Teen Reviews

The following reviews are from Independent Reading class students; an English elective at Hamilton-Wenham Regional High School. Reviews with book covers are books that we have in our Young Adult collections here at the Hamilton-Wenham Public Library.

   Fiction   

⭐️⭐️  Me and Earl and the Dying Girl, by Jesse Andrews 
I would not recommend this book. It had a lot of buzz, including a movie made about it, and I had seen it on sale in many bookstores, which is why I decided to give it a try. The novel opened with the author claiming how this book is "not like others" and he was clearly trying to be quirky, and relatable to teens. This tactic did not work for me. I thought that he was trying too hard to appeal to teens, which turned me off from the story from the start. The plot was fine, albeit predictable, however the writing style took away from the book in a major way. The author wrote parts in the style of a play, which I did not like. The characters were also annoying to me, possibly because the author had no idea what teens are actually like. The main character, greg, spends most of his time alone and pondering his social status. When he is not doing this, greg spends time with his best friend, Earl. Earl has family issues, and the only thing that takes Earl's mind off of this situation is making movies, with Greg. They make movies that they declare are terrible, however they keep making them, and do not show them to anyone. This background information takes up the first half of the book. The rising action starts to pick up when Greg's friend Rachel gets diagnosed with cancer. Predictably, Greg falls in love with her, but his love is not enough to save Rachel, who dies near the end of the novel. The author makes a point of noting that Greg's love does not save Rachel, because this is not a "typical" book, which is particularly annoying to me. Had the novel been written more elegantly, perhaps it would have been a more tolerable read.-- Lily S. '19

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
Are you looking for a story that hooks you from the first chapter? A story that keeps you on your feet until you read the last word, well Thirteen Reasons Why, is just for you. This best seller, allows the reader to watch the main character, Clay, in a very fun, scary and interesting way. You watch his journey of following the so called scavenger hunt, left by his disease friend, Hannah Baker. Hannah has left a map, cassette tapes and more hidden clues so you can search and find out why she killed herself. While searching, listening and more, he comes upon hidden truths that will change his life forever. Thirteen people, thirteen reasons, and a thousand people who can not know what the cassette tape says. This story will leave you on the edge of your seat, trying to find the answer. -- McKenzie P. '17 
⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Thirteen Reasons Why, by Jay Asher
I loved this book! I couldn't it put down. The introduction had me hooked from the first chapter. It is about a girl who committed suicide and then made tapes about the 13 reasons why she committed suicide. She then mails them to all of the people that had to do with the suicide. The main character receives the tapes at the beginning of the novel and has no idea why he is receiving them, but in order to figure it out, he has to go through and listen to all the other tapes. The book is both interesting and captivating. The whole time I was intrigued to see the reason that he was receiving the tapes. With anticipation rising, the whole book, it is a must read! Highly recommend! -- Gabriela M. '17

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Pines, by Blake Crouch
If you enjoy reading suspense and mystery themed books, then this is the one for you. "Pines" has the power to make you want to keep on reading after you finish a chapter. Throughout each chapter, you ask yourself so many questions like "What's going to happen next?" and "What is actually going on in this town?" This story is about a man named Ethan Burke, who was sent on a mission to a small, perfect looking town, called Wayward Pines. He notices that there is something odd about how the people act and how the town is run. Ethan was unable to reach anyone outside of the town and he couldn't find a way out of town either. Ethan's new mission is to figure out how to survive, how to find his family and uncover the truth about the secret of the town. Each chapter reveals clues as to what is happening in Wayward Pines, which keeps you hooked. I really enjoyed this book because I love reading books with a futuristic theme. Its an easy book to comprehend and you can really imagine what the scene looks like with Crouch's descriptive writing style. There was also a TV show based off of this book, called "Wayward Pines", and it resembled the book exactly but there were more added features to it. I would recommend reading the book before watching the show, so it wouldn't give anything away about the surprising ending. I have lent this book to a friend of mine who hasn't read this genre, and so far she's really enjoying it. --  Maddie R. '17 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Still Alice, by Lisa Genova
I recently read the book Still Alice. It is a book about a woman that is diagnosed with early onset Alzheimers, and how it changes her life. I thought that this book was very eye opening for many reasons. Since this book is written from Alice's perspective, you get a unique experience to see what it is like to have the disease. Many people in my family have had Alzheimers, so I have heard about it a bunch of times from the caregiver's point of view, but it was a good change to have a new perspective. At one point in the book, Alice is feeling particularly lonely, and she tries to find a support group that she can join. To her surprise, she can't find any support groups for people with the disease, but many for the caregivers. This was very eye opening because a lot of the time, you only see the disease from the perspective of the caregiver, and I think that it is just as important to look at it through the eyes of the patient. In my classes this year we have been learning a lot about Alzheimers, so it was very helpful for me to read this book and better understand the disease. We have learned about different neurotransmitters, and how scientists are theorizing different cures for people. There is a lot of research going into this right now, and this book definitely was helpful with understanding why it is so important that we research to find a cure. -- Audrey D. '17 


