Newest Teens Reviews

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Tilt by Mary Hoffman

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

To make an author, you first show someone books. To make a reader, you first show them the books they want to, and/or can, read. To make a builder, you first show someone buildings. I use those platitudes to introduce Simonetta, or Netta, who lives in Pisa late in the thirteenth century. She is surrounded by fabulous buildings – it's not for nothing the area will become known as the Field of Miracles, for the Cathedral, Baptistry and bell tower look gorgeous. But something is wrong with the latter one – it's definitely leaning, cracks are showing, and over the hundred-plus years it's taken to get this far people have built the floors at odd angles to correct the problem. Netta is intent on being the person who can solve it, alongside her father who's employed to finish it off. But therein lies the problem – it's all well and good showing someone buildings, and making them want to be an architect, but if they're the wrong gender then all hope is lost… or is it? Full review...

Until We Win by Linda Newbery

5star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

The best journeys are made with little steps. Lizzy is slowly leaving her boring village behind – by being cheeky yet clever at her lessons, and getting a job in an office in the nearest proper town – and by saving to buy, and teaching herself to ride, a bicycle. All that's under the watchful eye of a mother insistent she learns to knuckle down with the housework on behalf of the men, and an older brother working at the village hunt. At the office, however, further steps are suggested to her – shorthand and typing classes, but she gets diverted. A chance encounter in a tea rooms puts more stepping stones in her way – en route to becoming a fully committed Suffragette, concerned only with making demands for votes for women. Full review...

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr

5star.jpg Teens

Flora Banks has anterograde amnesia. This means that she hasn't laid down any new memories since she was ten years old and had a brain tumour removed. She's now seventeen and can remember life before the tumour but can't hold on to anything that happened after that for more than an hour or two. She gets by with the help of her very protective parents and her best friend Paige, and from the endless notes she writes to herself that tell her who she is, what's wrong with her, and what's been happening in her life. Flora has a tattoo on her arm. It simply says be brave. Full review...

Life in a Fishbowl by Len Vlahos

4star.jpg Teens

Jared Stone has been diagnosed with a brain tumour. It's inoperable and he has only a few months left to live. Desperate to ensure financial security for his family after he's gone, Jared decides to auction himself - the rest of his life, his death, everything - on eBay for a reserve price of one million dollars. Unsurprisingly, eBay cancels the auction as against their terms and conditions but that's okay because Jared has come to the attention of a reality TV producer... Full review...

Welcome to Nowhere by Elizabeth Laird

5star.jpg Teens

Omar is a twelve-year-old boy living in Bosra, Syria. He works two small jobs before and after school. He prefers the jobs to school. Omar dreams of becoming a successful entrepreneur with a network of businesses to rule over. He's already developing a successful sales patter. Omar has a clever sister who wants to be a teacher, and a clever brother who few realise is clever because he has cerebral palsy and people can't see past his speech impediment. He has a father who works for the government, a mother who worries too much, a hypercritical granny and a couple of annoying younger siblings. Full review...

A Quiet Kind of Thunder by Sara Barnard

4.5star.jpg Teens

Steffi has just started a) sixth form and b) medication for her anxiety. It's all rather tricky, as you can imagine, particularly as Tem, Steffi's best - well, only - friend has enrolled at the local FE college to do an NVQ and so Steffi is all by herself. On the first day, a teacher introduces Steffi to Rhys, a new boy to the school and also just starting sixth form. Rhys is deaf and Steffi knows a little bit of sign language, hence the introduction. Both kids have communication barriers - Rhys can't hear and Steffi, who suffers from selective mutism and severe anxiety, often can't talk. And they fall into friendship, attraction, and love. But it's a rocky road... Full review...

The X-Files Origins: Devil's Advocate by Jonathan Maberry

3.5star.jpg Teens

Dana Scully can be added to the list of teenaged people upset by their family moving home in those key years. Her naval father being relocated has meant she has been uprooted from a nun's Catholic school to a regular, secular school elsewhere, but echoes of religion are still everywhere – not least a no-longer-used church opposite their new home. But it's inside that the strongest taste of faith is residing – Dana is seeing visions that could be claimed to be precognitive, and dreams possibly peopled by a satanic angel figure. That would all be troubling enough, but school children are dying in allegedly drug-fuelled car wrecks that nobody can really believe in, so straight-edged are the victims – and Dana is having even more troubling experiences as a result. Working out the cause and effect here could fill an X-File, but of course we're in the years long before those exist. Dana might well be on her own in her investigations... Full review...

