June 21, 2018

The Advocate's Toolbox

Teens Review Michael Miller and Amanda Strickland’s “Shadow Run” and More

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From graphic novels about war to sci-fi,  this month’s batch of teen reviews covers the spread.

confessions of a high school disasterCHASTAIN, Emma. Confessions of a High School Disaster: Chloe Snow’s Diary. Simon Pulse. Mar. 2017. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781481488754.
Gr 9 Up— Chloe Snow is starting high school. With her mom away in Mexico, an annoying best friend, and her love life aspirations, you are in for a ride if you decide to read this book and journey through the life of Chloe Snow.

The book itself was fun to read and cheesy and it was easy to put yourself in the place of the character. I didn’t really like the writing style that much in my opinion.—Veronica C., 13

JOHNSON, Brian David. MWD: Hell is Coming Home. Candlewick. Feb. 2017. Tr. $24.99. ISBN 9780763657062.
Gr 9 Up— I think other teens might like this book. It really depends on who that person is. If someone likes all fantasy, happy books, then this is not for them. But if someone else likes violence and a very realistic take on a serious subject, this book will be good for them. Another aspect to think about is if you like graphic novels or not. Comparing this book to the many comic/graphic novels I’ve read, it’s up there in the art style, but low in the appealing-ness (I know, not a word) of the art.

MWDPersonally, I really love covers that are drawn/made instead of pictures of the real world, so already this book made me interested in it. The colors made me a little hesitant even though I do love bright colors; there was something about the contrast I just didn’t like. The silhouette of Liz and Brutus is very nice. I’m not sure if it totally reflected the contents of the book because I didn’t finish it (I’ll explain later), but the amount I did read to (around page 85), the cover did seem to go over Liz wanting Brutus with her. Lastly, The dog collar is a nice touch, but for just for me I didn’t like it too much, especially with the word “hell” on it. I’m used to swearing and that kind of theme, but I wouldn’t want that on a book that I might read at school or somewhere in public.

I’ll read any graphic novel that’s put in front of me, but this one I couldn’t finish. Although the art style is beautiful and amazing compared to what I could do, it’s a little… dull. Even though that might be what you were shooting for since it’s a very intense story that you didn’t want the art to take away from, the art is somewhat part of the reason I stopped reading. Again, I could never imagine making art as exquisite and detailed as what was created for this book, but the depressing black and white theme of the art wasn’t very compelling. But again, this is just me, a 7th grader who likes color and pop, but to others it might be just for them.

Something that I’ve gotten used to over the years of reading many books is swearing. But jeez, this was just potty-mouth central. Really, I’m totally fine with a few swear words here and there to really make the story fierce and personal, but eventually it just got distracting. Furthermore, since I didn’t finish it, I can’t really make any complete assessments about the book. Also, the amount of gore, smoking, and other unhappy things made me feel just plain dirty. All in all, this is just not the book for me. Someone else might find it as their favorite book in the world, and that’s just fine. I am a very judgmental reader, so there are many books I haven’t finished. I hope you the best and really, it’s a very creative and interesting book.—Juliette D., 12

WonderfulFeelsLikeThisLOVESTAM, Sara. Wonderful Feels Like This. Flatiron. Mar. 2017. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9781250095237.
Gr 7 Up— Everything is cold, cold, cold as Steffi walks home from another brutal school day. Her arms are squeezed tight around her as her feet crunch on the crystallized ground. Her breath billows out in little poofs of warmth that are soon snuffed out by the unforgiving cold. It is a dreary day.

That’s when she hears it. Music. And not just any music: jazz. The music floats down in a beautiful wave from a sole window glowing with light. Steffi can’t explain what, but something compels her to go find out who is playing the music, as if a string is pulling her towards the window. And when she eventually creeps inside the room, she is very surprised by who she finds.

I loved how much the cover stood out without being in your face. It was simple, but it had bright, cheerful colors, and nice clean lines in the graphics that made it even fresher looking. The cover reflects the mood of the book in the youthful, cheerful way the graphics and colors look, as well as a bit of the storyline because of the simple rendering of a girl wearing a simple jazz hat on the cover.

The writing style was compelling and interesting, and it definitely helped me to picture all the scenes vividly. The setting was unique and interesting, and, at least how I pictured it, very lively and fun to look at. However, the thing that really made the book stand out was the characters, namely Alvar. I love the way young Steffi and old Alvar who seem so different form this wonderful friendship through music. Alvar also tells stories that are so beautiful, funny, and interesting.—India S., 12

10ThingsICanSeeFromHereMAC, Carrie. 10 Things I Can See From Here. Alfred A. Knopf. Feb. 2017. Tr. $17.99. ISBN 9780399556258.
Gr 9 Up— Maeve struggles with anxiety and anywhere she goes her mind is stampeded with ideas of what could go wrong. She is always prepared for the world to crumble into pieces. Maeve’s mother is going to Haiti so she has to spend six months with her father. As worried as she is, she meets a girl named Salix, who she finally feels safe around. But she still has many things to worry about. Her father seems like he is drifting away from the family, her stepmother is pregnant, and her worries seem to be building.

The most compelling part was the main character’s personality. She is so different and very built up, it almost feels like you are the character. I really liked the book and I don’t think anything was disappointing. There were some boring parts but every book has a boring page or two.—Veronica C., 13

MILLER, Michael & Adrianne Strickland. Shadow Run. Delacorte. Mar. 2017. Tr. 17.99. ISBN 9780399552533.
Gr 8 Up— Prince-in-hiding and sci-fi bad-ass clash in this epic race for the galaxy’s most valuable, and magical, material.

Shadow-RunThe cover was great! It definitely reflected the contents of the book: the metal looking modern art, but covered in dirt and rust, exactly how I imagine the Kaitan to look. I also LOVE how the door draws you in, as you move deeper into the image, you move deeper into the story, and by the time you’re done reading the back cover, you’re too far in to pull out.

I really liked the way the story was told by both Nev and Qole’s points of view. Did each author write one character? If so, that makes sense. It was great because the thoughts and voice of the characters was different enough that I never had trouble remembering who was narrating.

Also… Basra. S/He’s really the character that brought the story together. It wouldn’t have worked without him/her. Basra’s character was so interesting from the start, plus the relationship with Arjan adds another layer. It was nice to have something Nev couldn’t guess about in the beginning of the story, and Basra is just such a cool character!

I was not disappointed in any way. Also, by the way, awesome names.—Olivia V., 13


A sci-fi action adventure with awesome plot. It had an interesting plot, and a good setting. I would request some diagrams in the front.It was a real page-turner. Some romance though.—Luc W., 12


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