Teen Advisory Board Reviews

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

These are reviews written by members of the Teen Advisory Board.

 

Click here for more information about the Advisory Boards. 

 

 

 

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Beyond the Gender Binary (Pocket Change Collective) Cover Image
$8.99
ISBN: 9780593094655
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Penguin Workshop - June 2nd, 2020

This little guidebook was part of a group of four on different topics of interest to teens. I found this one especially good and empowering. As a non-binary person, I found the information in this book to be accurate, representative and clear. It's a good resource for people who are non-binary, and I'd also like to see other people read it as well so they can better understand what being non-binary is all about.

-Review by Rowan, age 15


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The New Queer Conscience (Pocket Change Collective) Cover Image
By Adam Eli, Ashley Lukashevsky (Illustrator)
$8.99
ISBN: 9780593093689
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Penguin Workshop - June 2nd, 2020

This little guidebook was part of a group of four on different topics of interest to teens. This one focused on activism and how LGBTQ people have a responsibility to speak up and to advocate for equality and fair treatment for all. The author is also Jewish, so he had a valuable perspective as a double minority.

-Review by Rowan, age 15


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House of Dragons Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525648154
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Random House Books for Young Readers - May 12th, 2020

In the vein of The Smoke Thieves, this was an incredibly great book, one of the best I've read in some time. Swift-paced and readable while at the same time morally complex and thought-provoking, the story features a diverse cast of fully rendered characters who seem utterly believable. I do not often read all day, but I could not put the book down, as the author kept me guessing and the story headed in unanticipated directions. It's set in a fantasy world of dragonriders, where the empire is not hereditary - when the old emperor dies, the new emperor is chosen from the five ruling houses by way of a multi-part competition. One representative from each of the houses competes. Traditionally, the oldest child has always been chosen to represent each house. This time, everything seems to go off the rails as the "wrong people" are chosen to enter the competition. There's Emilia, a scholar and hermit who must hide her dangerous powers; Lucian, a former soldier who has sworn off the sword and vowed to be a monk; Vespir, a lowborn servant and dragon trainer; and Ajax, a bastard son who survives through thievery and trickery. The last competitor to be chosen, a sweet second daughter, is murdered by her ambitious and zealous older sister Hyperia, who then takes her dead sister's spot in order to preserve what she sees as a sacred tradition. All of the characters are more complex than they first appear. Nor is the competition quite as straightforward as they initially guess. As the story moves forward, each character gets to answer the question "What does it mean to be monstrous? What does it mean to be divine?" Of course, this is the first book of a series, so I am dying to read the next one IMMEDIATELY.
 
Review by Colleen, age 15


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The Labyrinth: An Existential Odyssey with Jean-Paul Sartre Cover Image
By Ben Argon, Gary Cox (Introduction by), Christine Daigle (Afterword by)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781419740022
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Published: Abrams ComicArts - April 14th, 2020

When a mouse stops to think about life things get interesting.  This book talks a lot about the meaning of life, and I think that this book was in teen advisory because of the complicated thinking that you have to have to understand this book.  I would recommend this book to ages 13+.

-Review by River


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Raybearer Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781419739828
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Published: Amulet Books - April 14th, 2020

This adventure/fairy tale set in a fantastic Africa is really original and intriguing, drawing from a lot of different sources. It was a little hard to get into at first because it involved a culture I am completely not familiar with. It was especially hard to relate to the traditional African storytelling which was sprinkled throughout the book. They seem to have a whole different take on story structure and the moral or point you take out of a story than what I'm used to. But the adventure itself drew me in, and while unfamiliar, it was as fantastic and compelling as the Western fantasy I have read all my life. The main character, Tarisai can read people's memories by touching them. She can do this with items as well, drawing out memories that go back generations. She has been raised by a distant mother to kill the Crown Prince, Dayo, but the only way she'll be able to do that is to become one of the members of his magical Council of Eleven. Once in training for the council, she finds herself part of an unexpected community - something she's never had before. She finds the prince to be very kind and sweet, and she comes to regard him like a brother. Meanwhile, she's developing an interest of a different kind in another of the prince's chosen councli members-to-be, Sanjeet, a big powerful young man nicknamed "The Prince's Bear."  He too shows her a different way people can be. Then Tarisai is in a difficult spot. She wants to be on the council to retain this closeness with the prince, Sanjeet, and the other friends she has made, but once she's on the council she will be forced by her mother's magic to kill the prince.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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The Dark Matter of Mona Starr Cover Image
$14.99
ISBN: 9781419742002
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Amulet Paperbacks - April 7th, 2020

