Newest Teens Reviews

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Exploring Space: From Galileo to the Mars Rover and Beyond by Martin Jenkins and Stephen Biesty

5star.jpg Children's Non-Fiction

I take it as read that you know some of the history of space exploration, even if the young person you buy books for doesn't know it all. So I won't go into the extremes reached by the Voyager space craft, and the processes we needed to be expert in before we could launch anything. You probably have some inkling of how we learnt that we're not the centre of everything – the gradual discovery of how curved the planet was, and how other things orbited other things in turn proving we are not that around which everything revolves. What you might not be so genned up on is the history of books conveying all this to a young audience. When I was a nipper they were stately texts, with a few accurate diagrams – if you were lucky. For a long time now, however, they've been anything but stately, and often aren't worried about accuracy as such in their visual design. They certainly long ago shod the boring, plain white page. Until now… Full review...

Knife Edge by Robert Swindells

4star.jpg Dyslexia Friendly

I'm just not interested. I'm not interested in there ever being a knife in junior fiction, unless it comes with a lesson. And I'm just not interested unless that lesson tells you one thing – that they're quick. Knives can be quick to find, are quick to whip out, and quick to get the bearer into trouble, whether they actually meet flesh or not. Sam is the student of that lesson here – his school has a Citizenship campaign whereby the pupils do odd jobs for local elderly, and he finds a perfect knife he thinks will defend him from the local gang – a gang whose leader he constantly rattled in primary school. As for the rest – I'll leave his personable first-person narrative to teach you… Full review...

Amy Chelsea Stacie Dee by Mary G Thompson

4star.jpg Teens

Six years ago, cousins Amy and Dee were abducted. They were never recovered and no trace of them was ever found - that is until Amy suddenly returns home, alone and unable to tell anyone where Dee is or what happened to her. Amy's unexpected homecoming gives hope to her family, but she's a different person after spending most of her teen years in captivity, and she's not sure if she can ever fully go back to her old life. Amy is someone she left behind when she was 10 years old and in the years of her absence, she became Chelsea and Dee became Stacie. But why has she come back now? Who took them in the first place? And where is Dee Full review...

Waking in Time by Angie Stanton

4star.jpg Teens

Abbi has had a hard year. Her beloved grandmother died and, before the grief really had a chance to settle, Abbi has left the safety and security of home to start college in Wisconsin. And it really does feel as though she has left the two most important people in her life - mother and grandmother - behind. But it's hard to forget and somehow the past keeps hold of Abbi's mind. And then, one morning, she wakes in her dorm room to find herself transported back in time to 1983. And it won't be the first time-shift she experiences. As Abbi jumps further and further back in time, she meets Will. Time is pushing Will forwards, not backwards and his journey began in 1927. Full review...

Caraval by Stephanie Garber

5star.jpg Fantasy

Scarlett Dragna has had one desire all her life: to visit a Caraval. These interactive events put on by magician and entrepreneur Legend are world famous but very exclusive. It's therefore a huge surprise when Scarlett and her sister Tella receive tickets. These will take them away from their sadistic father and prison-like island home for the first time. Caraval is never what one expects though and when Tella is kidnapped, Scarlett experiences the sinister side of a game in which nothing is what it seems. Full review...

Wild Lily by K M Peyton

4star.jpg Teens

Lily did love Antony. She was just 14 years old and he was 17, but Antony was the son of the big house and Lily was the daughter of one of the estate workers. They laughed and played together with all the other teens and children on the estate and Antony accepted Lily's adoration and was fond of her. He was an odd mixture of a spoiled brat and a neglected child. His mother was long dead and his father mainly absent on business and parenting was something which was bought in. In the early 1920s cars and aeroplanes were in their infancy and for his 17th birthday (his father thought it was his 12th...) Antony asked for an aeroplane. His father agreed and Antony went to Brooklands and bought a Sopwith. Full review...

All About Mia by Lisa Williamson

5star.jpg Teens

Mia thinks she's being ironic when she has the phrase 'All About Mia' emblazoned on her T-shirt. Ironic because it's NEVER about her. How can it be? She's just the mess in the middle – sandwiched between her oh-so-perfect straight A grade sister, Grace, and her super-talented soon-to-be Olympic swimmer sister, Audrey. As far as Mia's concerned she may as well get permanently wasted. She's convinced there's no point trying until a series of events coincide to show her just how wrong she is. Full review...

The Secret Keepers by Trenton Lee Stewart

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Reuben is a small boy growing up with his mum in a big city full of injustice and fear. The family have little money and working two jobs means that Reuben's mum trusts him to be on his own a lot. For a young child Reuben develops a lot of independence, which really helps him when he finds an unusual and precious object and decides to try to uncover its secret. He hopes it might be valuable and dreams of being able to buy his mum her ideal home. Unfortunately there is someone else also looking for the object and Reuben enters into a dangerous game of hide and seek as he dares to take on the most powerful and ruthless man in the city Full review...

The Goldfish Boy by Lisa Thompson

5star.jpg Confident Readers

Matthew has OCD. Not that he knows that's what it is. He just likes things clean, he really hates germs, or going outside, and he feels safest upstairs in his room and the front bedroom, where he can control the dirt, and where he can watch everything that's going on outside, making notes on his neighbours' activities. When a little boy, Teddy, from next door goes missing one day, it turns out that Matthew was the last person to see him, and with all of his neighbours as suspects Matthew struggles against his crippling anxieties in order to try and uncover the truth of what happened to Teddy. Full review...

We Come Apart by Sarah Crossan and Brian Conaghan

5star.jpg Teens

We Come Apart tells the story of a burgeoning friendship and romance between Jess and Nicu. Both have problems to deal with. Jess has an abusive stepfather who beats up her mother. Nicu is a Romanian immigrant to the UK and faces xenophobia in the UK as well as an unwanted arranged marriage when he returns home. Both kids get caught shoplifting and are sent on a rehabilitative course (mostly involving picking up litter). The friendship they strike up is born of circumstance yet gradually becomes more, a lot more... ... but is there a future for Jess and Nicu? Full review...

Waiting for Callback: Take Two by Perdita Cargill and Honor Cargill

5star.jpg Teens

Everything seems to be slotting into place for 15 year-old wannabe actress, Elektra James. The summer's here and she's finally landed the boy of her dreams. Added to that she's about to start filming a blockbuster film with internationally famous co-stars. Could life get any better? Ur… maybe… No, definitely … especially when said boy of her dreams lands his own starring role in a TV series that's filming in Transylvania. And, to make matters worse, shooting a blockbuster film (while dressed in a costume that looks like a sack) isn't quite as smooth and glamorous as Elektra imagined. Full review...

The Memory Book by Lara Avery

4.5star.jpg Teens

Sam McCoy has her life all planned out. She is going to win the national debating competition, go to college in New York and become a human rights lawyer. She is so sure of this that it almost feels ordained. And she has worked for it too, sacrificing relationships and friendships in the service of ambition. You can imagine, then, that Sammie views a diagnosis of Niemann–Pick type C as little more than a rock in the road. She won't let a pesky health condition stand in her way. Full review...

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...

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...