Burn Our Bodies Down by Rory Power

“Keep a fire burning; a fire is what saves you.”

Such is the number one rule in Margot’s household, set by her mother before she could even walk. 17-year-old Margot lives with her emotionally distant mother in a small town where it is difficult to find peace and solitude. They constantly struggle to get along, butting heads at the smallest of issues while ignoring the largest insecurities plaguing them. However, nothing compares to the biggest secret held from Margot; the girl has no idea where she came from, and her mother gives no clues or mention to any extended family. Eventually, several discoveries lead her down a new path, leaving home to gain independence and seek out the truth behind her mysterious origins.

Burn Our Bodies Down depicts the journey Margot takes to discover that hidden side of her history, to a town called Phalene. As the story develops, we are introduced to characters within the town, each reacting to Margot’s appearance in an unexpected way. One of my favorite elements of this book is the characterization of Margot and her new friend Tess, foils in ideas and influences. Margot sees the world through the eyes of someone living a tragedy, unable to get a firm grasp on a stable and happy life. Tess, on the other hand, is privileged enough to see the world as a written tragedy, experiencing the horrifying events that unfold as if they were a story and not someone’s real life. She treats her new friend’s dilemma as a mystery to be theorized about, not realizing that her life can too become tragic until it’s too late.

As the story unfolds, tension builds to the point where we can only throw blind guesses at the page, with a final reveal that sent chills down my spine. Themes of responsibility, love, and empathy reign supreme throughout the novel, creating a beautiful coming-of-age story (if you consider horrifying supernatural occurrences to be typical in a teenage experience). Unlike Power’s previous book “Wilder Girls”, I found this book difficult to get into. However, knowing the author’s potential, I luckily stuck with the story as it picked up steam. The final chapters are a whirlwind of shock and excitement that I was grateful to experience, and wholeheartedly recommend the book to any fan of mysteries, thrillers, and emotional dramas.

Bailey L.

Expelled by James Patterson and Emily Raymond

Image result for expelled by james pattersonFor anyone, whether or not you are a James Patterson fan, Expelled is not a disappointment. When four students are expelled over a posted picture, they must team up, whether they like it or not. They have to make decisions on who they can trust, in a world of guilty and innocents. But who are the true guilty and innocent people? You can’t make your decisions  on looks and past events. Theo Foster  was expelled for a posted photo on his Twitter account. He wants to find out who framed him, but where can he start, the people in the photo? His friends? Every single person in the school?

Theo goes on throughout the book, trying to figure who framed him. After all, he is expelled, and now he has a large amount of time on his hands. People in public give him nasty looks. A 7-Eleven refuses to hire him. But that doesn’t stop him. With a  group of four expelled kids, a video camera, and a small strip of property, nothing can go wrong, right?

I would recommend this book to anyone that’s looking for a new mystery or James Patterson book. There’s beautifully written plot twists, and the real guilty person didn’t turn out to be who I expected. I personally don’t read many mysteries, so this wasn’t the best Patterson book I have read, but I still like it, and it wasn’t the worst either. This book has some mature themes and it for high school readers.

-Rebecca V, 9th grade

Expelled by James Patterson and Emily Raymond is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library