by John Green

4 Stars

Paper Towns : Green, John: Amazon.ca: Books

Paper Towns begins with a prologue taking place nine years before the events of the novel. Quentin Jacobsen and Margo Roth Spiegelman are only nine years old when they discover the body of a man who committed suicide in their neighbourhood park. Fast-forward nine years later, the main characters are seniors at Winter Park High School. Quentin is an outcast, while his childhood crush Margo is a popular girl. Margo reappears into Quentin’s life, showing up at his window one night and recruiting him to help her play mischievous pranks on her boyfriend and friends who betrayed her. The next day, Margo is surprisingly nowhere to be found. With the help of his friends, as well as a series of clues Margo left behind for him, Quentin embarks on a mission to find and reunite with the girl of his dreams. 

I thoroughly enjoyed this book and thought that it was quite entertaining to read. However, I did find that the middle of the book was a little long and tedious. Besides that, I loved the way John Green mixed together both romance and comedy. John Green’s writing style is amazing, and this was a great piece. Also, the characters within the book were very relatable, and I felt connected to each of them, especially Quentin. Overall, Paper Towns was a great coming-of-age book and has an amazing storyline that will keep you engaged. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good mystery and adventure novel!

Emily K.

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by Angie Thomas

5 Stars

Hate U Give, The : Thomas, Angie: Amazon.ca: Books

The Hate U Give, by Angie Thomas, tells a story about a 16-year-old African-American girl named Starr Carter. Starr lives in a poor, mostly black neighbourhood of Garden Heights but attends a fancy, wealthy, and predominantly white private school in the city, Williamson Prep. One day when Starr is being driven home from a party by her childhood best friend Khalil, they are pulled over by a white police officer. Khalil, who is black, is instructed by the police officer to exit the vehicle. After leaning into the window to check on Starr, Khalil is shot three times by the officer and killed. Starr becomes entangled in the national news story after witnessing the fatal shooting of Khalil. Tension culminates in a riot after a grand jury decides not to indict the police officer for the shooting. Garden Heights erupts into both peaceful protests and riots. Facing pressure, Starr must find her voice to advocate for what is right. 

I loved this novel and thought it was incredibly powerful. The novel truly speaks the truth about how today’s society is. It shows real-world problems that affect everyone every day. The novel was informative, showing how our society can be around people with different skin tones and cultures. This novel helped educate me on the matters of racism and police brutality. By reading this novel, one is able to understand the injustice the black community has had to face and is continuing to face to this day. I strongly urge all teenagers to read this book at some point, as it will leave you speechless, stick with you forever, and is truly eye-opening.

Emily K.

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by Sabina Khan

5 Stars

The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali Audiobook | Sabina Khan | Audible.ca

Sabina Khan, the author of The Love and Lies of Rukhsana Ali, has written about the struggles of being a part of the LGBTQ2S+ in the Indian community through 17-year-old Rukhsana Ali. Readers get to look through the eyes of Rukhsana, who is lesbian and lives in a strict home with her conservative, Bengali parents who favour her younger brother Aamir over her. (Aamir is still a great little brother and tries his best to make things better.) Their parents believe that women are supposed to be great wives and mothers but also support the idea of getting an education and getting a degree.

Rukhsana’s parents one day meet her friend Ariana who is actually her girlfriend. Her parents love Ariana, but when they find out who Ariana really is to Rukhsana, they are appalled and ban the two girls from seeing each other. What will break most hearts is that the parents do not care about the fact that Rukhsana is lesbian they are afraid of what the Indian community will think of them for having a daughter that is a part of the LGBTQ2S+. To fix Rukhsana, her parents trick her into a trip to Bangladesh and try to force her into an arranged marriage. Readers will be torn apart by the tragedy but come to love Rukhsana and her family. Rukhsana teaches everyone that we have a choice to make, and it will affect our futures. The words of her Nani “We must be the masters of our own destinies. I did not learn that until it was too late. You have to fight to take back control of your life. Sometimes you will hurt the ones you love the most. But in the end, it will always have to be your choice.” ( Khan 336)

I would recommend the book to readers who can take sad stories but look forward to a better ending. This book does talk about sensitive topics such as rape and murder, so this is directed to an older audience (15+). I am not a part of the LGBTQ2S+, but it is heartwarming to see strict, conservative parents accept and want to learn about their child’s community.

