Student Book Reviews

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.

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  1. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    Ever since The Fault in Our Stars was released, I have seen and heard all of the hype about the book. People kept saying how beautifully tragic it was and that when they read it they could not stop crying. Add this to the fact that it is a book about a young girl with cancer and that my mother had just been diagnosed with cancer herself, you might see why I was hesitant about reading this novel. However, the way that my friends were obsessing over this book made me seriously consider reading it. Then, I saw the book on the list of options for the independent reading project, and I had to read it to see just how good it really was.

    Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16 year old girl who has been living with thyroid cancer with mets in her lungs. One day when attending support group– reluctantly, I might add– she catches an attractive boy staring at her. His name is Augustus Waters. Augustus had his leg amputated a year and a half before, due to osteosarcoma. After support group, Augustus (also known as Gus) starts talking with Hazel and eventually invites her over to watch a movie. This ends up sparking a relationship between Hazel and Gus. There is only one problem; Hazel’s lungs are starting to suck even more at being lungs. They try to drown her every so often, and she must periodically go to the hospital to have them drained. So Gus, being the amazing boyfriend that he is, decides to spend his Wish– like from the Make a Wish Foundation– on Hazel. They arrange a trip to Amsterdam to visit Hazel’s favorite author, Peter VanHouten. After they arrive and have a marvelous evening by the canal, Hazel and Gus stop by VanHouten’s house. And of course, he is a “self-important bastard” to quote Hazel. That’s just wonderful, right? After that, they go to the Anne Frank house, then return to the hotel. As their trip draws to an end, the happy couple gets news that will change their lives forever.


  2. The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

    Not the greatest start, but overall—good. Going into this book, I was thrilled to learn a bit about forensics while having the luxury of a creative, fictional, plot. Not exactly the case. After I chose to read this book, I read up on some of its reviews and summaries. They all talked about the main character—Cameryn Mahoney—dealing with forensic sciences to solve a homicide case. Personally, the scientific aspect was nothing short of a letdown. It just seemed to be missing. Not including one autopsy, the plot doesn’t go into depth on the scientific aspects as I hoped so much it would. The story follows a high school student named Cameryn as she deals with, and investigates the death of her close friend Rachel. Rachel’s death knocks the small town of Silverton Colorado to its knees as it brings publicity and terror to such a tiny yet peaceful community. This is where, I feel, the book drags on. It seems to bring only what is expected to the reader, filling pages up with description of the town and its current devastation. Very tedious. The story starts to go in depth on the somewhat ridiculous theories of a psychic named Dr. Jewl, and let me tell you, I could hardly make it through much of that. Dr. Jewl claims to be a psychic who can contact Rachel’s spirit. Some details, like this, seemed endless. The first portion of the book focuses on Cameryn’s own grief and some adventures she has dealing with Dr. Jewel, forcing her to contradict her own beliefs.

    After reading nearly halfway, I got over the lack of scientific adventures. The book turned out to be not half bad. It followed an incredible storyline. As Cameryn starts to deal with the situation and dig deeper into the mystery, she begins to resemble spurts of courage and determination—that I think were quite necessary within the gloomy plot. As clues start to role her way, Cameryn and the Silverton police department become more confident. Let me just say the majority of this book is relatively dark. As it gets further into the investigation, it seems to pull the reader out of that suspense.

    Overall—a well written, solid story. The book seemed to suck me in at times, as it also made me want to abandon it here and there. Filled with suspense and slight glimmers of hope, it really turned out well. All except for the Forensic mystery portion—of which I wish there was more detail.


