April 22, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review Veronica Rossi’s “Riders,” Sci-Fi, and More

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A teen reviewer gives a glowing review to Veronica Rossi’s latest series opener and another young adult swoons over Melissa Landers’s Starflight.

teen reviews_ExpectingFREEMAN, Shannon. Expecting. Saddleback. Feb. 2016. pap. $9.95. ISBN 9781680210637.
Gr 8 Up–
Three girls from completely different backgrounds united by the scourge of parents everywhere: teen pregnancy. Now in uncharted territory, can they unite and find the positive? I like the cover because it was simple, clean, and reflected the contents.The most compelling aspects of the book were the characters. Even though each girl had a completely different history, they all had certain traits in common and found ways to connect through them.–Isabel T., 14


The problem of teen pregnancy was a good way to hook readers into wanting to learn more about the girls’ struggles. Before reading the book, I had high hopes because I greatly enjoy reading stories about hardship. However, the writing style is extremely poor and repetitive. Every sentence seemed to end abruptly with little or no description, causing my eyes to stumble over the words. The plot in the beginning was also extremely clichéd—boy sees girl, girl gets drunk, girl gets pregnant. The second girl’s story is slightly better, but not amazing by any means. I could barely get through the first five chapters because of the dry writing style and overdone plot. For that reason, I could not finish the book.–Jeanine S., 12

teen reviews starflightLANDERS, Melissa. Starflight. Disney-Hyperion. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781484723241.
Gr 7 Up—
This is the amazing story of Solara and Doran, both wanted by the Solar League, both stuck together for quite some time—much to their discontent (at first). Full of adventure, love, courage, and many laughs, Starflight will keep readers turning page after page. All. Night. Long. I loved the cover! I like the stars left behind as the ship speeds away. I think it definitely reflects the contents because the Banshee constantly has to get away from enemies. I really liked the growth of the characters throughout the book, especially Doran. He grew from an ungrateful jerk to a person who really cares about others. I loved this book! This is a book of daring escapades and finding oneself in the expanded world(s) of the galaxy.–Eleanor C., 14           

teen reviews_markedMCCAFFREY, Laura. Marked. Clarion. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780547235561.
Gr 6 Up—
Marked is set in a time when only the brightest make it in life. Lyla is Marked—and her future ruined—when she is caught at a black market. However, she has one chance for redemption: spy on the Red Fist, a terrorist organization. But when she does, she sees the good and bad of both sides. I would have liked the cover better if it somehow actually showed a Marked wrist, instead of a wrist with the word Marked on it. I really liked the little comics in the book, and how they kind of fit in with the book. My favorite part, however, was the overall plot: how the Red Fist isn’t all bad, how Northstrom was not all good. I did not like the ending of the book. The comic appears to mark the end of the story, without a sequel to follow. SEQUEL ME!!! Also, Hope and Laya’s ages were not specified. I feel that this would have made the book easier to understand. I’m keeping this book!!!–Justice J., 12

teen reviews dreamsO’BRIEN, Caragh. The Rule of Mirrors. Roaring Brook. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9781596439405.
Gr 7 Up—
Rosie, Thea, and many of their friends have to learn to trust each other and find a way to take on Berg. Except—Thea has Rosie’s mind. From Berg’s mining, Rosie’s subconscious was separated from her and put into another girl’s body. Imagine waking up in someone else’s body. Strangers staring at you, speaking a language you don’t understand. Learning you’ve been in a coma for six months. Being pregnant. None of this you understand. You are in another person’s body yet have none of their memories. This novel is so intricately woven and is a must-read for all who have read the previous volume The Vault of Dreamers (Roaring Brook, 2015).

The cover immediately attracted my attention. I loved how it looked like a ball of flame and how it was very similar to the first book in the series. Honestly, I didn’t really pay much attention to the cover since I just was so excited to get to start reading the second book. After finishing the book though, I totally saw the cover in a whole new way. It’s like the true meaning of the cover was secret or disguised so that readers wouldn’t notice what it was until the end of the book. I loved how the author switched back and forth between Rosie and Thea. I loved how even though the characters wound up in some tight spots, they always won or escaped. I’m one of those people who loves happy endings. I also really liked how the same characteristics kept reappearing throughout the story. For example, Ian and Dr. Fallon were pretty small characters. They were not just part of the beginning of the book but came up again later on as well, when I didn’t expect them to. O’Brien developed the characters very well. Another thing I really liked was the different romances that were going on.

The only thing I’m really sad about is that I have to wait for the third book to come out. Now that makes me sad. I do wish, though, that Burnham was in the book a little more, I liked his character a lot. Maybe he’ll show up more in the next installment. READ IT! It is just as exceptionally good as the first book! These books are soooooooo amazing! There’s mystery, action, romance. A little bit of everything, which makes it appealing to a wide range of audiences.–Marianne M., 15

RidersROSSI, Veronica. Riders. Tor. Feb. 2016. Tr $17.99. ISBN 9780765382542.
Gr 8 Up
– There are only so many things that can really change a life forever. Death, as it turns out, is DEFINITELY one of them. So when Gideon Blake wakes up after dying, readers will see how his life changes a lot. But when Daryn, a mysterious girl who knows about the weird metal band glued to his wrist, shows up, he follows her orders. Turns out, the Apocalypse is coming—and no, it’s not some fake, over-rated zombie apocalypse. And so begins the journey. He, Gideon, is the Horseman of War, and that he and three other strangers must prevent the Apocalypse. This is the amazing story of five strangers and how they save the world—even at the cost of things they hold dear.

I’ve seen a lot of YA covers before, but his one really caught my eye. And after reading the book, I like it even more. The cover shows an amazing horse—one that’s made of fire. The graphics are great on the horse, really emblazoning its existence and movement. Of course, the horse really does tie into the plot of the book, as it is about the four Horsemen of Chaos, and the horse belongs to the main character.

The plot, the characters—it was all amazing. I’d never heard of the Horsemen before reading this book, but now I can’t seem to forget them! The author seems to effortlessly weave romance, action, and teenage dilemmas all into one thrilling, oh-my-gosh-I-can’t-put-this-down book. Any Rick Riordan fan would love this book too, for it’s similar in plot layout, but with totally different characters and a slightly more mature style. The way Rossi introduces the characters and conveys emotions was something I’ve really come to appreciate, too. Of course, the fantasy element of this book really appeals to me also. The way Rossi told the story was really interesting too, flashing back between past and present.—Kalea C., 14

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