Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Two Can Keep a Secret by Karen M. McManus

Two Can Keep a Secret

Ellery and Ezra are twins who’ve been sent to live with their grandmother in Echo Ridge, Vermont for a short period of time. Although the two have only traveled there twice in their young lives, they know that a series of interesting events have occurred there, one of which has involved their own family. Their aunt went missing on the night of the school’s homecoming dance many years ago; since then, numerous tragic homecoming-related incidents have also occurred. As soon as they move there, similar ominous threats are being made, escalating so far that another student eventually goes missing. It is up to Ellery, Ezra, and some of their closest friends to find the girl, identify the culprit, and solve the mystery haunting this town for decades.

The thing that I enjoyed the most about this book was the structure of the plot. Each chapter was very eventful, and throughout the novel, there were many twists and turns that hooked me into the story. In fact, these plot twists made the novel so interesting that I read it for hours on end whenever I had the time to do so. Because of the suspense, I asked myself lots of questions about what was going on and attempted to piece the clues together, unfortunately with little success. I also liked how relatable all the characters were compared to most high school kids. I, myself, am a teenager, and I thought they were portrayed similarly to people that are my age.

The most memorable thing about the book was the final scene when all the mysteries were solved. I will not reveal anything that happened, but I will say that it is not something that I (or likely anyone that read this book) would’ve expected.

Reviewed by Griffin, Gayton Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The How & the Why by Cynthia Hand

The How & the Why

Cassandra McMurtrey has always been curious to know more details about the 16-year old biological mother who gave her up in a closed adoption in Idaho Falls. After turning 18, she decides to search for her while struggling with her adoptive mother’s hospital stay and heart condition. While Cass is searching for the truth about her biological mother “S,” the author directly reveals her narrative to the reader by interweaving letters every few chapters that “S” writes for an unborn Cass. “S” discusses the circumstances of Cass’s conception, the dysfunctional and cold home life she has, the events that pass at the Booth Memorial, a place for pregnant teenagers to achieve schooling, and the other pregnant teen girls that she’s surrounded by. As the span of a school year passes by with Cass learning more about her best friend Nyla’s adoptive situation, rehearsing with new boy Bastian, and trying to understand about the identity of “S”, “S” has her pregnancy journey simultaneously unfold.

I thought the book was engaging and sweet, even though it moved at a slow pace. As a result, I loved seeing the loving and supportive relationship that Cass had with her parents with all of her ventures and all of the charming, sarcastic, and poignant letters that “S” wrote. Still, I wish that Nyla’s story was explored more and her imperfect situations touched upon in her friendship with Cass. I also would’ve preferred Bastian being less of a potential love interest and more of a friend since I don’t feel like the romance aspect meaningfully added to the story.

Nyla discussing her heritage and the identity she had as a baby is interesting because she’s raised by her adoptive parents as an African-American, English-speaking, Mormon; yet, this is the exact opposite of how she was born. Even though adoption can be a wonderful thing for children, it did highlight that there are stories, family members, languages, and cultures that are lost in building an identity for yourself that I hadn’t considered.

Reviewed by Manasa, Twin Hickory Library

Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: Day Zero by Kelly deVos

Day Zero (Day Zero Duology, #1)

A girl named Jinx (that’s her nick-name) and her family are living through a time called the new depression. Two political parties called the Spark and the Opposition run against each other in an unfair election won by the Opposition. The Opposition claims they can end the new depression. Jinx’s mom left her paranoid dad after making them do survival drills every weekend and Married Jay. Jay has two kids, Makenna and Tony. Life pretty much goes on until a federal bank is bombed with Jinx, her little brother, Charles, and Makenna in the building next door. They make it out okay, but they soon learn that federal buildings all around the country were attacked. Even worse, all evidence points to Jay’s computer! Jinx, Charles, and Toby are on the run from the Government, who might have more sinister plans for Jay.

I liked the fact that the book included a lot about the Government. I could connect today’s government of Democrats and Republicans to the Opposition and the Spark. The conflicts were also similar to ones now like taxes, etc. One downside for me though was that the beginning was a bit confusing and hard to grasp. I didn’t know anything about the characters or who was related to who and I thought the author could have done better introducing them. There were also some dull or boring parts. I did like, however, how the author described all of Jinx’s emotions and pain. It made me feel all of the strong emotions she did and it let me get to know her better.

