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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: 'Skin of the Sea'

"Skin of the Sea" by Natasha Bowen

★★★★ Steeped in West African mythology and history, this creative retelling of The Little Mermaid will keep readers hooked and enrich their knowledge. Set in the mid-1400s at the beginning of the slave trade, the story centers on Simi, a Mami Wata (mermaid) tasked to collect and bless the souls of those who die at sea. When a boy named Kola is...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, young adult, fantasy, mythology

Cover: 'Iron Widow'

"Iron Widow" by Xiran Jay Zhao

★★★★★ Action-packed and brimming with righteous fury, the plot of this novel will take the reader through a unique blend of Chinese mythology, modern anime themes and superhero-like action sequences. The narrator Zetian is a young, spirited powerhouse bent on destroying the unfair patriarchal systems that caused the death of her sister at the start...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction, mythology, chinese mythology, fantasy, futuristic

Cover: 'The Song of Achilles'

"The Song of Achilles" by Madeline Miller

★★★★★ This is a beautifully-written romantic interpretation of the tragedy of Achilles and Patroclus, this time told from Patroclus' perspective. It tells of his childhood, how he met Achilles, and their time growing up together. The classic story sees new life in the form of modern prose adorned with heaps of beautiful imagery that pays homage to Homeric...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction, romance, historical fiction, tragedy, lgbt

Cover: 'Firekeeper's Daughter'

"Firekeeper's Daughter" by Angeline Boulley

★★★★★ Daunis Fontaine is an 18-year-old living in her hometown of Sault St. Marie, in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. While she should be headed to the University of Michigan to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor, she decides to stay home to help her mother after a series of family tragedies. Daunis is also highly connected to her Firekeeper roots: she is...

Audience: teens | Genre: undefined

Cover: 'The Dead and the Dark'

"The Dead and the Dark" by Courtney Gould

★★★★★ One chapter in and I was immediately hooked on this story about a family who move to a small town called Snakebite for their latest ghost hunting investigation. But when Logan and her dads show up, it immediately becomes clear that not everything is as it seems. Something is wrong with this town, and it's not just their extreme distrust and disrespect of...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'House of Hollow'

"House of Hollow" by Krystal Sutherland

★★★★★ How would you live your life if you and your two sisters mysteriously vanished when you were young, only to return a month later with no memory of what happened and nothing but identical scars on your throats? Soon after returning, all their eyes turn black and their hair turns stark white, but the mystery of what happened is never found. Iris chooses...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, young adult

Cover: 'Dairy Queen'

"Dairy Queen" by Catherine Gilbert Murdock

★★★★★ This book was so true to life about a teen girl growing up on a dairy farm in Wisconsin. The author writes with detail about the daily and seasonal work that always needs to be done on the farm. Throw in some unexpected happenings like illness or surgery and the daily routine changes for everyone.  DJ finds herself in charge of many chores while her...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'One Was Lost'

"One Was Lost" by Natalie D. Richards

★★★★★ In this intense young adult thriller, a small group of students are hiking on a senior field trip. When a flash flood cuts off three students from the other four, the students quickly realize this is no ordinary field trip. When they wake up dazed with their supplies missing and chilling words written on their wrists, they realize they're not alone in the...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Clap When You Land'

"Clap When You Land" by Elizabeth Acevedo

★★★★★ This novel, written in verse, follows Camino Rios in the Dominican Republic and Yahaira Rios in New York City. Both are unaware that the other exists, but as Yahaira's father leaves on his usual summer flight to the Dominican Republic, Camino will soon find out her father's plane will never land. Yahaira and Camino's worlds collide when they soon find out...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'Chaotic Good'

"Chaotic Good" by Whiteny Gardner

★★★★ All Cameron wants to do is design clothes. She can knit socks, deconstruct a sweater and sew a straight hem. Designing clothes and costumes for superhero movies is her dream job. But when she visits the local comic shop in her new town, she’s shocked at the way she’s treated when she enters. All she wants is some reference pictures to help her create her...