  3. The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

    When I had seen the cover of this book I really wasn’t impressed. I mean come on, there’s a girl wearing 80’s clothes standing in a corn field—not the most interesting book cover. But when I read the first 10 pages of the book I was sucked into an intriguing plot at the beginning of the book. A fourteen year old girl—Susie Salmon— is getting lured into her own raping and death. The climax of the story right at the beginning of the book, how cool is that? I usually have to read like one hundred pages before the book really gets interesting.
    Now you might think, what’s the point of reading the book if I already know what happens in the first couple pages? Well, after her death the story dials down and I get the truth behind all of the madness. This book really made me think about just how important life is and that—even though I knew this already—everyone in this would isn’t here to be my friend. This book goes deep into the life of Susie and shows the closeness in all of her relationships to point where I got mad that someone could even think about doing something so atrocious to a person.
    The style of writing that Alice Sebold has is very descriptive, and the way she described the murder of Susie made me a little emotional because life is so precious and she lost hers so early. In some places the book it kind of dragged on for and unnecessary amount of time. But overall I think that Alice did a great job making the most interesting parts of the book pop, and the side parts of the book accent the interesting parts of the book. The book is well written, and I didn’t even know you could make such an interesting story from a common childhood lesson—don’t talk to strangers.


  4. The 5th Wave by: Rick Yancey

    As with most science fiction, I was immediately skeptical of this book. I was worried that it was going to be like many of the poor alien invasion movies that litter the theaters, but I was pleasantly surprised. I thought it would be lots of lasers and creatures with four eyes, but it put a whole new spin on the concept of an alien invasion. It wasn’t a story about all of the death that occurred, it was about how people lived through the struggle. The whole alien subject didn’t seem so different in this book.

    The 5th wave was told through the narration of three characters. Cassie, her little brother Sam, who was separated from her at a refugee camp, and Ben, Cassies old high school crush. Each one of them is forced into different situations and we get to experience how they grow and become stronger throughout their adventures. The aliens, or “others as Cassie calls them, throw one wave of horror after the next on the world, but no one is completely sure why. These waves cause mass destruction all across the globe and people are dying by the minute. The government tries to round up as many people as they can and bring them to safety, but everything soon goes haywire. It is quite interesting to see the three move forward towards each other without even knowing it. They have admirable courage and determination.

    Although I cannot relate to any of the circumstances brought up in this book it is a page turner and I didn’t want to put it down. This book is geared towards both boys and girls. I recommend it to anyone who wants a mild science fiction book with lots of action and suspense.


  5. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

    I’m not a “crier” when it comes to reading. Of course, I get very into novels, but I don’t cry–except now. I admit that I bawled my eyes out over this book, over the characters and the circumstances and the absolute unfairness of life it presented. Though typically I more enjoy the dystopian young adult genre, this realistic fiction story was written so well that it didn’t matter if there was action or a rebellion against the Capitol every chapter. Within the first few pages, I was hooked by the sarcastic, intelligent, and super mature Hazel, who narrates the story in first person and whose realistic personality, though maybe seeming a bit pessimistic to some, is captivating in my opinion. As a teenager with very serious and incurable cancer, she knows her time is limited, and she doesn’t sugarcoat it. She doesn’t pretend that her circumstances aren’t as bad as they seem or that everything is going to get better, but she also doesn’t feel super sorry for herself. However, it is very difficult for her to allow Augustus Waters, a boy who lost a leg to cancer but is now in remission, to enter her life and become close to her. The reason? She is, as she puts it, “a grenade” (99). Eventually, she’s going to blow, and she wants to hurt as few people as possible.

    However, who could resist Augustus, a charismatic and equally witty boy who makes deep connections about everything and philosophical observations that leave me pondering well after I’ve read the book? I fell in love with him the first time he was brought into the story–more specifically, when he put a cigarette in his mouth but explained that he’d never actually light it. It’s just another one of his metaphors: “You put the killing thing right between your teeth, but you don’t give it the power to do its killing” (20). With a typical storyline about cancer and doomed young love, the deep insights and witty ideas presented through the characters, along with their humorous personalities, are part of what keep this story from seeming cheesy or boring. With every page, I was either given some new concept to consider–such as whether it’s necessary to do something extraordinary in one’s life in order for the life to be important–or just laughing out loud at a comment Augustus made.

