Teen Zine

Book Review: The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

In The Sun Is Also a Star, the lives of Natasha and Daniel intersect. Natasha is currently in a dilemma because her family might be deported back to Jamaica. She also likes to think realistically at almost all times so her being in New York City and coming across a boy who makes her swoon, otherwise known as Daniel, when her family is about to get deported back to Jamaica, causes her much internal conflict. Daniel, on the other hand, doesn’t act rebellious or go against his parent’s beliefs. He’s always been the model child. However, when he meets Natasha, all of that changes. She brings out a part of him he’s never explored before, as he does with her.

I would give this book four out of five stars. The book was a roller coaster ride of emotions. I enjoyed the part where Natasha portrays how Daniel is bringing her out of her close mindset by saying, “Using science against me is pretty smart” (Yoon 90). This line conveys how both characters are bettering each other without even knowing it. I would recommend this book to people who enjoy a good work of romance. There are many heartfelt moments exchanged between the characters which will have readers swooning left and right.

Availability: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Luna (15)

Book Review: Allegiant by Veronica Roth

Allegiant, the third and final book to the Divergent trilogy, was a thrilling story with a stunning ending. The novel alternates between the first-person perspectives of the main characters Tris and Tobias. Now that the war has ended and the faction system has broken down, a new form of tyranny has taken over. Tris and Tobias join the Allegiant, a group that aims to restore the previous faction system and explore outside of the city. Tris and Tobias are sent out of the city along with others, where they meet new people and learn more about their world and their identities. Tris and Tobias react differently to this new information, and they face additional struggles involving each of their families. Throughout the book, Tris and Tobias face challenging choices that will determine their futures and who they are.

Allegiant was an excellent read! The book was exciting and packed with suspense, and it revealed a lot of information on Tris’s society that I was curious to know. I thought Allegiant was the most emotional out of the books in the Divergent trilogy, and I especially enjoyed the book’s ending. Although I did not think that Allegiant topped the first book (Divergent), I thought Allegiant was an amazing read and definitely more interesting than the previous book (Insurgent). If you read Divergent and want to reveal the truths of Tris’s dystopian society, then I would recommend finishing the Divergent series to read Allegiant!

Availability: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: We’ll Always Have Summer by Jenny Han

In We’ll Always Have Summer, a girl with the name of Belly has only been in love with two brothers her entire life. She always knew she would eventually end up with one of them in the future. The brothers are Conrad and Jeremiah. Belly is currently in a relationship with Jeremiah, even though she’s had a past with Conrad. However, as things get serious between Jeremiah and Belly, Conrad realizes he made a foolish mistake in the past by breaking Belly’s heart, so he does his best to try to win her over again. There is a conflict between the brothers and Belly will have to choose one boy in the end.

I would give this book four out of five stars. It was swoon-worthy and well put together. The conflict was realistic and understandable. I appreciated how Belly’s friends were honest with her when she brought up the date of her engagement to one of the boys by saying “That’s really, really soon” (Han 68). It builds up to the fact Belly will end up rethinking her decisions and Han built this masterpiece in a beautiful way. I would recommend this book to lovers of the romance genre and to those who are looking for a quick read.

Availability: Electronically via Hoopla or via ILL

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Luna (15)

Book Review: Insurgent by Veronica Roth

Insurgent is the second book of the Divergent series. The story picks up with the same main character, Tris, and where the first book Divergent ended. The faction system in Tris’s society has started to break down into tyranny and chaos. Jeanine Matthews, the one who is behind it all, intends to control everyone in the city by injecting them with a serum and by eliminating the uncontrollable Divergent population. Tris and others are determined to stop Jeanine, but they face many struggles on the way. Also, throughout the book, Tris must stay brave as she faces several internal and external struggles, including guilt, trust, enemies, betrayal, deaths, and changing relationships.

Insurgent was an exciting read. I did not enjoy it as much as I enjoyed the first book, though. I found that the first book had a more engaging storyline and better plot twists. Also, I did not like the personality changes of some of the characters between the first and second book, including for Tris. However, the book still had many important themes, and there was a lot of adventure and suspense. Additionally, if you want to know the full story and read the full Divergent series (the third book, Allegiant, gets even better!), Insurgent is definitely worth reading. I would recommend this book to anyone who is interested in getting a step closer to revealing the truth of Tris’s dystopian society. Before you read Insurgent, though, make sure to read the first book, Divergent!

Available: Electronically via Hoopla OR Physically in the Library

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli

Stargirl offers readers with a nice, enjoyable story and an important message. The book is in first-person through the perspective of Leo, who is an ordinary kid that attends an ordinary school. One day, things change at Leo’s school as there is a new girl who goes by the name Stargirl. Stargirl is very different from everyone else in the school with her bright personality and unusual behavior. She plays the ukulele at school, wears an interesting fashion, and she is not afraid to express herself. Throughout the book, Stargirl’s popularity in school changes, as well as her relationship with Leo.

This book was definitely a good read, but it was not one of my personal favorites. I did not find the plot to be very exciting as the book did not contain much suspense. Still, I thought Stargirl was an enjoyable read. The book had several important themes for middle schoolers and high schoolers, including topics on popularity, love, kindness, and being yourself. I also liked the novel’s ending, as it left some loose ends. Overall, the book had a cute storyline and valuable themes. I would recommend Stargirl to any teen that likes to read realistic fiction or would like to enjoy a nice, calm read.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Watch Over Me by Nina LaCour

Through the climactic story going in depth into the life of the main character, Mila, Nina LaCour creates a breathtaking, but emotional story of Mila’s past. This complex story dives into the line between comparison and reality and exhibits lessons that can be compared to our everyday lives. The story keeps the reader intrigued and draws in attention to the conflict and indecisiveness present in the main character. LaCour delivers an entertaining, yet lesson-learning novel to the audience.

