Book review: What the Night Sings, by Vesper Stamper

Stamper, Vesper (author and illustrator.) What the Night Sings. Knopf Books for Young Readers, 2018. $19.99.  ISBN: 978-1524700386. 272p.  Gr.7-12. P5 Q8

This book is about a young girl who loses all her loved ones in the Nazi concentration camps.  The illustrations, done in shades of grey and brown,t portray the poverty and depression of the Holocaust. Even though it happened a long time ago, I felt like I knew this girl and her suffering and joys.  I think it’s important for all of us to know about this so it never happens again and this book (along with Maus, my favorite graphic novel) is a good way to learn, even for kids who don’t like to read.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

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Book review: Rookie on Love, edited by Tavi Gevinson

Gevinson, Tavi (ed.) Rookie on Love. Penguin, 2018. $14.95. ISBN: 978044849399. 288p.  Gr. 9-12.  P6 Q8

I know of the editor and have been following her works, so I was prepared to like this collection, as well.  The poems, essays, comics, and short stories center on teens’ experiences with abuse, drug use, depression and many other important topics. I think this book will appeal to high school kids as there’s something in this for everyone.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

[Editor’s note: At the age of twelve, Tavi Gevinson published a personal blog, Style Rookie.  At fifteen, she launched the Rookie website as an online magazine for teenagers interested not only in style and beauty, but also in dissecting the world around them.  Four Rookie Yearbooks have been published, as well as this anthology on love, “the heart’s most powerful emotion.” It features “essays, poems, comics, and interviews from contributors.”]

Book review: Trell, by Dick Lehr

Lehr, Dick. Trell. Candlewick, 2017. $17.99. ISBN: 978-0763692759. 320p. Gr. 9-12. P7 Q9

Like author April Henry, Dick Lehr uses  a factual story to create an intense crime drama.  Lehr is a reporter who actually covered the story of the murder of 12-year-old Tiffany Moore for the Boston Globe.  He has also written several true crime nonfiction books.  Trell is his first young adult fiction book, and my guess is the reason he did this is because Tiffany’s murder was never actually solved.  Everything in this book, then, represents Lehr’s guess as to what really happened.  Even so, it’s a great book, with strong female characters and deep insight into their lives. I also learned a lot about forensics and the judicial system. This book actually makes me want to know more about becoming an investigator.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Agent of Chaos, by Kami Garcia

Garcia, Kami. Agent of Chaos. (X-Files Origins series, book 1). Imprint, 2017. $17.99.  ISBN: 978-1250119568. 320p. Gr. 9-adult.  P8 Q7

I was so excited to read the backstory of one of my favorite shows, as I have been a fan of the X-Files for years.  I like the fact that this book wasn’t a retelling of plots from the series, but a ‘how Mulder became an obsessed agent.’ It was pretty cool to find him the same age as me (almost 18) and in high school.  Even then, he is driven to investigate everything, though he doesn’t believe in the supernatural at first.  The book doesn’t follow a storyline like the shows do, but it makes it more believable, almost like a biography.  Even then, there’s enough suspense and investigative drama to satisfy most hard-core X File fans.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Before I Let Go, by Marieke Nijkamp

Nijkamp, Marieke. Before I Let Go. Sourcebooks Fire, 2018. $17.99. ISBN: 978-1492642282. 368p. Gr. 9-12. P6 Q6

I sort of liked this book, it was creative and parts of it were really interesting.  However, a lot of it was slow and at times, the plot is really vague; maybe the author was trying to make it spooky?  It’s a story about two girlfriends from a small town in Alaska; one moves away and before she can come back to visit her friend, the friend dies mysteriously.  The creepy part is that it looks like the whole town is covering it up.  There are hints that one of the girls is mentally ill, but the characters aren’t developed very well.  Part of this is because it was written from the other girl’s point of view, but I didn’t really get a sense of who the narrator was, either.  Still a good mystery, though, and I think kids will be able to relate to the characters and setting really well.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

Book review: Reaper, by Kyra Leigh

Leigh, Kyra. Reaper. Paula Wiseman Books, 2017.  $18.99. ISBN: 978-1481471961. 256p.  Gr.7-9. P8 Q8

One thing you should know right away, before you start reading this book: you will cry. A lot.  Get the tissues handy.  This odd tale is about a girl who dies but will be stuck in the revolving door between life and death until she goes back to earth and collects 3 souls as a Reaper.  Disregarding the rules for proper reaper behavior, she falls in love with a live being. Sort of predictable, but her character is so real that it is still interesting.  There were a lot of times where the book seemed like a drier version of my favorite show, “Dead Like Me.”  I’m not sure it would help someone who was grieving over a death, but it did remind me to look hard at my relationships and to treasure each day.

May 2018 review by NHS student.

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.