60 Days of Reading: Young Adult Books for all Ages

Young Adult novels have my heart. Reading them, interpreting them, and writing down my thoughts is all part of the fun when it comes to binging these texts. The only trouble is time.

As it turns out, writing in depth book reviews is extremely time consuming! So although I love to create those posts, this month we are going to have to suffice with a reading list!

Good thing I’ve been reading a lot of young adult books lately.

Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links through Amazon Associates, meaning if you purchase through the link I may receive a small fee at no additional cost to you. These links help maintain The Messy Life.

the sun is also a star - young adult book

60 Days of Young Adult Books

I’m in the process of binging young adult books, in an effort to move on to books for more “mature” audiences, but here I find myself unwilling to leave YA completely. There’s something about young adult books that drags you back in. Whether to cleanse your palette from an unfulfilling text, to remind yourself of simpler (but not actually simple) times, or to overwhelm yourself with the emotions of adolescence, young adult books serve a unique purpose.

My rating system for novels is from 1-5, 1 being the lowest and 5 the highest. I will score books based on emotional intensity, plot and storyline, character development, writing (style, stimulation, complexity, readability), and finally enjoyment. For the occasional tragedy, I will use a 0 to score what I deem as utter fails. In case you were wondering, I’m listing these books in reverse chronological order. Hope you can find some interesting reads for the summer. Here we go!

Table of Contents:

1. Cut Both Ways by Carrie Mesrobian

I just finished reading this young adult book and I have a few feelings to share. If you're aware of the political environment in the LGBTQ+ community, then you might enjoy reading the following rant. If not, feel free to skip over this rant and head straight to the ratings. (skip the rant)

A Quick Rant of My Feelings About Mesrobian's Work

I read this novel, disregarding the warnings from other readers on Goodreads. I ignored the 1 star reviews, because I figured there had to be more, right? There had to be something worthwhile about this book. Still fresh in my mind, I’m racking my brain for ways to understand what I just read.

Cut Both Ways confronts a handful of controversial issues, covering topics from sexuality and identity, to infidelity and lying. It’s hard for me to hate the main character, though I am disappointed in his lack of growth.

Everyone spends time trying to find themselves, but as someone who has seen the effects cheating first hand and for someone who claims to feel love, he doesn’t act like it. He’s selfish, undoubtedly so. His family sucks as they’re all incredibly selfish too, but this doesn’t excuse his behavior. This is the kind of book that reminds you: everyone is human. Everyone f*cks up.

My tolerance for Will’s behavior is solely due to his age. He’s coming into adulthood, lost and only beginning to find his way. Especially as he doesn't feel safe being sexually curious in his environment, and he doesn’t seem to understand that it is okay to be attracted to two genders. It can be hard to embrace that idea of yourself, even when you have an awesome support system. However, my patience ends with the author’s portrayal of Will.

The Faulty Portrayal of Bisexuals

Will is bisexual. Though the author does not plainly reveal this, it is obvious to readers and becomes increasingly obvious to Will over the course of the story. However, in a society where bisexuals have a suffocating stigma revolving around cheating, lies, and insecurity, it’s a shame that the author could only conjure a situation where these falsehoods are the protagonist's reality.

I’m not the kind of person who tries to dictate an author’s writing, but there is no revelation for Will. Thus, there is no redeeming moment for the representation of bisexuals in this book. As far as I’m concerned, it ends by reinforcing the same stereotypes she could have used her platform to fight against.

Spoiler Alert: Will ends the story as he begins - lost and selfish. Worst yet, he ends without any punishment for his sh*tty behavior along the way. He continually hurts his best friend, Anges, ignoring the signs because his friend’s pain isn’t convenient.

Anges is also at fault to some extent, but I get it. It sucks to be put in that place, where the person you love can only give so much and you feel that you’re the only person who can help them, even if it means they’ll hurt you along the way. That, I can empathize with. This doesn’t mean his jealousy of Will’s relationship is okay, nor is his willingness to help WIll cheat, but it’s a natural reaction.