Lyelle B.

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by Ransom Riggs

5 Stars

Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children: Riggs, Ransom: 9781594746031:  Books - Amazon.ca

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is a young-adult fiction and fantasy novel written by Ransom Riggs and is a part of the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children Series (literary series). The timeline of the story is a fusion between the past (the early 1940s) and the 2010s era, including various time loops. The story is about Jacob Portman and his adventure to discover the truth about the death of his late grandfather Abraham Portman. 

When Jacob Portman and his best friend Ricky discovered the dead body of his grandfather, Jacob encountered a monster that no one else saw. The police were called in to investigate the situation, but could not accept the testimonies of Jacob Portman because they were too unrealistic. “Even my best and only friend Ricky didn’t believe me, and he’d been there,” was what Jacob Portman said. It seemed that Portman was the only one able to see the beast, and as a result, he was sent to a therapist named Dr. Golan to “fix” him. According to the advice of the therapist, Jacob and his father Franklin Portman travelled to Cairnholm, Wales, to visit an old children’s home that Grandfather Portman used to inhabit in hopes to heal Jacob.  

During the visit, Jacob found the old home and later encountered the old peculiar children that once lived in the facility. Slowly, Jacob uncovers the secrets his grandfather kept from the family. Then, later finds himself in a dangerous situation that can determine the fate of the peculiars! Upon this realization, Jacob Portman also experienced a great betrayal! Jacob and some of the children from the home set out on a mission to protect the house and prevent a terrible tragedy from occurring. 

This book is great for people that enjoy reading fantasy, adventure, and mystery-themed books. It is also for those people that have a reading hobby or enjoy reading books with a series. Ransom Riggs has done a good job in presenting the contrast between the past and the present while combining them at the same time. In addition, the story includes accurate information on past history, providing a clear time setting of the book.   This novel is very intriguing, leaving cliffhangers at the end of every chapter. The conflict within the story keeps readers hooked and desperate for what happens next. The plot development is really good with its intense and scary scenes! The usage of descriptive words helps the readers imagine the vision of the story. Readers can easily get attached to the characters and understand who they are because of the character development. Also, the book includes pictures of each character to provide a better understanding of who they are. Riggs has a very creative mind and has written a fun story for both youth and adults to enjoy! The book finishes with a cliffhanger but fortunately provides a sneak peek into the next work, Hollow City! Overall, Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an excellent read!

Iris R.

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by Kristin Cashore 

5 Stars

Graceling (Graceling Realm, #1) by Kristin Cashore

Graceling is the first book of the Seven Kingdoms Series written by Kristin Cashore and was published on October 1, 2008. This story follows a young woman named Katsa and her adventures with Po, a young Lienid man, as they attempt to figure out the mysteries and reasons behind the kidnapping of Po’s grandfather. In this world, there are abilities called “Grace”, which allowed one to have an excellent talent for a certain task. For Katsa, it is the Grace to kill. Throughout her entire life, she was trained to kill or torture those who King Randa, the king of Middlun and Katsa’s uncle, wanted, which were mostly morally evil. Though Katsa had an idea to do what is morally better than to be her uncle’s “pet”. After her escape under King Randa’s grasp, she finally had the chance to do what she thought best, as she helps her Lienid companion solve the mystery. 

The writing of the characters in this book is amazing, as each character and their behaviour are expressed in a clear way. For example, Giddon, an underlord of King Randa who had worked with Katsa countless times. Though as the chapters progress, his negative personality shows. His jealousy getting the best of him, his snarky replies towards others, and special treatment towards Katsa- until a certain point of the story. Another example would be Po, who was introduced as a mysterious person, one with a confident and cautious atmosphere. Though as the story progresses, he is seen as a caring person and a well-suited companion to Katsa, as they go wander through the lands of this world.

