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One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest – A Review

Posted on July 3rd, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

one flew over the cuckoo's nest

Title/Author: One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by Ken Kesey

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: In Nurse Ratched’s ward of the mental hospital Chief Bromden is a patient pretending to be deaf and dumb for the last twenty years. When a new patient, Randall Patrick McMurphy, walks through the door, swaggering larger than life, Chief watches him begin the hard task of rallying the other patients to challenge the dictatorship of Nurse Ratched with fishing trips, alcohol, gambling, and even women. Along the way, however, Chief realizes that McMurphy isn’t just challenging the other patients, but Chief as well.

Series/Standalone: Standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Classic Fiction

Diversity: Yes.

Relatable characters: Yes.

Would I recommend this to others?: yes.

Personal thoughts: This is not for the feint of heart. It’s a very dark book covering some dark topics, some that are only hinted at, while others are blatantly spelled out. That being said, I loved this book. Along with Chief, I was able to watch the men slowly regain their personalities, regain the right to be human against a nurse who sought complete control over them, which was a beautiful thing to see. The ending came as a huge surprise I wasn’t expecting, and yet, I found it oddly fitting for these characters. While it was published in 1962, I also think it’s still very relevant in today’s world. I highly recommend it.

Fire – A Review

Posted on April 1st, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

fire

Title/Author: Fire by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Fire is the last monster human alive, with the ability to read minds. When spies start appearing in the Dells with foggy brains, the king pleads with her to help with the interrogations, to figure out who means well and who doesn’t. But she doesn’t want to hurt anyone the way her father did and she considers interrogation almost inhumane. And yet, if she doesn’t help the king, war will break out and the kingdom could be lost.

Series/Standalone: Book 2 in the Graceling trilogy, but can be read as a standalone

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: There are characters with mobility issues

Relatable characters: yes

Would I re-read?: Maybe

Personal thoughts: I enjoyed reading this, though I think I enjoyed the first book, Graceling, even more. Again, there is a romance in this story, but it doesn’t take over the story, and it doesn’t have the traditional ending most romances have, which I appreciated. The main character is strong, but also has weaknesses, which was also appreciated. She was realistic in that way.  There is one more book in this trilogy, Bitterblue, which I am intending to read next!

Graceling – A Review

Posted on March 25th, 2015 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

graceling

Title/Author: Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Read by: Anna, a Teen Central Librarian

Summary: Katsa is a Graceling, graced with the extreme skill to kill. Her uncle, the king, has been using her to keep control over his lands since she was a young girl. But then she meets Prince Po and finds a friend where she never expected to find one. With Po, she’ll work to break free from the bindings the king has placed on her and head off on a wild adventure that will teach her more about herself than even she knew was possible, all while keeping friends and family safe from unknown dangers.

Series/Standalone: Book 1 in the Graceling trilogy (but can also be read as a standalone)

Genre/sub-genre: Fantasy

Diversity: Characters are diverse in the fact that a select few are different than the rest, some have disabilities as well, though skin colors don’t play a factor, eye colors do.

Relatable characters: Yes

Would I re-read?: Yes

Personal thoughts: I loved the cover. I loved the fact that Katsa was a strong girl in mind and body, who didn’t lack emotions, who knew what she didn’t want in life and was strong enough to stick to that all the way through the book. Yes, there is a bit of romance here, but it’s never overwhelming, and the couple are friends first and foremost. The story was brilliant. Even I didn’t see how the puzzle pieces fit together until the very end. The world building was fantastic, and all of the characters were well rounded. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves fantasy.

Golden Boy – A Review

Posted on September 5th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

golden boy

Golden Boy by Abigail Tarttelin

Read by: Anna/Central Teen Room

Golden Boy is the story of a fifteen-year-old boy who is intersex, meaning he has both male and female genitals. He is different. And he is very aware of his difference. His parents agreed to naming him Max after a long debate. His mother because it was a boy’s name. His father because it could be short for Maxine. Doctors wanted to do a genital reassignment surgery when he was a baby to turn him into a girl. Max’s father refused even as his mother thought it was the only way to go. It didn’t happen. New doctors wanted to do a reassignment surgery on him when he was thirteen to turn him into a boy because he’d taken on the role of a boy and looked more like a boy than a girl. Throughout all of this, Max drops his head and lets things happen to him, lets his parents decide his fate. And then one horrible night, his best friend does something terrible to him. Something that will change his life, and that of his family, forever. When Max finds out he can indeed have children, and is currently pregnant, he has no idea what he should do. Should he keep the child? Should he have the reassignment surgery to fully become a boy? Max, having kept his secrets from everyone, has no one to talk to, even his little brother is clueless to the things going on in his life. Just how will he cope? How will this affect his entire family? His father is running for Member of Parliament, which means the media will be all over the family. What if these secrets get out? What then?