Will’s journey through self-exploration only adds to the ending, which serves as resounding proof that bisexuals are liars and cheats, who get away with ruining their relationships. This is a Young Adult book, and if I read this when I was younger, I’m not sure I would have taken such a critical analysis. I would have been ashamed and confused, and at ends with my identity.

Writers have to take responsibility for their platforms. Cut Both Ways is written like a YA book. It reads like a young adult book. Yet, the message it carries isn’t confirming for bisexual youth who are trying to find themselves. Keep this in mind if you choose to read this story.

The Unredeeming End

Even if there was a moment in which Will faced consequences for his actions, the scene wouldn’t make up for the carelessness he expresses throughout the rest of the story. Spoiler Alert: And the scene at the end, was nothing more than an act of self-preservation coming from Will's guardians.

Will's mom didn’t care what her son was going through. She didn’t consider that he too is a sexual being or that he should be confronted for cheating. She knew he was having sex, and she was fine with that. She invites him to live in her house full time, thus she should expect he is going to have some sort of sexual relationship in his room at one point or another. Take this quote for instance:

"To think,” my mom says, ‘how much fun they’d had, the girls. With both of you. And how we thought nothing of it. That’s what it is, Will. That’s the part I don’t appreciate. The lying. Why couldn't you just have told us - “ “Why couldn’t you do that somewhere else?” Jay interrupts. “If you had to do it at all!”

She speaks as if he had invited his sisters into his room at 2am. Imagine, the ignorance of reducing the quality of a person and the quality of time spent with said person, because of their sexuality. That’s essentially what she’s doing here. She is undermining his morals and accusing him of falsifying information, when he has not only told her the truth from the start, but also found himself stuck in a place where he doesn’t necessarily know enough about his sexuality to share it with others. Top that off with Jay’s lovely statement, and it becomes clear why he was reluctant to embrace his identity from the start.

Ultimately, his mom prioritizes her relationship with her husband, Will’s sack of a stepfather, whose thinly veiled homophobia is nothing short of disgusting. If being intimate under the same roof as their daughters is shameful, then do they not have sex in their own house? It became apparent as he ranted, that he didn’t care about anything beyond the fact that he would now have to explain “gayness” to his daughter. And of course his mom found it easy to ignore the fact that her son was cheating, just like her. They can both shove off.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Cut Both Ways

Cut Both Ways is about Will Caynes, a boy who is becoming a man. On his journey to adulthood, he faces various obstacles as he struggles to balance his familial issues with his lack of direction, all while coming to terms with his sexuality. The book challenges a number of misconceptions, by confronting stereotypes about bisexual youth. The question here is whether or not Mesrobian executes this in a constructive way.

Intensity - 3.5

This novel was not intense in a way that had you off your feet. Still, it demanded enough emotional involvement to make you commit to seeing what will happen.

Storyline - 3

The plot and storyline are both disappointing. I enjoyed reading into their lives and following their experiences, but you can see for yourself whether the end is in any way redeeming.

Development - 1

Character development? Hahha.

Writing - 2

The writing is a free flow of thoughts, through which the author tried to capture the mindset of a bisexual teenage boy. Very skimmable writing.

Enjoyment - 3

I am still unsure how I feel about this text. I’m glad I’ve read it, but at the same time I’m disappointed that I wasted my time. Part of me wants to read it again, but I know I won’t find the answers that I’m looking to find.

Overall - 2.5 out of 5

2. The Bunker Diary by Kevin Brooks

Here are a few thoughts, showing my initial reaction to the book.

I’ve just finished this novel, and I can’t think. My brain won’t allow me to revisit that book because of how attacked I feel by the entire thing. It’s great for people who aren’t in touch with their emotions. For people who are, take heed and read with caution.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: The Bunker Diary

The Bunker Diary follows a series of unfortunate events. A live recording by Linus, one of the captured bunkers, the diary reveals the truth of what happens in the underground shelter. It invites readers to explore the minds of those trapped against their will.

Intensity - 5

A very intense read, that I wouldn’t recommend to young readers. If you can handle it, then by all means go ahead, but if you aren’t fond of violence or the realities of discontent and deprivation, then this may not be the right read for you.

