Guest blog post

To celebrate National Youth Week, this blog post is brought to you by our Teen Reviewers program! They chose to focus on the underrated and lesser-known gems of the library collection.

The Teen Reviewers meet once a month to discuss their favourite books and write reviews. Many of the books below can be found in our Young Adult collection, but these teens review books from our adult and children’s collection, as well.

Join us in celebrating the next generation of literary influencers and their amazing contribution to our library! Head over to the Programs For Teens page to see more of their reviews that are updated monthly.


Book jacket for A Curse So Dark And LonelyA Curse So Dark And Lonely by Brigid Kemmerer

Series: Cursebreakers #1

Genre: Romance, Fantasy

Reviewed by: APM

This book had a great storyline and the plot was well thought out. The characters were unique, well-written and I loved the tension between them. I liked how Kemmerer portrayed women and how strong-willed the female characters were. This is one of the best books I’ve read this year! I would recommend this to people who like romance, adventure, and a strong-willed female lead. Once you finish this, you’ll want to read the rest of the Cursebreakers series! Even though these are all great qualities, there is quite a bit of gore and violence involved in this book.


Book jacket for Neanderthal Opens The DoorNeanderthal Opens The Door To The Universe by Preston Norton

Genre: Comedy, LGBTQ+

Reviewed by: Blurry

Overall, this was a great read. The characters were amazingly written, the plot was extremely interesting, and the story was unlike anything I’ve read before. After the suicide of his brother, Cliff gets in a fight with a classmate who is put into a coma. After the classmate awakens, he asks Cliff to help him complete a list given to him by God. Anyone who enjoys contemporary books with snappy humour, LGBTQ+ representation, and a unique plotline will, no doubt, enjoy this! This was a great book, but it has some triggering themes, such as homophobia and suicide, which got pretty heavy at times.


Book jacket for The Nightmare InspectorThe Nightmare Inspector by Shin Mashiba

Series: The Nightmare Inspector

Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel

Reviewed by: S. Freedom

I loved this book because it made me think, “What are my dreams trying to tell me?”.  The main character, Hiriko, is a dream-eating monster that frequents the Silver Star Teahouse and enters the nightmares of its customers. The author found creative ways to represent certain issues and difficulties the customers dealt with. Many times, I thought I had a dream figured out, but the story was unpredictable. I would recommend this to anyone interested in understanding the deeper meaning behind dreams. It did get scary at times, since nightmares are depicted, so I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone uncomfortable with dark subjects.


Book jacket for BrotherBrother by David Chariandy

Genre: Literary fiction

Reviewed by: JLee

I enjoyed this book because of the themes it tackled, such as racism, poverty, and masculinity. These topics weren’t discussed overtly and the writing relied heavily on inference.  This was frustrating for me, at times, because I would have preferred a direct confirmation of something, rather than leaving it to my imagination. Chariandy used flashbacks and a shifting narrator to explore things from the past and present. I would have preferred if the whole story were written in the past since these were the most engaging parts of the story. In the end, I understood why Chariandy chose to write the book this way. I would recommend this book to those interested in understanding the prejudice and racism people experience on a daily basis. It is written from an authentic voice and much of the story is inspired by lived experience. Even though I’ve pointed out things I didn’t like, I highly recommend giving this a read!


Book jacket for Should We Stay Or Should We GoShould We Stay Or Should We Go by Lionel Shriver

Genre: Comedy, Literary Fiction

Reviewed by: S.J. Hallward

I got a kick out this book! Some chapters were so amusing that I got swept away in hilarious daydreams while musing on particular characters and the odd picture they presented. While this novel capitalized on one’s own imagination, Shriver incorporated just the right amount of emotion to help the reader empathize with Kay and Cyril Wilkinson. This oddly compatible, soul-stirring, and adventurous couple grew closer to one another through their trials and tribulations. I thoroughly enjoyed this book because I’m drawn to emotionally tugging stories with characters I can empathize with. Due to some mature themes, I wouldn’t recommend this to anyone under 14. I found it to be a casual read, but a valuable novel with a mix of humour and inventiveness.


Book jacket for Carry On JeevesCarry On, Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse

Series: Jeeves #3

Genre: Comedy, Classic

Reviewed by: ALM

I loved reading Wodehouse’s unique and delightful style that featured heaps of period-specific slang, amusing similes and other entertaining wordings. I actually laughed out loud – not giggled or blew air from my nose – while reading this! I found it clever without being inaccessible. Wodehouse’s mastery of comedic writing and the absurd was as enjoyable as it was inspiring. Bertie was a fun and disastrous protagonist, who spoke directly to the reader, as a narrator, in a chummy way. Jeeves was the perfect foil: calm, collected, and boundlessly brainy to the point of uncanniness. The stories were extremely formulaic, but never tedious. Each story managed to be fresh and enjoyable, despite their similarities to one another. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a good laugh, gluttons for goofiness, and a lovers of low-stakes hijinks.


Book jacket for Tell The Wind And FireTell The Wind And Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan

Genre: Fantasy, Retellings

Reviewed by: Kam

I really enjoyed this book because of the well-developed world and characters. They felt real, which created a powerful and disturbing reading experience. The main character, Lucie, didn’t want to save the government or tear it down; she only wanted to protect those she cares about from being tortured or killed. Even though this is a fantasy book, it felt realistic. It showed the terrible things humans are capable of in a divided society, which reminded me of the world we live in today. This story symbolizes what we, as a society, must try to avoid. I would recommend this book to teens and adults, but it may not be the best book to read during a pandemic. Read this if you’re looking for a good fantasy novel that will leave you in solemn refection of the world around you.  This is a retelling of the Charles Dickens classic, A Tale Of Two Cities, but I don’t think you have to read it first, since this novel stands up well on its own.


Book jacket for Kingdom Of BackKingdom Of Back by Marie Lu

Genre: Historical Fiction, Adventure

Reviewed by: GeeC

This was a great novel that helped me get out of a reading slump. It was slow to start, but eventually I was hooked! I would recommend this book to musicians, but anyone could enjoy it. If you’re a pianist, like myself, you’ll appreciate it even more. The story is set in 18th century Europe and will appeal to anyone with an interest in Shakespeare or historical fiction. The main character, Nannerl, is intelligent and someone I wish I could be like.  I admired this character because she gracefully dealt with many challenges and did not lose hope. The language is quite formal and could be difficult for an inexperienced reader or those under 13. Overall, this was an excellent novel with lots of plot twists!

Other underrated gems recommended by our Teen Reviewers: