Teen Book Reviews – May 1, 2021

The reviews are in, and our teens are reading a wide variety of books these days! See what our teen volunteers have to say in the reviews below, and swing by the Library to check out one (or many) of these books for yourself!

Every Other Weekend, by Abigail Johnson

Reviewed by Vaishnavi

The book, Every Other Weekend by Abigail Johnson is a realistic fiction novel and it was published on January 7th, 2020. This novel describes the life of two young teenagers named Adam and Jolene. Adam Moynihan’s life is a mess. His brother Greg just died, and his parents got divorced. Jolene Timber, on the other hand, doesn’t remember the last time that she felt loved and needed in the world. Her parents could care less about her, and the only thing that distracts Jolene from her reality is making movies. One day, Adam comes to visit his dad at his apartment, and Jolene comes to visit her dad. They meet and develop an unbreakable friendship. Somewhere along the way, they develop feelings for each other. Soon though, Adam’s family starts to get back together, and Jolene’s family stays the same. Jealousy pricks in and Jolene wonders if Adam will still want to be with her in the long run.

Although Abigail Johnson’s story was obvious at parts, it had the elements of the fun, humorous love story I was looking for. The story is in the first-person point of view but switches between Adam and Jolene after every other chapter. This gave me a true picture of the emotions and feelings of the characters. I fell in love with Jolene’s sarcastic, humorous attitude towards life, and Adam’s serious one.

Johnson’s tone in this book is very informal. Her writing style is simple and easy to understand, yet it contains a tremendous amount of dialogue and an excellent choice of vocabulary. Furthermore, I feel like this story has a lot of different themes running through it including young love, growing up, and facing reality. But I think two themes that really stuck out to me after reading this story were forgiveness and moving on. I think Johnson highlights these themes by showing the character development both Jolene and Adam go through from the beginning to the end of the story. Adam starts to celebrate Greg’s life rather than always feel sad when he thinks about him. He eventually faces reality and realizes that Greg is not coming back and that he would not have wanted to see his family living like this. In the end, Adam tries to move on and be happy with what life has in store for him. Jolene changes too because she decides to forgive her father and mother for never being there for her. At the beginning of the story, this bothers her and makes her miserable every time she thinks about it. Jolene comes to realize that some people are not going to be there for you, but you can choose to be with the people that are there for you. Eventually, you can choose to move on and live life to the fullest.

I think something else that Johnson did well was leaving a couple of loose ends at the novel’s conclusion. Throughout the story, Jolene worries about her future with Adam and wonders if they will ever be able to last. Jolene says, “You can’t just say you’ll always want me. We’ve been fine seeing each other a couple weekends a month… But what happens when you realize you only like me in small doses-”. Johnson never gives us a “ten years later” at the end of the story to tell us about what happens to Adam and Jolene. I liked how the author did this because I feel like it was her way of telling us that you never know what is going to happen in life, but sometimes you have to take chances.

After finishing this book, I felt satisfied but did feel like there could have been some improvement. I liked Johnson’s happily-ever-after ending to the book but wished that there could’ve been more of a storyline and more plot throughout the book. I found the middle a bit long and boring, and felt that it dragged on for far too long, without a lot happening.

Overall, I enjoyed reading this book and thought that Abigail Johnson did a great job making the characters likable and realistic. Obviously, I felt that there could’ve been some improvements, but I liked how she portrayed the characters and showed us that nobody’s perfect.  I think that this book is a must-read for someone that enjoys coming-of-age stories about love and forgiveness. If you are looking for a light, fun-loving, humorous book about two young teenagers navigating through the hardships of life, and learning a ton throughout the way then this book is perfect for you.

If I had to rate this book I would give it 7/10. This book reminds me of another book, The Distance Between Us, by another one of my favorite authors, Katie West. Both books have the same elements of young love, navigating life, and humor.

The Arc of a Scythe Trilogy, by Neal Shusterman

Reviewed by Adharsha

The Arc of a Scythe series takes place in an almost utopian society where everything is perfect, except for one thing: the scythes. These special people take care of the most grueling yet necessary job: thinning the population. Our main characters, Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch, meet each other as they become scythe apprentices and work to become true scythes. This trilogy, composed of the books Scythe, Thunderhead, and The Toll, is full of twists and kept me engaged for most of it, but often I felt as if the author dragged the story a little too much. However, the plot is so unique and gripping, and there were moments when I truly could not put the book down! I especially loved the last book of the series, The Toll, which was riveting throughout. The characters are very relatable, and I found myself just loving Citra and Rowan, especially towards the middle and the end of the trilogy. Citra’s amazing woman-power and Rowan’s determination inspired me and added a layer of depth to the story. I would recommend this trilogy to any YA book reader who enjoys a thriller plot mixed in with some mystery!

My Rating: 9/10

Red Queen, by Victoria Aveyard

Reviewed by Akhila

Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a fantasy novel published in 2015 and one of the most intriguing books I have read. In Mare Barrow’s world, the people are divided by the color of their blood: the Reds and Silvers, the poor and the rich. The Silvers all have a special power of their own, based on their Houses. When Mare, a Red thief, picks the wrong pocket, her life turns upside down. She finds herself in a job at the palace where she is to serve the royal Silvers. It is unheard of for a Red to have powers, until Mare nearly explodes with electricity in the middle of the palace. Mare is then given a new identity as a Silver princess, a new name, Mareena, and is betrothed to the second son of the King to hide the fact that a Red can have powers. However, Mare soon finds out that there are many more Reds like her, with powers of their own. Mare now not only has to find a way to survive, but also fight for her own people in a revolution that could change the world. Mare grew up both hating and envying the Silvers, so when she finds herself torn between two Silvers, the Prince and his half-brother, she has to constantly remind herself not to trust either of them because of who they are. Mare’s actions end up pitting prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart.

Mare’s story shows the consequences of blind trust and betrayal at its finest. Red Queen kept me hooked the whole time. It was hard to tell friend from foe, which just increased the tension. The novel contains both action and romance, but never too much of either. The ending, especially the Epilogue, was definitely the best part of the book, and left off on a great cliff hanger. One thing I loved about this book was that Mare had great character development, even though it meant her making mistake after mistake. I also loved all the characters of the book, my favorite being Kilorn, Mare’s Red best friend who put himself in danger just to be a good, honorable man and was also essentially the cause for Mare’s chaos. The relationship that both of them have is just too desirable. They are always teasing each other but also putting their lives on the line for each other.

While the overall plot was similar to other novels, it was still interesting and a great reading experience. I felt that it was a mix of The Hunger Games, Divergent, The Selection, and Shadow and Bone. However, it still had its own pieces of the plot which were original and engaging. Red Queen is the first book in a series of four. The epilogues of the novels end in such a way that you want to read the next book immediately. In the end, I definitely recommend reading this novel!