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green
After reading The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, I highly recommend the book to anyone interested in romance or young adult fiction. What I loved most about this book was how relatable the characters were. The main character, Hazel Grace, is a typical teenage girl but she suffers from thyroid cancer. Hazel is a very quiet and mild girl but is known to act old for her age. For example, her vocabulary is more advanced and her constant goal throughout the book is to live her life simply with the least amount of commotion as possible; she is known to not step out of her boundaries very often which I believe was caused by her severe cancer and her fear of dying. Augustus Walters is a boy she meets at her support group one day and its immediately recognized how vastly different he is from Hazel. Augustus develops cancer as well in the novel but he does not let that hinder him from having fun and lively experiences. Augustus continuously advocates that the meaning of life is to be a hero and leave a positive mark on the world. What makes this book really engaging is how the relationship between the two characters develops. Soon enough, Hazel and Augustus fall in love. Hazel, a once fearful and emotionally fragile individual becomes more confident and grateful for her relationship with Augustus even though she knows one of them could die at any moment. However, I cannot neglect the most famous aspect of the book being the meaningful and metaphorical word Hazel and Augustus say to each other which is “okay.” The word translates to “I love you.” The Fault in Our Stars is a very enjoyable and compelling read; the book beautifully and uniquely depicts young love with a surprising ending. Eva V. '17

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The Magicians, by Lev Grossman
"The Magicians" by Lev Grossman is an amazing novel that follows the journey of Quentin Coldwater. Quentin, a Brooklyn high school senior, has always been obsessed with "Fillory and Further", a series of books that follows the adventures of the Chatwin family into the mystical world of Fillory. One day after his alumni interview, Quentin is transported into Brakebills College, a prestigious school for magic. There he receives a rigorous education in sorcery and indulges in the joys of love, friendship, and booze. However, magic isn't enough for Quentin. He didn’t receive the happiness and adventure that he expected in Brakebills. After his graduation, Quentin and his friends stumble upon a secret that sets them on the journey that just might fulfill Quentin's yearning. However, their journey takes a darker side and becomes more dangerous than they could have ever imagined. Grossman has taken a fantasy story and incorporated mature themes. Quentin and his friends cook meals and drink wine. They wander around and think about the purposes of the magical life. "The Magicians" is a jarring attempt to go where other novels don’t: into drugs, disappointment, anomie, the place and time when magic leaks out of your life. Grossman has practically written "Harry Potter" for adults. His book grabs the reader's attention and gives adults a taste of the magical storytelling that we all crave. Like all books "The Magicians" isn't perfect. The characters are hard to part in the writing of Grossman. There’s a punk, an aesthete, a party girl, a soon-to-be-hot nerd, and the shy, angry, yet inexplicably irresistible narrator. All fantasy and mystical novels need believable characters, and Grossman has failed to do so in his book. Before we, as the reader, can really get into the novel, we need to learn more about Quentin and his internal struggles. "The Magicians" is worth the time, it is a great story that will please all readers. -- Henry S. '19

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The Girl on the Train, by Paula Hawkins
The Girl on the Train is a thriller book which is something that made it so appealing to me. Once I got through the first few pages I did not want to put the book down. It follows the story of three main characters Megan, Anna and Rachel. The stories intertwine and slowly come together. The way it is written left me on a cliff hanger no matter where I stop reading so I was always very excited to pick it back up. If you like thriller, mystery books this is a book I would highly recommend. Something that was a little confusing about the books was the flipping between each character every chapter. At times it could get confusing to remember where the character last left off in their story so I would have to flip back to previous chapters to refresh my memory. This book is focused around these three characters in addition to the relationships they have in their life. It is interesting to see how the different characters interact with one another and how different and similar some of them are. A lot of the story takes place from the perspective of Rachel who rides the train back and forth to the city and home very often. She watches the houses as she passes and is intrigued by a few that she pays close attention to. The setting of the train for a lot of this story makes for an interesting perspective which is unlike many other books I have read in the past. In addition the main character Rachel is an alcoholic which makes for an interesting and unique perspective as well. At times she does not even remember what happened to herself so the reader finds out through different people or clues from the night before. Overall The Girl on the Train is definitely one of my favorite books I have read and I would recommend it to most readers. -- Chloe W. '17