Storyline - 4

The storyline is captivating, as there is always something new thrown at you. Even when the writing has become repetitive, there is something else to be learned.

Development - 4

Character development is interesting, because you get to see how the narrator develops through suffering as he reflects on his past. There is a lot left unsaid, which may be unfulfilling if you like to dig deep and get clear answers. However, if you enjoy reading deeper and channeling your inner critic, then this book may peak your interest.

Writing - 3

The writing is very journalistic in style, which I don’t mind. Toward the middle, I found myself skimming pages that were rambled, but beyond that, all of the text was pretty interesting and relevant to the plot.

Enjoyment - 5

I enjoyed this book. Having finished it, I would definitely read the story again. Not now, as I need time to recover, but someday...I hope to revisit it.

Overall: 4.2 out of 5

3. Flowers for Algernon by Daniel Keyes

What would you do if you were given the choice to improve a character trait that society has deemed your biggest weakness? What do you think you would learn about yourself? About the people in your life? About society, overall?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Flowers for Algernon

Flowers for Algernon is about a developmentally disabled man, named Charlie, who is offered the opportunity to increase his IQ. The operation is an experiment that, if successful, will significantly change his life.

Keyes provides readers with a way to follow Charlie's journey. Through his work, he challenges the potential for change. Does increased intelligence guarantee an improved quality of life? Further, can such an "improvement" promise greater fulfillment?

Intensity - 4

Certain sections of this book are more intense than others, but this offers a good balance that allows readers to tune in to moments of conflict. It also helps readers follow that progression in terms of character and comprehension, over the course of the text.

Storyline - 4

The storyline is fascinating, though I can’t say it follows any one pattern over time. The unique structure will allow you to keep learning as you go, and there will definitely be moments when you’ll be left on your toes.

Development - 3

The character development in this novel is not traditional. Charlie learns a lot, but as you’ll see, his developmental timeline forms an interesting pattern. Of all the characters, he develops the most, though something should be said for the lack of progress made in the characters around him.

Writing - 5

The writing style is brilliant. It brings you into Charlie’s mind, and each semantic choice has a logical explanation. At the peak of Charlie’s writing, his words play brilliantly with one another. If you’re really intuitive, you can also track a certain rise and descent through his writings.

Enjoyment - 4.5

I enjoyed this book. Some bits were repetitive, but like the other elements I've reviewed, this redundancy follows along with the unique psychology of the text.

Overall - 4.1 out of 5

4. The Last Star by Rick Yancey

How would you feel knowing you may be one of the only trustworthy people left on Earth? In The Last Star, Yancey takes readers on a challenging journey, leading us to question the realities of trust, brotherhood, and humanity.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: The Last Star

Cassiopeia Sullivan is just a girl, a sister, an orphaned child. She is fighting to reconnect up the pieces that have been left behind, in the wake of the aliens' arrival. The attack, which is covered in the first book of the series, has left millions dead. The few humans left struggle for survival, in a world that makes it impossible to trust others if you want to stay safe.

Intensity - 5

This story is founded on intensity. The setting is constantly changing, as are the perspectives, and it leaves the reader bouncing between dramatic moments in time.

Storyline - 5

You have to read the entire series to truly grasp the storyline, but the plot in this novel is marvellous on it’s own as well.

Development - 5

Character development in The Last Star tops the development that appears in the other two parts of the series. Cassiopeia grows and shines in a way she never had before, while other characters put themselves on the line. Readers get to learn about true sacrifice - what people are willing to do for others, to do for the ones they love.

Writing - 5

The writing is good, as usual. Each character has a distinct voice, which allows you to see through the eyes of that individual. Overall, the writing is easy to follow and doesn’t leave too much to imagination, making it easier for readers picture the scenes.

Enjoyment - 5

I loved this series. I would read the entire thing again.

