Morgenstein, L. & King, I.M. (Executive Producers). (2010). Pretty Little Liars [television series]. Burbank, California: ABC Family.
Welcome to Rosewood, a quaint, quiet town. Everything is peaceful and orderly, until, one day, that perfection is shattered by the disappearance of Alison DiLaurentis, the most popular girl at school. Her four best friends, Spencer, Aria, Emily, and Hanna are left questioning what happened to their best friend and are beginning to be terrorized by the mysterious A, who knows all of their secrets.
Based on Sara Shepard’s book series, this television series is full drama, intrigue, romance, and great clothes. The series tends to appeal to teenage girls, who are fans of other dramas like Gossip Girl.
Some may say that the storylines are far-fetched and overly dramatic. While this may be true, the series is still enjoyable and quite addicting. There is also a balance of realistic themes, like bullying and struggling with identity, which makes this show relatable for many teen viewers.
Overall, this show is a 4.5. The only thing keeping it from a perfect 5 is how outlandish it may be at times.
Nelson, J. (2014). I’ll give you the sun. New York, NY: Penguin.
In this award-winning novel, Nelson weaves together the stories of twins, Jude and Noah. The story is told over the span of three years, alternating between Jude’s perspective, when the twins are 16, and Noah’s perspective, when they’re 13. The final product is an intricately told tale about family, love, and art.
Nelson’s novel is quirky and enjoyable. Her colourful writing is full of visual imagery. The story is heavily focused on art, and this comes through in Nelson’s words. It is a piece of art in itself.
This story has a wide appeal. The use of two main characters makes this gender-neutral. The use of two narrators of differing ages also makes this a story for younger and older teen audiences.
In terms of limitations, the novel is quite long (the e-book was over 400 pages long), and it took me a little while to get into the story. By the middle of the story, however, I was hooked.
This book is beautifully written and is still readable (moreso than We Were Liars by E. Lockhart). The story is genuine and engaging, even if it was a little slow in the beginning. Because of these factors I give it a 4.75.
Note: This book won the American Library Association 2015 Printz Award for Young Adult literature. Check out other winners.
Chbosky, S. (2010). The Perks of Being a Wallflower. MTV Books. Retrieved from http://elnb-bnnb.lib.overdrive.com/72905F02-871C-445F-87FF-C037149B642E/10/50/en/ContentDetails.htm?id=61293330-A17D-4B4A-A377-F31A86D1F947
Told through a series of letters to an unnamed friend, Charlie invites readers into his world as he deals with the trials of high school: finding friends, fitting in, and figuring out who he is.
Charlie’s letters are raw and truthful and are written with the innocence of a young man beginning to encounter the world for the first time. The style is reminiscent of Meg Cabot’s The Princess Diaries. The topic is quite different, but in each, readers are invited into the main character’s innermost thoughts in an absolutely unmediated way.
This book, full of emotion, would appeal to many types of readers. Chbosky draws on many elements of popular culture, especially music. Anyone trying to find their way in life, young or old, would likely enjoy this story.
In terms of limitations, it is important to note that some of the subject matter may be for a more mature audience. But that’s why it’s a controversial novel (and the reason why it’s worth reading).
Overall, this book is a definite 5. I read it in two days. The characters, the plot, the music references– these all make this book worth the read.
Myracle, L. (2013). The infinite moment of us. New York, NY: Amulet Books.
Eighteen year old Wren Gray has always played it safe and followed her parents’ rules. Having just graduated from high school, Wren decides that it is time to take her life into her own hands. She meets Charlie Parker and, for the first time, Wren falls in love.
Lauren Myracle has often been compared to Judy Blume, and, after reading this book, I know why. The Infinite Moment of Us is raw, emotional, and, most importantly, realistic. Myracle does not shy away from details, giving readers the good, the bad, and the ugly.
This book would appeal to anyone looking for a love story and the thrills and pain of first love. The story may be more appealing to an older teen audience, especially recent high school graduates.
I would give this book a 4.5. It is raw, realistic, and relatable and captures the feelings of first love.
Lockhart, E. (2013). We were liars. New York, NY: Delacorte.
Cadence is part of the illustrious and beautiful Sinclair family. Every summer, three generations of the Sinclair family vacation on their private island. Every summer, Cadence reunites with her cousins, the Liars. But when something happens during her fifteenth summer on the island, Cadence loses her memory and must work to remember what happened.
This book is unlike anything I’ve read. The focus on wealth and power was somewhat similar to Cecily von Ziegesar’s Gossip Girl series. Yet, it is different. Lockhart artfully weaves together prose and verse that grabs readers from the beginning and leaves them gasping at the end.
This book is of high literary quality, and it is highly acclaimed by adult readers. Because of this, it may not be the most readable book for young adults. This book would likely appeal to readers who enjoy experimental forms and complex books.
I would give this book a 4. The story is captivating and unexpected. The only thing keeping it from getting a perfect 5 is that, while it is of high quality, I do not see many young readers enjoying it. It may be a little too “schoolish” for them.
Langston, L. (2014). Hot new thing. Victoria, BC: Orca.
When Lily gets her big break in a Hollywood movie, she is swept away from her high school life in Vancouver to the luxurious lifestyle of a hot and young actress. But, when she gets to Los Angeles and starts to work on the movie, she realizes that there is a lot more to Hollywood than acting, nice clothes, and pretty faces.
Who hasn’t wondered what it would be like to be a celebrity? Readers get a chance at finding out what this is like by living vicariously through Lily. The story wastes no time in roping in readers, and they’ll be left flying through the pages to find out what happens to Lily. Anyone interested in the lives of the stars and looking for a short and entertaining read should check this novel out.
The teaser of the text left me expecting a generic and clichéd story. I was pleasantly surprised by how much I enjoyed reading this novel. The concept may have been done before, but Langston offers a unique and engaging take on it. In all, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. I would give it a 4.5.
Grahame, A. (2012). Wentworth Hall. New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Set in 1912, Wentworth Hall tells the story of the Darlington family as they navigate the dawning of the new century and the decline of English aristocrats while hushing the whispers that the family has run out of money. Secrets fly throughout the house and are only exacerbated by the scandalous satires which begin to appear in the local newspaper.
This novel has a long list of characters, each with their share of drama. The story is told from multiple points of view, yet Grahame transitions between points effortlessly making it easy to read. While there are hints at drama and gossip, the hints may be too obvious, because the secrets were somewhat predictable.
The story, an upstairs-downstairs type, would appeal to viewers of Downton Abbey and anyone who loves historical fiction. If readers enjoyed this story, they would likely love Anna Godbersen’s Luxe series, which is filled with even more intrigue and juicy scandal.
Overall, I would give this book a 3 out of 5. It has the basic elements of a good story, but its predictability makes it fall short.