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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 – They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman

They Wish They Were Us - Goodman, Jessica

Another YA mystery set at a prestigious boarding school! I seem to have a soft spot for those. Anyway, I had high hopes for this book because wow, what a cover. They Wish They Were Us by Jessica Goodman gets a 7/10 because while I enjoyed the setting, and smaller details, the mystery just didn’t deliver.

They Wish They Were Us is about a group of elite students at Blackbrook Prep, called the Players. Being the elite of the elite means good grades, better parties, and the best drama. But it all comes at a cost. No one knows this better than Jill Newman, whose best friend was killed by her boyfriend during Player initiation. That’s all done and dusted, though, because it’s three years later and Jill is going to make the most of her senior year. But then she gets a text message, questioning what happened the day she became a Player… and when Jill looks deeper, she realizes not everything is as it seems.

There is a lot of your typical YA stuff in this book, like partying, pulling pranks and drinking…most of it I don’t enjoy nor find realistic. The only thing I feel this book did better than any other YA mystery is the character relationships which are complex and go deeper than labels. I also liked the premise of a boarding school with its unjust hierarchy system, as well as how Jill’s financial struggles played into the story. Still, like I said before, the mystery was too predictable and got frustrating as the book dragged on.

Overall, I would recommend this book as a contemporary drama/coming of age more so than a mystery. It’s fun, shocking and you’ll enjoy the character relationships in spite of the lukewarm plot. 7/10

Teen SRC 2020- The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos

The Girl They Left Behind - Veletzos, Roxanne

The Girl They Left Behind by Roxanne Veletzos is the most moving, heartbreaking and beautiful book I’ve read in a long time. Set in World War II Romania, the book tells the life story of two families joined despite war, boundaries, and suffering, by the daughter they share.

Natalia is four years old when the knock comes on her door. The police is here to arrest her father and take her and her mother away. It is only by sheer luck that the family runs away in the cover of the night. Fearing for their lives, and that of their daughter’s, Natalia’s parents have to make the worst decision of their lives. Leave Natalia behind, and give her the chance at a better life, breaking their own hearts in the process, or risk taking her with them, where death is an almost certain possibility.

Enter Despina and Anton. In every way except one, they are the perfect young couple. She is rich and gorgeous, he is charming and happy. But after four miscarriages, the sadness that hangs on Despina is too much for Anton to accept. At the orphanage, Despina and Anton are shocked to meet Natalia a silent, broken girl, and not the joyous bundle they expected. But something stirs deep inside her heart and Despina knows she needs Natalia’s love just as much as Natalia needs hers.

Despina, Anton, and Natalia’s story is told in gripping scenes and chapters, time passing as Natalia slowly grows up into a young woman. With the war ending, and the Soviets taking control, the family’s fortunes are reversed. They lose everything, and come close to losing each other. Victor, a young man Anton took under his wing years ago, returns later in the story as a powerful Communist leader. He becomes, even as they begin a secret affair, Natalia’s only chance at freedom.

With the devastation of war and the power of love, comes the pain of sacrifice. What will Natalia choose: staying with the only people she’s ever loved, in an ever-shrinking world, or leave behind everything to seek freedom, and answers to a past she thought buried?

Wow, okay, so the description went a little long (sorry! and believe me, there were no spoilers in it). The book itself includes so much more, and every bit of it is raw, and riveting. The passage of time was discreet, and well-written, and the subplots/ change in perspectives were amazing. The only thing I didn’t like in the book was the romance between Victor and Talia, and the fact that sometimes a scene would start in the middle, telling us what happened before instead of showing it. That glossed over some things should’ve been more important.

Anyway, the book shook me to my core. It made me cry, both from sorrow and happiness. Each character is complex, none of them perfect (having well-written characters in historical fiction is a must!!) The Girl They Left Behind matches to the likes of The Book Thief. 10/10, no regrets.

Teen SRC 2020 – Bone Crier’s Moon by Kathryn Purdie

Bone Crier's Moon - Purdie, Kathryn

Bone ​Criers have a sacred job. Them alone can keep the dead from preying the living. But their power to ferry the spirits of the dead into goddess Elara’s Night Heavens or Tyrus’s Underworld comes with a great sacrifice. The gods order a promise of dedication to their duty. And that promise includes the life of the Bone Criers’ one true love. Ailesse has been molded since her first breath to become the matriarch of the Bone Criers. But first she must successfully complete her rite of passage and kill the boy she loves. Bastien’s father was slain by a Bone Crier which he wasn’t supposed to wittiness, and now he seeks revenge. Along with his companions’ whose family has also been taken as sacrifice by Bone Criers. But when he finally kidnapped one, his craving for vengeance will have to wait. Ailesse’s ritual has begun and now their fate has already been tied. Sabine, Ailesse’s best friend, never had the guts to take part of the Bone Crier’s work. But when Ailesse had been caught, Sabine will do whatever it takes to save her, even if it means breaking their traditions or acting against their matriarch just to break the bond between Ailesse and Bastien. And to just make circumstances even worse the matriarch seems to be harboring dark secrets and Sabine only has one year to save Ailesse, or they will all die.

