When the Butterflies Came - YA Review by Claire W.



Reader: Claire W.
Age: 12
Title: When the Butterflies Came
Author: Kimberley Griffiths Little 
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub Date: 04/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: There wasn't much dialogue, because Tara was alone most of the time, so you knew what was going on through her thoughts. The plot was just okay, because for the first half of the book, I felt the author didn't know where the book was going, so plot didn't really start 'til halfway through the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: I loved the idea; it was unique. I really, really liked all the twists in the book, which kept you hooked on the book.
Cover: Yes, it did, because I always love really pretty book covers and this one hit the mark.
Age Range: under 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: Tara's grandmother has just died and her life is falling apart. The house she lives in is a wreck and so is her mother. But then she starts to find these letters that her grandmother left for her, so she could solve the mystery of the butterflies. The first clue tells Tara that she and her sister, Riley, will go to live in her grandma's old house. There at the house, there are a ton of more clues about the butterflies.

tags: fantasy / mystery / contemporary / childrens / middle grade / ya lit




Defy - YA Review by Grace O.



Reader: Grace O.
Age: 18
Title: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub Date: 01/07/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I thought the plot was good. The main character is called Alex. Alex and her brother have joined the prince's personal guard. Alex is one of the greatest sword fighters in the army. Part of what drew me to Alex was her fear of being forced into the breading house. The King is in a war with another territory and it has been very taxing on both sides. To make sure there are always soldiers the King forces girls to have babies. Any boy babies are taken to grow up and then join the army. Any girl babies born grow up and then start to make more babies to keep the cycle going. People live in fear of the growing war and it's consequences, along with their fear of their girls being taken to the breading house. I didn't and still don't understand why the people didn't revolt and overthrow the King. How bad do things have to get for you to turn your back on your King and retake your country? Take Alex for example; she saw her parents burned to death right in front of her by what is assumed to be enemy soldiers. Alex is then forced to cut her hair and bind her breasts to stay with her brother and to not join the breading house. One night Alex and her brother are told to bring the new batch of girls into the breading house, where we first come to learn about the living conditions of the girls. What's even more depressing than their horrible living conditions, are the girls that have been there awhile. The girls that have been their awhile have this dead look in their eyes. There is a girl in the group that strikes a little too close to home for Alex. This girl is about five years old and she has a brother ( he's ten years old) who tries to save her from the breading house. The little girl is to live up in the attic with all the other girls until they can have children. Through this book the little girl haunts Alex's thoughts until the plot is wrapped up. Alex's job is to guard a prince that is spoiled, lazy, and has no regard for her safety. Through everything she stays and protects the prince instead of leaving with her brother. The only thing that I would try to change in this book is during the middle of the plot the author decides to exploit Alex's weak spot, which is to be a girl, specifically, the love triangle she's currently stuck in. For me, this lasts entirely too long and has a horrible wrap up.
Memorable or Forgettable:  I was memorized by Alex's fighter / survivor instincts. Alex doesn't give up; she buckles down and tries again.
Cover: I picked the book up because I liked the way the cover looked and I wanted to see what it was like to read a book without knowing anything about it.
Age Range: 16 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation:  They came, they conquered, and they burned her parents in front of her. Now to fight for her life she must become a boy or join the breading house.

tags: fantasy / high fantasy / science fiction / magic / adventure / romance / ya lit




Tandem - YA Review by Perrin S.


Reader: Perrin S.
Age: 15
Title: Tandem
Author: Anna Jarzab
Publisher: Delacorte Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 10/08/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The plot was very engaging and I was never really bored while reading this. The author thew in plot twists that I didn't see coming and intensity that kept me on my toes. I fell in love with some of the characters because of their unique personality and realistic qualities. And the book left me wanting more without leaving on a cruel cliff hanger, which I really appreciate.
Memorable or Forgettable: The main character, Sasha, was very memorable. She was an interesting character to follow and I could almost always follow her thought processes. She was a great heroine with a logical mind set.
This book had a good sense of humor that not only made me laugh but also tied in well with the story and never felt out of place. I found that a lot of the humor was in the situations the character had to face rather than just the dialogue that was being said. And I loved it. Definitly not something I see in a lot of YA.
Cover: I still don't understand the bird on the cover; the book doesn't really mention birds at all. I couldn't see how the bird would in some way represent the character(s) or the plot. So I'm still confused about why the bird is there. Overall, I thought the cover was dull and kind of faded into the background and didn't reflect the amazing story inside.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: On the night of her school dance, Sasha was kidnapped, by her date who claimed he was from a parallel world. Sasha tries anything to get home, even if it means clawing her way out or jumping from moving cars, but she soon realizes that her kidnapper might really be from a different world, and he might have dragged her into a different universe. She is forced to take over the life of the princess who just disappeared and convince the princess's loved ones (and not-so-loved ones) that she is someone she's never even met, but Sasha doesn't like playing puppet. And soon she develops her own plans to best her puppeteers at their own game and find her own way home.

