Tag Archives: lean mean teen reviews

Shadow and Bone: Dark Tale in a Magical World

shadowandboneTitle: Shadow and Bone

Author: Leigh Bardugo

Six Word Review: Dark tale in a magical world

Summary: Surrounded by enemies, the once-great nation of Ravka has been torn in two by the Shadow Fold, a swath of near impenetrable darkness crawling with monsters who feast on human flesh. Now its fate may rest on the shoulders of one lonely refugee.

Alina Starkov has never been good at anything. But when her regiment is attacked on the Fold and her best friend is brutally injured, Alina reveals a dormant power that saves his life—a power that could be the key to setting her war-ravaged country free. Wrenched from everything she knows, Alina is whisked away to the royal court to be trained as a member of the Grisha, the magical elite led by the mysterious Darkling.

Yet nothing in this lavish world is what it seems. With darkness looming and an entire kingdom depending on her untamed power, Alina will have to confront the secrets of the Grisha…and the secrets of her heart. (Book summary from author Leigh Bardugo’s website.)

I liked the Darkling’s character. His character seemed to be a perfect balance between evil and good. Bardugo did a nice job characterizing him.

I hated the main character, Alina. She was your typical naive character who had no idea what was happening. She acted confident but she was lying to herself.

I rate this book 7/10 stars, because the story was amazing and the world was captivating. The only thing I hated were a few of the characters.

I kept reading because I loved the story and I wanted to see what would happen with Alina and the Darkling. It was so beautiful and rich that I couldn’t put it down. The world Bardugo created was so captivating that I had to keep reading. The twists kept me on the edge of my seat.

–Rachel, Green Lake Branch

Three kids tessering (time-traveling) to save Earth

A Wrinkle In Time – Cover

Meg Murry has always felt like the odd one out.  She’s bullied at school, teased by most everyone in the town, mostly the post woman. Here’s the thing, Meg’s father has disappeared and she hasn’t heard from him for years now. Meg’s life seems to be dragging along until one day Charles Wallace, her younger brother who is practically a genius, brings home an elderly woman called Mrs. Whatsit (that’s really what they call her, weird I know).

Along with Mrs. Whatsit comes Calvin O’Keefe, a tall and lanky athletic boy who is older than Meg and lives with his crazy mother.  Mrs. Whatsit, along with Mrs. Who and Mrs. Which (two other elderly women), take the three children, Meg, Charles and Calvin, and ‘tesser’ or wrinkle (travel) accross the 5th dimension to save Meg and Charles Wallace’s father who is trapped on Camazotz, a planet on which a mysterious evil force called IT resides.

Throughout the rest of the novel, it’s a power struggle between IT and the darkness against the children, who have the fate of the Earth resting in their hands.

To summarize this book in 6 words? Three kids tessering (time-traveling) to save Earth.

I would give this book 8/10 stars because it is definitely one of the better books I’ve read.

I started reading this book one afternoon as to humor my mom who had been wanting me to read it for years now, and once I got going, I couldn’t stop.

My gut reaction to this book was: action and time travel, with a couple of totally awesome kids. Continue reading

Teen Reviewed: The True Meaning of Smekday​

Title:  The True Meaning of Smekday True Meaning of Smekday

Author: Adam Rex

Summary: The year is 2013, and Earth has been invaded and conquered by aliens. 11.5 year old Gratuity Tucci (or “Tip” for short) is left with no one but her cat Pig after her mother gets abducted by the aliens.  She sets out for Florida to try to find her mom, and along the way she forms an unlikely friendship with an alien named J.Lo.  These two are thrown into a hilarious and witty adventure that involves flying cars, animals called koobish, and lots of cats as they do their best to save the world.

I started reading it because it was recommended to me by one of my teachers.

I kept reading because it was fast-paced, funny, and I grew very fond of the characters. I never stopped laughing, and I always wanted to know what happened next.

