All posts by Marty Mason

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – August 22, 2022

Summer may be coming to a close, but here at the Library we are a community of year-round readers! See what our teen volunteers are reading and reviewing. Maybe you’ll find your first great read of the fall! 🙂

Skyward by Brandon Sanderson (2018)

Reviewed by Joe

Brandon Sanderson has been among my favorite authors for quite a while now, but Skyward was the first science fiction book I’ve read of his. I was skeptical, as I didn’t think his style of writing would fit with the genre, but my expectations were shattered in the best way possible. The first book in its series, Skyward was unlike any style of science fiction I’ve ever read, and possibly the best as well. Taking place far in the future, what could quite possibly be the last of the human race is stranded on a planet, kept from developing by alien attacks. The heroes of these humans are pilots, who fend off the attacks. Spensa, the main character, wishes more than anything to join their ranks. It seems there’s no way she’ll be let in – but that doesn’t stop her from trying.

As the style of this book is unorthodox, so is its protagonist, Spensa. She doesn’t fit in with the rest of the children, who shun and bully her for her father’s actions. She has an extensive imagination, which not only affects her personality, but adds significant flavor to her character. If defined by any one word, Spensa is persistent. She suffers countless setbacks, failures, disasters, and hardships, yet perseveres through it all, the end goal never leaving her mind. While she doesn’t seem to develop as much as other characters might, this doesn’t detract from the experience of the book in my opinion.

Perhaps the most lackluster component of this book is the setting. While there are several distinct locations, Spensa stays in the academy, the skies, and a nearby cave for much of the novel. Each of these are fleshed out, but not to the extent that Sanderson often goes to, and the relatively low number of locations doesn’t help either. If anything brings down this book, it is the almost mundane setting.

The plot seems to be a trope, but the subplots that constantly branch off, as well as the number of plot twists close to the end, spice up the book from the average story of a hero proving herself against the backdrop of an assumed negative trait. The side stories that are delved into are shown to be much more complex, and toward the end, all wrap together, clarifying many mysteries brought up throughout the novel, and yet leaving so many to be answered in the rest of the series. 

While Skyward is definitely not Brandon Sanderson’s best work, it is still a solid read, especially for those who enjoy the style of the Mistborn trilogy, as well as the science fiction genre. Skyward deserves a 7/10.

Black Canary: Breaking Silence  by Alexandra Monir (2020)

Reviewed by Claire

Black Canary: Breaking Silence is an origin story for the superhero, Black Canary. Dinah Lance lives in a world ruled by the Court Of Owls, a world where the rights of women are basically non-existent. The Court also got rid of the superheroes of Gotham City, leaving them with no one to protect them and no one to stop the Court. The superheroes had fought against the Court and their rise to power, but the rebellion was eventually stopped. The women of Gotham City had also tried to rebel against the Court, by singing, but that rebellion was crushed as well. The Court found a way to take women’s voices, rendering the women of that generation, and all to come, unable to sing.

Dinah is part of the generation that has never been able to sing, and never been able to hear a woman sing. However, Dinah knows that she heard a woman singing when she was a little girl. Now, she’s seventeen years old, and she’s realizing that she may have power, more than she ever realized. Still, she can’t sing, not unless she wants to go to Arkham Asylum. Not only that, but she’s managed to draw the attention of a new student, Oliver Queen. A boy who’s very close to the Court, and may give her secret away if he ever discovers it. Dinah wants to help the women of Gotham City, but as Black Canary, will she be strong enough to destroy the Court?

This is one of my favorite books that I’ve read recently, since the Black Canary has been
one of my favorite superheroes for a while now. I was really excited to read a novel about her, and it didn’t disappoint. Dinah is an amazing character, with believable actions and flaws like every person has. She wants to fight against the unjust rulers of her city, but can’t stand out too much, for fear of risking her family and friends. She was a favorite character of mine, right along with Oliver. Oliver has been another one of my longtime favorites, and I was excited to see him appear in this book as well. He’s different from a lot of other people in Gotham City, and he has a lot more to him than people expect. I liked this take on Gotham City, a dystopian city taken over by a cruel dictatorship. It was interesting to see a different version of the well-known city that is home to Batman, a hero that is long-gone in this book. The way the city is described without Batman there to save it is interesting, and I thought it was pretty cool.

I loved every bit of this book, and I couldn’t stop reading it until the very last page. I was honestly sad it was over. I would definitely recommend this story to anyone looking for a good superhero story, especially one that’s pretty different from the usual ones. This book is part of the DC Icons series, one which I have thoroughly enjoyed. Each book is written by a different author, and all of them are fantastic. Many of these authors are international bestsellers and have written well-known books. All of these books are fantastic, and you can read them in any order you’d like, or not read some of them at all. However, I’d recommend all of them.

Looking for Alaska by John Green (2005)

Reviewed by Diya

Love and death are two of the most painful yet beautiful things humans must endure. This theme is explored in the novel Looking for Alaska, by John Green. Miles, or Pudge, the Colonel, Alaska, and Takumi all attend Culver Creek Prep School. Pudge had never really had very close friends, but when he moves into Culver Creek, he meets his best friends. He is immediately drawn to Alaska, and he thinks that she is the most beautiful girl he has ever seen. He cannot seem to understand her habits or her personality which makes her more appealing to him. However, Alaska is in a relationship, so Pudge must love her silently. The friend group loves pulling pranks on the school, and overall having a great time. However, when tragedy strikes their friend group, each person must cope and reveal their secrets.

I loved this book and it brought up so many emotions for me. The love that Pudge has is incredible and it is relatable because he is unsure of how to express this love. The friend group struggles with many things that teenagers struggle with today including heartbreak, drugs, and death. I would recommend this book for a mature high school audience, as it does deal with several heavy topics. This book made me cry and laugh simply due to the brilliance of John Green’s narration and the emotion that he was able to express through his words. Pudge’s sadness translated perfectly through the book, and this novel is definitely one of my favorites.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

Reviewed by Sanya

The Outsiders is a very interesting novel, amazing for kids in middle school or older. There are many plot twists which makes this a really good book. 

The Outsiders has two “social classes.” The richer, more “sophisticated” group is called the Socs. The other group is called the Greasers. Greasers are the opposite of Socs. Their hair always has grease, they are less rich, and stereotyped to just be not as good as the Socs. This book is mainly focusing on Ponyboy and his friends who are all Greasers. Socs like to jump the Greasers just for “fun” but when one of them tried to hurt Ponyboy you will not believe what his friend Johnny did. (Read the book to find out!) 

