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Teen SRC 2021 – Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

While I can’t say I loved absolutely everything about Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter, there are a few things that left me completely astonished. First, the characters. Namely, Maddie and Logan. How – and I repeat – how did the author manage to make me grow so attached to the characters in just a mere 304 pages? It’s like I really know both of them in real life; let me just say the characters are so incredibly lovable and the plot development between them is not only enticing but heartwarming.

One thing I wasn’t super interested in for this novel was the plot. Well, okay, not the actual plot, but rather the fact that the book was marketed as a mystery novel, and yet I didn’t really pick up on any suspense-building, plot twists, or anything like that. It was certainly a very adventurous read, but I’m not sure I would leap as far as “mysterious.”

Overall, I thought it was a sweet book despite the misleading genre; honestly I think there’s more romance than anything, but it’s very well-written and no cliche personality traits in any of the characters. 7/10!

Teen SRC 2021 – Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine

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Honor Among Thieves by Rachel Caine is one of the best series I ever read. This series is about a futuristic world, where humans have invented intergalactic travel and met a type of aliens called Leviathan. These Leviathan are gigantic aliens that take are living spaceships and they made a program called Honors. In this program, humans are chosen to go on these Leviathan to supposedly explore the outer reaches of space.

Zara Cole, or main protagonist, is a thief and she got recruited into the Honors program for some reason. There, things take a dark turn, and Zara, her copilot, Beatrice, and her ship, Nadim, must try and survive.

I enjoyed this book a lot because it was fast paced and had many interesting plot twists. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy action packed, sci-fi books.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

The Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer | Little, Brown Books  for Young Readers

The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer in the Land of Stories series is addictive and astonishing. Furthermore, the novel is fast-pacing and keeps the audience at the edge of their seats. The author would use detail and sensories to drive the reader to experience the events and empathize with the characters’ emotions. Each chapter is dynamic and becomes more and more intense at the end. The genres are fantasy, adventure and suitable for teens. I would highly recommend the novel to teenagers because you can recollect the fairy tales and the memories while also getting engaged at a comfortable reading level. The main characters Alex and Conner, get swallowed into a magical book, then end up in the fairy tale world. The main characters have a chance to interact face-to-face with the characters that filled their lively childhood but met antagonists such as wolves, witches and trolls. However, escaping is difficult which so the twins went through an unpredictable and magical journey. In summary, I would rate The Wishing Spell nine out of ten because it’s addicting and astonishing!

Teen SRC 2021 – Honor Bound by Rachel Caine

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Honor Bound by Rachel Caine is the second book of the series Honors. It follows Zara Cole, a thief who was on Earth, but got put into the Honors program to fight an intergalactic war against a species of aliens called phages who prey upon the living starships. Zara’s starship is called Nadim and her co pilot is Beatriz have to exterminate those creatures.

Due to this book being a sequel, I would recommend reading Honor Among Thieves first so you roughly know what is going on. I enjoyed this book a lot because it was pretty fast paced and it didn’t seem as if one character was just carrying the plot. I would recommend this book to people who like reading action books with a bit of romance.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson

“The other, louder part of her mind told her that something was wrong, wrong, wrong.”

The Box in the Woods by Maureen Johnson is the fourth instalment in the Truly Devious series, although you could 100% read it as a standalone.

After solving the Ellingham cold case, Stephanie “Stevie” Bell finds herself bored… that is, until she receives a message from the owner of Sunny Pines, once known as Camp Wonder Falls, in Barlow Corners. He wants Stevie to help him out with a podcast on another unsolved case, the Box in the Woods murders.

In 1978, 4 camp counsellors went into the woods, and none came back out. They were stabbed brutally, and 3 of the 4 victims showed signs of head injury. These teens were Todd, the cocky Mayor’s son, Diane, Todd’s girlfriend and mediocre student, Eric, the camp weed dealer, and Sabrina… the local high school’s star student. I’ll let you decide who stands out.

It will surprise no one that I literally could not put this book down. I promise I tried, but I failed. I finished it at 11:30pm last night, which did nothing for my fear of the dark, but I genuinely could not stop turning the pages. Maureen Johnson has once again created a mystery that hooks the reader from the first page to the last.

There are lots of things to love about this book. It’s fast-paced, it creates amazing atmosphere, and Stevie talks through her thoughts very clearly, making it easy for the reader to immerse themselves. When she’s on the edge of a breakthrough, the anticipation is intense because the story is so absorbing. There are also several flashback scenes which are super helpful in keeping the reader engaged, because they feel like extra hints that not even Stevie has.

Unfortunately, I didn’t like every single aspect of the story, which is to be expected. Like I mentioned before in my review of Truly Devious, I don’t find Stevie a very likable character. Don’t get me wrong, I think she’s a great fit for narrating murder mysteries; she’s calculated, cold, and not very emotive. But she’s definitely not someone I’d like to be friends with, which detracted from my appreciation of the novel.

Another thing is the complicated romance between Stevie and David; it just didn’t belong in the book at all! It served no purpose, and it was so weird seeing Stevie suddenly feel things whenever he came around. So I apologize, but in the case of this novel in particular, I am back to being a romance hater.

Other than that, I have nothing else to critique, the beginning was a bit slow, but the other parts of the book made up for it! The mystery was well crafted as always, and it definitely lived up to my expectations.

I would rate The Box in the Woods an 8.5/10, and I’d recommend it to anyone who’s a fan of murder mysteries!

Teen SRC 2021 – The Toll by Neal Shusterman

“We are imperfect beings… how could we ever fit into a perfect world?”

