EBPL's First Look

EBPL's First Look program is a community service project by East Brunswick teens.

Teens get an exclusive look at young adult books before they are released for publication.  The books reviewed here have been read by teens and reviewed for the library.  

Check out these reviews to find your next favorite book!

For more information on how you can participate in the First Look program, please check out our Teen Volunteering page here.

The Wicker King

The Wicker King, by K. Ancrum, is a story about 2 good friends, August and Jack. One day, Jack starts to have hallucinations that are extremely vivid and real, and August, being the good friend that he is, believes in his fantasy world.
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Blood and Ink

Blood And Ink, by Stephen Davies, is about 2 teenagers, named Ali and Kadi. Their views on their society are complete opposite to one another, but due to certain events, they are now thrown together on a quest.
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Spinning

Before picking up Spinning, by Tillie Walden, the only other graphic novel I had ever read was Nimona, by Noelle Stevenson.
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The Dickens Mirror

I had not expected much after picking up The Dickens Mirror, by Ilsa J. Bick, assuming that the sequel would be worse than the first book of the Dark Passages series.
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The Blade and The Bird

The Bird and the Blade by Megan Bannen is a very fictional historical fiction set in ancient Mongolia.
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The Last Boy and Girl in the World

"The Last Boy and Girl in the World," by Siobhan Vivian, is about a girl named Keeley and her quest for love.
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Running Full Tilt

Running Full Tilt, by Michael Currinder, is a story focused around a boy named Leo. Leo is a kid with family issues, and in order to escape from this, he decided to do running. Which then factored into the decision of him joining the cross country team in his new school. As the story goes on, Leo with make new friends, have a bit of romantic at school, while dealing with relations with his family at home.
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Picture Us in the Light

Picture Us in the Light, is a story of fiction that consists of 361 pages, and is written by Kelly Loy Gilbert, the same person that wrote Conviction. The story is about a boy named Danny Cheng, who just got a scholarship into a university through his artistic talents. With a clear path set on his future career on becoming an artist, things were looking up for him. However, as the story progresses, he will soon have to deal with problems with that of his friends, to uncover the dangerous secrets of his family.
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The Takedown

The Takedown by Corrie Wang is a captivating YA novel that combines the world of popularity in high school with advanced technology our world does not know yet.
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The Astonishing Color of After

The Astonishing Color of After by Emily X.R. Pan is truly a journey for the reader.
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Ash Princess

After watching the downfall of her country and the death of her mother, Theodosia Eirene Houzzara, a sixteen year old girl, resigns herself to a life of fear under the Kaiser, the new ruler of what was once her beloved country.
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When Light Left Us

This is a pretty interesting book and it has a unique feel to it.
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Wishtree

This was a very nice book, and I would definitely recommend it to other readers.
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The Glass Town Gang

This book covers the childhood of four children named Charlotte, Branwell, Emily and Anne. Charlotte and Anne need to go back to their boarding school which they dread.
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Finding Jade

Finding Jade

This was a great book, and I would definitely recommend it to other readers.
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Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner

Nice Try, Jane Sinner by Lianne Oelke is an excellent novel. Once I started to read the book, I couldn’t put it down.
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Piper Perish

Piper Perish

The novel Piper Perish by Kayla Cagan is a must read for all teenagers.
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Love, Hate, & Other Filters

Love, Hate, & Other Filters by Samira Ahmed is a book like no other.
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The Midnight Dance

The Midnight Dance by Nikki Katz is a thrilling story about the self-discovery journey of a young girl- literally.
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Girls Can Do Anything: The Incredible Girl-o-pedia of Astounding Achievements

After finishing Girls Can Do Anything by Caitlin Doyle, I can confidently say that Doyle has achieved her goal for writing this nonfiction book, which she states is to demonstrate that "for much of history, a majority of silent voices were those of girls and women."
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The Librarian of Auschwitz

The Librarian of Auschwitz is based off a true experience that occurred during the Holocaust.
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Losing Brave

