The Inheritance Games

Written by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

A book for readers in grades 7 and up reviewed by Shayne

        










In The Inheritance Games, a girl named Avery Grambs is invited to a will reading in Texas during school by Grayson Hawthorne. After reluctantly accepting, she meets the book’s other characters at the Hawthorne House. They are Grayson, Jameson, Xander, Nash, Skye, and many other Hawthornes, as well as the house’s staff.

During the will reading, it is revealed that Avery is the heir to the Hawthorne House and many of Tobias Hawthorne’s other possessions, such as his vacation homes, charities, and billions of dollars. But, to obtain his house and fortunes, Avery has to live in the Hawthorne House for a year. During her time at the Hawthorne House, she becomes involved in a mystery and a death that occurs on the Hawthorne House’s grounds. Someone also attempts to assassinate her to benefit from Tobias Hawthorne’s will.

I like The Inheritance Games because the characters are really good and very funny. Grayson and Jameson grow throughout the book, as does their relationship with Avery and each other. The book is filled with red herrings and many revelations that make it really deep.

The Hate U Give

Written by Angie Thomas

A book for readers in grades 9 and up reviewed by Shayne

The Hate U Give is about a girl named Starr Carter, who watches her friend Khalil die when he is shot by a cop. The cop thought he had a gun, but he was just holding a hairbrush. After Khalil’s funeral, a protest takes place that starts to get violent. Starr and her family go back home with gunshots and fighting taking place in their neighborhood.

At school, Starr’s friend Hailey gives her a really hard time about what happened with Khalil and the cop who killed him. Starr becomes angry and realizes she wants to protest. She appears on the news and talks about her experience. This angers King, a gang leader, because Khalil was a part of his gang.

I really like The Hate U Give because it shows how some people are shaped by their environment. It also shows the conditions that people have to live with in The Projects. Gang violence and racism are all a product of living in a certain environment, especially in lower and middle income communities.

Shatter Me

Written by Tahereh Mafi

A book for readers in grades 9 and up reviewed by Shayne

    

Shatter Me is about Juliette Ferrars, a 17-year-old girl who can kill people with just one touch. Her parents called the authorities on her, and she was imprisoned because she killed a little boy by accident with her lethal touch. She was sent to an asylum, where she’s had to fend for herself for 264 days. 

One day, a boy named Adam, who Juliette use to know from school, becomes her roommate. She then gets transferred to another facility, where she meets Warner and realizes Adam is posing as a soldier. Warner is the chief commander of Sector 45. He wants to use Juliette as a weapon to torture people who are part of a resistance. Because of this, Juliette and Adam plan to escape.

I really like Shatter Me because I feel its words visually represent Juliette's mind as a whole. Everything she sees, thinks, and feels are described throughout the book. The ending shows how Juliette doesn't just want to escape from Warner. No matter what, she wants to save everyone from him, and she is ready to fight.

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X

Written by James Patterson and Michael Ledwidge

A book for readers in grades 3 and up reviewed by Shayne

    

The Dangerous Days of Daniel X is about an Alien Hunter named Daniel, whose parents died when he was three years old at the hands of a mantis known as The Prayer. The Prayer is number one on The List of Alien Outlaws, with number one being the strongest and most evil. Daniel's target is number six on The List. His name is Ergent Seth, and he ends up being the main antagonist of the book. He has enslaved children, who he uses to sell drugs. But, as Daniel tries to find Ergent Seth, he starts to mess around with him.

I really like The Dangerous Days of Daniel X for its many twists and Daniel's willingness to keep on going. Daniel’s friends help him against the aliens, and they support him whenever he needs it. All of Daniel’s friends have unique personalities and skill sets that they use to help him.

Slaughterhouse-Five, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death

Written by Kurt Vonnegut

A book for readers in grades 9 and up reviewed by Amin

        










Slaughterhouse 5, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death by Kurt Vonnegut begins as the author reflects on his time in the war and the period after that. His inspiration to write the book unfolds in the following chapter. The book jumps around the life of Billy Pilgrim, its main character. It goes from his youth to his time in the army and war, then to his post-war life.

During his post-war life, Billy experiences the harsh debts that the war has laid upon his well-being. He imagines himself getting abducted by aliens and living a life with another woman to then come back to reality. Due to Billy’s biased personal accounts, no one knows if what is happening is real or not (although it probably isn't). Whether or not he is telling the truth or lying is ambiguous, but it sure does make for a great story.

Slaughterhouse 5, or, The Children's Crusade: A Duty-Dance with Death’s jumpiness can be jarring for many. But, when I was caught up with all that was happening, it personally kept me wanting more and was entertaining. Kurt Vonnegut’s language and tone are very casual, so it makes up for the confusion in the timeline of events. The book is comparable to accounts from veterans, war films (not those cheesy ones like Rambo, but ones like 1917 and Dunkirk that are more realistic), and other biographical war novels. This book introduced me to the world of Vonnegut's literature, and I will always remember it for that reason. On a scale from 1 to 10, I would give it a solid 9.