tags: science fiction / dystopia / alternate universe / fantasy / romance / high school / mystery / ya lit




The Hidden Kingdom - YA Review by Veronica K.


Reader: Veronica K.
Age: 13
Title: The Hidden Kingdom (Wings of Fire #3)
Author: Tui T. Sutherland
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub Date: 06/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was not a good book. The plot was slow and things that were serious were too casual. Someone died, killed with his throat ripped out, and the characters said, essentially, "Meh." The characters did not really do anything brilliant. The things that they did were very undetailed and unsatisfying. There was no suspense. The problems were solved immediately.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book is forgettable because there is no detail to remember. There is no mental imagery to catch your attention. The actions are barely there.
Cover: The cover reflected the contents, but seems too childish. It turned me off.
Age Range: under 12
Quality: 2Q Needs more work
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest

tags: fantasy / dragons / middle grade / juvenile /  childrens / ya lit




The F-It List - YA Review by Tori H.



Reader: Tori H.
Age: 13
Title: The F-It List
Author: Julie Halpern
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Pub Date: 11/12/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  The plot was exciting. The characters were good and the dialogue was impressive.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was forgettable, but it still was a good book. It was just another one of those bucket list books. It just blended in with the rest of the crowd. It didn't have any qualities that made it stand out.
Cover: It kind of reflected the contents. Its a piece of notebook paper; it's what Becca wrote her F-It list on.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: I have decided to forgive my best friend Becca, and now I have found out that she has cancer. She wants me to help her complete her bucket list (I mean F-It List). I hope I can satisfy her.

tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / ya lit




Antigoddess - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: Antigoddess (Goddess War #1)
Author: Kendare Blake
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub Date: 09/10/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Ugh. This book was incredibly boring. It was so boring I didn't even finish it. I had heard that it was really gory and bloody and gross, which made me want to read it because I love that stuff. Well, I was sorely disappointed. The only "gory" thing that happened was that Athena pulls feathers out from underneath her skin which makes her bleed. Another reason I wanted to read this book was because it was about the Greek gods and goddesses, which I am intrigued and fascinated by. I have read almost all of Rick Riordan's books about Percy Jackson, and I love them. I wanted to read about the gods and goddesses from a different point of view, and I wished I hadn't. This book was boring and didn't meet any of my expectations.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was forgettable because it was very, very boring and didn't meet my expectations. I was expecting a gory violent thriller but instead I got "a quest to bring the gods together to stop this awful curse!"
Cover: I will give them credit for one thing. The cover worked great with the book.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?
Popularity: 1P Yech! Forced to read it

tags: fantasy / mythology / greek mythology / paranormal / romance / ya lit




Season of the Witch - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: Season of the Witch
Author: Mariah Fredericks
Publisher: Schwartz and Wade
Pub Date: 10/08/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was a bad book. It's like a blend of a not-so good Popular-Girl-fighting-against-Unpopular-Girl-for-who-gets-the-Cute-Boyfriend kind of book and a horrible I'm-Harry-Potter-and-I-can-do-magic-without-a-wand-take-that-Harry! Like I said, it's really weird. If you like weird books, by all means, go out and buy it; I won't stop you. But if you don't like weird books, don't get this book.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was forgettable because of the way it had two hemes that could have been good together but just weren't.
Cover: The cover didn't really sway my decision either way.  I guess it works with the book.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 2Q Needs some work
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / paranormal / witches / fantasy / ya lit




