new added to the plot is so amazing. Overall, I would always recommend this book to anyone. 

# of Stars: 4 Stars

-Review by Victoria

 

When the Sky Fell on Splendor

Emily Henry takes a pretty basic concept and flips the board upside down in this book about friendship, secrets, and what’s beyond. Although the storyline is intriguing and fun, I think she assumed that we knew too much. There is something lacking in the novel, and she tries to make up for it in the wrong way.  When the Sky Fell on Splendor was a cute book, but I don’t think that was the reaction that was expected. 

The book stays in the same perspective throughout the whole of the story; Franny, a senior in highschool. The plot circles around six young adults: Franny/Frances, Aurthur, Sophia, Nick, Remy, and Levi. Oh! You can’t forget their pet dog, Droog. Ring any bells? Anyway, the group runs around their small, rundown town (Splendor) goofing and making impractical youtube videos. They call themselves The Ordinary, and to their dozen subscribers, they’re hunters of the supernatural. 

Their town used to be known for it’s mill, but since the explosion five years ago, everything has slowed down. That same incident is what formed their little band of misfits. Everyone was affected--some much, much, more than others. They find friendship in the loss they experience. 

That’s how the novel starts. The Ordinary is piled into a pickup, driving to their next film location--an old, ramshackle, abandoned house. Everything goes as planned until suddenly, across the yard, a light appears, and Droog chases after it. A wild hunt begins to which Franny sees no end. 

There are a lot of good qualities about this book. You see the strong connections between the characters, and how complex relationships can be. The author uses imagery so clear it’s almost like you can see the scene before your own eyes. Also the sheer diversity of the characters makes the book more interesting. Each person has an extremely different personality--each one in their own way eccentric. 

However, the depth of each and every main character is lacking. Franny is pretty well-built, but aside from the brief description of the rest of the gang, we don’t get a good feel for them. It would be a lot more meaningful if we got to see each person’s view of his/her situation. Also, some of the individual relationships between the characters are underdeveloped.  

There are some parts in the book when I get lost. Especially in the first part, when the characters are in one location, then suddenly they’re in another. It’s sort of like the author just forgets that we can’t read her mind. Most of all, it feels like she tries to make up for all this with a very twist-ending. There aren’t a lot of ties from the rest of the book to the end, so instead of getting that ‘aha’ moment I was sort of like ‘huh?’. 

Aside from that, it was a fun book to read. It was a mystery, and she did a very good job of keeping the ending obscure and making the book ominous. She also really nailed common interactions between the teenagers. It was very believable, and I could go, “Oh that sounds like something my friends would say!”. I do recommend this if you’re big on sci-fi, or if you’re just looking for a good story.

-Review by Josie

 

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

                            As a big fan of Suzanne Collins, I was quite excited for the release of this book! Her series, The Hunger Games, was one of my favorite series when I got introduced to “young adult” books when I was nine or ten years old. Overall the series was amazing and I wanted another book out as soon as possible once I finished it and reread it a couple of times! Needless to say, when I heard this book was going to come out, I was thrilled to the max! And hearing that it was to be a prequel and we learn about what happens before The Hunger Games were created and set to be a norm, made me curious.  

To summarize, we see life through the eyes of Coriolanus Snow. He tells of his demise that his family is suffering through as a result of the aftermaths of the war. He has to find a way to keep his family afloat through his schooling. Suddenly, an opportunity arises and he is assigned to be a mentor to one of the tributes to be in The Hunger Games. We see him handle that and strive to do the best; and, he is willing to do anything to win, even if it backfires in the end. 

I enjoyed how Collins wrote the main character, Coriolanus. As I have read the series that is set to be after this book’s timeline and I know the characters in the original trilogy, it was amazing to see who affected President Snow, or the descendants of President Snow, if either one is correct. In a way, we see how easily a few events can shape one’s point of view and how that changes them in the long-term. Like, from the beginning to the end, Coriolanus is not the same person as we saw at the beginning. It showcases her ability to transition a character into one you thought, or hoped, would not happen because of some events in the beginning. For me, I did spend so much time reading this because I looked forward to its publication, but I feel for others who have not read the trilogy, they would still spend a lot of time reading it as well. I say that because of Collins' words and focuses on the details of the storyline, it makes you want to know more and know what is next, which is why you would want to stay up longer to read it. Overall, I would definitely recommend this book to teens.

-Review by Victoria

 

The Circus Rose

Two twin sisters, half sisters to be exact, live and help their mother, who is the mistress of the circus. It tells of their lives and what hardships they went through in their life at the circus and out of it. However, their lives are turned upside down within a few hours; the return of some unlikely figures and the attack against the circus, in more ways than one. They learn much about themselves and what their weaknesses and strengths are. It is up to them along with their friends to save the circus. 

Personally, when I read the summary, I was intrigued, like very intrigued. Now, I believe it is my favorite book so far that has been recently published. I love it for many reasons, such as the diversity, the flow of change of between the two main characters, the two mediums of writing the author uses(poetry and regular writing) and they flow perfectly together, and the ability to have a whole new system or idea within the story along with the norms(meaning like the Fey, and them having no gender). For now, I will focus on the diversity because there is a lot and they are so natural within the story; LGBTQIA+, differences of races, sexualities, gender identities and backgrounds. At first, I failed to realize just how diverse it was, but I caught onto it early on because of the characters, and I honestly love it. I won’t write much more because I may end up spoiling more of the storyline, but I would 100% recommend this book to teens.

