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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: '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

Cover: 'Need'

"Need" by Joelle Charbonneau

★★★★ The teens in Nottawa Wisconsin high school are joining the newest, hottest networking site and answering one question: what do you need. In exchange for a minor task, the NEED site will fulfill their request. One of the teens, Kaylee, is desperate to help her brother who needs a new kidney. Others are asking for backstage passes to a concert, new iPhones...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, mystery

Cover: 'Dumplin''

"Dumplin'" by Julie Murphy

★★★★★ Sixteen-year-old Willowdean Dickson (“Dumplin’” to her mother) is not afraid to describe herself as a “fat girl,” and she is comfortable in her own skin until her attractive and athletic workplace crush (Bo) shows an interest in her. She is horrified to realize that she is more self-conscious about her body now that she is the object of someone’s attraction...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction

Cover: 'My Diary from the Edge of the World'

"My Diary from the Edge of the World" by Jodi Lynn Anderson

★★★★★ Gracie Lockwood lives in Cliffden, Maine, an ordinary enough sounding city, but it is anything but ordinary. Her world is populated with flying dragons, sasquatches, giants, mermaids, witches and angels. Gracie loves her home, but when the dreaded Dark Cloud begins hanging around, apparently in search of her sickly brother Sam, her family flees in a...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Their Fractured Light'

"Their Fractured Light" by Amie Kaufman, Meagan Spooner

★★★★★ Two years ago, Tarver and Lilac survived the Icarus crash that was planned by LaRoux Industries. One year ago Flynn and Jubilee shared the truth about the corrupt LaRoux Industries with the entire galaxy after an investigation on the planet Verona. In the final installment of the Starbound trilogy, we meet Sofia and Gideon. Sofia is looking to kill Roderick...

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

Cover: 'The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly'

"The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly" by Stephanie Oakes

★★★★★ When the reader first meets Minnow Bly, she is being arrested for beating a homeless man. From that moment on, we are swept into the world of Minnow Bly. When Minnow was young, her family joined a the Cult of Kevin. Being a Kevinian meant believing the stories that the Prophet told about God and the outside world, including the fact that the those on the...

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

Cover: 'Between the World and Me'

"Between the World and Me" by Ta-Nehisi Coates

★★★★★ In this letter to his adolescent son, Coates reflects upon what it means to grow up and live in the United States while inhabiting a black body. It is a combination of history, social commentary, and memoir as Coates explains to his son the complexities of his own journey to adulthood and explores the larger context of the history of race in the United...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction, award-winning, alex award winner

Cover: 'Forgotten Bones:  Uncovering a Slave Cemetery'

"Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery" by Lois Miner Huey

★★★★★ I'm always curious about the past and how important it is recognize the impact the past has on the present. This book, "Forgotten Bones: Uncovering a Slave Cemetery" really piqued my curiosity. I enjoy reading about how these relics from the past are discovered and analyzed. In this case, the cemetery is located near Albany, NY, and discovered during an...

Audience: teens | Genre: nonfiction

Cover: 'The Blackthorn Key'

"The Blackthorn Key" by Kevin Sands

★★★★★ An orphan, Christopher Rowe feels lucky to be chosen as an apprentice to Master Benedict Blackthorn, a great and kind apothecary. In order to keep recipes for his medicines and potions secret, his master uses complex codes and puzzles which Christopher is being taught to decipher. But when his master is brutally killed and a strange cult appears to be...

Audience: children, teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

Cover: 'Illuminae'

"Illuminae" by Amie Kaufman, Jay Kristoff

★★★★★ It’s a good thing that seventeen-year-old Kady broke up with her boyfriend that morning. If she hadn’t broken up with Ezra, she wouldn’t have driven to school that day. She and Ezra survived the attack on their tiny plant of Kerenza by BeiTech Industries because they were able to make it to the port and escape with others on three different vessels. Kady is...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, science fiction

Cover: 'Winter'

"Winter" by Marissa Meyer

★★★★★ In the final installment of The Lunar Chronicles, Princess Winter joins Cinder, Scarlet, and Cress in a revolution to bring down her evil stepmother, Queen Levana. Winter is beautiful, kind, and the people of Luna adore her. When Levana orders Winter's death due to her beauty and popularity, Winter escapes thanks to Jacin, her lifetime friend and love...

Audience: teens | Genre: fiction, fantasy

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