Teen Reads – April 10, 2016

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon

How It Went Down by Kekla Magoon is one of the most socially valuable books I have read. As a white kid living in a suburban town, the events that have taken place in Ferguson and Baltimore over the past year often seem foreign and unrelatable, but this book has given me a perspective on what these events mean to those who live in communities such as Ferguson and Baltimore. We all have seen the media coverage of the deaths of Freddie Gray and Michael Brown and know of the aftermath of these events, but How It Went Down gives the reader an inside look at the life of those directly effected by similar events. This books is definitely for mature audiences, but I I would highly recommend the book, especially for anyone that has not been exposed to what life is like in predominately African-American, impoverished, communities. This is one of the few books I can honestly say has changed my outlook on the world.

Five out of Five stars

(Reviewed by Nicholas Detter)

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Teen Reads – March 31, 2016

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott is a science-fiction fantasy that takes place in the land of Saryenia. This book explores the life of Jessamy Tonor, a young and ambitious girl who lives with her beautiful Commoner mother, her serious Patron father, and her three obnoxious sisters (Bettany, Maraya, and Amaya). Jes’s father is a disciplinarian and captain in the military, who desires to climb up the social ladder. Her mother is loving, gentle, and composed, even as her family faces discrimination and disgrace. Jes yearns to run a Fives trial, a competition of athletic ability and quick thinking. When Jes finally has the opportunity and money to participate, she must do so in defiance of her family’s strict rules. Throughout the book, Jes must make similar decisions between her dreams and her family. She struggles to understand her society and its complex history.

Court of Fives blends a story of family and relationships with the fight against corrupt and violent politics. The story brings together elements of The Hunger Games and mythologies of different ancient cultures. Details of the land of Saryenia and its origins take the reader to a new world. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys adventure and an unpredictable plot line.

(Reviewed by Anuragini Arora)

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Teen Reads (Triple Review!) – March 25, 2016

The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

Mara seemed to be a normal teenager, she had a wonderful best friend and a good life. But, when she is in an accident with three of her friends and is the only one to walk away alive…. Her life changes. Now in a new town and new school, she is forced to deal with her past. With the help of a mysterious boy, Mara confronts her past and learns a lot about herself in the process. The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer is a well written novel with an excellent plotline; it will draw you in and keep the pages turning until the last word. Definitely a must read for teens who love a good mysterious page-turner!

The Evolution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

In the sequel to The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Mara is still trying to escape her past with her boyfriend Noah. After multiple incidents, she realizes she can’t run anymore. Her secrets and problems aren’t in her head, like everyone has been telling her. Mara has to fight in order protect herself and those who she cares about most. Hodkin does an amazing job following the intensity set in the first novel. It is truly a gripping story that will keep you occupied till the very end.

The Retribution of Mara Dyer by Michelle Hodkin

In the last book of the Unbecoming of Mara Dyer, Mara is fighting for her life and those that she loves the most. In the beginning, she lost and confused; physically and emotionally. She has to work to make sense of everything that she has learned about herself. She found her true best friends and her one true love. Mara found herself and now wants to tell everyone… but Mara isn’t her name, it is what she chose. An amazing ending to a thrilling series. Hodkin is an excellent author and story teller. Definitely a must read for anyone interested in mysteries, romance, action-packed dramas… or all of the above.

(Reviewed by Anna Wilson)

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Teen Reads – March 19, 2016

Illuminae by Amie Kaufman

Unlike any other book I have ever read, Illuminae uses a collection of transcripts, IMs, emails, and the thoughts of a deranged AI system to tell its story. The plot is centered around Kady Grant and Ezra Mason who are ex-boyfriend and girlfriend. They are struggling to survive after an intergalactic corporation attacks their home planet for harboring the illegal mining operation of a rivaling corporation. The story has a little a bit of everything: action, sci-fi, and romance, but not too much romance. It is also a very realistic book. Unlike some books that seem to go to any odds to keep main characters alive, this book is very liberal in its disposing of characters. This may frustrate some readers but it was a relief for me to see a book try to be as realistic as possible. Overall it was very enjoyable and I would highly recommend it to any who can tolerate sci-fi (for those who don’t enjoy sci-fi this book may be a little much for you).
4.5 out of 5 stars

(Reviewed by Nick Detter)

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