Other Award(s)

The Song of Achilles

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The Song of Achilles
Author
Miller, Madeline
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Song of Achilles was written in 2011 by American writer Madeline Miller. It is an adoption of Homer's Iliad and is a retelling of the great Greek warrior Achilles. The tale is told from the perspective of Patroclus. The novel follows the romantic relationship between Patroclus and Achilles as it is written in the novel.

*"He is half of my soul, as the poets say."*
*Madeline Miller, by using their relationship, is trying to show the role of men in ancient Greek society and how homosexuality was viewed in that era. The most pleasing thing about this novel is Miller's poetic writing and how beautifully she has painted the vivid picture of the emotions of all the characters, and it has taken me into another world while I was reading.
There are some debates that have been going on for centuries until today. For example, the relationship between Patroclus and Achilles has been debated for centuries, and still there is no clear evidence of whether they were lovers or close comrades. The second one is that Helen was the cause of the Trojan War, and destroying thousands of ships and men just for a woman is foolishness. As Dr. Faustus says:

*"Was this the face that launched a thousand ships and burnt the topless towers of Ilium?"*
Mean by there, is she that much beautiful that kings are willing to destroy anything?

The novel also contains many themes. The first one is *"honour and pride".* Achilles fights for his honour because he wants his name to be remembered, in the same way Agamemnon and Menelaus fight for their pride, which they lost when Helen was kidnapped by the king of Troy. For Greeks, honour and pride is everything, and they prefer to sacrifice their lives over honour and glory. They believe that sometimes violence is needed to prove one's pride. As it is set down in the text:

" *The sons of Troy are known for their skill in battle, and their deaths will lift your name to the stars."*

The second major theme is *impulse to show power*. Achilles, Agamemnon, and Menelaus fight for power and want to have control over their lives; one of the biggest reasons for participating in battle is to showcase their power. Besides this,the powerlessness of women like Helen, Briseis, and Deidmeia can be seen in the novel. Agamemnon treats Briseis badly as a wench or a war prize, and also, Helen is forced to choose a husband even though she doesn't want a husband.

*To conclude* , the novel is a wonderful piece of literature and deserves to be read because the way Medellin Miller has described all the events and feelings of all the characters makes you feel the same.

Reviewer's Name
Muhammad N.

Love in the Time of Serial Killers

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Love in the Time of Serial Killers
Author
Thompson, Alicia
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

There was no way I was not going to read a book with the title of Love in the Time of Serial Killers! It did not disappoint. It is an unconventional romance with friendship, mourning, and true crime thrown in. Phoebe is a PhD candidate(she's writing her disseration on the true crime genre) who has to spend the summer in Florida helping her brother Connor clean out their childhood home after their father passes away. For Phoebe it is very complicated - she was estranged from her father and has unpleasant memories of her childhood. On top of that she suspects her neighbor Sam is a serial killer! Since I am a fan of true crime, I enjoyed how the author wove in facts about real true crime in the story. If you like quirky romances and a fan of true crime, you will enjoy this book.

Reviewer's Name
Melissa
Genres

All Systems Red

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All Systems Red
Author
Wells, Martha
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Sentient artificial intelligence is a topic that science fiction has covered for decades. Somehow, in all that time, I haven't really come across many stories from the perspective of the newly sentient AI. All Systems Red scratches that itch in a way that's intriguing but merely feels like a prologue to something much more interesting. Perhaps I'm just used to longer-form stories that explore such a complex topic like this. Still, to so densely convey what it's like to be a robot now in control of its destiny takes a certain level of skill.

The problem is, it's been about six months since I listened to this audiobook and I can't recall much about it other than it's in first person via the "Murderbot" point-of-view. I guess there was some humor involved with this robot describing things that we as humans almost take for granted—using the external observer to point out the quirks in our species. And maybe the bigger reason it hasn't stuck with me very much is that the titular Murderbot decides to be a lazy human with its freedom.

I understand that this novella is still early in the series, so I haven't read far enough to get invested yet. I just wonder if it would have worked better as a "book one" in a combined volume of three or four novellas. Once I can get my hands on the other "Diaries" in this series, I might change my opinion about this first entry. As it stands right now, it's short enough that I think others should read it for the unique point-of-view, regardless of how deep it gets into the larger story of the series.

A short but interesting take on an AI who gained their sentience, I give All Systems Red 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Masterminds

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Masterminds
Author
Korman, Gordon
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Five middle-school kids living in Serenity think it's the most perfect place in the world, but is it? This page turning novel by Gordon Korman has everything: intrigue, mystery, action, and more. It's impossible to put this book down. There's a twist and turn around every corner. The kids in the book think they're living in a utopia, when really they aren't. Eventually, they learn the awful truth about their home town, and formulate a plan to escape, but does it work? Read Masterminds to find out.

Reviewer's Name
Adelie

The Fault in our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars
Author
Green, John
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Fault In Our Stars is a novel written by John Green, a renowned author of Young Adult fiction. The story gives an account of Hazel, who can hardly remember life without cancer and has almost given up hope in her life. She then meets Augustus Waters, a cancer survivor, who reads her favorite books for her and hangs out with her and this helps her to gather strength. The two of them deal with cancer and love.

The story is written in a breathtaking way which makes us become a part of the characters and feel the same emotions. Hazel and Augustus appeal to readers through their sense of humor and their courage. But behind this courage, both of them hide their pain to protect their families. John Green, through Hazel and Augustus, brings both: tears and laughter.