# of Stars: 5 Stars(I wish I could put more)

-Review by Victoria

 

Killing November

Sometimes you just need a break from reality, and let me tell you, Killing November is the perfect escape. With an aesthetic that closely resembles Hogwarts, this book is somehow magical without containing the least bit of magic. Adriana Mather is a master at capturing the obscure darkness of the unknown and turning it into a hypnotizing mystery. 

The story takes off in the perspective of November, who wakes up in what looks like a medieval castle, with two bodyguards and millions of questions. Through all of her confusion, she is loaded down with new information about the mysterious school she’s supposedly now attending. A new roommate who is colder than ice, and other wickedly smart and strategically trained peers, November doesn’t really understand how she got there. All the rules and their punishments make her head spin, and the mind games too. 

But things really start to get out of hand when a student is found dead. Group alliances and divides tighten in a place where anyone is capable of murder. Politics and family secrets keep each individual fending for themselves, including November, who finds herself too trusting and naive. Everyone is asking the same question; Who’s next?

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It had good character developement, especially with November. Many books that I’ve reviewed have flashbacks from the main character, but some don’t build on the background that you need to really understand that certain person. Also, with most of the secondary characters, there was something about the way she wrote them. They all had flaws that they were trying to cover up, but the author also let you see the good parts of them that they were also trying to hide. 

However, Killing November wasn’t really a masterpiece. It’s a great story, but it’s one that only teenagers can probably relate to. It is about teenagers at a boarding school, so you can see how the age range is limited. 

Like I mentioned before, I really loved the ancient and dark aesthetic of the story. There was no futuristic technology or automatic weapons and it made you better appreciate the simplicity of the time period. It’s also intriguing how the author made the unspoken statement that power lies in knowledge and in how you can use it, not in the things you have in your hand or in your popularity rank.

Overall, I love this novel and everything about it. It had intelligent and determined characters, who were well-educated and thought for themselves. Many of them are good role-models, and the moral of the story contradicts many of the teenage ideals that float around today--in a good way. Pick up this book for any lazy day, because I promise you won’t be able to put it down.

-Review by Josie 

 

The Mary Shelley Club

The Mary Shelly Club is an amazing book. This book is a mystery fiction book by Goldy Moldavsky with 446 pages, each page keeping you on the edge of your seat. The Mary Shelly club talks about their club and all of the adventures they go on within the club. Our main character, Rachel Chavez, is in a very rich school, full of teenagers who have everything they could ever want. She is not like them. She tries to lay low and keep her head down, but being so different from everyone else makes it quite hard. 

I liked this book because it kept me hooked through the entire thing with each new mystery. Each was interesting and gave me clues, but I could never figure it out. Each mystery made for a new page turner, where I just had to figure out who did it. Along with that, the characters were fleshed out and the plot moved along at a great pace, never being too slow or running past something too fast. Of our club we have our main character Rachel, Felicity who is the only other girl and is wild, gothic, and a little rude. Then you have Freddie, a nerdy kid that is obsessed with scary movies who, like Rachel, isn’t as rich as everyone else at their school. Thayer, the happy go lucky jokester who just likes making people happy. And Bram, a quiet, brooding jock on the outside, but a friend and caretaker on the inside. 

This is a great read for teenagers of all kinds, and I recommend it to anyone who is a fan of teenage fiction or mystery. A lovable cast like that already makes for a great read, but it really dives into some things that the average teenager may be struggling with. It talks about the feeling of being alone and left out, past trauma and PTSD. Things like having no space to breathe and having to live up to impossible expectations, and of course, the struggle of being unpopular in school. Moldavsky did a great job when talking about these things and made them feel like problems you were really feeling, and then placed them perfectly within her characters. I rate this book a high four stars and will definitely be looking for more excellent reads by this author.

-Review by Lukas

 

The Valley and the Flood

Amazon.com: The Valley and the Flood: 9780593114353: Mahoney, Rebecca: BooksThe Valley and the Flood by Rebecca Mahoney, is a fiction book that has 357 pages. This book wasn’t great in my opinion. I would give it two stars, it could be improved a lot, but it’s okay and has a good plot. While I was reading, I constantly thought to myself that it would be a much better movie than a book. You would be able to see the small details and the characters better in film than they would in the book, especially how the author wants us to see them. I would only recommend this book to people who have really vivid imaginations, and can see lots of things in their minds at once.

This book is about a girl named Rose, whose car breaks down in the middle of the desert on her way to California from Las Vegas. She hears a friend's voice on her radio as she sits in her broken car trying to think of what to do. She sees a radio tower in the distance and decides to go to it and see why her friend's voice came over the radio. When she gets to the town that holds the radio tower, Lotus Valley, where the people are acting really strange towards her… A few people she meets along the way are Cassie, the third best prophet in Lotus Valley, Alex and Felix, two friends working for the officer of town, and Officer Christie, who has been looking for Rose for years now. 

It actually took me a while to read this one because I was really confused, especially in the start of the book. It waits to explain a lot of things up until the end, leaving holes in what you know about the story. I think this was intentional so that it can be explained later, but to me it comes off as irritating and made me not want to read as much as I usually do. The setting of the town and how it’s described made me think of the neighborhood from Vivarium, but didn’t actually have anything interesting to it until later in the book. Like I said before, I like the plot that the author came up with, I just think it would have been better as a movie, but I’m willing to give Rebecca Mahoney another try.

-Review by Lukas