Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Middle School: Winter Blunderland by James Patterson

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The book Middle School: Winter Blunderland is written by James Patterson and is illustrated by Brian Sitts. This book takes place in Alaska when Rafe is in eighth grade. Rafe Katchadorian gets an email from his friend’s mom saying that they are going to come to Alaska and try to find the missing polar bears. Rafe’s friend’s mom is a zoologist name Dr. Deerwin. Dr. Deerwin travels around the world with her daughter (Rafe’s friend) and helps other zoologists zoned to a certain area with anything they need or come to study their animals. When Rafe is sweating like a hyena at his school, Dr. Deerwin said that he could come to Alaska to help find some missing polar bears. I am sure that you would know Rafe’s answer to the question but, his mom took a bit of convincing. Eventually, his mom gave in to Rafe’s pleas and let him go. Once Rafe started to dread the cold air he will experience once he gets to Alaska, but that shouldn’t be the only thing he should be afraid of.

Reading Middle School: Winter Blunderland was a very interesting experience for me. This book had the perfect combination of romance, action, comedy, and suspense. I wish that the author would keep some more information to increase the plot. I like the plot, but in my opinion, I felt like it was a bit tame. I also would like the author to drag on the story a tad more because the story is at a very fast pace. The story is very good, but it goes a bit too fast and skips over some details that the reader might want to know. This book is also very interesting so it would be better if it was a bit longer and know more about what the characters do. The resolution is my favorite part though I have mixed feelings about the book not having a cliffhanger. There are some loose ends once the story is done, but they are all covered up with this part after the epilogue. Cliffhangers inspire suspense, but sometimes you just want to know what happens. These are only minor mistakes and the rest of this book is pleasing so I would rate this book a 4 out of 5.

One memorable part of the book was when Rafe built an igloo. The day before Rafe built the igloo, one of the research workers that where letting Rafe, Rafe’s friend, and Dr. Deerwin let them stay at their research center to build an igloo and showed it to Rafe’s friend. Rafe got jealous and the next day morning he woke up and built an igloo. Rafe took a few hours to make the igloo because he had to cut, shave, and place snow. When Rafe was done building the igloo, he called everyone outside and they were all very impressed by Rafe’s result. Everyone went inside Rafe’s igloo to check it out since it looked like Rafe took a lot of time to build it and it was very good. But when they went inside, the research worker found out that the igloo was not stable, and by the time he told everyone the igloo collapsed on top of everybody.

Reviewed by Achin T., Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

The Rumor Game by Dhonielle Clayton and Sona Charaipotra

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The Rumor Game by Sona Charaipotra and Dhonielle is about early high school life and students who become victims of vicious rumors, gossip, and ultimately worse consequences based on false claims on social media. Bryn, the first victim of this rumored game, used to have an impeccable life, a handsome boyfriend, straight As in school, and a lovely group of friends and family; until a rumor destroyed her life. Bryn suffered a lot but the way Bryn’s incident affected the rest of her friends, including Cora Davidson, her best friend, and Georgie Khalra, her neighbor, and family was way worse and messed up. Georgie’s new personality after her weight loss was not just a big difference in her body but her mindset too. On the other hand, Cora and Baez’s ideal relationship was about to go through a devastating change. The question is how do the lives of these teenagers change within a matter of days after the rumors and misinformation start to spread like fire in a jungle?

Words are more powerful than weapons and they can lead to real consequences in someone’s life. These rumors and cyberbullying are mainly through social media. Most students like to be the center of attention so that everyone likes them and talks about them in a good way but when it goes the other way around, it’s way worse. It goes from one person to another. Every person who becomes a target of cyberbullying suffers a lot and becomes a sensation among peers in a bad way, as in gossip. Imagine people laughing, gossiping, and giggling about you when you pass by, especially in high school. It is the most uncomfortable situation and it feels like somehow you could disappear so everyone stops talking about you.

I like the fact that this book included people of different ethnicities such as Indians, Black Americans, White, Asians, and others. Some are haughty, some are hypocrites and others are innocents. It is a mix of all kinds of people and different mindsets since it’s about high school and there are students from different backgrounds. This fiction drama book teaches us how to avoid such situations which can lead to life-changing consequences. It also gives us a very old lesson that kids/teens nowadays forget: never try to solve or involve in any kind of mischievous plan or activity which can result in self-destruction or harming others, instead talk to your parents about it. Last but not least, never take a decision based on lies and rumors until and unless you have proof of the event that took place.

Reviewed by Shane B., Twin Hickory Area Library

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