Author: Marissa Meyer
This is the first book in the Lunar Chronicles series and tells the story of Cinder, a talented mechanic and cyborg who lives and works in New Beijing with her stepmom, who never wanted her. When Prince Kai enters her life asking for help repairing an android, her life is turned upside down. Soon after his visit, her sister becomes sick and Cinder is “volunteered” to help find a cure, a quest that leads to the discovery of Cinder’s true identity. For her own safety, though, she cannot tell anyone, including Kai.
The story is a unique take on the classic Cinderella fairytale and is full of romance and humor as Cinder tries to save her sister and her home while coming to terms with who she really is.
-Marisa, grade 12
Title: The Book Thief
Author: Markus Zusak
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak is a coming-of-age story about a girl named Liesel Meminger. The story focuses on a family struggling through WWII Germany and the power of words to unite people. Liesel, having just lost her brother, finds a small book near his grave and finds comfort in its pages. There’s one problem- she can’t read. She struggles to learn with the help of her new adoptive father, Hans Hubermann. Before long, as she tries to adapt to her new life and family, Liesel begins to steal books from wherever she can find them. At a time when the Nazis burned books to eliminate resistance, Liesel learns the power of knowledge and empathy for others through protecting their stories.
This story is unlike any other historical fiction I have read. It is witty and funny without sacrificing the tense atmosphere that was present in Nazi Germany. It is not really a war story, nor is it depressing. Zusak chooses to focus on Liesel’s love of reading and her choice to disobey societal norms as a way of illustrating the sacrifices the ordinary people of Germany had to make. He focuses on the importance of love and trust during a time when trusting the wrong person could result in death. The story highlights moral resilience and childhood innocence.
Zusak’s choice of having Death as the narrator is unique and adds a new dimension of sympathy. The story portrays the brutality of human suffering while contrasting it with the beauty of Liesel’s resistance to conformity and the playfulness of her childhood. She is a character you cannot help but root for. Readers of Markus Zusak will recognize his consistent use of intense emotional connections between the characters, which is transfixing and all-encompassing ( My favorite being that between Liesel and Hans Hubermann). The story is eye-opening and puts you in the shoes of a small girl whose situation most 21st-century readers will never truly be able to understand. But this book is a glimpse into the struggles of a war-torn people, and Zusak proves through Liesel that empathy and love can overcome all evil.
-Emily, grade 12
Title: The Sun Is Also a Star
Author: Nicola Yoon
The Sun Is Also a Star is a novel that follows Natasha, a Jamaican immigrant who is faced with her fear of being deported, and Daniel, a son of two Korean immigrants who is faced with his fear of college. In an act of fate, the two meet in New York City. The novel follows their friendship and their love as it grows over the course of one day.
What is exceptionally amazing about this book is the author’s use of in-between chapters connected to the universe. She describes seemingly random moments in life that bring us to a single moment. Yoon’s rich character development and descriptions of unexpectedly important everyday moments make this book a must-read.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: Thirteen Reasons Why
Author: Jay Asher
Thirteen Reasons Why is a fast-paced, tragic story of discovering the reasons behind Hannah Baker’s suicide. Before her death, she recorded her story on cassette tapes to get passed among the thirteen people who contributed to her suicide. Through the eyes of the main character Clay, we go through the journey of learning how each individual betrayed Hannah while Clay desperately clings to his last remaining memories of Hannah while simultaneously trying to figure out why he made the list.
Asher creates a life-changing story of heartache as he handles the dark subject of suicide. Not only is this book a good read, but it is deeply emotional and changed my outlook on life.
-Marisa, Grade 12
Title: Can You Keep a Secret?
Author: Sophie Kinsella
Can You Keep a Secret? by Sophie Kinsella is both uplifting and hilarious. Kinsella is an author who is able to create light-hearted stories without making them predictable and cliche. While she has written many fabulous books, including Twenties Girl and Remember Me?, Can You keep a Secret stands out as having very relatable situations and characters, which makes them even more laugh-worthy. The story is about a girl named Emma, a terrified flyer on a bumpy plane ride. She is a flawed bundle of nerves, but that is exactly what makes her understandable and realistic to the reader. On her trip, she gets so nervous that she just starts talking…and talking…and talking…to the random stranger sitting next to her. She tells him literally everything, such as the fact that she waters her irritating co-worker’s plant with orange juice just to annoy her. Once the flight lands, Emma is terribly embarrassed, but at least knows that she will never have to see this man again. Think again! It turns out that the man is the CEO of Emma’s company! This man now knows EVERYTHING about Emma. and will see her every day. Just reading it makes me cringe!
I don’t laugh with books very often, but Sophie Kinsella is so funny, and all of her books are just as laughable and irresistible. Can You Keep a Secret? is a hilarious and embarrassing story that brings tears to your eyes. It is realistic, but not at all boring. It is the kind of story for a cozy day in bed because of its fast-paced, cause-and-effect-style plot. The best thing about Kinsella’s books is that you know exactly what you are getting: witty, sarcastic humor and lovable main characters. After reading this book, you can only hope that something like this never happens to you!
-Emily, grade 12
Title: You Know Me Well
Author: Nina LaCour & David Levithan
Mark and Kate have sat next to each other for the entire year, yet they have never spoken to each other outside of school. One night the two happen to meet up in the city for a wild night at a gay club. Through their sexuality, the two become fast friends, the two become fast friends and get to know each other better than any of the people who are supposed to know them more. They encourage each other to be bold in their other relationships and grow from one another.
This is a great book. I read it fast, and I think it’s one of those awesome books where anyone would like it when they read it.
-Kassidy, grade 12
Title: Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined
Author: Stephenie Meyer
Life and Death: Twilight Reimagined is basically Twilight but with reversed gender roles. Beaufort takes over as Bella while Edyth is Edward. The storyline is similar to that of the original Twilight as the two meet and Beaufort becomes wrapped up in Edyth’s world of vampirism.
While I do feel that this novel is good, I do not think that it comes anywhere close to the original novel, and it felt odd to see a story I know so well flipped. With that said, I still think that this is a book that is a must-read for fans of the Twilight saga.
– Kassidy, grade 12