Book Review: Perfect Escape

perfect_escape_cover“We all knew what Grayson’s ‘difficulties’ were. Grayson’s difficulties dominated his life. And Mom’s and Dad’s. And mine” (4). Written by Jennifer Brown, Perfect Escape is a realistic-fiction novel that explores OCD, the pressure for perfection, and the ups-and-downs of a sibling relationship.

Her whole life, Kendra has felt restricted by her older brother, Grayson, whose OCD forces him and his family to live a very controlled life. Kendra has always been expected to be perfect, but when a cheating incident threatens her reputation, the pressure of perfection becomes too much. In her car, with Grayson asleep next to her, Kendra unexpectedly decides to run away from it all.

Kendra seems like a very likeable, intelligent, and strong-willed character, although she has some problems that become more noticeable as the plot develops. We see how hard she is on herself, as well as how OCD can affect one’s family. Grayson is a genius, but he has a severe mental illness, and I actually felt bad for him at some points. On their little road trip, Kendra and Grayson get a chance to bond together and see each other’s perspectives.

When I first started reading Perfect Escape, I was a little doubtful and didn’t know what to expect. However, it turned out to be a very intriguing book. It was different from most YA books because it really didn’t have a love story. In addition, the book was deep, with many underlying plots and themes.

Overall, I found this book to be very enjoyable, emotional, and humorous. I loved how it made me connect and sympathize with the characters right away. I thought this book was the perfect blend of happy and sad, and its heartfelt tone made me almost cry at the end. Perfect Escape was definitely a great read, and I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone over the age of thirteen!

-Kaylie W., 9th grade

Book Review: Wonder, by R.J. Palacio

wonder_coverThe book Wonder was truly beautiful, wonderous, and inspiring. It is a realistic fiction about a 5th grade boy going into real school for the first time. This boy has really severe facial deformities and he has had to have tons of surgery. He feels like a normal kid, but to everyone else he has the “Plague,” he looks like a zombie, and other cruel things. When the popular kids gang up on him and he hears his best friend talking about him behind his back, he just deals with it, because “the universe was not kind to [him]. He knows that he is “cool beans.”

Even if you think this book will be, as my friend put it, “another one of those depressing books about kids dealing with bullies in school,” or have something against 5th graders– read it. Everyone must read it. I swear, if you read this book, you will never, ever in your life, look at someone with a facial deformity, wince, and look away. Another good book to read that is more depressing is called Out Of My Mind. I would check Wonder out of the library immediately (I have it checked out right now at my school library). Wonder will change your whole life.

-Becka O., 9th grade

Book Review: Monster High, by Lisi Harrison

monster_high_coverFrankie Stein is not a average teenager. Aside from the fact that she’s only 15 days old and that she has bolts in her neck and a green tinge to her skin. Life does not seem hard for her,does it?
While she tries to be herself, Frankie’s parents send her off to `normie’ school (for regular, normal teenagers) to be like a normal human being. But Salem, Oregon is a monster-free zone, and Frankie soon finds other monster classmates, or RADs (Regular Attribute Disorder). There’s Lagoona Blue, Draculaura, Deuce Gorgon, D.J./Jackson Hyde, Cleo(patra) and Claudine (CLAWdeen, get it?).

Lisi Harrison’s book series is definitely aimed at the younger end of the teen market. `Monster High’ is a bit of unabashed pop-culture fun for tweens.

The monster kids rock out to Lady Gaga and the Black Eyed Peas. They have freaky fabulous wardrobes and say things like `that’s VOLTAGE!’ But if you read beyond the cool, unique stuff that they have, they have to face the fear of there group getting shown.

I really liked the character of Frankie Stein. She looks different, she loves to be her self and wants to show her greenness and she desperately wants to fit in. But she never sacrifices who she is for how other’s will see her. It’s a hard lesson she has to learn, but Frankie has a great sense of self, bolts, green skin and all! I recommend this book to about twelve and up because it is a little bit on the mature side but it is a fun book to read!

-Kate B., 7th grade

Book Review: The Hunger Games, by Suzanne Collins

hunger_games_coverIn The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, you learn about friendship, courage, and much more.

This whole book is about a young girl named Katniss. Her country is divided into 12 districts, and then the capital. Each year, one girl and one boy are sent to the annual Hunger Games from each district. She has to go to her country’s annual Hunger Games. The Gunger Games is an event where 24 kids are put into an arena and are forced to fight to the death.

She makes many new friends along the way, but she also makes many new enemies. She has many tragedies along the way. For example, one of her closest friends in the games gets killed. Katniss helps unite the districts slowly throughout the story.

Her story consists of betrayal, love, hate, and friendship. Her journey has many ups and downs and it ends with an unforgettable event. I would recommend this book to anyone from the ages 12 and up. I believe that even adults will enjoy this book. Although you may not like the science fiction genre, I’m sure you will enjoy this book. This book will just make you want to pick up the next one!

