YA Book Reviews: Bloom, Cinderella Is Dead, and Rules for Being a Girl

Bloom by Kenneth Oppel

What if the biggest threat to humanity wasn’t climate, disease, war, or monsters… but plants?

Thick, seemingly invincible black grass starts growing all over the world. It invades crops, destroys houses, and emits a dangerous pollen that everyone is allergic to. Everyone except for three young teens from British Columbia: Anaya, Petra, and Seth.

Two other new breeds of invasive plants appear, each more violent and bizarre than the last: a pit plant that lures people into its mouth, puts them to sleep, and digests them. And a grotesquely beautiful water lily that spits acidic seeds like a machine gun. The three immune teens get drawn into a top secret military mission that will have readers rushing to get to the end. Where did the plants come from? Why are these kids immune? And can anyone save the world from certain invasion?

The imagination, character development, and pacing of Bloom is what really sets it apart from other dystopian teen novels. Kenneth Oppel writes with both mindblowing excitement and masterful insight. I highly recommend Bloom for readers of any age who enjoy Hunger Games or other intense adventure stories. Look out for the second book in the trilogy, Hatch, coming this Fall.

Cinderella Is Dead by Kalynn Bayron

Two-hundred years after Cinderella married Prince Charming, sixteen-year-old Sophia is preparing for her first royal ball. She will travel to the palace with all of the eligible young women in the land where male suitors will select their wives.

But Sophia doesn’t want to submit to the oppressive laws of the land. And she definitely doesn’t want to be forced into a marriage with a man. Things take a dark turn at the ball, and Sophia launches herself into a mysterious, violent, and magical adventure. She doesn’t have to go it alone: she teams up with an intriguing descendant of one of the evil stepsisters, and a centuries-old witch. Together they embark on a mission to overthrow the patriarchy and to uncover the secrets of the palace. And maybe fall in love.

Cinderella Is Dead is a diverse fairytale retelling without any of the pixie dust or friendly woodland animals, but with all of the romance and drama. It’s like The Selection meets The Handmaid’s Tale meets Gideon the Ninth. Anyone who likes dystopia stories and dark fantasies will love the unique blend of the two genres in Cinderella Is Dead.

Rules for Being a Girl by Candace Bushnell and Katie Cotugno

Marin and her best friend Chloe are slightly obsessed with their 30-something year old English teacher Bex. But when Bex takes things too far and assaults Marin at his apartment, everything changes. When Marin tells Chloe, she doesn’t quite find the comforting confident she was hoping for.

Feeling lonely and angry, Marin pens a brilliant editorial for her school’s newspaper. Rules For Being a Girl. She points out double standards, misogynistic expectations, and sexist injustices happening around her. It makes a lot of people angry.

Dealing with an unraveling friendship, a jerk of a boyfriend, the stress of getting into college, the confusing feelings surrounding the assault, PLUS all of the regular rules of being a girl, Marin is spiraling. But she’s also finding her voice. She’s inspiring a quiet movement in her school. And could she possibly even be finding a more fitting partner in Gray?

Sexy, fun, and weighty, this book will appeal to many young feminists.

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