Posted in Book review

Mini Review Round Up: Middle Grade & Young Adult Titles

It’s that time again — I’m finally writing reviews and trying to clear out my ‘needs-reviews’ shelf.

Here are the books reviewed below:

  • Wonder by R.J. Palacio
  • Teen Titans: Raven by Kami Garcia
  • Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
  • Not Your Sidekick by C.B. Lee

Wonder Wonder 

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
August Pullman was born with a facial difference that, up until now, has prevented him from going to a mainstream school. Starting 5th grade at Beecher Prep, he wants nothing more than to be treated as an ordinary kid—but his new classmates can’t get past Auggie’s extraordinary face. WONDER begins from Auggie’s point of view, but soon switches to include his classmates, his sister, her boyfriend, and others. These perspectives converge in a portrait of one community’s struggle with empathy, compassion, and acceptance.

Review:
I’m… not a fan of this one. I see the reason for the hype (I think), but this book isn’t my kind of thing.

Yeah, it flows well and I was able to read through it quickly in one morning. It can be considered heart-warming and perhaps make some change their thinking. I’m just not sure what all the crazy hype is about.

I felt like the story started and ended with no change, nothing new. I wish there had been some consequences for the bullying. I wish the ending had been different because it felt focused on the crowd, the neurotypicals, and not Auggie. Why is he getting an award for kindness? Why is any of it happening except for everyone else to feel better about themselves?

Rating: ⭐⭐.5


Teen Titans: Raven Teen Titans: Raven

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
When a tragic accident takes the life of 17-year-old Raven Roth’s foster mom—and Raven’s memory—she moves to New Orleans to recover and finish her senior year of high school.

Starting over isn’t easy. Raven remembers everyday stuff like how to solve math equations and make pasta, but she can’t remember her favorite song or who she was before the accident. And when impossible things start happening, Raven begins to think it might even be better not to know who she was before.

But as she grows closer to her new friends, her foster sister, Max, and Tommy Torres, a guy who accepts her for who she is now, Raven has to decide if she’s ready to face what’s buried in the past… and the darkness building inside her.

Review:
Since watching Teen Titans back when I was a kid, I’ve always liked Raven. She’s a superhero and saves people, but she’s dark. She doesn’t seem to follow the usual mold. When I saw that she was getting her own graphic novel, I was ecstatic. Truly, it almost held up to my hype.

It is a fun graphic novel that kept me hooked the entire time. I wasn’t a huge fan of the amnesia portion, but I could get over it. There is teen angst, but it works well with the story and the age group. The conflict made sense and I just loved reading this book. I wish it was longer, only because I want more of Raven and I want to see what she’ll do next.

The illustration in white, black, and dark blue was gorgeous I loved how red was also used sparingly.

I’m so excited for Beast Boy’s story!!

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐


Long Way Down Long Way Down

Synopsis from Goodreads:
An ode to Put the Damn Guns Down, this is New York Times bestseller Jason Reynolds’s fiercely stunning novel that takes place in sixty potent seconds—the time it takes a kid to decide whether or not he’s going to murder the guy who killed his brother.

Told in short, fierce staccato narrative verse, Long Way Down is a fast and furious, dazzlingly brilliant look at teenage gun violence, as could only be told by Jason Reynolds.

Review:
After seeing Jason Reynolds speak at ALA, I knew I needed to read more of his works — something I’m still working on. I decided to listen to this, to save time for me, but also because I heard he narrates it.

Look, this book is amazing. I was hooked. It makes a powerful statement and yet doesn’t preach. There is no point where it specifically says challenge what you know or anything, and yet listening to him speak, listening to the words flow, I believe everyone will gain something from this– even if we don’t all take away the same message.

This book is beautifully written and Jason Reynolds does a fabulous job narrating it. I was captivated and at times just sat there listening, not playing games or vacuuming, just listening. This is a powerful story and one I’m recommending to everyone.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐


Not Your Sidekick Not Your Sidekick

Synopsis from Goodreads: 
Welcome to Andover, where superpowers are common, but internships are complicated. Just ask high school nobody, Jessica Tran. Despite her heroic lineage, Jess is resigned to a life without superpowers and is merely looking to beef up her college applications when she stumbles upon the perfect (paid!) internship—only it turns out to be for the town’s most heinous supervillain. On the upside, she gets to work with her longtime secret crush, Abby, whom Jess thinks may have a secret of her own. Then there’s the budding attraction to her fellow intern, the mysterious “M,” who never seems to be in the same place as Abby. But what starts as a fun way to spite her superhero parents takes a sudden and dangerous turn when she uncovers a plot larger than heroes and villains altogether.

Review:
As much as I wanted to love this book, I just couldn’t get myself all the way there.

There are some great things here, teenage superheroes, star-crossed romance, positive parent/kid relations, two girls in a healthy relationship, a trans-character, characters from different ethnicities, and to top it all off a really interesting setting– would you call it post-almost-apocalyptic ?? ?

So many good things here, which is what kept me going through the whole book, but the writing just didn’t jive with me. The clearest marker of this being that I have a hard time reading present tense sometimes — so that is completely on me and not the book.

Rating: ⭐⭐⭐

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