Bean's Books and Beyond

Sharing thoughts on books–and sometimes on education and life

Student Book Reviews July 21, 2008

This page is devoted to recommendations by students.  They are written by students and hopefully read by students.  To add a book recommendation, use the reply box.  Remember to include the book title and author, and if possible, publication date and genre.  Definitely include your name and grade or age.

Remember to reread and edit your review carefully before hitting the submit comment option.  Once you hit submit, you cannot edit your review.

To return to Ms. Klus’s teacher page, use the link at the right under Blogroll.

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186 Responses to “Student Book Reviews”

  1. aqua1398 Says:

    The Ghost and the Goth by Stacey Kade

    Quick Summary: Alona Dare was never one to pity the mentally insane, but being hit by a bus can change your point of view. Will Killian was never one to diverse himself with one such as her, but being able to see ghosts doesn’t leave you with much of a choice. While trying to escape zero hour gym to check in on her alcoholic mother, Alona Dare was struck by a bus stock full of the band geeks who worship her. Finding herself in a place between life and death—the middle—Alona dare is struggling to take in how her fellow classmates and best friend and handling her death. One day the whole school is grieving and showing support with a black arm band, the next, ripping it off and trash talking her cold corpse, leaving her crying in the middle of campus. Due to the overload of irony, Will Killian does nothing but smile at the predicament the once “Princess” finds herself in, giving Alona hope she can be seen. After tracking him down, Alona attempts to squeeze all the knowledge Will has about life, death, and all in between. An unbelieving shrink, brain dead best friend, and lesbian lover are the predicaments the unlikely duo find them self in along their adventure—and an excessive amount of a living person making out with someone nobody else can see—so boredom is out of the question!

    Despite being 40-ish, Stacey Kade really knows how to sound like a popular school girl and Goth in their high school years. Despite her ability to accurately describe the perspectives, she failed when it came to plot. The story and concept is interesting, but it was extremely predictable. Goth has crush on preppy school girl: they make out in the first 50 pages. Perfect girl doesn’t have perfect life: mom’s alcoholic. People don’t believe Goth can see ghosts: accused of mental insanity and suggested for an asylum. The only significant plot twist was the lesbian best friend, but if you’re truly interested you’ll read it yourself. While reading other reviews on this book, I began to realize I might be the only male to read it. My conclusion: if you’re a bored girl—or guy with too much time on his hands—this is the book for you.

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  2. Erik Rumsa Says:

    The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime by Mark Haddon

    “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime” by Mark Haddon Is a simple, yet compelling story. Christopher is 15 years old, and he has problems with seeing the world in the casual everyday way that we do. Sarcasm, human emotions, and humor troubles him because he does not see Figurative meanings, only literal meanings. I found the writing style of the book to be so simple, but the information was so deep. At one point, Chris is talking about stranger danger and he say, “Men I don’t know may pick up and take me and go have the sex with me” (39). Not a single word was over four letters. There was the exact same effect if he would have worded with longer words such as abduction or molest. Haddon writes with such an intense way with simple words as a 15 year old boy would speak. My understanding and interpretation of this book is much more clear and concise than more complicated books. When I read the Odyssey, I have to reread a section 3-4 times before I barely start to understand what is happening. To me, a reader enjoys the book best when the words are as simple as the way you speak.

    Another striking feature of this story is that there are pictures on almost every page. Most of these pictures were diagrams, floor plans, math equations, or puzzles which save me as a reader a lot of time, and I can see exactly what Haddon had in his mind when he was writing. A picture is worth 1000 words, so one picture about every other page. 113 pictures. Haddon just saved me 113,000 words I didn’t have to read. What a pal.

    This book can keep anyone from teens to older people entertained. While this book had “suggestive content” (don’t read this unless you’re 15 or older), it brings the story much more in depth with the personality of each character. Haddon has done an excellent job being able to keep such a descriptive mental picture with usually only using words shorter than his last name. He has put me in Chris’ s life of logic through a lack of humor, sarcasm, and human emotions.