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Conference of the Birds by Ransom Riggs

The Conference of the Birds - Riggs, Ransom

The Conference of the Birds starts just where the Map of Days ended. Jacob and his friends left against Miss Peregrine’s wishes in order to save Noor. There he learns from H that there is a prophecy taking shape and it has intertwines Noor into it. Jacob had been given a mission of deliver Noor to V, save Noor, and save the peculiardom. Simple enough right? Except V is the most powerful out of Abe’s former ally and she most definitely doesn’t want to be found also Noor is being hunted which puts their whole group in danger and makes everything harder. Now Jacob has to take a leap towards the Conference of the Birds.

This was really disappointing. All four book before this one I loved, but while reading this one I was basically begging for it to end. In “A Map of Days”, the whole plot was steady and at a good pace, slowly revealing the new side of the peculiar world to the reader. This new book however was a hot mess. I didn’t even like this new story line, as the whole prophecy felt like a waste of time. In the first couple books the character worked hard in defeating the “bad guy” just for the “bad guy” to comeback through a “prophecy”; which is just a list that the wights have to follow. Also in A Map of Days, I enjoyed it as the characters showed hints of growing and developing. They have been through so much, surely Jacob would act and think differently in the new book right? But he didn’t evolve at all and all the characters just felt flat. The whole romance part was flat as well. And so was the whole outline of the story. I would rate it 4/10, I liked the idea of the book, but the details were flat. So in summary, I would have enjoyed the book if only it was executed in a different way.

You can find more of Ransom Riggs’ works here.

Teen SRC 2020 – Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

Six of Crows (Six of Crows, #1) by Leigh Bardugo

“No mourners. No funerals. Among them, it passed for ‘good luck.'” – Leigh Bardugo, Six of Crows

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo blew my mind. Honestly, I was a bit weary when I first picked up this novel. It’s a well-known book, and I’ve seen it everywhere- from my local library to my school library, it was always at the front of the bookshelf. At this point, so many people were talking about it. However, I was still a little suspicious because I usually don’t enjoy fantasy novels (totally just a lack of imagination on my part). Still, I decided to give it a read after all the big talk, and I don’t regret it at all.

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Teen SRC 2020 – The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

“What’s the point of having a voice if you’re gonna be silent in those moments you shouldn’t be?” – Angie Thomas, The Hate U Give

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is genuinely one of the most influential novels speaking out against racism written in our time. Especially now, in the times of people using their voice to campaign for what’s right, this book brings a whole new light to the controversial issues that have existed for generations.

Inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, this novel is about a sixteen-year-old girl named Starr Carter who lives in two different worlds- a poor neighbourhood where she lives, and a fancy prep school she attends. Starr navigates through many feelings of grief after seeing her childhood best friend, Khalil, murdered by the police. When his death makes national headlines, Starr faces a choice that can change the entire community that surrounds her- does she defend her friend when confronted by a horrendous amount of outside pressures?

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Teen SRC 2019 – A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Mist and Fury - Maas, Sarah J.

A Court of Mist and Fury by Sarah J. Maas

Feyre survived the clutches of Amarantha and was reborn as a high fae.  She also gained the powers of each high fae. Rhys then calls in the bargain they have to bring her away from her wedding with Tamlim.  She decides to live with Rhysand because she was being locked up in the house by Tamlim.

I liked this book a lot because it shows how people can change a lot.  This book is better for people with mental maturity because it has intricately described bedroom scenes as does the rest of the series.

Teen SRC 2019 – A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A Court of Thorns and Roses - Maas, Sarah J.

A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas

A 19 year old girl who lives in poverty with her two sisters, Nesta and Elain, and her dad. She goes into the woods to hunt everyday to get their families food. She eventually finds a creature named a faerie in the woods that presented a large risk to the village, so she killed it. Another faerie came to her house to demand to bring her to another world because of a treaty. She lives there and learns of the problems.

This book is more of an intro to the rest of the series, but I still enjoyed it. This book is better for people with mental maturity because it has intricately described bedroom scenes as does the rest of the series.

Teen SRC 2019- Killer Instinct by S.E. Green

Killer Instinct

Dark, suspenseful, and thrilling. Killer Instinct by S.E. Green is a murder-mystery novel, and a thriller.

Lane is an average seventeen-year-old teenager. She has a mother, a step-father, and a half-brother, all of whom she adores. Her half-sister? Not so much, but again, that’s normal. She volunteers at the local animal shelter, and has a favourite puppy there. Like I said, normal. Except… not really.

Lane has urges; strong and dark impulses to violently hurt people who’ve wronged her, or others. She doesn’t know what made her this way, but she doesn’t know how to be any other way. Lane controls these impulses by delivering justice to criminals who have evaded the law. She follows them until she is sure they committed the crime, and then… they pay for what they have done. She doesn’t kill them, but every time, she gets closer and closer to doing so.

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