Losing Brave is a novel about Payton Brave, a 16 year old girl who witnesses the disappearance of her twin sister, Dylan, in a gas station bathroom.
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Warcross

In the not-too-distant future, humanity has found a new game to keep them occupied: a virtual simulator called Warcross.
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Just Fly Away

This bildungsroman truly captures what it is like to have a coming of age experience. McCarthy writes in such a way that makes you feel you are inside Lucy's mind while she is trying to figure out how to react to unexpected news that will change the rest of her life. The book is fast paced yet well written. I really did not want to put it down! "Just Fly Away" is a must read for teens.
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The 57 Bus

The book was very interesting and taught a strong message about peer pressure.
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Max Tilt: Fire the Depths

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No Saints in Kansas

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Arrows

Karma Clark put up with her boyfriend, Danny for a long time no matter what he put her through.
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This Is Really Happening

Erin Chack's This is Really Happening is composed of eleven essays of stories pulled straight from her own life.
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Zenith

Zenith, the first book in the Androma Saga by Sasha Alsberg and Lindsay Cummings, is a thrilling rollercoaster of adventure and emotions, with many mature underlying themes.
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The Breathless

The Breathless is a very good book. It exhibits a mastery of imagery that keeps readers on the edges of their seats and the ability to put just the right amount of encapturing description.
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Grit

The book "Grit" by Gillian French was not very good in my opinion. I had a hard time finishing it, as it failed to rivet me.
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Before She Ignites

A story of independence. A story of the loss of innocence. A story of newfound strength. Which is Before She Ignites?
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The Last Namsara

Where to start? The Last Namsara is a beautiful story that goes through how Asha, the main character, learns about herself.
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Spliced

Spliced, by Jon McGoran is a thrilling science fiction read that captivates readers with its unusual story line and touching message.
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Poison's Kiss

The concept of this book was very interesting from the start. It is inspired by Hindu mythology and culture but it is twisted into a supernatural genre.
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Monster

From the co-author of the Animorphs series comes yet another great fantasy novel involving transformations and fantastic powers.
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Zenn Diagram

When I first picked up this book, I didn’t know what to expect. After all, it was going to be about math, and the mere mention of that subject wasn’t very inviting. However, once I had made it through the first chapter, I realized that the book wasn’t boring. It was far from it.
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Radioactive!: How Irène Curie and Lise Meitner Revolutionized Science and Changed the World

The early Twentieth Century, dubbed the “Golden Age of Physics,” was an exciting time for scientists, as some of the greatest minds in history rattled off discovery after discovery.
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Prisoner of Ice and Snow

This book is about a girl, Valor, who is trying to save her sister.
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Girl Mans Up

This book is about Pen, a queer girl who struggles with her gender identity.
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Words on Bathroom Walls

This book is about a boy named Adam, who has schizophrenia, and he is horrified and relieved to know what it is.
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Vassa In The Night

Revamped fairytale with a twist, take 9684: Vassa in the Night by Sarah Porter.
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Carve the Mark

Besides the somewhat dull introduction, Veronica Roth exceeded my expectations and presented a truly interesting story.
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The Eye of the North

The Eye of the North is a great fantasy book that involves mythology, magic, kidnapping, and death, but doesn’t come off with a dark tone.
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27 Hours

27 Hours is an epic science fiction book that deserves a good look at.
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Orphan Train Girl

This book is about a foster girl named Molly Ayer and how she made an unexpected bond with an elderly woman named Vivian.
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Cyclone

Doreen Cronin's Cyclone is a fascinating story about how one fight spirals into a big mess, landing Nora's cousin in the hospital with a stroke.
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Hunter

Hunter by Mercedes Lackey is a post-apocalyptic story told many centuries after the world of today was shattered by the Diseray, gateways from the Otherside opened, and monsters broke loose.
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The Wendy Project

The Wendy Project is a beautiful modern take on J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan, in which Wendy deals with loss, grief, and the ability to cope and move on.
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The Hate U Give

