Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Strange Exit by Parker Peevyhouse

Strange Exit
You can place a hold a print copy of this book.

Everyone is stuck in a post-apocalyptic simulation, but Lake is the only one who realizes it. When someone leaves the simulation, they come aboard a ship along with everyone else aware of the sim. The rule is that no one, even if they are awake, should go into the simulation and that the people stuck in the sim must come out on their own. However, no one can leave the ship until every last person is out of the simulation, and Lake wants to help speed that up. She often goes into the simulation and tries to wake up people that are stuck there. One of the people she wakes up is named Taren. He quickly figures out what Lake is doing and offers to help. Together, they take on the post-apocalyptic virtual reality and try to get everyone out before the ship breaks down and they are stuck there forever.

I found this book to be very enjoyable and I really liked that everything about the simulation was well explained and made sense. The concept was really cool and wasn’t like anything I had read before. It was very fast-paced, and the description made it easy to picture the landscape. One thing that I disliked about this book was the fact that there wasn’t much character development. Lake and Taren themselves aren’t often talked about, and what is going on in the sim is the main focus. I like that the story is told from different point of view because it shows how different the characters are, and a better sense of the world they live in. The plot twist at the end was very surprising but it felt a little rushed.

The most memorable part of this book is that it is very high stakes, and that if everyone doesn’t get out of the sim, they are stuck. It made the book much more suspenseful and kept me on the edge of my seat.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: We Are Not Free by Traci Chee

You can place a hold on a print copy or an eBook copy or an eAudiobook copy of this book!

War can be a powerful motivator for bringing its inhabitants closer together or dividing them farther apart. In this breathtaking novel, the latter occurs, and Japanese residents within a certain area of Pearl Harbor are forced to leave their homes behind in a flurry of crushed hopes and dreams. However, they all reunite again in the camps and remain steadfast in the face of uncertainty. From naive to suspicious and timid to brave, children all around the various different factions band together while simultaneously being asked to make tough decisions a child isn’t capable of answering. The gang is forced to embark on a life-changing journey that enlightens them about the cruel truth of the world and how sometimes, their right is your wrong and vice versa.

This book was so engaging for many reasons, and it was a shock for me that a book detailing the events of a different time period altogether could be so captivating. One interesting aspect of the novel was how each character was mentioned only once, in a chapter dedicated just for them; it made the novel feel original and unforgettable. I also enjoyed the modern words that the writer used, although the events in the novel occurred during World War 2. However, one chapter in the book that had just poems was a little confusing and hard to take in. I especially enjoyed the humor and relatable moments throughout the rage periods of certain characters.

One memorable thing would definitely be the interaction between Japanese characters and American characters. I felt as though I was literally there, feeling the tension and animosity in the air while reading those sections of the novel. It made the novel seem authentic and lively.

Reviewed by Arnav, Glen Allen Branch Library

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Read & Review: Game Changer by Neal Shusterman

Ash Bowman is just a normal high school student who lives in an average house with an average family and goes to an average school. His passion for football has led him to be the defensive tackle on his school’s football team, the Tibbetsville Tsunamis. However, as the football season starts, Ash notices that his tackles seem to change the world. Soon, he learns that he has become the center of the universe and that he can control events in the past and even shift time. Through his transformations between parallel universes, he becomes humbled and gains awareness of many societal issues when the societal opinion on segregation, his sexuality, and even his gender changes. However, his clueless and reckless utilization of his power at first leads to a possibility of a correction by the universe, which would result in a cleansing of life from Earth. With interdimensional beings and his friends, whose proximity effect allows them to retain some memories of what had happened in previous universes, he must return the universe to its original state and revert his blind mistakes.

The book created a good mix of moods, being hilarious at some points, while also being very intriguing at other points. The details that patched up the switches between the universes was excellently written and appealed to me the most. Ash’s narration made him sound like a friend, which draws in the reader further. Most of all, I thought that Neal Shusterman had a very original concept for the book, which had a huge potential. I personally feel that such a short book does not and could not possibly encapsulate so many controversial social issues that Neal Shusterman was trying to create awareness of, though the attempt was admirable. Despite this, the book is entertaining nonetheless and I strongly suggest this book!

For me, this book is memorable due to its one-of-a-kind idea of alternate universes. While this idea might seem elementary to this book as science fiction, the author did a splendid job designing details that all connect together like an intricate web. Most of all, the book provoked thought, and readers were encouraged to take away important lessons from the book.

Reviewed by Qingyuan, Twin Hickory Library

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Recommended for you by Laura Silverman

Shoshanna Greenberg loved working at Once Upon, a local bookstore. While her moms are fighting a lot more and her beloved car is on the verge of dying, the store has always been a welcoming getaway. When her boss announces a holiday bonus to the person who sells the most books, Shoshanna sees a solution to fix her problems. She has everything in place until a new hire came in her way. Jake Kaplan. Jake is everything Shoshanna isn’t, other than being Jewish. He works in a book store but doesn’t even read books. But somehow his sales start matching hers. Shoshanna really likes Jake, but in the end, she knows he is an opponent and should be ready to take him down. But as the competition escalates, Shoshanna and Jake get closer and realize their stories are alike.

I really enjoyed this book because it exhibited that one person can’t do everything, and everyone needs to contribute to achieve a successful result. I really liked the writing style as it was understandable and witty. Shoshanna’s character was very different from anyone else. She is straightforward, dorky, and humorous. The Jewish background was also a great touch as it added more culture to the story. The twist toward the end of the story was unexpected but exceptional. I liked the plot overall and how each character was developed. The author took great care while writing about each different lifestyle and background.

One memorable thing from this book was the diversity shown. In the story, the author wrote about so many different backgrounds and cultures, but she gave each one its own importance and uniqueness. Everyone supported one another persistently throughout creating an amazing friendship between them.

Reviewed by Vidhi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson

Every Other Weekend
You can place a hold on a print copy or an eBook copy of this book.

After his parents separate, Adam and his brother spend every other weekend at his father’s apartment. He hates going there, and he and his dad don’t get along which doesn’t make his visits any easier. One weekend, he meets Jolene, who lives next door and has an equal hatred for these visits. They start off just taking pictures together to make Adam’s mom happy, but it soon turns to friendship. The visits they dreaded most now become the part of their lives they love the most. When everything else is falling apart, they can still comfort each other. Their friendship doesn’t last for long before Adam may be leaving and might never see Jolene again.

I thought that the plot development in this book was amazing and that every little thing had its own value. I also loved both Adam and Jolene’s personalities, and the way the author described them really brought them to life. I really enjoyed the fact that the whole book wasn’t just about Adam and Jolene. I was able to see the way Adam’s relationship with his family changed as well and certain parts focused on Jolene and Adam’s family. Another thing I loved was that the chapters alternated between Adam and Jolene’s point of view. It allowed me to see their lives in depth separately as well as watch the transformation after they become friends. Seeing the way their personalities and the way they acted with their families changed after meeting each other was my favorite part. The author also divulged little surprises at the perfect times to make it even more interesting.

The most memorable thing about this book to me was how at first, Adam didn’t like Jolene at all and was basically offended by the first thing she said. Jolene didn’t like Adam that much either and neither of them thought they were going to spend much time together. I liked how just taking a few pictures together changed their mind and started the friendship.

Reviewed by Nainika, Twin Hickory Library