Shine by Lauren Myracle
This poignant and, often times, harsh novel provides an insightful look at homophobia and religion in the South. The difficulty of the issues makes this book both heart-wrenching and compelling, but the characters are what really help the book stand out as exceptional. The plot was extremely compelling – highly character-driven, of course – and kept me interested at every turn, while the ending left me wanting even more.
– Claire, 9th grade
Looking for Alaska by John Green
While I’m hesitant to add to the John Green craze, I must say: Looking for Alaska is an incredible book. The protagonist, Pudge, who has done – more or less – nothing exceptional thus far in his life begins to really start living with the help of his classmates at boarding school. The odd but fearless Colonel, the simple pauper Takumi, and – of course – the witty and self-destructive Alaska fill his life with pranks, love, and life swirling into one big mess – a mess worth living through. A contemporary Catcher in the Rye, this story is worth reading.
– Nick, 9th grade
The Green Glass Sea by Ellen Klages
Klages’s novel – a piece of historical fiction (my favorite genre) set in the early 1940’s in New Mexico – was thoroughly enjoyable due in large part to her strong female protagonist. Although it’s hard not to give away much by saying this, the Manhattan Project is a large factor in the plot.
– Grace, 9th grade
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel
The novel is able to combine magical realism with the everyday life of a family living during the Mexican Revolution. It accurately portrays a dynamic typified by Latin families during the time period. The symbolism is not heavy-handed, and adds to the narrative.
– Alec, 9th grade
Divergent by Veronica Roth
One of my favorite books, the first of this fast-paced trilogy (which, like the cover says, is being made into a movie) is a great dystopian novel. Think Hunger Games and Brave New World.
– Eric, 9th grade
Generation Dead by Daniel Waters
The first in a series, Generation Dead is a great book about overcoming oppression and everyday life, even though the main characters aren’t necessarily living, so to speak.
– Savannah, 11th grade
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The most recent of Green’s novels (also being made into a movie), The Fault in Our Stars is – like the contrasting clouds on the cover – about opposing forces in one girl’s life: living while dying (from cancer), juggling the indefinite of love and the inevitability of sadness, and making a mundane (and painful) existence a bit more bright. It’s a tearjerker, mind you.
– Ella, 9th grade
Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Book One: The Lightning Thief by Rick Riordan
Riordan’s first novel in the series has a great hook that immediately captures your interest. The story line mixes a present-day setting with mythology, and proves to be an interesting read.
– Sugan, 10th grade
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
The plot revolves around a teenage boy who lives his life in a video game. I found it both well-written and unexpected; there were plenty of plot twists that kept me invested and weren’t obvious. The characters were also well-developed.
– Akash, 10th grade
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher
Both well-written and challenging, Asher’s first novel has us following a trail of cassette tapes that the main character, Clay, finds on his doorstep two weeks after a classmate, Hannah, commits suicide. Her voice leads Clay, and us, around their hometown, slowly revealing Hannah’s motives for her actions – thirteen in total. While I had some difficulty following the plot at times, the narrative kept me invested anyway.
– Zarah, 9th grade
Like Water for Chocolate by Laura Esquirel
I, like my brother Alec, enjoyed Like Water for Chocolate. We’re currently reading it in our Spanish class, and while I initially was hesitant I grew to enjoy it. There’s a great deal of substance to the story that I wouldn’t have expected initially.
– Carlos, 10th grade
Cross My Heart and Hope to Spy by Ally Carter.
Best book I have ever read, absolutely wonderful! I would recommend it to anyone of any age between 10 and infinity. Unpredictable, full of mystery and suspense; once you read it, you will fall in love with it and want to read the rest of the series. It’ll have you begging for more!
– Ashley, 10th grade
The Cherub Series, Book 1: The Recruit by Robert Muchamore
This book – and the series as a whole – is really action-packed and intense. It’s about teenagers who go undercover as spies into many different missions and situations. They infiltrate terrorist organizations and drug cartels, for example.
– Logan, 9th grade
A Game of Thrones: A Song of Ice and Fire: Book One by George R. R. Martin
The series is just addicting and will tide you over for a solid two months, if you’re a fast reader; half a year, if you’re slower. Either way, worth getting invested in.
– Dawson, 9th grade
The Mortal Instruments Series: City of Bones by Cassandra Clare
One of my all-time favorite starters to a series, City of Bones is chock-full of wicked action and fantastic humour. It’s got demon-killing battles, unpredictable romance and diverse, dimensional characters. If you’re a fan of anything supernatural, this book is for you. (I know, that’s a lot of adjectives, but seriously – read the book!)
– Louise, 9th grade