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Teen SRC 2020 – The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll & Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a captivating narrative regarding the moral ambiguities of science and the duplicity of human nature. Dr Jekyll is a benevolent, well-respected and brilliant scientist who meddles with the malevolent aspects of science, as he aims to discover and breed his depraved alter ego. He does this through transforming himself into Mr Hyde, a monstrous being who is unable to repent or accept responsibility for any of his heinous actions.

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Teen SRC 2020- Dead Man’s Folly by Agatha Christie

Dead Man's Folly

Am I reviewing another Agatha Christie book? Well, she is called the Queen of Mystery for a reason, so yes, yes I am. Dead Man’s Folly is a very aptly named mind game of a novel, and a book with an interesting premise.

Famous detective novelist Ariadne Oliver is given the job to arrange a Murder Hunt (because Treasure Hunts have become too common) for Sir George Stubbs’ fête (a sort of carnival). It’s an unusual ask but Mrs. Oliver is up for the task. It is, after all, what she does for a living. But something feels off, she tells famous detective Hercule Poirot on the phone. Mrs. Oliver feels like she’s being manipulated by an invisible hand, and a plot more sinister is at play.

The idea of a Murder Hunt gone wrong is incredibly brilliant. The little details were well-executed, and the solution satisfactory. I did, however, end up a little disappointed by the lack of action. Compared to The Hollow, or The Mystery of the Blue Train, the murder happens later on in this book. The build-up increases the suspense, but I found it to be a bit of an anti-climax. After the murder, it seems that Poirot talks to all of the suspects a bunch of times, Inspector Bland has tea with his constable, and voilà, Poirot has magically solved everything. As I said before, compared with his previous cases that I’ve read, there was barely any action, and I found that a bit boring.

All of that is not to say that the mystery was a good one. I managed to guess a few plot lines and the murderer, but all my theories as to why and how were wrong. After the reveal, it seems like the answer should have been more obvious. All in all, I’ve read better, but it wasn’t a bad book. 7/10, a comfort read that will leave you pleasantly surprised but not completely awe-struck.

Teen SRC 2020- The Hollow by Agatha Christie

The Hollow

When visiting Lady Angkatell, an aquaintance, for tea, Hercule Poirot comes upon the strangest thing. A dying man lies bleeding on the side of Lady Angkatells’ pool, and his wife is holding the gun above him. Poirot is given the sense that this a scene set up for his benefit and is annoyed because even a great detective such as himself should be allowed a peaceful tea. But then he realizes that it isn’t a joke. The man has truly been murdered.

And as Poirot rushes forward to help, he hears the dying man’s last word. “Henrietta.” Poirot is told the dead man, John Christow, was a doctor and a man of great complexity. His wife, the assumed murderess, is named Greda. Henrietta is an artist who was, amongst a few others, also visiting the Hollow. She was also Christow’s mistress. When the gun is ‘accidentally’ slipped into the pool and Poirot starts to investigate, he realizes something else is going on. Is the oblivious and dim-witted wife really the murderer? Or is she just a pawn in a more cunning plot?

Agatha Christie is an undisputed genius, and Hercule Poirot is her brainchild. This novel, more than any other of hers that I’ve read, delves into the emotions of each character. We are told of their past, their goals, their passions, and their loves… because every character in this novel is motivated by love. The Hollow, by Agatha Christie, is also special in that it grieves John Christow’s death instead of just solving it. I can’t go too in detail (because spoilers) but I did feel like crying at a couple of scenes. (which is almost unheard of in a murder mystery!)

Because of what I mentioned above, this book isn’t the light-hearted read I expected. Which isn’t at all to say it wasn’t brilliant. I almost did guess the ending but then went back on my theory and chose someone else. As absurd as the ending is, it’s the only one that makes sense and I wanted to scream because it was WONDERFUL.

So please, if you like murder mysteries and don’t mind a few mature/ emotionally complex plotlines, read The Hollow. You won’t regret it.