The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: The Real Prom Queens of Westfield High
Author: Laurie Boyle Crompton
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 02/04/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: HA HA HA!!! This book was the funniest thing I have read in a long, long while. SO, These three girls, the ultimate outcasts (the overweight one, the goth one, and the awkward one) get chosen to go on a "reality TV show" ( you know the ones, where they say it's "reality," but when you say something they don't like, they yell "CUT" and make you redo it) about becoming Prom queens. As a little curve ball, they throw in the girl's nemesis's to fight for the crown (and of course, the ultimate date and dress). The book ends in an all-out hair-pulling, nail-chipping (oh, the horror) brawl. IT IS SO FUNNY!!!
Memorable or Forgettable: The way this book was written makes it hilarious.
Cover: The cover did a great job of describing the book. I mean, when you look at it, you can tell right of the bat that it is about (the real prom queens), where it mainly takes place (Westfield High), and who win's the crown (the main character).
Age Range: under 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: HA HA HA!!!
Annotation: This book is the ultimate outcasts-turned-popular. It was hilarious reading about the bad decisions the girls made when they were popular.

tags: contemporary / humor / ya lit



The Tragedy Paper - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: The Tragedy Paper
Author: Elizabeth LaBan
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 01/08/13
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I had heard some great things about this book from a lot of people, so I thought I should try it. And I'm happy to say, this book didn't disappoint. The writing was amazing. I felt like I was Duncan. I felt like I was sitting in the dorm, listening to Tim. I felt like I could relate to both of them.
This book is about Duncan, who attends Irving school. Every year, the seniors have to write The Tragedy Paper, which they have to pass in order to graduate. Duncan gets to listen to Tim's version of the Tragedy through CDs. When he listens to them, he starts coming up with ideas for his Paper, while listening how the Games were planned, and how everything happened the year that Tim graduated.
If I had to choose one thing to change about this book, I would put in more about the Game. The book didn't explain it that well, which I found very frustrating. Other than that, this was a great book.
Memorable or Forgettable:  It was memorable because it was very relatable.
Cover: I really liked the cover, although I didn't think it related to the book very well.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 5P Everyone wants to read it
Additional Comments: GO READ IT!!!
Annotation: While preparing for the most dreaded assignment at the prestigious Irving School, the Tragedy Paper, Duncan gets wrapped up in the tale of Tim Macbeth, a former student, who had a secret relationship with the wrong girl, and Duncan's own ill-fitted one with Daisy.

tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / romance / mystery / school stories / boarding schools / ya lit




Spoils - YA Review by Taj H.



Reader: Taj H.
Age: 14
Title: Spoils
Author: Tammar Stein
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 12/10/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I wouldn't recommend the book because in the beginning there seems to be no plot. Only if you go back and read word for word will slowly make sense.
Memorable or Forgettable: It is forgettable because it doesn't really have a hook to bring you in, therefore nothing is really worth remembering.
Cover: It tempted me to pick it up, that is why i read it, but I got three chapters in and wanted to stop. But I was curious.
Age Range: 14 through 15
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Lenore's family wins the lottery. Will it make her life better? Or worse?

tags: contemporary / ya lit




Cured - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: Cured (Stung #2)
Author: Bethany Wiggins
Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC
Pub Date: 03/13/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: WOW! I didn't read either Stung or Shifting, but that is what makes this book great. The author did such a great job writing this book that I didn't have to read the other two!  In this book, "Jack," who is actually a girl, but is pretending to be a guy, so she doesn't get taken by the raiders, tries to go into the city. She doesn't succeed, but she does meet two people from school that she hasn't seen in years. They go on a quest to find a safe area. I won't spoil it, but it ends well.
Memorable or Forgettable: The way this book was written made it very memorable to me.
Cover: The cover definitely reflected the contents of the book.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Jack returns, making new friends along the way to victory against the beasts.

tags: science fiction / dystopia / ya lit



Unbreakable - YA Review by AJ G.


Reader: AJ G.
Age: 17
Title: Unbreakable
Author: Kami Garcia
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 10/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I read about forty pages into this book, and then had to stop, because it is exactly like the Mortal Instruments series. Really, the most noticable differenve is that I liked the Mortal Instruments better. None of the characters gripped me within the first twenty pages, the story was kind of bland at the beginning, and I have recently discovered that I don't have to finish every book.
Memorable or Forgettable: I thought the similarity to the Mortal Instruments was fairly striking. Other than that, there was no hook within the first chapter that made me want to keep reading. That's a problem for any book. I thought the characters seemed fairly boring.
Cover: The cover is definitely drawing. I think it was the best aspect of this book. It's pretty generic, but in a way that will definitely draw teens to it.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags: fantasy / urban fantasy / paranormal / ghosts / demons / ya lit




The Lord of Opium - YA Review by Eli S-M.