If someone close to you was killed unjustly, what would you do? Would you speak out, even if it could put you and the rest of your community in danger?
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Dear Martin

The book is very intriguing, and has a lot of detail in it.
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Tiny Pretty Things

This book is about 3 girls at a ballet school - Bette, Gigi and June - who will do anything to get the lead role.
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A Crown of Wishes

This fiction book is a story about a prince of Ujijain named Vilkram and the princess named Gauri.
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Forget Me Always

In Sara Wolf's Forget Me Always, the main character, Isis Blake, struggles to remember her old life after being involved in a tragic event.
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How To Say I Love You Out Loud

In Karole Cozzo's How To Say I Love You Out Loud, the main character, Jordyn Michaelson, struggles to be able to express her love to not only her crush, but also her autistic brother.
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Select

Select by Marit Weisenberg is a book that has similar features to dystopian and science fiction novels, but has a very unique and different plot, making it enjoyable.
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Just a Normal Tuesday

Kim Turrisi's Just a Normal Tuesday has become one of my favorite books. It captures loss, grief, acceptance, and all the ups and downs in life. The book will fly by and have you never wanting to put it down but, there will be just enough unanswered questions to make you speculate and reflect on the book.
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Textrovert

In Lindsey Summer's "Textrovert" the main character, Keeley Brewer, struggles to maintain her relationship with her boyfriend, Talon.
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The One Memory of Flora Banks

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr managed to grip my attention from the moment I read the prologue.
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Survivors Club: The True Story of a Very Young Prisoner of Auschwitz

Survivors Club is a Holocaust story, but one that differs from others due to the young age of the main character.
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Freya

Freya by Matthew Laurence is the charming story of a goddess gone rogue, Freya.
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Hello, Universe

Hello, Universe by Erin Entrada Kelly is a must read for anyone in middle school. A relatively easy read, you will NOT want to put the book down!
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The Sky Between You and Me

The Sky Between You and Me, written by Catherine Alene, is a beautifully crafted book that’s written in the form of poetry.
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Thick as Thieves

Thick as Thieves, a Queen’s Thief novel as it declares on the front, was as a whole unsatisfying.
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At the Edge of the Universe

This is personally one of my most favorite books that I have ever read.
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Wintersong

Disclaimer: When I started the book, I really really didn’t want to write a review completely destroying the book because I thought it had potential. Unfortunately for you, me, and S. Jae Jones however, the book completely squandered its potential and turned into an utter dumpster fire of a book, so you’ll have to deal with me and my complaints.
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A Crack in the Sea

Reminiscent of Where the Mountain Meets the Moon for its story of family, belonging, and magic coupled with detailed illustrations, A Crack in the Sea is a story that takes you back to simpler days.
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Roar

Roar, as with many other stories, focuses on a plucky young princess out to make her destiny.
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Forget Me Not

Terry's novel Forget Me Not centers on the story of a young girl, Callie, struggling to embrace herself and share her story.
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City of Saints & Thieves

Anderson's novel is unlike anything I have ever read before. This is a story that educates readers about the violence and dangers of gang involvement, human trafficking, and dirty business deals.
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Grendel's Guide to Love and War

After reading Grendel's Guide to Love and War I was a little disappointed.
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Revenge of the Star Survivors

Revenge of the Star Survivors brings you back to an unfamiliar time period- back to a time when being a nerd was socially unacceptable, when bullies got away with their deeds because there were no fancy cameras to keep watch over a school’s population, and when computer glitches were prone to wiping a student’s entire record clean.
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The Upside of Unrequited

Albertalli's The Upside of Unrequited is a wonderfully woven story about a girl who finds herself and accepts who she is, finding love during the process.
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Looking For Group

The story of Dylan and Arden, two internet friends that go on a real life quest, is one that has been told before-by other young adult authors.
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The Cruelty

There are no rainbow and unicorns here, but what would you expect from a book called The Cruelty?
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10 Things I Can See From Here

