Be More Chill

Ned Vizzini

Be More Chill takes you through the life of Jeremy Heere; a loser and a nobody with a desperate crush on a girl and a wish for popularity. All of this changes when one day his bully, Rich, tells Jeremy that he needs to become cool. Rich gives Jeremy his secret to popularity; a Squip. The Squip is a new piece of technology yet to be released, a supercomputer in the form of a small grey pill that communicates with you through your brain. It tells you how to fit in, make friends, make everyone love you, and so much more. Jeremy knows he needs a Squip, and everything will change when he gets it.

A funny yet at times depressing book has a large theme of social structure within high school, and how popularity and coolness affects teenagers. The novel shows a rather ugly side where the way the boys treat girls as if they were objects, and is insulting and misogynistic. It has gotten mixed reviews from many people as it also features homophobic slurs, and some see it not at all like high school.

In my own opinion, I found it an enjoyable read. While it was not too exciting, and Jeremy is not the most memorable of characters, the way he goes through his problems and everyday life is certainly entertaining.

There has also been a musical adaption. The musical, while much different from the book, is very good. It is important to note that the way they are characterized differs from musical to book. Even if you are a not a fan of the book, you may still enjoy the musical, and vice versa. All in all, I recommend both musical adaption and book. – Danielle A.

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It’s All Your Fault

Paul Rudnick

Caitlin Singleberry is as pure and innocent as it gets. She wears knee socks twenty-four seven, is homeschooled and of course, hates her famous, yet vulgar and completely not innocent cousin, Heller Harrigan. Caitlin was completely content with her simple sweet life until Heller’s mom (and Caitlin’s aunt) pops back into her life and asks her to do something, something that would only occur in her wildest nightmares. She is expected to be a good influence/chaperone to an out of control Heller who is about to star in one of the most anticipated movies ever, “Angel Wars”. Which means that Heller can’t handle having a bad reputation or any incidents that make her look bad. After some heated debate, persuasion, and reassurance, Caitlin agrees to this seemingly excruciatingly draining task of looking after someone she despises, and for good reason. But if only Caitlin knew what kind of problems this would bring her in the future. Join Heller and Caitlin as they go on the greatest (and maybe worst in Caitlin’s perspective) adventure of their lifetime, and maybe a bit of well-needed bonding/reconciliation after four years of silence. This journey includes kidnapping, a tattoo (or maybe a few), a piercing, stealing a convertible, a robbery and ultimately, the police and a jail cell. But as Caitlin would say, “It’s all your fault, Heller Harrigan!”

Paul Rudnick has created a comical yet a serious book when it comes to exploring family issues. You are going to be rolling on the floor laughing, then two seconds later you are going to have a stream of tears down your face like a waterfall. In four words all I can say is, this is a gem. – Oshadi G.

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Carve the Mark

Veronica Roth

Cyra Noavek and Akos Kereseth have grown up in enemy countries locked in a long-standing fight for dominance over their shared planet. When the ruling Noavek family kidnaps Akos and his brother, Akos must serve Cyra, the sister of a dictator who governs with violence and fear. Cyra has a reputation for transferring extraordinary pain unto others with simple touch, and her tyrant brother uses her as a weapon against those who challenge him. Nevertheless, as Akos fights for his own survival, he recognizes that Cyra is also fighting for hers, and that her true gift—resilience—might be what saves them both.

When Akos and Cyra find themselves in the middle of a raging rebellion, all of their beliefs about their world and themselves are in question. Fighting for what is right might mean betraying their countries, their families, and each other.

When the time comes, will they choose loyalty or love?

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Caraval

Stephanie Garber

Just reading the synopsis of this novel is enough to get you excited for what’s to come. Straight from the get go I was anticipating the world created in Caraval to be an intriguing one, and it definitely lived up to my expectations. Caraval is a book you won’t want to put down.

Scarlett Dragna has lived her life without achieving her dream of visiting the annual performance, Caraval, when her father sets her up in an arranged marriage. Believing her dreams of seeing the performance are crushed, she’s elated when an invitation finally reaches her, a letter from the master of the game, Legend, after years of her writing to him. The game of Caraval is a magical one, and readers get to learn its rules at the same time as Scarlett does.

The whole mystery aspect of the novel, as well as being a world of fantasy and magic, is something that really appeals to my taste of books. While those three points are a big part of Caraval, the elements of love, romance and family are also present, and the subject of abuse is touched upon too. Combining the characteristics of the book and the important points brought up throughout it, was what sold me completely. That’s all I can tell you about this one. Stephanie Garber created the type of plot in which you end up enjoying the story more when you know less about the plot.

