Teen Book Talk features book, movie, and local event reviews written by local teen writers. This week, we’re sharing a double review of the first two books in the Lunar Chronicles series, Cinder and Scarlet.

Teen reviewers select which books and movies they’d like to review, and also which local events to attend and review. All opinions are those of the reviewers. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Sahana N., Teen Reviewer

Book Title: Cinder

Author: Marissa Meyer

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2012

Appeal: Marie Lu, Veronica Roth, and Kiera Cass fans (Middle School)

Rating: 5/5

Cinderella mostly brings the idea of a silky blue ball gown, elegantly rare glass slippers, and a sweet story about love at first sight. Cinder is Cinderella reimagined, in a power packed way you would never expect her.

Linh Cinder is the best mechanic in all of New Beijing. But, she’s different from everyone else. Cinder is a cyborg; one that can tell when someone’s lying, download information, fix practically anything, and even has the perks of not blushing or crying. In New Beijing, being a cyborg isn’t as incredible as it seems. Terrorized by her stepmother and first stepsister, Cinder’s life doesn’t look so good. Especially when her second step-sister and best friend is diagnosed with letumosis, the deadly and rapidly killing pandemic that mysteriously appeared in her country, Cinder has no option but to submit for testing for the cure under her cruel step-mother’s wishes.

At the palace where she undergoes medical testing, Cinder meets Kai, the soon to be emperor, whose father is suffering from the deadly disease and who is torn apart by duty and his heart. Picked up by the whirlwind of her heart, but let down by the gust of reality, Cinder must try to follow a path that has been set for her while making choices for herself, and discovering her identity. But what Cinder learns about herself and her shattering past, can either build the future back up or tear it down.

As you read the book, you’re yanked into Cinder’s bustling world, by a hand made of love, treachery, sadness, betrayal, and a whole lot of strength. Cinder shows you how being different from everyone isn’t as easy as it seems, and you get to feel her anger, her misery, her fear, her enthusiasm, and her love. I would recommend this book to almost anyone who wants to read a good Young Adult book. If you have enjoyed series like Legend, Red Queen, Selection, and Divergent, this book will be an exact fit. Cinder was thrillingly perfect and my favorite aspect of it was that there was an immersive infusion of the beloved classic Cinderella, yet at the same time, the story was much more complex, contrasting in certain areas, and breathtakingly beautiful.

 

Janice L., Teen Reviewer

Book Title: Scarlet

Author: Marissa Meyer

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2013

Who will book appeal to?: Teenagers

Rating: 4 stars (1 = did not like it and 5 = it was amazing)

This novel is the second book in the Lunar Chronicles, preceding after Cinder . I actually did not read Cinder before reading Scarlet , so I can’t form a judgement on this sequel in comparison to Cinder as the continuation of the storyline in Cinder.

The pacing of the story was a bit too slow in the beginning, but events finally picked up the pace later on as the story unfolded. At some parts of the story, I thought the fight scenes weren’t described well, but the descriptions improved, especially in one of the conflicts towards the end of the novel.

Overall, I enjoyed the adventure in the plot and the humor in Cinder’s perspective in her banters with Thorne. I also liked the switch-off between the two different perspectives of Cinder and Scarlet in the chapters of the book as their lives became more intertwined with each other. Kai’s perspective was also switched off between chapters, but I did not enjoy those chapters in particular since they seemed boring to me. I believe the reason why I did not enjoy his perspective as much as the others is because I haven’t read Cinder, so I don’t know the history between Kai and Cinder. Meyer conjured a fascinating connection between them, and I admit I was surprised when I found out the story behind how they were connected. I love that there is a romance element to this novel as well, but this novel doesn’t base its entire plot around the romance. I would highly recommend this book, especially to those that like novels that are spin-offs of fairy tales and to those that enjoy adventure and romance in a novel.

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Teen Book Talk features book, movie, and local event reviews written by local teen writers. This week, we’re sharing a review of an older teen book, An Ember in the Ashes.

Teen reviewers select which books and movies they’d like to review, and also which local events to attend and review. All opinions are those of the reviewers. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Sahana N., Teen Reviewer

Book Title: An Ember in The Ashes

Author: Sabaa Tahir

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2015

Appeal: 6th – 9th Grade

Rating: 5

Laia of Serra, a slave girl, and Elias Veturius, one of the finest and chief soldiers for the Empire, could not live more different lives. But what they don’t realize is that they could also not lead more special lives, because they are both Embers in the Ashes. Laia of Serra is a 17-year-old Scholar girl, afraid of the Empire and her past. One day, Laia’s brother, Darin, is arrested for treason to the Empire. Frozen in fear, while the “masks” invade her home, Laia runs at Darin’s commands. Escaping, all she can think about is her cowardliness so she sets out to find the Resistance, in hopes that they will help free Darin. But all good things come with a price… Laia is forced to spy for the Resistance within the premises of the dangerous military academy of Blackcliff.