As for the setting, the world seems to be one of a fantasy and medieval sort. With the descriptions of the lands, cities, transportation, and powers. Just like the characters, the setting is clear, as the language gives off the impression that the era is medieval or somewhat something similar to it. With plenty of descriptive writing, it brings the atmosphere of the story to life. For example, somewhere a third beyond the book, Katsa looks out from an inn as she sees the rainy weather. Another example of well-written descriptive writing can be found on page 95, chapter 13, “Katsa watched the grass moving around them. The wind pushed it, attacked it, struck it in one place and then another. It rose and fell and rose again. It flowed, like water.” Clearly, this book is fantastic when it comes to the plot, characters, and setting, as it brings the reader into the world of Graceling

Nyjel C.

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by Traci Chee

4.5 Stars

We Are Not Free

The Historical Fiction/Young Adult Fiction, We Are Not Free, written by Traci Chee, was an addictive and intriguing book. It was also quite unusual. The author featured 14 Japanese American teens during the perspectives of 14 Japanese American characters. Usually, in books that have 3-5 characters, each character has had his/her chapter. I never personally liked that. But the way Traci Chee had Frankie, Tommy, Ike, Twitchy, Mas, Shig, Minnow, Stan, Bette, Yum-yum and Yosh have their own chapters and perspectives. It was a different book. I never read anything like it, but once I started reading it, more and more, I literally couldn’t put it down! All the 14 teens had different characteristics like bravery, artistic, leadership, talent, loveable, athletic, funny, considerate, friendly, humble, intelligent, sensitive, outgoing and optimistic. The story is about all the 14 teens’ lives turning upside down after over 100,000 people of Japanese descent have been removed from their homes in San Francisco and forced into hard labour camps. These 14 Nisei (a person born in the US or Canada whose parents are from Japan) teens gather to compare their perceptions as they are all facing racism and prosecution to pull them all apart. This book is historical fiction directed at young adults, but in some parts, there is crude language. This story is based on all the lives we’ve lost, especially during WWII. I would recommend this book to ages 12 and up. This is historical fiction and young adult. The book deals with the creoles and discrimination and other races at that time when they were treated badly during WWII. Characters do go through some of the hard times in life for the Japanese and other races at the time that were treated really poorly during WWII. It may have situations and events that are hard for some children under 12 to understand. Nevertheless, I rate this book a 4.5/5 star. It’s an amazing read and an emotional read!

4.5 Stars

Hoda D.

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by Jenny Han

4 Stars

Book Review: To All the Boys I've Loved Before – Eagle Eye

Written by Jenny Han, To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before is a young adult romance novel. Lara Jean Covey is the main character and a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in Virginia and is very close to her older sister Margot and younger sister Kitty. In a hatbox given to her by her mother, she keeps love letters written to all of the boys that she has loved before – five in total. By writing these love letters, she is able to pour her heart and soul out and release the emotions and true feelings that she would never say in real life. One day at school, Peter Kavinsky, one of the boys she wrote a letter to, approaches her and tells Lara Jean that he does not feel any attraction towards her. Initially, Lara Jean expresses confusion, however, she quickly realizes that Peter has received the love letter she wrote to him years ago. Horrified, she rushes home to make sure the remaining letters have not been sent out, but she cannot find the hatbox. She eventually discovers that her younger sister Kitty had sent out all of the love letters. With all of the letters sent out, Lara Jean must cope with her out of control love life. 

Personally, I found this novel to be quite charming and relatable. The novel is fairly short and will not take long to finish, I was able to finish it within a day. Some may find parts of the story to be cheesy, however, I thought that the book was wholesome and relaxing to read. Anyone who enjoys teenage romance novels will absolutely fall in love with this book! 

Emily K.

