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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

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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

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Read & Review: Renegade Flight by Andrea Tang

[Cover]
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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

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Read + Review: Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater

Mister Impossible (Dreamer Trilogy, #2) by Maggie Stiefvater

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Mister Impossible by Maggie Stiefvater serves as the second book in the Dreamer trilogy. It picks up from Call Down the Hawk with Dreamers Ronan Lynch and Hennessy. Dreamers are people who are known for their ability to make their dreams into reality. It starts off with them following Bryde, their mentor, and fellow Dreamer, who is on the run from Moderators, an organization bent on killing Dreamers. Ronan and Hennessy are on their own mission of restoring the ley lines, supernatural energy that keeps Dreamers and their fellow dreams alive. While in Boston, Massachusetts, Declan Lynch and Jordan Hennessy scramble to find an alternative to keeping Lynch’s dreamt brother, Matthew, alive and able to live life fully as a dream. Powerful decisions are to be made as the Dreamers rush to keep the force that fuels them and their dreams alive.

The plot is mainly set in Virginia with Ronan and Hennessy helping Bryde fix the ley lines and help make Dreamers more powerful. The book switches from Virginia to Boston, Massachusetts where Declan, Jordan, and Matthew discover an alternate way to keep dreams alive without depending on their Dreamer. I thought the book was gripping as it added more to the supernatural world of Dreamers and further delved into their powers. I also felt like all the characters seemed on the edge of becoming morally grey characters because there were parts in the book where I was fully agreeing with their motives, and then realized to myself, “Wait, they’re literally committing ecoterrorism to further their goals.” I did think the author did a good job of making me fall into that trap.

I will say the prose in the book is a little difficult to understand at times. I did have to reread a few paragraphs here and there because the writing felt a little too advanced for me to understand. I did enjoy seeing all the characters interact with each other. Declan Lynch definitely became a character I began to sympathize with and understand after seeing him represented from the biased POV of Ronan. I wished we got more POVs from the other characters, like Adam Parrish, just to see the story from different perspectives. Overall, the book was a very gripping novel that left me waiting for the next plot twist.

Reviewed by Tasnia, Libbie Mill Library

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Read + Review: It Only Happens in the Movies by Holly Bourne

Amazon.com: It Only Happens in the Movies (9780358172062): Bourne, Holly:  Books
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It Only Happens in the Movies is a story that surrounds a 17-year-old British girl, Audrey. While coping with her parent’s divorce and a breakup with Milo, she’s been abstaining from her friends, love & romance. But everything changes after she meets her coworker, Harry, at her new job at Flicker. With her media studies project for school, she dissects the stereotypes in typical romance movies and wonders why love is never like that in real life. But despite her beliefs, she inevitably falls for Harry and becomes part of his feminist zombie flick, where she finds herself again. Unlike the usual “happily ever after endings,” the finish gives an unexpected twist as Audrey finds what’s best for her.

I liked the overall message of the book but not the way it was delivered. At the beginning of each chapter, the author includes bits and pieces of Audrey’s media studies project, which intrudes the flow of the book. I wish she added it elsewhere where it wouldn’t stagnate the flow. Additionally, the story goes a lot in depth about relationships and being true to oneself. The book hooks you from the beginning to the end due to its colloquial language and tone, making it a quick and easy read. I also loved the author’s word choice for Audrey’s character development, which helps readers understand her feelings throughout the book. There is also a balance of emotions since the book is not sad-themed or happy either. I also like the cover and its popcorn theme!

One memorable thing about the book is how it stood apart from traditional romcoms. I loved how Audrey was so relatable, and that ending was king! It is the reason I am rating 4 stars for this book.

Review by Sruthi, Twin Hickory Area Library