Teen Book Reviews: We Are the Ants and Zen and Gone

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from a teen who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

We are the Ants by Shaun Hutchinson reviewed by Ali A.

We Are the Ants is a book about a 16-year old boy named Henry Denton. Henry Denton suffers from depression because his friend Jesse committed suicide. It doesn’t help that Henry gets bullied at school and gets periodically abducted by aliens. Although it might be a delusion, Henry absolutely believes he gets abducted by them while aliens run experiments on him. In one of the abduction sessions, the aliens try communicating with him. They show him a button and say that the Earth will end in 144 days unless he presses the button. Henry at first decides he will never press the button because there’s nothing on Earth to live for. He argues that no matter what humans do they will die anyway and their lives would have been useless, so Henry might as well end everyone’s lives quicker. Henry asks everyone he knows about whether they would press the button or not. At school Henry gets bullied more than usual until one day a new kid shows up to class, Diego Vega. Diego and Henry instantly become friends, but Diego never talks about his mysterious past or why he lives with his sister rather than his parents. One day Henry is in the locker room when 3 bullies assault him and beat him up. Henry wants to kill himself and share the same fate with Jesse, but Diego is the only thing Henry looks forward to in life. Later in the book Henry and Diego are at a fair when one of the bullies tries to hurt Marcus. Diego gets mad and punches the bully, which sends Diego to court. I’d rate this book 2/5 stars because of the terrible plot and ending. The author never says if the alien abductions are real or mere hallucinations, and the author never tells us if Henry pressed the button or not.

2 Stars.

Zen and Gone by Emily France reviewed by Ali A.

Zen and Gone is one of my all-time favorite young adult books. The novel takes place in Boulder, Colorado, and revolves around the lives of Essence and Oliver. Essence, a buddhist, is trying to take care of her little sister, Puck. Her mother works at a pot shop selling legalized intoxicants so she’s high and irresponsible most of the time and can’t give the care her children need. Oliver on the other hand is a kid with a mysterious past in Chicago. He was sent out to Boulder because of an incident involving his sister. Olliver rarely speaks about his past and feels sadness everytime he thinks of it. Essa and Olliver both take part-time jobs at a kite shop and become friends. Essa then invites Olliver to come with her other friends, Micah and Anish, to a hiking trip in the Rocky Mountains. Things start to go wrong when Essa and her friends realize that Puck stowed away on the trip to join them. Essa decides to bring Puck back home and cancel the dangerous expedition through the woods, especially when she finds a creepy guy roaming the woods in the dark, but it starts to thunder so they have to find shelter. Things go EVEN MORE wrong when Essa wakes up at 3:00 AM and discovers that Puck and Oliver are missing. However, Oliver comes back a few minutes later claiming that he was using the bathroom. Essa and her friends search everywhere in the woods, but can’t find Puck. Did this have anything to do with the strange man they saw earlier? Or did it have to do with Oliver, who she had just met a month ago? Plus, she barely knew anything about his life in Chicago, or his sister’s incident. Brilliant, touching, and spooky, Zen and Gone is the perfect book for readers who love adventure books and mysteries.

5 Stars.

Teen Book Reviews: The Unwanteds and Lord of the Flies

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, reviewed by Claire J.

Upon being asked what book she is most thankful for, my cousin responded with the book The Unwanteds. She said the book appealed to her, as she related to many of the Unwanteds. The book allows people who couldn’t embrace their creativity an environment to thrive. When I read it, I liked how people did not have to suppress their hobbies. They had no rush to become serious and become an adult. I like the childish aspect of the book. Most of all, I really liked that the book gave people who felt out of place for the entirety of their lives a place to embrace their identities. I also just wish I had a place where I could also escape from reality and embrace my own creativity as the main characters did.

When asked about who my cousin’s favorite character was, she said her favorite character was Mr. Today, the man that saves everyone from death. I would have to agree. I want to be like him in the sense that I also really wanted to help others. Since I feel that my passion and dream is to provide whatever I can to help other people thrive, Mr. Today is an important factor that contributed to this dream. I also liked his wacky sense of fashion, as I also like to experiment with my own clothing. When he was killed in the series, I was so upset. I don’t approve of the main character taking Mr. Today’s position. Before anything else, the book had simply just brought me a lot of joy while reading it. I am the type of person who becomes immersed in their book, so I enjoyed days I spent reading on my bed, enjoying the contents of the book. Overall, I really enjoyed this read.

5 stars.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding, reviewed by Ali A.

In my opinion, Lord of the Flies by William Golding is the greatest classic book written. The book is about a group of schoolboys who get stranded on a desert island during a world war. However, all of them are scattered around the island. The main character, Ralph, finally finds another chubby boy named Piggy. Together they find a conch shell and blow it to summon all the boys to them. They hold a meeting and make rules for the island, assign jobs, start a fire, and elect a chief. Ralph ends up winning the role of chief, but makes Jack, another important character, a co-leader. At first the community is peaceful and law-abiding to the rules, but soon problems occur.