Overall - 5 out of 5

5. Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt

How far are you willing to go for family? What about a foster brother you're only beginning to know?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Orbiting Jupiter

In Orbiting Jupiter, readers meet Jack, a young boy who's family has recently adopted another boy named Joseph. A couple of years older than Jack, Joseph has a long record of misbehavior. At 14, he has been incarcerated, committed assault, and fathered a daughter. Now, Joseph is on the hunt to find his child an Jack is committed to helping his brother along the way. Is Joseph really a bad kid, or has he just gotten a bad wrap? There's only one way to learn the truth.

Intensity - 3.5

Emotionally intense, the book doesn’t have frightening scenes, but there are moments of suspense.

Storyline - 4

This story is what you expect from a young adult book, with a few surprises. It’s a pretty short story, so those surprises make a big difference along the way. I enjoyed following along with the main characters, through the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Development - 3

Character development is tough to measure. The narrator goes through a lot, but the plot doesn’t entirely revolve around him, so it’s hard to tell how he grows. I’d like to think he proves himself to be loyal, but again, he could have been a loyal person to start.

Writing - 3

The writing was good, I suppose. Taken from the perspective of a child, it doesn’t contain any complex writing or word play. Ultimately, it's a pretty simple read.

Enjoyment - 4

This book was simpler than I expected it to be, but it introduced me to a world I wasn’t expecting to see. Farms, cold winters, and a simple lifestyle don't equate to an uninteresting read. In the end, the book turned out to be concise, but very rewarding.

Overall - 3.5 out of 5

6. Rabbit Cake by Annie Hartnett

What would you do in the case that your parent's mysterious death was "solved" by the police, though you suspect foul play? Eleven year-old Elvis Babbitt takes it upon herself to uncover the truth.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Rabbit Cake

Elvis, 11, and Lizzie, 15, live with their father in Freedom, Alabama. A few months ago, their mother died in her sleep. Elvis is convinced her mom should have "gone" another way, and decides to investigate the circumstances surrounding her death. Along the way, she learns more about her parents' relationship than she has bargained for, as she takes the necessary steps toward overcoming her grief.

Intensity - 3.5

This book deals with serious conversations, from the perspective of a child. It’s hard to relive what she has learned, but it’s fascinating to see how matter-of-fact she is about her discoveries. She’s definitely mature for her age, and incredibly intelligent at that.

Storyline - 4

The plot is unique, for sure, and the storyline is interesting to follow. I doubt the details in this book will mirror anything you’ve read before.

Development - 3

There’s some character development here and there. You come across a decent number of characters, so it's hard to say if there’s real growth in most of the characters you meet. Either way, it's fun to follow Elvis on her adventures.

Writing - 3

Enjoyable for what it is: a journal of a young girl's thoughts. Elvis' reflections as she grows and learns, are interesting and noticeably more advanced than those of others her age.

Enjoyment - 3

This book is less about mystery solving, and more about personal growth. You follow a girl along her journey to learn more about herself and her family. It’s an interesting ride.

Overall - 3.3 out of 5

7. A Mango-Shaped Space by Wendy Mass

Why are you different? What is it that sets you apart? How can you tell whether this difference is more than a quirky abnormality? What if your peculiarities change the way you interact with the world?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: A Mango-Shaped Space

Meet Mia Winchell. She seems like any other 13 year old - she collects clocks, creates art, and cares for her cat, Mango. The only difference between herself and her classmates? She see colors when she hears sounds. For her, each letter, each word, and each vibration has a unique color associated with it.

Join Mia on her journey to learn more about what makes her different and how to take advantage of the synesthesia that sets her apart.

Note: Reading other reviews on Goodreads, it is interesting to see that people with synesthesia did not appreciate the way it was portrayed in this novel. Whereas I felt the story was interesting and enlightening, this doesn't ring true for many readers who have the condition. I can see similarities in their criticisms with my own reaction to Cut Both Ways. Perhaps writers should focus on covering conditions they have, themselves, faced.

Intensity - 2

This book wasn’t written for intensity. Unfortunately, I’ll have to rate it lowly in my ranking system, but it is a good novel without any emotional highs or heart-pounding scares. It reminds me that books can be enjoyable, even when they don’t threaten to push you over the edge.

Storyline - 3.5

Good plot and development. To be honest, I can’t remember the details all too well. However, I remember a fulfilling ending, which is all that matters for such a straightforward read.