Memories from the past continue to haunt Mila and bring her trauma, but self-discovery. Her lonely lifestyle eventually opens up and brings her a new lifestyle. Mila’s mindset throughout the story is self-degrading and negative, until she learns otherwise. These lessons can be applied to our reality and everyday lives by expressing the importance of motivation and self-confidence. Mila eventually learned these lessons herself and applied them to her own life. Her new ways of desire and encouragement allowed her to receive job offers and a new home, creating her an escape from the foster care system.

This emotion-packed novel creates a sense of feeling throughout the audience. The story is very well paced and connects to the reality we live in. The details throughout the novel are so secure and allow the reader to depict an image of the scenes in their head, as if it were a play happening right in front of you. Unfortunately, the novel includes themes of abandonment and loneliness which might not be the best for children to read. This novel does not include many flaws and it is highly recommended.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 4/5 stars

Reviewed by: Giovanna (16)

Book Review: Love ala Mode by Stephanie Kate Strohm

Strohm’s sweet sprinkle of romance in Paris is truly delightful in this pleasing book.

 

In Love a la Mode, Rosie Radeke comes from a small town in Ohio with strong aspirations of being accepted into a reputable culinary school, even though she prefers to bake rather than create full course meals. However, her cooking skills are put to the challenge once she gets in and has to face a demanding teacher as well as personal drama.

On the other hand, Henry Yi grew up in the kitchen helping his dad in Chicago. He doesn’t have much trouble when it comes to cooking, but in order to stay in Paris, he must maintain good grades, on his mother’s orders, which he has a tough time doing. On top of that, he starts falling for Rosie and meets a worthy opponent along the way, Bodie Tal.

I would give Love a la Mode three out of five stars. While the characters were engaging and the setting was delightful, there was no major plot twist to get me hooked. Most of the events were predictable and not surprising. However, I did appreciate how quick of a read this was. I would recommend this book to lovers of the romance genre and who are looking for a quick read.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 3/5 stars

Reviewed by: Luna (15)

Book Review: Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

In the novel Echo, three stories are beautifully intertwined into one through the power of music and a harmonica. One story takes place in Germany during the 1930s when Adolf Hitler was chancellor. The main character of the first story, Friedrich, has a large birthmark on his face and a strong passion for conducting, which causes others to treat him differently. Friedrich and his family face challenges and hardships from the changes in Germany as the Nazis gained control, and their futures are forever altered. The next story takes place in Pennsylvania during the 1930s. The main character, Mike, lives in an orphanage with his brother Frankie. The two brothers are determined to stay together, but sticking together is a challenge when no one is willing to adopt two boys. The final story takes place in California during the 1940s around World War II. Ivy is a Mexican-American, and she has a strong passion for music that her parents do not care about. Ivy faces segregation because of her Mexican heritage, and she also sees widespread hate for Japanese-Americans after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. In the end, all three stories are tied together by the journey of a harmonica.
This book was a wonderfully orchestrated piece and one of my personal favorites! I loved the cliffhangers at the end of each story, and I really enjoyed all the connections I could make as the three separate stories were pieced together. Echo was a very heartwarming and charming novel. This book is perfect for anyone who likes historical fiction, music, or just a spectacularly crafted story!

Title Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 5/5 stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Divergent by Veronica Roth

Imagine a world where everyone was divided into groups based on their personality types. You would have to choose a group to stay with for the rest of your life. Your faction would become more important than family and would even make up your new identity. In the novel Divergent, this world is reality.

The main character in Divergent, Beatrice (Tris) Prior, lives in this type of dystopian society. However, Tris does not fully fit into this grouping, yet she still must choose a faction. Should she follow what her parents want or what her heart desires? Once Tris chooses her faction, she must go through a series of tests to become a member of her faction. These tests will take Tris’s mental and physical to a level that she has never reached before. She experiences self-discovery, challenges, betrayal, tough decisions, and romance, while also making new friends and enemies throughout the book. In the end, Tris faces an unexpected challenge that puts her self to test. Can she, and will she, be able to overcome these obstacles?

When I read Divergent, I could not put it down! Divergent was packed with exciting twists and turns, and it was a fast-paced read. I was intrigued by the concept of a dystopian society, and I loved the connections I could make with the characters. The book was so descriptive and smoothly transitioned that I could visualize every detail, character, and event. If you are into thrilling novels packed with action, suspense, dystopia, and even romance, this book is definitely for you!

Title Available: Electronically via Hoopla or Physically in the Library

Rating: 5/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Sarah (15) of MNHS

Book Review: Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith

Field Notes on Love by Jennifer E. Smith is the perfect fluffy romance read.

Hugo is a sextuplet from England. The futures for him and his siblings have always been planned for them. When his girlfriend broke up with him, he was left with a gift of two train tickets. The only catch is that the train tickets are under her name, Margaret Campbell, and the tickets are non-refundable and non-transferable. He creates the plan to find someone with the same name to go with.

Mae is a filmmaker from New York. After she’s been rejected from USC’s film school, she is looking for an adventure for inspiration. When she sees Hugo’s ad looking for someone with her name, she decides that it’s the perfect opportunity.

The two strangers spend a week together on a train ride from New York City to San Francisco. During this time, they bond with each other and with other passengers on the train. They both make self discoveries and make plans about each of their futures.

I really enjoyed the characters and setting of this book. Hugo and Mae were both likable characters who had funny, supportive families. I liked the traveling aspect of this book and the setting of a train with stops across the U.S.

I recommend this book to anyone who is looking for a quick romance read about figuring out who you are as an individual.

Available: Electronically via Hoopla

Rating: 4/5 Stars

Reviewed by: Jessica (14) from MNHS