Review: Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi

For the upcoming school year, I had to read two books for my English class. One of these books I read was Homegoing by Yaa Gyasi. I found this book to be very interesting although is a very mature book and I would advise young readers not to read the book. However, if you are older (high school or above) this book is for you. The book follows two young girls from the same family throughout their lives. The rest of the book consists of following their ancestors. I really liked how each person that descended from the two girls had a unique story and something to overcome. I originally picked the book due to the fact it was related to social injustice and was pleasantly surprised. Instead of just having one social injustice, the novel covered multiple injustices. I also found the book interesting as Homegoing was set in Ghana and while some of the book was also set in America, it was nice to read something that was placed in a different culture other than our own. If this sounds appealing to you, feel free to check out Homegoing or other books by Yaa Gyasi.

Reviewed by Emma Carroll

Review: Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco is a dark, thrilling read, packed with period detail and plenty of gruesome gore. This fast-moving, gothic murder mystery is set in gritty Victorian-era London, where an intrepid society girl finds herself embroiled in the investigation of a serial killer known as Jack the Ripper.

Seventeen-year-old Audrey Rose Wadsworth was born a lord’s daughter, with a life of wealth and privilege stretched out before her. But between the social teas and silk dress fittings, she leads a forbidden secret life.

Against her stern father’s wishes and society’s expectations, Audrey often slips away to her uncle’s laboratory to study the gruesome practice of forensic medicine. When her work on a string of savagely killed corpses drags Audrey into the investigation of a serial murderer, her search for answers brings her close to her own sheltered world.

The story’s shocking twists and turns are augmented with real, sinister period photos, which adds an eerie feel and depth to the story. The author clearly did a lot of research on the real Jack the Ripper, and used these historical details to create a thrilling murder mystery which is even more chilling because the Ripper was a real historical person. Maniscalco really inhabits this era well, and her main character, Audrey Rose, is believable and relateable. This was one book I couldn’t put down! Highly recommended if you like historical fiction, or murder mysteries, or if you like your main characters dark.

Review: Replica by Lauren Oliver

Two girls, two stories, one novel.

While the stories of Gemma and Lyra mirror each other, each contains revelations critically important to the other’s story. Their narratives can be read separately or in alternating chapters. I decided to read them separately.

Lyra
Lyra’s story begins at the Haven Institute, tucked away on a private island off the coast of Florida, it looks serene and even beautiful, from a distance. But up close the locked doors, military guards, and biohazard suits tell a different story. In truth, it is a clandestine research facility where thousands of replicas, or human models, are born, raised, and observed.

But when a surprise attack is launched on Haven, two of its young experimental subjects—Lyra, or 24, and the boy known only as 72—manage to escape. As they make their way through a new and menacing environment, they meet a stranger named Gemma, who has embarked on a perilous quest of her own. And as Lyra tries to understand Haven’s purpose, she uncovers earth-shattering secrets that will change the lives of both girls.

Gemma
Gemma has been in and out of hospitals her whole life. A sickly child, she has grown into a lonely adolescent whose life is circumscribed by home, school, and her best friend, April.

But after she is nearly abducted by a stranger claiming to know her, Gemma starts to investigate her family’s past and discovers her father’s mysterious connection to the secretive Haven research facility. Hungry for answers, she travels to Florida, only to stumble upon two human models, or replicas, 24 (Lyra) and 72—and a completely new set of questions. As Gemma tries to unravel the mysteries of Haven, she learns terrible truths about herself and her family that will threaten to destroy everything she loves.

I really liked the idea that the novel could be read by alternating chapters, or as separate stories with interconnecting elements. Turn the book one way and read Lyra’s story; turn the book over and upside down and read Gemma’s story. The two distinct parts of this astonishing novel combine to produce an unforgettable journey. In this “flip book” that contains two narratives in one, and is the first in a duology, Oliver explores issues of individuality, identity, and humanity. She is excellent at portraying the emotion and angst of a (relatively) normal teen with Gemma, which contrasts starkly with the bleak, futuristic environment poor Lyra inhabits. The interplay between all the characters is really interesting as well, especially how both girls react to the different boys in their lives, and with each other. All in all, it made them both pretty relatable, and so you get invested in the story and its characters. Once I started it, I burned through this novel. Highly recommended for anyone who likes Science Fiction or Dystopian Fiction, and for anyone who enjoys interesting representations of teenage girls as main characters in contemporary fiction.