Development - 3.5

Character development is there, but don't expect any dramatic progress over the course of the text.

Writing - 3.5

The writing is also exactly what you would expect. Mia writes about her experiences through a journey of self-discovery, while learning about a condition that sets her apart. It's straightforward prose.

Enjoyment - 4

I enjoyed this book. I wouldn’t necessarily read it again, but that says more about my love for books that torture me, than it does about the quality of this book.

Overall - 3.3 out of 5

8. One of Us Is Lying by Karen M. McManus

How far are you willing to go to hide the truth? In her novel, One of Us is Lying, where The Breakfast Club meets Gossip Girl, McManus takes the best elements from both notorious tales to create a mystery drama that has made waves in the world of 2017 Young Adult.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: One of Us Is Lying

Five teens enter a classroom to serve their detention sentence: 4 have been set up to be in that room, and 1 ends up dead. Follow the story of 4 misfits who find companionship in each other, as they are isolated from their peers. Learn about the realties of high school drama at Bayview, and see how far these teens are willing to go to protect their secrets.

Intensity - 3

One of Us is Lying is a mystery novel in the truest sense of the word. You follow an investigation, from the perspective of the students involved, and a handful of developments spice up the road to discovery. I can’t say anymore, or I’ll spoil it.

Storyline - 3.5

Though, I don’t want to spoil this novel for those who are interested in reading, I can confirm that a lot happens over the course of the book. It’s a pretty quick read and it’s not hard to follow, but it’s fun to theorize along with the characters.

There are underlying messages about the dangers of keeping secrets and remaining ignorant to the signs around you, so pay attention as you read.

Development - 4.5

The characters all develop a significant amount, particularly for high schoolers, who typically find themselves trapped behind the suffocating mentality that seems to torture most students in secondary school.

Writing - 3

The writing style changes from person-to-person. Each perspective clues you in to a different personality, and allows for a more personal feel as you read through the text.

Enjoyment - 4

I enjoyed this story. Though a lot happens s the story progresses, I especially enjoyed getting a closer look at the events surrounding Nate (+ Bronwyn), and Cooper. Even Addy changes appreciably over the course of the text.

Overall - 3.6 out of 5

9. The Horla by Guy de Maupassant

Alas, this novella isn't one if those aforementioned young adult books. However, it is a pretty interesting read for those who are into French literature and mystery novels.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: The Horla

This novella is beautifully written, as it challenges the intricacies of life that some are called to question every day. Read on as Guy de Maupassant contemplates the divisibility of character, the existence of an invisible force, and the uncanny which reveals itself in times of solitude, amongst other events.

Intensity - 4

This story centers on the uncanny. It is emotionally intense, while also producing a more elusive yet equally upsetting affect. The novella confronts the very challenges we face as we question the trust we have in ourselves and the possibility of the supernatural.

Storyline - 4

The Horla follows a man who begins to doubt himself as strange events occur around his house, notable instances of uncertainty which emerge from subtle differences between his surroundings before and after he falls asleep.

Development - 3

The character development in this text is more of a deconstruction of the self - as the protagonist investigates each occurrence, he begins to doubt his existence, until eventually he loses track of the truth, himself.

Writing - 3.5

The writing was great, though the text was originally written in French, meaning there could be some loss in translation.

Enjoyment - 4.5

I enjoyed this text. I read it for class, accidentally, but I don’t regret taking the time to read it.

Overall - 3.8 out of 5

10. After You by Jojo Moyes

Is it possible to move on from a love so consuming, that you can't bring yourself to forget? And if it is, how can you bring yourself to the point of acceptance: to acknowledge that there is no way to relive the past and to embrace the potential for moving on in the future?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: After You

The sequel to Me Before You, this novel starts with Louisa falling off of her balcony after being startled by someone's voice. For those of you who have yet to read Me Before You, Louisa was Will Traynor's caretaker. (Keep scrolling for more detail about the first book in Moyes' series.)

Lots of surprises appear throughout the text, creating yet another romance that invites drama into Louisa's life. If you enjoyed Me Before You, you will likely enjoy After You, though this story is quite different from the original text.

