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Staff Reviews: For Teens

Check out these reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring books and DVDs for teens! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) Staff book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates. The book reviews on this website represent the personal opinions of the individuals who created them and do not represent any official views of the Marathon County Public Library.


Cover: 'An Ember in the Ashes'

"An Ember in the Ashes" by Sabaa Tahir

★★★★ This is the story of Elias, a soldier for the Martial Empire, and Laia, a slave for the Martial Empire. Their lives are separate and lived with separate purpose until their paths cross. They begin to realize that they are much more similar than they once had thought and destiny seems to lead them to one another. As a debut novel by this newcomer to the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'The Weight of Feathers'

"The Weight of Feathers" by Anna-Marie McLemore

★★★★★ This is a story of feuding families, superstition, love, and a hint of magic. While it may strike familiar chords, this is a beautifully written story not to be missed. The Corbeau family, descendants of tight-rope walkers, has a traveling act that showcases their balancing skills as they artfully jump from one slender branch to another in the tallest trees...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, teen awards, morris award winner

Cover: 'How It Went Down'

"How It Went Down" by Kekla Magoon

★★★★★ Tariq Johnson hurried down the sidewalk, hunched over a bit carrying stuff and wearing a hoodie. A shopkeeper calls after him, and a bystander steps in to stop him, thinking Tariq stole something from the corner store. Someone says, “He’s got a gun,” and the bystander steps back, arms raised. He doesn’t see a gun when two shots are fired and Tariq Johnson...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, realistic

Cover: 'The Shadow Hour'

"The Shadow Hour" by Melissa Grey

★★★★★ This follow up to "The Girl at Midnight" did not disappoint! Echo and her diverse crew may have survived their quest to discover the firebird, but the promised peace is a distant promise at best. Hidden away in a London safe house, they’ve escaped the detection of the two warring races (the Avicen and Drakharin) who covet the firebird and consider them...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, action adventure, fantasy, romance

Cover: 'Every Last Word'

"Every Last Word" by Tamara Ireland Stone

★★★★★ Samantha is not looking forward to the start of her junior year of high school. She enjoys the freedom of summer, particularly the freedom she finds on her summer swim team, where she can be “Sam” and can escape the scrutiny of her cadre of cool girl/mean girl friends, the Crazy Eights, who insist upon calling her Samantha. Then she meets Caroline, who is...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Hour of the Bees'

"Hour of the Bees" by Lindsay Eagar

★★★★★ A whole summer stuck in the intensely hot New Mexican desert helping her parents clear out her grandparents' sheep ranch and move her ailing, dementia-ridden, temperamental grandfather, who she has never even met before, is not even remotely what twelve-year-old Carol (Carolina) expected or wanted to be doing with her summer. Then she meets her grandfather...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Forbidden Orchid'

"The Forbidden Orchid" by Sharon Biggs Waller

★★★★★ As the eldest daughter of ten in a rural village in 1861 England, Elodie knows and fulfills society’s expectations by helping her mother and caring for her younger sisters. Her father, who hunts exotic plants in China, is rarely home except for his annual Christmas visits. Elodie shares his interest in science and botany and makes the small greenhouse at...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'The Shadow Queen'

"The Shadow Queen" by C. J. Redwine

★★★★ For nine years, Lorelai, Crown Princess of Ravenspire, and her younger brother Leo have been living as fugitives presumed dead. With former servant Gabril as their mentor and advisor, they have quietly been planning their challenge to the evil queen’s throne. Queen Irina, their aunt and step-mother, uses dark magic to keep control of the kingdom, draining...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories'

"Summer Days & Summer Nights: Twelve Love Stories" by Stephanie Perkins

★★★★★ "Maybe it's the long, lazy days, or maybe it's the heat making everyone a little bit crazy. Whatever the reason, summer is the perfect time for love to bloom." Summer is here and so is the latest young adult short story collection edited by Stephanie Perkins. This is a great summer companion to Perkins' other anthology, "My True Love Gave to Me", which...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, romance, short stories

Cover: 'Vivian Apple at the End of the World'

"Vivian Apple at the End of the World" by Katie Coyle

★★★★★ Unlike her parents, who are devoted followers of the Church of America and the teachings of Beaton Frick, sixteen-year-old Vivian Apple does not believe the prophesized Rapture event will occur, and she attends a Rapture’s Eve party at the home of her friend Harp. However, Vivian returns home the next morning to discover two holes in the roof and no sign of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Emmy and Oliver'

"Emmy and Oliver" by Robin Benway

★★★★★ On a Friday before a three day weekend in second grade, Emmy, Drew, and Caro saw their friend Oliver get into his father’s car for a regular weekend visit. Oliver’s father abducted him, and it would be ten years before Oliver re-entered their lives. The book, which is told from Emmy’s point-of-view, starts with news that Oliver has been found and explores...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Lady Renegades'

"Lady Renegades" by Rachel Hawkins

★★★★ This final installment of the Rebel Belle trilogy finds Harper trying to adjust to normal life months after David, fearing his growing powers, fled Pine Grove. Then a teen girl with paladin powers appears out of the blue and attacks Harper as a threat to David. Concerned that David is creating additional paladins intent on destroying her, Harper sets off on...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, paranormal, series

