Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Bright by Brigit Young

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Bright is a book following Marianne trying to pass 8th grade so she doesn’t have to retake the whole grade. Bright takes place in Ann Arbor, Michigan in the school Etheridge Middle. For years, Marianne has found ways to pass through the grades by using many tactics like luck and teacher impression to pass classes despite not being intelligent at all. In fact, she was the dumbest in her class. Marianne has a friend in the name of Skyla, who is much smarter than Marianne. But soon, Marianne finds herself being left in the dust of Mr. Garcia’s class. She doesn’t understand math and is soon forced to join an extra credit program. The program Quiz Quest is the only way Marianne can pass 8th grade. However, she finds out that Quiz Quest wasn’t a free way to pass the grade. She needs to study hard with some friends she made along the way. She needs to not only participate, but win the whole tournament. Her relationship with her teachers is fragile, tension around the house is on the rise, and a not so smart Marianne is trapped in the center of it.

I really enjoyed reading Bright as it is an exceptional book for middle schoolers. I just wish that the author wasn’t as in-depth about Quiz Quest practice and rather put those details into the actual competition. The plot was nice and I liked the fact that there were multiple conflicts rather than just one. I really admired the unique personalities of the Quiz Quest group. They were mostly smart but with different settings of mind. I also really appreciate the ending plot twist (not going to mention it to avoid spoilers) as it was pretty stunning. All in all, Bright is a novel about the struggles of middle school learning and if I had to rate it, I would give Bright a 4.5 out of 5 (just because of the stressing of the Quiz Quest practice did the rating go down).

I also really feel the intensity of receiving good grades. If I were Marianne, I would join Quiz Quest but the amount of studying she has to do is agonizing for me. I really can’t bear that much burden. However, I would at least have friends to work with and personally, I think friends are the best thing about school and are what makes an otherwise boring class exciting and intricate. Marianne struggles and fails a lot and strays from the path everyone normally takes. I really enjoy that and I think doing just that adds the most crucial details in life. I feel a really personal connection to Marianne.

So, I really recommend Bright to all middle schoolers, especially if you are like me. It is 324 pages of twists and turns so if you can get your hands on the book, do so and read it. You should read Bright (and any prequels/sequels if there are any) as it really shows just what happens in middle school and in life if you don’t study. It’s also a novel of never giving up even when things are impossible and to reach for the highest, even when it seems impossible.

Review by Akshith, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

So This Is Ever After by F. T. Lukens

So This Is Ever After by F.T. Lukens
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Arek has completed the prophecy. He’s done with his mission of saving the Kingdom of Ere from its horrible king. Now that he’s beheaded the king, there’s no ruler and someone has to take over. As a joke his friends tell him to put on the crown until they can free the princess, the only heir, from a tower. But when they get to her, they find out that she’s dead, and now Arek is going to have to be king. When trying to refuse the role of king, he finds out that he’s now magically connected to the throne. It also requires him to find a spouse by his 18th birthday or he’ll disappear. Now that he’s bound to the throne, he decides to start finding a spouse within his friends. Matt, his best friend, is the only one that knows and they both realize that this isn’t going to be easy and that love might be closer than they think.

I really liked this fantasy and romance book. It’s really interesting, and you will grow to love the characters. I really liked how there were a lot of main characters and that each of them were different. Something that I disliked was that there was only one point of view, Arek. I wished that they added multiple so I could see how the other characters were feeling and thinking while Arek was trying to see if they had something between them. I think this would have been really funny, but, either way, I really enjoyed the book and definitely recommend it.

I really liked Arek when he was trying to see if there were any feelings between him and his friends. I liked this part because he knew when to back off when they didn’t show any sign of having feelings for him. I also liked how being king didn’t change Arek in a negative way and that he tried his best when trying to rule. His character development was also something I enjoyed seeing while reading the book. He got more confident and more comfortable about his position throughout the book.

Review by Rhea K., Glen Allen Branch Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Two Degrees by Alan Gratz

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Two Degrees by Alan Gratz is an amazing book talking about climate change. Four kids: Akira, Owen, George, and Natalie, all living in different areas of North America, are forced to witness first-hand the destructive capabilities of global warming. This book follows three stories: a wildfire in California, a polar bear attack in Canada, and a hurricane in Florida, to show how our world is falling apart due to global warming. All three stories are connected: Wildfires make the ice caps melt, and melting ice caps cause more hurricanes. Each story is compelling, as the teens do what ever they can to survive the horrors that they are facing.