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The House, by Christina Lauren
The book "The House" by Christina Lauren is an unrealistic fictional story centered between two characters, Gavin and Delilah. Gavin is an outcast in his small town who goes unnoticed by many in his high school. Delilah is a teen who was sent away to boarding school in her youth and is now returning to the small high school that Gavin is currently enrolled. Delilah still carrying her crush on Gavin into her adult years sees him now grown up and matured and decides that she has to get his attention. Delilah pays close attention to Gavin in class and sees past his dark and twisted personality. However, Gavin is holding some type of secret that Delilah decides she must find out. After various attempts of getting Gavin's attention Delilah finally succeeds but he is still hesitant to tell her what his secret is. After hanging out around school and town Gavin finally agrees to letting Delilah visit his house. Delilah soon realizes that the secret Gavin was trying so hard to keep was way crazier than anything she could have previously imagined, Gavin's house is alive! Throughout the story Delilah goes through the struggle of winning over the houses affection as well as protecting herself from its ruthlessness to break Gavin and Delilah up. The story goes through the relationship struggles of Gavin and Delilah as well as the problems that both teens go through within their broken families. The book is a page turner and never ceased to keep me interested! -- Sydney L. '17 

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ A Passion Most Pure, by Julie Lessman
This book had me absorbed from the first sentence. A passion most pure is not just about love it’s about heartache, death, and faith. It's is a novel that has a little bit of everything wrapped inside. Faith O'Connor is a woman who is out to find a God chosen husband even she has to turn down the only man she truly loves. This story will lure you inside until you finish the book. Once i started reading it, nothing could tear me away, the love, warfare and the faith just kept me locked in the story. Never have i ever read a book that i related to so much. In the story Faith had to lean on her faith and trust God with all her heart. That's something i have to do every single day. In this book there is a family that goes through the worst but somehow there faith becomes as firm as have ever. I truly recommend this book, if you are looking for a book with strong characters who stand up for what they believe in, even in the face of death and love then this should be the first book you pick up. I loved this book so much i have read it three times, and every time i learned something different. Julie Lessman left me in tears of joy, satisfaction, and relief. She sent me through a roller coaster of emotions that built me up, tore me down, and encouraged me to be the women i am today. I never wanted this book to end. -- Isabelle B.'17

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Darkly Dreaming Dexter, by Jeff Lindsay
Darkly Dreaming Dexter is a book about a serial killer that only kills other killers. The main character's name is Dexter. He works for the police as a forensic blood spatter analyst. I thought that this book was very good. It has lots of action it like when he is planning to kill people and actually killing people. It is also interesting because he works for the police and i get to read about what his job is like. I also like that Dexter uses his job to find people to kill. Dexter only kills people that he knows are also killers. So if he can prove to himself that the other person is a killer then he can kill them. So if the police can't charge the person with murder and put them in jail then dexter kills them. I find it interesting because dexter works for the police and does stuff that is illegal and he would go to jail if he was caught. Because Dexter kills people he can't tell anyone. He is the only person that knows because if he tells someone he will go to jail if they turn him in. So he has to lie a bunch and come up with a bunch of fake excuses to tell his friends and family where he is when they don't know where he is. Sometimes in the book it can be boring because he has to act normal and talk with people but most of the time it isn't boring. -- Robby D.'19

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The Long Run, by Matt Long
This book is about a man who was born and raised in New York City. He is a firefighter and owns three bars with his brother. This man is named Matt and a big thing about him is that he is a competitive athlete. He runs marathons, triathlons, and is an ironman because he loves running and exercising so much in his life. One day when he was biking to go swim with his friends, he was hit by a bus that was making an illegal turn. The accident was so bad that the bike and Matt got crushed into each other and he had a very very small chance of living. After countless surgeries he miraculously survives his accident but he is completely changed because of this. He can't even stand let alone run again so he needs to learn how to adjust to this new life and see if he can one day return to the athlete he once was. Is book is a lot about his physical challenges but also a lot about the mental and emotional challenges that he faces. This is a great book that shows that anyone can overcome anything in life with the right attitude and the will to keep pushing forward.-- Eric W. '17