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  3. Anne Renee Corpus Says:

    Annie’s Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg
    Glancing upon the rather dull-looking book, I was quite hesitant to read Annie’s Ghosts. However, my expectations were blown out of proportions as this hauntingly suspenseful story took me on a rollercoaster ride. Luxenberg’s power of reportage and mystery kept me on my toes throughout the entire piece.
    Steve Luxenberg, an editor/reporter for a newspaper, has always thought his mother to be an only child. However, upon her death, him and his siblings discover that they had an aunt, Annie Cohen, who was said to have a deformed leg and a mental disability. Upon discovering that this unknown aunt used to reside at mental institution, Luxenberg was compelled to investigate for more information. He sleuths his family’s history and as he delves deeper, many shocking evidence about his family are revealed.
    This is a story that speaks for all the mental institution patients of early America. Luxenberg manages to tell Annie’s story and step into her shoes. The author also hinted some Michigan history as he writes about the way mental institutions were run in Annie’s time.
    Overall, I thought this read was quite interesting and entertaining. Luxemberg’s writing style is descriptive and deep; furthermore, it involves analytical philosophies and evidence only a detective could utilize. I do, however, feel that Luxemberg tends to weave too many unnecessary ideas into his text and ultimately trails away from his initial topic. His overabundance of dialogue and excessive use of background information were some minor set backs I also noticed throughout the book.
    In conclusion, Annie’s Ghosts was a compelling story that took me in for one hell of a ride. Its analytical elements and suspenseful builds could truly keep any reader on their toes. However, I would only recommend it to those who are interested in the mystery genre or those who would want to learn about mental disabilities how the institutions back then. The story was emotional and just plain interesting. The voice of Annie and the million other mental patients was, and forever will be implanted in heart.

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  4. Gavin Clarke grade 9 Says:

    The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    The only way I could set down this book was forcing myself to do homework. Alice Sebold’s poetic imagery in The Lovely Bones caught me off guard and dragged me right into her Storyline. This book takes place from 1973 to about the early 1980’s, in which the technology was very different. The technology brings the beauty of a simple life. Also seeing a girl with all her years ahead of her murdered you appreciate life that much more. Not only life, but love. This book shows how you take love for granted. This story takes on my favorite narrating style, first person omniscient. It is the same narration style as my absolute favorite book Every Day by David Leviathan. I love it because there is quite an opinion from the narrator but you can see everything going on in the story plot.
    Something they Alice shows in The Lovely Bones is the beauty of human sexuality. Feeling like a broken record player, I keep talking about how beautiful this book is. But I cannot use words to describe what you feel in this book: You taste the blood of a murder, feel two bodies make love, smell the sickness waft throughout a hospital. This is not half of what you feel in this book. Never once in this book did I think where are these, characters what are they doing? This happens often in the newer books that I read. An author uses no imagery. They get right to the story. But without imagery I cannot comprehend what is going on in a story. In this book the imagery is the perfect amount it does not clog the story, but I can feel everything.
    In The Lovely Bones a young girl, Susie is murdered. She goes to her heaven from which she can leave. She often leaves as a spirit and watches over her family. Her family goes through troubles as any normal family would. Susie helps the family find her killer. But he gets away. After this the storyline breaks of from basically one story to ten side stories. This follows the whole family who has grown apart I will not spoil the ending but I will say that it ends as happy as realistically as possible. This is no Disney book. If you cannot handle the hardships of life, first of all you need to eventually outgrow that, and secondly don’t read this book. If you love books like David Leviathan’s that are about human nature, love, the meaning of life, and what if then this is the book for you. The heaven that Alice Sebold creates is beautiful. If you are or are not religious you will appreciate her effort. This now my second favorite book and author. I read quite a bit so that is an accomplishment in my book. On that point, I think this should be on everyone’s bookshelf.

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  5. Sundip G. 9th Says:

    The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    The Fault in Our Stars is a spectacular love story on an adolescent young lady, named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has been diagnosed with lung cancer and reluctantly goes to a cancer support group. In one of the gatherings she gets the attention of a teen kid, his name is Augustus Waters also known as Gus. He is beguiling and witty. Augustus has had osteosarcoma, an uncommon manifestation of bone growth, yet has recently had it all clear. After learning more about each other’s personalities and interest, they fall in love and learn to cope with the presence of death. At first Hazel tries hard not to let Augustus know how she is feels for him because she does not want to put him in pain if something happens to her. They both find a common interest in the novel An Imperial Affliction by Peter Van Houten, who fled to Amsterdam after the novel was published and has not been heard from since. In the search for answers from the author, Augustus reveals that he tracked down Van Houten’s assistant, Lidewij. Through the assistant’s help, they are able to contact their favorite author for the rest of the story and questions they have. Shortly after Augustus invites Hazel on a picnic. During the picnic, Hazel warns Augustus not to fall in love with her because she is like a grenade that could explode whenever. While searching for the author of their favorite book in Amsterdam, Augustus breaks some heartbreaking news to Hazel, and both of their worlds fall apart around them.

    If you relish adolescent grown-up books, brimming with witty humor and heartbreaking events, this book is ideal for you. Expect to laugh, cry and smile throughout this novel. I highly recommend this book.

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