Teen Book Reviews

Check out what our teens are reading and recommending this summer!
  • Reviewer: Kayla

  • Grade: 11th

  • Part of a Part of Series: A second book is in the works, however, this story stands on its own.

  • 4 stars

  • Summary: Asian American teen Ever Wong has just graduated high school and is going to college to become a doctor, but her true passion lies in dance. Her summer is turned on its head when she is sent to a Summer Program in Taiwan. She spends the summer navigating romance, rebellion, acknowledging your roots, and finding yourself. 

  • Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book! I found the cast of characters to be fun to read about, and I think that Ever is a strong protagonist. It was also educational to read about the struggles that come from growing up Asian American, experiences different than my own. The story is in some ways lighthearted, but also brings up discussion about family and identity.  
  • Reviewer: SW

  • Grade: 10th

  • 3 stars

  • Summary: The Great Gatsby takes place in the wealthy district of Long Island in the 1920s, where the new rich live in the West Egg and the rich live in the East Egg. Nick Carraway, a Yale graduate, is set apart from most in the West Egg because of his connections in the East Egg, like his cousin Daisy and her husband, Tom. Nick immediately notices his neighbor Jay Gatsby and his extravagant parties. When Nick is invited to one of these parties, however, he finds that Gatsby’s invitation was more than a kind neighborly gesture. Learn what happens to these New York socialites this winding, unexpected tale of overzealous parties, secret affairs, and elaborate romance.

  • Review: I thought that this book was a good but challenging read. I found that if I was not focused while reading, I could get completely lost in what was happening. Additionally, much of the first half is very boring, but things really start to pick up towards the end. If you do consider reading this book, I would recommend reading through a sparknotes summary of each chapter because there are often implied events and details that the reader does not catch on the first read. Also, there is a movie of this starring Leonardo DiCaprio. 
  • Reviewer: D.R.

  • Grade: 11th

  • 5 stars!

  • Summary: The novel follows Michael Collins’ orthopedic surgery residency at the Mayo Clinic and serves as an autobiography. Even though he was one of the smartest students in college and medical school, residency proves to be much more challenging as Collins often does not know what medical terms are being used by a chief resident and lacks the research that his peers have. Eventually, Collins begins to feel as though the Mayo Clinic is not where he belongs and that he is merely an imposter. This autobiography sheds light on the life of a resident who does not earn enough to drive a functional car and has to “moonlight” by working at different hospitals when he is not at the Mayo Clinic. As Collins progresses through his residency, he learns about the magnitude of his occupation and the power he has over individuals’ lives. He faces impossible decisions daily and believes that he must make the correct decision all of the time. When he fails, Collins is forced to reflect on his own imperfections as well as the limitations that prevent doctors from being perfect.
     
  • Review: Hot Lights, Cold Steel opened me up to the realizations that the medical field is not perfect and that physicians are constantly battling internal conflicts as their actions can determine whether patients’ live or not. Despite battling such a serious issue, Collins still weaves humor into his anecdotes and builds a connection with readers. I would recommend this novel to all readers because its messages about the intrinsic imperfection of humans can be applied to any field or occupation. However, I would especially recommend this book to students interested in the medical field as they can learn about the psychological challenges that plague doctors and the not-so glamorous life of residents that struggle to keep themselves financially afloat with medical school debt looming over them.
  • Reviewer: D.R.

  • Grade: 11th

  • 5 Stars!

  • Summary: Following the events of the Heroes of Olympus series, the Greek god Apollo has been turned into a human by his father Zeus due to his involvement in the battle between the giants and gods. Even though Zeus has turned him into a mortal before, this time Apollo does not have any of his powers to use. He must complete a series of obstacles in order to earn his position on Olympus again. When he arrives at Camp Half-Blood, a safe location for demigods, Apollo learns that the five Oracles have been captured by his enemies and he must take control of them to earn his pardon. With the help of a demigod named Meg McCaffrey, he decides to pursue the first oracle which is close to Camp Half-Blood and save the demigods who have been lured away from the camp. However, during his journey, he experiences a betrayal that he would have never expected. 

  • Review: While all of Rick Riordan’s books are usually written in the perspective of demigods, The Trials of Apollo offers this alternate viewpoint from a god. This is an aspect of the book I enjoyed due to its unusual nature. As the novel progresses, readers can see developments in Apollo’s character as he is forced to depend upon his children and other demigods to help him through his quest. Initially, Apollo is portrayed as arrogant and ungrateful for others, but he soon realizes just how much reliance gods have on their children. As a fan of Rick Riordan’s previous works, I believe that The Trials of Apollo was an amazing sequel to the Heroes of Olympus series. I would recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys learning more about Greek Mythology or reading about the hardships that characters face in a fictitious environment. I also enjoyed the fact that Riordan was able to connect different series through the Triumvirate, which you will learn about if you read the novel.
  • Reviewer: D.R. 

