Teen Book Reviews – August 2, 2021

Summertime finds our teen volunteers reading and reviewing a wide variety of books. Check out their latest below!

Only Mostly Devastated by Sophie Gonzales (2020)

Reviewed by Hope

Only Mostly Devastated is a teen novel about a young man named Ollie who goes through many challenges including loss, love, and lots of confusion. Ollie is a gay teen who has a summer fling in a town far from where he lives. He does not expect much to come from this summer romance until his aunt gets sick, and his family decides that they will be moving to live in this town. Will, his summer fling, has not come out as gay yet, which causes many problems between the two boys. Both Ollie and Will struggle to find friends and to fit in.

I enjoyed reading this book quite a bit because I felt that it helped to show how high school really is. It didn’t sugar coat coming out in high school – instead, it kept it real. It showed how these closeted individuals may feel in a very toxic environment, and how we as a community can help them feel more comfortable to come out and be themselves. The book is also very unique in of how it was written; it was written to sound like it was in Ollie’s head. I really admired how the author managed to write in this way without it sounding fake or made-up. The author did an amazing job at showing Ollie’s feelings without directly saying them and making them seem boring. My only critique of the story is that it was a bit predictable. While everything about it is written very nicely and it is overall a very good book, I wish that it had a few more plot twists and turns. But other than that I really enjoyed reading this book. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading a not-so-traditional romantic comedy.

Not if I save you first by Ally Carter (2018)

Reviewed by Saimah

Not if I save you first is an adventure fiction book written by Ally Carter in 2018. Maddie Manchester, the daughter of a secret service agent, and Logan, the son of the U.S. president, are two teenagers whose friendship gets torn apart because of an attack on the White House. Maddie and Logan have been close friends since their childhood, but right after the attack, Maddie and her dad leave for Alaska. Maddie writes many letters to Logan and she never gets a single letter in reply. When Logan visits because the president wants his son to be safe, things are tense between them and go rapidly downhill when a Russian man kidnaps Logan and it’s up to Maddie to save him and figure out the truth about his past. 

This story was well written, depicting anger, happiness, anticipation and love. The characters were very realistic, and the emotions they portrayed matched their actions and reflected how real life people would react when they feel betrayed or when they feel like they can finally trust someone. The setting was also believable; the White House was described in detail, as was Alaska’s nature and habitats. The pacing of the story was more on the slow end rather than a fast action-packed story. In my opinion, the pace was fitting for the story because of all the emotions playing out, and I recommend it for how it explores a lot of secrets and emotions.

Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo (2020)

Reviewed by Claire

Teen Titans: Raven, by Kami Garcia and Gabriel Picolo was originally published May 15, 2020, and is a graphic novel about Raven in high school. Raven Roth loses her memory after she is in a car accident which kills her mother. After the accident, Raven can’t remember anything about her old life, yet she remembers everyday things like how to read, and how to cook. She ends up moving to New Orleans to try and finish her last year of high school. Her attempts at a normal year are ruined by the strange things that keep happening to her. The truth about these occurrences may be hidden in her past, a past that Raven doesn’t want to remember. All of the things that have happened to Raven seem to prove that there is something dark, something evil inside of her. However, her foster sister, Max, assures her that she’s not a bad person, and Tommy, a boy who seems to like her, even without her memory, seems to believe in her goodness. Will the monsters that hide in her past finally catch up with her, or will Raven escape the evil that haunts her every thought?

I really loved reading this book, and enjoyed all of the twists and turns. The characters were all believable, with emotions that seemed real. I liked a lot of the characters, and ended up having a definite favorite. My favorite character is Max, since she has a bit of a sarcastic streak. I think it would be fun to be friends with her, if she was a real person. There are many connections to different characters in the DC universe, and it can give you hints to what may happen in the future. The illustrations in the book were really cool, and they all showed the story incredibly well. The story was paced well, and it was usually clear how the time was passing. The story didn’t move too fast to follow, and the characters weren’t incredibly difficult to understand. I would definitely recommend this title, as it is a great read, with many fun characters, and great graphics. While it may not be the longest book, it definitely has a way of keeping you interested. I would also recommend reading the sequel to this book, Teen Titans: Beast Boy. You don’t have to read Raven to follow the sequel, though it may help a bit.

The Book Thief by Marcus Zusak (2005)

Reviewed by Abhiram

The Book Thief is a historical fiction book written by Markus Zusak in 2005.
Liesel Meminger is the book thief and the main character in the book. Liesel found The Grave Digger’s Handbook at her brother’s funeral, where someone accidentally left it. Liesel learned how to read from her dad, and the theme of literacy is strong throughout this book and the relationships Liesl has in her life. The significance of being a book thief becomes more apparent as Liesel takes books from others and reads them and they change her perspective and understanding of the world. The bold words in the story indicate the texts from the books that Liesel read and the notes that were taken on the characters.
The story takes place in Germany before and during World War II, when the Nazi regime is gaining power. I liked the setting because it was interesting to me and it was written in such a way that I could see myself in that setting. I liked the characters in The Book Thief as well. Liesel was my favorite character because she is smart, kind-hearted, and brave. I also liked Max, Liesel’s Jewish friend. He had left his family to save himself and struggles with feeling guilty throughout the story. He feels broken but fights to keep himself alive.
I would recommend this book because historical fiction is really interesting to me. The book was written in a creative way, from the perspective of death. A movie was released in 2013 based on the book, so the story can be experienced in this way as well.