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Teen Book Reviews
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THE THREE-BODY PROBLEM by Cixin Liu
Book Review by Emma C.
As a nonoscientist, Wang Miao expected to spend his life doing quiet research in his lab, but his whole world tilts on its axis when he is called to investigate the deaths of fellow high-ranking scientists. Plagued by eerie hallucinations, Wang desperately searches for clues from an unlikely source: a virtual reality world called Three Body. Gradually, as Wang becomes mired in the complicated political and scientific situation, he begins to uncover an increasingly sinister plot that could endanger the fate of humanity.
I rarely enjoy science fiction because I cannot understand the deep technical knowledge that the plot demands, but this book is an exception. I found myself eagerly devouring the scientific explanation of spatial phenomenon. Through fascinating flashbacks, stories from the Three Body video game, and present-day investigations, it feels as though the reader is experiencing the disjointed nature of the protagonists’s quest for the truth.
I also appreciated how the author recognizes the unfortunate realities of the changing political landscape. Set during the Cultural Revolution in China, Wang struggles to cope with the thick layers of lies that protect many of the suspects. The political implications of telling the truth are also touched upon, as one character copes with her father’s death at the hands of student “Red Guards” for teaching Western physics concepts.
In all, The Three-Body Problem is an intellectual and emotional roller coaster. It shatters the stereotype that one has to love science fiction to become immersed in its world, discusses important and intriguing scientific and philosophical topics, and provides a rewarding experience that will leave readers wanting more. Stay tuned for more to come in the remainder of this series!
WICKED SAINTS BY EMILY A. DUNCAN
Book Review by Emma C.
Nadya Lapteva is blessed by the gods: as the last known cleric, she can communicate with all of the gods known to her home country of Kalyazin, and harnesses their power in the struggle against the blood mages of Tranavia. She is accompanied by Malachiasz, a broken Tranavian boy with hidden abilities, dark histories, and undiscovered motives. The High Prince Serefin Meleski leads the Tranavian army, doing his father’s bidding yet growing skeptical of the government’s aims. All of them have one goal: to end the bloody conflict that has raged on for years. Together these three characters play central roles in an elaborate plot that will result in the undoing of all the values Nadya held dear. As the situation becomes dire, the truth about Nadya’s magic comes to light, and she realizes that what she thought was a blessing may very well be a curse.
Wicked Saints is the dark, chillingly beautiful fantasy novel that contains the best of the genre worlds: romance, fantasy, thriller, dystopia and horror. This world full of blood and magic feels as real as everyday life. Through the brilliant writing, I can commiserate with Malachiasz, the lying, self-absorbed king whose only truth is his name, experience Nadya’s emotional anguish and guilt in endangering her friends, and understand Serfin’s suspicions of the stifling, policy-obsessed nobility. This book was a true page-turner that any teen reader will relish.