I loved this book and rate it a 10/10! The Outsiders is probably the best book I have read this year. It’s really hard to choose but my favorite character is probably Johnny. He is the “pet” of the group (smallest but not youngest and nobody can hurt him). Johnny is my favorite because of what he does to save Ponyboy, which proves he is a true friend and will always have Ponyboy’s back. My favorite part was when Johnny and Ponyboy ran away together because the whole story completely changed from there. 

The Beauty that Remains by Ashley Woodfolk (2018)

Reviewed by Saanvi

The beauty that remains by Ashley Woodfolk is a story about three strangers who love music. But is that love enough to help them through the death of their loved ones? Logan is a singer suffering from the recent death of his ex-boyfriend, Bram. He keeps watching the vlogs  Bram had posted, unable to let him go. Shay is a music blogger, a job she had once shared with her identical twin, Sasha, who lost her battle against her sickness. Shay thinks that she knows all about her sister there is to know, but when she decides to go through Sasha’s room, she discovers another side to Sasha that she had never known. Autumn is just another high school student, but when her best friend, Tavia, dies in a car accident, Autumn just can’t accept it. She goes on with her life still texting Tavia, even though she knows that she will never receive a message in return . These three strangers have to learn how to let the ones they loved go and make peace with the fact that they are gone.

Ashley Woodfolk intricately crafts teenage life, depression, death, mystery and romance, and makes it an amazing book that is both relatable and exciting, making you long for more. This book had me on the edge of my seat from beginning to end, the different personalities and perspectives just made the book seem even more intriguing. One of the things I liked most about this book was the character development. You can clearly see the main three learn a lot about themselves and see the world from a whole new perspective. I loved seeing each character struggle with the change, but in the end learn to accept it. The Beauty that Remains dives into deep topics and questions you will be asking yourself throughout the book. I absolutely loved this book and would definitely recommend it to anyone looking for a serious read.

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – July 15, 2022

Summertime is here & our teens keep reading up a storm! Check out our teen volunteer’s reviews of some titles you may be considering for your next read 🙂

It’s kind of a funny story by Ned Vizzini (2006)

Reviewed by Diya

In the young adult novel It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini, Craig Gliner struggles with mental health and he navigates his way through the pressures of high school with the burden of depression.

Vizzini does an excellent job of painting an accurate picture of a high school student and their struggles with anxiety and depression. As the amount of teenagers being diagnosed with depression increase, this novel is perfect for educating and explaining the correct steps to deal with suicide. Craig gets into a prestigious high school, but he quickly realizes that he is unable to cope with the stress that is associated with said high school. Craig tries coping with drugs and quickly feels himself spiraling until one day he admits himself into a mental health facility. Craig’s story is illustrated with just the right amount of humor to keep the audience engaged.

I love Craig’s character because he is honest and truly embodies the typical high schooler. Craig encounters many interesting characters during his stay in the hospital which help elevate the story to the next level. I would recommend this book for high schoolers and
young adults because this novel does deal with some mature topics. Anyone who likes
humorous books will definitely fall in love with Vizzini’s novel.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury (1953)

Reviewed by Abigail

This book takes place in a dystopian society, where “uncomplicated, noncomplex happiness” is a priority. Books are prohibited by law and burned by firemen, leading to the effect of people and societies containing little to no substance, meaning, or opinions and profound thoughts. Firefighter Guy Montag secretly harbors books and is tired of living in an uncultured world of superficiality. He soon realizes that no literature has created societal problems and feelings of apathy and despondence. He continues to explore the values of literature and the importance of thinking for oneself while combating the dangers of a harsh government.

This novel was a captivating read, from start to finish. It was so interesting to read a concept like this, especially in the current age of technology, where people read less than decades prior. The novel is easy to follow, and suitable for both a school reading assignment or for leisure. While I am not the biggest fan of how the story ended, I would still highly recommend this novel.

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (1965)

Reviewed by Akhila

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote is a nonfiction book about the murder of the Clutter family; however, it is not completely factual. The murders of four members of the Clutter family take place in Holcomb, Kansas. This novel holds special value to me as I learned that this novel changed Capote’s life, and he was never the same after it. While telling the story of the murders of Herb, Bonnie, and their two kids, Capote switches off between different perspectives. Capote tells the story through the perspective of the murderers and follows the story through investigations as well. The interesting thing about In Cold Blood is that the audience knows who the murderers are throughout the whole novel. Capote focuses on the murderers and their backstory, almost as if he were justifying their actions.
I personally was very intrigued by the plot of the story before I picked up the book. I think that while the story is interesting, it is a heavy read. I feel that the novel is packed with extra information and lots of long paragraphs of details and background information. I would give this novel a 6/10, just because it was easy for me to drift off and lose attention while reading it. The overall story is interesting, and I like the structure of the novel. It was also fun to analyze Capote’s intentions while writing his book and see events through different perspectives.

Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger (1951)

Reviewed by Saimah

Catcher in the Rye revolves around a teenage boy, Holden Caulfield, who is narrating from a hospital and recounting what happened to him in the week before Christmas break. This book explores the mind of a depressed teenager and the events that led up to him realizing he needed help. He is being expelled by Pency Prep, one of many private schools he’s been kicked out of, and instead of going home to disappoint his parents he takes a secret trip to New York. There his condition becomes worse as he realizes what state he is in mentally at the moment. Through his thoughts and actions we learn many things about him, his life, and the reason he is depressed. There are many life lessons woven into the story and the reader is left to reflect on the idea that many things we take for granted, like our parents’ love, mean a lot.

Overall I really liked the book. The book keeps you engaged, wanting to know from the beginning how Holden got into the hospital. We go through his adventures and see his downfall over time. Sometimes though, Holden got on my nerves as you could clearly see he was not making any effort to make his life better and turning away good opportunities. Holden Caulfield was a very realistic teenage character, but to the extreme, and that was because he was depressed. This book does have swearing in it and some intimacy, so I would recommend this book for high schoolers and above.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

Reviewed by Braneeth


Lord of the Flies takes place on a tropical island in the Pacific Ocean, amidst a worldwide war. A group of preadolescent boys is stranded on the island after their airplane crashes. Among the boys are two of the main characters, Piggy and Ralph. Using a conch as a horn Ralph is able to unite all the boys on the island together and form a frail democracy. However, throughout the course of the novel, the democracy falls apart and a faction of the group breaks off into their own tribe. The novel follows the group of boys as civilization turns into chaos, while also exploring deeper themes such as the inherent evil within man.

