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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: 'Grasshopper Jungle'

"Grasshopper Jungle" by Andrew Smith

★★★★★ Printz winners tend to be edgy and controversial. "Grasshopper Jungle" by Andrew Smith is no different. Set in a small Iowa town, "Grasshopper Jungle," at its simplest is the end of the world as we know it wrapped around a coming of age story, but that description just doesn't do it justice. Austin and his friend Robby break into the local second hand shop...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, printz award winner, science fiction, yalsa top 10

Cover: 'We Should Hang Out Sometime'

"We Should Hang Out Sometime" by Josh Sundquist

★★★★★ In his autobiography, Josh Sundquist asks each of the girls he "hung out with" since Middle School to see why they never went to the boyfriend/girlfriend stage. His background on each of the girls he liked, as well as his investigation is filled with humor and graphs.  This book, for ages 12 and up, is an engaging book that causes one to think...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, award-winning, yalsa top 10

Cover: 'An Abundance of Katherines'

"An Abundance of Katherines" by John Green

★★★★★ Colin Singleton is a highly intelligent child prodigy who finds himself repeatedly dumped by girls named Katherine. While on a road trip with his best friend, Colin seeks to prove a theorem that will help predict the future of any relationship. A wild boar, ten thousand dollars in cash, and other escapades add to the adventure of this coming-of-age tale....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, printz award winner

Cover: 'Batman: Earth One, Volume 1'

"Batman: Earth One, Volume 1" by Geoff Johns, Gary Frank, Jon Sibal, Brad Anderson, Rob Leigh

★★★★★ "Batman: Earth One" goes back the beginning of the Batman saga, revisiting and recasting the murder of Bruce Wayne's parents and his eventual development into Batman. While the story remains basically unchanged, the brilliance here is in the details. Writer, Geoff Johns, creates a Gotham riddled with crime and hamstrung by political corruption on all levels...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, superheroes, action adventure

Cover: 'Rebel Belle'

"Rebel Belle" by Rachel Hawkins

★★★★ If you enjoy YA books with a strong female protagonist, give Rebel Belle a chance. Seventeen-year-old Harper is an overachieving, popular teenager at a private school in Alabama, until she witnesses a deadly fight at a school dance. Suddenly, Harper is given magical powers, including superhero strength from a dying Paladin, and a quest to protect an Oracle...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Hero Complex'

"Hero Complex" by Margaux Froley

★★★★★ Devon is back at school following the holiday break, but she hasn’t been able to extricate herself from the repercussions of her first case. That task might be easier if she hadn’t been knocked out cold in the sole security blind spot on a yacht on New Year’s Eve. Devon is convinced it was no accident, but the lack of evidence to support her claim brings an...

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

Cover: 'Escape Theory'

"Escape Theory" by Margaux Froley

★★★★★ Devon Mackintosh, a scholarship student at an elite boarding school on the California coast, never really felt like she fit in. Now a junior with her sights on Stanford’s psychology program, she starts her duties as a peer counselor. These duties are far more challenging than she anticipated when one of the most popular guys at school, Jason Hutchinson (“...

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

Cover: 'I Was Here'

"I Was Here" by Gayle Forman

★★★★★ Cody has a best friend who decides to commit suicide, seemingly out of nowhere. She goes on a journey of discovery to learn what drove her friend to such a decision while also meeting many others who are also affected by the same loss. What Cody learns about deciding to exist in her new world is the beautiful revelation of this wonderful book. The author of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Absolutely Almost'

"Absolutely Almost" by Lisa Graff

★★★★ Ten-year-old Albie’s life is a tangled one and the short, episodic chapters in this tween book mimic this.  He is adjusting to a new public school and a new nanny, Calista (whom he’s certain he does not need). Private prep school did not work out and his dad is not happy about it. Albie’s life is full of “almosts”—he almost passes his spelling tests,...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'White Space'

"White Space" by Ilsa J. Bick

★★★ Blurred realities, terrifying monsters, and a protagonist who "blinks" into the lives of others set the tone for the first installment of the YA "Dark Passages" trilogy. I've never read a YA book like this before, and I really wanted to like "White Space" more than I did. Bick's story is very creative, and she is a descriptive and engaging writer, but this...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, horror

Cover: 'Blythewood'

"Blythewood" by Carol Goodman

★★★★★ At only seventeen Avaline Hall is now an orphan. Never knowing her father, Ava grew up with a mother who weaved her love of Blythewood, the boarding school she was suddenly expelled from, into every story she told her daughter. But after Ava's mother abruptly commits suicide, and then Ava herself almost perishes in a terrible factory fire, Ava finds herself...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'These Broken Stars'

"These Broken Stars" by Amie Kaufman

★★★★★ Tarver is a brave and decorated soldier from a low-class family. Lilac is an intergalactic debutante from the richest of families. These unlikely companions become the lone survivors of a spaceliner crash on an unknown and strange planet. The story follows their journey across this alien landscape trying to survive the landscape and one another. What they...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Rose Under Fire'

"Rose Under Fire" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★ Rose Justice, an American Air Transit Auxiliary (ATA) pilot, is captured by the Germans in late 1944 and sent to the concentration camp for female prisoners at Ravensbrück. She struggles learn the rules of the camp, whether those imposed by the guards or those of her fellow prisoners. The novel paints a vivid portrait of life in the prison camp and Rose’s...