⭐️⭐️⭐️  I am Number Four, by Pittacus Lore
The book I read was I am Number Four by Pittacus Lore. This book was about what seems like an ordinary teenage boy named John Smith who moves around the country a lot but is currently in Ohio with his dad. But it turns out that John Smith is an alien from another planet and his father isn’t his real dad only an adult from his planet with him as a guardian/ projector. The book is called I am number four because John and 8 other teenage aliens and sent with a guardian for each of the teenagers because they escaped their planet from the invading Mogadorians. The Mogadorians took over their planet and followed the teenagers to Earth wanting to hunt them down. When the teenagers came to Earth they hid in different places across the planet because a spell was put on the teenagers to project them. This spell made it so the Mogadorians could only kill the teenagers in orders from number one to number nine. John Smith is number four, three teenagers have been killed so far and he is next. I thought the book was average and I wouldn’t read it again because it didn’t really hook me. This is because of the way the author wrote the book to me I had to make myself read through most of the book. There were a few parts of the book that got suspenseful and I wanted to know what happened but overall I wouldn’t recommend the book to anyone. -- Erin C.'17

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes
I really liked the book, Me Before You, by Jojo Moyes. I could not say that I loved it as much as others did. The reason why I really liked it was because the plot of the story was really good and I enjoyed the part where there was conflict, but at times I got bored because I felt like I was reading the same thing for 100 pages. I felt as if the book could have been shorted to make it enjoyable, but other than that it was very interesting. I thought it would be a good idea to pick up a genre I do not normally read but I did miss my favorite genre although this one was alright. I thought the story was well written and touching. It was also a sad book, but I thought that it was worth the read because I loved the setting and plot. I also enjoyed reading something where it represents a different culture speaking wise because this was set in England so I could see the differences. I recommend this book with 4 stars out of 5 just because I felt there was too much padding (extra content that was not really needed). I did not find it as entertaining as other books I read just because I am used to a lot of action and conflict whereas this book was in a more real life setting. Again, I liked to experience something different and I really enjoyed the change. -- Valerie W. '19

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Eligible, by Curtis Sittenfeld
Last year, I read "Pride and Prejudice" for my English class and although I ultimately ended up enjoying it immensely, it was hard to get into at first. Therefore, I was unsure of whether I would like "Eligible," which was a modern retelling of "Pride and Prejudice." My mom read it before me and told me it was funny and one I would enjoy, so I tried it. Overall, I liked this book very much. It definitely had aspects of what one might describe as a "fluff book." This was because the overall vibe of the book was simple language, to-the-point plot, with a gossip-y aspect to it as well. It follows two Ohio parents whose 5 daughters have come back to live with them due to their father's health problems. Some of them are older, none are married, and the mother is losing her mind because she just wants all her daughters to marry rich. Suddenly, many of them do begin finding love, or at least have random encounters that may turn into love. So, was it impactful and philosophical and did it change my life forever with its societal messages? No, but it was enjoyable to read and its sarcastic undertone was a distinct writing style that I found very funny. Additionally, having read "Pride and Prejudice" before this, I wondered if it was necessary, or "better," to have read the original before the modern retelling. After thinking a lot about this, I don't think it is necessary to enjoy this book, but it certainly is interesting to draw parallels between the two. It is much easier to understand the motives of the different daughters when they are put in modern context and realistic situations. I would definitely read this book for entertainment and I would say it is slightly more enjoyable having read the original, but not completely essential to understanding the book in any way. -- Annabella T. '17


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Septys
Salt to the Sea, by Ruta Septys, is an extremely worthwhile read. The story is told from 4 different perspectives of teenagers in World War Two, all of whom hold a vital secret about their pasts which could put their lives and the lives of the people around them in danger. The story is very easy to get into, and is so much of a page turner that I finished it in three days. The main plot point of the story is the four narrators and their companions trying to get out of Lithuania to avoid the Soviet soldiers who are occupying the country and committing mass murders. Most of the characters are torn between hating Stalin or Hitler more, because both are committing horrible atrocities. In their fleeing, they all end up on the same ship which ends up holding 5 times its maximum capacity, 10,000 people. Septys is a very interesting author to read books from, because she focuses many of her books on huge world events that are not talked about or widely known. This makes it a profound book to read because you are not only struck by your own ignorance, but also what a injustice the world has done to many who suffered greatly under Hitler and Stalin and never had their stories told. This book would be easy for people of any age, gender, or interest to read, because it is a historical book with elements of fiction, told from 4 different people of varying tones, motives, and ideas. -- Lily W. '19 