At the end of the blurb on the inside cover, it says “…a novel you’ll read in one sitting…” Honestly, I didn’t believe that at first. But the deeper I got into the story, the more I couldn’t put it down! True, I didn’t read it in one sitting, but I would have if I could have. If I could describe this book in three words they would be: heartbreaking, gripping, and gut wrenching. All at the same time. I can’t recommend this book highly enough. I wanted to step into the book and be the friend Max needed. I wanted to smack his mother for the insensitive things she said. I understood why she said them, I know she thought she was doing the right things, but I still wanted to smack her. This book brought out all of my emotions, my anger, my sympathy, my fears for Max, everything. And the thing about this book that makes it even more gripping is the fact that people like Max really do exist. Right now, there is someone out there struggling with their life because of issues similar to Max’s. This is not some LGBTQ fantasy. This is real life for some people. And the realness of Golden Boy is scary and riveting. I  loved this book very much, for the plot, the well-rounded characters, and how well everything melded together. While this book was told from multiple points-of-view (Max, his 9-year-old brother, his mother, his father, his girlfriend), and while I normally don’t like books that go above two or three POVs, this one was handled expertly well. This is a book that both adults and teens will enjoy simply because you get into the heads of all of the main characters, and each one is written about very realistically. A heartbreaking, gut wrenching, gripping book, I urge everyone to pick up a copy and read it today!

The Crystal Cave – A Review

Posted on August 13th, 2014 by Anna in Books, Reviews - Staff

The Crystal Cave

***FYI, our TBOM book discussion group for teens will be meeting on August 28th at 3pm in the Teen Room to discuss this book. All teens are welcome to join us!***

The Crystal Cave by Mary Stewart

Read by Anna/Central Teen Room

Everyone has a basic understanding of who Merlin is. Right? He was the famous wizard who raised King Arthur and helped him when he finally became king. However, what most people don’t know, is how Merlin was born and raised and how he grew into his position as king’s prophet. This first book in Mary Stewart’s series of Arthurian Saga starts us off when Merlin is a small boy, the son of a princess who refuses to reveal who Merlin’s father is. It is speculated that his father is the Prince of Darkness, a demon who came into his mother’s room late at night and left her pregnant with Merlin. Merlin is shunned as a bastard son, but fate leads him on an amazing path from learning “magic” to helping not just one king in love and war, but several.  He is able to move on past his childhood. He makes friends and enemies, but always stays true to himself.

While this telling of Merlin’s life is based on a real person who lived around the year 470 A.D. (when it is suspected that King Arthur was born), in her Author’s Note at the end, Mary Stewart is quick to recognize that her work is complete fiction. There is much we don’t know about the great prophet and prince, or King Arthur for that matter. Yet that should not hinder anyone from enjoying a good story. I was enchanted right from the very first page which begins with Merlin in old age preparing to tell the story of his early years. He has an easy going manner in the way he tells his story, drawing you in and not letting you go until the story is complete. And while he is technically telling the story as an old man, you often forget he is recalling his childhood because it seems as if you are there, right beside him as he gets into trouble as a young boy, as he grows up and goes in search of his father. He is a character you cannot help but love and this is a story you cannot help but enjoy.  I highly recommend this novel for those who enjoy historical fantasy, with the knowledge that Merlin wasn’t a wizard as we think of them today. He did not have a magic wand or a pointy hat. He considered himself a prophet and was never in control of his visions. He could not tell the future upon command. As long as you aren’t expecting Harry Potter, you’ll enjoy this fun read.

The 2nd and 3rd books in this series are also told from Merlin’s POV, while the 4th and 5th take place after his death. They are as follows:

Book Two: The Hollow Hills (Merlin’s POV)

Book Three: The Last Enchantment (Merlin’s POV)

Book Four: The Wicked Day (focuses on Mordred)

Book Five: The Prince and the Pilgrim (focuses on Alexander)