"if you have read a book that was so utterly horrible you wanted to scream, or a book so amazing you wanted to hug it, or even if you are just looking for book recommendations, keep reading."--Zanthe Jones-Gerachis, 8th grade
Have you ever read a book that was so bad you wished you had never bought it in the first place? Or just a book that made you question your life decisions? Well, that’s what we are starting with. Below you will find ratings of ten popular Young Adult books from worst to best. Enjoy!
The Boy of the Painted Cave
9 to 11 age range
Boy of the Painted Cave is a 1996 middle-grade historical fiction set 18,000 years ago in prehistoric France. The novel is told in a limited third person point-of-view and follows Tao, a 14-year-old boy with a disability, who longs to be a cave painter for his clan.
I know this book is for much younger kids but I have to say, it is honestly so boring (maybe that’s why.) In sixth grade we read this and I can say that I fell asleep to this book multiple times. I Boy of the Painted Cave has good aspects to it, in the sense that kids can learn from it, but other than that this is the worst book I have ever read. When I was thinking of books to review, so many people told me it was so bad and I needed to review it. Ok, sure, maybe this book can help kids “learn” but it really just doesn’t do anything. Even when I read this at the age of ten I hated it, but it was for school so it was mandatory to finish. The age recommendation is also so wrong—a seven year old could read this. This is my least favorite book. 0/10.
14+ age group
Twilight by Stephanie Meyer is about the development of a personal relationship between teenager Bella Swan and vampire Edward Cullen, (notice the difference between teenager and vampire) and the subsequent efforts of Edward and his family to keep Bella safe from a separate group of hostile vampires. Throughout the books, Edward and Bella’s relationship gets complicated when Jacob Black, werewolf of the Quileute tribe, gets in the way.
Beyond the fact that Bella is dating someone 108 years old while she is 17 years old, this book series–and I mean the whole series– is just wrong. I cannot begin to explain all of my problems with Twilight, and I am sorry to those who love it… but really, I’m not. If you want to torture youself, then go ahead and read. This. Book. It is the absolute WORST YA book in the history of YA books. HORRIBLE. I will say this as many times as I need the two main love interests are a 108 year old man with questionable thoughts that also has staring problems and a werewolf who is controlling and cannot respect basic personal space. Also, it’s not like it’s just Edward and Jacob that make the book bad. I can count about four times off the top of my head where she stands up for herself in the whole series. I'll give her this, Bella Swan is very intelligent—but who in their right mind dates a man who said he loves her but wants to kill her?
— MINOR Spoilers --
Not to mention she basically lets Edward control her life, and then Jacob (although she did punch him in the face). This series will forever be my most hated, that will never change. Not to say the quality of the writing wasn’t good—when Bella was struggling with depression in the later books, Meyer communicated that really well in her writing by just putting the names of the months as chapters but no actual writing, insinuating it did not have meaning to Bella. Going by my own hatred for this series, I would rate it –0/10, but it’s undeniable that Meyer’s style of writing does have quality to it, just not the story. So to be fair, Twilight gets 1/10 from me.
The Sun and the Star
Rick Riordan & Mark Oshiro
10 - 14 age range
The Sun and the Star by Rick Riordan and Mark Oshiro is an adventure and fantasy fiction book about Nico Di Angelo, the son of Hades, who accepts a quest due to a recurring prophecy. This quest requires Nico to travel to Tartarus (the infernal regions of ancient Greek mythology) involving a dreaded return to Tartarus, the deepest, bleakest part of his father's domain, to rescue Bob, a reformed Titan formerly known as Iapetus and an unfortunate casualty of one of Percy and Annabeth's adventures.
I grew up reading the Percy Jackson Series and Heroes of Olympus series’, so honestly this review is really hard to write because The Sun and the Star is so disappointing. Rick Riordan’s voice is really distinctive and unique, but reading The Sun and the Star, I could not find it. By chapter two I was already doubting the book. I’m not saying that the book is the absolute worst, but it really just isn’t good. I think it was a really fun idea to add another author, (Mark Oshiro) who is actually a good writer and wrote Will and Nico’s romance really well, but they didn’t seem the same. Nico Di Angelo is a kid with a lot of trauma which made him introverted, dark, and “emo.” Oshiro did not capture that at all. Will was written well, but Nico’s character was honestly ruined. This book felt so different from all of the other books and not in a good way. It’s absolutely okay to have a different writer’s voice, but Oshiro’s does not match this story and characters at all.
“I feel like it strayed from the image Rick Riordan made for him over the years,” said Alex Stullman, an 8th grade Literary Arts student.. “Nico is my favorite character and I love him with all my heart, but I like Nico who is guarded but able to open up to specific people in specific circumstances. He's just a tiny little gay Italian. It was Nico…but…was it?”