Hamilton: The Revolution

Written by Lin-Manuel Miranda and Jeremy McCarter

A book for adult readers reviewed by Mia

    











Hamilton: A Revolution is about the musical, Hamilton. It includes facts about how Lin-Manuel Miranda wrote the play’s songs and cast its actors. Additionally, the book includes all of the play’s songs, from “Alexander Hamilton” (the first song) to “Who Lives, Who Dies, Who Tells Your Story” (the last song). In the margins, Lin-Manuel Miranda includes some notes about performing in the musical and writing its songs.

I enjoyed Hamilton: A Revolution because it explains what went into writing and performing Hamilton. It details a lot about the musical that you would not have otherwise known. For example, “The Story of Tonight” was based on a tune Lin-Manuel Miranda created with his friends called “I've Got a Bridge to Sell You.” Lin-Manuel Miranda changed the lyrics, and “The Story of Tonight" was made. Overall, I enjoyed this book because it shows how Lin-Manuel Miranda was inspired and created Hamilton.

Who Was Alexander Hamilton?

Written by Pam Pollack

A book for readers in grades 3 and up reviewed by Mia

    

Who Was Alexander Hamilton? is a book about the life of Alexander Hamilton. Hamilton was a kid in the Caribbean who became a war hero and a Founding Father. Additionally, Hamilton was the first Secretary of the Treasury. He was eventually shot in a duel with Aaron Burr, who Hamilton criticized at a dinner party. 

I was interested in Who Was Alexander Hamilton? because I recently saw the musical Hamilton on Broadway, and I really enjoyed it. I was interested in learning more about Alexander Hamilton. I enjoyed this book because it explained a lot that the musical couldn't. I also like how the book has a section about the musical in the back, which I found very exciting. In conclusion, this was a great book.

The False Prince

Written by Jennifer A. Nielsen

A book for readers in grades 5 and up reviewed by Katya

    

The False Prince follows the story of four boys competing with each other to be chosen by Bevin Conner, a noble in the kingdom of Carthya, to succeed in his plan of creating a false prince. Sage, one of the four boys, is the center of attention. His wit and quick mouth make him someone of interest. He knows that what Conner is doing is wrong, yet he has no other choice but to play along and be the best. Otherwise, he will be faced with death. 

The False Prince is one of my top five favorite books. Many truths and lies are revealed throughout, and it leaves the reader on the edge of their seat. The characters are easy to fall in love with and stay with you. The plot is also amazing, as it really is captivating. Personally, I did not expect the things that happened in the book to occur. I was always entertained, and not once did I get bored. The False Prince is perfect for those who like action, mystery, and adventure. It even has a sprinkle of romance.

The Thief of Always

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A book for readers in grades 4 and up reviewed by Margaret

    

Clive Barker's The Thief of Always tells the tale of Harvey, a young boy who's drowning in his own boredom due to the dreary winter weather. That is, until he is visited by a peculiar man, who brings him to a house where your wildest dreams are made possible. However, the longer that Harvey stays, the more he begins to realize that everything about the magical house is simply too good to be true. 

This book is one of my favorites due to the variety of sketches inside, which help you to visualize the characters and the setting. Another aspect of the book that I found to be enjoyable was its descriptions. The twist at the end was unexpected, and it was a good way to end the story.

The Missing: Found

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix

A book for readers in grades 3 and up reviewed by Shayne

    

In The Missing: Found, the main characters, who are 13-year-old Jonah Skidmore, Katherine Skidmore (Jonah’s younger sister), and Chip Winston, are all part of a conspiracy that involves disappearing planes, people, and kids throughout time. Jonah is an adopted kid who wants to find his biological parents. So, he asks his adoptive parents to look for his biological parents. They go to a guy named James Reardon after Chip (who is also adopted) finds his name on an adoption file in his father's safe.

Jonah's family goes to Reardon’s office to speak with him. When Jonah goes to the bathroom to throw up, he finds a man, who Katherine later calls JB (or Janitor Boy). Janitor Boy is a very important character who plays an essential role in The Missing series. He tells Jonah to memorize the things on Reardon's desk when he returns to the office. Jonah and Katherine work together to distract Reardon, then take pictures of a file containing the labels “Survivors” and “Witnesses.” Later, Jonah, Katherine, and Chip go to an adoption conference, where two guys named Gary and Hodge trap them in a time cave.

I really like The Missing: Found because of all its twists. Chip, Jonah, and Katherine’s relationship also really starts to develop throughout this book. The group's teamwork is really amazing, and their journey to discover the truth behind their adoptions is absolutely great and unreal. After everything I read throughout the book, I thought anything was possible.