  • Grade: 11th 

  • 2 stars

  • Summary: A Farewell to Arms follows an American ambulance driver serving in the Italian army during World War I. When Frederic Henry returns from a tour of Italy, he meets a nurse named Catherine and becomes infatuated with her, deviating from his usually detached demeanor. One day, Henry is injured on the battlefield and brought to Milan, where Catherine is also transferred, for treatment. As their relationship burgeons, Henry develops jaundice and is forced to return to the battlefield by the hospital’s superintendent, not before learning that Catherine is pregnant. Due to his devotion to Catherine and the fact that German troops are overrunning the Italian forces, Henry decides to escape the war and return to Milan. However, the Italian army does not take kindly to soldiers abandoning them, and Henry becomes a wanted man. Henry and Catherine decide to travel to Switzerland to escape the demands of war. They face a perilous journey and their problems do not stop even after arriving in Switzerland. 

  • Review: I personally did not enjoy reading A Farewell to Arms. The novel’s plot became slow too often and many scenes in the book did not seem important to the novel. In adopting a journalism writing style, Hemingway removes all emotion from war and creates an objective portrayal of the frontline. I personally did not agree with this approach because being exposed to the protagonist’s emotions and feelings allows the reader to understand his thought processes and perhaps shed light on why Henry leaves the battlefield. Hemingway wrote the novel to prove that war is meaningless and a waste of time, but I did not really recognize this message while reading, perhaps due to the objective narration. The dialogue between characters was also quite brief and did not feel like realistic conversation. The ending of the novel was quite saddening, however, as Henry’s plan to have a family away from war falls apart and he is left alone in Switzerland. I would recommend this novel to those interested in a wartime romance.
  • Reviewer: Srishti

  • Grade: 8th

  • Part of a Series?: Yes (The Giver Quartet)

  • Summary: 11-year-old Jonas lives a seemingly perfect life: no arguments, no differences, no emotions.  Due to his great wisdom and “personality,” the young boy is assigned to become the next Receiver of Memory for his community, a great honor indeed.  He is required to absorb all of the information that has been hidden from his fellow residents.  However, once he is exposed to some harsh realities about the world, he can never look at his leaders in the same way again.  With the help of his mentor, the Giver, Jonas embarks on a dangerous conquest to rid his community of the conformity they called peace.  Will he succeed in showing his society the light? 

  • Review: I thoroughly enjoyed this book for multiple reasons.  First, I could really connect with the main character and the doubts he was experiencing as a result of his newfound status.  The plot is complex yet engaging; once I started to read, I didn’t want to put the book down!  The suspenseful thrills of this novel left me feeling anxious to know what happens next.  (I will definitely be reading the next three books in the quartet!).  Also, the novel explores some thought-provoking themes such as individuality, dystopia, and the importance of human emotion.  For this reason, I would recommend this book to anyone 12 years of age and older. 
  • Reviewer: Kalya

  • Grade: 11th

  • 4 stars

  • Part of series?: Duology (2 other series in the same universe)

  • Summary: Six of Crows follows six misfits (hence the Six of Crows): Kaz, Inej, Nina, MatthiusWylan, and Jesper as they go on journey to rescue Bo Yul-Bayur, a scientist, from the heavily guarded Ice Court, for the reward of their dreams.    

  • Review: I was not sure if I would like the Six of Crows, after having mixed feelings about the Grisha Trilogy (which is set in the same world), but I really enjoyed the story! There is a great balance of character growth and adventure. The audiobook is a full cast recording, which helps to create an immersive experience. 
  • Reviewer: Kayla

  • Grade: 11th

  • 4 stars

  • Summary: Cleo feels like her life is falling apart, her parents have recently separated, and she and her best friend Layla have had a falling out. The book is on a dual timeline, showing what led to the downfall of Layla and Cleo’s friendship, and how Cleo began to heal after.  

  • Review: This book is an unexpected new favorite! I also enjoyed Woodfolk’s debut The Beauty That Remains, but this novel was also incredible. The story is very emotionally impactful, and it was incredible seeing Cleo’s growth throughout the novel. The cast of characters was diverse, and added great value to the story. This story creates a great narrative about how not all relationships are meant to last, and the value of making new ones.  
  • Reviewer: Kayla

  • Grade: 11th 

  • 5 stars!

  • Summary: Emoni is a high school senior and teen mom. She has a strong passion and talent for cooking. When her school offers a cooking class, things do not go how she expected. Throughout the novel she navigates new relationships, her goals and aspirations, family struggles, and teenage motherhood. 

