All Book Reviews by Genre: Classics

The Remains of the Day
Ishiguro, Kazuo
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Alright, this book was even worse than Kazuo Ishiguro’s other book(Never Let Me Go). I didn’t know that that was possible, but it is. In this book, an old, traditional English butler takes a road trip along the English countryside. That is it. Oh, I forgot one thing: he does remember some of his dreadfully dull and pointless memories about his career. The main character (the butler) Mr. Stevens doesn’t even show character development by the end of the book. There is one thing that I liked about this book: that it finally got round to finishing.

Reviewer's Name: Jordan T.
Tess of d'Uvervilles
Hardy, Thomas
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Written in the Victorian Era, Tess of the d’Urbervilles by Thomas Hardy follows the story of Tess Durbeyfield and her tragic downfall. When Tess’s father discovers that he is the descendant of an ancient noble family, the d’Urbervilles, he sends Tess to the d’Urberville mansion hoping that Mrs.
d’Urberville will make Tess’s fortune. After being forced to take a job at the mansion to provide for her family, Tess is taken advantage of by Alec d’Urberville and is forced to live in shame and exile. After meeting a man named Angel Clare, Tess and Angel fall in love, but Tess has neither the strength nor the heart to tell Angel of her shameful secret. When she finally does, her secret tears their relationship apart, but will their love triumph over this “sin” ? This novel by Hardy truly reveals the division of men and women during the Victorian period and how a sin commited by a woman, even if not by her own fault, had everlasting consequences back then. I recommend this book to mature readers, as there is mature content and sexual references, but I highly recommend reading it because it holds both culture and themes that are present even in modern society.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Heart of Darkness
Conrad, Joseph
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

What is the Heart of Darkness? Is it a metaphorical thing such as thoughts and mindsets, or is it a literal tangible place? Joseph Conrad’s novel follows the story of Marlow, an introspective sailor, who recounts his journey up the Congo River to five men who are on the same ship as Marlow:
the Director of Companies, who is also the captain and host, the Lawyer, the Accountant, Marlow, and the unnamed Narrator. What’s interesting is that the story is told from the point of view of the unnamed narrator who is conveying to the readers what marlow is telling him. Marlow explains in detail of his journey into the African Continent and his venture up the Congo River. He tells of acts of imperialism, acts of racism, and acts of evil commited within the region. The Heart of Darkness has gained much praise and criticism since its release, nevertheless it explores Conrad’s view of evil and darkness, but also leaves it up to the reader to make their own conclusion. I recommend this novel to readers who are seniors in high school or above because this novel is extremely difficult to read as Conrad’s style is very complex. To fully experience the novel, one must read it multiple times.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Dracula
Stoker, Bram
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Twilight, Count Von Count, Nosferatu, where do all of these vampire themed genres come from? Also, where do all the vampire cliches come from? I mean why do they hate garlic, can only be killed with a steak through the heart, and have no reflection in a mirror? All of this goes back to the novel Dracula by Bram Stoker. This 1897 gothic horror novel was written during the Victorian Era, a period many consider of high etiquette and stern morality.
The best part about this novel is that there is no one point of view, the story is written in segments of diary entries and newspaper articles. We get to see the story from multiple characters’ views, which is absolutely phenomenal because it creates dramatic irony and suspense. In Dracula, we follow the story of 7 people as they discover the existence of Count Dracula as a vampire. When one of the 7 become a victim of the Count, the rest set out to exterminate the Count and rid him of the world. I recommend this book to all readers (high school and above as the vocabulary and style is somewhat
difficult) as this teaches all of us about the evolution of contemporary culture and the culture of the Victorian Era. Reviewer Grade 12.

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Genres:
Beowulf
Heaney, Seamus
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The mighty hero triumphs over evil and saves the people from utter destruction. Sound familiar? Of course it does, it’s the basic plot line of the cliche hero’s tale that everybody knows. However, all of these tales most likely spawned from Beowulf, the oldest surviving English poem written in Anglo - Saxon around the 11th Century A.D. Beowulf is an epic poem that begins with Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Hrothgar’s people live in peace when they are attacked and threatened by a monster named Grendel, who kills off the Danes everynight in their mead-hall, Heorot. So in comes Beowulf son of Ecgtheow, a mighty warrior from Geatland who promises to defeat Grendel and bring prosperity back to the Danes. Beowulf is an amazing poem as it not only tells the classic tale of the epic hero and his journey, but contains hidden meanings aside from literal. Beowulf has no known author, but contains elements of factual history, which tells us this may be a tale describing actual events. This piece of literature is a traditional master piece and should be preserved as an example of how words and tales can evolve over decades. Reviewer Grade 12.

