Check out these awesome reviews from our teen volunteers, and pick up a title for your next trip or beach read!
The Long Walk, by Stephen King (1979)
Reviewed by Braneeth
The Long Walk takes place in a dystopian United States. There is an annual competition in which one hundred volunteers from all over the country participate in an endless walk with no rest. The last one left wins any prize they want and a large sum of money. The catch? Slow down too often and you’ll be killed. The book follows young Ray Garraty on his journey to win the prize. He must endure both physical and mental barriers as he strives to stay alive. Not only must he push through the barriers of walking hundreds of miles with no break, but he must also witness fellow “Walkers” be shot dead in front of him.
The Long Walk is definitely a good read that I would recommend, but with fair warning. The book has some inappropriate references and some graphic details. However, Stephen King is a master of horror and dystopian literature, and he does a great job of making the characters believable. Main character Ray Garraty is easy to relate to; he suffers just like a normal human, and unlike many cliché protagonists, is no superhero/prodigy.
The setting and background are also very unique. The book shows some parallels to modern society, with the country having one person at the top of the government. However, Stephen King shows contrast by establishing a more dictatorial rule. Furthermore, during the Walk itself, the emotions of the young teens are very comprehensible and relatable. After all, they are just young boys struggling to stay alive.
The only problem I had was with the resolution, which seemed a bit abrupt and unexpected. It was not necessarily a bad one, but very surprising. You’ll have to read the book to find out, but all in all this book is a solid, entertaining read.
Frozen Charlotte, by Alex Bell (2007)
Reviewed by Vaanya
Frozen Charlotte by Alex Bell (2007), was a thrill from the beginning to the end. The author, Alex Bell, writes a lot of horror novels. This book is one of her many exciting and mysterious adventures.
The story follows Sophie, who is being sent to the Island of Skye, where she needs answers to some disturbing questions. She is sent to her Uncle James and his three children (who once used to be four). Her goal is clear and simple; to find out more about Rebecca Craig, the ghost came to life on Jay’s Ouija board app and killed him after saying he would die that night. Sophie needs answers, and at first, she doesn’t know who to trust. The nights that Sophie spends at her Uncle James’s house are haunted by the voices of the Frozen Charlotte dolls. Sophie learns that these dolls can poke girls’ eyes out, move at night, and play games with death.
I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a little bit of thrill and mystery. The setting was described beautifully, even though it was dreary. All the characters were believable and had mysterious backstories and surprising qualities that were revealed in bits and pieces. There were many twists and turns, which I thoroughly enjoyed. Even though this book is a mystery, the author didn’t leave anything to the imagination; it was all detailed enough to grasp and understand. Everything made me feel like I was part of the restless adventures and shivery thrills. There is a decent amount of horror throughout the book, but nothing too overboard. The author was able to add a little bit of history about the Frozen Charlotte dolls, all the while with keeping the reader on the edge of their seat. When you read this book, be sure to not have a single doll in sight.
Crooked Kingdom, by Leigh Bardugo (2016)
Reviewed by Joe
Crooked Kingdom is the sequel to the Six of Crows novel. After Inej is kidnapped and Kaz stripped of his best spy, he tasks his team with rescuing Inej, taking down Jan Van Eck and Pekka Rollins, and keeping Kuwei away from the many who wish to exploit his knowledge of the formula for jurda parem. Their job is cut out for them, but after successfully breaking in and out of the most secure building in the world, how hard can it be?
Each and every character develops throughout the book, changing, for better or worse, by the end of the story. Kaz removes his gloves, slowly making peace with Jordie’s death and the aftermath of it. Nina and Matthias grow closer, and the former struggles to overcome the urge for parem now that she’s taken it. Out of all of the characters, however, Kuwei was the most well-written. Kaz, wants to keep him safe and doesn’t allow him to leave their hideout. However, Kuwei itches to do more than sit around, and constantly presses Kaz to let him leave. Eventually Kuwei is included in the plan, and although he is scared of what will happen if it fails, he follows through with it.
Unlike Six of Crows, which takes place first in Ketterdam, across the sea to the Ice Court, and eventually back to the capital of Kerch, Crooked Kingdom takes place almost entirely in Ketterdam. From the Crow Club to Black Veil Island, the story zig-zags across the merchant city. Ketterdam is one of my favorite cities in any book I’ve read. Just reading the book makes me feel as if I’m walking through the Barrel, with all kinds of people passing by me. Everything about the city is so lifelike, even the graveyards.
The plot of Crooked Kingdom was very different from Six of Crows, yet so similar as well. The author still kept Kaz’s plan secret from the reader until the big reveal, only giving hints of what was to come. In the first book of the duology, Kaz and his team were on the offensive, committing a daring heist. Now, they’ve been put on the defensive, and they have to work to drag themselves back up to the most feared criminals in Ketterdam. There are at least five subplots I can count off the top of my head, all intertwining to form one masterful storyline.
Crooked Kingdom deserves full marks, and is just as amazing as its predecessor. Nothing about this book disappoints me, and it contains a little bit of something for everyone, from an amazing world and a masterful plan to love and devastating loss. This novel will amaze you, no matter your expectations.
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, by J.K. Rowling (2000)
Reviewed by Freya
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire is an exciting book where many important events take place. The three main characters are Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, and there are many supporting characters that play an important role in the story. In the beginning of the book, Harry returns to Hogwarts for his 4th year at school and discovers that the school will be hosting the Tri-wizard tournament. This means that there will be other students from various magical schools taking part in the tournament. Only students in the 6th year and above are allowed to participate in the tournament because it was very dangerous. Harry also discovers that there is a new teacher, Mad-Eye Moody, filling in the post for defense against the dark arts position.
For a set period of time, students are allowed to place their names in the Tri-wizard cup to have a chance to be chosen to participate in the tournament. On the day all the students gather to witness the drawing of the contestants’ names, everyone is shocked when the name Harry Potter comes out of the cup. Many people are upset and confused that a 4th year student was chosen, but in the end it is decided that Harry will participate in the tournament. There are three parts to the tournament, and contestants find clues to help them prepare for and conquer the challenges. At the end of the book, a very surprising event takes place – you’ll have to read it and find out more!
How I feel about this book
I think this book is great. I usually like fantasy books, so the Harry Potter series is one of my all-time favorites. One of my favorite parts of the book is the end because there are so many unexpected turns and plot twists. I also really liked reading about how students competed in the challenges. At the beginning of the book I didn’t like Mad eye-Moody, but by the end of the story I had changed my mind about him. My favorite character in this book was Hagrid because he is one of my favorite characters in the series.