If Tip was in a yearbook, she would be voted “Most Likely to Change the World and Not Take Any Credit for it.” If J.Lo was in a yearbook, he would be voted “Worst Driver” or “Most Likely to Eat a Urinal Deodorizer.”

This book reminded me of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy because it is quick-witted and funny.

I would recommend this to anyone who likes to laugh.  A fun read that will bring a smile to your face no matter how old you are.  😀

–Hannah, 16, Greenwood


The Little Prince: Little boy makes you think a lot.

thelittleprinceThe Little Prince was written in French by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, who also did the beautiful illustrations you will enjoy throughout the book. Luckily, it has been translated by Katherine Woods, who did a wonderful job.

The Little Prince is about a magical young boy who tells a story of how he has travelled from planet to planet meeting all sorts of people. Continue reading

Teen Reviewed: Kafka on the Shore

Title: Kafka on the Shore

Author: Haruki Murakami 

Summary: This story, like all of Murakami’s novels, is the the equivalent of reading a dream, one you don’t fully understand until the end. It’s less of a book as it is the recollection of thoughts, memories, and happenings of two people: teenage Kafka Tamura, the runaway living in a library; and simple-minded Nakata, who lost his memory during a freak wartime accident. Nakata can speak to cats and predict what time fish will fall from the sky, and Kafka finds himself in strange situations, like waking up soaked in blood or seeing ghosts of still breathing acquaintances.

Little stories intertwined, eventually making sense.

I started reading because… I love Haruki Murakami’s writing. His stories never fail to interest me, and after reading and enjoying Norwegian Wood and The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, I knew I wouldn’t be disappointed by this one.

I kept reading because it’s near impossible to tear one’s self away from a book that works in the same way as a maze. Each chapter brings new information, advances the story and its mystery, but you don’t know how any of it connects or why it matters. More than halfway through the book you have yet to learn why the wartime accident that impaired Nakata happened, and it was the first thing you read about.

On a deserted island, Kafka Tamura would probably… read. After all, of all places for a teenage boy to run away to, he chose a private library in a tiny village.

Anything else to know? Kafka’s father prophesied his son’s fate, the same fate as Oedipus: you will kill your father and know intimately your mother and sister. This aspect of the novel has led to the accepted view of Kafka on the Shore as a modern Greek tragedy that explores the idea of fate and will.

Online resources: An essay on the incorporation of the Oedipus complex in the book; more on Haruki Murakami.

– Greta, 16, Teen Center Adviser


Teen Reviewed: Storm Front

storm frontStorm Front: Book One in the Dresden Files, by Jim Butcher.

I absolutely loved this exciting book Jim Butcher has woven. Think of it as grown up Harry Potter for action hungry teens like me. Harry Dresden (I know right!? HARRY!?) is a Wizard/Private Investigator who helps out the Chicago PD with unexplainable supernatural cases. His ad reads as follows:

  Continue reading

Teen Reviewed: Cirque du Freak

Birth of A Killer Cirque du Freak is one of my favorite series of all time. It’s up there with Harry Potter and The Lord of the Rings. I recently finished re-reading this twelve book (but the books are short) masterpiece. I just love it. The characters in this incredible Vampire story are its main highlight.

Wait… did he just say vampires? “Loren! Vampires are lame! The only good vampires are the incredibly attractive ones that are having sex all the time like in Twilight or True Blood!” Let me explain. Cirque du Freak follows the the journey of the Half-Vampire Darren Shan (The book is written in the first person, almost like an autobiography of the author of the same name). You will love these books if you enjoy cohesive universes and recurring characters that matter because you truly care about them. I would give this a 9/10 because it is one of the best stories ever told.

On a desert Island, Darren: would do anything to survive–and he would, with the help of his almost super human vampire abilities.