Reader: Eli S-M.
Age: 14
Title: The Lord of Opium
Author: Nancy Farmer
Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 09/03/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: There were several strong elements in this book, and several weak elements. The characters are very strong, especially Matt, who seems to respond to situations as befits his unique circumstances as a drug lord's clone, raised for slaughter. The technological projection in this book is also strong, as it is creative and unique. The action writing, however, is too dry and matter of fact. An important event or action is sometimes summarized in a single sentence, making it easy to miss. It also feels as though the author tries to squeeze too many elements into the book. The multitude of scattered technologies do create the illusion of a ludicrously rich drug lord's kingdom, but they also make it feel as though much of the book is simply the main character wandering through a series of cool ideas the author had, with the climax tacked on.
Memorable or Forgettable: The bulk of this book was memorable, mostly due to its believable characters and smart technological projection. The entire concept of the series is very cool as well, and also contributes to its memorability. The climax itself was forgettable, however, as it was quick, written too dryly, and, in the end, resolved in a matter of a paragraph, with a quick summary of what came together to destroy Matt's opponent and his army.
Cover: The cover matches the contents of the book mildly well, though the book is actually about Matt attempting to stop the drug trade, and it shows his fist crushing a poppy into opium. It has some shock value in attracting attention, but it didn't factor into my decision to read the book as much as some other covers.
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal

tags: science fiction / dystopian / ya lit




See Jane Run - YA Review by Rayna Grace C.


Reader: Rayna Grace C.
Age: 15
Title: See Jane Run
Author: Hannah Jayne
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pub Date: 01/07/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I do not mean to start this review off too harshly, but this book was a mediocre remix of The Face on the Milk Carton. My disinterest may be partially because I was expecting mystery and intrigue that would rival Mary Downing Hahn’s ghost stories, since so many books with a similar plot line have been written already and I was under the assumption that this could also be, because while reading, I absentmindedly flipped to a page that explained the ending verbatim. Additionally, I just finished Rick Riordan’s House of Hades and am still currently trying to recover emotionally. All of these facts may have created the perfect storm for me to feel like this book was a waste of my time, but maybe not.
All of the events in the story that were probably supposed to make the reader have chills crawl up their spine were written in an excruciatingly monotonous tone that made them fall completely flat. I am certain this was not the voice of the character being portrayed, just the author’s inability to cause interest or concern. For example, when she finds the first postcard in her bag, (which does not happen until AFTER she finds the birth certificate of Jane Elizabeth O’Leary, contrary to the blurb on the back cover) the author used no eerie metaphors, frightening foreshadowing, or anything of the like to even attempt to cause the slightest intrigue, which was beyond lame. I honestly believed that this was this author’s debut when I was first reading the book, hoping that was the reason why the book was so hard for me to read.
Furthermore, the characters in this book were unoriginal and contradictory. The main character, Riley, is basically described in the beginning as “that girl with clinical anxiety.” However, when her friend Shelby and she find a random birth certificate in her baby book and Shelby decides the best course of action is to insinuate that Riley’s parents must be hiding something big, and that they TOTALLY kidnapped Riley (and her birth certificate..?) when she was a baby and changed her name so no one would find out, and they might have even murdered Riley’s old family, Riley’s reaction is like ‘Oh, yeah. That would make sense, I guess. Maybe I will ask my parents tonight at dinner, see what they say.’ And she just brushes it off like it’s nothing. I do not know much about anxiety, but I do know how I would react to this situation. I consider myself to be a pretty level-headed person, but I probably would feel really concerned if I found something as weirdly personal as a suspicious, unknown birth certificate in my baby book with a friend who immediately assumes the worst and jokes about it like it’s not a big deal. At the very least, I would have told my friend to shut it and pretend we never found anything. Riley’s reaction seemed strange and understated. Now, on the bad-boy major character, J.D., I am beyond certain that this is the non-magical Jace Lightwood. J.D. is just another misunderstood teenager with a bad reputation and a soft side. I mean, he was okay, but was unoriginal.
So to summarize this whole review, this book has been done before and in renditions much better than this. This book definitely could have been better, but it just fell flat in every aspect.
Memorable or Forgettable: I think I made it pretty clear why this book is forgettable in the previous section of this review. *everyone dies from sass overdose*
Cover: The cover on this book is okay, but nothing special. I mean, it causes confusion more than visual interest, with the legs on the pavement wearing leggings, red shoes, and being unmoving, compared to the body in the puddle that is wearing jeans, no shoes, and is running. Generally speaking, the cover could be depicting the Character v. Self conflict where the main character is seriously struggling with her sense of self and personal identity. The blurb on the front, ‘One secret with change everything…’ is so broad a statement I cannot even stand it. Please fix it. Overall, I would give the cover a 3 out of 10 score (1= Literally just a random racecar on a book about the civil war. 10= An artist rendition of a momentous event in the story that has vivid colors, sparkles, and has ridges and bumps on the cover corresponding to the art displayed.)
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 2Q Needs more work
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: I am sorry there were so many author/literature allusions in the first paragraph. And by sorry, I mean you are welcome.