The Toll by Neal Shusterman is the third and final book of the Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, a Dystopian series set in a world where humanity has conquered death. Those who die are simply deadish, able to be revived within a day, and old age is no longer a concern either; anyone and everyone is welcome to ‘turn a corner’ and go back to a certain age at any time. Scythes manage population control, gleaning people to make sure the Earth does not exceed its population capacity. But of course, with great power comes great responsibility, and some just do not possess that needed quality.

As this review is for The Toll, and not the first two books of the series, there will be spoilers for Scythe and Thunderhead. If you haven’t read those yet, I recommend that you do that first!

Regardless, onto the review.

Going into this, I had high expectations. Scythe and Thunderhead were both incredible reads, and I was hoping that The Toll would wrap the series up well. I was not disappointed; this book left me reeling with a variety of emotions, and even now, I’m still processing the ending. It’s been such a journey seeing the characters develop throughout the years, and in contrast to what I critiqued in my review of Scythe, I have come to relate to the many protagonists in this world, and it brings me so much joy to follow them on their many adventures.

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Teen SRC 2021 – Holes by Louis Sachar

The novel I’ll be reviewing today isn’t actually categorized as a teen read, but I think it’s quite appropriate for adolescents of any age so I hope this won’t be taken down.

I loved this book back when I first read it in Grade 7 or 8, and I still love at 16, based on a recent re-read.

Holes by Louis Sachar is about a boy named Stanley Yelnats, who is under a “curse” brought upon his family by his great-great-grandfather. And because of said curse, Stanley has been sent to a boys’ detention center called Camp Green Lake, where he is forced to dig holes all day, everyday… definitely an unorthodox camp activity. Clearly, there’s something else going on that Stanley’s missing.

Holes is one of those books that feels very well planned out, I hope you know what I mean. The pacing is great, the action is great, and the plot is awesome. The ending is wrapped up very nicely and realistically, readers won’t be baffled nor unsatisfied, and the overall storyline is really cool!

I also really enjoyed the flashbacks in the book; they helped me understand the story and allowed me to predict what was coming! They were also woven in very well and didn’t disrupt the flow of anything which I appreciated. The flashbacks were also a great way of showing not telling, which allows the readers to have their own sort of “eureka” moment when they figure something out!

Overall, I’d rate the story an 8/10. It’s not the greatest thing ever, but it’s pretty darn good; especially for a “children’s” book! I’d recommend it to anyone who likes realistic adventures with a tinge of mystery! (There is also a pretty good movie adaptation of it, so if you’re a film person, you should check that out!)

Teen SRC 2021 – Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange

Rebel, Bully, Geek, Pariah - Lange, Erin Jade

The blurb led me to believe that Rebel Bully Geek Pariah by Erin Jade Lange would be amazing, filled with many dynamic characters who share their perspectives and have great character development.

I was hugely disappointed to find out that this book was only told from the POV of Sam, the “Pariah”. The plot was intriguing, but Sam wasn’t a very likeable character. She constantly told herself that she wasn’t like the “other girls” that she called Barbies. Her mother had been to jail and rehab many times and Sam subconsciously uses that to pity herself throughout the book. That made the book harder to read and I was tempted to put it down many times. Her only reason for staying during the adventure, that could’ve gotten her arrested or killed, was that it was the first time she was invited somewhere.

One of the main themes of this book was relationships. Something that threw me off was Sam flirting with York, the “Bully”. They are literally being pursued by a gang and the police and she’s worried that York has been with other girls. One relationship dynamic that I did enjoy was between York and his little brother Boston who is the “geek” that’s mentioned in the title. It portrayed sibling relationships realistically without overdoing it. Another character was Andi, the “rebel”. Andi was once the queen of the Barbies but is now a stereotypical gay character with a tragic backstory. She did make the story more interesting by constantly being sarcastic but her “friendship” with Sam from Sam’s perspective was awkward at times.

As I’ve previously mentioned, the plot itself was quite good. Four teens getting thrusted into an adventure they didn’t want. Almost committing murder, hiding drugs, and running away from a gang, all while trying to avoid the police! This book’s mystery was very well plotted. I’d give it a 3.5/5.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Captive Kingdom (The Ascendance Series, Book 4) eBook : Nielsen,  Jennifer A.: Amazon.ca: Kindle Store

The Captive Kingdom by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the final installment of the Ascendance series. This story follows Jaron and his crew on sea, when he gets attacked be the Prozarians who are a people that were presumed to all be dead from the plague. Jaron soon found out about why they were being captured along with his long lost brother, who was also presumed to be dead.

By the time I read this book, I was a tad bit disappointed. Due to how Jaron acts, the story always follows the same route. It goes, something bad happens to Jaron, something bad happens to Imogen, Jaron pulls some slight of hand or mind trick, a miracle happens, and a good ending appears. I didn’t really like the book due to how predictable it was after reading three of the books beforehand. I would recommend this book to anyone who really loves the Ascendance series and wants closure for what happened to everyone.

Teen SRC 2021 – The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen

The Shadow Throne (The Ascendance Series, Book 3): Nielsen, Jennifer A.:  8601420074835: Books - Amazon.ca

The Shadow Throne by Jennifer A. Nielsen is the third book of the Ascendance Series, following King Jaron, the king of Carthya. Avena, Gelyn, and Medenwal are waging war against Carthya, and Jaron knew that there was a spy in his ranks. To counter this, Jaron fakes an argument with his army captain to make the other countries think that they are disorganized, then they launched an infiltration attack on Avena. Jaron was captured, and the story follows his stories in there.

There were many close calls in the book along with exciting twists and tragic deaths. I loved this series due to its captivating language as well as the close attention to detail that is written in the book. I would recommend this book to the fans of The False Prince and The Runaway King.