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Teen SRC 2022 – The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen

WARNING: Spoilers ahead!

“Carlin often said that history was everything, for it was in man’s nature to make the same mistakes over and over.”

The premise of The Queen of the Tearling by Erika Johansen seems familiar at first glance. An ordinary teenage girl with a humble upbringing, discovers on the verge of adulthood, that she is the heir to a powerful ruler in her country. This so-called “the chosen one” trope can be found in almost every well-known fantasy novel. As I delve deeper into Kelsea’s world, I begin to discover a rich and complex society, with a tumultuous historical background and conflicts that have been manifesting for centuries. Observing this world through Kelsea’s lens and hearing her internal commentary provide readers with insight into her character. Growing up in a foster home, especially under the tutelage of the authoritative Carlin Glynn, Kelsea’s early education has had a far-reaching impact on her ideas of social justice and governance when she assumes the throne of the Tearling. As a historian formerly employed by the royal family, Carlin taught Kelsea the relation between history and cultural dynamics of the Tearling. Carlin’s authoritarian style of teaching is shown through Kelsea’s flashbacks, and it was clear that Kelsea was wary of Carlin’s disapproval. Whenever Kelsea became tired of school, she was met with her mentor’s disappointment and returned to her studies every time, yet soon after Kelsea is crowned Queen of the Tearling, she quickly asserts herself as a just and righteous ruler who has the courage, or audacity, to face down a hostile nation ready to tear down her country. Knowing that stopping the shipment to Mortmesne may draw the ire of the Red Queen, she gives her first order as queen and releases the Tear prisoners on the verge of being shipped to the enemy. This transition from a meek teenage girl to an authoritative ruler feels rushed and confusing, as authoritarian parenting is linked to shy and socially inept children who cannot make informed decisions for themselves.

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Teen SRC 2022- Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo

Contains minor spoilers!

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is about an orphaned girl that lives as a soldier in a world where war is evident. There are regular soldiers and then there are Grisha, the country’s magical military. The Grisha are seen as higher and more important than the regular soldiers of the Second Army, treated better and living lavishly. The orphaned girl, Alina Starkov, is an apprentice cartographer, and is wary and scared of her first time crossing the Shadow Fold, a massive area of land that is covered in darkness and teeming with monsters. When she crosses into the Fold and her group is attacked, Alina discovers a power that she did not know she had. This power saves her group from the darkness and captures the attention of the Darkling, the infamous leader of the Grisha soldiers. After being questioned, Alina is sent to train with the other Grisha, where she learns to harness her power and control it.

Teen SRC 2022 – The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

“The circus arrives without warning.”

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern is a fantasy romance novel that revolves around Celia and Marco Alisdair. Ever since they were children, they have been training for “the game,” a competition of some sort. The setting for this contest is the Night Circus, where Celia and Marco have to continuously produce more and more fantastical, unbelievable spectacles. From a garden made entirely of ice to a room filled with clouds, each feat becomes more impossible than the last. But how exactly does one win the game? Neither Celia nor Marco are told.

The Night Circus is written in a way that reflects its storyline. Reading it made me feel as though I were a visitor to the circus, wandering through the different tents, losing track of time and place. It is definitely a slow-paced book, but I feel that actually adds nicely to the ambience. However, it did make the ending seem a little rushed because everything sort of fell into place at once.

The story was also quite mysterious, and this was emphasized by the switching of perspectives, with alternating chapters from different characters’ points of view. There is also quite a lot of jumping around chronologically, so it feels like even more of an unreal experience.

In general, I really enjoyed the idea behind the book, as well as all the characters! I almost wish there had been more plot involved, but that’s just a personal preference.

I would give it an 8.5/10 and I would highly recommend it to those who liked The Invisible Life of Addie Larue or Caraval!

Teen SRC 2022 – The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle

The Lost World by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle is about a group of explorers who ventured to the deep Amazon jungle in search of a lost species of the extinct dinosaurs. The young journalist, Mr. Malone, in order to impress a young lady named Gladys decided to meet with the famous professor, Mr. Challenger, a grumpy and obnoxious person. The scientist visited inside the land of dinosaurs before, but many people are still skeptical of his discoveries. Professor Challenger refused to go there first and instead sent the expedition with professor Summerlee, Mr. Malone and Lord John Roxton. Upon arrival to the Amazon, the explorers found out that the letter with the instructions was just a blank piece of paper. To everybody’s surprise, Professor Challenger appeared himself. He led the expedition to the remote plateau. To get there, the explorers had to find a very long tree and make a bridge. Once the voyagers crossed the bridge, the two native helpers destroyed the tree and escaped. The adventurers were now stuck on the plateau. They came across many species of plants and animals but the most terrifying discovery was the existence of the ape man tribe, extremely aggressive and hostile. After many tribulations, the adventurers managed to escape the plateau and return to England with a trophy.

I liked this book because it is about natural science and biology. I rate this book four out of five.