The X-Files Origins: Agent of Chaos by Kami Garcia

4star.jpg Teens

Give a person a book and you might change their day. Give the right person the right book and you might change their life. That is the philosophy of The Major, the father of the nearest thing Fox Mulder has to a best schoolmate. He may well appear to be a wacky – some could even go as far as saying Spooky – conspiracy nut, with some novel manner in home security, but he certainly swears that the truth to his wife's death, and so much more, is either out there, or in the pages of a Michael Moorcock fantasy novel. It's a situation not a million miles away from that which Fox finds himself in, for he is eternally frustrated at the lack of effort he sees in the search for his own baby sister. But before he can settle back with his new read, and before The Major can really prove himself formative, Fox gets rapt in new, local cases of child kidnap, that even though he and his father moved state recently, have a galling familiarity… Full review...

Mind The Gap by Phil Earle

4.5star.jpg Teens

When Mikey's dad dies, he stops caring about anything. Indeed, he becomes so desperate to feel something that he deliberately provokes the one person on the estate who no one messes with. Not surprisingly it ends badly and not just for him. Mikey's best mate also ends up in a pool of blood. But that doesn't matter because his friend has already lost something more important. He lost Mikey when his dad died and he's determined to find a way to bring his best friend back. That's why he sets off on a one boy crusade to find a way to help Mikey remember his dad. He just needs to find a movie, a radio extract, or a YouTube clip – something that will allow his friend to remember his dad's voice. Mikey's dad was an actor, so how difficult can it be? Full review...

The Liar's Handbook by Keren David

5star.jpg Teens

Everyone tells River that he's a liar but he doesn't see it that way – as far as River is concerned he just thinks up interesting stuff to fill in the gaps in what he knows. His lies are harmless: unlike the lies that his mum's new boyfriend, Jason, tells. Jason is a total fake and River is on a crusade to expose him. However, River's investigation doesn't work out as planned. He does uncover a serious deception (involving his biological father and the police) but will anyone believe him? Full review...

Charisma by Jeanne Ryan

4.5star.jpg Teens

Charismatic is exactly what Aislyn was not. She was shy, to the extent that she panicked when she was in large crowds. This shyness clearly affected her, and at the beginning of the book it showed how much of an impact it would have on her future had it been left untreated. Her best friend, Evie, knows just how bad it is and has tried multiple ways to help her, but to no avail. So, naturally, when Aislyn is offered Charisma, an underground drug with a guarantee to bring her out of her shell, she accepts it. Full review...

The Burning of Juniper Slaide (The Juniper Series) by Johanna Handley

5star.jpg Teens

Juniper and James are best friends, but their friendship is more intense than most, even though James' father is in prison for murdering Juniper's family. Most outsiders would consider their relationship toxic, but for painfully shy Juniper, having a close friend who can make decisions for her and speak in her behalf is her comfort blanket. So for now, it's James and Juniper against the world. Well, it would be, if James hadn't gone missing. Now Juniper feels guilty. She was the last person to see James alive and they had a terrible argument. Now Juniper is all alone and exposed, with nobody to shield her from the scary outside world. Full review...

The Burning of Juniper Slaide (The Juniper Series) by Johanna Handley

5star.jpg Teens

Juniper and James are best friends, but their friendship is more intense than most, even though James' father is in prison for murdering Juniper's family. Most outsiders would consider their relationship toxic, but for painfully shy Juniper, having a close friend who can make decisions for her and speak in her behalf is her comfort blanket. So for now, it's James and Juniper against the world. Well, it would be, if James hadn't gone missing. Now Juniper feels guilty. She was the last person to see James alive and they had a terrible argument. Now Juniper is all alone and exposed, with nobody to shield her from the scary outside world. Full review...

No Virgin by Anne Cassidy

4star.jpg Teens

This book, although rather short, managed to put its message across clearly. I was interested to read this, as it is a theme that I had not read before in a book. I found it very difficult to read at times, but I always found myself turning the next page a minute after the last. I was quite nervous to read this, but after I had finished, I could not have been more glad I had chosen it - it showed me the mind-set of the main character after her experience. I found this an interesting and unique book. Full review...

The Song from Somewhere Else by A F Harrold and Levi Pinfold

5star.jpg Confident Readers

If you were being stalked by the school bully and his two sidekicks, and if a kindly soul rescued you from them in the park, you'd be grateful, right? Or would you? Frank knows she should be grateful when Nick rescues her from Neil Noble and his acolytes Rob and Roy. But she also knows that Nick - laughed at for being flea-ridden and smelly at school - is not a person you'd want to be associated with. So Frank intends to say thanks and get the heck out of Nick's house as quickly as she can... Full review...