Of course, even if we all agree Nico is different in The Sun and the Star, it’s not to say the book doesn't have its moments. “I really like that they showed Nico’s perspective when he was in Tartarus,” Stullman says. “It’s a nice message to be like you are who you are and you can't change that.”
I’ve said this before and will say it again: The Sun and the Star is nowhere near as good as any other Percy Jackson universe books. It will always be disappointing, but does it deserve to stay in the Percy Jackson universe? Yes. The Sun and the Star has so many good messages about accepting yourself and coping with loss. Aside from its faults, it’s very heartwarming and, though I hate to say it, there is some quality hidden in those pages.
I truly, truly wish this was a better book. Nico and Will’s relationship is by far one of the best—anybody who has read Heroes of Olympus would agree–but this book just wasn’t good enough. At least not completely. It’s probably a 4/10 for me.
All of Us Villains
Amanda Foody, Christine Lynn Herman
13+ age group
All of Us Villains by Amanda Foody and Christine Lynn Herman is about a world where seven families in the remote city of Ilvernath must name a champion to compete in a tournament to the death. This happens once every generation, at the coming of the Blood Moon. The prize? Exclusive control over a secret wellspring of high magick, the most powerful resource in the world.
In all truthfulness, it is hard to write a sci-fi/fantasy novel with a dystopian world because obviously it is going to seem like other books in its genre—a rebellion forms and tries to save the world. Which is why a lot of sci-fi novels remind many people of the Hunger Games. But this book? Such a copy of the Hunger Games. Not even mildly. Sure you've got Divergent which is fairly similar, but All of Us Villains crosses too many lines. It’s just not original. This book could have been changed in so many ways to make it more iconic, it’s just really disappointing, considering Amanda Foody is a really good author, along with Christine Lynn Herman.
All of Us Villains includes well-thought mythology and dimension to the Hunger Games–meets–Harry Potter type book. The only reason I don’t particularly like this book is because it’s just okay. There really isn’t anything special about it. To actually enjoy a book it needs to be exciting and have a sturdy world that makes sense instead of something that seems put-together quickly and not thought out well. I have to say the idea is smart and if I read the summary I would want to read the book, but the way it was executed makes the book really just fall in quality. Overall this book was ok, and it gets a solid 6/10
They Both Die at the End
14+ age group
They Both Die at the End by Adam Silvera is about two boys, Mateo Torrez and Rufus Emeterio, who get their notifications from Death-Cast within minutes of each other. Although they begin their End Day as strangers, they become Last Friends and set out to pack as much living as possible into one day.
I am sorry, I know this book is really popular and a lot of people love it but honestly it’s not worth the hype. Don’t get me wrong, this book is good, but it has too many faults. First of all, if you like a slow-paced (and I mean EXTREMELY slow-paced) romance dystopian book, then this is the book for you—just not me. The first 5-8 chapters are really boring, and to have a good book you need to convince the reader to continue reading. The concept and idea is great, so are the characters, but the rest is not as good as I thought it would be. Especially the end of the book.
—! Spoilers after this point !--
The title is They Both Die at the End, right? So why don’t they both have a good death scene? When I read the end I had to stop because it was so confusing. Mateo dies and after Rufus "dies", it’s implied, but Silvera really didn’t make it clear. By clear I mean Rufus' death was one sentence, nothing else. If you are going to write a book titled They Both Die at the End, you would expect the deaths to be a big part of the book, but they weren't. Mateo’s death was also just disappointing. He died making tea. He was blown up by a stove. And Rufus so called got hit by a car. Both scenes aren’t even written as detailed as I thought they would be. This book is good, but it’s just disappointing considering all of the hype on the internet. (Similar to The Sun and the Star.) Overall, I would recommend this book to people who like science fiction and romance that is stretched out. This book had good parts and bad parts but so far the bad overrules the good. They Both Die at the End is one of those books you read once and don’t read again. 6/10.
Now that the annoying books are over, it’s time for the best of the best. I recommend all of the next few books to anyone who likes fantasy, romance, or mystery fiction.
The Shadows Between Us
14+ age group
It speaks volumes that the first line in this book is, “They've never found the body of the first and only boy who broke my heart. And they never will.” The Shadows Between Us is about an 18-year-old girl named Alessandra who has decided she is going to marry the Shadow King. To be more exact, she will marry the Shadow King, then kill him, and then she will become the Queen of six countries. It's a perfect plan, but the king makes Alessandra stray from her plans as she realizes that she may be capable of doing something she never thought she would do.
Alessandra is villainous in the perfect kind of way for a main character. This is another book I found from seeing amazing reviews on the internet and I have to say, it did not disappoint. After reading,I looked more into the author, Tricia Levenseller, and started reading some of her other books like Daughter of the Pirate King, which is also amazing. Everything about this book is good, even the cover. Alessandra is the strong female lead every book needs. She is ruthless, intelligent, deceiving, and selfish in the funniest way. My only complaint is that I don’t particularly like the character Kallias, or the Shadow King, because of his actions later in the book and his personality. He is a good character but it sort of seems like Levenseller put in so much work on Alessandra and not so much other characters. However, this book is still amazing and it will always recommend. This book is up there in my favorites. Solid 9/10.