Teen SRC 2020 – Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie

Murder on the Orient Express - Christie, Agatha

Hey guys! This week I’m reviewing Murder on the Orient Express by Agatha Christie, an ICON (her books are outsold only by Shakespeare and the Bible!)

A little context (no spoilers, don’t worry): The millionaire Samuel Edward Ratchett boards the famous train, The Orient Express, but it is stopped by a snowdrift at around midnight. By the next morning, he is found dead in his compartment by a dozen or so stabbings. It is certain that one of his fellow passengers is the murderer, but who? and why? That’s what Hercule Poirot intends to find out.

I really liked this story! Mystery is one of my favourite genres and Agatha Christie never disappoints. I loved that the ending is very very believable, it’s not a far-fetched idea that the author made up just to create a plot twist. If you were to re-read the story, every single one of the clues leads to that outcome. However, this does not make the murder easy to solve, because I didn’t figure it out until the end either, so it’s still a very intriguing read.

I would recommend this to any mystery lovers or anyone in general who wants a short and fast-paced read. This book took me only a day or so to finish so if you don’t want to get too involved in a series or a long book, this is for you!

My final rating is an 8/10 only because I didn’t feel an emotional connection with any of the characters. This is completely understandable though, seeing as I didn’t have much time and the book wasn’t meant to do that. However, I would still definitely recommend it.

Teen SRC 2020- Most Likely by Sarah Watson

Most Likely

Most Likely by Sarah Watson can be described as a most interestingly structured coming-of-age story about four girls and their friendship. So, you ask, what’s so interesting about the book’s structure?

Well, the story begins with a scene, as follows: A newly-elected (female!) American president is about to be sworn in to office. Her husband (who’s last name is Diffendefer or something like that) is there by her side. It is also revealed that her husband and her are deeply in love and have been for a long time. The catch? We don’t know her name. Since there are four protagonists in the story, she could be any one of them. Throughout the book, we are given clues to help us guess which of our female leads becomes the future president of America (and ends up marrying Diffendefer).

And of course, while the reader plays with the idea of guessing/choosing a president, the four girls -Ava, CJ, Jordan, and Martha- are each going through their own battle in the war more commonly known as senior year in high school.

So. What did I think of the book?

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Teen Book Review – Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter

Hey all! It’s been a while since I’ve posted but it’s been a very busy month. Luckily though, I’ve got a review here and 3 more books on the hold shelf waiting to be picked up today!!

Spoiler-Free Summary: Not If I Save You First by Ally Carter is about two teens, Maddie and Logan. Long ago, Maddie’s dad was a secret service agent assigned to the President of the US. Logan’s dad, was the president and so, they became best friends. But then, during an attack on the President’s wife, Maddie’s dad is wounded. Following the injury, he decides to resign and brings Maddie along with him to live a simpler life… in Alaska. Maddie writes to Logan every day, hoping that he would write back, but either he isn’t getting them, or he’s just ignoring her. Fast forward to now. Logan has been sent to Alaska to stay with Maddie after disobeying one too many times and Maddie doesn’t know what to feel. But before she can figure it out, Logan is kidnapped, and she’s the only one who can save him.

My thoughts: Although the story was very fast-paced, which I usually enjoy, I didn’t actually like this book as much as I liked some of Ally’s other series. I felt that there was too much compacted into one book, everything moved too fast and neither the relationships nor the plot developed at a realistic rate. There were simply too many plot twists for one book, and the backstories were very shallow and underdeveloped. The relationship between Logan and Maddie also changed way faster than I would have believed and it just wasn’t realistic to me. If the story were more detailed and had more depth, I would have enjoyed it far more. I think if Ally had spread the plot out into two books or maybe a trilogy, and added character/plot/world development, I would have loved this book. Final rating is a 7/10. It was still a good read, just not super realistic and not as immersive as I would’ve liked.