tags: mystery / realistic fiction / contemporary / thriller / ya lit




Revelations - YA Review by Katie J.


Reader: Katie J.
Age: 13
Title: Revelations (The Elysium Chronicles #2)
Author: JA Sounders
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pub Date: 11/05/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: This was a good book that could have been better. It could have been better by making a prequel to it or something. If there is one, I didn't read it. Also another reason this wasn't a great book was because it has a love triangle. I don't like love triangles, and they bug me, but someone else might like it. This book is about a girl named Evie Winters. She is living in a post-apocalyptic world and she can't remember a thing. Throughout the book, she gets flashbacks/hallucinations. When this happens, she always hurts someone. When she awakens from these hallucinations, she doesn't know what happened.
Memorable or Forgettable: The only forgettable thing was the whole love triangle.
Cover: I didn't like the cover because I thought that it didn't reflect the contents very well.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 2P Only for special interest

tags: science fiction / dystopian / romance / ya lit




The House of Hades - YA Review by Tristan HB.



Reader: Tristan HB.
Age: 12
Title: The House of Hades
Author: Rick Riordan
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pub Date: 10/08/13
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The characters are what makes this book good; people know these characters from previous books and that's why there is a high ranking for this book.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was so memorable because it is only the fourth book in the series and after this one there is one more left.
Cover: The cover was amazing; it is mysterious and adventurous.
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: This book is action, adventure, and puts you on the edge of your seat. Percy Jackson and the other six demigods need to save the world from Gaea, but there is a lot of obstacles in their way, like monsters and giants.

tags: fantasy / mythology / greek mythology / adventure / ya lit




Defy - YA Review by Perrin S.


Reader: Perrin S.
Age: 15
Title: Defy
Author: Sara B. Larson
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Pub Date: 01/07/14
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book:  In this book I found that the characters uninteresting, nothing about them was intriguing or really likable. Aside from the characters being boring, they also seemed unrealistic, I often found them doing or saying things that didn't fit what their character would do. And relationships between the characters were fairly dull. Larson's writing was choppy and hard to read at times. There was no elegance or beauty to her writing and made the book that much more bland. There was little to no flow between the sentences and paragraphs.
Memorable or Forgettable:  This story plot seemed like one I have heard dozens of time. Really, its been done before. There was nothing in this book to make it memorable against the hundreds of young adult fictions that share virtually the same plot. Except that fact that at many parts I found the book rather offensive. Specifically, when the main character was hiding her 'weak' emotions because they would reveal her as a girl.
Cover: I was attracted to the book by the knife on the cover. However the cover as a whole was a little off-putting. The colors, like the book, were dull and seemed faded. And overall, the cover made it seem like a book for a younger age group.
Age Range: Under 12
Quality: 1Q How did it get published?
Popularity: 1P Yech! Forced to read it

tags: fantasy / high fantasy / science fiction / magic / adventure / romance / ya lit




Prodigy - YA Review by Sophie D.


Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 17
Title: Prodigy (Legend, #2)
Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: Putnam Juvenile
Pub Date: 01/29/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I thought this book was a perfect companion to Legend. It was much darker, and I think that, for a trilogy, the plot is developing in the perfect direction. It stayed away from common dystopia cliches, the backstory to the divided U.S. is realistic and well though out, and the climax was unexpected and perfectly executed. I also love how all of the characters, without exception, had their loyalties tested in this book. Marie Lu uses first person narration the way every author should use it: the insights into the characters thoughts are useful, and add to the plot.
Memorable or Forgettable: I think one of the best parts of this book is the development of the Republic, the dystopian Western half of the U.S. where Legend takes place, and the Colonies, who they are at war against. As we find out in the book, the Republic's government has become a controlling dictatorship, while the Colonies are totally run by corporations. This is a great social commentary. Also, Day and June are perfect main characters. They both have realistic characteristics, and they intereact in believable ways. I love that we got to see them weakened by doubts in this book, but still be strong enough to overcome these. Overall, I think that the Legend series shines bright in a genre that has recently been overwhelmed with poorly developed worlds and characters.
Cover: The cover is nice. It fits the book, and fits with the cover of Legend. Also, blue font for Day's chapters! Pretty, and easy to read.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags: science fiction / dystopia / fantasy / romance / ya lit




Reality Boy - YA Review by Sophie D.


Reader: Sophie D.
Age: 17
Title: Reality Boy
Author: A.S. King
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub Date: 10/22/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: I loved Gerald, the main character. He was one of those unexpected characters that I ended up really sympathizing with and understanding, even though I have nothing in common with him. His narration was extremely compelling, especially the detached way he spoke about his childhood and the way his hope grew and evolved throughout the story. It was really interesting, too, because he spends a lot of the book in his own world, or in an almost trance-like state when his anger overwhelms him. A.S. King did a wonderful job of sticking to his voice in these parts, even while other things were happening around him.
Memorable or Forgettable: I thought many parts of this book were unexpected. The storyline was unique, and his family members, especially the mother and sister, were a great twist in the story. The ending, too, was a surprise for me, and it did a really good job of being hopeful and conclusive, but not too happy. I also really enjoyed that the love interest was just as messed up as Gerald was, they both continued to make really stupid mistakes. I feel like too often the girl is a pure, innocent savior put into contrast with the boy's dark, tortured soul, and in this case, they both needed to save each other.
Cover:  I really like this cover. I think it uses the primary colors in a really interesting way; that is pretty unusual for teen books. I like how the boy on the front has his eyes closed, as Gerald often retreats to the world in his head. Overall, it fits the book: colorful, chaotic, and right on the brink of crazy.
Age Range: 14 through 17
Quality: 5Q Hard to imagine a better book
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: How do you understand your family's problems when they are all public, not private? How do you understand yourself when everyone in your town thinks they have you figured out? For Gerald Faust, reality TV star, the answers to these questions are not so easy. The best he can do is try to stay out of prison, though his overwhelming anger may get the better of him.

tags: contemporary / realistic fiction / coming-of-age / sociology / abuse / mental health / family / romance / ya lit



Will and Whit - YA Review from Ella O.


Reader: Ella O.
Age: 13
Title: Will and Whit
Author: Laura Lee Gulledge
Publisher: Abrams
Pub Date: 05/07/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: Character development-wise, the book is really good; you get to walk the main character through her growing-up.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was memorable in ways, such as again, the main character's growth, but also how the plot is set up; it's really great.
Cover: Yes the cover did tempt me and it perfectly reflected the book.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: Probably that it was just amazing and I know many people who would love it.
Annotation: It's inspiring and helps people get through fears. My three words would be imaginative, inspiring and sweet.

tags: graphic novels / sequential art / manga / comics / realistic fiction / family / romance / middle grade / ya lit



My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush - YA Review by Ella O.


Reader: Ella O.
Age: 13
Title: My Totally Awkward Supernatural Crush
Author: Laura Toffler-Corrie
Publisher: Roaring Brook Press
Pub Date: 08/20/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: Dialogue is pretty good; honestly, this is not my usual genre of book, but I found it interesting. It could use work in the plot, though.
Memorable or Forgettable: It was memorable for me by the way it ended, because happy endings are almost always remembered.
Cover: I did not like the cover of the book at all; it was too lovey-dovey for me, but I though the title was funny.
Age Range: 12 through 13
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: Good plot; good level of goodness and evil. Kind of romance-y.

tags: romance / middle grade / ya lit



Boxers - YA Review from Tristan HB.