Intensity - 4

Many intense and emotionally thrilling moments are in this book. Beyond this statement, my lips are sealed!

Storyline - 4.5

The storyline is multifaceted, in a way that attracts readers with a wide variety of interests. You get to experience life as a paramedic, as a mourning lover, as a fearful guardian, and as a hopeful romantic. You see domestic squabbles about feminism and independence, as well as compromises that remind you love truly makes the world go round.

Development - 4.5

After You 'tis chock-full-of growth.

Writing - 4

Moyes' writing style in this novel is just as engaging as it was in her last novel, Me Before You. The writing here is also on par with that of her other work, One Plus One.

Enjoyment - 5

I really enjoyed this novel. It was fast paced, which intrigued me a bit more than the prequel, though I love them both the same.

Overall - 4.4 out of 5

11. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Dare yourself to dream beyond the world of Young Adult with this controversial read about a quadriplegic man and his determined, albeit ambitious, caretaker. Me Before You is an unconventional romance novel for the books.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Me Before You

Set in England, the novel follows the life of Louisa Clark. At 26, she has just lost her job at a bakery, and is looking for a decent role to support her parents and fill her life. She's quite lost actually, unsure how to live, though somehow she finds her way through working as a caretaker, for Will Traynor.

Some may call Louisa vacuous, or argue that she only changes for a man. I won't debate these points, but I will protest the arguments I have seen that this book declares life with a disability as not worth living. Moyes makes sure to cover many perspectives along Will's journey, beyond his own. She reveals the good, the bad, and the ugly about living as a quadriplegic, and she doesn't fall short in terms of exposing the experiential possibilities for individuals who aren't "able-bodied".

As such, it isn't fair to say she undermines the potential for life as a quadriplegic person, because she writes about the struggles of a particular man who is unhappy with his situation. After all, that's life. One person's experience will not be the same for another. Yet, this doesn't make that person's feelings any less valid.

Intensity - 4

Based on the cover, I would have never pegged myself as the type to enjoy this book. It surprised me. This story is full of unforeseeables, and yes, it gets emotionally tense.

Storyline - 5

Absolutely fantastic - read, read, read! I don’t want to spoil it.

Development - 4

The character development is also incredible. This is really important to me, as I like to see characters grow from their situations. No matter how Louisa may be portrayed at the beginning, she has definitely changed for the better by the end. 

Writing - 4

Beautiful, and straight to the point. Funny and casual. Sometimes, brutally honest. As is life.

Enjoyment - 4.5

Overall - 4.3 out of 5

12. One Plus One by Jojo Moyes

I'm still coming to terms with the fact that Jojo Moyes is a fantastic writer, that she only has a finite number of books, and that I have come to enjoy a series of novels that can't be categorized as Young Adult. (Ma, I've made it!)

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: One Plus One

One Plus One is not your typical love story. Sure, there is a blatant juxtaposition in terms of wealth and social class, but this isn't the focus of the book. The story showcases so much more than a romance between an entrepreneur and his cleaner. Keep reading to learn more about the plot.

Intensity - 4

There are a few edge-of-your-seat moments that keep you hooked over the course of the book, but this story isn’t really about the intensity. It’s about a deeper kind of connection that leaves you wondering if everything’s going to work out in the end.

Storyline - 5

A single mother struggles to provide for her kids and their huge dog, while living in an unsafe neighborhood and working as a cleaner. A rich entrepreneur makes a thoughtless mistake, and has to hide from the media until his scandal all blows over. Their paths cross and he finds himself behaving selflessly for the first time in a while.

Development - 4.5

There is a good amount of character development, that makes you appreciate the characters in the book. They’re loveable either way, but it helps that they continue growing over time.

Writing - 3.5

The writing is also enjoyable. Easy to read and replicates “real” conversations.

Enjoyment - 5

I liked this book. Yes, I would read it again.