Teen Book Review – Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson

Hey guys! First off, happy 2020! I wish you all very good luck in this new decade 🙂

Secondly, I was recommended this mystery by Inshal and I finally got around to it this winter break.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson is about a girl named Stephanie (“Stevie”) who is trying to solve the infamous Ellingham murders, committed in 1936 to Iris and Alice Ellingham, wife and daughter to Robert Ellingham. Robert Ellingham was a very wealthy man who built a school for exceptional students, where they had access to all the resources they needed for their own passions and projects. However, being rich and famous comes with a cost. Everyday, he and his family are bombarded with death threats until one day, someone went through with it, Truly Devious. His wife and daughter were kidnapped and later killed. 70 years later, a new generation of students arrived at the academy and Stevie is one of them. A major crime fan, Stevie makes it her project to solve the murders.

Mystery is one of my favourite genres but in all my years of reading, I’ve only found 3 series that really left an impression on me. If the sequels to this book are as good as this one was, we’ll have a 4th series! This book had just the right amount of suspense, clues and riddles to keep me on my toes throughout. At the beginning I was afraid I wouldn’t emotionally connect with Stevie because she wasn’t really expressive with her feelings but as the story progressed, that feeling was over faster than it had come. I’d rate this book an 8/10. It was really good but I think the sequels are going to be even better as we delve deeper into the case.

TeenTober 2019 – Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

After reading both the Cinder series as well as Heartless, Marissa Meyer has become one of my favourite authors, so I was beyond pumped to hear that she had released a new series. Now, Renegades isn’t very new anymore but it’s my first time reading it so we’re just going to pretend that none of you guys have ever read this book and that this is the first time you’re hearing about it 🙂

Summary (no spoilers, don’t worry): Renegades takes place in a world newly born from the carnage Ace Anarchy created during his reign. It’s a world full of prodigies, who possess superhuman powers, and a large group of them has deemed fighting crime and rebuilding the world their ultimate goal. These, are the Renegades.

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TeenTober 2019- Overturned by L.R. Giles

Overturned

Riveting, suspenseful, brilliant. From the moment I opened Overturned by L.R. Giles, I could tell this story wasn’t one I would be forgetting soon. Strong, beautiful writing combined with a captivating plot makes Overturned the gem that it is.

It isn’t easy being the daughter of a convicted killer, but Nikki Tate’s poker face never cracks. By operating illegal poker games in the basement of her family’s casino, Nikki knows she’ll be able to save enough money to get herself out of Vegas and into a good college with her friends. After all, what more could life possibly throw at her?

But then her father (who’s always claimed to be innocent) gets released from jail just before his death sentence. He comes back into the family and Nikki’s world flips upside down once again. With her father’s sudden overturned conviction and the cute new boy at school, is Nikki’s life on the turn for the better? Or will the secrets that almost cost her father his life end up taking hers instead?

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TeenTober 2019 – Legendary by Stephanie Garber

Legendary by Stephanie Garber is the second book in the Caraval trilogy. There will be Caraval spoilers in here so beware but none for Legendary.

While Caraval was written in Scarlett’s perspective and didn’t give us much insight into Tella’s personality, Legendary is entirely narrated by Donatella. For this reason, it took me a while to warm up to the book because obviously, I’d developed a connection to Scarlett in the last one and switching it up so drastically did not endear to me. I came around eventually though I still wasn’t as taken with it as I was Caraval.

In Legendary, Caraval is to perform at Empress Elantine’s 75th birthday and Tella plans to use this chance to find out Legend’s true name and fulfill her part of the promise she made with a “friend”. When Caraval starts though, Tella realizes that this performance is quite a bit different than the previous and that the dangers may no longer be a part of the game but as real as you and me.

I would give Legendary an 8.5/10 because I wasn’t very impressed with the ending… I was expecting a few mindblowing plot twists like Stephanie delivered in Caraval but I was VERY disappointed with the actual results. That said, I did enjoy the story and plotline overall and I’m definitely going to give the final book a read!