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  The Fellowship of the Ring, by JRR Tolkien
I am not a avid reader and I only read books that I want to read. If I am reading on my own time it is because I am really into a book. I was never once bored reading this book and was always looking forward to independent reading. Im a huge fan of the Lord of the Rings series and I am enjoying the books as much as I enjoyed the movies. If your a fan of the movies or tv show like Game of Thrones like I am, I strongly recommend this book. It is a great story of adventure and really captivated me. At times the author slightly annoys me. He has lots of poems and songs which take up a page which I think is pointless. But other than that he really does a good job of placing you in middle earth. Another reason why I like reading it is to see the differences between the book and the movie. It crazy how much information the movie cuts out. You think you know what is going to happen next but it turns out there is this huge part which the movie missed, its exciting. Overall great book and I would recommend it to anyone especially people that have grown up and enjoyed the movies like me. -- Jasper M.'17


⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Everything, Everything, by Nicola Yoon
This book caught my attention because the first page was a very unique statement about the universe. Once that statement caught my attention, I soon realized that the author's style had a mix of biology within the plot which interested me because this is also the way that I like to write; with real life science incorporated. This book is written from the perspective of a young girl who is diagnosed with SCID, a rare disease where basically she is allergic to everything, thus forcing her to live in isolation from the world. Yet her life takes an unexpected turn when she falls in love with a boy who moves into the house next to hers, and outside of her filtered air. I was always on my toes when I was reading this because I never knew what Madeline, the main character, was going to do, or when she was going to rebel against her only life that she had ever known. It was a very quick, easy read, although there were many words that I was unsure of which I can honestly say expanded my vocabulary GREATLY, as the love interest of Madeline has a very expansive vocabulary.-- Angela B.'17

   Nonfiction   

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Outliers, by Malcolm Gladwell
One book I enjoyed reading was Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell. This book has many different stories, with one common theme: what makes someone an outlier? The book explores the different factors that go into a person’s success in a particular field. I found this book to be very interesting because it analyzed specific details that made people successful rather than using a generic explanation like simply working hard to get to the top. He searched for patterns among groups of people to see if there was a common aspect they used to achieve their success. It was cool to see what factors affect success in different areas. Another thing I liked about this book was that it had a variety of different stories. If one topic was not interesting, the next chapter would have a new topic. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in learning unique facts about a broad variety of topics. Some parts of the book were boring to read, but at some points, I was so interested in learning the secret to success that I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough. The format of the book was interesting, as the author chose to include footnotes at the bottom of many pages to further discuss a topic the reader may not be aware of. The author, Gladwell, has written a few other books as well that also analyze how the world works. I enjoy his style of writing and would be interested in reading his other books too. -- Katrena F. '17

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️  Milk and Honey, by Rupi Kaur
This a book compiled of short poem or vignettes that describe what it is like growing up as girl or even as a human being. There are stories about going up, sex, parents, and love. It's a new outlook on things everyone experiences. She's not afraid of talking about topic thats are taboo. She addresses rape and alcoholic parents. Girls go through things that they can't talk about but want to have support. Kaur does an amazing job at not only validating these feelings but openly not being ashamed of life. There is something very beautiful about the way she forms her writing to not be some raunchy book, but an uplifting guide about what actually happens in life. There hasn't been one person I've met that hasn't thoroughly enjoyed and learned from this book. It's one that you literally sit down and except to read for ten minutes and end up finishing it in one sitting. It's not a difficult book, but it makes you think, it opens your mind to things we are taught not to dwell on. There are things that happen in this world that scar and harm us, or we think aren’t normal. We’re not taught in school all the things we need to know about life. There is no guide to how you are supposed to feel when your mother says awful things to you, or when you lose you virginity too young and hate yourself. Kaur addresses all the things that no one has taught us. All wrapped up in words that flow and little drawings to complete the pages. Milk and Honey is the perfect title because it cozy, it's a heartwarming experience reading it. I would definitely recommend this to not only girls but everyone. There is something to learn or be validated on for everyone. -- Jenny B. '17

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