Saturday, March 26, 2016

Teen review: Dual story-telling

In the Shadows
by Kiersten White
Illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo
384 pages
Fantasy /Historical
Stand-alone book
Recommended for 9th grade up

Reviewed by Emma F., Grade 11

In the Shadows, by by Kiersten White (Author) and Jim Di Bartolo (Illustrator), simultaneously tells two stories about the sisters Cora and Minnie who live in a secretive town, and two brothers named Thomas and Charles, who are visiting. This book deals with the idea of immortality, and interweaves two different stories that seem unrelated until you finish the book.

The cover art is beautiful, giving the mystical feeling that is ever-present while reading the book. The shadow of a man and outline of the women also makes it really cool. Jim Di Bartolo’s artwork is beautiful, and is able to depict the the second story remarkably well even without the use of words. I also enjoyed all the characters that were incorporated into the book. There were many, so it was a little hard to keep track. The book is very climactic, and keeps on making you think: What will happen next?

I loved this book so much that I made my mom read it, and she liked it so much that she included it for her 8th grade class. Unfortunately the 8th graders in the class disliked this book, because it was “confusing.” The confusing part was probably that the written story and the illustrated story are completely different until the end.That’s why I recommend 9th graders and above to read this book, because it’s for a more mature audience. One of the main reasons I read this book was because Kiersten White contributed to it. I loved her Paranormalcy series, and I recommend the series to anyone who loves supernatural novels.

This book get’s a 5/5, because the authors used a mixture of media to tell a compelling and unique story.

Editor's note: Although we have her Paranormalcy series and several other books by Kiersten White, Burbank Public Library does not own this one; but based on Emma's review, we will buy a copy!

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Teen review: Graphic Novel

Gotham Academy, Vol. 1:
Welcome to Gotham Academy
by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher,
Karl Kerschl (Illustrations)
160 pages
Graphic Novel: Superhero/ Mystery
Recommended for 9th grade and above

Reviewed by Emma F., grade 11

Gotham Academy. by Becky Cloonan, Brenden Fletcher, and Karl Kerschl, is about Olive Silverlock, who comes back from summer break with amnesia. The amnesia affects her whole life, making her break up with her boyfriend Kyle, and shut out everyone in her life. Olive is put in charge of showing the new student, Maps Mizoguchi (her ex-boyfriend's little sister) around the campus, which she begrudgingly does. In the end, they start solving different mysteries as they go, like the case of the mysterious ghost that’s haunting the halls, and the secret society that seems to be performing seances.

This is one of my favorite graphic novels, and it’s always the one I recommend to people I'm trying to get to like comic books. I have recommended this to all my friends, and they enjoy it just as much as I do. The artwork is amazing, and the detail that is put into each panel is astounding. Olive is really interesting, because, she is such a cold character, yet at the same time she isn’t. I usually don’t like characters like her, but the writers made it work. She’s more of an anti-hero, while Maps is like a hero. There are a lot of mysteries in the series, and whenever a new one is solved, they find another. Gotham Academy also interweaves heroes and villains from the DC universe, but they are portrayed so differently that some are unrecognizable.

The cover art is fantastic, with Olive, and Maps climbing up a rope in the clock tower, with the outline of bats flying up. I recommend this graphic novel to anyone who is interested in starting to read comic books. Overall this graphic novel gets a 4/5!

Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Teen review: Speculative fiction

The Five People You Meet In Heaven
by Mitch Albom
196 pages
Not part of a series
Reading level: high school and up

Reviewed by J. N., grade 12

After maintenance man Eddie dies in a freak accident at an amusement park, he embarks on a journey to heaven, where he meets five people who have greatly influenced his life (some of whom he has never met before). Each character, in his or her own personal heaven, has a significant lesson to teach Eddie before he reaches his own eternal heaven. This story frequently flashes back to Eddie's life on Earth and shows how these five people impacted it.

After falling in love with the two-part show on Netflix, I went and grabbed this book that has been sitting unread in my library. And as always, the book is way better than the show. It was beautifully written, and it was definitely hard not to be emotional by the end of the book. The personal heavens of each of the five people are so vividly described and touching. It was also impossible for me not to sympathize with or become attached to the characters. I would recommend this book to a more mature audience.

I would rate this book a 5/5. The chronology of the story can be confusing at times, but I could overlook it because of the great plot. This book also offers a lot of insight to the reader.

Editor's note: Burbank Public Library also offers this as an audio book, for those who prefer to listen.

Monday, March 21, 2016

Teen review: Contemporary fiction

Audrey, Wait!
by Robin Benway
314 pages
Not part of a series
High School reading level

Reviewed by J. N., grade 12

Audrey, Wait! is a 2009 novel about 16-year-old Audrey, who breaks up with her boyfriend Evan, an aspiring musician in an unknown local band called the Do Gooders. After that happens, Evan writes a song called "Audrey, Wait!" referencing their break-up. It starts off with little popularity, getting played at local venues, but then suddenly it makes its way onto the Billboard Hot 100 list! Everyone becomes curious about Audrey, and she gains fame and popularity herself, much to hers and her friends' disdain. The fame that comes along with being the subject of the Do Gooders hit song puts a strain on Audrey's relationship with her friends, family, and a new love interest.

I picked up this book with the impression that this would be just like any other teenage novel. The first page was filled with clever, funny dialogue and I was immediately hooked. This book instantly became one of my favorites. Each and every character has a unique personality and is impossible to dislike. The story is filled with feel-good humor and is never boring, I started feeling attached to the characters and the story line. I would recommend this book to someone in high school, with an odd sense of humor and a liking for a modern-day cutesy romance.

I give this book a 5/5 because of the uniqueness and humor of the characters and storyline, and because it was impossible not to feel satisfied by the end of the book.