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Books I Read This Summer

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Nellie Shih, Arts and Entertainment Editor

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Books I Read This Summer

Nellie Shih ‘19

 

The books each have a ranking of 1-5 stars.

 

Bonfire by Krysten Ritter

Synopsis: An environmental lawyer returns to her hometown to investigate a case, discovering ties to a scandal concerning her classmates when she was in high school.

Review: I honestly only picked up this book because it was a signed copy; the author, Krysten Ritter, is an actress most known for her roles in Jessica Jones and Breaking Bad. The book was ultimately a little slow and forgettable but not bad for a debut novel.

3/5

 

Immortal Reign by Morgan Rhodes

Synopsis: The last book in the Falling Kingdoms series, Immortal Reign follows the four protagonists as they are forced to work together in order to save their kingdoms.

Review: This was the sixth book in the series and I felt obligated to read it. The story is too long and drawn-out, and I’m just grateful I’m finally free.

3/5

 

The Rest of Us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness

Synopsis: This book focuses on Mikey, just a normal kid in a world full of “Chosen Ones.” He’s just trying to navigate through high school while the Chosen Ones save the world.

Review: I liked the concept of this book, but when a book focuses on the background characters, it’s not terribly interesting. That’s not to say it’s bad, but Patrick Ness has written other books that are much more engaging than this one.

3.5/5

 

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds

Synopsis: Fifteen-year-old Will, armed with his brother’s gun, is about to go and avenge his brother’s murder. Those are the rules. But the elevator stops on the way down and Buck steps into the elevator. Buck, who Will knows is dead.

Review: I was so excited to read this book, and I was not disappointed. In just 300 pages, Reynolds has created an ensemble of well-written characters and compelling insight on the cycle of violence. It’s also unique in the sense that it’s written entirely in verse, making the words more poignant as well as making the book a very quick read. I highly recommend this book.

5/5

 

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A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness

Synopsis: At 12:07 a monster appears outside of thirteen-year-old Conor’s window and demands the truth.

Review: This book is sad. It’s heartfelt and heart-wrenching, well-written, captivating, and one of my favorite books I read this summer.

5/5

 

Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Synopsis: Catherine Earnshaw’s father adopts a boy named Heathcliff who falls in love with her. Heathcliff is bullied by Catherine’s brother Hindley, which eventually drives him to leave Wuthering Heights.

Review: Very few characters in this novel are tolerable; most of them are not particularly likeable. I never found myself rooting for any of the characters. This—in addition to the fact that many of the characters have the same names—made Wuthering Heights hard to get through and not very enjoyable.

3/5

 

Little Women by Louisa May Alcott

Synopsis: The story of the March sisters: Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy.

Review: While each sister is unique and well-written and they have a strong dynamic together, the book was overall a little outdated and boring in my opinion. I think I lost what little interest I had in it when I realized that the most exciting part was halfway through when Jo cut her hair.

3/5

 

They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera

Synopsis: A little after midnight, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio both get a call from Death-Cast. They’re both going to die within the next 24 hours. Through an app called Last Friend, the two decide to meet up and they vow to live a lifetime in a single day.

Review: My biggest problem with this book is that how Death-Cast knows who is going to die is never explained. The explanation is that the workers at the call center don’t know, and even if they did, they wouldn’t be able to tell. Still, I love the characters and their story. But, what I love most is that though the book’s overall tone is sad, it’s still full of hope.

4/5

 

Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

Synopsis: Taylor is the leader of the boarders at the Jellicoe School. She is in the middle of dealing with a brewing territory war between the boarders, the Townies from the Jellicoe Town, and the Cadets from a school in Sydney. At the school, Hannah—the person Taylor relies on the most—has disappeared, leaving behind a mysterious manuscript about five kids who lived in Jellicoe eighteen years ago. On top of all that, Taylor is in the midst of making sense of a strange recurring dream and finding her mother who abandoned her years ago on the Jellicoe Road.

Review: Reading this book requires a lot of attention to detail. Everything is connected—and also just a Google search away. Despite the fact I was extremely confused and had to read the synopsis on Wikipedia twice when I first started the book, I was determined to find out how everything would come together in the end. I really liked this book, and I would reread it because I’m sure I missed a million hints that were hidden in plain sight.

4.5/5

 

More than This by Patrick Ness

Synopsis: A boy drowns. The he wakes up—alone but alive.

Review: I can’t really say anything in fear of spoilers, but I’m pretty sure this book is the script for an episode of Black Mirror.