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

Cover: 'Bones of Faerie'

"Bones of Faerie" by Janni Lee Simner

★★★ Folklore and post-apocalyptic fiction collide in "Bones of Faerie," a young adult novel by Janni Lee Simner. Liza is a teenage girl who lives in a world greatly affected by a war that took place several years before she was born. This war was between the world as we know it and Faerie, a realm where magic is commonplace and nature supersedes technology...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Glass Town'

"Glass Town" by Isabel Greenberg

★★★★ This graphic novel of historical fiction is an excellent blend of fantasy and reality. In the prologue, readers meet Charlotte Brontë in 1849. As the only survivor of her siblings, she is haunted by memories of their make-believe kingdoms Glass Town and Gondal. These memories come in the form of a conversation between Charlotte and her character Charles...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: graphic novel

Cover: 'Greenwood'

"Greenwood" by Michael Christie

★★★★ Author Michael Christie's novel tells the story of four generations of the Greenwood family, whose lives all revolve around trees: Jake, a guide through one of the last old-growth forests to survive the Great Withering; her father Liam, a carpenter who grew up wandering the wilds of Canada with his mother Willow, a dedicated but non-violent eco-warrior...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away...'

"A Long Time Ago in a Cutting Room Far, far Away..." by Paul Hirsch

★★★★ Oscar-winning editor Paul Hirsch breaks down his career movie-by-movie, and in the process provides an inside look at an integral part of making movies, but one that seldom receives much attention. Directors, actors, score composers and even cinematographers receive praise (or criticism) for movies they make, but the editor is the one responsible for...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: nonfiction, memoir, movies

Cover: 'The Invisible War'

"The Invisible War" by Ailsa Wild

★★★★ World War I was a time of great changes when it came to warfare - from mustard gas to the Browning Automatic Rifle, the way the world fought wars had changed. Unfortunately, medical science hadn't caught up with many of these changes. Soldiers suffered from debilitating wounds that often led to a slow, painful death or traumatic amputations. Many soldiers...

Audience: teens, tweens | Genre: graphic novel, nonfiction

Cover: 'The Sun Is Also a Star'

"The Sun Is Also a Star" by Nicola Yoon

★★★★★ Natasha is going to be deported at 10pm tonight. Daniel has an interview that he isn't interested in attending as his parents are. Is it fate or coincidence that Natasha and Daniel meet this morning? To Natasha it is pure coincidence but for Daniel, it's meant to be. As the day unfolds and they learn more and more about one another, and...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'The Faithful Spy'

"The Faithful Spy" by John Hendrix

★★★★★ This creative, colorful, biography tells the life story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German Lutheran pastor, a member of the German Resistance, and double agent working for the Abwehr during World War II. Bonhoeffer opposed Hitler’s ideology of Aryan supremacy early on in his rise to power, long before the outbreak of the second world war. He watched with...

Audience: children, teens, tweens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'Norroway'

"Norroway" by Kit and Cat Seaton

★★★★★ Once upon a time, a mother with three daughters decided it was time for them to marry. "Look out the back door and the first thing you see is your destiny." The first daughter sees a wealthy farmer.  The second daughters sees a fine prince.  The third daughter sees a large black bull.  So begins the fairy tale, "The Black Bull of Norroway...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, graphic novel, fantasy

Cover: 'Oh My Goth'

"Oh My Goth" by Gena Showalter

★★★★ Ever since Jade Leighton's mother died in a car crash, she's been working hard on shutting down and blocking people out, convinced that making connections with people would only cause her more pain.  Feeling like an outside, Jade dresses as a goth, with plenty of black, and has made "friends" with other outsider goth students at her school....

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, slice of life

Cover: 'Pandemic'

"Pandemic" by Connie Goldsmith

★★★★★ I love a good book about pandemics. For whatever reason, they fascinate me. Learning the reasons behind the Black Death or Ebola can be an adventure story and "Pandemic" covers everything you need to know.  This book was very readable, with great pictures of viruses, bacteria and  insects, as well as interesting side notes that help clarify...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: nonfiction, epidemics, health

Cover: 'The Price Guide to the Occult'

"The Price Guide to the Occult" by Leslye Walton

★★★★★ Rona Blackburn's daughters, granddaughters and great granddaughters have lived on Anathema Island for many years. Rona's powerful witchcraft has been passed down to each daughter, yet each one only inherits one of Rona's mysterious powers. Nor Blackburn wants to live a quiet unremarkable life, so when she's gifted with the ability to hear the plants,...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, urban fantasy, witchcraft

Cover: 'The Ravenous'

"The Ravenous" by Amy Lukavics

★★★★★ To outsiders, the Cane girls are a lovely group of five sisters.  Transferring from base to base, following their itinerant father, who is often gone, the girls stick together no matter what.  So what if their home life is chaotic and dysfunctional.  As long as everything looks ok, it will be.  Juliet is the oldest, a pianist who gave up...

Audience: adults, teens | Genre: realistic, family drama, horror

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