    The voice of the narrator was expressed so well and so sincerely that I could easily feel empathy for Hazel and at times almost felt like her thoughts were my own, that I too was going through her circumstances. I was brought into the world of cancer, of having to be rushed to the hospital late at night and facing near-death experiences, of never really knowing what day could be your last–and the story has stayed with me well after I’ve put the book down. I very well may be picking it up again soon.


  6. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    Reading The Perks of Being a Wallflower had been on my to-do list for a while, so I very excited when I realized it was one of the options for our ninth grade reading project. There was so much hype surrounding this book, and it seemed like people only had good things to say about it. I was expecting to read a masterpiece. Maybe this was why I was so disappointed.
    As I was reading the book, I was waiting to be impressed—which never happened. In spite of having fairly interesting characters, the plot dragged a bit. The ideas of getting drunk and high at high school parties seemed typical of plenty of novels, as did the idea of writing the entire book in letters. No surprises. The socially awkward personality of the main character and author of the letters, Charlie, shined bright throughout the writing. The sentence structure had an irritating, choppy rhythm but highlighted his thoughts and emotions very well. While this was great characterization, I found it bothersome because it hindered my ability to make valuable personal connections with the other characters. For this reason I never experienced the emotional roller coaster I had anticipated. When I finally closed the back cover, I was shocked to realize that I felt nothing at all considering I couldn’t even count the number people who claimed to have felt deep sadness upon finishing the book.
    Despite my criticism, the book was far from terrible. Between the unusual characters, from hard core feminists to secret homosexuals, and Charlie’s fascinating outlook on life, there were many notable aspects to the novel. I must also appreciate Chbosky’s craftiness in continuing to portray Charlie’s innocent demeanor as he progressed through a scandalous freshman year, leaving the reader to always side with Charlie even when he was at fault. I would gladly recommend The Perks of Being a Wallflower to anyone wanting an easy read, but this was by no means the treasure it was made out to be.


  7. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    Personally, I have always been a fan of mystery novels. So naturally once I heard of a book about Clay who receives a box of thirteen audio tapes of his crush, Hannah, explaining that he and twelve other people are responsible for her suicide, I just had to read it. I was not disappointed. Cover to cover, it left me wondering what happened to her. Each page craving more information: almost obsessively reading and rereading every word carefully to fully understand Hannah’s story as if she were a real person. Incapable of closing the book until I knew everything- I read during free class time, I read in the hall between classes, I read on the way home after school, I even took time to read after my homework until four thirty in the morning. There is no doubt, Asher did a great job of incorporating imagery in to the stories Hannah recites and the way Clay reacts to them. It felt like I was right beside him on his journey to discover the reasons behind her suicide. As if I were actually in the novel, instead of just reading it in my room. There are not many books I can truthfully say that about. Adding on to that, the situations that lead to Hannah’s suicide are realistic enough to be true. Some are even relatable events, triggering feelings of empathy as well as sympathy. Some people however, would argue that none of the circumstances are devastating enough or dramatic enough for Hannah to have been compelled to end her life and dislike the whole story due to it. The problem with that dispute is that it does not matter the intensity of her problems, it’s the fact that multiple occurrences of these incidents began to pile up and eventually consumed her completely. I get where Asher is coming from. Overall, Thirteen Reasons Why is heartbreakingly tragic yet captivating and exciting at the same time.