Review: Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan

As alluded to by the title, Will Grayson, Will Grayson is about two teenage boys named Will Grayson who one day meet out of fate in downtown Chicago. In the book, each Will’s perspective is written by alternating between chapters. One Will Grayson has a huge friend, ironically named Tiny Cooper. This Will Grayson takes a liking to Tiny’s friend Jane. Meanwhile, the other “will” (who only writes in lowercase letters), is in love with his online boyfriend, Isaac, which doesn’t work out. In a surprising turn of events, Tiny and will end up dating. As their lives begin to intertwine, each Will Grayson struggles to find his place in the world. Not only is the story revolving around the Will Graysons, but there is a lot of emphasis on Tiny Cooper, who is trying to write an amazing musical about his life.

This novel, is full of lots of drama, with some exaggerated character types, which make the novel a fun and interesting read. It’s very well written and easy to distinguish between the two Will Graysons. I really enjoyed the plot line and how there was a more modern view taken on it. I’d recommend Will Grayson, Will Grayson to any teenager who likes other novels written by John Green or any teenager in general.

Reviewed by Brina Patel

Review: Diplomatic Immunity

Diplomatic Immunitydiplomatic-immunity by Brodi Ashton is an amazing story that follows a girl as she navigates throughout Washington D.C’s elite. The story follows Piper Baird, who is fighting for a prestigious journalism scholarship at an Academy for college. The story follows Piper and gives you an insight to her life, as well as into the ones from her school. Brodi Ashton does a great job of comparing and contrasting Piper’s life to those who are more privileged and don’t have to worry about money or consequences for their actions. She also does a good job of having a mix of different genres throughout her book, therefore opening her book up to more readers. If you like this book, be sure to check out more books like this on the library catalog by Brodi Ashton!

Reviewed by Emma Carroll

Review: Red Queen

redqueenRed Queen by Victoria Aveyard is a thrilling story of a young girl and her experiences. Mare Barrow lives in a world where you’re divided by your blood: Silvers vs. Reds. Those with the silver blood and powers have everything while the lowly reds are stuck with the worst of the worst. Until one day, when she gets her own special power. Forced to hide her true identity, she is ushered into the Silver society full of lies, betrayals, secret alliances and more. She quickly learns everything is not what it seems. This is an amazing dystopian read for all those who love science fiction and fantasy. It takes you inside Mare’s world and shows you her struggles and achievements. If you like Victoria Aveyard, be sure to check out the stories following Red QueenGlass Sword and King’s Cage!

Reviewed by Emma Carroll

Review: The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini

At first glance, The Kite Runner didn’t really appeal to me. I know that you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but sometimes, you just can’t help it. Let me tell you that looking past the cover is the best decision I ever made. The Kite Runner is the most heart wrenching, touching story I have ever read. It uses history as background information to tie in with a beautiful, yet tragic story about a little boy named Amir and his best friend Hassan. Amir and Hassan grew up with the same surroundings, but lived in entirely separate worlds. Amir lived with his wealthy father, Baba, while Hassan was the son of Baba’s servant. Yet, they grew up as best friends. They loved flying kites together as a part of a tradition in their home, Kabul, yet they had their ups and downs, as many friends do. Unfortunately, as a result of a traumatic incident, Amir and Hassan were forced to part ways. This leads to Amir’s journey of forgiving himself for the incident and making up for it many, many years later.

This novel was so well written and I could not put it down. Hosseini used a lot of description to help visualize the plot and also used a lot of symbolism, which kept me interested. A true “roller coaster of emotions,” I’d recommend The Kite Runner to any young adult who likes historical fiction, along with stories about friendship and forgiveness, as it is a main theme of the novel.

Reviewed by Brina Patel

Review: Firstlife

FirstlifeFirstlife by Gena Showalter  is a science fiction/fantasy novel full of surprises and cliff-hangers that keep you wanting more. The story follows a girl named Tenley, who has to decide where she wants to spend the rest of her life. Both sides (or realms) want Ten on their side as they believe she is destined for greatness. This is a stunning story following Tenley as she embarks on the journey of a lifetime to decide where her fate will lie and she chooses the path she wants to go down. This is a wonderful story for people who love suspense with romance intermixed. If you like this author be sure to look for new books by Gena Showalter.

Reviewed by Emma Carroll.