My Opinions

Lord of the Flies is a novel filled with morals and warnings towards readers, and for that reason, I would definitely recommend the book. The novel discusses mature ideas such as civilization versus anarchy, innocence, and community, and the book uses its characters to display these themes. One thing that I did not find the book was able to represent as well was the better side of mankind, as it overall took a very negative and critical stance towards mankind. However overall the book has a fantastic plot, especially with its great list of characters. Piggy is representative of the rationalism of man, however, his logic and goodness are often ignored by bullies such as Jack, an ideal representative of the real world when the intellects among us are suppressed. Jack represents evil and dictatorship – what happens when we let our instincts control us. Finally, Ralph represents leadership and democracy – he is not perfect but a far better alternative to the pure chaos that Jack represents

New Story at the Storywalk!

We have a new story at the Story Walk at Sunny Meadow Farm! Take an opportunity to enjoy a beautiful walk and a really nice story with your family 🙂

Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall is a sweet and relatable story about believing in yourself and trying something new, even if it’s a little intimidating. After he passes his swimming test, little Jabari decides he’s ready to try jumping off the diving board, but when the big moment arrives, Jabari needs to work up the courage to jump.

Read the story one page at a time as you walk along a simple trail. This is a fun family literacy activity that is great for all ages. Be sure to sign the guest book, and stop by the Children’s Desk to tell us all about your StoryWalk experience!

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – June 13, 2022

Check out what our teen volunteers are reading! You may find your next excellent summer read here 🙂

All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven (2015)

Reviewed by Diya

In the novel All The Bright Places by Jennifer Niven, Theodore Finch and Violet Markey experience the hard truths of mental health that many teenagers in high school experience today. Niven tells the story through both Theodore and Violet’s eyes.

The two meet on top of a bell tower trying to take their lives. However, the two save each other and quickly become friends. Their friendship takes a romantic turn and they find themselves falling for each other. This gut wrenching story mercilessly unwraps the unfortunate truth behind the struggles of depression and suicide. As soon as I read the first page, I fell in love with both Theodore and Violet. Theodore is an individual that makes me smile, and his energy seems to radiate through the words in the book. Violet’s character is relatable because she experiences a lot of internal struggles that are very common in high school, and it is refreshing to read about how she deals with them. The two seem perfect for each other.

After reading this novel, I feel as though Theo and Violet will always be in my head because this book has had such an impact on me. I am left wanting to read more and I seem to want every detail of Theo and Violet’s relationship. Niven did a masterful job with creating a beautiful story that had me sobbing and laughing simultaneously. After reading this book once, I read it again because it is truly that amazing, and I felt as though I needed more. I would recommend this book to high schoolers who enjoy reading about love as well as heart-break.

Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love (2014)

Reviewed by Roshni

Does anyone want a thrilling new book? The book is based on a true story. I would recommend the book Push Girl by Chelsie Hill and Jessica Love. The main character Kara was known as the most popular girl. She had a great group of friends, a perfect boyfriend, and ideal life. That all shifts. Her parents start arguing, her boyfriend is toying with another girl, and her friends are not listening to her. To cope with all the negatives in her life, she decides to blow off steam and attend a Friday night party. That night changes her life forever.

If you are into coming-of-age novels, this book would be perfect for you. All of the characters are relatable to different high schoolers today. For instance, there are characters with a wide variety of interests, ranging from musically inclined to mathematics enthusiasts. One aspect of the book that caught me off guard was that the setting reminded me so much of Chelmsford, as it is a small suburban town where everybody knows each other.

Please check out this excellent book! You will not regret it.

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes (2013)

Reviewed by Claire

The Naturals by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a fantastic YA murder mystery. Cassie Hobbes is different from most kids in many ways. Most kids can’t tell you everything about a stranger just by looking at them. Most kids’ parents weren’t murdered by a still unknown killer. And most kids aren’t recruited by the government to join a special group of kids solving cold cases. Well, that’s exactly what happens to Cassie one day while she’s working at the diner.

When she’s approached by a man claiming that he works for the FBI, she doesn’t know what to think. Especially when he seems to be aware of her ability to profile people, and her mother’s mysterious murder. Cassie is suddenly pulled into a world even stranger than the one she already lives in. The FBI moves her into a house to live with other kids who have abilities like hers. There’s Lia, a girl who can catch anyone in any lie, and lie just as easily. There’s Sloane, who knows every number, statistic, and probability that could ever be known. There’s Michael, a boy who can read people’s emotions like they’re books and often uses that talent to get into trouble. Finally, there’s Dean. He’s a profiler, like Cassie, but seems to want absolutely nothing to do with her. All of them are supposed to work on cold cases, but one active case keeps coming back to them.

I love this book, and it’s one of my all-time favorites. I love each of the characters in the
book, since each of them is interesting in their own ways. I especially like Dean and Michael because the two of them have an interesting way of dealing with their struggles. Reading about all of the Naturals (the name for the five kids due to their natural abilities) and their adventures in the house made it impossible for me to put the book down. Whenever the characters went anywhere, it was interesting to see how their different abilities affected how they interacted with the environment around them. They saw things in each different place that other people wouldn’t, which helped get a good idea of the setting and characters in the story. I loved the plot in the book since I was always wondering what everyone would do next. I couldn’t wait to get to the end of the book, where the mystery would hopefully be solved. I would definitely recommend this book, and the rest in The Naturals series. All of them are amazing, and I loved reading every single one.

New Kid by Jerry Craft (2019)

Reviewed by Sanya

New Kid is a great book for students in middle school. This book is a great way to show readers how it feels to be new, and since it’s a graphic novel the pictures help visualize everything. 

New Kid is about a kid named Jordan who is going to a new school. Jordan is interested in drawing and wants to go to an art school but his mom insists on him attending a more academic prep school. His dad makes a deal with him – if Jordan doesn’t like the school he’s in by 9th grade he can switch. Jordan’s dad also has some concerns with the diversity in the school and how some teachers act, but his mom wants him to have a good education in that school and doesn’t think art school will be good for him. Jordan starts to make friends but some people, both teachers and students, treat him unkindly. 

I give this book a 5/5 stars rating because it was an overall good story and it was interesting. My favorite character in this book might be Jordan’s dad. He wasn’t a huge part of the story but he really understood Jordan and made the deal about the art school, which was my favorite part of this book. It makes the reader wonder if Jordan ends up going to art school. Jordan’s mother was strict about him going to this specific school so that also makes the reader wonder what will happen if Jordan switches schools.   