  8. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    When I first heard about the exciting reading project English Nine students had to take on, I wasn’t at all excited for it. From previous reading projects this one seemed to be the same until I saw the book list – which actually had some good books on it to choose from. I ended up choosing The Perks of being a Wallflower because I had heard such great things about it and was actually looking forward to reading it. The main character is Charlie a socially awkward freshman who ultimately loves reading and really doesn’t have any friends. Charlie writes journal entries to a friend that tells what is happening in his life. Some that are inappropriate and some that really show that Charlie goes through a lot in his life. He is in a more or less grief stage because his aunt Helen has died. Overall, I really enjoyed the writing style because it was different from many books I have read in it was actually like someone was writing the entries.
    Charlie has to deal with a brother who has gone to college and a sister who is not always a good girl. Charlie feels left alone until he goes to his first football game and meets Patrick and Sam – who become his best friend. Patrick and Sam are brother and sister, and are extremely close even though they are step-siblings. Charlie hangs out with them so much that he becomes caught up in a not-so-ninth-grade-life that deals with Charlie getting extremely high at almost every party he goes to, and getting drunk too. Really Charlie isn’t acting like a high schooler at all with his behavior. To make matters even worse Charlie is having terrifying flashbacks. This adds a thrilling twist to the whole story. While writing the rest of his entries he leaves out that he visits the psychiatrist. Which leads to a sort of dramatic ending.
    In the end I really enjoyed reading this book and I would give it five stars. I believe that Stephen Chbosky did an amazing job writing this book.


  9. Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman
    Though it was my third choice out of the books, I’m glad that I ended up this this one. In the beginning I was rather hesitant to pick up the book. Mostly because it included football. Being a non-sporty person who only knows the bare minimum about any sport other than soccer, I wasn’t too thrilled. While reading the description on the back-as anyone picking out a book should- there was one line that had me hooked. “But eventually fearing for him as they learn Jake’s secret.” The “they” being the readers. Reading that I thought to myself, “Well, I’m a reader and I want to know Jake’s secret!” Once I finally picked up the book, I found myself reading into late hours of the night forgetting completely that I needed to sleep for school. I was living high school through the eyes of Jake’s best friend Rick Paradis. As he was finding out more about Jake, I felt like his trusty sidekick. Guessing what would happen next, but still being surprised whether I was right or wrong.
    Though the topic of the book is rather cliché with your “New kid loves the pretty head cheerleader,” it was, different in a way. The book moved at the correct speed. Not too fast to where you’re missing a bunch of details, but not too slow with far too many details either. While reading there are plenty of times where I ended up picturing myself at these crazy parties Jake would through. The typical red solo cups scattered everywhere, and Dipsy- who knew everyone, but didn’t really have any friends- running around in his fluorescent undergarments trying to get his pants back.
    If you’re looking for an action filled thriller, well, this book isn’t for you. But, if you’re looking for a book including football, drama, and parties, well then this is a book for you.


  10. Beastly by Alex Flinn

    At first, I thought this book was going to be a soppy love story. I am pleased to say that this book surprised me and rose above my expectations to a greater level. At the beginning of this book, every character was so shallow it was revolting, especially Kyle; the main character. He thinks everything is based on appearance, and that’s what gets him in trouble. A witch puts a curse on him; which makes him look like a beast. He only has two years to find someone to love him with his new appearance. His father, the one who put this idea of perfection into his head, takes him away to a house where no one will he Kyle and leaves him there.

    He only had two people in his life: Magda–his maid who hasn’t seen her family in 5 years because they could afford green cards for them, and Will–his blind school teacher and friend. They really rounded the storyline out. Will was a great friend to Kyle when he didn’t have anyone. And Magda had so much love and patience for Kyle, which it made it heartwarming to read. It was sad to read about Kyle’s relationship with his father; who was never there for Kyle even in his worst time–becoming a beast, but it added another dimension to the storyline.

    When Kyle meets Lindy–a girl that didn’t have the best features, and didn’t have much money, he realizes his feelings for her and brings her to the house. I find it cute when he fixes up her room with paint, bookshelves, tons of books, vases of roses and tons of other special things. I liked the progression of their relationship. And, I loved how you could hear Kyle thoughts, and it would let you know how much he loved her. The author did a good job with the ending, which involves Lindy and Kyle living happily ever after.

    The moral of the story is what kept me reading. Love is never ugly. And people shouldn’t be judged by appearance or financial status. It should be their character, credibility, and compassion that counts. Not looks.