The Sun is also a Star by Nicola Yoon

4star.jpg Teens

Natasha is a rationalist. She thinks life is all about observable facts: data and the effective analysis of it. In fact, she wants to become a data analyst and help make the world a better place through the evidence-based policies that will flow from it. But this ambition is looking less likely now. Because Natasha is an undocumented immigrant to New York, the authorities have found out about it thanks to her reckless father, and unless there's a miracle, Natasha will be deported back to Jamaica in just twelve hours. Full review...

Crooked Kingdom by Leigh Bardugo

5star.jpg Teens

They don't know who we are. Not really. They don't know what we've done, what we've managed together… so let's show them they picked the wrong damn fight.

First things first if you haven't read Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo yet, the first book in the duology, you should read it as soon as possible, buy it or borrow it before anything else and then read Crooked Kingdom. Trust me, because while Six of Crows is unimaginably clever, with diverse characters and a brilliant heist plot, Crooked Kingdom is on a whole other level. Full review...

A Poem for Every Night of the Year by Allie Esiri

4star.jpg Children's Rhymes and Verse

Poetry can feel a little intimidating, to children and grown-ups. All those school lessons of dissecting poems in order to ascertain exactly what the poet intended with every word and stylistic form tend to kill the beauty of a well-written poem. This collection is a year-long tour through a vast history of poetry, and gives the reader a new poem to try every night, with everything from Michael Rosen to Shakespeare to Christina Rosetti. Full review...

Tales of the Peculiar by Ransom Riggs

5star.jpg Teens

A fork-tongued princess. A boy who can control the currents of the sea. Cannibals who feast on the limbs of a village of peculiars. These are just a few of the brilliant stories to be found in Tales of the Peculiar, all of which hold mystical information about the peculiar world - a place familiar to many of us since its first introduction by Ransom Riggs in Miss Peregrine's Home for Peculiar Children. The stories in this collection explore peculiar history and folklore in a wonderfully imaginative way, and also include some beautiful illustrations to accompany each of the tales. Full review...

The Darziods' Stone by Richard Smith

4star.jpg Teens

When the school summer trip to Blackpool gets cancelled, Harry's parents offer to include Harry's friends in their trip to Tredock Cove in Cornwall. Amelia, Mitch and Asad are grateful - Cornwall will be great and, even if it isn't as great as Blackpool, anything is better than being stuck at home, right? Ryan is less convinced. He's not the most open-minded of boys and he sincerely believes that Cornwall is full of carrot-crunchers. But he goes along anyway, even if it is reluctantly. Even Ryan doesn't want to be left at home by himself. And it doesn't take long for the quiet break in Cornwall to turn into something much more exciting - and frightening. The kids find a secret code and become convinced that cracking it will lead them to hidden treasure. And it might well do, but the code will also lead them to something much more dangerous... Full review...

The Hypnotist by Laurence Anholt

4.5star.jpg Teens

Pip's parents died in a traffic accident and he has been living in an orphanage ever since. He has only one treasured possession - a battered copy of Great Expectations by Charles Dickens, given to him by his schoolteacher mother. That's how Pip got his name and he has a vague but treasured memory of his own father telling him of his own great expectations. It's thanks to his ability to read that Pip finds himself released into the care - well, sold, actually - of old Zachary, who wants a companion for his bedridden wife, Lilybelle, at Dead River Farm. Lilybelle likes being read to. Full review...

Clover Moon by Jacqueline Wilson

4.5star.jpg Confident Readers

Clover Moon lives in Cripps Alley, a slum street in Victorian England. Her father works at the factory and the heavy work has taken a toll on his health. He likes to drink an ale or two after work, spending money the family can barely afford. Clover's mother died giving birth to her younger sister, Megs, a wispy, shy child. Father married again - to Mildred, a sharp-tongued woman who is free with a beating, particularly if the beating goes to Clover. Clover has another four half-siblings and it's Clover, rather than Mildred, who takes care of them. Full review...

Saint Death by Marcus Sedgwick

4.5star.jpg Teens

Anapra is a slum just outside the Mexican city of Juarez, right on the border with the United States. People scrape a living working at one or more of the American factories, which pay wages so low that workers can barely feed themselves. This is where people come to try and find their own way into the US, or pay people traffickers to do it for them. It's also a place where the drug cartels run everything and things don't end well if you get on the wrong side of the drug cartels. Full review...

