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Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls - YA Review by Sophie F



Reader: Sophie F.
Age: 14
Title: Suicide Notes from Beautiful Girls
Author: Lynn Weingarten
Publisher: Simon Pulse
Pub Date: 07/07/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The plot of this book was strong until a little over halfway. There is an unexpected twist that wasn't to my taste and that lessened my liking of the whole book. The narration was fine - towards the end it switches several times which was refreshing because the narrator gets a bit tedious. The only characters developed were June and Delia. Everyone else was just boring.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book started out pretty good, but once I was over half way, it turned into something not as good as I had hoped it would be. There was an unexpected twist that I did not enjoy. At all.
Cover: The cover was very fitting of the book. It draws you in, making you wonder what the story was behind the burnt matches. It was also very simple, which gave it even more allure.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 2Q - Needs more work
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags:  suspense / ya lit



Infected - YA Review by Sam T



Reader: Sam T.
Age: 15
Title: Infected
Author: Sophie Littlefield
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 01/06/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I felt like the plot was interesting enough to keep me hooked, although it seemed just a little predictable at times. However, I do feel like the romance between Tanner and Carina seems like idealized, young-adult-novel love instead of being realistic. Despite this, there were some things I liked about this book, like the fast pace, the paranoia, and the sense of urgency throughout. At times, though, it also seemed to rely upon cliches and seemed somewhat like a collection of tropes from the young-adult/scifi/thriller genre (secret codes, secret messages in jewelry, someone who you think is an antagonist turning out to be good after all and vice versa, etc.).
     In addition, I feel like a part of the book that was sort of a cop-out was the "secret codes" part of it. The book has vague descriptions of the code, instead of including the actual coded messages and allowing the reader to try to puzzle over and decipher themselves. The book basically says something along the lines of "she spent time deciphering it until she figured it out." and leaves it at that. Either that, or it gives a useless, uncoded message that only refers to some personal thing that one of the characters would know. In fact, I found the part where they tried unlocking Walter's house very confusing about what exactly they were solving, and I'm still confused about it because how they solved it was never explained in detail.
     The final battle at the school, where they were leaping from rooftop to rooftop, also seemed hard to imagine to me because the locations of buildings and structures in relation to the characters were never really described in-depth, and that made visualization of the ending difficult.
Memorable or Forgettable: It seemed forgettable to me because it read sort of like all other young-adult-thriller sorts of books, especially with the somewhat idealized romance between the two lead characters and the predictable plot, along with the overall similar plot to many other books I've read in the past.
Cover: It interested me, but it only seemed to somewhat relate to the contents. The city skyline in the background seems a little unnecessary.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  suspense / action / ya lit



Inherit Midnight - YA Review by Dana F


Reader: Dana F.
Age: 14
Title: Inherit Midnight
Author: Kate Kae Myers
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Pub Date: 02/10/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I liked this book because I was never bored and, although the plot was not very original(think 39 Clues crossed with the Westing Game), the characters were somewhat interesting.
Memorable or Forgettable: As I said, the plot was pretty much 39 Clues from the family history to the types of characters: Avery is the main character whom everyone hates, another related family will do anything to win, etc. There were some things that the 39 Clues didn't have, like the diamond mining, love interest, and live parents.
Cover: I liked the cover, it sort of reflected the contents of the book.
Age Range: Under 12 through 15
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  suspense / romance / adventure / ya lit



A School for Unusual Girls - YA Review by Alyissa S


Reader: Alyissa S.
Age: 15
Title: A School for Unusual Girls
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub Date: 05/19/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I love this book! I was at the edge of my seat while reading this book! It was hard to put down. This book couldn't get any better: the romance was on point, the action was on point, and the characters were on point. The only change I would make would be how they explain to Georgiana that it's not a school.
Memorable or Forgettable: The most memorable part of the book was the characters because I can feel what they are going through and I can picture them in my head.
Cover: The cover really goes with the book. They shouldn't change it because it gives the book a mysterious look that everyone would want to read.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 5Q - Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  suspense / romance / historical fiction / Stranje House series / ya lit



Nil Unlocked - YA Review by Nick B


Reader: Nick B.
Age: 15
Title: Nil Unlocked
Author: Lynne Matson
Publisher: Henry Holt and Company
Pub Date: 05/12/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The book has a very intriguing plot: teenagers get sent to a mysterious and dangerous island to try and escape. Its a sci-fi Lord of the Flies, in which teens live on a dangerous island, have relationships, and the only downside is you die after 365 days if you don't escape. The book tackles the common problem of love triangles extremely well, turns out books are better without them. A thrilling sequel to Nil that captures all the amazing writing elements as the first book such as realistic male and female characters.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book could improve in some areas such as character motives. The book had an overall strong motive for the characters but some of their decisions seem absolutely awful and pointless. However, the book creates amazing realistic characters that you feel as if you've known them for years. The plot in the first book was much stronger than this one. It was very climactic, whereas in this book the main problem and solution are revealed within the first few chapters and the author just stretched it out. I would love to see a more suspenseful and dramatic plot in the third and final book.
Cover: The cover depicts an island at sunset. I enjoyed the artwork and simplicity of the cover. I also thought it reflected the book's plot very well since the book is based on an island. For the third book I would enjoy seeing a cover similar to the first and second books. 
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags:  dystopian romance / science fiction / adventure / survival / Nil series / ya lit



