Review Work Part 1 – Professional Reviews & Review Analysis

VOYA-style review
VOYA Review Codes


4Q 4P S NA

Kaufman, Amie. Illuminae: The Illuminae Files_01. Knopf/Random House, 2015. 608p. $11.32. 978-0-553-49911-7.

Kady breaks up with Ezra on the very day that her planet is attacked, and they are thrown back together in a fight for their lives, and to save the planet. This story takes place in the year 2575, where interplanetary wars and deadly plagues cause mass death and destruction, and the fate of those who remain is in the hands of would-be AI hackers and warriors like Kady and Ezra. Through it all, they find that maybe they were meant to be together after all.

Despite the carnage and chaos, Illuminae is also exciting, humorous, and sentimental. The story is narrated through a cache of documents like emails, IMs, interviews, medical reports, and military files, creating interesting, fragmented dialog that lends to the chaos and fast-pace of the story. The protagonists are appealing and interesting, and teens will quickly become immersed in the story and be swept along early in the first chapters.—Ann Korff

SLJ-style review


Quintero, Isabel. Gabi, a Girl in Pieces. 284p. Cinco Puntos Press. Oct. 2014.  $17.95. ISBN 9781935955948.

Gr 9 Up -Gabi is a Mexican-American teen living in Southern California. She is a senior, dealing with issues of friends, boyfriends, family, school, body image, and future college choices. You know, the typical teen. But wait, add a meth-addict father, pressures from her traditional mother, a gay best friend, pregnancy, rape, and her own thoughts on experiencing sex for the first time – all unfolding through the pages in Gabi’s diary.

There is a lot going on in this book, but don’t just call it a “problem novel.” It sounds like the author tried to check all of the boxes for potential teen issues to deal with, but that is not the case. Gabi’s relationships evolve, issues are dealt with, and her boyfriend has been taught to respect Gabi. Gabi is a believable character, and the issues she deals with (if tangentially) are revealed in a natural and realistic way. VERDICT Gabi is a lovely and likable teen role model, and I recommend that it you give abundant access to this book to all high school students.-Ann Korff

Analysis of Reviews of Gabi, Girl in Pieces

Professional reviews: Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Review.

  • All of them immediately talk about Gabi in context to her Mexican culture, which is an important part of the book.
  • All of the “issues” in the book are mentioned in all three reviews, and they all agree that they are handled well and do not bog down the story.
  • Read-alikes are a broad range, as there are many high school, coming of age books.
  • All agree that this book is a good fit for ages 14 and up, and talk about appeal factors for this age group.
  • None of these reviews mention the cover, which is discussed ad nauseam on the Goodreads review page.

Amateur reviews were from two blogs: Vamos a Leer and The Reading Date.

  • Vamos a Leer is “overseen by the Latin American & Iberian Institute” at the University of New Mexico. It is a designated National Resource Center for Latin America K-12 teachings by the U.S. Department of Education. For this reason, I could consider it a Latin-American-centric professional review site. Because it is not commercial, and I have never used it in other reviews, I am placing it as an “amateur” review. This is the most thorough and thoughtful review of all that selected reviews. There are extra links to other information, and they have their own “educators guide” for the book, as well as guides for many of their other reviewed books.
  • The Reading Date gives a good, personal review and includes a brief, positive review of the audiobook version as well.
  • Both of these reviews are more personal, but the content is still useful for evaluating the book for teen readers. Both of these reviews are long than the professional reviews, so they are more time-consuming when seeking  summaries for collection development, etc. This is also where standardized formatting of reviews is useful.




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