Overall - 4.4 out of 5

13. Anatomy of a Misfit by Andrea Portes

I hate high school. This book has reminded me why.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Anatomy of a Misfit

Meet Anika Dragomir, a Romanian American with a super smart dad and a plethora of secrets to hide. All the secrets she has stored away shouldn't be a big deal, but her best friend is the most popular girl in school. She can't overstep her bounds. This book is kind of a pain to read, but if you like high school drama, then you'll be fine.

Intensity - 1

Eh, there were some intense scenes, but these are overshadowed by the perspective of the main character whose tone overshadows the mood of the other events.

Plot/Storyline - 4

Though the plot isn’t simple, the story is effected quite casually. Though it forces readers to face issues of adversity, domestic violence, tragedy, and truth, I was left with the feeling that this novel could have been carried out better.

Perhaps the problem is Anika. She gets annoying after a while. You almost want to tell her to stick to her guns or stop trying, because of all the back-and-forth between who she is for others, and who she wants to be for herself.

Development - 2.5

Almost all of the characters' development goes like this: one step forward, two steps back.

Writing - 3

The most craftful writing in this book was a piece of art, written within the work. You’ll see what I mean, if and when you read the book.

Enjoyment - 3.5

I enjoyed this story, but I would not read this book again. I also can’t say I would necessarily recommend it to others, but if you choose to read it, I don’t think you will be wasting your time.

Overall - 2.8 out of 5

14. Sweetbitter by Stephanie Danler

Champagne, Cocaine, and Love Triangles - all the reasons I have stuck to young adult books. It's so much easier to read a novel that doesn't rely on drugs and alcohol as the foundation for the story's drama.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Sweetbitter

Tess is 22, and has just moved to New York to get away. She ends up works at an illustrious restaurant (which pretty closely resembles the Union Square Cafe), and from there is swept up in the drama of life in the big city.

Intensity - 0

This book was hard to follow. The character's POV was annoying, and she came across as quite dumb. It's hard to imagine someone succeeding in New York when they fail to think anything through. With nothing to hold my attention, I stopped reading Sweetbitter ¼ way through.

Storyline - 1

The plot is pretty weak. Sweetbitter follows a woman who moves to NY on a whim, a few dollars in her pocket and all her belongings in her car. She is immature and seems to have a hard time thinking for herself.

Maybe I’m being harsh, but there are other detailed reviews on Goodreads that you can check out while you decide whether or not to read this book. She ends up working for a restaurant, after an incredibly sh*tty interview, that I’m surprised got her a job at the cafe.

Development - 1

No character development over the first few pages (ha). Of course, I didn’t keep reading to find out if this would change.

Writing - 2

The writing may have been the most interesting thing about this book, but even that became redundant.

Enjoyment - 0

I didn’t enjoy reading this book. It is one of the only novels that has made me feel like I wasted my time. Maybe it will be better as a TV show.

Overall - .8 out of 5

15. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

Should parents tell their children the truth about their reality? What are the consequences of failing to inform young kids about the world around them? Further, can tragedy be prevented through an increase in empathy and a lack of ignorance?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Bruno is the son of a man who has "big things" in store for him. His father is a soldier under Hitler's regime, and though Bruno doesn't know the truth of what this means, his dad has gotten a promotion that requires they move closer to his work. I

As per tradition, the entire family will live on site, near the concentration camp. Confused about his new surroundings, Bruno decides to act as an explorer. What happens along his day trips, cements the story's tragic end.

Intensity - 4

Set at a concentration camp during the Holocaust, this novel is as intense as young adult books get. The juxtaposition between two different lifestyles, both centered around this oppressive regime, invites an intensity, that keeps you hooked until the end.

Storyline - 3.5

The plot is historical fiction, which makes this story even more tragic. Though the events in this text were not based on a true story, this could have very well happened at some point in the past.

Development - 3

Character development is a moot point - there is a larger force at work here and it creates a more powerful ending that moves beyond how well the character have grown.

Writing - 3.5

The childlike perspective in the writing, actually adds an element of confusion that makes the text even more intense, because of the added responsibility to the reader who must now determine what the child means when he spells or names something incorrectly. In other words, the writing style requires more reader involvement, thus bringing the character's closer to home.