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is a beautiful novel and I would recommend it to anyone who believes in love and has the courage to fight for it. Through this book, I realized that cancer not just touches victims, but it also touches all those who love it.

Reviewer's Name
Cheyenne

Renegades

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Renegades
Author
Meyer, Marissa
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

After having finished Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles, it pleased me to learn that her next major series was about superheroes. After all, the fairy tale sci-fi retelling was great, but its source material always felt like it was for girls. Just like getting the choice of a girl's toy or a boy's toy in a Happy Meal, Renegades felt like it was meant for the guys. Obviously, I'm being a little facetious, as both series are definitely for all genders. The twist with this book is that the main character is a villain in a world filled with superheroes.

Renegades feels like the pendulum swing away from the superhero purism that saturated the market with the rise of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Shows like The Boys and Invincible—both of which started as comics themselves—bring up interesting thought experiments when questioning the legal and moral repercussions of superheroes in the real world. Renegades does this by following Nightmare and her desire to take down the superheroes who were supposed to protect her family but didn't. The questions Renegades asks are important when the status quo of a society revolves around superpowered humans.

While the execution of this book is nearly flawless, the crux of the climax felt off to me. I get that not all villains would be logical in their actions—some may even suffer from mental health issues—but the big twist seemed like it went against what all the villains wanted to accomplish. Sure, it pushed Nightmare to make some tough decisions about where her loyalties lay (which is a continuing theme throughout this trilogy), but there could have been a better way to go about it. Regardless, this was an extraordinarily strong start to another classic series by Marissa Meyer.

An excellent superhero book told from a villain's perspective, I give Renegades 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Bejamin W.
Genres

Holes

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Holes
Author
Sachar, Louis
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Stanley Yelnats was walking home from his last day of school, on an ordinary evening when out of the blue, a pair of baseball shoes fell from what seemed like the sky. Once recovered from the sudden shock, Stanley began to recognize this pair of shoes as the famous baseball player Clyde Livingston’s famous cleats. He was in such revelation at that moment that he hardly heard the police car pull up behind him. The officer stepped out, grasped the shoes from Stanley, and in return, placed handcuffs on his wrongly accused wrists. Stanley then travels to Camp Green Lake where he and many others are forced to dig holes exactly five feet deep, and five feet wide by the dreaded warden, the repulsive Mr. Sir, and finally the kind but still quite annoying Mr. Pendanski. It had only been a few days ago when he was unjustly convicted of a crime and sent to supposedly build character in what looked and felt like the most hottest and driest place on the planet. He and the others were forced to live in devastating conditions which included the worst of the worst living conditions. Days and days pass as Stanley meets new friends and foes but also as a newly found mysteries arise. Is the warden actually having the campers dig for character or perhaps something else? Is Stanley here because of the supposed curse on his family? And what other treasures could lie in this vast desert.

This book was an overall spectacular read. I had chosen to read this Louis Sachar novel because many of my friends had requested it to me along with many of my past and present teachers. I thought it would be a fun read and a possible new experience. Some of the many things that I really liked in this book was the exciting and suspenseful story along with the explicit details listed throughout the story. This book was amazing and barely had any flaws but if I had to think of one, I could have liked the organization and structure of the novel to have been a little better. Each chapter was very short and I would have liked them to be at least a little longer, but as mentioned before, there were close to none, if not any, very big dislikes in this wonderfully written novel. Readers who love a little mystery, some suspense, and a great story line would love this book.

Reviewer's Name
Ethan

The Son of Neptune

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The Son of Neptune
Author
Riordan, Rick
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

"The Son of Neptune'' by Rick Riorden is the second book in his 'The Lost Hero' series. It is one of my favorite books I've ever read. It starts off with Percy running away from two Gorgons who he can't permanently kill, they keep coming back from the dead at faster and faster intervals. Percy has amnesia and can't remember anything but his girlfriend Annabeth, he has no idea where he is or where he is going only that he has a sort of internal gps leading him to the Roman demigod camp, Camp Jupiter. He encounters Hera in a disguised form carrying her into the camp where she reveals who she is. Percy is revealed to be the son of Neptune which is more looked down upon at the camp, during the camps war games Percy and his team (the 5th legion) surprisingly win causing Frank to be claimed by his father Mars (Frank and Hazel are Percy's friends at camp). Percy, Hazel, and Frank go on a quest to fulfill a prophecy regaining the 5th legions eagle and weapons lost in Alaska and saving Thanatos the god of death who was imprisoned by a giant working for Gaea. If Thanatos had remained chained the doors of death would have remained open allowing the dead to return from the underworld. After freeing Thanatos Percy, Frank, and Hazel rush back to camp where giants and a monster army are attacking the camp, eventually the camp defeats the army and they get a message from Leo, Jason, Pieper, and Annabeth at the Greek demigod camp, Camp Halfblood. This setting up for the future books of the series where the seven of them go on a quest to save the world from Gaea (the goddess of the Earth who had been asleep for over a millennia awaking to destroy the gods) following the prophecy of 7. This is an amazing book with excellent execution for the idea, and the book playing a major part in the story line. It is perfectly written and a great series to get kids interested in mythology both Greek and Roman. The mythology used is accurate with some of the authors interpretation put in to fit the story being told. The action throughout the book is perfect keeping the reader's attention. In my opinion it is overall an excellent book and a part of a great series.

Reviewer's Name
Audrey