Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like Home by Louisa Onomé

Amazon.com: Like Home (9780593172599): Onome, Louisa: Books

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Louisa Onomé’s Like Home is a breath of fresh air that reminds us of our childhood days and fond memories. Chinelo, or Nelo, a Nigerian Canadian, loves her beloved neighborhood, Ginger East, Toronto, and is happy with the way things are. But things changed after an arcade homicide, which has painted the community in a bad light since then. Many of her close friends started to migrate to nearby places, except Kate (Nelo’s best friend), whose store has been a staple to the area. After her store gets vandalized, Nelo fears that she will leave, too. Moreover, new stores have been moving in, gentrifying the community and displacing businesses. As Nelo regards these changes as harmful to her neighborhood, she finds a way to overcome them and stand for Ginger East, her home.

The book hooked me right from the cover till the end. The prose is very readable, and all the characters are given a lot of insight. Nelo was like a reflection of myself, and her youthful, sensible voice kept me invested in the book. I also adored Bo, Rafa, Kate, and Mr. Brown since each of them had a distinct personality and a story to contribute. I also liked how the author pressed on the concept of how change can be good and acceptable, and resisting it could only hurt you more. Likewise, Nelo learns to accept reality and realizes that changes aren’t always bad. Other themes of the book, like gentrification, stereotypes, and friendship dynamics, were closely examined without stagnating the flow of the story.

One memorable thing about the book is the connection between Nelo and her friends. The text messages and their banter made me giggle here and there, and their friendship was so authentic, which is quite rare these days. The closing was well-crafted, presenting a good vibe for the readers at the end. It left me thinking about Nelo and her friends long after the last page. Overall, it is a great debut novel, and I look forward to reading more from Onomé.

Reviewed by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue by V.E. Schwab

The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue - Kindle edition by Schwab, V. E..  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

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The Invisible Life of Addie LaRue is about a young woman named Adeline LaRue who makes a deal with a god to live forever. The only cost to this bargain is that she will be forgotten by everyone she meets. Addie lives through the centuries living as a ghost to the people around her, with her only company being the same god who cursed her name. It isn’t until 300 years later where she encounters the impossible in a small bookstore in NYC: someone has managed to remember her name. The plot starts with our main character, Addie LaRue, who lives in 1714 France in a small village called Villon. In a desperate effort to escape from her unwanted marriage, Addie makes a deal with a god named Luc who grants her the wish to live forever. The only catch is that anyone who sees her will instantly forget her name. From there, the book follows Addie’s new life as a ghost, traveling from place to place trying to survive with this new curse on her. The plot’s setting is set in many countries as it follows Addie’s newfound freedom in discovering the world around her. Henry Strauss also serves as another main character in the book. He is the one who is not affected by Addie’s curse and remembers her name. 

I thought the book was amazing and creative. I found that it was a bit slow in the beginning as nothing was happening, but it eventually does begin to get interesting as we learn how Addie brought this life on herself. I know the main romance was between Addie and Henry but I found myself gravitating to the relationship between Addie and Luc. I mainly just found it interesting how Addie survived living a life where everyone she knows forgets her the second they turn away. Addie became a character I found relatable to even at 300 years old. Furthermore, I didn’t see Luc as the ultimate villain in the book. He was your typical morally grey character who did seem to care for Addie despite Addie thinking otherwise. 

The thing that drew me to the book was its writing style. I felt the book was written in a way in which every sentence just managed to flow together that created a book that felt beautiful in its own way. I also particularly loved the relationship between Addie and Luc. It was interesting to see how their feelings towards each other changed over the years as Addie continued living her eternal life with Luc being the only reminder of her old life. The number one thing I did dislike is the ending mainly because it did leave it open for a sequel even though this book was strictly standalone.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Cast in Firelight by Dana Swift

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The story revolves around two main central characters Adraa and Jatin, who had an arranged marriage set up from a young age. The two main plot points of the story are about how these two characters fall in love and the various political and economic stances that their nations have. One of these was how the invention of firelight, an invention made by Adraa which impacted the people, affected the economies in other nations. The setting takes place in the fictional world of Wickery, which has five countries, each having its system behind the hierarchy. Most of the cultural aspects of the various nations in the story seem to come from India. However, some of the slang used also seems slightly based on British English. The story also has an intricate magic system which is a big part of the plot and the setting.