Like I said, this is a great book for middle school students and you should  definitely consider reading it too!

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston (1937)

Reviewed by Braneeth

Their Eyes Were Watching God is a novel surrounding the life of Janie Crawford, all the
way from from a teenager to middle-aged woman. Throughout her life Janie deals with many expectations, whether that be from her friends and family, or from society as a whole. Her life journey is a story of her battling between these expectations and her own aspirations and dreams.

Her life is filled with tragedy, starting with the forced arranged marriage she enters into at the age of 16. She goes through three marriages during her lifetime, seeking true love in each of them. It is only within the third she finds the relationship she is looking for, but even within this magical relationship lies tragedy.

My Opinions
Their Eyes Were Watching God is one of my favorite novels for a couple of reasons. First
the language of the book uses the southern dialect of the time that many books fail to portray, giving the reader a unique sense of place and time. Secondly, the book’s protagonist Janie is such a relatable character – she is definitely not perfect and throughout the novel she makes her own mistakes, while also facing external conflicts as well. Her ability to push through and learn from past relationships is one thing that makes her so interesting. Janie also serves as a role model in the sense that she refuses to be denied by what other people expect of her – though at first she is forced into a relationship she doesn’t want to be in, afterwards she follows her own path regardless of others’ opinions.

For all of these reasons, I would definitely recommend this book. The book is a little
mature with some of its topics and therefore I would say maybe it’s not suitable for younger readers. However, for young adults and onwards I would say it’s a great read and would definitely recommend it.

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – May 14, 2022

I’ll give you the sun by Jandy Nelson (2014)

Reviewed by Diya

Jandy Nelson’s novel I’ll Give You The Sun, published in September of 2014, is a marvelous and devastating story of two twins and their bond. Jude and Noah were the best of friends when they were young, but a series of tragic events and people forced them apart. Noah struggles with his sexual identity when he meets Brian, and Jude struggles with her personal identity as she enters her teenage years. Both Noah and Jude’s lives are consumed with art, but when tragedy strikes, their love for art is tested. Amidst their developed hatred towards each other, they both make some unacceptable decisions, but they must learn to forgive each other and themselves. The two must find their way back to each other and become best friends once again.

I loved reading about Noah and Jude because each of their perspectives were so unique
and both of them were so lovable. Their personalities aided the plot as it developed, and their distinct differences kept the story interesting. This novel deals with love, addiction, and loss which are all topics that are applicable to teenagers today, making this a perfect book for young adults. I would definitely recommend this book to people who love stories told from several perspectives with bittersweet endings.

We Should All Be Feminists by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie (2014)

Reviewed by Sriya

What is a feminist? This is the question Ngozi Adichie tackles in this brief nonfiction book based on a TED Talk she gave in 2012. Many people seem to believe that feminists are radical man-haters. She argues that this is completely untrue, and proceeds to back her argument with facts and data. According to google, feminism is “a range of social movements and ideologies that aim to define and establish the political, economic, personal, and social equality of the sexes.” Ngozi Adichie makes a sound argument that by this definition, feminism is a battle for equality.

She discusses how in today’s society, many people are under the impression that feminism is essentially the belief in female supremacy, when it is in fact the fight for equality between all sexes and gender identities. Without knowing the true definition of the word feminism, it can be misinterpreted in various situations. Ngozi Adichie does an excellent job of clearing up this misinterpretation by explaining what feminism is, who is considered a feminist, and establishes that, “we should all be feminists.”

I highly recommend this short read for anyone who is interested in learning more about feminism and other social justice movements.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald (1925)

Reviewed by Braneeth

The Great Gatsby is a novel that takes place in 1900’s New York, specifically a suburb of Manhattan where the wealthy live. The novel follows young Nick Carraway who narrates a story of the romance between his cousin Daisy and a mysterious newcomer to town, Jay Gatsby. Though at first Gatsby seems the average rich man, his mysterious past is revealed throughout the course of the book. The plot is further complicated by Daisy’s arrogant husband Tom, who despite having an affair of his own, shows a clear hatred towards Gatsby.

My Opinions
The Great Gatsby is a much more complicated novel than what meets the eye. The
author, Fitzgerald, uses the slightest of details that go a long way towards understanding the characters. Each character has their own motivations, and their individual agendas combine to create a very mysterious plot. Furthermore, Nick proves a frustrating narrator, only revealing bits and pieces of the full story leaving readers in suspense. Befitting a book filled with mystery and rumors, readers are left to fill in parts of the story with their own imagination.

I would definitely recommend The Great Gatsby to any young adult reader. Not only is it
one of the most interesting novels I’ve ever read, but it also addresses many important universal themes. Some of these themes include the effect of time on relationships, societal norms, as well as the American Dream. For younger readers, the book may be a little too subtle with its details, but that does not mean it would not be a good read for them.

A Face Like Glass by Frances Hardinge (2012)

Reviewed by Cynthia

A Face Like Glass, which was written by Frances Hardinge in 2012, is a fantasy novel located in a beguiling underground city called Caverna, whose residents can only learn facial expressions if craftsmen known as Facesmiths teach them how to do so. It follows Neverfell, a 12 year old girl who lost her memories and was taken in by the distrustful cheesemaker Grandible, who lived in tunnels isolated from the dangerous world and forced her to wear a mask. One day, a Facesmith named Madame Appeline visits them, and Neverfell, feeling a connection to her, decides to sneak a gift of some of Grandible’s magical cheese to her. However, Neverfell learns that her actions put Grandible in danger, and when she chases a rabbit to a secret passage leading outside, she decides to try to fix her mistake by recovering the cheese. Neverfell learns that her mask was to protect her because she is different, as her face is expressive and reflects her exact thoughts, and she becomes entangled in the heart of a grand plot as she attempts to uncover the secrets of her past and the dubious world.