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

Cover: 'The Impossible Knife of Memory'

"The Impossible Knife of Memory" by Laurie Halse Anderson

★★★★★ Hayley Kincain, a high school senior, is trying to fly under the radar at school, particularly because she cannot afford drawing attention to her life at home. Her father, Andy, a veteran of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, is struggling with PTSD and a severe depression, and the return to his boyhood home has not proved to be a stabilizing force....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'DIY Braids'

"DIY Braids" by Sasha Coefield

★★★★★ Braided hairstyles have become very popular in recent years but they can be intimidating to recreate yourself. "DIY Braids" uses photographs and step-by-step instructions to help you create beautiful braided hairstyles that can be very simple or complex. I appreciated that the models used in the book had different hair types. One had straight hair and the...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, beauty

Cover: 'My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories'

"My True Love Gave to Me: Twelve Holiday Stories" by Stephanie Perkins

★★★★★ This compilation of twelve holiday stories written by well-known young adult authors will not disappoint this holiday season! Authors such Rainbow Rowell, Holly Black and David Levithan will make you love the winter season even more. Each of the stories is very different and carries its authors' distinct voice, therefore making each story a true delight....

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

Cover: 'Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances'

"Let It Snow: Three Holiday Romances" by John Green, Maureen Johnson, Lauren Myracle

★★★★★ Young adult readers rejoice! Three of our favorite authors have gotten together to write about the sweetness of love in the middle of a snowstorm on Christmas Eve. We have the pleasure of reading about three separate but connected couples who live in the same town, through the same blizzard, and the same joys of young love. This is such a fun book for the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, romance, holiday

Cover: 'Circle of Stones'

"Circle of Stones" by Catherine Fisher

★★★ Sulis, a teenage girl being handed off to another set of new foster parents, arrives in Bath, England, ready to leave the past behind her. Within minutes, she is already nervously looking over her shoulders at every opportunity. Linked with her story is that of Zac, the assistant to the man who aims to invent the world's first circular street, King's Circus...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Egg & Spoon'

"Egg & Spoon" by Gregory Maguire

★★★★★ From the bestselling author of "Wicked" comes an enchanting new tale of mistaken identity, unlikely friendships, adventure, and magic set in 1905 czarist Russia. When the private train of Ekaterina Ivanovna de Robichaux is stranded in a peasant village she meets Elena Rudina, a girl who has lost her father, cares for her very sick mother, and longs to find...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Mortal Heart'

"Mortal Heart" by Robin LaFevers

★★★★ In this final installment of the His Fair Assassin trilogy, readers finally learn more about Annith, a young woman who is trained as an assassin in 15th century Brittany. Annith and the other members of the convent, Ismae and Sybella, serve Mortain, the god of death, and also use their skills to protect the young Duchess of Brittany. Unlike Ismae and...

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

Cover: 'Oh Yeah, Audrey'

"Oh Yeah, Audrey" by Tucker Shaw

★★★ This is a fun read about a teen who is obsessed with actress and legendary style icon Audrey Hepburn. Gemma started a Tumblr blog-Oh Yeah, Audrey- about the star, and virtually met several teens who share her fascination. They agree to meet in person in New York City for a weekend adventure inspired by Hepburn's famous film "Breakfast at Tiffany's," but...

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

Cover: 'Anatomy of a Misfit'

"Anatomy of a Misfit" by Andrea Portes

★★★★★ This book tells us the story of Anika, a tenth grader who is experiencing high school at it's greatest. She is trying to remain in the popular hierarchy, live with a unique family situation, and is torn between two boys who are vastly different. Anika has to decide to follow the crowd or to stay true to herself as she tries to fit in. The author did an...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Every Day'

"Every Day" by David Levithan

★★★★ Meet A, a 16-year-old who wakes up every day in a new body. Life has always been this way for A where every day brings a new family, school, town and even gender. A wakes up in the body of Justin, where he meets his girlfriend Rhiannon and instantly falls for her. Read how A struggles with wanting to stay with Rhiannon every day and not being able to...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Forget Me'

"Forget Me" by K. A. Harrington

★★★★★ Morgan's boyfriend, Flynn, died in a hit-and-run accident three months ago. To finally get some closure, Morgan's best friend Toni suggests she upload one last photo of him online. When Morgan posts the photo, the face-recognition software asks if she wants to tag a boy in the town over named Evan Murphy. Morgan is in shock: Evan and Flynn are dead ringers...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'The Boy on the Wooden Box'

"The Boy on the Wooden Box" by Leon Leyson

★★★★★ Ten-year-old Leon Leyson’s idyllic days playing on the streets and streetcars of Krakow, Poland quickly changed to a life of fear, degradation, humiliation and a day-to-day struggle to stay alive. Why? He was Jewish. His detailed memoir recounts these horrific days when the Third Reich invaded their town and began their increasingly brutal effort to...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, history, holocaust

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