I really enjoyed reading this book. I really liked every character and found all the stories action packed. I really felt bad for the main characters because of all the stress and trauma they were going through in these life or death situations. My favorite story in this book was the polar bear attack. Both characters (Owen and George) are hilarious, and it was really dramatic at some points. I had a lot of pity for the polar bears because their home is shrinking by the second, and they are not receiving the normal amount of food that they were used to. Each story had its own feeling to it. The wildfire story was heartwarming and scary at some points, the polar bear story was dramatic and hilarious, and the hurricane story was tragic and fearsome.

Something I found memorable in this book is the stories that were told to the main characters. In each story, a relative or grandparent, tells a story about something bad that happened many centuries ago or a mythological creature that lurks in areas. I found it really cool how all the stories that were told, were what the teens were facing.

Review by Ishaan A., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Ghostlight by Kenneth Oppel

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The novel’s protagonist, Gabe, works a summer job as a ghost tour guide in Canada; however, his stance on ghost quickly changes when he meets Rebecca Strand, the daughter of the former lighthouse keeper, who died in 1839 and is awakened by Gabe saying her name when he gave his tour. Going to Gabe for help, Rebecca reveals that she and her father were murdered by a vengeful ghost named Viker, who has been feeding on other spirits to grow stronger and invade the living world. However, he was gravely injured while attempting to kill the Strands, hit by the powerful light of their lighthouse, reducing him to a weak and immobile sliver of his former self. It’s up to Gabe, Rebecca, and their friends to find and kill Viker and save Rebecca’s father before he grows strong enough to raise an army of undeath.

Overall, I enjoyed Ghostlight, and found it an interesting and fun read. The antagonist, Viker, was delightfully scary, and was an amazing villain that made this book enjoyable. The side characters were all fun, and I found myself invested in each of their arcs just as much as the main storyline. However, the book did begin to feel a little bit repetitive in the second half, giving a feeling of deja vu as similar events repeated as the book stretched on; I think the book could have been several chapters shorter, and it would not have hurt the story.

My favorite part of Ghostlight was by far the worldbuilding that Oppel does throughout the novel. The idea of a lighthouse being used by an ancient order of ghost hunters is unique and fun, and the continued development of the magic of the undead and the methods used to fight them made it exciting and the reader eager to discover more.

Review by Everett M., Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Red Palace by June Hur

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In this book, Nurse Hyeon has dedicated her whole life to working hard, and it has finally paid off. She is now a palace nurse, a title carrying so much prestige that her father will have to acknowledge her now! However, one night, tragedy strikes. Hyeon witnesses a terrifying massacre and her mentor, the woman who has been more of a mother to her than her real mother ever has, is accused of being the culprit. Convinced that her mentor could never kill, she teams up with a young and well-regarded inspector to prove her mentor’s innocence. As she becomes more and more wrapped up in the mystery, she gets tangled up in a web of royal spy networks and realizes that she may have some connection to the crime-and that the culprit might be targeting her next.

I loved the main character. She was fully developed, multi-dimensional, and struggled with her identity, her family, her values, and her safety. She knew exactly what she wanted and was not going to allow anything to stand in her way, not even a terrifying mass murderer. While I thought the premise of the novel was very fascinating and complex and I loved the historical mystery aspect with ties to true events, I did think the plot was kind of slow and it did bore me at times. There were definitely times when I thought that Hyeon’s inner monologue’s were repetitive and I kept thinking that she was emphasizing certain parts of her life way too often. Additionally, the plot twists were unsurprising and boring. It seemed like the majority of the book was either Hyeon complaining about everything that she had already complained about or it was Hyeon arguing with each one of the characters about her involvement in the case. That being said, the ending definitely made up for the lack in plot progression. Everything tied to the end nicely and it was an appropriately intense scene with the culprit at the end. Finally, the end was nice in the sense that it actually made sense to the readers who were paying attention to the mystery. It wasn’t like usual mystery books, where at the end, the author seems to remember that it’s a mystery and just invents a character to throw in at the very end and call them the killer. This book did a nice job making the killer a character who actually made sense considering the rest of the novel. The end didn’t drag out dramatically like most books where the author takes forever tying up all the loose ends. I liked how the book just ended without the extensive conclusion.

I definitely will remember how much I loved the ending. It was because of the intensity and then the very quick close that I actually ended up liking the book. Otherwise, I would’ve walked away thinking that I had just wasted my time. Therefore, I will try to learn from how well-done the resolution was and keep it in mind.

Reviewed by Caitlin, Glen Allen Library