Reading Riot: Book Reviews By Teens For Teens

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With the start of school, we hope you’ve dusted off the summer sand and are now happily hitting the books. During our Teen Summer Reading Program, many of you refused to fall for the notorious “summer slide” and diligently checked out and read hundreds of books. And many of you also submitted outstanding reviews of the books you read. We think those reviews are worth sharing so we’ll be posting them to Reading Riot for all to enjoy. And if you happen to see a review that sparks your interest, be sure to find it in the library catalog and pick it up at your nearest branch.

Our first guest teen reviewer and book lover, Katie K. sent in many thoughtful and detailed reviews. Here are just a few of our favorites about teens doing amazing things.

The Summer I Saved the World in 65 Days by Michele Weber HurwitzBook cover summer i saved the world, girl in a hammock

Nina is a 13-year-old girl who doesn’t often step out of her way to do something that could make a difference. She recalled what her teacher had said, to “be unnoticed but remarkable.” Nina then makes a promise to herself to anonymously do one good thing every single day for 65 days for the rest of the summer. Something as simple as admitting the truth has brought her family closer again. Anonymously planting flowers has not only made her feel good but has, of course, made the recipient feel good. Although Nina’s attempt has often backfired when someone rejected an act of kindness or the neighborhood busy body became a little too suspicious, blaming ghosts and crazily calling “URGENT” neighborhood meetings, Nina has been trying.

All in all, simple acts of kindness have made a big impact in the grand scheme of things. These doings have ultimately mended neighborly, friend and family relationships. This book is inspiring, uplifting and motivating. You and I can do this! You don’t even have to plant flowers; just help when you see an opportunity. Smile at someone who is frowning, retrieve the mail for someone who can’t or bake someone a treat. The last line is so touching and says it all, “If I did it, anyone can.”

Book cover greatest zombie movie, french fries and splattered ketchupThe Greatest Zombie Movie Ever by Jeff Strand

The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever is hilarious! Fifteen year old Justin and his friends Bobby and Gabe try to make a feature film about deathly zombies. The trio of friends, other cast members and producers, who are also around 15 years old, encounter the difficulties that stand in the way of producing a block buster movie. Such obstacles include how to raise enough money, trying to pull all-nighters to write the script and finding the time to shoot the movie before Gabe leaves for vacation.

However, this book doesn’t seem like other books. In fact, what I am implying may be true! This book stands out. I mean, sure, Jeff Strand analyzed a problem and figured out a way to solve it within the storyline, but this story is different! The Greatest Zombie Movie Ever seems more relatable and personable. The characters just get carried away with playful arguing for three to four pages and the reader is left laughing and thinking, “What?” and saying, “Hey mom, listen to this….”

For example, Justin, Bobby and Gabe start to battle it out with words over the use of slow zombies or fast zombies. “Fast zombies or slow zombies?” Justin had asked last night, early in the story development discussion.
“Slow zombies,” said Gabe.
“Fast zombies,” said Bobby.
“Slow zombies are scarier.”
“No, they’re not. Fast zombies are scarier because they’re fast.”
“Fast zombies aren’t realistic.”
“Zombies aren’t realistic…”

A woman questions Justin about what kind of movie he is filming. Justin quickly tried to think of an answer that was not “a zombie movie.”
“A zombie movie,” said Christopher.
The woman scowled. “You should spend less time thinking about zombies and a little more time thinking about the Lord.”

Lastly, my third most favorite passage of the book is the first part of the acknowledgments.
“You don’t write a book alone. I mean, sure, you write most of it alone, sitting in a dark, gloomy room all by yourself. Everybody else in the entire world is out doing fun stuff, but you can’t go because you have to finish your book. As your tears drip onto the keyboard, you’ve never felt more alone.”

Final thoughts: Jeff Strand is hilarious!

Katie K. 10th Grade

Thank you Katie for the great reviews! Look for more teen book reviews in upcoming Reading Riot posts.

∼ Ann McDuffie, Youth Services Librarian, Bealeton branch library

Want to stay informed about books, websites and events for teens and young adult readers? Check out more from Reading Riot.

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