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TeenZone

Staff Reviews: For Teens

Check out these book reviews written by the staff of the Marathon County Public Library, featuring reviews of fiction and nonfiction for teens! (For reviews of books for all ages, visit our main Staff Reviews webpage.) These book reviews also are published at Goodreads.com; follow us for the latest updates.


'Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here' by Anna Breslaw

"Scarlett Epstein Hates It Here" by Anna Breslaw

★★★★ Fifteen-year-old Scarlett Epstein is crushed when her favorite television show, Lycanthrope High, is cancelled. A popular author of fanfic related to the series, she mourns the loss of a creative outlet as much as the series itself. Her online fanfic friends encourage her to get a life “IRL” (in real life) and to expand the scope of her creative writing....

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The Hate U Give' by Angie Thomas

"The Hate U Give" by Angie Thomas

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Starr has become adept at navigating life in two distinct worlds. One is her black urban neighborhood of Garden Heights, where her father operates a small grocery store. The other is her suburban prep school in which she is one of a handful of black students, which lends her a certain cachet that overrides the income disparity between her...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Piecing Me Together' by Renée Watson

"Piecing Me Together" by Renée Watson

★★★★★ Jade is a junior at the best private school in Portland.  She is a talented artist and a bright student, determined to learn Spanish and one day travel the world.  Unlike most of her classmates, Jade is on scholarship and she is painfully aware that this school, and the opportunities it presents, are her ticket out of her poor North Portland...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Anna and the Swallow Man' by Gavriel Savit

"Anna and the Swallow Man" by Gavriel Savit

★★★★★ Seven-year-old Anna did not realize it that morning in Krakow, Poland, that when her father left her in the care of a pharmacist friend, he would not return. It was November 6, 1939, and her father, a linguistics professor, was one of the many Polish intellectuals summoned by the Gestapo, arrested, imprisoned, and ultimately sent to concentration camps. Her...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Sad Animal Facts' by Brooke Barker

"Sad Animal Facts" by Brooke Barker

★★★★ For those of you who like animal trivia facts, this book is for you. There are over 150 hand-drawn illustrations with little known facts about your favorite animal. For example, did you know that a koi fish can live 200 years? Or that gorillas can catch human colds or that camels can drink 30 gallons of water in 15 minutes? This book is a quick read...

Audience: Adults, Children, Teens | Genre: Nonfiction

'The Pearl Thief' by Elizabeth Wein

"The Pearl Thief" by Elizabeth Wein

★★★★★ Fans of Code Name Verity will appreciate the opportunity to get to know the nearly sixteen-year-old Julia Beaufort-Stuart as she is enmeshed in a mystery at the estate of her late grandfather, the Earl of Strathfearn, in 1938. She’s not looking forward to saying good-bye to the Scottish estate, which has been sold to pay off family debt, but she’s happy to...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Enchantment Lake' by Margi Preus

"Enchantment Lake" by Margi Preus

★★★★★ Seventeen-year-old Francie bolts from an audition and hops on a plane from New York City to Minnesota after receiving a troubling call from her great aunts Astrid and Jeannette. She hasn’t visited her aunts’ home in northern Minnesota since her father’s death seven years prior, but she has fond childhood memories of Enchantment Lake. However, she cannot...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Mystery

'Caraval' by Stephanie Garber

"Caraval" by Stephanie Garber

★★★★★ Scarlett Dragna has dreamed of attending the mysterious Caraval, an annual, multi-night, and itinerant event in which the audience participates in the magical spectacle and competes for a prize. She’s written to Master Legend, the mysterious creator of the event over the course of seven years. Soon to be married to a man whom she’s never met (but sees as...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'The Passion of Dolssa' by Julie Berry

"The Passion of Dolssa" by Julie Berry

★★★★★ Dolssa de Stigata is a young noblewoman of eighteen who draws the attention of church authorities when they learn that she is telling family members and friends of the bond she shares with her beloved Lord. Sentenced to death along with her mother, she is mysteriously freed before she is to be dragged into the flames and begins a life on the run hiding from...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Hunted' by Meagan Spooner

"Hunted" by Meagan Spooner

★★★★★ In this retelling of Beauty and the Beast, Meagan Spooner weaves the classic tale with Russian folklore to create a dark adventure full of magic, heartbreak, and destiny. Born to an aristocratic family, Yeva has always felt something is missing in her life. She is bored serving as one of the baroness's ladies and she only truly feels comfortable when...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Young Adult

'Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars' by Nathalia Holt

"Rise of the Rocket Girls: The Women Who Propelled Us, from Missiles to the Moon to Mars" by Nathalia Holt

★★★★★ This book is an account of women who were human computers (and later computer programmers and engineers) at the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in California. Rather than choose one of the occupations most commonly pursued by women of their time (teacher, nurse, or secretary), these women put their math and science skills to work in order to generate equations and...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Nonfiction

'A Study in Charlotte' by Brittany Cavallaro

"A Study in Charlotte" by Brittany Cavallaro

★★★★★ Jamie, a descendant of John Watson, is still adjusting to life at his new boarding school and recovering from a recent and disastrous encounter with Charlotte Holmes (descendent of Sherlock Holmes) when the pair become prime suspects in the death of a fellow student. It seems someone is intent on framing the duo, but who could it possibly be? They weren’t...

Audience: Adults, Teens | Genre: Fiction, Mystery

'Heartless' by Marissa Meyer

"Heartless" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★ Everyone knows the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland to be a mad tyrant. But, how did Catherine, the future Queen of Hearts, become so heartless? Cath has no desire to marry the awkward and timid King of Hearts. Instead, she wants to open a bakeshop and spend her days baking macaroons and cakes for the Kingdom of Hearts. Her parents,...

Audience: Teens | Genre: YA Fiction With Adult Appeal

'Gemina' by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

"Gemina" by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

★★★★★ "Gemina", the second installment of the Illuminae Files, jumps to the intended destination for the survivors of the Kerenza attack—Jump Station Heimdall. At Heimdall, preparations for the annual Terra Day Celebrations and scheduled maintenance of the wormhole are underway. Hanna, the often-indulged daughter of the widowed commander, is running late for the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: YA Fiction With Adult Appeal

'The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy' by Peggy Caravatnes

"The Many Faces of Josephine Baker: Dancer, Singer, Activist, Spy" by Peggy Caravatnes

★★★★★ Most people recognize Josephine Baker as that dancer in the banana skirt.  But Josephine Baker was a far more complex character than can be summarized in one sentence.  Starting life in the poorest slums of East St. Louis, Baker went on to gain international fame dancing and singing on stage and eventually on screen.  An extravagant dresser...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Biography, Nonfiction

'The Girl From Everywhere' by Heidi Heilig

"The Girl From Everywhere" by Heidi Heilig

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Nix has only known life as a time-traveling vagabond on her father’s Portuguese tall ship. (Yes, it looks like a pirate ship.) Her father, Slate, has a special ability to navigate to any location at a specific point in time, even mythical locations, as long as he has an authentic map created on that date. Nix has been to 21st century New...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Strong Female Protagonist' by Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag

"Strong Female Protagonist" by Brennan Lee Mulligan, Molly Ostertag

★★★★★ I don't always cry while reading books.  Mostly my sniffles are reserved for a good romance, but the graphic novel "Strong Female Protagonist" got me sniffling. "Strong Female Protagonist" tells the story of Alison Green, AKA Mega Girl, a former superhero turned college student.  After Alison is confronted by the damaging results of her...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction, Graphic Novels, Superheroes

'After the Woods' by Kim Savage

"After the Woods" by Kim Savage

★★★★ Almost a year ago, Julia and Liv went for a run in the woods. Seeing her friend attacked launched Julia into action, attacking the man and allowing Liv to get away. Julia ended up spending two mysterious days with this man. The novel opens almost a year later, with Julia struggling to remember what happened, how she got away and learning to deal with the...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'Uninvited' by Sophie Jordan

"Uninvited" by Sophie Jordan

★★★★★ It seems as though every time you turn on the news you hear/see reports of violence. What would happen if there was a way to test and see who would be most likely to commit those crimes before they happen? This book delves into an example of that. Author Sophie Jordan writes a very well done novel exploring the possibility of being able to test DNA to see...

Audience: Teens | Genre: Fiction

'An Ember in the Ashes' by Sabaa Tahir

"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

'The Weight of Feathers' by Anna-Marie McLemore

"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

'How It Went Down' by Kekla Magoon

"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

'The Shadow Hour' by Melissa Grey

"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

'Every Last Word' by Tamara Ireland Stone

"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

'Hour of the Bees' by Lindsay Eagar

"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

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