Fantasy fans will enjoy this one. It keeps you waiting for more, with the thrill and action of the world inside this book.– Stacie C.

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The Hunger Games

Suzanne Collins

The nation of Panem (that used to be North America) is made up of 12 districts and the Capitol that rules them. Residents of The Capitol live a glamorous, fabulous lifestyle compared to the very poor, sorrowful lifestyle of the Districts. Every year, one boy and one girl (aged 12-18) from each District is forced to be in the Hunger Games, a televised game where it’s either kill or be killed. So, on the day of the Reaping, in her District 12, when Katniss’ sister Primrose gets chosen as that year’s tribute in the Hunger Games, Katniss volunteers to take her place. The boy chosen was Peeta Mellark, who has seen Katniss within their district. At first, Katniss is okay with Peeta and considers him just a friend but, after Peeta comments regarding her on live television she has quite a surprising reaction, rethinking her original opinion of him. Leading up to the commencement of the Hunger Games, a former winner from district 12, Haymitch is mentoring them. He prepares them for the games, helping them throughout many challenges they encounter within the games with helpful gifts.

In an enthralling journey, Katniss Everdeen must fight for her life in order to survive. If she is the last one standing, it means a much better and richer life. If she loses it means definite death! That is what the Hunger Games is all about. Through extreme obstacles and variable terrains, Katniss and Peeta go through difficult decisions that their life will depend on. Who will be the one to survive? Who won’t make it home? It will all come down to life or death if Katniss wants to see her family again.

Being the first out of the three books in the series, it was surprisingly enjoyable and very hard to put down. This book has emotion, excitement and tension. But, in my opinion, there could’ve been more action and some events could’ve had a different outcome. I give this book 4 stars because it is very well written and is such an amazing adventure that the characters had to go through. I suggest reading this because of the conflicts, life and death struggles and how, combined, they brought forth unexpected emotions. Because of the mature content within the story I recommend this book for ages 12+. – Emma M.

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The Agony of Bun O’Keefe

Heather Smith

The year is 1986, in Newfoundland, and fourteen-year-old Bun O’Keefe has lived a solitary life in an unsafe, unsanitary house with her Mother who is a compulsive hoarder. Bun has had little contact with the outside world. What Bun has learned about life comes from the random books and old VHS tapes that she finds in the boxes and bags her mother brings home. Bun and her mother rarely talk, so when Bun’s mother tells Bun to leave one day, she does.

Hitchhiking out of town, Bun ends up on the streets of St. John’s, Newfoundland. Fortunately, the first person she meets is Busker Boy, a street musician who senses her naivety and takes her in. Together they live in a house with an eclectic cast of characters: Chef, a hotel dishwasher with culinary dreams; Cher, a drag queen with a tragic past; Big Eyes, a Catholic school girl desperately trying to reinvent herself; and The Landlord, a man who Bun is told to avoid at all cost. Through her experiences with her new roommates, and their sometimes tragic revelations, Bun learns that the world extends beyond the walls of her mother’s house and discovers the joy of being part of a new family — a family of friends who care.

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She Said / She Saw

Norah McClintock

Teagan was in the backseat of a vehicle during a drive-by shooting, in which her close friends Martin and Clark were brutally murdered. Maybe a random killing spree? Or maybe just a misunderstanding? But as much as Tegan wants to deliver justice for Martin and Clark, she has not seen the killer, or so she says. Considering the circumstances, no one believes her — she was in the back seat while someone pulled out a gun and murdered the two people in front of her. Almost impossible for Tegan to not as much as catch a glimpse of the killer, which is what the police, Tegan’s friends, family and practically everyone around her seem to think. Life for Tegan gets immensely challenging, on top of all the trauma and emotional damage. All her relationships start to fade as everyone thinks that the only reason Tegan is not naming anyone is that of her selfishness and need to keep her name clear, so she would not put herself in harm’s way. However, there is a lot more to this case than Tegan and everyone thinks. Maybe some people thought to be clean of any crimes are the ones buried under piles of them. Tegan has to do something, anything to help Clark and Martin and herself.

In this book that is written in two points of views -Tegan and her sister Kelly’s- discover all the sacrifices and decisions Tegan has to make to make things right. Get your hands on this book as soon as you can, you won’t regret it. An amazing read that keeps you in suspense yet wanting more and more as you continue. – Oshadi G.

