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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: 'The Martian'

"The Martian" by Andy Weir

★★★★★ I just had to write a quick review of “The Martian” by Andy Weir after recently seeing that they have made it into a movie to be released soon!  The book has everything that a science fiction reader could ask for. It’s a story of a man getting stranded on Mars, which we all know is not a very human friendly place to be. He must survive for a long...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction, award-winning, alex award winner

Cover: 'Beastkeeper'

"Beastkeeper" by Cat Hellisen

★★★★★ Snow is predicted and her mother is freezing, so Sarah immediately looks for signs that they’re moving as they always do when it turns cold. But this time her mother walks out without Sarah and her dad. As she’s struggling to cope without her mother, her grieving father starts changing into a hairy, wild creature. Before he transforms completely, he drops...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'March: Book Two'

"March: Book Two" by John Lewis, Andrew Aydin, Nate Powell

★★★★★ "March: Book Two" is the second graphic novel in a trilogy that recounts the Civil Rights movement from the perspective of Congressman John Lewis, a key figure of the movement. This volume picks up the story in late 1960 in Nashville and recounts events including the Freedom Rides in 1961, Lewis’s incarceration in Mississippi, and the March on Washington in...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, graphic novel

Cover: 'Sold'

"Sold" by Patricia McCormick

★★★★★ Even though this book addresses a topic that is hard to read about, "Sold" is one of the best books I have read in awhile. The prose was beautifully told in verse, making it a quick read. A story about human trafficking is one I have never heard before, but one that needs to be told. Lakshmi is sold into human trafficking by her debt-ridden stepfather. Not...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, novel in verse

Cover: 'Gabi, a Girl in Pieces'

"Gabi, a Girl in Pieces" by Isabel Quintero

★★★★★ Entering her senior year of high school, Gabi, a Mexican-American girl, tries to make sense of her teenaged world. Gabi's life is not short of drama: her best friend Cindy is pregnant, her other best friend Sebastian just got kicked out of his parents house after coming out, her dad is addicted to meth, and Gabi feels shamed for being a girl by her over-...

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

Cover: 'Paper Towns'

"Paper Towns" by John Green

★★★★★ Graduation is rapidly approaching, and Quentin, a fairly well-adjusted senior, has his future planned out—skip prom (why bother?), go to graduation, and start at Duke University at the fall. He is not one to take risks or draw attention. Then his neighbor, Margo Roth Spiegelman, childhood playmate, current acquaintance, and long-time unrequited crush, comes...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Me and Earl and the Dying Girl'

"Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" by Jesse Andrews

★★★★★ Greg Gaines is a high school senior who has mastered the art of blending into the social woodwork at school. He’s friendly with the many cliques and social strata while being careful not to appear allied to any single faction. His limited experience with girls in junior high was unsuccessful, so he’s given up on dating during high school. His only friend—...

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

Cover: 'Red Queen'

"Red Queen" by Victoria Aveyard

★★★★ Looking for a new dystopian series? Give this excellent debut novel a try! Mare Barrow is a thief living in a village with the rest of her family, born into poverty because of the color of her blood. The Reds are a lower caste than the aristocratic Silvers, who have superhero-esque abilities in addition to silver blood. Mare is offered a chance to work...

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

Cover: 'Illusions of Fate'

"Illusions of Fate" by Kiersten White

★★★★★ This title was recommended to me as "Downton Abbey meets Cassandra Clare's Mortal Instruments series" and it certainly lives up to the comparison. Jessamin travels to the aristocratic country of Albion in pursuit of an education. As an islander from the nearby country of Melei, she is considered a lower caste than the fair-skinned residents of Albion, and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'A Court of Thorns and Roses'

"A Court of Thorns and Roses" by Sarah J. Maas

★★★ A new fantasy series from Sarah J. Maas is sure to delight her fans, but this New Adult novel isn't perfect. If you are not familiar with the New Adult genre, expect the same emotional highs and lows from YA, but with more sex and violence, although not on the level with "A Game of Thrones." The protagonist Feyre is a young woman who is forced to leave her...

