Teen Book Reviews – October 19, 2021

We love the diverse selection of books our teen volunteers are reading! Check out the reviews below – maybe you’ll want to give one of these titles a try!

Dangerous Skies by Suzanne Fisher Staples (1996)

Reviewed by Vaanya

The book Dangerous Skies is a realistic fiction book that is full of character and heartfelt emotions such as sadness and anger. The main characters are two kids who are best friends, a white boy named Buck and an African American girl named Tunes. They go on the best adventures together and even though people discriminate against Tunes, Buck is always there to help her. But not everything can be fixed so easily. Sometimes you try your best and you can’t succeed – after that point, you can only hope.

Buck and Tunes are fishing on their boat as usual and they avoid passing into Jumbo’s territory. Jumbo is a rich white man who shoots dogs on his property and almost shot Buck and Tunes once when they drifted into his lake. Most people love him for the donations he makes to the town church, but Buck and Tunes know the truth of his character. While fishing, they find the body of Jorge, a man who treated them kindly, as if they were his own children. At the first sight of Jorge’s body, Tunes runs off into the creek. Buck goes to the sheriff to tell him about the body and feels sure that Jumbo is responsible for Jorge’s death. The sheriff asks Buck to bring Tunes along for interrogation,  and things are never the same for the kids again.

This book is about racism and injustice towards African Americans. There are some characters in this book who are prejudiced against African Americans and this effects Tunes’ life experience in ways Buck has never fully understood. As the story unfolds, the author makes you realize that sometimes there are people who are evil in the world and they will do everything in their power to make sure your voice cannot be heard among the innocents. Tunes and Buck have to fight against these obstacles to clear their names, but all too often racism and hate get in the way of happy endings.

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton (1967)

Reviewed by Rachel

The Outsiders takes place in Tulsa, Oklahoma in the mid-1960s. It is written from the first-person point of view, with Ponyboy as protagonist and narrator. Ponyboy Curtis is a 14-year-old Greaser boy, and the book is about two weeks in his life that make him lose his innocence and change his life. In this novel, “Socs” and “Greasers” are the two loosely organized teen gangs that are enemies because of money. Greasers are a gang that is very united, they never beat other people up on purpose, but they’re poor. Socs are the western side rich kids that have nothing to worry about and are always trying to find things to do –  one of their amusements is to beat up poorer gangs. The two weeks start with Socs’ first attack on Ponyboy, followed by the death of one of the Socs, and then Pony and his friend run away.

The first time I heard of the book was last summer – it was on our school’s reading list. At first my parents didn’t really want me to read the book because of the story’s setting, background, and general ideas. But after reading the book, I think it is actually a great story. Selecting Oklahoma’s gangs as the setting is a great example of comparing the differences between people. It taught me that everyone has their own troubles, no matter if they are rich or poor, and life can be taken away in a second, so it is important to cherish it and try not to say or do things that you will regret. 

When I started reading the book, I was so curious to see what would unfold after such terrible things happened around Pony. I tried to predict some endings, but none of them were the same as the one in the book. I later realized that the characters are all very interesting; they all have different personalities and they change throughout the story as they lose friends and realize more about their lives.

The Outsiders definitely held my interest. It was not difficult to read. I would definitely recommend this book to my friends, no matter what genres they like. This book has action, emotion, and interesting character development. I think anyone would enjoy reading this book, and more importantly learn from this book, The Outsiders.

Star Rating: ★★★★★ (5/5) 

Wings of Fire: the Dragonet Prophecy by Tui Sutherland (2012)

Reviewed by Freya

I thought that this book was great. Its genre was fantasy, and I truly love fantasy books along with realistic fiction. I recommend this book because it has a great storyline and lots of details that I couldn’t include in the review because then it would be too long. The main events are important, but the details make the book more fun to read. For example, something I thought was a little funny was that the dragons in this book were huge compared to humans because they had humans in this book but the name for them in the book was “Scavengers.”

Prologue: This book starts with a prologue, which states that there was a prophecy about five dragons that were destined to save the world from an ongoing war. The ‘Talons of Peace’ are the dragons who want to fulfill the prophecy about ending a big war going on between dragons. When the Talons of Peace are looking for the eggs of the five destined dragons, one of the dragons is attacked and one of the eggs falls and breaks, and the dragon dies. Later the Talons of Peace have to replace the egg with a different type of egg.