Elias can’t be free from his conscience. Reluctant and hesitant to kill, and unwilling to carry out the Empire’s brutal orders, Elias, isn’t sure what he wants: to follow his orders and become the exact person he hates or rebel against the Empire and be what he has been prepared and instructed to fight. When he finishes his training as a mask, a special announcement is made that pits Elias against his own heart and deepest wishes. When Elias meets Laia, with her gleaming golden eyes and silky hair as black as the night, they are both forced to make choices that could quite easily get them killed or lead them to the future they’ve both always wanted.

The way Sabaa Tahir spins Laia and Elias’s tale takes you for a whirl as you make your way through unexpected and exciting twists and turns, and you never really know what’s lurking around the corner. This book is my current favorite because a world is created that makes you laugh, wonder, and at times feel like crying. The characters are strong people who discover things about themselves and in doing so allow you to learn about yourself too. At first when I was reading the beginning of the book, I honestly thought it was going to be a book that would leave me disappointed, but I have to say that this was not the case. In fact, I was actually jumping to read the sequel. If you’ve ever enjoyed classic well-known books like Divergent, Hunger Games, Percy Jackson, Harry Potter or even some of the newest Young Adult series like Red Queen and the Selection, then this book is perfect for you. It has the greatest mix of action, a bit of fantasy, and romance. An Ember in the Ashes is an unforgettable and truly thrilling first installment in the series.

Teen Book Talk features book, movie, and local event reviews written by local teen writers. This week, we’re sharing a review of a new movie, currently out in theaters: Dunkirk. As mentioned, the movie is still currently in theaters, so there are no copies available at the library at this time.

Teen reviewers select which books and movies they’d like to review, and also which local events to attend and review. All opinions are those of the reviewers. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Neha H., Teen Reviewer

Name of Movie: Dunkirk

Release Date: July 13, 2017

MPAA Rating: PG-13

My rating: 3 stars

Genre: Drama, suspense, thriller

Acclaimed director Christopher Nolan’s highly-anticipated WWII thriller, Dunkirk, is a complex and harrowing tour de force, full of concrete details and visceral thrills. The film is based on the evacuation of 330,000 Allied troops from the beaches of Dunkirk in May 1940 after the German advance into France. As with his other films, Nolan deliberately experiments with time in Dunkirk; the narrative is told through three parallel storylines on land, sea, and air which eventually merge.

Dunkirk features the perspectives of several figures with critical roles in the evacuations, including a young British soldier (Fionn Whitehead), a civilian boat captain (Mark Rylance), a British officer suffering from PTSD (Cillian Murphy), two RAF pilots (Tom Hardy and Jack Lowden), and a naval officer (Kenneth Branagh). These perspectives are intricately interwoven amidst the intense action sequences; however, this can all be confusing to viewers unfamiliar with “Nolan Time”. The frequent explosions, along with Hans Zimmer’s forceful score, drowns out the minimal dialogue, making the film difficult to follow.

Nolan’s repeated attempts to disrupt the natural rhythm of the film with his time-bending tricks leave it feeling somewhat hollow and disjointed. Although Dunkirk is undoubtedly technologically well-crafted and visually impressive, its lack of emotional resonance and a cohesive storyline mars the spectacle.

 

Teen Book Talk features reviews by local teen writers. This week, we’re sharing a review of a teen book published in 2015. The book, Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon still has a waiting list, but you can add your name to the waitlist here: Everything, Everything.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Hannah A., Teen Reviewer

Book Title: Everything, Everything

Author: Nicola Yoon

Book Format: book

Year of Publication: 2015

Who will book appeal to: teens, and adults who are young at heart 🙂

Rating: 4.5/5 stars

 

Nicola Yoon’s motivation for writing this book is very encouraging and supportive of multiracial kids. Being married to a man of Korean ethnicity and having a multiracial daughter, she beautifully crafts a story around two people of different ethnicities, Madison, and Olly. Madison has lived her entire life in her house, and hasn’t stepped outside for the fear that her Severe Combined Immunodeficiency will be triggered. All she knows is her mom, her nurse and the house. All of this changes though, as a boy who moved in next door completely changes her life, as they find themselves falling in love.

While reading this story, I had a sense of deja vu, as the storyline is very similar to that of The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. Unlike Green’s novel, Everything, Everything incorporates its own uniqueness, with vignettes, diary entries, texts, charts, lists, and more. I loved the flair that these extras added to Yoon’s novel, along with the sweet illustrations by her husband.

I would recommend this book for anyone who enjoyed The Fault in Our Stars, but enjoys more lighthearted books, with a more modern twists. It’s a quick read, I wasn’t able to put it down after starting it. Yoon’s take on romance is a reminder that anyone, and everyone, will eventually find true love.

This week for Teen Book Talk, our teen reviewer shares her views on a teen novel, Mosquitoland, by David Arnold.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Esha C., Teen Reviewer

mosquitolandBook Title: Mosquito Land

Author: David Arnold

Format: Book

Year Of Publication: 2015

Who Will This Book Appeal To: Readers who enjoy books by John Green, Rainbow Rowell, and Jandy Nelson.