  11. Soldier Boys by Dean Hughes

    Teenage boys Spencer and Dieter live two very similar lives. However, their goals are drastically different. Spencer, sixteen, and Dieter, fifteen, both feel obligated to fight for their countries during WWII. There is only one problem. Dieter is German, and Spencer is American. They have completely different intentions, but are fighting for the same thing—the pride of their country.

    The story covers both Dieter and Spencer’s experiences of the war, but the beginning and middle sections are extremely slow reading. It is relatively short, but the bulk of the novel seems much, much longer than it really is. This is most likely because of the very detailed descriptions of the boy’s home lives prior to the war. Although the beginning was slow, Hughes did do an exceptional job expressing a common teenage boy’s thinking in his descriptions. His work clearly showed in the way he portrayed the thinking that we are superior to everyone else, and that it is not okay to lose. Hughes thoroughly illustrated the boys’ pride—in a little too much detail—and how excited they were to demolish their challengers. Oddly enough, Dieter and Spencer’s worst fear was to miss the war, and that the chance to prove themselves would never be there.

    One thing Hughes does an outstanding job at is bringing you back into the story, and making you reengaged. Just when it seems like the back-story would never end, he comes up with a riveting, action packed scene that leaves you amazed. This action based thinking is what raises the concluding chapters of the book to new levels. Hughes dives straight into the heart of the war with great detail, and makes you feel like a part of the battle. With his great character depiction, historical accuracy, and page turning conflicts, the ending was phenomenal. As the final pages arrive, Hughes deals out one of the most unexpected endings you’ll see, revealing to us the true test of one’s pride.

    Overall, this book was a pleasant surprise to me. Even with the beginning, I found myself getting pulled in and interested, always waiting to see what came next. It was definitely a guy book, and is great for a teenager with an inflated ego—don’t we all have this—and that enjoys a fair amount of suspense. I feel like a lot of people my age could relate to the feelings and thoughts of the two boys, and in the end, Dieter and Spencer teach us a lesson that we will never forget.

    Word Count: 426


  12. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon (published in 2003)
    Very well written and a real eye-opener. When I first picked up this odd looking story, I didn’t know what to expect but as far as fiction goes, this is now one of my all-time favorites. Quick plot summary: Christopher Boone is a fifteen-year-old boy with autism. After he discovers his neighbor’s dog dead in the middle of the night, he decides to investigate. During this investigation, he unveils a lot—not just about the murder, but about his own family as well.
    There are a multitude of reasons this is at the top of my list, with the biggest being the point-of-view. Being autistic, the narrator frequently goes off on tangents and tells the story in the way that his brain processes it. For example, the chapters go in order of prime numbers, and Chris sometimes spends a page or two describing why seeing a certain number of yellow cars in a row is bad luck. Reading this book really opened my eyes to what it is really like to be autistic, or have some sort of disability. I left this story with a newfound respect for those not as fortunate as I am.
    Throughout the novel, the one character that really “clicked” with me was Siobhan—Chris’s primary teacher/mentor at school. Siobhan tries very hard to work with Chris on both his social and academic skills. Despite her undying effort, she still has a curiosity about what Chris’s life is really like. Similarly, I can comfort those with a learning disability, but I will never know what it is actually like to step inside their shoes.
    Overall, this was a great book with engaging storylines, interesting characters, and a knack for teaching me something new. I hope to get the chance to read more of Mark Haddon’s inspiring literature. (fiction) Words: 301


