Book review: Starfish, by Akemi Dawn Bowman

Bowman, Akemi Dawn. Starfish. Simon Pulse, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-1481487726. 352p.  Gr. 9-12. P8 Q8

You can really feel the character’s pain in this book, as she (Kiko) is dealing with severe anxiety, abuse, and depression. She also doesn’t really understand her father’s Japanese heritage, and her white mom demeans her and is incredibly self-centered.  The whole story is told through Kiko’s eyes, so the reader really experiences her emotions first-hand.  Also, the art pieces Kiko creates and describes help tell the story, which makes it almost poetic.  I love how Kiko becomes stronger and independent, even when she falls in love. It’s a great story about culture and understanding how our past doesn’t have to control our future.

May 2018 review by NHS student.


Book review: The Caldera, by John Flanagan

Flanagan, John. The Caldera. (Brotherband Chronicles, #7) Philomel Books, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-0399163586. 432p. Gr.7+. P9 Q7



Fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series will love this latest installment in the companion series, Brotherband Chronicles. This one has pirates, Vikings, and lots of nonstop action.  There’s really nothing in this series that is objectionable, so parents should encourage their kids to read them.  They are a great way to escape!

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: The Traitor’s Kiss, by Erin Beaty

Beaty, Erin. The Traitor’s Kiss. (Traitor’s Circle series, #1). Imprint, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-1250117946. 352p. Gr.9-11.  P6 Q7

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I am really looking forward to reading more. It’s about a young woman who is an apprentice to a matchmaker, but who really is a spy. She’s sort of a smartass and doesn’t fit the mold that society wants her to.   It is almost historic, not fantasy, and I caught myself thinking “this could’ve happened” more than once.  The characters were really rich and very human and the plot was full of twists and surprises.  There was just enough romance to spice it up, but not enough that I felt it was a story motivator.  The one criticism I have is that it was hard to follow sometimes, a map would’ve clarified things a lot, because I couldn’t tell how the settings related to each other and where everyone was.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Boy, by Blake Nelson

Nelson, Blake. Boy. Simon Pulse, 2017. $18.99. ISBN: 978-1481488136. 368p. Gr. 9-12. P8 Q7

I am a real fan of Nelson’s other book in this series, Girl, so I might be a bit prejudiced about this new book, but Boy is really a great read.  Good things about it: it’s interesting, inspirational, easy to relate to, easy to read, hard to put down.  Bad things about it: I knew what was going to happen right away and some of the characters were really unrealistic to me and at times it was preachy. Also, if you don’t like romance, this is not the book for you, because the whole thing is about a guy who develops a crush – almost to the point of stalking – a girl who moves to his school.  I loved the way the boy starts thinking about someone other than himself, though.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: There’s Someone Inside Your House, by Stephanie Perkins

Perkins, Stephanie. There’s Someone Inside Your House. Dutton Books for Young Readers, 2017. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0525426011. 304p. Gr. 9-adult. P8 Q6

This book is a horror-romance that might be disturbing to sensitive readers, as the brutal murders that happen in the book are described in vivid detail.  It was very real to me, as the setting is similar to my home town and the murdered kids are around my age.  It was really scary because the story was told from the victims’ points of view, but this also made it more predictable, because you knew who was going to die next.  I didn’t like the fact that the killer’s identity was revealed so soon in the book, though.  Other things – like the incompetent police and the love story – were just too cliché for me. However, I think this book will appeal to a lot of kids because horror is really popular and so is romance.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Want, by Cindy Pon

Pon, Cindy. Want. Simon Pulse, 2017. $19.99. ISBN: 978-1481489225. 336p. Gr.9-12. P7 Q6

I liked this book. I has a fantastic futuristic sci-fi story line that stars flawed characters who are easy to relate to.  It’s dystopian, set in a very corrupt, polluted Taipei (which gives the setting more interest to Asiaphiles like me). The plot is fast-paced, but at times too predictable: young man takes on the evil megaconglomerate that has destroyed his society, falls in love with the CEO’s daughter, but somehow perseveres. One thread that runs through this is that we are responsible for this bleak future, because we fail to tame our greed.  What really holds this book together and makes it a pleasure to read are the rich characters and detailed settings.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: The Ones, by Daniel Sweren-Becker

Daniel Sweren-Becker. The Ones. Square Fish, 2017.  $18.99. ISBN: 978-1250129703. 320p.  Gr. 8-adult. P7 Q6

This scary story is about genetic engineering and what can go wrong when society gets to determine what ideal traits should be selected for.  It’s a dystopian tale that reminds me a little of Animal Farm, but with humans.  It’s a bit thin on plot and the characters are shallow, but it is real enough to make it readable and relatable to high school students.  I didn’t like the fact that it was pretty obvious the author wrote this with a series in mind, as the book leaves a lot of loose ends.  In fact, it’s almost like the book was cut in half. The fact that both books were published at the same time makes me wonder if that was the case.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

[Editor’s note: The paperback edition of The Ones was released September 12, 2017, as was the hardcover edition of its sequel, The Equals.  The original hardcover edition of The Ones was released September 6, 2016.]