Rating: 4/5 stars


In David Arnold’s Mosquito Land, main character, Mim Malone, decides to drop everything, leave home, and go find her mother. She hops on a bus with some cash, and an address, hoping to finally find some closure about her mother’s disappearance and the lack of communication that they’d had for months. Throughout her journey, Mim encounters various interesting people, and develops fleeting friendships as she finds her way closer and closer to finally seeing her mother again. By the end of the novel, Mim has reached new levels of acceptance and has learned to open up her heart in ways she didn’t think were possible before. 

 

I really enjoyed this book. The plot took a lot of interesting turns, so I never got bored while I was reading it. This book is similar (the writing style) to books by John Green, Jandy Nelson, and Rainbow Rowell, so I think that readers who enjoy the Young Adult and Realistic Fiction type novels will really enjoy this book. (There is no material in the book that would make anyone want to stop reading or uncomfortable.)

 

This week for Teen Book Talk, our reviewer shares his take on the end of a series, with a discussion about the last title in the Daniel X: Alien Hunter series. This book is book six, and entitled, Daniel X: Lights Out by James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein. (The library only owns book six in ebook format. Click on the title here to link to the catalog listing for the ebook).

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Justin L., Teen Reviewer

lights-outTitle: Daniel X – Lights Out

Author: James Patterson

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 2015

Appeals to: Preteens and early teens

Rating: 2 out of 5 stars

In Lights Out, the sixth (and final) book in the Daniel X Alien Hunter series, Daniel has already taken down most of the aliens on the List (a list of alien outlaws plotting to commit evil crimes on Earth). The only one left is Number One, known as “The Prayer”, a giant praying mantis with dreadlocks, immense strength, an enormous intellectual capacity, the ability to warp space and time, and no conscience. The Prayer killed Daniel’s parents when he was three years old, so Daniel has a personal grudge against it. Not only that, the Prayer also opened up a black hole to destroy all life on Earth, and it’s up to Daniel to stop it before it’s too late.

I actually did not enjoy this book very much. The main character’s narration had the sarcastic humor used throughout the series, but the plot did not pull me in. There was a lot less action in this book than all the books preceding it, which was disappointing considering Daniel was supposed to be fighting the worst and strongest of all the alien outlaws. The plot was also confusing, with Daniel leaping around through time and then immediately leaping to another time and place while the Prayer followed him (although this demonstrated the “amazingness” of the powers of the Prayer, it wasn’t very interesting as the List already gives the reader a long list of everything that the Prayer can do). There were also random hospitals, fake parents, real parents (who shouldn’t have been able to come back after their souls were scattered in Book 5), and many other details in the story that were confusing. The whole concept of souls (not discussed in depth in any of the books prior, first mentioned, briefly, in Book 5) was also suddenly thrust upon the reader in the middle of the book, and the discrepancies between what the characters said about what souls can do and what the souls actually did in the book only serves to confuse the reader more. In my opinion this book did not do a good job wrapping up the series and I wouldn’t recommend this book (however I would recommend Game Over, Book 4 in the series; I liked that one better).

This week for Teen Book Talk, our reviewer shares a review of a classic novel, Brave New World, by Aldous Huxley.

Teen reviewers select which titles and movies they’d like to review, and opinions are their own. **Teens use a scale of 1-5 stars, with one star being poor and five stars being excellent, for their reviews**

Esha C., Teen Reviewer

brave-new-worldBook Title: Brave New World

Author: Aldous Huxley

Format: Book

Year Of Publication: 1932

Who Will This Book Appeal To: Readers who like science fiction and books about utopian/dystopian societies

Rating: 4/5 stars

Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World is an amazing book about the future. Well, when it was first written in 1932, the book was the author’s “prediction” about what society would be like in the future (around the year 2020). Right now, 2020 is not too far away, and after reading Brave New World it is blatantly clear that the society in the book looks nothing like our world today.  Brave New World centers around the utopian society called the World State, which is composed of five classes of citizens: the Alphas, Betas, Gammas, Deltas, and Epsilons. The novel also centers around a character named John, who is exposed to the World State after growing up in a reservation that isn’t affected by the utopian world. Brave New World is one of the most amazing books I’ve read.  At first it was really difficult for me to understand what was going on, but as I read more and more of the book, the story and characters became extremely interesting.  Brave New World is a book about a utopian/dystopian society, but it doesn’t involve any rebellions or revolutions the way that The Hunger Games or Divergent do. Instead, the book focuses on the injustices of the lives of the citizens in John’s eyes. While everybody leads a happy and content life, John argues that it’s wrong that none of the citizens get to feel or understand love, pain, or emotion in exchange for maintaining a stable society. I think that this book provides a very much needed fresh breath of air for readers who enjoy utopian/dystopian novels, and I definitely recommend others to read this book. (This book has no content that would make anyone feel uncomfortable or unwilling to continue reading the book).