  13. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

    In the beginning, I knew nothing about the plot or characters, but I did know that it was an amazing book because of the many great reviews it got. After reading the first few chapters, I was disappointed and confused by why so many people liked it. The content of the book was filled with background info and Amir, the main character’s childhood. Boring! I decided to give it more of a try because I had to read it for this project and also I wanted to try to understand the many wonderful reviews. Also, I didn’t know a lot about the Middle East and was open to learning more about their culture. The next few chapters- surprisingly- were a big improvement. The sentence fluency and transitions were smooth as butter and suddenly I knew it was going to be a great book. Even though I couldn’t pinpoint what the plot was yet; Hosseini’s writing technique blew me away. But at this point in the book I was at a crossroad. I could either drop it or keep on going. Of course, I kept on reading and what a surprise. The whole story blew up like a rocket, so many problems and ideas were suddenly introduced all at once. My hands could not put down the book because of the complex plot that kept my mind reeling of possible outcomes and solutions.
    This book was unlike anything I have ever read before because it didn’t follow the normal novel guidelines. I wasn’t able to predict the plot and solution after reading the first chapter. Instead the book was filled with detail and problems arising every which way. Not only was it written perfectly but it taught me more about respect and life lessons. In addition, I now understand why so many people fell in love with this book. It’s depth and original ideas stood out from all other books I have read.
    In my opinion, if you have an open mind and have a couple hours to spare you should definitely pick up this book. It may be a bit boring to read at the start but give it some time and then your mind will be blown. I know mine was. This book included everything you could ever want in a book. After reading it from beginning to end, I can conclude it is my new favorite book of all time.


  14. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    I kept hearing from people, who had previously read Thirteen Reason Why, talking about how good it was and telling me that I needed to read it. So when looking at the options for our Independent Reading project, I figured now was as good of a time as ever. All of the books on the list seemed to have common trends: murder, suicide, rape, or shootings and out of those depressing choices, this one seemed the most interesting. In Thirteen Reasons Why, the main character is Clay Jensen. We read as Clay listens to the audio tapes that were sent by Hannah Baker, who committed suicide a few weeks earlier, explaining the reasons why she did what she did. She lists twelve different people—one who she mentions twice—and explains how they contributed to why she decided to end her life. The reasons may have been something big, somewhat small, or seemingly innocent, but it all leads up to Hannah not being able to cope with herself even after she reaches out for help. We go through the story with Clay while he is listening to Hannah’s tapes. The narration goes back and forth between the tapes and what Clay is doing or thinking. I really thought this was a great way to pace the story and build up the suspense. Every single page is full of emotion; it is sad, amazing, heartbreaking, and hopeful, all at the same time. The thing that bothered me the most about this book was that there were so many signs that she was in trouble and no one noticed. Even the adults in her life didn’t pay attention. In my opinion the major point to the story is the aftermath of suicide and to show that little things, words and actions, can impact one person more than it appears it can.


  15. Jake Reinvented by Gordon Korman

    When I first picked up this book, I automatically read the back—like most people do—and I was not too thrilled about reading this book. It seemed to be just another this guy likes this girl, but this girl is dating this guy kind of book, but being in a rush to pick a book and seeing it was by Gordon Korman, I decided to take a shot in the dark and read it. I was expected a dull, drama-filled book about popularity, but this was anything but dull. The first page of this book starts at a huge party—I mean come on, what teenager doesn’t like reading a book with wild, crazy parties. Automatically, I was hooked. I found myself reading over 100 pages one night, and my dad had to stop me or else I would have kept reading. Now don’t get me wrong, this book is definitely based on popularity and the life of high school, but this book has a different mood to it than regular books of this subject. Gordon Korman somehow transforms what could have been a worthless, ridiculous book about popularity and turns it into something magnificent. Doing this he also kept the grammar and word usage at a high-school level by making the book a first-person view from Rick Paradis. When Jake Garrett moves into the school, he becomes an instant sensation. Although, very quickly in this book it becomes relevant that something is awry about Jake, not so much as bad, but just off. Through most of the book, it is obvious that something just doesn’t add up with Jake, but not until one of the last parts in the book is it revealed. I was very intrigued in this book, and I could hardly put it down. Seeing all the scandals and watching all the secrets unravel kept me hooked until the very last page, and I was actually very sad when it was over.