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Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1)

Brendan Reichs

Min and Noah have both been killed five times, every two years on their birthday since they were eight years old. Yet, somehow they don’t die. Each time they are killed, both wake up in a secluded area unsure how they have gotten there. All marks of their injuries disappeared, as well as any evidence that the murder happened. For Noah, these come as nightmares. Nightmares promised to go away but keep plaguing him every two years.

However, the earth has bigger problems. The Anvil, an enormous asteroid, is threatening to hit earth and wipe out everything. Nothing will make it. No humans, no animals, no buildings. Everything will be rubble. Everyone is on edge as they wait to find out if this asteroid will miss or not. However, far beyond the Anvil lies a series of even more complicated and sinister government plots that no one knows about. It isn’t until Min and Noah start working together when they uncover years of secrets that involve them and their sophomore class in Fire Lake.

By far, Nemesis has been one of the best books I have read. Not only is it action packed, this book is full of mysteries, questions, and always leaves you wanting more! I am hoping there will be a sequel to this book as the end reveal leaves so many unanswered questions and made me want to know what will happen and how everything will turn out. I would definitely recommend this book to you if you enjoy reading thriller books with an edge of mystery. I look forward to reading a sequel if one does come out, and will definitely look into more books written by Brendan Reichs. – Juliana M.

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The Fixer

Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Tess Kendrick has lived on her grandfather’s farm for as long as she can remember. She spent years hiding her grandfather from the world so no one would know about his mental state. She was successful until her older sister, Ivy, sends him to a mental hospital and brings Tess to live with her in Washington D.C. Tess is anything but happy about this new arrangement, as she hates her sister for abandoning her years ago.

Tess starts at a private school, Hardwicke Academy, only attended by the children of politicians and occasionally the very wealthy. It doesn’t take Tess long to realize that her sister has far from an ordinary job. Ivy is what Washington calls a “fixer”. Weirdly, Tess takes after her sister and while Ivy is solving the problems of people in the White House, Tess is solving the problems of their teenage kids. For Tess, it starts off as smaller problems, such as bullies and grades, but it soon enlarges into a national problem.

Tess is a natural born investigator. When a Supreme Court Justice dies, Ivy is the first person on the case. While Ivy does her best to keep Tess out of it, Tess cannot help herself. Individually, they gather information, but whoever planned the death for the Justice isn’t going down easily. Tess and Ivy soon find themselves in a position where their lives are on the line. Tess just got her sister back, but is she going to lose her again?

The Fixer is a great mystery novel based around American politics. It has an interesting plot with lots of twists, always leaving you wanting to know what is going to happen next. I thought it was refreshing that this book didn’t revolved around a romance with the main character. The book also has a message with Tess and Ivy that even though their relationship is complicated, they still love and want the best for each other. Overall, I really enjoyed this book, as it is one of my new favourites, and would definitely recommend it.

If you want to read more about Tess, you should check out the sequel, The Long Game. – Melanie G.

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Thirteen Reasons Why

Jay Asher

Thirteen Reasons Why has become the new focus for teens and young adults in the last several months, most likely because of the controversial Netflix series. The author wastes no time jumping into the storyline and just by reading the first paragraph it’s obvious that something drastic or emotionally draining has taken place because Clay is explaining how tired he is, and also seems to be zoning out of reality. He’s at the post office mailing a mysterious shoe box that isn’t fully explained until the next chapter.

The next chapter dives into how Clay received the shoe box package and what’s inside; seven double-sided cassette tapes, each one holds another story, another stepping stone into the suicide of Hannah Baker. He also now understands, based on the note that was left inside with the tapes, every person that is on them has contributed to Hannah’s suicide and will receive them in chronological order. At that point, it becomes their responsibility to keep the game going and pass it on to the next person. The first instinct of anyone caught in this situation is to tell an adult to end the cycle however on Tape One, Hannah explains that she’s trusted another copy of the tapes with an unknown person and if somebody chooses to ruin the game by not passing them on, this person will leak the tapes in a much more aggressive and publicized way. Clay knows that since he’s gotten the tapes, he must have done something to dig Hannah’s hole deeper. The reasons he uncovers isn’t what he was expecting and sends him on an emotional roller coaster that he wasn’t prepared for.

To be honest, the plot had great potential but the execution was very disappointing. It wasn’t terrible but it felt like throughout the entire thing the same thing kept happening; the tapes were sent, received, the reaction was identical to the others and each time it was carried out longer and longer. I was really hoping for something revolutionary and monumental, or that feeling you get when you finish a great book. Sadly, I didn’t get that. However, this book (and the TV series) has changed many people’s lives and has turned them away from doing or thinking harmful to themselves so while it didn’t really leave me with a lasting impression it certainly did with others. – Maggie D.

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