Reviewer's Name: Joe T.
Awards:
Invasion of the Body Snatchers
Finney, Jack
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Most people know this book by its numerous film adaptations, including Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956 and 1978), Body Snatchers (1993), and The Invasion (2007). In fact, I like to think that many facets of this story have become a part of popular culture, including the replication “pods” and Donald Sutherland’s scream in the 1978 film version. While the source material is inherently pulpy, a result of the genre and the era in which it was published, there is an entertaining quality to the story that has allowed it to survive for so long.

Simple in its execution, but brilliant in its reveal, The Body Snatchers builds up an inherent distrust of the people surrounding the main characters as they investigate why everyone seems “off” in this small, California town. While the full explanation of the aliens’ presence and purpose is relegated to an enormous information dump more than half-way through the book, it nevertheless contains some interesting ideas and concepts that could be plausible given the circumstances. I would have preferred better integration of this information into the plot, but sometimes the characters just need to sit down and explore these ideas in depth.

In the end, The Body Snatchers has plenty of strong moments in its plot. Sure, there’s the weaker section or two, and the more upbeat ending didn’t have much explanation other than the aliens’ annoyance of humanity’s persistence. Still, it’s a fun story, and even decades later it’s clear why The Body Snatchers is a timeless classic, even if it’s not “on par” with more significant literary titans. Maybe that’s its charm, though. By making it about the “everyman,” the horror and terror of everyone around them being replaced by emotionless beings is much more relatable on a visceral level.

A timeless pulp classic, I give The Body Snatchers 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin
Book Review: A Midsummer Night's Dream
Shakespeare, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A Midsummer's Night Dream is one of Shakespeare's many plays that he wrote. Unlike many of his works, this one does not have a sad and tragic ending, and is a drama more than anything. The story is about four lovers Hermia, Helena, Lysander, and Demetrius. There is a whole love triangle where Hermia loves Lysander, but is forced to marry Demetrius, who Helena loves. For Hermia to escape getting married to someone she doesn't love, she and Lysander run off into a forest where they are outside the law. Already in the forest, there is drama going on between two faeries, Oberon and Titania. Titania is protecting an Indian boy that Oberon wants, so Oberon gets his faerie Puck to go receive a love potion, so that Titania will now be distracted by love and Oberon can snatch the Indian child. Back in the city however, there is a group of actors organizing a play. After one of them tries to take up every part in the play, they get it all organized and head off to the forest to practice. So already in the first act we got everybody running off to the forest to cause drama. This play shines at how good its humor is, and is jammed pack with drama. I would recommend anyone to read this fancy story.

Reviewer's Name: Christopher K.
Genres:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

The Great Gatsby takes place during the Roaring 20’s in New York before Prohibition was ended. Gatsby hosts parties where he also gives out alcohol to his guests. I did not like this book at all because I didn’t like the love story between Gatsby and Daisy, frankly, I didn’t really like any of the characters to begin with. I think it might’ve been probably because I personally have higher morals than the characters show during this time period. I didn’t like the way Nick was used and quite honestly taken advantage of by Tom, Daisy, and Gatsby. What I disliked the most about this book is the psychotic obsession Gatsby has for Daisy because she’s his “dream.” If he has a clear mind, he’d notice that he couldn’t be in love with a lesser human being. I think all of his achievements to get to where he was, a wealthy popular man was all a waste because it was all for someone who didn’t have the equal affection in return for him. I also didn’t like how loose everybody is in the story. I thought it was sad how because Gatsby’s couldn’t see how his “dream” later became unattainable and nonexistent. I don’t recommend this book as there was hardly a turning point and it seemed to linger in unresolved conflict. I think this book suits a much older audience as it is quicker pace and sometimes hard to follow, and also for it’s immoral content.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Micah L.
Awards:
Genres:
The Jungle
Sinclair, Upton
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This book I picked to read for a summer book report on a fiction American novel. The book was recommend to me by my mom who had read the book a few years earlier in a college catering class. The book describes the story of Jurgis who moved to America from Lithuania in search of a better life. The story goes on to discuss the flaws of the food and meatpacking industry and the poor working conditions. The struggles of the everyday American man are revealed along with the unsanitary process of meat packing. The book was unpredictable as Jurgis is faced with one problem after another not only within the food industry but with the constant life of struggling to keep himself and family alive with little to no money. The book was very depressing and may not be the first choice of those looking for a heroic or uplifting story. The story was never boring and there was never a time that something new wasn't being introduced into the book that added more to the story every second. The historical aspects found in the book are very accurate considering that one of Upton Sinclair's closet friends was Mother Jones who was a huge part in the labor movement during the 1900s. The book was also interesting in the fact of how much America has changed throughout the years and it what ways it is still the same and not much has been done. The book did help me throughout the rest of the year in both English and US history classes to understand the lives in which the everyday American lived. I found this book very interesting and fun, especially for a summer reading, and I would recommend it to anyone looking to take a trip into the 1900s.
Reviewer Grade:11