Cover: 'Trouble Is a Friend of Mine'

"Trouble Is a Friend of Mine" by Stephanie Tromly

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Zoe Webster still can’t quite believe how her life has changed. After her parents divorced, she and her mom moved from Manhattan to a small town in upstate New York where she does not fit in. She can’t wait to get out and sees mid-year admission to an exclusive private high school in Manhattan as her ticket out. Then she meets Digby, who is...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Falling into Place'

"Falling into Place" by Amy Zhang

★★★★★ Liz Emerson planned her car “accident” carefully. She was determined not to be found by a loved one or provide any indication that her accident was actually suicide—she did not want the people she cared about to carry the burden of wondering what they could have done. Despite the fact Liz executed her plan, Newton’s laws of motion had escaped her and she...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Dogtag Summer'

"Dogtag Summer" by Elizabeth Partridge

★★★★ Tracey (Tuyet) is “con lai”, half breed; she has been told that she has the face of the enemy. Half Vietnamese and half American, her father was an American soldier serving in Vietnam. Adopted by an American family in California, she is not sure where or how she fits in. With the help of her best friend Stargazer she begins searching. When they discover an...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Night Divided'

"A Night Divided" by Jennifer A. Nielsen

★★★★ Overnight, twelve-year-old Gerta’s world changed and her family was divided, forever it seemed. She woke up one August Sunday morning to a barbed-wire wall dividing East and West Berlin. Just a few days earlier, her father, a member of the Resistance movement, and brother Dominic became trapped on the other side of the wall after traveling to West Berlin a...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen'

"Nothing Bad Is Going to Happen" by Kathleen Hale

★★★★ Kippy Bushman is still recovering from the physical and psychological damage caused by her investigation into her best friend Ruth’s death. She and her father have a rocky relationship, her former tormenter Libby is the closest thing she has to a friend, and the sociopath who killed her friend Ruth continues to contact her. At least things are going well...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Rosemary Spell'

"The Rosemary Spell" by Virginia Zimmerman

★★★★★ Books and words have always been important to Rosemary and her best friend Adam, so when they discover an extremely old book in a locked cabinet in her father’s old study, they are excited beyond words. Is it perhaps a secret, magical, ancient book? Did it once belong to Shakespeare or perhaps to Constance Brooke, an elderly poet suffering from Alzheimer’s...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Stars Above'

"Stars Above" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★ This collection of nine stories takes place in the world of the popular Lunar Chronicles. Most of the stories serve as prequels to the series and provide additional backstories for a number of characters, including Michelle Benoit, a high-school age con-artist Carswell Thorne, and a young Cress. As charming and endearing as these stories are, the biggest...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'Pax'

"Pax" by Sara Pennypacker

★★★★★ Forced by his father to return his beloved pet fox, Pax, to the wild and move three hundred miles away to live with his grandfather, twelve-year old Peter is devastated. Still grieving his mother’s recent death, losing his father to the war effort (again) and being forced to give up Pax, his friend and soul-mate, is too much. Unconcerned with his own safety...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Love That Split the World'

"The Love That Split the World" by Emily Henry

★★★★★ Natalie has just graduated high school and has experienced visits throughout her childhood from a woman she calls "Grandmother" that no one else can see. Her last visit with Grandmother carries a foreboding warning about saving someone in the upcoming summer break. As Natalie tries to piece together what Grandmother's warning might mean, she starts to see...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Mad, Wicked Folly'

"A Mad, Wicked Folly" by Sharon Biggs Waller

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Victoria Darling longs to be an artist; however, when her love of art leads to expulsion from her French finishing school, her high society London parents bring her home and lay out a plan for her rehabilitation, which includes an arranged marriage to a young man from a proper family. Her alternative: to be banished to a life of near-...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'Salt to the Sea'

"Salt to the Sea" by Ruta Sepetys

★★★★★ Inspired by the greatest tragedy in maritime history, four characters from four different European homelands board the Wilhelm Gustloff ship in hopes of surviving World War II. The war has torn apart the lives of Joana and Emilia. Joana, a young nurse from Lithuania, is trying to reunite with her mother. Emilia, a Polish girl, is just trying to survive...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, historical fiction

Cover: 'Girl at War'

"Girl at War" by Sara Nović

★★★★★ Ana passes as a typical college student in New York City, where her friends do not know that her American parents are adoptive parents or that English is not her native tongue. In reality, she is a survivor of the Yugoslav civil war of the early 1990s who fled the country at the age of ten. After she testifies before a UN committee on children in combat,...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, alex award winner

Cover: 'The Girl Who Could Not Dream'

"The Girl Who Could Not Dream" by Sarah Beth Durst

★★★★ Imagine catching dreams, distilling them, pouring them into bottles and selling them to people searching for certain types of dreams. This is what Sophie’s parents do somewhat secretly in the lower level of their bookstore. Sophie, however, is not allowed to dream because when she does her dreams become real. Her octopus-like pet, Monster, came into her...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, action adventure

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