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

Cover: 'In the Shadow of Blackbirds'

"In the Shadow of Blackbirds" by Cat Winters

★★★★★ This powerful debut from Cat Winters is unforgettable! Set in 1918 during the peak of the Spanish influenza pandemic, the story follows Mary Shelley Black, who moves to San Diego after her father's arrest. Mary Shelley moves in with her widowed aunt, who is fascinated by séances and a local spirit photographer. Mary Shelley struggles with the constant fear...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, morris award winner, ya fiction with adult appeal

Cover: 'If I Ever Get Out of Here'

"If I Ever Get Out of Here" by Eric Gansworth

★★★★★ Lewis Blake is a seventh-grader in 1976, and, as the only Native American student in his track for the second year in a row, he feels like he has a special force field that isolates him from his classmates. This year, there’s a new kid named George, and Lewis hopes this is his chance for a real friend. Being friends with someone off the “rez” is not going...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Cure for Dreaming'

"The Cure for Dreaming" by Cat Winters

★★★★ Morris Award Finalist Cat Winters follows her debut novel with this unique and terrifying story about a teenage girl who discovers she can see frightening images after undergoing hypnosis. Set in 1900 in Portland, Oregon, “The Cure for Dreaming” is the story of Olivia Mead, an outspoken proponent of the right to vote for women. Her father decides to have a...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'The Darkest Part of the Forest'

"The Darkest Part of the Forest" by Holly Black

★★★★★ This young adult novel takes us deep into the world of Faerie. Hazel and her brother Ben live in the town of Fairfold where humans and Folk live side by side in an uneasy form of peace. In the woods lies a horned boy in a glass coffin. Tourists come to gawk and debunk him as a myth and the locals adore him. His grove has become the party hangout for...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Black Dove White Raven'

"Black Dove White Raven" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★★ This is the story of Emilia and Teo, who are raised as siblings from infancy by their mothers, who were stunt pilots in the 1930s in the U.S. The name of the mothers’ act was Black Dove, White Raven, which refers to Delia (mother of Teo) and Rhoda (mother of Emilia), respectively. The lives of Em and Teo are changed in an instant when a bird strike causes...

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

Cover: 'V is for Villain'

"V is for Villain" by Peter Moore

★★★★★ Brad Baron has a lot to live up to: a father who was a superhero, a brother currently on one of the most popular superhero teams and a genius mother. Enrolled at an elite school for children of superheros, Brad is a disappointment. With the exception of his genius level intelligence, he has nothing else super to recommend him: no super strength, no super...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, diverse

Cover: 'Who Done It? An Investigation of Murder Most Foul'

"Who Done It? An Investigation of Murder Most Foul" by Jon Scieszka

★★★★★ Herman Q. Mildew, an editor renowned for his lack of social skills (which is putting it very nicely!), a penchant for crushing dreams, poor hygiene, and love of stinky cheese is dead, and the police have requested alibis from the many writers and illustrators of young adult and children’s fiction that have reasons to wish him dead. These alibis range from a...

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

Cover: 'I'll Give You the Sun'

"I'll Give You the Sun" by Jandy Nelson

★★★★★ Fraternal twins Noah and Jude have always sworn loyalty to each other above anyone else, but events during the summer before they start eighth grade and the months that follow fracture their relationship. Jumping ahead three years, we see that the artistic, socially-isolated Noah, who had constantly expressed himself through drawing (whether just in his...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, ya fiction with adult appeal, award-winning, printz award winner

Cover: 'Kingdom of Little Wounds'

"Kingdom of Little Wounds" by Susann Cokal

★★★★★ Susan Cokal's "Kingdom of Little Wounds" is not for the faint of heart. Some reviewers have proclaimed that this is not a book for teens, in spite of its Printz Award. The book charts the course of the imaginary Scandinavian kingdom of Skyggehaven beginning with the oldest living daughter's wedding to seal a treaty. At the wedding feast, the queen rips the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, award-winning, printz award winner, ya fiction with adult appeal

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

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