Friday, August 5, 2016

Teen review: Classic fantasy

The Time Quintet: A Wrinkle in Time
by Madeleine L’Engle
Genre: Fantasy
Pages: 232
Appropriate for ages 10+
(Followed by A Wind in the Door)

Reviewed by M.S. (grade 11)

This is the first installment of the Time Quintet series. Meg’s father goes missing after working on a mysterious project for the government. Meg, her brother Charles Wallace, and friend Calvin O’Keefe, decide to go find him. The trio receive help from the immortal beings, Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which, who help them find Meg and Charles’s father.

This book was my favorite when I was nine! It is incredibly interesting and bizarre, and a lot of it doesn’t make sense, but I think A Wrinkle in Time is still one of the best works of literature ever written. This novel is incredibly entertaining and endearing, and I highly recommend reading it.

I would rate this book a 5.

Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Teen review: Psychological mystery

We Were Liars
by E. Lockhart
Genre: Mystery
Pages: 225
Appropriate for ages 15+

Reviewed by: M.S. (11th Grade)

Cadence Sinclair Eastman suffered a head injury when she was 15 and on her grandfather’s island, and suffers from frequent migraines. She has no recollection of what happened to her, and no one will tell her. So when she returns to the island two years later, she has to figure out what happened to her two summers before.

This is one of the best mystery books I have ever read. It has one of the biggest plot twists I have ever read. This book made me sob when I finished it. I highly recommend this book to everyone because the characters are well described, you feel like you are the characters, and the way it is written is amazing!

I would rate this book a 5.

Editor's note: This book has what is known as an "unreliable narrator." If you want to know what that means, go here for a review of a similar book. And if you are intrigued by the way M.S. has described this story, do NOT look it up on Goodreads or Amazon or read any reviews of it--just read it! And then lie about the ending!

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Teen review: The Bluest Eye

The Bluest Eye
by Toni Morrison
Realistic adult fiction, stand-alone novel
Recommended for high school age and above

Reviewed by L. K., grade 11

The Bluest Eye, by Toni Morrison, records the life of young Pecola Breedlove. Pecola finds herself almost cursed in many ways: She lacks society's construction of beauty, she lacks a loving and supportive family, and she lacks any benefits of racial supremacy, for she is African American in a white society. The most disastrous part of these qualities? None of them are under her control, and it would seem that her life follows that same pattern. As if to further show that Pecola's voice is never heard, her own story is not from her perspective, but from Pecola's sort-of-friend Claudia.

Since the story is so devastating, it is almost a relief to find that it is a work of fiction. Almost. Because, although Pecola Breedlove did not have to actually suffer through this, there is a chance that somebody in a similar situation actually did exist in these circumstances, and that is a truth that cannot be overlooked when reading novels such as this one. It is for this reason that I recommend the 206-page novel to seventh graders and up. This novel is not part of a series, but Toni Morrison is known for her writings on African American civil rights and events, such as her novel Beloved, if you are looking for something similar.

Going into the book, I thought, "Hey, a nice short summer read that I've heard all good things about." After actually reading the novel, though, I can only agree with part of that statement. Yes, the story is good, and I would rate it a solid 4 out of 5. However, it is no walk in the park, my friends. It is a story of woe, and each page is dripping with pain and tension and draws sympathy for all these characters, including the multiple antagonists. The world Morrison paints is engaging and real, because it was real. The knowledge that some events in the novel were uncommon but not impossible is a powerful knowledge, and reading this novel will broaden your horizons both in the reading world and the world in which we exist. The Bluest Eye truly describes the events it would take to break a person, to paraphrase Toni Morrison's words. And it was horrifically beautiful.

Editor's note: We would probably recommend this more for high school (9th grade and up), unless you are an extremely precocious reader, due to its mature themes. We agree that this book is both beautiful and devastating. This was Toni Morrison's first novel, and she won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1993 for her writings--the last American to do so.