This graphic novel is fiction but heavily informed by the author's own experience with depression. 
It's realistic, and relatable, with very original artwork that does a good job of symbolizing what depression feels like. I'm looking forward to seeing it come out in full color when the actual book is released. It combines Mona's own story and then adds a self-help section at the end of the book with good suggestions on how to deal with depression in your own life. The hints tally well with the best of the current research on the subject. I would recommend this book to anyone who is dealing with depression or any type of mental disorder, those who feel misunderstood, and people who want to help others. It's appropriate for middle schoolers and high schoolers.

-Review by Colleen,age 15


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Somebody Told Me Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781541578197
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Carolrhoda Lab (R) - April 7th, 2020

This was a really good book, extremely original, and it must have taken a lot of research, as the writer was not Catholic. The main character, Alexis/Aleks is bigender, which is not very well-known even within the LGBTQ community. That means sometimes they feel like a boy, sometimes like a girl. After a traumatic event, this character decided to go into hiding. They move in with their Uncle Brian, a Catholic priest. It's not going that great. One thing is interesting, though - Alexis/Aleks' room is so close to the confessional that they can hear people's confessions. While the priest gives people "Hail Marys" or other religious penance for their supposed sins, the main character realizes he isn't doing anything to provide concrete help for these people. For an example, a lady is stealing food for her children because she doesn't have enough money to buy it. The main character determines that they will try to help anonymously. Meanwhile, Alexis/Aleks is coming to terms with the traumatic secret that she them into hiding, which is eventually revealed to the reader. It's a very dark book, but a swift read and very compelling.

- Review by Colleen, age 15


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The Loop Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781338589306
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Published: Chicken House - April 7th, 2020

This book was really good, very compelling and well-written. I could not put it down, even when I was not supposed to be reading. The dystopian story falls at the juncture between science fiction and horror, in a post-nuclear world controlled by artificial intelligence. Luka, the main character, is imprisoned in The Loop, a futuristic prison for teens. Initially, the reader does not know why - we just know he was wrongfully imprisoned. Outside, no nature remains, just this big city. Rich people can afford to be modified so they're perfect, but poor people cannot. Since robots are doing most of the work, there's few opportunities for employment, and the underclass turns to crime, seeing a high imprisonment rate. The conditions at this prison are just terrible. On top of being stuck in a cell all day and being tortured, prisoners' own energy is "harvested" to power the prison. There's also no hope of freedom. Everyone in the prison is merely awaiting their execution date. There's a system of "delays" which allow prisoners a temporary reprieve from that death sentence if they agree to serve as test subjects for horrible experiments, which might kill them anyway. One day, the prison systems stop working and the routine starts breaking down. Confused, the prisoners know something's happening but they don't know what. They do know this might be their only chance to escape. The action winds up to a high pitch, then leaves the reader on the worst cliffhanger imaginable. I am desperate to get my hands on the sequel. I would recommend this to teen science fiction and horror fans who have a high tolerance for descriptions of pain and grossness.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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Witches of Ash and Ruin Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781368052252
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Freeform - March 3rd, 2020

Dayna, 17, has a hyper-religious father, an obsessed ex-boyfriend, and a psychotic mother who has just come home after years of institutionalization. Dayna has also recently become a pariah in her church town when a friend outed her as a bisexual. She struggles with bare controlled OCD herself, and ... oh yeah, she's a witch, part of her best friend's family coven.
Suddenly a former coven member, the powerful but failing King Witch, comes to town with her two young charges - Meiner, who has an anger management problem and also likes girls - and Cora, Meiner's power-hungry ex,who still really wants to be involved with Meiner. Meanwhile, someone is ritually killing witches. It's a race for the local coven, law enforcement (which has no idea there's anything supernatural involved) self-appointed teen investigator Sam, and the visiting witches to find out who's behind the killings and stop them before something even worse happens. The book is sometimes confusing, but still pretty compelling, often heading in unexpected directions. Fans of The Raven Boys might like this.
 
-Review by Colleen, age 15.