I fell in love with the imaginative plot and intriguing aspects of the world of Caverna. It was so bizarre, as it included wines that can erase parts of your memory and certain items that can extend your lifespan for hundreds of years, yet at the same time, it felt real and incredibly deep. Neverfell had to navigate a dangerous and unfair world where the elites murdered each other regularly, a single silly mistake could result in execution, and the labor of powerless drudges fueled the world. The characters, their motivations, and their developments were spectacular, including the antagonists, and I loved the uncertainty of whether friends were foes or foes were friends. Being in a world full of lies with her personality made Neverfell prone to manipulation, as she was naïve and trusting, but she was also clever and resilient and ended up changing people’s lives. Neverfell’s development and transition from innocence to disillusionment to maturity was extremely well done. The writing was so engrossing; at first it seemed too descriptive, but I grew to enjoy its elegance and creativity. I especially adored the descriptions and similes, which painted vivid pictures in my mind, and I experienced so many emotions while reading this. There were so many thought-provoking lines. Even with the darkness, there was so much hope throughout the story. It was fast-paced with many clever, shocking twists, and I loved how it made my mind think and consider perspectives and possibilities. Fantasy lovers seeking an interesting world and thrilling adventure will enjoy this fantastic book.

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards (2021)

Reviewed by Claire 

Seven Dirty Secrets by Natalie D. Richards was published November 2, 2021, and is a
New York Times bestseller. On Cleo’s 18th birthday, she finds an odd box in her bathroom. She was the only one in the house, and her parents were away. Everyone else claims that they aren’t responsible. This mysterious box invites her to partake in a scavenger hunt. It would be fun if the clues weren’t reminding her of her dead boyfriend, Declan. He had died a year before on a group rafting trip. The clues all have to do with him and their relationship. Then, she starts to get phone calls with Declan’s voice. Cleo believes that Declan is the culprit. However, whoever they are, wants revenge, and Cleo has to finish the hunt before anyone else dies.

This book was incredible, and I enjoyed reading every bit of it. There were always more
twists and turns, more things to figure out and discover. My favorite character was Hope’s
brother, Connor. He was always loyal to Cleo and believed her when others didn’t. It was
interesting to imagine Cleo going through this hunt, discovering clues and trying to solve them before the clock ran out. The story takes place over a few days. It shows how much time they have left until whoever runs the hunt says their time is up. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a good mystery. There is something new at every turn, and the book is incredibly well-written. This author also wrote Five Total Strangers. I haven’t read all of this book, but from what I read, it was good. I would say to check this one out as well.

New Story at the Story Walk!

The days are longer and brighter – what better way to enjoy them than visiting the Story Walk at Sunny Meadow Farm! A new story has been installed, just in time for us to honor Asian American and Pacific Islander heritage this May!

Our Favorite Day by Joowon Oh is a simple story about a grandfather planning and looking forward to the special day he gets to spend with his granddaughter. It has been hailed as “a poignant celebration of multi-generational, unconditional love” (Shelf Awareness).

Read the story one page at a time as you walk along a simple trail. This is a fun family literacy activity that is great for all ages. Be sure to sign the guest book, and stop by the Children’s Desk to tell us all about your StoryWalk experience!

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – April 2, 2022

Check out the latest reviews from our teen volunteers! 🙂 If you’re in grades 7-12 and interested in writing reviews for our website, check out our Virtual Volunteer Training!

13 Things Mentally Strong People Don’t Do  By Amy Morin (2014)

Reviewed by Abigail

This self-help book follows a therapist who just faced a great loss of a loved one. Morin discusses the obstacles she faced in her life, especially during the grieving period, and covers how she improved her mental health. This story teaches what traits strong people don’t have, and pitfalls that people fall into that can negatively affect their mental, spiritual, and emotional wellbeing. Morin also covers how to surpass those challenges. The book also offers action items on how to improve the quality of one’s life, and how to become more at peace with oneself and increase life satisfaction.

This is one of the first self-help books I’ve ever read. This book has helped me so much in acknowledging negative elements in my mind, and how to prevent them from interfering from my inner peace. I found this book to be very useful, and the explanations for each section understandable and effective. The book is highly effective as it also offers action items for what a person can do to become mentally stronger than they were before.

Among the Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix (1998)

Reviewed by Claire

Among The Hidden by Margaret Peterson Haddix was originally published March 1, 1998, and is a dystopian YA novel that takes place in a future where the government has taken
drastic measures to prevent overpopulation. Parents are only allowed to have two children, and having more than that is illegal. Luke is a third child. He’s been in hiding his entire life and now can’t even go outside. New houses are being built where his woods used to be, so he can no longer go outside without risking being seen. Luke had never met another kid before, besides his brothers, especially not another third child. Then, he sees a girl next door, in a house where two boys live. Her name is Jen, and she’s a third child, just like Luke. Jen wants third children to have rights and is not afraid to stand up to fight for them. Jen has a plan that she’s sure will give rights to third children everywhere. However, her idea is dangerous, and Luke doesn’t know whether or not he is willing to put his life on the line. Now, Luke has to decide whether or not to come out of the shadows or stay hidden.

I loved reading this book, and I enjoyed every page. I loved the characters in this story and how they all thought and acted differently. Jen and Luke were two completely different
people, and it was interesting to see the two of them together. Jen was fearless and willing to do anything to stand up for the rights of third children. She never really liked following the rules and often broke them. Luke, however, was timider and hesitant to stop hiding. He followed the rules and listened to his mother. The setting is described well since Luke spent a lot of time observing his surroundings. With him no longer being allowed to go outside, he watched the other houses on the block and talked about the other families that lived there. The setting was developed through his observations and description of the outdoors, something he often did as he had little else to do. I would recommend this book and all of its sequels. This is the first book in the Shadow Children sequence and is worth reading.


V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (1982)


