MCPL logo

Marathon County Public Library

Skip Navigation

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: '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

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

Pages