Carrie Mac's 10 Things I Can See From Here is a charming novel about the amplified struggles of a girl named Maeve who deals with anxiety disorder.
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Definitions of Indefinable Things

Definitions of Indefinable Things by Whitney Taylor is a modern twist on the classic teen romance novel.
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The Devil's Banshee

What happens when you kind of take a Viking Prince from the 10th century, a woman who died from the devastating and horrendous, Great Fire of London of 1666, and two recently deceased teenagers from around our era, who go on a journey through the nine circles of hell in hell itself in order to basically find the devil's wife and banshee and try to make it on piece?
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Ashes

Eight years after the publication of Laurie Halse Anderson’s critically acclaimed Chains, Anderson is back with the final book of her Seeds of America trilogy, finally ending the adventure of the two African American characters we’d come to know and love: Isabel and Curzon.
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Everything, Everything

The book Everything, Everything by Nicola Yoon is unlike any book I had ever read before.
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The Diabolic

The book The Diabolic takes place in a dystopian future where machines run themselves and humans have relied so much on these machines that they cannot function without them.
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The Book Jumper

Built on the premise of people able to enter the worlds of other books, The Book Jumper uses the rich variety of characters and backgrounds of the classics to enrich its own plot.
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Life in a Fishbowl

This book is really intriguing and clearly resembles the title: Life in A Fishbowl.
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The Thing About Jellyfish

On the surface, The Thing About Jellyfish is a middle-grade book about a girl named Suzy struggling with the death of a former best friend. But when you look closer, you see a girl struggling with much more than that - the divorce of her parents, growing up, not having anyone to talk to, feeling like a pariah even in her own home - and now the guilt of feeling like she failed her friend.
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Terror at Bottle Creek

This book gives an exhilarating glimpse into the terrifying experience of three young kids as they battle their way through a Hurricane Igor-ravaged swamp.
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Weregril

I would recommend the novel, "WEREGIRL" by C. D. Bell for any fantasy-loving person.
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My Sister Rosa

My Sister Rosa by Justine Larbalestier was a thrilling book that I couldn't put down.
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Replica

Replica is a flip book that tells the same story from two different perspectives.
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Scyth

Scythe by Neal Shusterman is about a world where there is no more death.
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The Charmed Children of Rookskill Castle

Overall the story was very well crafted and it is definitely worth a read.
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A List of Cages

“The things I know stay in my head as I stand on my own two feet at the end of the day, and I walk back to my room with my journal to write my list of cages.” This first mention of the title in the story is thirty five pages from the ending, which is right around the time your heart overloads on emotions and bursts into a million pieces. Not unlike a more teen friendly version of A Child Called ‘It,’ A List of Cages by Robin Roe centers on a story of friendship, abuse, and the ability to move on.
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The Problem with Forever

The Problem with Forever by Jennifer Armentrout is a spectacular novel that will capture the hearts and minds of readers', and I highly suggest it for any teenager that's up for a nice, lovely read that is equally heart-wrenching and dynamic.
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To Catch a Killer

Penguin Books claims that a mystery only needs to have five basic but important elements: characters, a setting, a plot, a problem, and a solution. Now, for a basic mystery, this is fine. But a good mystery novel should have more complex components, and Sheryl Scarborough, author of To Catch a Killer, certainly attempts to create a more intriguing mystery novel. Unfortunately, she doesn’t quite get there.
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Remember to Forget

Remember to Forget by Ashley Roye , is a cheesy chick flick that is both laughable and romantic.
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Ghost in the H.A.T.B.O.X.

This is definitely a book I recommend reading for fantasy lovers.
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Stalking Jack the Ripper

The whole story is sort of like a house of cards so intricately set up but it ultimately falls down.
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The Bone Sparrow

You cried at The Boy in Striped Pajamas. You were shocked by the unrestrained, grim reality in A Thousand Splendid Suns. Now, experience Zana Fraillon’s The Bone Sparrow, a combination between endearing childhood innocence and the cold, harsh reality of the life of refugees in Australian detention centers.
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