Reviewed by Abhiram
V for Vendetta, written by Alan Moore and illustrated by David Lloyd, is a graphic novel that was published in the 1980s. The story takes place in an imagined totalitarian England during the late 1990s. V is a vigilante who kills people associated with the Norsefire, a fascist British government. The story focuses on the bond that grows between V and Evey,  a girl he rescues from the London police. Adam Susan is the leader of the Norsefire government and believes in fascism. V traps Lewis Prothero, a politician, propagandist, and great publicist because Lewis had a great voice until V drove him crazy. Derek Almond and Eric Finch are police officers who have to arrest V for his terrorism. Delia Surridge is a medical doctor who has an affair with Eric Finch. A similarity between Dr. Surridge, Detective Finch, and Officer Almond, is that they all worked in Larkhill. In the end, V and Eric Finch fight each other in a riot in London. Both take damage, and V dies under the hands of Evey, right after unmasking himself and showing his true face.
I appreciated the artwork in this graphic novel. The setting in imagined totalitarian England looks like World War I or II to me. V’s appearance resembles that of the Joker from Batman. Adam Susan is similar to Adolf Hitler because Mr. Susan claimed himself as the leader who England should depend on, in the same way Adolf Hitler earned the support of the German people and built his Nazi army. I enjoyed reading V for Vendetta and would recommend this book. I would rate it 3.5 out of 5 stars.
Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo (2015)
Reviewed by Braneeth
Six of Crows takes place in an imaginary land filled with thieves, kings, and supernatural forces. Superhuman figures known as Grisha walk the lands, with the ability to control the elements, or sometimes even the human body. When Kaz Brekker and his gang of thieves are offered an impossible heist for an unimaginable sum of money, they are thrown into the darkness of their world. Their mission? To rescue scientist Kuwei Yul-bo from a country that despises the work he has been doing – creating a drug that enhances the already powerful abilities of these Grisha. The book follows Kaz and his crew as they attempt to rescue the most secure prisoner in the world.
My Opinions
Six of Crows is definitely one of the greatest fiction novels I have ever read, and I would
definitely recommend it to any reader. Not only does it have its own fantasy world with its own cool components, similar to the world of Harry Potter, but the combination of magic and nonmagic is a pairing that hooks readers. As a side note, it also has a sequel, plus a different trilogy that takes place in the same world but with a different plot (the Shadow and Bone trilogy).
From personal experience at my high school library, these series have been extremely
popular for almost three or four years, which just serves to show how appealing the story is. Not only is it great due to its interesting fantasy world, but it displays deep character development and feelings, which many fantasy novels fail to do. The book is packed with romance, anger, joy, and triumph. It delves deep into emotions that are relatable to readers in the modern world, regardless of the setting of the book itself.
A unique setting, amazing set of characters, and a fantastic plot make this book (and its sequel) a must-read.
Elantris By Brandon Sanderson (2005)

Reviewed by Joe

Elantris, the debut novel of Brandon Sanderson, is a masterpiece of fantasy. After the fall of the great city of Elantris 10 years prior, the nation of Arelon has struggled under its merchant king, waiting for the day his likable and passionate son takes the throne. They can only hope that he can take the throne and save Arelon before the militant theocracy of Fjordell turns its sights on the country once protected by the quasi-deific Elantrians that ruled it. Weaving multiple storylines into each other with expert precision, Brandon Sanderson could not have done any better with Elantris.

Among many compelling side characters, Elantris focuses on three separate perspectives. The first is that of the crown prince Raoden. No matter the situation, Raoden manages to look on the bright side of life, and his thorough style of thinking solves many problems others see as impossible. The next perspective is Sarene’s, the princess of Teod, a country to the north of Arelon across an ocean. She journeys to Arelon to marry Raoden to increase the diplomatic relations of their respective countries, but few things go according to plan. The last perspective is that of Hrathen, a high priest of Fjordell, who has been sent to convert the people of Arelon to Shu-Dereth, so they can better be absorbed into the Fjordan empire. However, this assignment is different from the last country he converted, and unexpected obstacles arise. 

Elantris, Arelon, and its capital city of Kae are where the majority of the story takes place. The struggles of the people of Arelon, and the even larger hardships of those in Elantris, are well displayed. The world is living and breathing, not a perfect fairytale of a nation. Not stationary either, you can see the effects of what’s happened in the past, influencing the characters and plot in the present day.

At first, there seem to be three separate plots, following Raoden, Sarene, and Hrathen. However, they quickly intertwine, and the actions of each and every character influence the others. The overarching plot changes every chapter, twisting in ways you wouldn’t think possible. Sanderson assembles a jigsaw of a story that comes together bit by bit, everything a mystery in the future but so clear when you look back on it. The novel culminates in the most intense ending chapters I’ve read, with a reveal that broke everything I thought I knew about the masterful system of magic exhibited in the book. 

Overall, Brandon Sanderson is one of the best writers I’ve found, and this is one his best books. Each time I read one of his works, they just seem to get better. Elantris deserves a full 10/10.

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – March 9, 2022

This Heart of Mine by C.C. Hunter (2018)

Reviewed by Diya

In the novel This Heart of Mine, C.C. Hunter does a beautiful job of exploring young, heart-throbbing love through the eyes of both Matt and Leah. Because Leah suffers from a heart condition that forces her into carrying around an artificial heart, she is an outcast in school – a feeling many teens can relate to. Matt, on the other hand, is part of the popular crowd in high school, along with his twin brother, Eric.

However, when tragedy strikes the twins, Eric is found dead and Leah’s life is saved. Leah finds herself in an odd but incredible relationship with Matt. The two set off on a journey to reveal the truth about Eric while simultaneously falling in love.

This novel is sure to evoke sorrow, joy, rage, and sympathy. Hunter does an exceptional job of creating a page-turning masterpiece while every detail sucks the reader deeper into the love-filled thriller. I would recommend this young adult novel to those who enjoy reading about romance and tragic events. The characters honestly portray the ups and downs of young love which make the story realistic. All in all, This Heart of Mine is a relatable and enthralling  story of a beautiful connection that may not have been found if it weren’t for tragedy.

Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan (2005)

Reviewed by Braneeth

Percy Jackson and The Olympians: The Lightning Thief is one of the most popular fictional, mythology-inspired books of all time. The series follows Percy Jackson, a human whose father, Poseidon, is one of the most powerful of the Greek gods. Inheriting his father’s power over the sea, the book follows Percy’s adventure throughout the world to heal the tension between the Gods of Olympus, as well as a fight against a sinister but mysterious force. Along the way he meets other demigods, both friends and foes, who help contribute to Riordan’s world of mythology and magic.

My Opinions
Many older teens now are familiar with Percy Jackson – it may have been one of the most popular series of our childhood, second only to Harry Potter. Not only is it a series of 5
action-packed books, but it is unique in the sense that it combines the modern world and Greek mythology into one. The book is filled with real Greek mythological ideas including monsters such as the Minotaur and Medusa, ranging to weapons such as Zeus’s lightning bolt. The buildup throughout the series also makes for a very gradual but intense plot, all leading up to a great finale in the fifth book of the series.

It is important to understand that the book is mostly targeted to younger teens, and not the older age group. The book can be a bit simple regarding its plot and tone, which can make older readers feel a little out of place. However, for younger readers who are interested in mythology it is definitely a must-read. If you enjoy this first book, make sure to read the rest of the series, as well as Rick Riordan’s other books.

Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon (2015)

Reviewed by Lily

I had heard lots of great reviews of Everything, Everything, so I decided to read it. This book, written by Nicola Yoon, is a romance with a twist. The main character, Maddie, has SCID, meaning she is allergic to virtually everything. Because of this, she has never been outside of her house, never been around anyone other than her mom or her nurse, Carla. But then, a boy her age moves next door, and her world changes forever. Maddie instantly falls for Ollie, looking through the window. They email each other, and eventually he is able to visit her. As per usual teen romance novel, both are equally perfect, and choose love over simple logic. Maddie’s mother is very protective, because Maddie’s dad and brother died in a car crash when she was little.

Throughout the story, Maddie learns what it means to have nothing, and everything. She decides to run away to Hawaii, one of her lifelong goals to visit. Ollie comes with her, but her mom doesn’t know. But in Hawaii, she has an allergic reaction, and is rushed to the hospital, and everything changes with a surprising plot twist. The story completely changed directions, which frustrated me. I felt betrayed, like what had been building up the entire plot had been thrown away.

I enjoyed this book, because I felt it was very well written. It made me think about what it would be like to never go into the “real world”. I feel like it was sort of relevant to today, because even though I’m not sick, we’ve all lived this experience of staying home during the pandemic. I am not a huge fan of romance novels, or “love at first sight”, but I liked the unique aspect of Maddie’s disease. One of my favorite quotes from the book was “Everything is a risk. Not doing anything is a risk. It’s up to you.” This quote really stuck with me and made me reflect on life. This book made me feel a lot. I feel like the words in the book were very carefully chosen. However, I was a little lost at the end and thought the story could have been better without the plot twist. In spite of this, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it.

Divergent by Veronica Roth (2011)

Reviewed by Akhila

The book Divergent by Veronica Roth is set in a dystopian/post-apocalyptic version of Chicago. In this society, people are divided into five factions characterized by their virtues: Dauntless – bravery, Erudite – knowledge, Amity – friendship, Candor – truth, Abnegation – self-sacrifice.

The story revolves around the main character, Beatrice (Tris) Prior, as she struggles to find her identity after not fitting into any one faction. After she takes a test, her test results show that she is “divergent,” meaning she doesn’t fit into a single faction. At her Choosing Ceremony, she ends up choosing to join Dauntless. In Dauntless, she starts training and makes friends with other Dauntless recruits, including Christina, Will, and Tobias. They are put through numerous physical and mental tests to rank their abilities and skills. Tris is soon faced with a crisis, when one day she wakes up to see everyone acting as if they were being controlled by an outside force. Tris fights alongside her friends and family to protect the people she cares about from mind control.

This book was super entertaining and thrilling. I loved Divergent, and the remaining books in the series as well. In Divergent, Tris experiences love, pain, and betrayal, and is faced with violent situations. She faces struggles and hardship in her friendships, family and romance. This book is one of my favorites and I definitely recommend it!

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – February 9, 2022

One of Us is Lying by Karen M. McManus (2017)

Reviewed by Samrah

One of Us is Lying, by Karen M. McManus is an incredible book that I could not put down. This book has an amazing plot twist that will really surprise you at the end. This is a very popular book – the majority of this book is mystery, with a little romance sprinkled in too.

One afternoon five kids with very different personalities stay together after school for detention for something they claim to not have done; their names are Bronwyn, Addy, Nate, Cooper, and Simon. Unfortunately, Simon has an allergic reaction, is sent to the hospital, and does not survive. To give you some background information, Simon is an outcast who has a website that exposes his classmates’ secrets. He is severely allergic to peanuts. These four classmates are now accused for the murder of Simon and it’s predicted that “one of them is lying”

Each chapter gives the perspectives and thoughts of a different character, which really contributes to the story. Although these completely different people are going through a rough time, bonds and friendships are made among them. I also love learning the truths and backstories of each character. Again, there is a plot twist at the end that really made my jaw drop, so I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a surprise ending. 

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954)

Reviewed by Lily

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding tells the story of a group of schoolboys and their fight for survival. These British boys attempt to govern themselves while marooned on a desert island. It’s a gruesome read, and might be too disturbing for some readers.

I was excited to read this book, because I had heard plenty of positive reviews and praise for it. I especially thought the concept was interesting, and I have loved similar-ish books like The Hunger Games series. But in reading The Lord of the Flies, I was disappointed. I was expecting a suspenseful plot that would keep me on edge. Instead, I felt it was just too confusing.

It could be partly because it was written almost 70 years ago, but the text didn’t really speak to me. In fact, I didn’t grasp the entire pig’s head/lord of the flies plot point. I had to look up a summary of the book afterwards to make sure I was understanding it. The fact that I had to do this is a sign to me that the book wasn’t very well written.

One thing I found difficult about reading this book is the characters. There were so many boys, I found it impossible to keep them straight. Their names blended together, and the dialogue often didn’t notate who was speaking. There was almost no character growth. By the time I closed the book, everyone was the same bully they were at the beginning.

In conclusion, I was not the biggest fan of this book. The plot was slow, and I felt no connection to any characters. If you want something similar, I would recommend other classic novels like 1984 and Fahrenheit 451.

I am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai (2013)

Reviewed by Anika

The book I Am Malala by Christina Lamb and Malala Yousafzai is a story about an eleven-year old Pakistani girl who experiences great turmoil as a result of the Taliban banning the one thing that mattered most in her life: her education.

Before the Taliban took over, Malala’s daily routine was studying at Khushal School, coming home, doing her homework, and helping her mom (Toor Pekai). She was able to go outside and enjoy playing with her brothers, Atal and Khushal, and her best friend, Moniba, without hearing bombs or gunshots.


After the Taliban took over, chaos reigned in the northwest region of Pakistan, including Malala’s home in Swat Valley. Malala’s school eventually closed because of the surrounding violence and the repressive laws preventing girls from being educated. When the chaos reduced and Khushal School reopened, only little girls who were under the age of ten were allowed to go.

This situation did not stop Malala, though. Malala hid her books and secretly attended school with some of her friends. Malala had the support of her father and the school principal, Madam Maryam. Malala’s dad eventually organized a meeting for Malala to speak up about her rights for education with an interviewer. This interview was leaked to the Taliban, and officials were so furious that their only goal for the time being was to kill Malala. All of this chaos was unfolding while Malala’s mother was trying to find a safe place for their family to flee to.