Reviewer's Name: Madison G.
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The book "The Lord of the Flies " is a book about a group of boys who crash land on a deserted island. The boys are from ages 5-12. This novel basically shows what would happen if children were to live without adults. The whole theme of the book is "loss of innocence/civilisation/humanity/etc." At first the children have a leader, a signal fire, a meeting place, hunting party, etc. But after they've been around each other for too long things start to escalate and all of the order/organisation is thrown away. I liked this book because there were a lot of hidden meanings to all of the objects AND the children. For example in the book there is a conch shell the boys use to call each other in for a meeting on the beach and it represents law, order, and power. Another example is the signal fire. It represents rescue. I read this book because it was required by my freshman literature and composition class. But if I didn't have to read it I would've read it on my own. Some things I liked about this book were the hidden meanings. I didn't like how some parts were very boring.
Reviewer Grade:9

Reviewer's Name: Tabitha V.
Genres:
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Twain, Mark
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a great book, and could definetly be on ones list to read. One thing you need to know about this book, is that it uses a lot of slang. So in order to fully understand this book and its contents, you have to understand that during the era it was staged people used very different wording than we use in our modern day language. Tom Sawyer reflects many of this worlds youth today aswell, young, rebellious, wild, wanting nothing more but to be free. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer brings the thrill of running away and the crazy adventures he goes through to stay alive. If you're looking for a truly funny, adventurous, and crazy book, The Adventures Of Tom Sawyer is just for you!

Reviewer's Name: Elijah A.
Awards:
Kidnapped
Stevenson, Robert Louis
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Another one of those “short adventures” that I have finally gotten around to reading, Kidnapped doesn’t suffer from some of the attributes that I found irritating about Captains Courageous . Sure, some of my qualms with Captains Courageous came from the audiobook itself but Kidnapped managed to have an easy-to-understand narrator as well as some sound effects and music that added to the experience of the book. As for the book itself, Kidnapped is pretty basic despite its title being only a small fraction of its plot.

Even despite its short length, a lot happens in Kidnapped. Aside from the obvious kidnapping, many events transpired because of it, including escaping and returning home. Of course, partly because of the short length of the book, the action moves at a pretty quick pace that was sometimes difficult to follow (which may also be an artifact of the time when it was written). The language in this book was easy to understand and is appropriate for young boys who want to dip their toe in the wide world of reading.

Part of me almost wanted the plot to focus more on the kidnapping since that’s what I expected the book to be about. Of course, perhaps my preferences are tainted by modern literature and the almost over-explanation of situations and scenarios. Kidnapped does a lot, but if it went more in depth with a few of the main points, it could have been a little more fascinating. As it is, the kidnapping itself happens so quickly that the reader hardly has time to understand what has happened before the main character has escaped. A little more time spent in the midst of the kidnapping would have added some excellent tension to an already adequate book.

A good short story for all ages, I give Kidnapped 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

This is an amazing book! However, if you do not like the classic-book-writing style, this book might bore you out of your mind. You have been warned! But, if you don’t mind the style of writing, you will love this book! Besides from being a classic it is also a romance novel. I really enjoyed this book and I hope you will to!

Reviewer grade: 8th

Reviewer's Name: Elizabeth C.
20,000 Leagues Under the Sea
Verne, Jules
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

They're attacking our vessel Captain! Those savages want to kill us!", "Leave me Conciel! Save yourself my friend!". No doubt these few short phrases from the amazing novel strikes great interest in your mind. 20,000 leagues under the sea is an Adventure Fiction novel written by Jules Verne, and is by far 1 of the best books I have ever read. Professor Aronnax and his faithful servant Consiel board american frigate Abraham Lincoln to embark on a long journey back to France. On the way though, they spot a creature, a monster unlike anyone has ever seen up until that point. After a fierce battle with that monster Pierre Aronnax, Consiel, and a Canadian Harpooner are thrown overboard their frigate lost in the middle of the Vast Atlantic.

Later refuge is found aboard a metal island... Wait? Metal Island? In the middle of the atlantic? Something isn't right. Alast Captain Nemo and his crew surface the mighty vessel and capture Aronnax and his companions.
Sometime later Pierre and his companions alike, awake in a small, pitch black room, not knowing what had happened, or what is about to. Want to find out what happens next? Well go and find this book for yourself! Getting stuck underneath an iceberg in the antarctic! Battling 1 of earths mightiest creatures! Experience the great suspense, action, and adventure this novel brings to you!

Reviewer: 9th Grade

Reviewer's Name: Elijah A.
Captains Courageous
Kipling, Rudyard
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Captains Courageous is one of those classics that I just haven’t read, for whatever reason. I got the sense it was about being at sea, probably in the same vein as Moby-Dick or Treasure Island. And yet, I don’t know if I could tell you what happened in this book. Sure, the main character was picked up by a fishing vessel, and eventually, they learned how to deal with the harsh job of being a fisherman, but that’s pretty much it. The series of fishing adventures seem to be loosely tied together, and the overarching plot was weak at best.