Reader: Tristan HB.
Age: 12
Title: Boxers
Author: Gene Luen Yang
Publisher: First Second
Pub Date: 9/10/13
Galley: No
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The characters in the book were relatable to real people in real life, as if there was a real war between two cultures.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book was memorable because the main character had to deal with great loss in the fight for China's freedom.
Cover: The cover made me curious to see who the characters were, so I wanted to read about them even more. What really drew me in was the phrase on the back of the book, "Every war has two faces."
Age Range: 12 through 15
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Additional Comments: After this one, you need to read Saints; it is like the second book in the series, but it was published at the same time. It's like another point of view of the same war.
Annotation: This graphic novel is action-packed and has romance. The way some people acted were like in real life. It was very exciting, with a twist ending that I never would have thought happened.

tags: graphic novel / sequential art / comics / historical fiction / cultural / China / fantasy / religion / ya lit



The Captive Maiden - YA Review by Kit K.


Reader: Kit K.
Age: 16
Title: The Captive Maiden
Author: Melanie Dickerson
Publisher: Zondervan
Pub Date: 11/19/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: At the risk of me seeming like an awful person, I will admit I was definitely deterred from wanting to read the book upon seeing the publisher was Zondervan--the publisher of many a Bible at my school. After reading the book, I can say that I am ashamed of my original judgement. There were some moments talking about God in a sort of repetitive way that I decided to skip over. If you are going to try to send a holy message, I would say to delete the parts where it just repeats the same thing over and over and over again with slightly different wording.
     As for the fairytale aspect of the story, it was fairly good. My secret passion in books is fairytales, and that might have made me judge this one a bit more harshly. The beginning was great: the establishment of the villains, the meeting of the protagonist, the initial connection between the guy and the girl. It began to drop off, though, after the banquet of the first day in the tournament. The storyline began to drag on and on. The story was short in itself, but it could have ended A LOT SOONER. There comes a point when the tale closes, and it closed about half way through.
     As for the title, I would have nixed that right away. The "Captive" part references mostly the second half of the book when she's in Ruexner's clutches--the part of the book that I, personally, began pushing myself through. Overall, I just think the title wasn't as fitting as it should have been, and, because of this, I wouldn't tell my friends the title when they asked what book I was reading.
     Finally, the characters were not relatable to me as a reader. That weren't extremely enticing, they weren't boring, they just...were. I would have really liked to see the characters develop more, especially Gisela. She was the main character and she didn't have a clue what was happening around her. I mean, really? Take a hint! And stop being so gullible. Also, there were moments in the book where it felt like the author was saying a woman shouldn't save herself or be the hero, which really made me want to go slap them. Not cool...
     Overall, though, I did enjoy this book. It was cute, it was quick and it was just a nice romantic read for a rainy day.
Memorable or Forgettable: Compared to other fairytale retellings, it was not my favorite, but it was also not the worst. I would have really liked to see more character development, a better second half, and more strong female characters.
Cover: I'm going to snatch that dress right off that blondie's body. Seriously. I'm coming. I want that gown. It was a beautiful cover, and matched the description of how she looked.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 3P Some teen appeal
Annotation: A charming retelling of a fairytale like Cinderella can never be complete without the wicked villain, the handsome knight in shining honor and the all too lovable riches-to-rags-back-to-riches girl. Thankfully, Dickerson got the memo and pens a cute romance for a weekend read.

tags: historical fiction / fantasy / fairy tales / retellings / romance / Christian fiction / ya lit





Smoke - YA Review by Lian S.



Reader: Lian S.
Age: 17
Title: Smoke
Author: Ellen Hopkins
Publisher: Margaret K. McElderry Books
Pub Date: 09/10/13
Galley: No
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: To me, most Ellen Hopkins books are comparable to a tragic Greek hero: they are brilliant with a single fatal flaw. Smoke was no different. The writing was compelling and I had a hard time putting the book down. The two protagonists felt like real people to me. However, I got stuck on a single repeating theme: both troubled girls needed a male hero to sweep in and heal them. The two males, Angel and Gavin, felt like the same person to me. Their characters were different, certainly, but both were deeply in love with the girl they desired, and both were uncannily kind. I dislike this theme because it gives the impression that a girl can't pull herself back together through her own strength, or by leaning on a friend -- no, she needs to fall in love with a man. That said, the poetic writing truly swept me away.
Memorable or Forgettable: Some of Ellen Hopkins' books blur together in my mind, but Smoke stuck out. That was partially due to the fatal flaw mentioned above, but partly because of how deeply I connected with the two protagonists, particularly Pattyn. Her voice was very strong. I felt like I knew her.
Cover: Burned had the kind of cover, I would stare at when I wasn't allowed to read. It was, simply put, beautiful-- almost as gorgeous as Hopkins' words.
Age Range: 14 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation:  In a simultaneously heartwarming and chilling story of recovery, Hopkins uses words to create a work of art.

tags: poetry / realistic fiction / contemporary / sociology / abuse / ya lit



No Easy Way Out - YA Review by Pauly S.



