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Teen SRC 2020- The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes

Today I’ll be reviewing perhaps the most controversial book of our times… JUST kidding, I don’t know that it’s especially controversial, but I myself had trouble forming an opinion on it. I didn’t quite know what to think about it all, but there is one thing I can tell you: Any author that writes a main character that readers can hate without making them hate the book itself is a talented as heck. And of course, with the Hunger Games trilogy, we already knew that about Suzanne Collins.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes follows tyrannical dictator President Snow… as a teenager. Coriolanus is struggling to maintain appearances while living in abject poverty with his cousin Tigris and grandmother. As one of the highest-achieving students in his class, Coriolanus is chosen to serve as mentor for a Hunger Games tribute. Coriolanus knows that if he carries his tribute to victory, he will have a better chance at the University scholarship that could be his last chance at saving the family’s dire circumstances.

When the mentors are given their district assignations, Coriolanus is horrified to see that he has been assigned the girl tribute for District 12. The lowest of the low– how could the Snow name have been reduced to this? And to rub salt in the wound, Sejanus Plinth, a district-born boy coming from new money has been given a District 2 tribute! Then his tribute, Lucy Gray Baird, gives a striking show at her reaping and Coriolanus thinks he may have a chance after all.

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Teen SRC 2020 – American Royals by Katharine McGee

American Royals

Hey guys! Summer School started this week so I apologize if your reviews take a bit longer to get published. Anyways, onto my review!

American Royals by Katharine McGee is about a world where George Washington became King of the United States instead of being voted President. Now, over 200 years later, his descendants are still on the throne.

Before we get into it, I would like to say that although the concept is super interesting, I did find it odd and not very believable. The entire American Revolution was to escape the British monarchy, so I couldn’t see why the people would decide to have yet another sovereign.

Anyways, the story talks mainly about the three Washington siblings: Beatrice, the heir, who is patient, polite and perfect. Jefferson (Jeff), the only son, who has two very different girls in his heart. Finally, Samantha (Sam), the polar opposite of her sister, a very wild card. The entire book is about their life and the drama that comes with being so well-known; two of their closest friends, Nina and Daphne, also have integral roles in the story.

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

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The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

A science fiction novel with a hint of romance? Sign me up! Throughout this novel, you will be lead through a roller coaster of wild emotions; it can range from excitement to absolute terror. There won’t be a single feeling of disappointment with this book, because every page will have you reeling on the edge of your seat.

On the day of Ruby’s tenth birthday, she sent to a rehabilitation camp called Thurmond. Why? She had obtained a peculiar disease that killed the majority of the children in America. Locking children up in a camp because of a “disease”?! That sounds crazy, doesn’t it? It almost seems as if the government is… scared of them. Now at the age of sixteen, the truth about Ruby’s abilities are revealed… and she barely makes it out alive. On the run, she meets three other kids who also escaped. They then start their journey to a safe haven called the East River- where supposedly, there are kids just like them. But as they continue their journey, Ruby will be faced with a decision that will determine her future.

“Just one more page!!” I cannot stress this enough, but that sentence is almost never true (unless you somehow have amazing control over yourself.) I thought that this book was absolutely phenomenal. I’ve read many sci-fi novels, but this one was so unprecedented that I ended up reading until the sun came up. The relationships built between the characters were so wholesome and there were times where I needed a moment to collect myself before I could continue reading. This book has single-handedly made me cry and laugh so much- sometimes, even at the same time. Ruby is such a sweet girl and reading from her POV was astounding because it showed how selfless she was. I would, without hesitation, give this book a 10/10. 

Thanks for taking time to read my review!:)

Till next time,

Max

Teen SRC 2020- Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys

The Fountains of Silence

The year is 1957, and Spain is under the iron-fist rule of General Francisco Franco. Daniel Matheson, a Texan teen, is visiting Spain with his family. With his passion for photography, he hopes to take the perfect picture for his portfolio, a picture that will also somehow convince his dad to let him pursue his dreams.

But Spain isn’t the perfect tropical paradise it seems for its American tourists and soon, Daniel finds himself falling– for his maid, Ana, and for the secrets some people would do anything to keep buried. Ana herself is enchanted by the American freedom promised by the hotel magazines. She dreams for a life for herself and her family away from Franco’s tyrannical rule.