Enjoyment - 3

This was as good a read, as it was an easy read. I didn’t realize it was created for such a young audience, but of course people of all ages can read and learn from the story.

Overall - 3.4 out of 5

16. Highly Illogical Behavior by John Corey Whaley

At what point is it acceptable to assume responsibility for another person's future? Is it ever?

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: Highly Illogical Behavior

Lisa is an overambitious student. Top of her class, and already involved in extracurricular activities, she can't help but search for something more to set her apart in the college admission process. This obsession with greatness leads her to find and pursue Solomon Reed, an agoraphobic student she has not seen in over 3 years, since he was pulled out of school. Lisa takes it upon herself to "fix" his problems.

I'm sure this already sounds pretty cringe worthy. To make it worse, she approaches him as a friend and plans on using his story to land her a spot in the country's second-best psychology school (because first isn't a home-run guarantee). There are warming elements within this story, but it was hard for me to overlook Lisa Praytor's problematic intentions.

Intensity - 2

I have to rate this novel's emotional intensity on the lower end of the scale. If anything, Lisa’s behavior triggered feelings of anger and anxiety, but the tension is otherwise pretty typical to other young adult books that cover disorders within youth.

Storyline - 3.5

Solomon has major anxiety which has caused him to develop a form of agoraphobia. He hasn’t left the house in 3 years. Desperate to get a full ride to college, Lisa takes it upon herself to fix him. However, they become friends along the way, though she then begins to reveal secrets that were not hers to share.

Development - 4.5

Simon grows impressively over the course of the story, while Lisa remains a disappointment .She acts selfishly, and her only “growth” is limited to reactions toward and disappointment in her (former) self. Still, she feels like the same character at the beginning and end of the novel, which says a lot about the reader’s ability to question whether she has actually grown.

Writing - 3.5

The writing was pretty average in the way of young adult books. It was fun to read and pretty easy to read through.

Enjoyment - 4

I enjoyed this book, some moments were very pure, but others (especially those taken from on Lisa’s perspective) were hard to read through.

Overall - 3.5 out of 5

17. The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

When is it safe to say that science has been taken too far? The tale of Jekyll and Hyde is one of the more popular classic fictions about an experiment gone wrong.

The Modern Dreamer's Rating: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

This novel plays upon images of doubles, evil, and science fiction. Read the story to uncover the true relationship between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Intensity - 3

My emotions while reading this book, weren’t tied to the characters. If anything my mind was more inquisitive, trying to figure out what would make this person act so strangely, and to determine the relevance of the connections between each character.

Storyline - 3

The plot is interesting enough and there aren’t many renowned books like Jekyll & Hyde. I won’t fault Stevenson for choosing a unique topic, then writing from a disinteresting lens, considering when this novel was published.

Development - 2.5

I wouldn’t say there is much in the way of character development. The case is more so that you as the reader, remain blind to certain truths until the end of the text. Although, it’s not too difficult to figure out what’s going on by midway through the novel.

Writing - 4

The writing was a bit dry, but it was complex and the style was unique enough for me to rate it highly. I didn’t feel like stopping the book short, and I still enjoyed the text’s development, which is the important thing to me as a reader.

Enjoyment - 1

I know this book is covered in most secondary schools, but I have to admit I was bored. For many “classic” texts, I don’t get why they’re so highly raved in today’s age because there are so many amazing works that have since been created. Still, it was an interesting book - just not very exciting in my opinion.

Overall - 2.7 out of 5

So as it appears, I have managed to read a little under 20 novels in 2 months. Not too bad, if I do say so myself. If you have read any books lately that you found interesting, and want to share, please leave your thoughts below! I’d love to receive some new suggestions for my next few reads.

Before you go, if you’re a Goodreads member, don’t hesitate to add me as a friend! I love reading and I love making new friends. There’s no way to lose with that combo. If you want to push yourself to read more often, definitely set a Reading Challenge on the site. Over the years it has definitely helped me be more accountable, in terms of my reading goals.

Marketing Student - Comfort-obsessed, plant-loving mess. Always trying. Continually coming to be.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Scroll to top