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We Unleash the Merciless Storm Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9780062691347
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Katherine Tegen Books - February 25th, 2020

This book is the follow-up to We Set the Dark on Fire, and it finishes out the story. It had been awhile since I read the first book so it was a little confusing at first, especially as it switched points-of-view to the other main character. As I got into it, though, it was really riveting. The tale is really empowering and LGBTQ-inclusive. As laid out in the first book, the characters live on an island with a very stratified society. The outer island residents live in poverty, while the inner island is reserved for the rich. Making things even worse for females, rich guys get to have two wives, a primera, who's supposed to be the intelligent one and whose job it is to run the household and a segunda, the "hot" one, who is supposed to have the kids. There's a school to turn young women into professional wives, and it's considered a great honor. The two main characters wind up being the wives of this terrible guy, who is seen as a great catch since he's the son of the president. Instead the wives fall in love and begin working against this unfair system. This book follows the segunda, Carmen, who returns to her rebel group only to find they've turned against her. She has to work with Dani, the primera, who fight for the cause independently.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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Shadow of the Batgirl Cover Image
By Sarah Kuhn, Nicole Goux (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781401289782
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: DC Comics - February 4th, 2020

To put it right out there, the main character Cassandra Cain is NOT Batgirl. She's an assassin trained by her Mafia dad. She has been trained her whole life to be a killing machine, and was never even taught language other than commands she absolutely needed to know. One day she comes to a realization this is maybe not the best way of living. It happens when she's completing another job to kill a man, and he cries out for his daughter. She's unexpectedly touched. Somehow, the word rings a bell with her and instead of returning to her job, she runs away. She winds up taking refuge in the library, where she learns to talk by hanging out at the edges of the children's story hour and tries to learn to read. Gradually she lets a few people into her life and with their support tries to come up with her own identity. The story is really well done, with an original plot, and the book has good art. I'd recommend it to fans of the other recently released DC graphic novel revivals.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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The Queen's Assassin Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780525515913
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - February 4th, 2020

This story takes a somewhat familiar path but diverges near the end and becomes more complex. The main characters are Shadow, member of a secret Guild preserving secret magic, and Caledon, the "Queen's Assassin," who is bound by a vow to find the missing Deian Scrolls, which contain lost magical history and knowledge.The two eventually team up to fight a threat to their country and wind up falling in love. The main plot points are still unresolved at the end of the book, so it's clearly the start of a new series. I am interested in reading the next one, although it was not the most compelling story I have read recently.

-Review by Colleen, age 15

 


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Deathless Divide Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062570635
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - February 4th, 2020

A follow up to the groundbreaking Civil War zombie apocalypse novel Dread Nation, this sequel was just as good as the first book and I already can't wait for the next installment, Set in the Civil War era, in this alternate history all of the slaves are "freed" into a different sort of servitude, training to protect rich white folks from the invading zombie armies. In the previous book, the two main characters, Jane and Katherine, were attending a "finishing school" to prepare them to be attendants (a very polite term for bodyguards) for white folks. Eventually the town where they go to school is overrun, and they're trying to make it on their own. Jane and Katherine escape to a different community which is supposed to be really well fortified against the dead. There, they meet someone they knew from the previous community, Gideon Carr, who was kind of responsible for the zombies invading where they went to school. He had been trying to create a vaccine against zombies. It was a good idea but really poorly executed. He had given Jane the vaccine without knowing if it works or not, and he's now trying to convince his new community to all get the vaccine. I really like the book's inclusive tone and diverse cast.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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Almost American Girl: An Illustrated Memoir Cover Image
By Robin Ha, Robin Ha (Illustrator)
$12.99
ISBN: 9780062685094
Availability: Coming Soon - Available for Pre-Order Now
Published: Balzer + Bray - January 28th, 2020

This graphic novel was autobiographical, the story of the author's experience as a girl. She immigrated from Korea when she was 14. Her mom said they were coming to visit and then she ended up marrying someone. When she learned they were going to stay in America, Robin was upset. "But all my stuff in Korea!" was her reaction. "And I don't know English!" She was angry at her mom for a long time. This story is about her finding her way in America and eventually coming to the realization that she wants to live here after all - a realization that's accentuated by a visit to her home country at the age of 18. The book is very well done and has great art. I personally got a kick out of the references to anime and manga. I'd recommend it to fans of autobiographical fiction, graphic novels and the immigrant experience.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