  16. Jake, Reinvented by Gordon Korman

    Although this book was a short and easy read, I didn’t find it to be a quick read at all. I tried to like it while I read but I couldn’t get into it: all the characters and ideas seemed phony and general. While reading we all crave the relationship that forms as we get to better know the characters but this book lacked those crucial qualities. The normal characters, parties, and popularity struggles that you would find in any high school staged book riddled each chapter making the plot even more lack luster than it was to begin with. The story in this book seemed okay at first, if not actually interesting, but became tedious as a Friday night party scene was repeated in every chapter. The new comer and main character, Jake Garrett, who threw these wild Friday night parties supposedly had “a huge secret” and while Gordon Korman failed to build up the suspense to this big moment, it wouldn’t have mattered anyway due to the fact that the surprise that the book lead up to was barely a surprise at all, as it had been told prior to the last big Friday night scene. Once the big “secret” was revealed you were left gaping at the book it disbelief as you find out what the whole book has been written around.
    One thing that I think Gordon Korman did do a fantastic job with though is his idea to make a modern day Great Gatsby. I previously read the Great Gatsby and was thoroughly engrossed as I read. While Jake, Reinvented lacked the writing and plot to keep me interested, I looked back and saw each and every main character from The Great Gatsby along with the order of general scene ideas reflected in Korman’s writing.
    In the end I definitely was not crazy about this book and I am not sure I would recommend it to anyone if they were looking for a page turning read.
    (331 words)


  17. The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky

    At first, I was super excited to read this book. After watching the movie based off the bestseller, I hoped that the book had just as an intriguing plot and characters. I especially had my hopes up because Logan Lerman, my second favorite actor, played the main character Charlie in the movie. So starting the book, I was all for it. Because everyone says books are always better than the movie, right? But soon after five of Charlie’s journal entries, I became annoyed with his style of writing. Charlie is a freshman in high school—a socially awkward boy with extraordinary like for reading. And he is filled with grief since his favorite Aunt Helen died. So he isn’t in the best condition to write his entries. Still, the author could have written from his perspective with a little more maturity like an actual freshman is writing it—instead of it sounding like a fourth grader. But enough of me whining about the wrongs. The storyline? Amazing.

    Charlie befriends two seniors Sam and Patrick at his first high school football game. From there, things get better—but only in his perspective. I look at all the things he does from peer pressure, and I frown deeply at them: getting high and drunk at parties, going on intimate dates with seniors, things that I could never imagine happening to an innocent freshman. And his story gets a little bit more interesting. Charlie keeps having horrible nightmares or flashbacks, he doesn’t quite know. As he writes in his journal, he doesn’t acknowledge his visits to the psychiatrist much, but in the end, they play a big role. To be honest, I expected this surprise ending about the dear Aunt Helen he loves so much because I watched the movie, but in both the book and movie I was quite confused the way it was portrayed.

    With everything put together, this book is no more than a six out of ten points. Personally, the author should have given Charlie more smartness than he has, but the plot makes up for it somewhat. I was just really disappointed in book. I guess this is a rare case of when the movie is better than the book.


  18. Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

    I expected this novel to be about the common, everyday, high-schooled teen. But no, this was different. Laurie Halse Anderson does an excellent job of expressing a teenage girl’s desire to fit in with the others. A freshman, named Melinda, was in serious danger at a high school party. In hesitation, she immediately calls the police. People at her school automatically thought of her as the typical freshman who couldn’t have a little fun. This novel made me feel sympathy for those who don’t speak a word every now and then. Maybe they have a past, or something that’s keeping them tied down. She shows how high school can drift teens into the path of depression or suicide. It’s a sad thing, I know. But it definitely shows the dangers that can grab us and make us weak.

