Book Reviews & Recommendations from Year 7 Students – Part 1

Reading more books has been a popular suggestion during self isolation, but sometimes it is hard to know which book to choose.

So we thought we would share some of our Year 7 book reviews, which were written earlier in the academic year as part of their Reading Passport, a programme run by the English Department at NHEHS.

In order to receive their Reading Passport, students must choose one book from each genre: Mystery, Non-fiction, Comedy, Historical Novel, Science Fiction/Fantasy plus one free choice.

For each book, our readers then have to select one activity to complete from the following:

  • an oral presentation to the class                  
  • a typed book review
  • a book cover with a blurb
  • a letter to the author
  • a character study poster or display
  • a book mark                       

We hope you enjoy their book reviews and the books themselves! For more inspiration, please see more reviews here.

“Marina” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón – Reviewed by Isabella, 7G

The book “Marina is a story of decisions and a bond between Marina, a mysterious girl, and Oscar, a boarding school student. This Gothic novel follows them as they step into downtown Barcelona and become engulfed in a tale of lies, mystery and dark secrets buried in the past. Set in Barcelona, May 1980, this book is easy to get lost in, just like the city of lies that Oscar and Marina must venture into if they wish to uncover the truth.

The story is narrated by fifteen-year-old Oscar Drai, a boarding school student who has a passion for the down town streets of Barcelona. The novel opens with Oscar going on one of his normal roves through the ramshackle streets. After coming across an especially beautiful art nouveau mansion, Oscar wanders inside for a better look. Inside the house Oscar falls into a trance, mesmerised by the singing coming from within. Without thinking he picks up a solid gold watch. Suddenly, a pair of ghostly pale hands are reaching out towards him, brushing his shirt! Oscar then flees the house and its ghostly owner. After his narrow escape, Oscar realises he still has the watch. After many hours of contemplation, he returns to the mansion to give back the watch, only to find a girl clad in a vaporous white dress waiting outside. Marina.

Oscar and Marina both share a passion and yearning for mystery and adventure so when Marina proposes that they go to one of the oldest graveyards in Barcelona, Oscar is only too eager. As a reader, this is where the story properly begins, as they decide to follow a mysterious lady clad in black who visits the unnamed grave with the symbol of a black butterfly with open wings adorning it on the last Sunday of every month. Curious, they begin a journey that will take them to a forgotten Barcelona where secrets lie waiting in the mysterious labyrinth beneath the city. During their time together Oscar and Marina share everything with each other and the pair develop a caring passion for each other.

Even though the enthralling story is told through Oscar’s perspective we gain a sense of Marina’s feelings through her movement, expressive way of talking and through Oscar’s speculations. The tale comes to an emotional and conclusive ending when it is clear that there is no way for them to adventure together again.

Nevertheless, “Marina” is a heart-warming, Gothic tale and I would highly recommend it to anyone with a sense of humour and who likes mysteries with a twist of the impossible.

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading adventure books tinged with a Gothic air. This book is also a page-turner and is one of those books that you get so wrapped up that the world fades. Moreover, if you like a daring plot twist and a macabre setting then this book is for you.

 

“One of Us is Lying” by Karen McManus – Reviewed by Natasha, 7S

“5 students walk into a detention, only 4 walk out alive.” As a reader who enjoys books with a twist, some of my friends recommended to me “One of Us is Lying.”

This is a teen fiction book that includes four believable characters called Bronwyn, Cooper, Nate and Addy who are all suspected of murder. This book is a classic murder mystery with a twist. Throughout the book, each chapter jumps between characters giving their perspective on what is happening. I enjoyed the contrast of each character’s opinions with each one being a stereotypically high school students and very different from each other – one “geek”, one sportsman, one princes and one suspected drug dealer.

However, this book is not just about the action or a mystery. The story has a sentimental tale inside with unexpected romances and with open teenage issues. “I know what it is like to tell yourself a lie so often it becomes the truth,” said by Nate during the book. This quote describes the meaning of lies and the power they have referencing back to the title of the book. This, as many other quotes do in this book, bring up many mysteries and issues that any teen reader could relate to.