-Melika R., 8th grade

Book Review: Stormbreaker, by Anthony Horowitz

stormbreakerImagine what it would be like to work for a top-secret spy agency, let alone only being a teenager! This is the life of one unfortunate schoolboy, who is left orphaned at an early age. Written by Anthony Horowitz, Stormbreaker is an action-packed novel filled with adventure. Set in present-day England, a fourteen year old boy named Alex Rider is suddenly thrown into a deadly situation.

When Alex’s uncle mysteriously dies in a car accident, he is forced to take his uncle’s place as a spy in MI6, Britain’s top-secret spy organization. Little does he know that he is being tossed into a dangerous mission to spy on Herod Sayle, the mastermind behind the newest computer, Stormbreaker. Using pure instinct and his intelligence, Alex must fight for his life, as well as save the people of the Britain.

Anthony Horowitz writes Stormbreaker in a very unique way. He builds suspense in every inch of the book, is very descriptive in detail, and is very creative. From Alex being recruited as a spy to dodging bullets, this book makes your heart constantly race with anxiety. I thought Alex is a very brave and likable boy and if he were actually real, I would have liked to have met him. However, I thought Horowitz made this book a little too unrealistic. It is quite impossible for me to imagine Alex being able to escape from circumstances that most fourteen-year-old boys (let alone adults) cannot survive from. For example, how can Alex get caught in a fifteen feet deep and 30 feet long tank with a giant jellyfish and still manage to survive?

I would rate this book nine out of ten because it was fast paced and kept me on the edge of my seat the whole time. I recommend this book for kids ages ten to sixteen who love action, suspense, and mystery all mixed together in one book. I absolutely enjoyed Stormbreaker and will certainly read the rest of the Alex Rider series!

-Riley W., 6th grade

Book Review: Etiquette and Espionage, by Gail Carriger

etiquette_espionage_coverSophronia Angelina Temminnick does not act at all like a lady should. While her other sisters were acting grown up when they had company, Sophronia climbs into a dumb waiter to eavesdrop on her mother’s conversation. When she falls out and rips her skirt, she wreaks havoc on all occupants of the room. Immediately after this unfortunate event, her mother decides that it is time for Sophronia to go to finishing school and be presentable at her sister’s coming-out ball. This is not exactly Sophronia’s first choice… but she goes along with it.

When she gets into the carriage with Mademoiselle Geraldine, the headmistress of Mademoiselle Geraldine’s Finishing Academy for Young Ladies of Quality, she learns this woman is not who she says she is. In fact, she is actually only a member of the finishing school herself, sent to get the three children currently in the carriage. And also to retrieve a mysterious prototype, which happened to be the cause of a flywaymen attack.

After safely reaching the roaming blimp, which served as the school, Sophronia and the other students are escorted to a platform hanging under the school by a handsome werewolf. That is not the only non-human inhabitant of the school: one of the teachers is a vampire.

Once on the school premises, she gains a better understanding of the school’s purpose, which is apparently not as innocent as it appears. That purpose is not only to teach young ladies proper etiquette, but also to secretly instruct them on the subject of espionage…

If you like mystery and spies, you will enjoy Gail Carriger’s book. I would rate it a 9.5 out of 10, because it was such a captivating novel. I can’t wait until its sequel, Curtsies and Conspiracies, comes out on November 5th.

-Leila S., 8th gade

Book Review: Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, by Julie Andrews Edwards

home_memoir_coverJulie Andrews’ autobiography, Home: A Memoir of My Early Years, shares with the reader the hardships and rewards of becoming a famous Broadway and Hollywood star. This book is fascinating to me, because like Andrews, I love to sing, dance, and read. Although I do not dream of becoming a famous icon, I find those who follow the road to becoming one interesting and undeniably courageous.

Julie Andrews’ story begins in London, England during World War II. Julie Andrews spends her childhood constantly in voice lessons and traveling to perform with her parents, and she describes despising her voice lessons as a child. Little did she know that later- in her teen years- she would come to appreciate and use her voice as her ticket to stardom. Despite her parents’ painful divorce and her mother’s flighty behavior, Julie Andrews succeeds in becoming a well-respected performer in her home country.

Andrews writes that although she thoroughly enjoyed traveling with a company and performing, she always felt responsible for her family, and she hated to be away from them. Julie Andrews is admirable because when she is offered a two year contract to perform as Eliza Doolittle from “My Fair Lady,” she insists on making it one year so that she can come home to care for her siblings. Most girls looking to make it on Broadway would snatch up the offer and leave their family to fend for themselves.

Julie Andrews was a talented, compassionate, responsible, composed young lady; respected by many as one of America’s greatest icons. With the help of the much-loved Walt Disney, Julie Andrews became a star on-screen as well as on-stage. One might say Julie Andrews is best known for her perfect role as Mary Poppins, the beloved nanny; but I love her most for her role as Maria in The Sound of Music for her carefree attitude and loving heart.

I recommend this book to all who love Julie Andrews’ work, and find themselves, like me, in awe at those who take such risks to discover themselves.

-Kelsey H., 10th grade