Eleanor & Park

Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor and Park is a story about two people — a girl named Eleanor who is a little chubbier than the rest of the girls at her school and dresses funny as if she’s searching for attention. Park is a normal kid who has normal classes and a normal family, so the last thing he wants is Eleanor, the chubby girl who stares at him, to ruin this. Park and Eleanor go to school on the same bus, and start to bond over comics and music. Eleanor and Park learn things about each other that they never knew and tackle things like abuse and self recognition together. A story about how even two of the most separate and opposites of people can become close if they keep an open mind.

I personally thought this book was enjoyable but it had an awkward elevation by the middle. It started as if they hated each other and all of a sudden they unrealistically became crazy about each other. I didn’t enjoy that because it wasn’t very relatable; it was a good way to show how people sometimes can just click, but to me, it felt like it was forced and not a normal transition. There were some parts I really loved and some I just couldn’t handle. I have mixed feelings about this book but at the end of the day it was not bad. I had a good time reading it and I loved reading about Eleanor’s life because it made me realize that you don’t always know what’s happening in peoples lives and why they act they way that they do or dress in the way they do. It taught me to never be judgmental because nothing good comes from judgment. – Fatima S.

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda

Becky Albertalli

Simon is penpals with Blue, but he does not know their real identity. Blue and Simon talk about life and all their little mishaps in life, without any personal details, so they can’t figure out who the other is. He starts to suspect who his pen-pal/secret admirer is and when they get to know each other better all he wants to do is know who Blue really is, even though Blue is strongly opposed to it.

When a fellow student at their high school finds an email between them, he begins blackmailing Simon to help him get a date with his friend Abby or else he will spill the emails. Simon feels there is no choice but to obey. Every major event will make you rethink how you thought the story would play out. A heartfelt story of blackmail, pen pals, friendship, and the struggles of life.

You won’t want to put this book down and the characters have been written as relatable and realistic. Becky Albertalli’s beautifully written plot is comparable to those of many teen’s struggles and therefore makes the overall story take you through every page in a way that makes it seem as if you are in the story too. An emotional rollercoaster and by the end, you will be wishing for more.

I would recommend this book to most people, this plot will have you hanging off every word not wanting to take a break. Warning: you may have the urge to eat Oreos and Reese’s pieces while you read! Also even after reading, I still do not completely understand the connection to the Homo Sapiens Agenda even though it is mentioned somewhat throughout the book. A very quick read but a moderately sized book for teens and up, as the information sometimes needs an understanding of the subject matter. – Zoe P.

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Six Impossible Things

Fiona Wood

Six Impossible Things was a hilarious book that made you laugh at the situations Dan experiences — like a company bankruptcy and a divorce lead to a move into a deceased family members’ home. These life-altering changes lead to the discovery of an attic connecting his house to the house of the girl next door, but not just any girl — a girl he’s been watching and admiring. Although they have never met, he knows more about her than he should. She’s even number 1 on his list of six impossible things list! Nothing can go right for Dan; no matter how much he worries and plans, there always seems to be a little blip, something changes, or he gets caught.

Not at all overly dramatized like many other teen novels, which make for a better plot. I would recommend this book for people who have enjoyed My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick. I wish Six Impossible Things would have had a more detailed and emotional ending compared to the abrupt ending that it had, but it was still a great book and overall enjoyable. No matter how many times the others at school tried to put him down, he would get back up only slightly fazed and continue to try. Dan doesn’t give up, and although the list is of Impossible things he refuses to stop trying to obtain his goals and complete the list, Dan doesn’t give up trying to achieve his six impossible things. This book teaches a very good lesson that sometimes we forget, that what you want may seem impossible but if you persevere and don’t stop even when odds are against you, you may just surprise yourself and achieve the so-called impossible, if not how would the world have advanced? – Zoe P.

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The Edge of Seventeen

Nadine Franklin is an awkward 17-year-old who believes she has it worse than everyone. Her best friend Krista is the only human Nadine socializes with. The one person she goes to with all her problems is her teacher, Mr. Bruner. Nadine’s all time crush, Nick, hasn’t even spared her a glance, and her perfect brother Darian gets all of their mother’s attention. When Nadine finds out Krista and Darian have been seeing each other behind her back, Nadine feels neglected by her best friend. She replaces her with Erwin, a classmate, the one person who would listen to her rant endlessly. Little does Nadine know, Erwin has a huge crush on her but Nadine being so is oblivious towards his feelings, and doesn’t treat him with importance. One day, Nadine gets in contact with Nick and goes out with him, but comes home disappointed with his arrogant behavior. Nadine must learn what is really important in a friendship to save the ones that matter most.