Infinity Son (Infinity Cycle #1) Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062457820
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Quill Tree Books - January 14th, 2020

In a world with superhuman beings called Celestials, twin brothers Emil and Brighton are born powerless, or so they think. After being attacked by a Spector, someone who got their power by drinking the blood of a magical creature, Emil defends his brother with a power he didn't know he had. Suddenly thrust into a war between the Celestial group the Spell Walkers and a group of Spectors called the Blood Casters, Emil is expected to use his newfound powers to help. But with the sudden reveal of family secrets will Emil be able to keep both himself safe and his family in tact? As a huge fan of Adam Silvera books, Infinity Son did not disappoint. Every aspect of it was amazing from the inclusion of many diverse main characters to the world building. Overall if you are a fan of fantasy and action books I would highly recommend reading this book. 

- Review by Elyssa, age 16


Scavenge the Stars Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9781368051415
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Disney-Hyperion - January 7th, 2020

This is the quintessential weekend or rainy day read- it can be easily read in one sitting, with a compelling storyline that will refuse to let you go...From the first page, the reader enters an enchanting world of seafaring and intrigue as well as gaining an insight into the life of a young adult named Amaya (who works relentlessly upon a ship with other child laborers known as "bugs"). The callous captain forces each child aboard to comply with his biddings, as a form of payment to remove a family member's debt. As soon as Amaya spent her seven years at sea, she finds herself swept into a plot that allows herself to take revenge on the captain after his unjust treatment to the children. However, she also finds herself obliged to kill another persona, known as Cayo Mercado, as part of the ordeal to murder the captain. As the plan progresses, she finds herself in the seaside kingdom of Moray, disguised as a countess known by the name of Yamaa and waits for the plan to unfurl. But as she begins to spend time with Cayo and her plans to assassinate the captain diversify, she realizes that one's false identities allow for deception by a greater foe. Scavenge the Stars is a newly released novel not to be overlooked, filled to the brim with action, trickery, and a splash of romance that is guaranteed to delight its readers.

-Reviewed by Hailey, age 14


Wonder Woman: Warbringer (The Graphic Novel) Cover Image
By Leigh Bardugo, Louise Simonson (Adapted by), Kit Seaton (Illustrator)
$16.99
ISBN: 9781401282554
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: DC Comics - January 7th, 2020

This was another really good graphic novel. I thought it would be more like the movie, and while it starts out kind of the same, it goes in different directions. It's a lot more modern and diverse than the traditional story most people know. I'd say this provides a much needed update for this superhero. The book is well-written and has really amazing art.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


19 Love Songs Cover Image
$17.99
ISBN: 9781984848635
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - January 7th, 2020

This book was really good, well-written and deep. This book is especially great for fans of the author's, like me, because a couple of stories continue the tales of characters from his other books. However, most stand on their own. Each of the selections were very different, including the formats - poetry, prose, even song lyrics. They were all written differently and featured very diverse characters. I think there's something almost every teen will relate to. Not all of the stories are about romantic love, either - some center on devotion to a cause.

-Review by Colleen, age 15


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Loveboat, Taipei Cover Image
$18.99
ISBN: 9780062957276
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: HarperTeen - January 7th, 2020

Loveboat, Taipei by Abigail Hing Wen is not your typical romance book. Ever Wong loves to dance but her parents have had their hearts set on sending her to medical school since she was a child. Whenever Ever brings up dancing to her parents they dismiss it as nothing but a hobby and a waste of time. After finding out about Ever’s acception to a dance program her parents send her away on a summer getaway to Taipei with other Chinese American teens to learn about her culture. However, this program isn’t at all what her parents thought it was. With very little supervision the kids sent on this trip do things like clubbing, drinking, and hooking up. Ever, along with her outgoing roommate Sophie, decide to break all the rules her parents have made for her. Along the way she meets Rick Woo, otherwise known as Boy Wonder, the kid Ever’s parents always wanted her to be, and a mysterious admirer who keeps slipping her drawings. Overall, while this book does focus heavily on a spectacular love triangle, I feel the real takeaway from this book is the culture and family aspect. Ever is finally able to come out of her shell and do what she loves most but also battles upsetting her family. I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a fresh and different romance novel.

- Review by Elyssa, age 16