Teen SRC 2021 – The One by Kiera Cass

The One (The Selection, Book 3) eBook by Kiera Cass - 9780007581214 |  Rakuten Kobo Ireland

At first I wasn’t particularly drawn to the entire The Selection series, because I had read some of the summaries online, and I just didn’t feel all that inclined to read about a bunch of princesses trying to win over a prince’s heart. I decided to give the general plot of The One by Kiera Cass the benefit of the doubt, though, and tried to convince myself that there would be other aspects of the books that I would like. Glad to say I was right about that!

First of all, even though I admit the plot does sound kind of ridiculous, Kiera does have a way of illustrating it and making it feel more real. I actually did enjoy the fantasy, some of the plot twists, and most definitely the romance. I like how you can slip into their world and kind of escape from reality when you are reading.

What did I hate? The characters. For the love of God, could you please give us some actual, decent characters who don’t have the classic “nobody-likes-me” mindset. It gets so annoying, and honestly just gets in the way of most of the other amazing stuff that is worth reading in the book. America’s attitude was just completely off, in my opinion, and the other characters had no personality.

I still feel rather disappointed by this book, but I am glad that there were at least a few things that I found enjoyable. I probably will get around to reading the other books, although I wouldn’t exactly say I’m excited for them; I’d say maybe a five out of 10 for this novel.

Teen SRC 2021 – Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows eBook : Bardugo, Leigh: Kindle Store

I’m going to be honest, Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo is a book that I had been highly anticipating for the longest time. It had been on my TBR for months and I was really excited when I finally got to read it. What I didn’t know was that the book would turn out to be quite a big disappointment.

At first I thought the book was pretty interesting, but I think this book introduces a bit too many characters right at the beginning. I thought the introduction/1st sentences were good, but by the time I got to the second chapter, I really didn’t want to read the book anymore. That’s literally all I have to say, the rest of the book was just a repetitive pattern of flipping back, being bored, and pushing through every word.

I have to say though, I did like most of the fantasy aspects of the novel, and honestly after reading They Both Die at the End, nothing can really have a lower rating than that one. I just didn’t enjoy this book as much as I thought I would, but it still gets maybe six out of 10.

Teen SRC 2021 – Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard

Red Queen : Aveyard, Victoria: Books

Funny story: When I was around eight, I was strolling around at KidsBooks and found a book with an amazingly intricate cover design. I ended up buying it just for the cover.

Four years later, and I find it at the top of my closet collecting dust. I decided to do some research, and quickly came to realize that the book in my hands was the fourth book in Victoria Aveyard’s viral, best-selling series Red Queen.

I CANNOT BELIEVE I WAITED SO LONG TO START THIS SERIES. Red Queen was actually a book I won for the weekly teen summer reading, and gosh am I glad I read it. Writing style was on point, the “red and silver blood” thing is such a creative twist on real-world discrimination, and the ideas for the plot were simply mind-blowing. Even the covers give you something to cry about. 9/10; totally recommend and absolutely worth your time.

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 – From Bad to Cursed by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed (Bad Girls Don't Die, #2) by Katie Alender

From Bad to Cursed, a teen horror novel by Katie Alender, was another one of those books that I just happened to pick up while browsing through the shelves at a library. I’ve mentioned before that my FAVOURITE kind of book is the “fantasy, horror, and psychological thriller mix that keeps you awake past midnight thinking about the plot” type, and this novel fits the above criteria perfectly.

I think it was a great book, or at least the horror aspects of it were pretty amazing. This includes the plot, villains motives, and pacing, which I thought were on pretty on-point. The characters? Wasn’t necessarily so great.

First of all, what is with the sudden mood changes? One chapter you’re reading about Alexis snuggling against Carter watching Twilight Zone, while the next provides you with a detailed description of how she’s in the bathtub vomiting up some evil poltergeist that just possessed her to kill her family. The thing is, the author doesn’t really introduce these things beforehand, so you’ll often find yourself flipping back a few chapters to see if you missed anything. The characters weren’t very realistic and just rather flat, boring, and predictable. They basically did everything that would help the plot move along/make sense, with no sense of personality whatsoever.

I’d recommend this book, but only if you’re into horror/thrillers like I am. Otherwise, there’s really not much else in this novel that’s entertaining nor worth reading. Again, the horror aspects were intense and the plot was well-developed, making it just interesting enough to read. I think a solid 8/10 is reasonable for me!

Teen SRC 2021 – Legendary by Stephanie Garber

“Every story has four parts – the beginning, the middle, the almost ending, and the true ending.” 

After reading Caraval by Stephanie Garber, it took me all of two seconds to place an order on the second book in the series, Legendary. Without a doubt, it was magical and breathtaking all the same…but there were a few things I disliked, which I’ll talk about later.

To begin, I just want to say that my expectations for this book were ridiculously high, so any criticism is really more of a comparison to the first book inn the series. Then again, there isn’t much to criticize, not when I was so wrapped up in the story that time flew by without me ever noticing. As usual, Garber includes phenomenal foreshadowing, along with the most mysterious plot line you could ever ask for.

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