Book review: The Supervillain and Me, by Danielle Banas

Banas, Danielle. The Supervillain and Me. Swoon Reads, 2018. $17.99. ISBN 9781250154354. 310 pgs. Ages 12+. P8Q7

Morriston is having a crime wave, and the city’s “supers” (superheroes) are doing their best to fight it. High school student Abby’s brother is secretly one- the Red Comet. A new super in town may not be so super- in fact, it looks like the Iron Phantom is behind some serious crimes, including arson. But when he rescues Abby from an attempted mugging and she gets to know him a bit, she isn’t so sure that he’s a villain. The story feels light, witty and romantic, but has some serious themes too. Mind control, the long-term impact of violence on families, and what makes a person special all are important. I really liked the focus on how imperfect the supers are- they’re real people with super powers, but they have the full range of flaws and noble attributes that we all possess.

VERDICT: Whether they are looking for a romantic comedy or a superhero story, teens will enjoy this fast and fun read.

April 2019 review by Carol Schramm.

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Book review: Leah on the Offbeat, by Becky Albertalli

Albertalli, Becky. Leah on the Offbeat. Balzer+Bray, 2018. 343 pages. $17.99. ISBN 9780062643803. Ages 14-18. P8Q8

Leah Burke, drummer, cynic, fat, senior, came out to her mother as bisexual, but hasn’t told anyone at school—not even her gay BFF Simon Spier.  While her friends are applying to prestigious colleges, Leah works at getting a full scholarship at nearby Georgia State.  As the daughter of a teen mother, Leah knows that her only chance at college is a scholarship.  When Leah’s friend Morgan blames her failure to get into the college of her choice on a black friend’s acceptance, Leah challenges her racist statement.  This leads to discomfort in the close-knit friendships, adding to Leah’s senior angst.  The resulting turmoil and Leah’s developing crush on a girl become the crux of the story.

Verdict: Albertalli writes beautifully. Leah and her friends are fully developed characters and the tensions of impending life changes ring true, as do the push me, pull you of first love.  However, I became impatient with the long (very long) story of Leah’s crush and found the happy ending sudden. This is a stand-alone story, but readers will have a fuller understanding of the characters and history if they read Simon versus the Homo sapiens Agenda beforehand.  Highly recommended for middle, high school, and public libraries. (Also, make sure the collection includes Simon versus the Homo sapiens Agenda, released in March 2018 as the movie, “Love, Simon”.)

June 2018 review by Jane Cothron.

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: 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: The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet, by Natasha Farrant

Farrant, Natasha. The Secret Diary of Lydia Bennet. Chicken House/Scholastic, 2016. 318p. $17.99. ISBN 978-0-545-94031-3. Ages 13-16. P7Q8

farrant-lydia-bennetLovers of Pride and Prejudice may enjoy this version of Lydia Bennet, the youngest of five sisters and perhaps the move flawed. In her selfishness, she manages to finagle an invitation to the seashore at Brighton with an older sister’s friend, leaving the sister at home. Lydia is an excellent diarist, showing all her frustrations and development as she falls hopelessly in love with a man who needs money, not love.

Verdict: A bonus of the book is that Farrant doesn’t not attempt to use Jane Austen’s style, and the contemporary feel of a plot from a book published over two centuries old is delightful for those who are not enamored of Austen’s work. The protagonist comes across sympathetically, despite her peccadilloes, and her narration shows how different her life could have been if she were born in today’s world. This historical novel is a delight for those who enjoy period pieces.

January 2017 review by Nel Ward.