The Art of Secrets - YA Review by Ayan L



Reader: Ayan L.
Age: 12
Title: The Art of Secrets
Author: James Klise
Publisher: Algonquin Young Readers
Pub Date: 04/22/14
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I think you should read the book because the plot changes and, if you like mystery, you would will love it.
Memorable or Forgettable: When she met the boy on Facebook she really didn't know him and she just started dating him.
Cover: Yes, but I thought it was about art. 
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
AnnotationA girl named Saba Khan really loves tennis . Her house burns down and her family doesn't know who did it . Her friends find this art that belongs to the Khan's and is worth alot of money . It's a mystery - will the Khan's get their money and who burned down the house???


tags:  mystery / ya lit

Firefight - YA Review by Tristan HB



Reader: Tristan HB
Age: 14
Title: Firefight
Author: Brandon Sanderson
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Pub Date: 01/06/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The characters were relatable and seemed so real.
Memorable or Forgettable: The fact that the powers corrupted the Epics rather than make them heroic.
Cover: The cover did reflect the contents and tempted me to pick up the book.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  science fiction / dystopian / superheroes / The Reckoners series / ya lit



Seed - YA Review by Veronica K



Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 14
Title: Seed
Author: Lisa Heathfield
Publisher: Running Press
Pub Date: 03/10/15
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was interesting. The plot was okay, but it was really the only thing that was developed. The main character was too easily swayed one way or another for something that she was raised for. And I have no idea who the antagonist was, the new kid or the evil ruler. Neither of them were talked about strongly enough to be considered. And the problem solver was a character I had never heard of. This book seemed like the author had a great idea, but forgot to tell people about it.
Memorable or Forgettable: This was an interesting idea. It was freaky on sooooo many levels, but it was good. If it was better developed, I might remember it well enough to call it good.
Cover: The cover is boring. And boringer. Although it does match the contents, but the contents are not something you can put into a picture.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 3Q - Readable
Popularity: 3P - Some teen appeal


tags:  drama / cults / physical and emotional abuse / ya lit



Ask the Dark - YA Review by Rayna Grace C



Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 16
Title: Ask the Dark
Author: Henry Turner
Publisher: Clarion Books
Pub Date: 04/07/15
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This book did not pack as much of a thematic punch that I expected, although it still deserves some awards for being unafraid to be original.  I wish there had been more connections made during the duration of the novel directly relating the vital differences in mentalities between petty criminals and murderers, since both the protagonist and the antagonist in the story would be considered suspicious people to meet while walking down an empty street.  I realize that was probably the point of the novel, but I just don't believe it was driven in deep enough: Billy's redemption through fame and monetary gain felt slightly hollow and seemed too eager to end all Billy's problems instead of addressing the issues underlying Billy's struggle of being labeled as a bad/dangerous/unwanted person because he committed crimes.  However, I will admit that the unconventional character choice itself was pretty fantastic, allowing Billy to be his own character, omitting some (not all; he still is a white male) of the traits found in the typical hero archetype.  My favorite aspect of Billy was his honesty in the retelling, which seemed to very obviously contrast with his petty criminal dealings.  Overall, I admired the book's willingness to fight the typical plot devices and character molds found in YA lit.  The change in pace from day-to-day YA literature was bold, but I wish that the book had really worked the thematic overtones during all the drama and mystery at the end instead of focusing on Billy's sudden wealth.
Memorable or Forgettable: What made this book memorable was what it didn't do. Although sometimes I felt the book was missing thematic depth, it did fight most of the typical YA book norms.  I admired that no character was without flaw or emotion, despite their brief descriptions.  I admired that no female characters were uselessly inserted into the novel as plot devices so they could use their feminine wiles to teach the main character compassion or obedience, or to create any love triangles constructed to somehow thicken the plot where the editor believed the novel fell flat (believe me, this doesn't work).  I admired that the book never glorified or sensationalized the horrific crimes addressed, or objectified the victims of those crimes into a list of injuries and traumas instead of a person.  Keeping all of those things absent in more YA crime books/YA books/all books would make this world a much better place.  This book takes us one more step into the future.
Cover: I fully respect the designer who created this cover.  The amber glowing shack sitting front and center, along with the tree branches roughly crisscrossing along the rest of the cover, and the translucent title letters creates the exact mood for this novel:  dark, down to earth, ominous and hopeful all at once, with the transparency of a small town too shocked with the murder of one of their children to notice the details like a boy always immersed in crime himself.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 5Q - Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal


tags:  mystery / thriller / ya lit



Rat Runners - YA Review by Eli S-M



Reader: Eli S-M.
Age: 15
Title: Rat Runners
Author: Oisin McGann
Publisher: Open Road Media
Pub Date: 01/13/15
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I would recommend this book for a variety of reasons. First of all, the world is both inventive and exciting. The reader is caught up in the paranoia of constant surveillance, and the presence of security cameras and other detection systems lead to adventure. Secondly, the characters are very well developed. You become attached to each of the four unique thieves and their distrusting interactions feel very genuine. Thirdly, the plot races along at a quick, exciting pace, leaving no time for boredom.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was memorable to me mainly because of the unique world. The novel is set in the near future, and there seems to be just the right combination of relatable facts and sci-fi technology. Moreover, every consequence of the constant surveillance that is part of the book's premise is explored, leading to elements such as networks of underground mobster's lairs/speakeasies, a secret trade in George Orwell's 1984, and reality shows depicting real people from around the city.
Cover: The cover of this book turned me off slightly. While it does somewhat reflect the contents of the book, I would prefer a cover that focused on the four thieves or one of their heists.
Age Range: Under 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q - Better than most
Popularity: 4P - Broad general teen appeal
AnnotationFour young thieves are caught up in an intricate criminal plot that threatens to take their lives. In order to save their own skins, they must navigate a city crawling with surveillance and outsmart both the police and the scheming mobsters who seek to control them.


tags:  dystopian / action / suspense / science fiction / ya lit