Book Reviews

The Casual Vacancy is an examination of addiction in its many forms. Through twenty-two Pagford/Fields people, Rowling investigates how much each addiction costs society (monetarily, socially, and progressively).

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It is a combination of fantastic storytelling and voice that make Binge a five star read. Oakley has successfully written a book in his voice—the activist voice for LGBTQ+ youth; the silly, light-hearted voice of a young man finding his way; and the progressive voice of an entire generation.

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A lot of people seem to be drawn to this story because of its brutal honesty. It’s no secret: Crank is loosely based on the authors’ own daughter’s story. The truth melds with fiction and creates this intense, drug-addled world.

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There’s something about being allowed to read Charlie’s letters that makes The Perks of Being a Wallflower feel like a treasured, individual experience. Millions of copies of Perks have been sold worldwide, and yet reading this book feels uniquely special.

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In Flirtin’ With the Monster, our favourite authors and characters discuss everything from role models, the verse format, addiction in all its forms, and who addiction impacts: the user and everyone who cares about the user. Finally, the reality of drug abuse isn’t embellished, but accurately depicted by those who’ve witnessed it first-hand.

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One’s Grace and Tippi have been joined for sixteen years. They have two legs, share everything in the hip region, and then break apart again with two torsos, four arms, and two heads. Their entire lives have been revolving around this one question: are they one person, or two?

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Inkheart tells the story of 12-year-old Meggie and her father, Mo. Meggie has grown up with a father who loves books, but she can never remember Mo reading aloud to her. Mo has a deep, dark secret that Meggie soon becomes privy to: Mo can read characters and things into/out of books. Unfortunately, on one fateful night when Meggie was just a baby, Mo read a terrible villain into the real world, and has been running from Capricorn ever since.

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Deathly Hallows is arguably one of the most famous books in history. It is the epic “end” to Harry Potter’s story of overcoming evil. It is the one and only Harry Potter book that does not take place at Hogwarts, and so is somewhat of an abrupt departure from what Harry Potter fans are used to. Still, the book holds onto the magic of the rest of the series.

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If you can think of Harry Potter and the Cursed Child as separate from the Harry Potter series, it is a really nice return to the wizarding world. 19+ years later, and we’re welcomed back into Harry’s life. We see the return of familiar characters like Ron, Hermione, Ginny, and Draco. We meet new characters, like Harry and Ginny’s children, Ron and Hermione’s children, and Draco’s child.

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If you thought Kristina was in trouble in Crank, you haven’t seen anything yet. In Glass, Kristina has moved from street-grade meth (or crank) to Mafia produced ice (or glass). All with an infant baby who deserves, and isn’t getting, his mother’s love.

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I’m an advocate for banned stories that teach difficult lessons the easier way, and Go Ask Alice definitely falls into this category. This book is an honest account of a young person finding themselves accidentally in the world of addiction. Our protagonist doesn’t fall into this bottomless pit because she seeks out drugs, but rather she was drugged. Without her knowledge.

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There are very few books that have ripped my heart out and mended it quite like The Fault in Our Stars has. This book is beautiful in every single way: it’s the perfect length, its plot advancement is steady, and the characters are realistic. This is one of the only books I’ve ever read that I continuously had to put down while reading and ask myself, Was that okay?

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I think Cracked Up to Be is one of the best debuts I’ve ever read. Courtney Summers has masterfully crafted an “unlikeable” female protagonist who somehow makes you root for her. If you’re going to read one Summers book, make it Cracked Up to Be.

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I have fond memories of running through forests to find a place to sit and read Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. I wanted to feel like I was at Hogwarts, so I found places that reminded me of the Forbidden Forest. I’d sit for hours, reading about Hermione and the Time Turner.

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In Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, there is action from start to finish, which is something I’ve always valued in Jo’s writing. There is never a lull; the plot and character motivation are always moving forward, as in life. I think that’s why I love this book so much: even though it takes place in this magical realm, it feels real.

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Identical is about twin girls, one of whom receives the misplaced love of her father. Incest. A father whose love is so misguided that he finds solace in his own daughter’s bedroom. It’s a tough pill to swallow, and then we get an even closer look: we experience the daughter’s abuse through her own eyes.

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I would say all three of The Hunger Games books deserve five stars, but Mockingjay really sticks out for me. I marvel at how alive the characters feel. Katniss’ motivation is always understandable, even when she makes choices I might not. Peeta’s love for Katniss, and the devastating blow that his Capitol time delivers, is something I won’t soon forget. Haymitch’s deep-seeded self-loathing is strikingly relatable. The characters feel like they could be real.

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