I enjoyed this book because it was a page turner and one which I was unable to put down. I would very much recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a modern day murder mystery with a slightly romantic trait. I would also recommend this book to people who have never read anything like this because it is original and one book to definitely start to indulge into the world of Murder Mystery.

 

“The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time” by Mark Haddon – Reviewed by Morven, 7D

As a passionate reader, I really enjoyed the book, “The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time,” for numerous reasons: the twist, the subtle clues that are gradually emitted and the feelings that pass between yourself as the reader and all of the characters.

The protagonist is Christopher Boone, a 15 year old autistic boy, who despite being amazing at maths and literal things, has never yet ventured alone past the end of his road. Living only with his Dad, as his Mum, Judy, died two years ago, he is determined to avenge the death of his neighbour’s dog, Wellington, who was speared by a garden fork.

But the truth can hurt. He wonders around his neighbourhood searching for clues but is frequently stopped by adults: trying to keep secrets hidden or worried for the safety of a young innocent child? You’ll never know until you read this thrilling novel. And it is not just me who enjoyed it. The book also won seven Olivier Awards and five Tony awards and has been awarded a stunning 5 out of 5 from BookTrust. It is truly worth your time.

 

“Wundersmith”  by Jessica Townsend – Reviewed by Maanvi, 7D

I recently read the book “Wundersmith” by Jessica Townsend. I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would encourage others who enjoy fantasy, mystery and thrilling adventures to read it. However, I definitely feel that you would have to have read “Nevermoor” (the book before) to truly understand “Wundersmith.”

In “Nevermoor,” Morrigan Crow goes through trials, attempting to make it into the wondrous society. Her adventure is continued throughout “Wundersmith.” At the beginning of the book Morrigan learns that she is a Wundersmith (a specific type of person within her civilization) and this is the base of the story as it affects many things that happen later in the book because being a Wundersmith means that she has special powers. Morrigan endures many mysteries as she is curious to find out about the old myth of a black market which she then discovers is real.

The constant action within this book kept me entertained more so than reading long descriptions. I was glad that the author got into the main story quite quickly. Whilst reading “Wundersmith”, I felt that I was taken right into the scene, which helped me visualise the story clearly. Although I really enjoyed it, in some places the story felt a little rushed and over the top.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book as it was both an entertaining read and an unstoppable page turner. It’s now one of my favourite books.

 

“One” by Sarah Crossan – Reviewed by Jaspreet, 7G

This is a novel about a sensational story of two conjoined twins, Grace and Tippi, who have a relationship which no one can outplay. This story includes an intriguing plot and sends a wide range of feelings and emotions around my body. The author has used a prodigious language and has strong emotional text. As well as this, the story introduces two extraordinary people who we would not see every day walking on the streets.

Sarah Crossan has created a very capturing plot that steals your attention and draws you into the book. This book is quite different compared to the others as it is written in small parts instead of chapters. This story is also unique because most stories end with a happy ending, however this story ends upsettingly. When Tippi and Grace start a new school, Hornbeacon, they make two new friends, Yasmeen and John. They are really close and they have a good friendship bond. They are warm hearted and always there for Grace and Tippi whenever they need them.

In my opinion, this book is absolutely phenomenal and is highly recommended to all those readers who like romance books and all those who enjoy a kind and sentimental story. It is a type of book which you can’t stop reading. I rate this book 5*s and hope all of you who read this review will definitely read “One.”

 

“The Fault in our Stars” by John Green Reviewed by Sadie, 7G

This is, first and foremost, a tragic love story of a girl named Hazel Grace Lancaster and a boy called Augustus Waters. Their story begins at a cancer support group where they discover they both share the same love for books however different these books may be. Hazel comes to feel that Gus (Augustus) really understands her. “Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.”

When Gus gives Hazel the opportunity to go and see her favourite author in Amsterdam, they have to go! But, the problems they face when they get home are far bigger than when they left. Hazel and Gus have to make the most of their short lives but could something make them even shorter?

Nevertheless, John Green can make you laugh, cry and keep you turning the pages. But this story can make you understand that life isn’t fair and no matter how much you might love someone, death will always get to them eventually.

I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys feeling connected to the character. Or, if you need an emotional roller-coaster full of surprise twists and turns then this is the book to read. This books deserves a full five stars and a massive round of applause for the facts and creativity that went into it!

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