Tuesday, January 23, 2018

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi (review by Anya W. '20)

What You Left BehindWhat You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ryden Brooks has a thousand problems. Soccer. Getting a UCLA scholarship. His not technically *together* relationship with his coworker at Whole Foods. His deteriorating relationships with his friends. The fact that his mom is dating again. Getting over his dead girlfriend, who he might as well have killed and finding the notebooks that he is absolutely certain she left him--even if no one else believes him. Making sure his six-month-old daughter, Hope, is being taking care of.

What You Left Behind by Jessica Verdi is good. It remains truthful. While often selfish and prone to questionable decisions, Ryden felt real. Authors often have a difficult time creating teen characters without making them far too immature, or irredeemable. He was just a kid who wanted a life, but life is forcing him to make adult decisions early, and sometimes, he has difficulty handling it. I would have liked a bit more depth to Jessica Verdi’s other characters, especially Ryden's mother, Alan, and Joni. I love the way she wrote. –Anya W. ‘20

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The Other F-Word by Natasha Friend (review by Anya W. '20)

The Other F-WordThe Other F-Word by Natasha Friend
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Well it's about to get weird cuz I have something to tell u.

Ok.

R u ready?
I've decided to find r sperm donor

When Hollis Darby-Barns gets an email via her dead mother's account from Milo Robinson-Clark, the half- brother she has met exactly once, she's most certainly not interested in tracking down their donor. Even using the Donor Progeny Project to see if they can contact any of their other half-siblings is a bit of a stretch . . . so why is she agreeing to all of this?
A unique, heartfelt story about two teens trying to find their place in the world by learning more about their past, and by extension themselves, The Other F-word by Natasha Friend has it all. From family dysfunction to forgiveness, from romance to friendship, Friend handles it all spectacularly. Honestly, my only complaint is that I want more. I want to see the characters interacting and growing and achieving their goals. The open ending left a lot to the imagination and hope. I want more. –Anya W. ‘20


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Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman (review by Fiona W. '21)

NeverwhereNeverwhere by Neil Gaiman
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Richard Mayhew is an average young man who lives in modern-day London with an average life and and average job. One day, he finds a ragged and bloodied girl dying on the side of the road that nobody seems to notice but him. He takes it upon himself to help her and learns that two assassins are chasing her, and a whole city resides underneath London that he never even knew about.

As I have been a fan of many of Neil Gaiman's books, I hoped this book would not disappoint. And it didn't. The character development of all the main characters was unique and fulfilling. The imagery of each scene made me feel like I was right alongside Richard. And the ending still had me in tears.

Gaiman mentions in the introduction that while he is not one to write a sequel, he would love to revisit the world of this book again one day. (And I hope he does, too). As someone who dislikes fantasy novels, this book changed my mind about the genre and I hope it may impact you, dear reader, as well. – Fiona W. ‘21


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Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth (review by Sofie K. '20)

Carve the Mark (Carve the Mark, #1)Carve the Mark by Veronica Roth
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

After the hype and attention that Veronica Roth's Divergent series received, I was very excited to hear about a second series in the works.

Cyra and Akos, like many YA novel characters, are two sides of the same coin. Separated by social class and the races of their people, the two meet when Akos and his brother are captured by the royal Shotet fleet, and delivered right to Cyra's doorstep. Though Cyra is the sister of the tyrant that rules the Shotet people, she rebels against her family out of love for this new stranger. As if the plot wasn't cliche enough, every person on this planet has a special power, or currentgift. Cyra has the power to cause excruciating pain to anyone she touches, which her brother exploits to get information. Akos, on the other hand, has to power to cancel out anyone else's currentgift through contact. The characters conveniently balance each other out, obviously created for one another.

While the book's concept was quite unique, the characters had little to no originality. Cyra and Akos reminded me of a reversed version of Tris and Four; it felt like I was reading the Divergent series all over again. Hopefully, the second book will give the characters their own personalities and develop their stories more. - Sofie K. '20

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Thursday, October 5, 2017

Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier (review by Amelia H. '19)

Daughter of the Forest  (Sevenwaters, #1)Daughter of the Forest by Juliet Marillier
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Daughter of the Forest, a retelling of a classic fairytale, is set in the ancient British Isles. The beginning of the book follows a girl named Sorcha as she grows into a teenager and has to protect her father’s lands from invaders. She is thwarted when an evil sorceress turns her brothers into swans and she has to find a way to change them back. The setup of the book was fascinating, but Sorcha’s character arc is so conventional that I knew how the story would end when I was less than halfway through the book. Marillier’s world-building draws on folk tales and mythology and creates a vivid landscape, but the plot quickly descends into predictability. The story has promise, but anyone even vaguely familiar with fantasy tropes might as well close the book a third of the way through and fill in the rest themselves. - Amelia H. '19

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