One memorable thing for me was the bond between Jinx and Charles. Jinx would do anything for Charles, even risk her own life for him. It was like Charles meant everything to her. The fact that family meant so much to the characters in this book really stuck with me. I think it teaches a good lesson that family is everything.

Reviewed by Sophia, Twin Hickory Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: We Are the Ghosts by Vicky Skinner

[Cover]

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After the protagonist, Ellie, has her brother die in an accident on the road, she finds herself in a harrowing situation. Her brother, Luke, had left the family a few months ago in sheer disdain for her mother’s tendency to attempt to control things in the house. Furthermore, he especially despised the quiet suburban town of Eaton that he had lived in for all of his life. Luke wanted something different from life, an ambition that just hasn’t crossed to Ellie the same way it did to Luke. Left with no feelings and an inability to truly cope, she is left with emptiness and a feeling of unfulfillment. However, there was something left of Luke in the house other than his untouched room. Discovering an old letter left on her desk, she finds a map that was made when Luke was still with her. It was a map – not just any map, but the same map that Luke and Ellie marked their bucket list of locations to visit at least once. It was a dream road trip, planned by Ellie, Luke, and Wes, a childhood friend. However, the sender of the letter had no name, but what was there was an address in Michigan. Setting out to find whoever sent the map to her and learn what Luke did with his life after he left, she prepares for a long road trip. This does not prevent a few old friends from finding out including Cade, a former lover of hers, Wes, a childhood friend, and Gwen, the former girlfriend of Luke.

The story of Luke is sad, to say the least. Unlike the other parts of this book, Luke’s ambition is almost reminiscent of what a lot of rebellious teens have dreamed of at least once, which is something that intrigued me throughout the book. Luke wanted to live life differently, possessing an ambition that so many teens have, yet never follow through with.  However, unlike most teens, he went through with those ambitions. Leaving his home and his friends which he cherished so much, Luke left to find the life he wanted. Luke wanted to change, something that his life had never provided him throughout his childhood. The story explores this runaway style of a road trip when the main characters follow in Luke’s footsteps. That is what makes this story fun in a way beyond the words of its pages. It is a story exploring what most adults wanted to do when they were teens. Most of them never did, and in turn, abandoned their ambitions as their age placed them into the workforce. The story is about a bunch of teens being teens, and I like it that way.

The characters were not very memorable. I found myself unable to connect to them the same way many other stories manage to. However, I can’t say that it takes off from the themes. The book makes you think about the issues of life and your part of it more than any book that I have read before. It provokes a level of thought in the reader that makes them feel connected to the reader.

 

4-stars-1

 

Reviewed by Jaewon, Twin Hickory Area Library

Books, Read + Review, Teen Reviews

Read + Review: The Pretenders by Rebecca Hanover

The Pretenders (The Similars, #2)

A girl named Emma and her friends are attending senior year at a high school called “Darkwood.” In the school, a group of kids Emma are friends with are clones. Emma’s crush, Levi, is also a clone of her best friend, Oliver. Emma suddenly reveals to have special powers just like the clones, and an anti-clone group starts in her school led by a girl named Harlowe. On top of that, the creator of the clones, named, “Gravelle” has Levi in custody on an isolated island. Emma needs to figure out why her powers came, how to deal with the anti-clone movement, and find a way to rescue her crush from the evil man, Gravelle.

I really didn’t enjoy reading the book. Most of the characters are underdeveloped such as the clones and the book mainly focuses on the relationship between Emma, Oliver, and Levi. It also introduces us to too many plot twists which the book barely explains at all. It felt like I was reading 4 different, short, barely detailed stories in one book. The ending was very bland and basic, very much like the movie “Rogue One: A Star Wars Story”. The book in total was mediocre at best.

There aren’t many memorable things about this book. However, the only part barely memorable is the relationship between Emma, Oliver, and Levi. Reading about who Emma thinks is for her is sort of interesting.

Reviewed by Gabriel, Fairfield Area Library