Book Reviews

Check out these reviews for some of our newest YA Books:

The Bad Ones
by Melissa Albert

-You can find this book here.

A teen girl follows cryptic clues left by her best friend, who disappeared into the night.

On a cold winter’s night, four people in a small Illinois town vanished into thin air. One of them was Nora’s best friend, Becca, whom she hadn’t spoken to in the three months since their falling out. Although they had been close since childhood, Nora and Becca’s relationship was marked by codependency—until the night when everything changed. But ever since a mysterious night the previous summer when Becca went alone into the woods for a few hours, Nora had sensed that her friend was growing distant. Following Becca’s disappearance, Nora discovered a series of messages she left pointing to their childhood goddess games, based on an urban legend. The game shifted when then-12-year-old Becca was grieving the death of her mother and seeking vengeance against the hit-and-run driver. The first part of the story is slow to get going; eventually, Nora begins to suspect that the key to the mystery lies in uncovering the origins of the goddess game. Albert slowly teases out the supernatural element, but the details remain shrouded in murkiness. What’s more interesting is the dynamic between the two friends; the story is mainly told from Nora’s perspective, as she’s the one left behind to pick up the pieces and figure out how to stand on her own. Main characters read white.

A deliberately paced tale for those who appreciate an eerie, character-driven mystery laced with supernatural horror. (Fantasy. 14-18)

Review found here.

With a Little Luck
by Marissa Meyer

-You can find this book here.

Fortune favors the nerd in this heartwarming novel by bestselling novelist Meyer.

Sixteen-year-old Jude is content to live a quiet life, creating art, waging Dungeons & Dragons campaigns, hanging with his best friend (a girl named Ari), and pining over Maya, his unrequited crush. One night, while working at his parents’ record store, Ventures Vinyl, he stumbles across a ruby-red 20-sided die, which he pockets for later use. Suddenly, Jude conquers coin flips, slays a pop quiz, and vanquishes a vending machine—and starts to wonder if perhaps his new die has magical powers. After snagging a pair of VIP tickets to a sold-out concert, Jude seizes the opportunity to ask Maya on a date. But as the two get to know each other better, Jude starts to wonder whether his vision of her aligns with reality. And what about the feelings Ari unexpectedly stirs in him? When Jude loses his precious die, and his luck takes a turn for the worse, he’s forced to face a terrifying fact: His fortune may well depend solely on his own choices. This humor-infused romance features a likable cast of racially diverse characters, both main and ancillary: Jude is coded white, Maya is Black, and Ari has Mexican heritage. Noah, a sparkly side character, uses they/them pronouns. Jude’s breaking of the fourth wall to address readers adds charm to the story, as do his comics, which are interspersed throughout.

Wonderful, witty, and as sweet as spun sugar. (Romance. 13-18)

Review found here.

If Only I Had Told Her
by Laura Nowlin

-You can find this book here.

In this companion novel to 2013’s If He Had Been With Me, three characters tell their sides of the story.

Finn’s narrative starts three days before his death. He explores the progress of his unrequited love for best friend Autumn up until the day he finally expresses his feelings. Finn’s story ends with his tragic death, which leaves his close friends devastated, unmoored, and uncertain how to go on. Jack’s section follows, offering a heartbreaking look at what it’s like to live with grief. Jack works to overcome the anger he feels toward Sylvie, the girlfriend Finn was breaking up with when he died, and Autumn, the girl he was preparing to build his life around (but whom Jack believed wasn’t good enough for Finn). But when Jack sees how Autumn’s grief matches his own, it changes their understanding of one another. Autumn’s chapters trace her life without Finn as readers follow her struggles with mental health and balancing love and loss. Those who have read the earlier book will better connect with and feel for these characters, particularly since they’ll have a more well-rounded impression of Finn. The pain and anger is well written, and the novel highlights the most troublesome aspects of young adulthood: overconfidence sprinkled with heavy insecurities, fear-fueled decisions, bad communication, and brash judgments. Characters are cued white.

A heavy read about the harsh realities of tragedy and their effects on those left behind. (author’s note, content warning) (Fiction. 14-18)

Review found here.

The Getaway List
by Emma Lord

-You can find this book here.

Two best friends come together after being separated for several years, tackling long-anticipated items on their Getaway List.

Riley was turned down by all 10 colleges she applied to, and she’s not upset about it, which concerns her—and really bothers her mother. With her history of joining childhood bestie Tom in good-natured troublemaking, Riley has spent the past few years of high school since getting suspended overwhelmed by the extracurriculars and jobs her mother sets up for her. Now that Riley’s graduated, she realizes that she has no idea what she wants to do with her life. Against her mother’s wishes, she travels from Virginia to New York City, back into the life of Tom, who moved there after ninth grade. What starts as a weekend away turns into a summer of discovery and adventure for the two 18-year-olds as they hang out with a quirky group of friends and work to complete the list of activities they started making after Tom’s move. Together, Riley and Tom navigate the intricacies of self-discovery and their changing feelings for one another. This is a beautiful story of family, friendship, romantic love, and personal growth. Riley is a witty, reflective narrator, and the supporting characters are well formed and likable, keeping the humor and engagement high. Riley and Tom are cued white.

An entertaining friends-to-lovers story that will have readers laughing and reflecting in equal measure. (Romance. 13-18)

Review found here.

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