The Edge of Seventeen is unique, funny and relatable in every way. The main character Nadine goes through numerous relatable situations that you will feel as if you’re playing Nadine’s part yourself. I would recommend this movie to everyone in high school though mostly to people who don’t step out of their comfort zone just like Nadine. There isn’t a moment in this movie that doesn’t seem true, this movie would definitely be my number one choice for a movie marathon. – Abrish Z.

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The Gathering (Darkness Rising, #1)

Kelley Armstrong

Maya is in grade 11 and lives a pretty ordinary life. Since she was adopted, she doesn’t know much about her biological family or how her life would be if she lived with them. The only clue she has is a paw shaped birth mark that sits on her hip. However, Maya had never really thought about her biological parents as she is happy with living with her adoptive family in a very small community on Vancouver Island until strange events start to happen in the small town. Events that for some reason make her think of her best friend Serena’s strange and ‘freak accident’ drowning. For instances, mountain lions always seem to be near wherever Maya is. And a mysterious new boy starts to slowly draw her in.

After a ‘reporter’ starts to come around the island and ask unusual and out of place questions, Maya and her best friend Daniel feel that something is off. As they investigate further, a puzzle starts to form about her biological family, the medical institute in her small community, and the incident of her best friend’s death. As she dives deeper down into this entanglement, relationships start to form, even in a way she would never expect.

‘The Gathering’ was enjoyable for me to read as I connected it to my life and my experiences. This book draws you into a web of secrets, puzzles, and questions that can only be answered by guessing and reading. My recommendation for this book would go out to people who relish in fantasy novels, as well as trying to figure out many mysterious questions and characters. – Juliana M.

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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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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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Zenn Diagram

Wendy Brant

Typically, being a math genius isn’t a great way to be popular in high school. To make it worse for seventeen year old Eva Walker, her classmates think that she is a neat freak. But they could not have it more wrong. Sadly this misconception is because Eva cannot touch anything or anyone. Eva can feel other people’s emotions like no one else. If she touches someone or their belongings -from cell phones to textbooks to jackets- all the emotions of that person’s past will swirl around in her head leaving her dizzy and tired. These emotions can be fun and happy but more often are sad and scary. So, Eva has adapted to her power and tries her hardest not to touch anything that isn’t hers.

Eva believes that because of her power, she will never have a romantic relationship, until she meets Zenn. Zenn is a cliché, a tall and handsome artist with multiple jobs to keep a roof over his and his mother’s heads. As her and Zenn grow closer romantically, Eva takes her chances and touches him. Shockingly, she is not overwhelmed by his emotions but rather by nothing at all. Eva believes that this is some sort of sign that they were meant to be. Together they connect in a way like no other, by sharing nerdy jokes and puns that most people would roll their eyes at.

But as the two grow closer, they begin to unravel the truth. The truth of how Zenn is somehow related to the fact that Eva’s parents died before she could even remember. Could this horrifying secret pull the two apart?

Zenn Diagram is written in a funny yet nerdy perspective of a girl who has had some large difficulties in her life. You cannot help but laugh at Eva’s sense of humor just as you cannot help but fall for Zenn. You will find yourself instantly connecting with Eva and wishing you had the relationship that she and Zenn have. This book will have you reading for hours in suspense, wondering what will happen next. – Melanie G.

Looking for another review of this book? Check out Angie’s review!

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The Hearts We Sold

Emily Lloyd-Jones

When Dee Moreno makes a deal with a demon—her heart in exchange for an escape from a disastrous home life—she finds the trade may have been more than she bargained for. And becoming “heartless” is only the beginning. What lies ahead is a nightmare far bigger, far more monstrous than anything she could have ever imagined.

With reality turned on its head, Dee has only a group of other deal-making teens to keep her grounded, including the charming but secretive James Lancer. And as something grows between them amid an otherworldy ordeal, Dee begins to wonder: Can she give someone her heart when it’s no longer hers to give?

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