Reader: Pauly S.
Age: 14
Title: No Easy Way Out
Author: Dayna Lorentz
Publisher: Dial Publishing
Pub Date: 07/16/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: Yes
Convince us to read the book: The pacing of this book is kind of off compared to most. The author would leave you with a cliff-hanger and to switch to another character, which I'm used to, or end a section of the book with a cliff-hanger and pick right back up from where she left off. She also cut off when it seemed it wasn't even a good end because there was no closure to the section of the book. But overall these are the only really noticeable faults of the book.
Memorable or Forgettable: This book had a really strong way of making it feel that the mall's small type of government was slowly falling into anarchy. First the people would go crazy and riot, then they would be all organized and working together, all the while Ryan and Marco were hiding away like fugitives and got to see "normal" life in the mall through Lexi and Shay's eyes. Then as you progress through the book, things start getting crazier, like piles of bodies, security killing teens and food raids by the teen gangs.
Cover: The cover attracted me to the book; it made it really look like a disease/quarantine-type of book, because of the huge sign and bright colors, as if to say "Danger."
Age Range: 12 through 18 and up
Quality: 4Q Better than most
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Annotation: Three teens are plagued with decisions they would never be faced with in the outside world, in this quarantined mall. Marco, Lexi, Shay, and Ryan fight to survive in a world where they could be infected with a deadly flu or killed by a corrupted security team and a large number of teen gangs.

tags: science fiction / dystopia / realistic fiction / thriller / adventure / survival / romance / ya lit




Bi-Normal - YA Review by Lou O.


Reader: Lou O.
Age: 18
Title: Bi-Normal
Author: M.G. Higgins
Publisher: Saddleback Educational Publishing, Inc.
Pub Date: 07/01/13
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: I thought this book was alright. It was cliched, but it was cute. The main character is a stereotypical jock who ends up getting confused about his sexuality, and ends up having misadventures, although not hilarious ones. All his friends are the typical small-town, uninformed jerks who pick on the gay kids. If it hadn't been for the main character's crush on another kid, I'm not sure I would have finished it. That was really the only redeeming factor.
Memorable or Forgettable: This was a pretty forgettable book. I finished it two days ago, and I can't remember any of the character's names. I think it was just that it was so cliched, that it made it forgettable. If there had been a twist at some point, I maybe would've remembered. But I knew exactly what was going to happen about twenty pages in advance.
Cover: The cover was confusing. I couldn't tell what it was for a very long time. When I figured out that it was people holding hands, it was still very ambiguous. Is it two guys holding hands? A guy and a girl? Two girls? Who knows? I don't.
Age Range: 12 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal

tags: LGBTQ / contemporary / realistic fiction / ya lit




The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender - YA Review by Bjorn H.


Reader: Bjorn H.
Age: 14
Title: The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender
Author: Leslye Walton
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pub Date: 03/25/14 
Galley: Yes
Top 25: No
Convince us to read the book: The character development in this book was good and bad, if you will. Allow me to elaborate, the development of the main character's background was very strong as the author spent upward of two chapters explaining what had happened to her family. The character's emotions and feelings did not, on the other hand, develop very well, and while I felt like I knew a lot about Ava, I did not feel like I knew her. The plot, voice, and dialogue were very sound and not at all questionable.
Memorable or Forgettable: The book was sort of in the middle for me, because while the story and plot layout were unique and memorable, the writing style did not leave me asking for more.
Cover: The cover tempted me to pick up the book.
Age Range: 16 through 17
Quality: 3Q Readable
Popularity: 4P Broad general teen appeal
Additional Comments: Great book, mediocre writing
Annotation: Ava Lavender is born with wings. She is not born with, however, the will to fly. Her family has a rich history of love and betrayal.

tags: fantasy / magical realism  / ya lit