**Spoilers to follow!** At the beginning of the book, there are five dragons in an underground cave with three other dragons that live with some of the members from the Talons of Peace. The dragons weren’t treated well there and a few years later the dragons had had enough and wanted to escape. The main character Clay escaped first and was going to lead his friends out but then he was caught by a queen from another side of the war. Luckily, the type of dragon Clay was allied with that queen’s side in the war, but Clay accidentally angered her, and he is put in a prison with his friends. The Queen has the dragons set up to fight in an arena to practically die, but eventually the dragons escape with a little help from Clay’s friend. They also manage to kill the queen who trapped them. After the dragons escape, the dragons want to look for their parents before going to end the war. They made their way to Clay’s home (The ‘Mudwing kingdom’). Clay reunited with his mom but his mom didn’t seem to want him at all, which was really heartbreaking for Clay, and then they start making their way to another of the five dragons’ homes that was located in the ‘SeaWing kingdom’. The book ends there because that the Seawing kingdom is going to be in the next book. In conclusion, this book was actually exciting to read, and I hope that by reading this review you will want to read this book too.

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton (1990)

Reviewed by Sriya

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton is the story of a senile old man who fulfills his pipe dream of  bringing back dinosaurs from the Jurassic Period. Like most books that were made into movies, the detail and descriptions in the book version of Jurassic Park are very humbled by the movie. 

The characters in this book are: Ian Malcolm, a mathematician from Texas who strongly believes in Chaos Theory; Alan Grant, a paleontologist; Ellie Sattler, a botanical paleontologist; Donald Gennaro, a lawyer representing a biotechnical company; Henry Wu, the scientific genius behind Jurassic Park; John Arnold, chief engineer of Jurassic Park; Robert Muldoon, the game warden of Jurassic Park; Ed Regis, tour guide of Jurassic Park; Dennis Nedry, the man in charge of the computers and security; John Hammond, the one and only crazy creator of Jurassic Park; and siblings Tim and Lex Murphy, the grandkids of John Hammond. Malcolm, Grant, and Dr. Sattler were invited to Isla Nublar, an island off the coast of Costa Rica on which Jurassic Park was created, to come check it out. None of these geniuses would have even imagined that dinosaurs would be awaiting them.  

The dinosaurs of Jurassic Park were created through genetic cloning, a type of cloning that requires an animal’s DNA. Hammond got Dinosaur DNA by finding Jurassic Era Amber with mosquitos trapped inside. He then extracted the blood that the mosquito had sucked from a dinosaur and had his scientific team repair the DNA. To repair the DNA, they had to use frog DNA to fill in the sequences. To ensure that there would only be a certain number of dinosaurs, the scientific team also created only female dinosaurs and took out their reproductive organs. What they didn’t know is that frogs could change gender, so, using frog DNA enabled some of the dinosaurs to change gender, and they were therefore able to reproduce. There were reports of “small lizards” attacking young children in Costa Rica. Based on this information, Grant hypothesized that some dinosaurs could be reproducing and getting off the island. 

**Spoilers to follow!** After the characters get to the island, the scientists and the kids start to take a tour of the dinosaurs. All goes well until Nedry turns the security systems off so he can steal dinosaur embryos. By doing this he also turns off the power to the dinosaurs’ electric fences. And this is when all horrors break loose. Some of the most deadly dinosaurs such as Procompsognathus, Dilophosaurus, Tyrannosaurus, and the agile pack hunter, Velociraptor are on this island; a recipe for disaster. To put it shortly and without all the gore in the book, Nedry dies from a Dilophosaurus attack, Regis gets eaten by a Tyrannosaur, Malcolm becomes crippled, comatose, and then dies from a Tyrannosaur attack, Wu perishes from a Velociraptor attack and Hammond himself is killed by a pack of Procompsognathus’

This book has taught me quite a few things, the first thing is mess with nature and nature messes with you back. Next is that some things are just meant to be. Overall, just don’t try to bring back extinct creatures and expect everything to be normal.