A couple years later, after Malala’s exam day at school, she got on the bus to go home. The bus ride was smooth but suddenly a Taliban soldier stopped the bus. He got on the bus questioning who Malala was with a gun in his hands. Once he saw her, he pulled the trigger releasing three bullets  – Malala was shot in the head. On October 16th, Malala woke up in a hospital in Birmingham, UK. She was stuck in the hospital for several days with people constantly visiting her. Once she was able to leave, she received a gift for her sixteenth birthday, which was to give a speech in the United Nations about how strongly she feels about education toward girls and women. This inspired many people, myself included.

The reason I love this book so much is because it is very inspiring and it’s an emotional rollercoaster through this young woman’s life. She endures great trauma, but gains support for her cause and creates a good life for herself and her family in spite of it. I highly recommend checking it out.

A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens (1843)

Reviewed by Sanya

This book review is for A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. A Christmas Carol is a great book to read during the holidays! 

This book is about a man named Ebenezer Scrooge, a really mean and grouchy man who hates Christmas. He’s really mean to others in his town and the people who work for him. This all changes when a ghost named Marley comes to visit. Marley tells Scrooge that 3 more ghosts are going to come to change his life. (Ghosts of Christmas past, present, and future.) 

I loved this book and I think it’s a great story for kids in elementary and middle school. My favorite character would probably be the ghost of Christmas future. If I say why it will spoil the story so you should definitely check this book out to find out why, and decide on a favorite yourself! This book tells a great story and I think you should read it too! 

Teen Volunteer Book Reviews – January 19, 2022

The Blackthorn Key by Kevin Sands (2015)

Reviewed by Braneeth


The Blackthorn Key is a novel that takes place in medieval England and is about young Christoper Rowe, an apothecary’s apprentice. Under his master, Benedict Blackthorn, he learns not only to prepare medicines and herbal remedies, but also to form dangerous substances such as poisons and gunpowder. However, when apothecaries across London are found murdered in their shops, Christopher and his master are suddenly put in a precarious situation. Eventually Master Benedict is murdered, leaving it up to Christopher to solve the mystery of his master’s assassins, and save London while he’s at it. The plot is filled with murder, mystery, and an all-powerful weapon sent by God himself.

My Opinions

The Blackthorn Key is the perfect mystery – it consists of tragedy, suspense, and an engaging protagonist. Christopher is inexperienced but intelligent at the same time, leading to a roller coaster of a ride. Furthermore, the setting of the book in medieval times contributes to the overall intrigue and suspense of the novel. The book also introduces heavenly powers, specifically the Archangel’s Fire, a substance that can be produced by apothecaries that is unstoppable. The combination of humans and angelic weapons gives the antagonists a dangerous edge, which makes a great contrast to the perfect protagonist.

Overall this book is a great mystery that has no major flaws. It’s definitely best for young teens interested in mystery and murder novels.

The Giver by Lois Lowry (1994)

Reviewed by Sanya 

The book I’m reviewing is called The Giver and it was written by Lois Lowry. This story is about a boy named Jonas who lives in a “perfect” community with his “perfect” family. At the age of 12, kids get assigned jobs and Jonas got selected for the best job out there. During his training he learns the horrible truths about his community and plans an escape. 

This book was extremely interesting with all of its plot twists. While you read this book you can never imagine what could happen next. The author describes everything in the book really well so you wouldn’t think anything bad could happen when plot twists occur. My favorite part of this book would have to be when Jonas starts to realize how his perfect community was actually terrible. My favorite character is the Giver. It doesn’t tell you his real name in the book but that’s what everyone calls him. The Giver was the one to teach Jonas about the horrible truths and helped Jonas plan an escape. 

This book is amazing at showing the reader that too much perfection can be a bad thing, and in this case it was.  I give this book a 10/10. I loved it and I hope you will consider reading it too!

Shades of Simon Gray by Joyce McDonald (2001)

Reviewed by Vaanya

The book Shades of Simon Gray, written by Joyce McDonald was published in 2001. You experience a sad journey while reading this book. The author has an amazing imagination and her descriptions of the setting and characters are impeccable. She takes time to inform the reader about the characters’ personal lives, and describes each character’s life in 1-2 chapters. The story will take you on a journey that you would never want to experience.

Simon is a computer geek. He knows everything and loves learning even more about computers. In his town there is an ancient legend about a man named Jesse being hung from one of the branches of the old center tree. Everyone sees Simon as a perfect and innocent child, but  when three kids from his high school ask Simon to help them cheat on all of their high school exams so that they can get their dream colleges, Simon helps them by printing out the test answers using his computer skills. He only does it so that he can spend more time with one of those three people. Every day he feels like they are going to be exposed and caught, and he lives like a sleepless zombie. One night he goes out to catch some fresh air by the lake. He later wishes he had never done this because the events that unfold makes Simon’s life a living nightmare for him and his friends.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner (2009)

Reviewed by Claire

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is a fantastic YA dystopian novel. The story begins with a boy named Thomas waking up in a metal box. He can’t remember anything, except for his name. He’s brought up to a bunch of boys, who show him their home, which becomes his. They live in the Glade, a place surrounded on all sides by a giant maze. No one has ever escaped, even though they send Runners (the ones who map the maze) every day. Thomas is told that they don’t go into the maze alone, and that no one goes in at night. Every month, a new boy comes in the box with supplies, and that’s how it’s always been. Then, soon after Thomas arrives, the box comes up with a girl, and a note. There are no supplies with her, and the note tells them that no one else will ever join them in the maze. Many of the Gladers blame Thomas, though he can’t remember this girl, or what she could mean to him. The kids in the Glade have to escape the maze, and fast, before they get killed. They also have to figure out how, and why, they are in the maze.

I think that the characters are believable, and I definitely had favorites. I really liked Minho, the head of the Runners. He’s funny, and he’s not rude or whiny. My absolute favorite, though, is Newt. Newt is Thomas’s friend, and my favorite by a mile. He has a sarcastic streak, and isn’t rude to every single person, even though he’s in a horrible situation. Thomas is the main character in the story, so the book mostly follows him trying to lead the Gladers out of the maze. Another main character is Teresa, the girl who came up with the note. I’m not the biggest fan of either of them, and they both just seem to rub me the wrong way. However, the characters are well-developed, and every characters’ actions made sense. The Glade is a great place for the story, since it’s beautiful and horrible at the same time. It’s both a prison and a home for the kids, and you can see that in the way that it’s described.

I would definitely recommend this book, since it’s exciting, fun, and had me interested through the entire story. I would recommend reading the rest of the series, but I haven’t read any other books by this author. However, the entire series is fantastic, and I suggest that you read all of the books.