Haunt Me by Liz Kessler

4star.jpg Teens

Some quite difficult themes of anxiety, bullying and self-harm in this beyond the grave love story, which at the same time creates a positive message about finding a path through them. Cute and enjoyable. Full review...

Holding Up the Universe by Jennifer Niven

4.5star.jpg Teens

High school can be far from the easiest place to navigate through for a lot of teenagers, but some have a harder job than others. After the sudden death of her mother, Libby started eating and she didn't stop until she almost killed herself. Years of doctors, counsellors and psychologists, combined with determination, sweat and tears, and she is finally ready to return to school after almost five years out. Libby is determined to make up for lost time, and refuses to be defined by her weight – she wants to be a girl who can do anything, a girl whose confidence and self-esteem is immune to anything that a few idiot high schoolers might throw her way. On the surface, Jack Masselin seems like the archetypal idiot high school guy: charming but thoughtless, superficial, and far too concerned with fitting in to do what he really knows is the right thing; but beneath all the charm and swagger, Jack is a nervous ticking time bomb. Every day is a struggle to get through, and he is constantly just one mistake away from embarrassing or hurting himself and the people around him. Because Jack has prosopagnosia, a cognitive disorder that means he can't recognise faces, whether it be his own, his family's or any of the hundreds of school kids that he is constantly surrounded by. Full review...

The Thousandth Floor by Katharine McGee

4.5star.jpg Teens

The future's bright, and the future's TALL. In 2118, New York, life centres around The Tower. It's 1000 stories tall, takes up most of the island, and is now home to Grand Central station, Central Park, schools, shops, restaurants and gyms. A whole city under one very high roof. Where you live on within the tower is a proxy for who you are and how successful you, or at least your parents, have become. Higher floors trump lower floors, and the pinnacle is that 1000th floor penthouse, owned by Avery and her family. Full review...

Word Nerd by Susin Nielsen

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Ambrose Bukowski is your typical nerd – clever and geeky with no friends and appalling dress sense. However, to add to his problems, he's also got a serious nut allergy and a slightly insane overprotective mother. When the school bullies almost kill him by putting a peanut in his sandwich, Ambrose is pulled out of school and educated at home. Lonely and bored, life is not looking good for Ambrose until he meets his neighbour's grown up son, Cosmos, who has just been released from prison. Outwardly the two have nothing in common other than a love of Scrabble but, as we soon discover, this turns out to be enough to form an unlikely friendship that helps them both. Full review...

Swarm by Scott Westerfeld, Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti

3.5star.jpg Teens

The Zeroes have found a new home. If you didn't meet them all last time, they are six super-powered teens, with a guru amongst them and generally a skill that works best when concerning crowds of people. Their home is a night-club – one can imbue the simple act of handing out flyers to it with the magic of his inner voice that tells everyone what they want most to hear, the lighting gal is so in tune with technological signals she is practically part of her rig, and the DJ herself can feed off and feed back to the emotions of the revellers. But while their secretive little club – also a Faraday cage – is an ideal place for them to experiment, to enhance their powers and learn every nuance of using them and what that means, they are inviting regular humans to come along. That is, of course, until two brand new Zeroes slip the net – and prove to be quite talented, and more than a little malicious… Full review...

Blood for Blood by Ryan Graudin

4star.jpg Crime

Second and final book in sequence set in a world where Germany won WW2 and Nazi experiments on Jewish children has produced shapeshifting humans. Can Yael defeat the Wehrmacht? Interesting, moving and absorbing. Full review...

Three Dark Crowns by Kendare Blake

5star.jpg Teens

Three Dark Crowns is a high class fantasy novel following a set of triplets: Katharine, Arsinoe and Mirabella, who are each gifted with specific magic and are equal heirs to the crown. Katharine is a poisoner with the ability to ingest the deadliest poisons, a girl who cannot die. Meanwhile, Arsinoe is a naturalist, who has the power to bloom flowers and control the fiercest animals. Finally, Mirabella is an elemental, one gifted with the ability to create fire and incredible storms powerful enough to topple buildings. On the island of Fennbirn, as is tradition, the queens are separated at the age of nine and fostered by families who share their magic. From that point onwards, they are each trained to use their magic as a weapon in the fight to the death against the other sisters. On the night of the sisters'sixteenth birthday, they will each begin their quest to secure the throne and become the rightful Queen. While the crown awaits the victor, death awaits the two weaker queens. Full review...