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by James Dashner

5 Stars

The Maze Runner - Wikipedia

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner, tells a story about a young boy named Thomas, who awakens in a strange elevator with all his past memories forgotten. As he emerges from the earth, he finds himself in a grassland, surrounded by dangerous stone walls that form a maze. In that maze, he also finds himself living in a community with a bunch of other boys who call themselves “The Gladers”. As Thomas slowly starts to gain back his memory, such as his name and age, he also discovers more sinister clues about the boys and the location he landed in. After learning about how the maze surrounds them all, Thomas is determined to help find a way out of this unknown maze with the help of his friends. The journey won’t be easy, as anyone who dares to find their way out of the maze will be haunted and attacked by the Grievers.  

I personally enjoyed reading this action-packed book. Dashner adds the right amount of clarity, detail, and mystery to help engage the reader. The way the plot moves and the different types of events that are happening forces the reader to keep thinking and imagining what will happen next. This is a key feature in Dashner’s writing style. It is a dystopian science fiction book about boys, who have been trying to find their way out of this maze for three years. However, everything changes when the protagonist (Thomas) arrives. I strongly urge you to, if you haven’t, give this book a read, especially if you love reading dystopian science fiction books. 

Ahmed Q.

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by Teresa Toten

5 Stars

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B: Toten, Teresa: 9780385678346: Books -  Amazon.ca

Adam Ross is a very closed-off individual with many issues. Struggling with Obsessive-Compulsive Disorder (OCD), anger management and family issues, he has a very hard time fitting in with his peers, that is until he meets Robyn Plummer in an OCD support group. 

The moment he sees her, Adam instantly falls for Robyn, vouching to do everything in his power to protect her, to be the Batman to her Robin. She provides Adam with an escape from reality, but as soon as he leaves the support group, things get worse. Adam finds out his mother had been receiving threatening letters telling her to end her life; this sends Adam into a downwards spiral. Will Adam end up with Robyn? Will he find out who has been sending his mother those letters, or will he continue to suffer on his own, refusing the help of others?

In The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B, Toten highlights what people suffering from mental illness fear the most, knowing what the problem is but not knowing how to fix it. This novel shows us that it’s okay to ask for help; it is not a sign of weakness but one of bravery and strength. It is truly a rollercoaster of emotions that always has the reader on the edge of their seat, just waiting for what will happen next.

I very much recommend this novel. It can get quite dark sometimes, but that is the grim reality of life, and this story is very realistic. You truly feel a connection with the main characters, especially Adam; it is an excellent read and does not disappoint.

Vlada E.

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by Anne Brashares

5 Stars

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

The Here and Now is a teen science-fiction novel written by Ann Brashares, that blends the catastrophic effects of climate change with time travel (from the 2090s to 2010), adventure, and teen romance. This story is about a seventeen-year-old girl named Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve-years-old along with her mother and a few hundred others. However, they did not come from a different country, but from a different time. A future where a mosquito-borne illness has evolved into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in wrecks. 

Prenna and the others who escaped from the future must follow a strict set of rules which are, never reveal where they are from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside of their community. “Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.” Prenna does as she is told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will someday ravage the earth.

Everything changes when she falls in love with Ethan Jarves. Ethan is not a member of their community, and his relationship with Prenna is forbidden. In essence, a catalyst for her to question the strictures under which she lives. Quickly after she is confronted by a homeless man who proposes she may be able to prevent the disastrous future by changing the present. But why? If a disastrous future can be avoided, isn’t it rational to try? Rather, as the community believes, is it more important to “respect time’s integrity and her natural sequence”? 

This exhilarating, unforgettable, and heartbreaking story is a must-read. I really enjoyed reading this book. Reading this book had me really excited to know what was going to happing, but it also made me disappointed. Overall it was a good teen fiction book. I loved everything in the story except for the ending. I am not satisfied with the ending. I think there should be a sequel. Other than that, this book is amazing and must be read by anyone who loves a romantic thriller.

Angie L.

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