Daniel and Ana are the main characters, but we are also given glimpses into other people’s lives. For example: Julia, who is Ana’s older sister, and a new mother, is drowning in secrets and fear. Her brother, Rafael, who works both at a slaughterhouse and a cemetery is fighting with the past and his memories. Fuga, Rafael’s friend wants to bullfight more than anything, and Daniel’s mother is struggling to find out where she belongs.

As any Ruta Sepetys book, Fountains of Silence is as rich in history as it is in humanity. This book brought to light an injustice often overlooked in history: Spanish babies were stolen from their families, proclaimed dead, but instead given to other families of a higher creed. I loved the historical accuracy of the book, but sometimes grew bored with the many first-hand documents.

A beautiful romance, a suspenseful historical fiction, and everything I search for in a novel. 9.5/10, only because I didn’t like the large skip in time (it throws me off) and some parts felt dragged on. Otherwise, STRONGLY RECOMMEND!!

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- Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal

Unmarriageable - Kamal, Soniah

I was searching the library catalogue for Pride and Prejudice (after reading Rosie’s review) when I came upon this gem. Unmarriageable by Soniah Kamal intrigued me with its beautiful cover but more so with its premise. A Pakistani love-story based off of Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice? Sign me up! And while I did have reservations as to the implications of comparing the early 2000s in Pakistan with the 1800s in England (suggesting perhaps that Pakistani culture was backwards/unadvanced?) I ended up loving this book so much that I finished it in one day.

Alysba Binat and her sister Jena are English teachers in small-town Dilipabad. After their father’s brother swindled them out of their inheritance, and started to spread vicious rumours, the Binat family had to learn to make-do. Unfortunately for Mrs. Binat, this means the prospect of finding suitable husbands for her five daughters an almost impossible task. Jena is too kind-hearted to use Mrs. Binat’s techniques for grabbing a husband. Qitty, too fat, Lady too flirtatious, and Mari too religious. And worse of them all for Mrs. Binat, Alys, who seems perfectly happy living the rest of her life as an English schoolteacher, teaching her girls to dream of more than just marriage.

The story begins with the Binat family receiving a wedding invitation. Mrs. Binat is elated. Her luck has finally turned, and she can finally find a man for Alys and Jena, who, at 31 and 33, are basically spinsters. At the wedding, Jena meets Fahad “Bungles” Bingla. Alys is happy for her sister, especially as Mrs. Binat has predicted a proposal for the very next day. Then Alys hears Bugles’ friend, Valentine Darsee, insult her and is outraged at his arrogance. What follows, I’m sure you can guess.

Teen SRC 2020 – Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl Book Spoilers | POPSUGAR Entertainment

Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli is a renowned and critically acclaimed young adult novel which was published in August 2000. Like many of Spinelli’s other young adult novels, Stargirl deals with issues of conformity versus individuality, leaving the novel to resonate with various demographics from young adults to adult educators alike.

    Leo Borlock is an eleventh grader who would like nothing more than to conform within his stereotypical high school environment. However, Leo and the rest of Mica high school become torn away from their conventional existence by the arrival of Stargirl Caraway, a defiant and eccentric student who has been homeschooled her entire life and is now attending high school for the first time.  In the first half of the school year, Leo observes Stargirl’s abnormal actions and how his classmates react to her strange lifestyle.  At first, the students are suspicious of Stargirl’s eccentric nature and are hesitant to socialize with her. As the story progresses, some of the students are influenced by Stargirl’s individuality and become more open-minded themselves.

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Teen SRC 2020 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Hey guys! I can’t believe it’s already summer 🙂 I hope you’re all doing well and participating in the SRC!

Lately I’ve been continuing on my Classics spree so I’ll be reviewing Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen today.

Although this is one of the “best” love stories ever written, so was Romeo and Juliet (which I did not enjoy), so I didn’t have too high of hopes for this.

The story is set in rural England, and Mrs. Bennett, the mother of 5 daughters, has just one goal: to see them all married. 1/5 of her wish is about to be answered when a wealthy bachelor, Mr. Bingley, comes to their town, and takes a liking to Jane, the oldest Bennett sister. With him, he brings his sister, and a few friends and among these friends is Mr. Fitzwilliam Darcy, an even wealthier bachelor, but with a terrible pride.

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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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