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

Violets are Blue by Barbara Dee 

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Twelve-year-old Wren’s life is changing by the minute. With her parents’ divorce, her dad’s remarriage, and her big move with her mom to a new town, she turns towards the only constant in her life, her new obsession with special effects makeup by her favorite artist CAT FX. She especially loves that she can create different versions of herself and escape reality. She gets so caught up in her life with her new best friend and the school play that she doesn’t realize her mom’s new and sudden behavior. Will Wren finally try to find the answers she is looking for? 

In this book, Wren seems like she’s lost and is trying to find herself which is something I can deeply relate to and I think that when you are able to connect with a character in a story it makes the reading experience and the plot a lot better. One thing that I would change about this book is the fact that some of the messages displayed in this book had good and bad meanings. For example, when Wren was having problems, she didn’t open up to anyone and although this contributes heavily to the plot, it could convey the wrong message to the people who might be dealing with these kinds of issues in real life. In the book, characters have connections with each other or share the same experiences/character traits even if they don’t know each other. 

One memorable thing that really stood out to me in this book is Wren’s friendships. In her old town, she had a friend who wasn’t really her friend whereas now in her new town she has a new best friend who actually accepts her and her interests. Although she has new friends in her new town, the characteristics of her old friend is carried out through another character who is one of Wren’s new friends. She holds some of the character traits that are resembled in her toxic ex-best friend. I find it very interesting that the author decided to this because it doesn’t happen very often in books. 

Reviewed by Samhita M., Twin Hickory Library