The Cruel Prince (Folk of Air Series)
13+ age group
The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is a fantasy novel that follows the journey of mortal girl, Jude Duarte, and faerie prince, Cardan Greenbriar, as they navigate the world of hate, betrayal, and contempt along with their feelings for each other.
This is absolutely one of my favorite books. Mainly because of the characters and their development. The main character, Jude Duarte, starts the series as a guarded human in a Faerie world, and slowly becomes a ruthless and powerful person. Jude morphs from someone who thinks of her differences as a fault to someone who harnesses them as a power. Jude is such a good character and I absolutely love her, and along with that we've got Carden. Carden’s character is so well thought out. Throughout the book he changes along with Jude and lets down his barriers. Their love story is so perfect and heartbreaking. We already learn about Jude’s past in the beginning of the book, but with Carden, there are so many things that hint to his past. He is such a sad character with a really hard life that he doesn’t talk about, but as the book goes on there are a few scenes where if you look hard enough you can see why he did something or why he reacted in a certain way. To put it short, Holly Black is a master at making characters.
This is a really popular book and for good reason, I would definitely rate it 9/10. The Cruel Prince really doesn’t have many faults besides dragging out slightly, and a confusing ending to the last book, The Queen of Nothing. Overall, I enjoyed this book and strongly recommend it if you are someone who likes fantasy romance.
*if you end up reading this series get The Queen of Nothing Special Edition–it’s worth it.*
All the Bright Places
14+ age group
*Trigger Warnings for All the Bright Places*
Bipolar disorder, suicide, attempted suicide & suicidal ideation (theme), grief & loss depiction, car accident.
All the Bright Places is a romance novel that takes place in modern day Indiana and follows two teenagers named Violet and Finch. Violet is a girl who is warring with her feelings and her trauma from her sister’s death. Violet is popular but after her sister’s death she became more introverted. Finch is a boy with a harsh past who struggles with mental illness, even though his family and friends won't admit it. He is known as a “freak” at school and gets bullied frequently.
Violet and Finch meet in unpredicted circumstances and become friends when they work on a school project together. This book follows them as they help each other with their emotional struggles.
I don’t think I can't even put into words how good All the Bright Places is. From the start of the book you are hooked to it, and by the end you will be sobbing. I know I was. The world building and just general work that is clearly shown in this book is extremely impressive. After reading this book, Jennifer Niven became one of my most favorite authors and will stay that way. It’s undeniable that she has talent, which this book can account for. All of the Bright Places are heartbreaking, thoughtful, and romantic. I can say confidently that this is the best romance novel I have read. I know I love a fast paced plot, which All the Bright Places includes along with its poetic, and well put together plot. The book shows how the main characters cope with their dark emotions and thoughts in a well-written way that makes you want to read it over and over again.
If you are looking for a soul-crushing romance that will have you sobbing your eyes out, read this book! The only reason i didnt rate this book 10/10 is because the end was so incredibly sad but again not all books have a happy ending. Overall 9 1⁄2/10, I absolutely recommend this book.
The Inheritance Games
Jennifer Lynn Barnes
13+ age group
The Inheritance Games by Jennifer Lynn Barnes is a mystery novel following Avery Grambs, a teenage girl living in bad circumstances who inherits 46.2 billion dollars from the richest man in the world—Tobias Hawthorne. There are two catches: Avery has never heard a word about or met Tobais Hawthorne, and is not biologically related to him, and to inherit his money, estates etc, she has to stay in Hawthorne Mansion with his four grandsons. Throughout the book, Avery tries to figure out why on earth a stranger would leave her his inheritance instead of his heirs.
This series includes mystery, thrill, romance, and plot twists. Besides the Folk of Air Series, this series is absolutely my favorite. No book will ever be able to top this book. The characters are absolutely the best part because they are all unique and have their own stories. A thing I usually find in books that bothers me is characters all being similar because the author melted them together subconsciously, but this book has none of that. Each character is unique and funny in their own way. Another thing is that often in books the main character is everyone's least favorite, but Avery Grambs is amazing. She is humble, she doesn't overuse her power, though she has made some mistakes she is actually my favorite surprisingly. I will never love another YA series more than I love this series. The love triangles will make you through the book across the room, and the characters will make you laugh. 10/10 I recommend.
—Spoiler after this point--
Before I end this review I have to say one more thing about the Avery, Jameson, and Grayson love triangle. There are people on the internet who actually rate the book 1 star just because Avery and Grayson didn’t end up together which is truly inane. If you read this book, or already have, don’t do that.