4/5

 

Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood

Synopsis: The story of the man who may be the last human on earth as a result of a genetic engineering experiment.

Review:

Action: nonexistent

A walk in the woods: never-ending

Ratio of interesting to uninteresting flashbacks: 1 to 10000000

My motivation to read the rest of the series: channeled into a motivation to reread the Chaos Walking Trilogy

2/5

 

The Life We Bury by Allen Eskens

Synopsis: A college student tasked with writing a biography for his English class interviews a convicted murderer while also juggling his family life.

Review: I wasn’t a fan of Eskens’s writing style; I thought he tended to end every chapter overdramatically. As a result of the over-exaggerated first person narrative, I wasn’t particularly fond of the protagonist – and I found him to be overly obsessed with his neighbor. But, I was interested in Carl Iverson’s story. Overall, the book wasn’t horrible, and it reminded me of the first book I read this summer, Bonfire.

3/5

 

Exit West by Mohsin Hamid

Synopsis: In an unnamed country nearing collapse as a result of civil war, two strangers – opposites in many ways – form an unlikely bond and must decide if they should stay in their country or flee.

Review: Out of the three required summer reading books, I enjoyed this one the most. I found the themes of migration/immigration and its response to be poignant and compelling. There wasn’t a whole lot of action, but I thought that fit the tone of the book. I’ve heard complaints that the main characters didn’t do much and were a little boring, but I thought their relationship was realistic, given their different backgrounds. Finally, I read a review comparing the concept of doors in the novel to Monsters, Inc. which was meant as a slam on the book, but only made me enjoy the book a little more.

4/5

 

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

Synopsis: A mysterious disease kills 90% of children. The survivor develop strange abilities, are labelled as threats by the government, and sent to internment camps.

Review: This book is ultimately just another YA novel. The protagonist, Ruby, is a little dramatic and annoying, but the main three kids she encounters are great characters. This is the first book in a series; I wasn’t considering reading the rest, but the end of the first book made me reconsider for about 24 hours. You probably won’t find me reading the rest of the series.

3.5/5

 

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The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

Synopsis: A black teen witnesses her unarmed friend get shot by the police.

Review: I don’t want to speak over any criticism from those with similar personal experience, but I thought this book was incredible. The characters are complex, and the author weaves together different aspects of the protagonist’s life: the aftermath of the shooting, her life at home, and her life at the prep school she attends. This book is engaging and poignant, and in a way, almost sadly realistic and relevant.

5/5

 

Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Synopsis: Despite society’s and her family’s expectations, Audrey Rose Wadsworth pursues her interest in forensics in her uncle’s laboratory, only to stumble upon an investigation of a string of murders by a serial killer.

Review: This was the third mystery book I read this summer involving an independent, fierce, but mostly edgy protagonist; a mysterious love interest; and a character you suspect is guilty until the protagonist begins to suspect them as well, but you’re too far from the end of the book for everything to be wrapped up the way you’ve been expecting. This specific kind of book wasn’t that good the first time, and it certainly wasn’t any better the third time around.

3/5

 

Le Petit Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry

Synopsis: After crashing his plane in the Sahara, an aviator meets a little prince whose home is an asteroid, and who repeats questions until they’re answered.

Review: This book is so good. It’s so cute, but it’s sad, but it’s still full of hope. It’s a love letter to the imagination of children, a reminder not to take it all so seriously, and a lesson on how to find joy and what’s really important to you.

5/5

 

 

Saving Francesca by Melina Marchetta

Synopsis: Francesca Spinelli is one of the few girls at the newly coed St. Sebastians. Her mother, who always believed she knew what was best for Francesca is suddenly bedridden with depression, leaving Francesca stranded in a sea of unfamiliar faces, though some were not always unfamiliar.

Review: I wasn’t expecting much from this book at first. Not a lot happens, but Marchetta makes up for that with her funny and quirky characters you can’t help but root for. It’s sad, but it’s realistic, and isn’t full of false hope.

4/5

 

A Darker Shade of Magic by VE Schwab

Synopsis: Kell is from Red London, where magic is a part of everyday life. Then there’s Grey London, dirty and stripped of magic. White London is starving, ruled by whoever kills their way to the throne. And finally, there’s the mysterious Black London, destroyed by magic long ago.

Review: Schwab has created a complex world of fantasy and adventure, and pulls it off. But, it takes her 200 pages to introduce the main conflict of the novel. The conclusion of the novel wraps up in a way that lets you walk away from the Londons forever, but I’m looking forward to reading the rest of the trilogy sometime in the future.

4/5

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