My six word review of Cirque du Freak would be “Exciting action-packed vampire saga is addictive”

Quick note, the Cirque du Freak movie under the name of the second book The Vampire’s Assistant is not a bad movie. It’s not a good movie though, and I must warn you DO NOT watch this movie before you read the books. They did an annoying-Hollywood-franchise-ruining thing where they take the beginning of the first book and part of the last book, cutting out all the really interesting in between stuff. I believe it’s about the journey, not the destination. The movie also spoils one of the biggest plot twists ever near the end of the series so remember: You have been warned…

–Loren, 15, Teen Center Adviser



Teen Book Review: The Right and The Real

The Right and the Real by Joelle Anthony is a classic teen love story, but placed in the broader context of a religious cult and the protagonist’s – Jamie – homelessness. The book is reminiscent of Leaving Fishers by Margaret Peterson Haddix, but updated for the new millennium.

Six Word Summary: A Cinderella Story joins a cult.the right and the real

I started reading The Right and The Real because: it reminded me of a book I read in middle school, and stayed because it related to homeless youth.

Rating: This book is a strong 3 stars if you don’t mind a twist on a cliché.

I loved: the way the author didn’t use the female protagonist’s love interests as the plot engine and they were definitely secondary characters.

If Jamie was in the high school yearbook, she would probably be voted: most creative.

On a deserted island, the main character would probably: be ingenious and do better because she’s alone.

Check out the Author’s Website!

–Theresa, 16, Teen Center Adviser





Teen Book Review: The Running Man

The Running ManTitle: The Running Man
Author: Stephen King

3 Sentence Summary: Set in a dystopian America in 2025, the recently unemployed protagonist Ben Richards decides to apply for a reality show so that he can earn money to pay for medicine for his daughter.  He ends up getting selected for the ultimate show, called “The Running Man,” with the prize of one billion dollars if he is able to evade being captured or killed by professional hunters for thirty days.  Through his adventures, Richards discovers the secrets the government is hiding from society and in the end he has to make one final horrific decision.

Six Word Review: Man on the run for money.

I started reading this book because it has a dystopian setting and I kept reading because the plot is gripping and needed to find out if Ben Richards made it out alive.

Star rating: 8/10 When I read books, plot is the most important factor and The Running Man had me hooked from beginning to end with a very shocking ending.  The main character had some depth and was unique in that way, but I thought some of his actions were a little unrealistic which is why I took away two stars.  Overall, a very entertaining read!

I loved the exciting plot which had a pace similar to that of The Hunger Games.

If the lead character was in a high school yearbook, he would be voted: Best kept secret.

Fun Fact: There is a game show called Capture on the CW that is a combination of The Running Man game show and the Hunger Games arena.  On Capture, there is a team of hunters and a team being hunted that has limited supplies and must stay on the run within a wilderness compound.  The grand prize is $250,000.

– Rebecca, 17, Teen Center Advisor

 rebecca CROP


Teen Book Review: The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand

Title: The 39 Deaths of Adam Strand
Author: Gregory Galloway

3-Sentence Summary: Adam Strand finds himself attempting to kill himself to cure him of his boredom but seems to fail at it all 39 times. This book is filled with the very harsh topic of teen suicide in an interesting manner that has to do with much more than just depression. It’s a book filled with believable and well developed characters and such deep ideas that will really captivate you.

Six-word review: Teen attempts suicide; finds life meaning.

I started reading this because: of its title. I knew that it was going to be about suicide, and while it’s not an easy topic to read about or understand, I enjoy books that handle hard topics. I kept on reading after I saw a distinct way the main character thinks that was unlike what the usual suicide-esque story is.

Rating: I would give this 9/10. While not a real page-turner, the use of language did capture my attention a lot and kept me reading.

What I really loved was: the language and imagery in the book to really put an image in the person’s head. Quite beautiful.

If the lead character was in high school yearbook he would be voted: most likely to find meaning in his life after dying 39 times.

On a deserted island, the main character would: think of a way to kill himself (I’m sorry if that offends anybody, it’s just along the theme of the book and content of the book), then not die.

I would like to mention that despite how you interpret this review and what you would think this book is about, know that the topic of suicide is very serious and this book shows another way of looking at the subject.

–Aldo, Teen Center Adviser