    Not only does this novel show the issues of high school, but it also shows how being a teenager can cause stress and problems at home. Fights with parents, getting the homework done, or even not being able to get outside in the fresh air and escape the death trap that most people call “home.” I feel that a majority of high school students could easily relate to this entire novel. All of it makes sense – not being able to fit in, struggles with grades, and even sleep deprivation. I personally love this book because of how well of an understanding I had as I was reading it. I honestly never had the ability to say, “Wow, I just couldn’t put the book down,” until I read Speak. It was an easy plot to keep up with as well. I always knew what was going on, and each chapter had the urge to know what could happen next. The possibilities were endless. Without exaggeration, I can gladly say that Speak is my new favorite book. On my first day of reading, I picked it up with such lack of enthusiasm. But on the last couple pages of the book, I read it super slow so that I could embrace the sad moment of finishing the magnificent book.

    Surprisingly, I really enjoyed reading this novel. It definitely wasn’t at all what I expected. It was about the typical drama-filled teenage life, but it was written by someone who actually understood the true lives of teenagers. A lot of adults assume that teenagers just over-stress about things and create the drama for ourselves. Even though us teenagers do those things, it is more complicated than just that. And Speak does a wonderful job of summarizing a troubled life of a high school teen.


  19. The Christopher Killer by Alane Ferguson

    I chose to read The Christopher Killer because it looked like an exciting mystery with real logic behind it—and it did not disappoint. The beginning was a bit slow as the author tried to provide the story’s backround: describing Cameryn’s (the main character) relationship with her detective father and overprotecting, highly-religious grandmother. I think some of the scenes between them could have been shortened. Another thing that I did not care for was that the book is written in third person. Although the reader sees into Cameryn’s thoughts, I think it would have been better if it was all told by Cameryn.

    After adjusting to the author’s writing style, the story gradually picks up. A psychic predicts the murder of a girl which Cameryn’s hippie friend believes lives in their small town in Colorado. When the prophesy is true, everyone believes the psychic except Cameryn—well, at first. It started to worry me when everyone believes what the he says and that he is trying to help the murdered girl’s case. I did not want to read a book about supernatural nonsense! I was beginning to think this book was like the newer Scooby Doo episodes where the monsters and ghosts were real instead of the originals were they reveal the man behind the mask. In between all of this there is a descriptive autopsy of the victim’s body that I admit to just skimming over.

    Everything eventually comes together when Cameryn solves the case and the man behind the mask is uncovered—with no supernatural help, thankfully. I was surprised by the scientific accurate evidence that lead to the mystery’s eventual resolvement of identifying the killer. The author clearly did her research. I liked that it made you think, and how many potential suspects there were: the attractive deputy with a secret he’s keeping from Cameryn, the physic who knows a suspicious amount of information about the murder, or the goth guy who was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Overall, the Christopher Killer is a suspenseful mystery that is worth reading.


  20. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

    High school student Hannah Baker committed suicide two weeks ago, and since then, Clay Jensen’s life hasn’t been the same. He had a major crush on Hannah, and was devastated that she hadn’t confided in him; that he had no idea what she was going through. After school one day, he comes across a shoebox containing a set of tapes that has been delivered to his house, addressed to him. The package has no return address. Upon listening to the first tape, Clay recognizes Hannah’s voice, and listens to her tell the beginning of her story. The tapes describe the reasons—thirteen reasons—why Hannah committed suicide. And if you have received the tapes, it means you are a reason. Clay is devastated. He is sure there has been a mistake. The recordings couldn’t be for him. It’s not possible. How could he have been a reason why she killed herself? He’ll have to listen to every tape, following Hannah’s map around town to find out.

    As Clay travels through town, he discovers connections between Hannah and himself that he never knew existed. He still can’t believe that Hannah is gone. He wishes there was some way to bring her back. Why couldn’t he have had the courage to tell her he was there for her before it was too late?

    This novel, being about suicide, was extremely depressing, but also very interesting at the same time. I couldn’t put the book down. Jay Asher does an excellent job of keeping the reader on the edge of his or her seat, continually giving just enough information to keep the story going, but suspenseful at the same time. His writing is very descriptive and insightful, taking you back to key times in Hannah’s life that influenced her final choice. The choice that changed the lives of every person that knew her, especially those on the tapes. The tapes that changed their lives.


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