One of the problems was that the people assigned to keep the fire going on the mountain weren’t doing their job, and neither were the hunters. It is vital that the fire burns at all times, because the fire sends smoke into the air for ships to see them. The hunters were also not able to catch any meat, so Ralph thought they should give up hunting and instead help with other tasks, such as building shelters. However, Jack and the hunters continued to hunt and come empty-handed. Although it was frustrating for Ralph, he kept his cool and decided to just call more and more meetings. Then a little boy with a mulberry birthmark says that he sees a vicious monster on the island, and soon he goes missing. This injects terror into the community and more and more people say they saw the “beastie”. Finally one day a ship goes by the island. Ralph is excited for a potential rescue, but it turns out the signal fire on the mountain wasn’t burning! Ralph quickly went to light it again but the ship had already passed. All the people who were supposed to keep the fire going were out hunting and they finally killed a pig. Ralph and Jack got really mad at each other and Jack ended up slapping Piggy. Then one night military planes fought in the air and a dead parachutist falls onto the island. When two twins wake up to help light the signal fire, they notice the dead parachutist tangled in rocks. From far, the twins think the parachutist is the beast and they run to warn the community. Jack and his hunters decide to hunt the beast but can’t find it so Jack, Ralph, and Simon decide to try again and they too spot the dead parachutist. Just like Sam and Eric, they think that the dead parachutist is the beast so they confirm to the community that the beast is real.

Tension starts building between Jack and Ralph, so Jack decides to make his own “tribe”. Jack gathers his hunters and makes his own tribe where he’s the chief. Ralph’s group was based on peace, survival, and rules whereas Jack’s was based on hunting, violence, and dictatorship. The events following this cause mass destruction, corruption, and killing. This is my favorite classic book because the actions on the island resemble the actions in society. Countries usually start at peace with each other, but after a few wrong and cruel actions, they can cause hatred and warfare between them, just as Jack’s tribe did to Ralph’s community. Although this book did end with a cliffhanger, you can read a book called The Second Flight: A Sequel to Lord of the Flies by Elizabeth Blackwell to continue the story.

5 stars.

Teen Book Reviews: We Were Liars and Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

We Were Liars by E. Lockhart, reviewed by Kylee V.

“We Were Liars” is set mostly on Beechwood Island, a private island owned by the Sinclairs. On this island, you can do water activities like boating and there are mansions all over the island as the Sinclairs are a very rich family. The main character, Cadence, is the oldest of her cousins and will most likely be the one to inherit her grandfather’s fortune. Cadence, her cousins, and Gat Patil (a friend) go to this island every summer and do everything together. This group is known as the Liars. The Liars have so much fun and romance starts to bud with two of these characters. However, with so much money, it can be expected that there will be conflict and jealousy. Cadence’s mom and her aunts are always getting drunk and fighting with each other, and this beautiful private island is dimmed by the ugly truth of wealth and power.

I have to say that this book was very good and forced me to try and come up with possible endings as I was reading. The ending is shocking and the little bits of information along the way that the reader gets will have the reader changing their mind over and over again on what might happen. An accident occurs when Cadence is 15 years old, and she (and the reader) must work out what happened on that specific summer vacation. I would give this book 4 out of 5 stars, because it was really engaging and made me get invested in the characters. There were so many unexpected twists that I almost couldn’t keep track of where I was in the story. Along with this, there are a good amount of flashbacks that occur in the story, so at times it may get a little confusing on what is going on. Even though it could get confusing with the flashbacks, these flashbacks also provided Cadence and the reader with information about the accident that occurred when she was 15. A problem for me was that I was always getting some of the characters or the places messed up, so like I said before it was hard to keep track and could get a little confusing. I appreciated how the book was a mystery that was written realistically and thought there were good lessons in this story. This book I think would be definitely popular among teens and I would highly suggest checking it out.

4 stars.

Michael Vey: The Prisoner of Cell 25 by Richard Paul Evans, reviewed by Kylee V.

I have read and reread this book countless times because I absolutely love the entire series. Richard Paul Evans does such a great job of developing the main character, Michael Vey, throughout the series. Michael Vey is this shy and bullied kid in high school that isn’t one to get much notice. He deals with Tourette Syndrome, which causes him in his case to blink uncontrollably and gulp for air when he gets nervous. I am a big fan of science fiction and always root for the underdog, so when it turns out that Michael, the scrawny kid, has been born with these electrical powers the story becomes even better.

Michael’s best friend, Ostin Liss, is a genius and will be supporting Michael throughout. Not to spoil too much but other people from Michael’s high school will play a role in this ongoing adventure of stopping Dr. Hatch, the villain, from getting too powerful. He is going to be faced with many challenges, be forced into a fight against evil, and go on a rescue mission to save someone he loves dearly. Throughout, the entire series there is a ton of action, plenty of twists, constant adventure, and even some romance. The characters in these books will never have the same life again once Dr. Hatch steps into their lives, and secrets will be revealed that have shocking conclusions.

This book has something for almost everybody and will want you to continue on in the series. However, if you are not the biggest science fiction fan I might read another book. I would recommend this book to boys and girls from 5th grade to high school, even though it may be an easier read for the older grades. I love this book a lot and had to rate it a 5/5 because it is one of my favorite books in the series and in general. The author does a great job of explaining characters and events, so it is very easy to connect with the character. The reader can clearly see what is going on in the character’s head, which I think makes it so much more enjoyable to read. Since this is the first book, be prepared for lots of surprises as the story progresses. Also, a small negative because this is the first book in a long series, lots of characters are introduced and reoccurring information is brought up kinda fast so I would highly suggest you pay close attention. To combat this, the author does provide a nice character list throughout the series and has a quick Prologue of what happened in the book before it. To further this point it can be at times a little rushed, but not too often. Even if you’re not the biggest fan of series, I would at least try reading the first book because I think after you read it, you would want to give the second book a shot. Heads up though the series is very long. I have read all of the books in the series so far, all the way to “The Final Spark”, and if it turns out you’re interested in this book I would highly suggest reading the entire series. Overall, if you are a big science fiction fan or wanna try something new where the main character is the underdog with POWERS definitely give this book a shot because you won’t regret it.

5 stars.