Read & Review: Secrets of camp Whatever by Chris Grine

Volume one of the graphic novel series invites us to the mystical town of Nowhere, where Willow and her family have recently moved in. Willow, an eleven-year-old girl with a hearing disability, is sent off to a peculiar summer camp while her parents unpack. Despite the dark rumors and fantasy stories told about the place, she reluctantly agrees to go due to her father’s fond memories with the camp. Soon after she arrives, strange things start to happen, and she and her new friends, Violet, Emma, and Molly, stumble upon a thrilling adventure filled with stoned gnomes, vampires, and a menacing fog.

I love stories set in camps, which made this book irresistible to put down. The plot is very intriguing, and the colorful illustrations were a visual treat. I felt the book is suitable for any audience since the narration was easy to follow. I enjoyed the book’s version of Bigfoot (one of the characters) and how some of the villainous-looking ones turned out to be the dearest beings I have ever seen. Additionally, I loved hanging out with Willow. Despite having a hearing disability, she is surprisingly courageous. It’s rare to see a deaf person as a protagonist, and I appreciate that the author didn’t make it her identity

One memorable aspect of the book is when Willow learns the truth about one of her camp friends. There was a lot of foreshadowing that made me think about that character and her knowledge about the camp, but I couldn’t predict it till the end. Overall, this was a fulfilling read, and I am eager to read more of Willow’s adventures in the next volume. 

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library


Read & Review: On the hook by Francisco X. Stork

The author of Disappeared delivers a nail-biting novel about hope, courage, and the pursuit of happiness. On the Hook follows Hector Robles, who is a promising high-school student and a proficient chess player. Growing up in a struggling Mexican family, Hector envisions going to college and helping his family lead a better life. However, this vision derails when Joey, a local drug dealer and Chavo’s brother, threatens to kill him. Chavo, the head of the Discípulos gang, envies Hector’s brother, Fili, for an earlier confrontation. All this leads to a clash between Fili and Chavo at a local church, causing Hector to make a decision that lands him in a reform school with Joey. It’s up to Hector now if he wants to seek revenge or think about the consequences and keep working hard for his family.

The book explores very intense themes, and at times, I found them quite challenging to read. It goes in-depth about grief and vengeance and their effects on one’s physical and mental state. However, the prose was straightforward, and I liked how the author shares his experiences as an immigrant through his books and characters. It entices me to read more of his work and learn more about him. His story-telling and choice of words make the readers think about the character’s position. But, I wish the author could have written the story from Hector’s point of view, but otherwise, it was an engaging read filled with memorable characters and a powerful message.

The most memorable part of the book is where Hector learns about Joey’s traumatic childhood. It created empathy for Joey even though he is an antagonist of the story. On the other hand, I liked how Hector didn’t use it to trigger him and dealt it his way to even things out between them.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library


Read & Review: Renegade Flight by Andrea Tang

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In a war-torn world governed by rogue artificial intelligence, only Peacekeepers can hope to contain the monumental threats that they pose. An aspiring warrior, Viola Park hopes to rise to her true potential by becoming a Peacekeeper and uphold her family’s noble name. Unfortunately, when she receives her rejection letter at the GAN Academy for Cybernetic Arts due to illegally modifying her test, she must enter the academy under probationary status. Her sole chance of redemption lies with the mysterious Nicholas Lee, the undefeated mech pilot champion. Battle and deception roam free as Viola faces the academy’s trials, where she must emerge as the champion to achieve her dreams. The line between friend and foe wears thin in Andrea Tang’s stunning “Renegade Flight”.

The bold and vividly described universe was a pleasure to read; I enjoyed the futuristic rendition of our world. Additionally, the novel was quick to dive into action, it squandered no time in building the conflict. However, while I admired the writing style, it was undermined by a heavy use of profanity. Furthermore, the main plot was deterred by an interesting, yet greatly exaggerated romantic subplot, which made it difficult to focus on the story. Overall, I enjoyed “Renegade Flight”, but found it slightly labyrinthine regarding the central concept.

A memorable aspect of the novel was the unique employment of robotics. They possessed a conscious mind and exhibited animalistic qualities that were fascinating to explore. Moreover, their interactions with the characters granted them a personality of their own. Their addition to the story made the science fiction more tangible and enthralling to the reader.

Reviewed by Soumya, Twin Hickory Library


Read & Review: Rules for being a girl by Candance Bushnell


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It’s Marin’s senior year, and she’s got it in the bag to Brown University. She’s a great student and is co-editor with her best friend of the school paper. Her grandmother, who is very important to her, is why Marin wants to get into Brown University – to make her proud. However, her English teacher Mr. Beckett or “Bex,” as students call him, makes a move on her which causes her to think about a lot – was what happened her fault? Is she overthinking it? She also realizes that there are tons of rules for girls that stem from society and are incorporated in the school’s dress code and ends up writing about it in the school newspaper and starts a feminist book club. Although she went through a lot, in the end, things begin to look up for her.

This book was good. It shows what girls go through regarding sexual harassment and when many don’t believe them about it. It brought light to how the school administration doesn’t always care about sexual harassment and how it doesn’t always help the students. It talked a bit about how feminism isn’t always intersectional, and there’s a group discussion about it during a book club meeting. Marin was okay. I felt like she was naive in the beginning. I also wondered why she didn’t think Bex was weird due to his behavior towards her, but she trusted Bex, and he betrayed that trust/abused his power when he made a move on her. Chloe, Marin’s best friend, was okay. I didn’t like her after what she did, but there was a reason behind it. I liked Gray due to his awareness of many things, plus he was there for Marin through it all. I loved the book club with its meetings and discussions and wished there were more. I hated Bex, the English teacher, so much. It was obvious what he did to Marin he did to other students. I thought he was weird, and there were tons of red flags about him in the beginning. The book overall was good, and I didn’t want to put it down.

One memorable moment was when she talked to her parents about what Bex did. They never blamed her for what happened because it was Bex’s fault and attempted to chase any doubt Marin had about it being her fault.

Reviewed by Roopa, Tuckahoe library


Read & Review: The Enigma Game by Elizabeth Wein

For most people, the start of World War 2 symbolized death and destruction. However, for some, it meant the beginning of a new life, a life with adventure and hope. That was how Louisa’s journey began in England, in a world full of secrecy, code, and warfare. She embarks on a magnificent journey with her elderly accomplice, Jane, and gets entangled in all sorts of affairs in hopes of proving her value in the war effort against Germany. Along with the help of the Royal Air Force, she relays messages decoded by an intricate machine from a Nazi defector. Enter a world full of excitement, mystery, and stealth in this captivating and inspiring novel.

This was quite different from other books I’ve read because it started out slow-paced, and gradually escalated things and made them interesting. The three central characters, Jamie, Louisa, and Ellen had a great connection with each other that was beautifully played out in the first few chapters of the book, and this bond got even stronger as the novel progressed. I enjoyed how different the writing style was from each different perspective of a character, and how that fits into their individual personalities. Although some characters were blander than others, the overarching plot of the novel worked out in a way that made up for that.

One memorable thing was how, instead of progressing chapters, the book simply switched viewpoints to the first-person perspective of another main character, and cycled through characters strategically in a certain situation. I also enjoyed the metaphorical comparisons made between characters who were different from the rest of the majority of England like Louisa and Ellen.

Reviewed by, Arnav, Glen Allen Library