Insignia by SJ Kincaid
reviewed by Sarah
Tom Raines lives in the future during the time of World War III. He is poor and gambles for money. In this world, people gamble with video games. Tom always wins these games and uses the money he makes to support his dad and himself.
One day, a general from the combatants (the supernatural warriors in World War III) is watching Tom play and wants to recruit him. Tom leaves his father to go join the Combatants and fight. Combatants are the smartest, strongest, and fastest people in the world. In order to measure up to these standards, Tom is given a computer chip which is placed in his brain. He uses this to download information, speed up his thought process and provide perfect photographic memory. He is also given growth hormone bars to make him taller, faster, and stronger.
Tom trains and becomes the strongest fighter. He engages in the war and learns and befriends a combatant on the other side. Tom also aces other struggles and other enemies within his own territory.
This is one of the best books I have ever read and I highly recommend it to teens who like adventure and speculative fiction.
Chasing Vermeer by Blue Balliett
reviewed by Gabby
"On a warm October night in Chicago, three deliveries were made in the same neighborhood." Just by reading the first sentence of Chasing Vermeer, I was already curious about the book. The author's style of writing made the book interesting; the way that she is mysterious yet still makes it possible for the reader to envision the scene in their mind is, in my opinion, a very hard thing to achieve.
We do not meet Chasing Vermeer's main characters until the second chapter. Calder is a thoughtful boy and Petra is an extremely smart girl. Balliet introduces the characters in a school classroom, and by doing so helps the reader feel that the characters are familiar. The main plot of the story is that the characters must find an "invaluable Vermeer painting." Backed by their extensive knowledge of pentominoes and most topics in general, Calder and Petra work together to prove that you can do anything, regardless of who you are.
Overall, I found Chasing Vermeer a very enjoyable story and would suggest it to any open-minded reader seeking a mystery.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides
reviewed by Joel
I'll start this review off by saying this is one of the best books I have ever read. However, it is not for kids. Don't read this if you cannot handle sexual themes. Seriously. On the surface, Middlesex is a story about the transformation of a person born as a girl, Calliope, into a man, but it is much more than that. It deals a lot with the history of the narrator's family, starting in Greece during the Balkan Wars, At the end of the history part of his book, Eugenides goes into the story of Calliope, or Callie. Her epic journey from woman to man is flawlessly chronicled by Eugenides, and every page is filled with details and beautiful insight into the human mind. I would genuinely recommend this book to anyone, not only because it addresses an important social issue, but just because it is so darn fun to read.