The main thing that drew me to the book at first was the magic system. To that aspect, I feel that the story did not disappoint. However, one of the main things that I disliked was the writing style. The premise is very cliché, and the story isn’t helpful by having the first hundred chapters be a slow burn. The story involves a contract marriage between the two main characters. I hated this since it was a generic arranged marriage setup, which meant that the two characters hated each other. Not to mention, it lasted around 100 chapters. The resolution to this issue involved the usage of another cliché of falling in love in one glance. I also heavily disliked how this book made the word “blood” into a profane word. The usage of the word “blood” seemed to be in places where it could have been using the phrase “bloody he**”, but since it’s not written in that way, the dialogue with that word feels abrupt and not complete. At first, I thought that it was due to a cultural influence and the author wanting to keep the profanity down for a younger audience. However, the author also uses other words of the same type. This confused me on whom the target audience was supposed to be or if it was just a generic misprint. However, I don’t think it was a misprint due to it happening frequently, and I disliked that a lot. It was one of the many reasons why I disliked Riya, a supporting character. I feel that can hinder a reader’s experience when they read this novel. Speaking of characters, I don’t particularly like or dislike the main characters. I enjoy the portions of world-building that are shown through them, but when the characters interact with others it comes off as cheesy. Other times, the story comes across as if those two characters were the only characters present in the story. The other characters felt one-dimensional and felt as if they were only existing to serve as a plot point for the two main characters. For example, at the end of the first on-screen fight scene, the interaction between Riya and Adraa felt very dry. It almost felt as if Riya was making Adraa into a Mary Sue type character.

For me, one of the memorable things in the book was the conflict between Adraa and Basu. This incident occurred around 50 pages into the book, and it was the scene that kept me invested in the book and prevented me from dropping the book. It was fast-paced, and the magic in the conflict was also something that I enjoyed seeing.

Reviewed by Srinivasan, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Divided Fire by Jennifer San Filippo

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Divided Fire takes place in a land where two big countries are at war. In this world, select people have the power to control the elements with their Voice, and these people are called Singers. In order to get an advantage in the war, both countries use cruel methods to enlist Singers into the army. Because of this, two sisters, Miren and Kesia, in the relatively isolated village of Crescent Bay must keep the secret that Kesia is a Fire Singer. When Kesia accidentally reveals her powers in an effort to save a fellow villager, she is captured, and Miren must voyage across the land in order to get her sister back. Kesia must also escape the deadly situations she finds herself in, as both start their journeys to get back to each other.

I thought that the many dangerous situations that both characters found themselves in were engaging and made me want to continue reading. The use of the magic powers in the book were creative and provided interesting ways for the characters to get out of problems cleverly. Additionally, the book was fun to read, and I enjoyed the dialogue, even that which was not meant to progress the story. However, the characters were, in my eyes, one-dimensional, and none of them portrayed growth throughout the story. I found it hard to maintain interest in any of the characters, aside from Kesia and Miren.

The lengths that both of the main characters would go through in order to get back to each other showed the incredible stakes of their missions. The dual perspectives that the book has adds to the suspense, and I became invested in both character’s struggles as the plot progressed. The format of the story added to the strength of the dichotomy that was presented.

Reviewed by Shreyas, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemian

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Like a Love Story by Abdi Nazemien is a book set during 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis. It follows Reza, an Iranian teen boy who has just moved to NYC, who struggles with accepting the fact that he’s gay when all he’s ever known of gay life is men dying of AIDS. He meets Judy, an aspiring fashion designer, and her best friend Art. Judy falls headfirst for Reza and the two teens soon begin dating, but Reza finds himself unable to deny his attraction to Art while dating Judy. As Art and Reza grow closer, Reza finds himself at a crossroads of finding a solution that won’t result in breaking Judy’s art and finding the courage to truly be with Art loud and proud.

The book is set in NYC and during 1989, at the height of the AIDS crisis. It follows the main characters Reza, Judy, and Art. It also follows Uncle Stephen, Judy’s uncle who has been diagnosed with AIDS and his activist work with his group, ACT UP, who are fighting for reforms regarding the AIDS crisis. The best word I would use to describe this book is emotional, because it shined a light on the activist movement during the AIDS crisis. It was a story that truly delved into the harsh reality queer people suffered during the AIDS crisis due to the apathy of governments and pharmaceutical companies. I had bittersweet feelings towards the end because although the ending was sad, it felt complete for each of the characters.

One memorable thing about the book was definitely Reza’s journey and his self-acceptance. I enjoyed seeing Reza grow into someone who was sure and proud of himself, who decided that he wasn’t going to let himself be afraid of a movement that left men like him dying. I will say that I did dislike some of the main characters at some point in the story. Judy, for example, annoyed me with her initial act of criticizing the other girls at her school. It felt like a typical ‘I’m not like other girls’ case that I hate seeing in female characters. But overall, this book is a five-star worthy book that brought out all the emotions.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library