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).

 

 

This week for Teen Book Talk, our reviewer shares a review of an adult novel, The Alchemist, by Paulo Coelho.

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**

Neha H., Teen Reviewer

the-alchemistBook Title: The Alchemist

Author: Paulo Coelho

Book Format: Book

Year of Publication: 1988

Likely Appeals to: Ages 14+

Rating: 4 stars


“To realize one’s destiny is a person’s only obligation.”
― from The Alchemist


Brazilian author Paulo Coelho weaves together an enchanting and compelling tale in The Alchemist, first published in Portuguese in 1988 and later translated in over 67 languages after becoming an international bestseller. The novella chronicles the physical, mental, and spiritual journey of Santiago, a young Andalusian shepherd, as he leaves his homeland in Spain to travel to the Egyptian desert in pursuit of an unknown treasure. Along the way, he encounters several symbolic figures who offer him counsel during his journey ‐ including an aged Gypsy woman, the biblical king of Salem, and the titular alchemist.


Coehlo’s writing is simple yet evocative; he expertly conveys Santiago’s conflicted emotions as he embarks upon a quest to fulfill his destiny. The Alchemist is no ordinary coming‐of‐age tale: it is an uplifting fable with a poignant message of fulfilling our so‐called “Personal Legends” ‐ following our dreams and listening to our hearts. As a protagonist, Santiago’s incredible courage, self‐righteousness, and knowledge of the world is the perfect fit for a novella filled with this type of inspirational wisdom.

 

This week for Teen Book Talk, our reviewer shares her take on John Steinbeck’s classic novel, The Grapes of Wrath.

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**

Natlie L., Teen Reviewer

grapesofwrathBook Title: The Grapes of Wrath

Author: John Steinbeck

Format: Book

Year of Publication: 1939

Will appeal to fans of: nonfiction, history (American; Great Depression), classics

Rating: 3.5 Stars

The Great Depression came with more than just economic difficulties, drought, and changes in the agricultural industry; it also came with a figurative boot to kick farmers off of their land and turned them into migrants wandering the country in search of work. The Joads were a family of these farmers-turned-migrants who then set their eyes on California, the golden land of peaches and promises. The Grapes of Wrath chronicles the story of the Joads as they travel from state to state to reach California, encounter people from all walks of life, and receive lemon after undesired lemon from life itself.

All puns and jokes aside, this novel is a bit of a downer. For starters, it’s set in the Great Depression, which, as told throughout the book, was a time of great hardship for pretty much everyone in America. The story is told from the perspective of out-of-work tenant farmers, who arguably had it the worst during that time, and it clearly depicts the struggles of those who were broke in a time when money meant power. It was painful for me to read about people throwing away, if not their dignity, their lives for the sake of earning a few cents to keep their family going for just one more day. What astounds me more than the tragic life led by the people is that, within every single chapter of the book, Steinbeck was able to convey the sense of desperation and turmoil that the migrant families experienced. The approach that Steinbeck took to tell the story was fascinating; he alternated between writing from the perspective of the Joads to writing from the perspective of an omniscient third-person narrator who I assumed was applying each specific situation experienced by the Joads to every migrant at the time by the use of generalization. That’s what kept me engaged with the book.

It took me a while to get into this novel—seven chapters and a quarter to be specific—and I probably would’ve dropped it if it hadn’t been required for school, but ultimately I’m glad I didn’t. It provided me with an insight into the lives of those who struggled to get by in the past and made me realize how appreciative I should be of my current standing. That is why I recommend this book to teens who are ready to get a bit introspective or to people who want to learn about a rather saddening slice of American history.