  • Review: I absolutely love With the Fire on High, and would consider it to be one of my all time favorite contemporaries. I have read it twice, and enjoyed every moment reading it. The writing style is incredible, and the characters are flawed but still lovable. I highly recommend checking out this book! 
  • Reviewer: D.R.

  • Grade: 11th

  • 4 stars

  • Summary: The novel focuses on the perspective of Nick Carraway who has moved to New York to pursue the bond business. Unbeknownst to him, Nick has become neighbors with a wealthy man named Jay Gatsby. When he goes to dinner at his cousin Daisy’s house one evening, Nick learns that her husband has not been faithful. To exacerbate the situation, Gatsby, one of Daisy’s former lovers, has moved to New York in search of Daisy. Having recently accumulated a mass of wealth, Gatsby throws lavish parties with the hope that Daisy visits and falls in love with him again. By using Nick as an intermediate, Gatsby and Daisy are able to meet, an occurrence that ultimately results in conflict as Gatsby’s past is revealed, Daisy’s anger with her husband consumes her, and Gatsby overestimates the value of his new wealth.  

  • Review: While I am not a fan of novels in which a romantic relationship drives the plot, The Great Gatsby differed from other works due to Fitzgerald’s ability to effectively include multiple themes into the novel. For example, Fitzgerald is able to contrast different individuals in pursuit of the same goal, the “American Dream,” through the characters of Jay Gatsby and Mr. Wilson. Gatsby adopts a criminal approach to achieving the “American Dream” by involving himself in organized crime to earn millions, whereas Mr. Wilson works in a garage barely earning enough to keep his family afloat. Through this comparison, I learned more about the ideologies present in the 1920s, so I would definitely recommend this book to those interested in learning about class struggles during the early 20th century. Another aspect of the novel that I enjoyed was Fitzgerald’s usage of color symbolization and vivid descriptions that made me feel as though I was actually in the book’s setting. Readers will enjoy the plot twist regarding Jay Gatsby and will be saddened with the ending in which an innocent man suffered a terrible fate. 
  • Reviewer: Casey

  • 5 stars

  • Summary: I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak is really worth the read. When a 19 year old cab driver with no ambition is thrown in the middle of a bank robbery, he does his best to stop it. Ed Kennedy’s heroic efforts land him on the front page of the local paper, publicizing his good deed. But it’s not until an Ace shows up in his mailbox that Ed learns that this is just the beginning. He cracks codes, narrowly escapes harm, and successfully affects the lives of others for the better. 

  • Review: The 396 pages fly by as you are sucked into this encapsulating story. You can nearly feel your pulse quicken and you will consistently catch yourself trying to solve clues along with this realistic cast of characters. This book will help you escape reality whilst also alerting you to your own life. As an eighth grader I can honestly say that this book was in no way, over my head.  
  • Reviewer: Zoe

  • Grade: 10th

  • 5 stars! 

  • Summary: Together, they learn the history of the Great Wood and how their good king was overthrown. The Great Wood is now filled with vicious wolves and the rabbits are hiding in Cloud Mountain. The bunnies believe the heir to the rabbit throne will lead them in battle to reclaim the Great Wood and restore peace, but a trap has been set for the heir. Can Heather and Picket warn him in time?

  • Review: This fun story of Redwallian creatures on a Tolkien adventure is endearing and the illustrations are beautiful. The relationship between brother and sister is moving. It’s a wonderful read that I would recommend for kids and adults.  
  • Reviewer: Kayla

  • Grade: 11th 

  • 4 stars

  • Summary: Yahaira Rios lives in New York City, while Camino Rios is in the Dominican Republic. They are half sisters, but don’t know it. When their father dies in a plane crash, they discover what it means to lose a father, but also to gain a sister.

  • Review: Elizabeth Acevedo certainly has a knack for writing and character development. Her words create a beautiful narrative and bring Yaharia and Camino to life. Additionally, Acevedo voiced one of the perspectives in the audiobook, enhancing the experience. I also absolutely loved Acevedo’s sophomore novel, With the Fire on High, and plan on reading her debut, The Poet X in the future!
  • Reviewer: HT
  • Grade: 9th
  • Stars: 2 stars
  • Summary: I read this book as an assignment in school last semester and I had many thoughts about it. The novel is by George Orwell and there is a lot of symbolism. The novel is about a man named Winston who lives in a dystopian society and struggles with the oppression he faces living in Oceania. He rebels in the novel and expresses his own thoughts in secret and ends up meeting a girl named Julia. He ends up in a bad place however.
  • Review: I honestly did not enjoy this book too much. The plot itself was very boring. I am not into books like this one because I enjoy more fantasy and dramatic books. This book was disappointing and did not have a happy ending and overall made me sad. I would recommend this book to deep thinkers because of the heavy symbolism. I would give this book 2 stars.