Part of me wonders if the audiobook version of this classic was to blame. Not only did the narrator have a bit of an accent, but she did all the different dialects of the various characters based on their ethnic origins. While I would usually love this attention to detail, more than half the time, I could hardly understand what was being said. Furthermore, the amount of sailing/fishing jargon this book had completely lost me at times, as I have no experience or knowledge of this profession to understand what the characters are talking about.

The two aspects I did enjoy as part of this audiobook were the songs and the length. While I likely would have just read the lyrics of these sea shanties in the book with no understanding of how the tune would go, the narrator sang these songs, thus allowing me to appreciate them more than just the words would have provided. Secondly, while I didn’t understand what was going on for most of the time I was listening to this audiobook, it was still a short book. Therefore, I didn’t waste too much time listening to this book and could move on to different books that much quicker.

A classic that probably hasn’t aged well with time, I give Captains Courageous 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin M. Weilert
Book Review: Their Eyes Were Watching God
Hurston, Zora Neale
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book started off a bit slow and the vernacular was initially somewhat challenging to read, but once Janie meets Tea Cake the book explodes into a vivid account of life in the "muck." There were parts of the book that I couldn't put down. Hurston's prose is nothing short of voluptuous and the final paragraph was a triumph of the soul.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
Little House in the Big Woods
Wilder, Laura Ingalls
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Lovely book. It moves slowly and gently and paints a dream-like portrait of life in the woods in the 1870s. Nothing really exciting happens, but that's the beauty of it.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Awards:
The Phantom of the Opera
Leroux, Gaston
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Phantom of the Opera by Gaston Leroux is a beautiful, classic novel that has an extremely compelling story. The book is about a Parisian opera house that is “haunted” by a mysterious and alluring phantom. The phantom falls in love with soprano Christine Daaè which causes a ton of trouble for the opera house. It is a story about romance, obsession, suspense and mystery. The book was extremely interesting and thought provoking. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who is a fan of classic literature or the Broadway musical. The story does go more into depth in Christine’s childhood and the phantom’s backstory. I also enjoyed the psychological suspense aspect of the story as well. This book was very detailed and at some points extremely complicated, which made that story even more interesting. There were some boring parts, but most of the time the book kept me engaged. This book is a somewhat hard book because of it’s old fashioned style of writing that may not appeal to the younger reader.
There is no swearing in this novel. Overall, I would recommend this to an older teen who has an interest in Broadway based stories.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
The Outsiders
Hinton, S.E.
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Outsiders is a beautiful coming of age story that I would recommend for everyone in middle school and high school. The book’s plot is about the rivalry between the Greasers and Socs (focusing on the Greasers). The Socs are the rich, popular kids while the Greasers are the poor, bad kids. The story is about social status, growing up, finding yourself, and rebellion.
Anyone in middle/high school can relate to this book in one way or another.
The problems discussed transcend time and are applicable to today’s teens.
I think it’s very hard to find a book about teenagers that is about real teenagers, not unrealistic heroes that are facing problems that we never face. Of course, there is nothing wrong with that type of book, but it was really nice to find a book that I could relate to. It makes you feel like you are not alone and that other people are struggling with similar issues.
What makes The Outsiders such an amazing book is the characters and their relationships. Each character is important and unique. They are all their own individuals and have complex backstories. They are all “real” people.
Everyone who reads this book can find at least one character they identify with. For example, Ponyboy is an amazing student who feels like he is under immense pressure. And Darry is struggling with the responsibility of taking care of his younger brothers. The book also focuses on the relationships between the characters. All of the Greasers view each other as family members. They are very protective and loving towards each other. The relationship between the Greasers and the Socs is very strained. Most members of each gang despise each other.
A flaw with the book is that the solutions to the plot’s problems seemed simplistic. The plot is all wrapped up in one big bow which doesn’t seem realistic. To be fair, S.E. Hilton wrote this book when she was in high school and that perspective undoubtedly played into this.
I would recommend this book for ages 10+. The book does contain some mild swearing (it’s not too bad). It also contains underage drinking and smoking. It is a fairly short book that was easy to read.
I would definitely recommend The Outsiders by S.E. Hilton because of it’s interesting plot, realistic characters, and relatable story of teenage angst.

Reviewer's Name: Sophie L.
Moby-Dick
Melville, Herman
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Mobs-Dick, or The Whale by Herman Melville is a novel, in which the narrator, Ishmael, befriends Queequeg, a South Seas harpooner, and together they look for a whaling crew. Eventually, they join Captain Ahab aboard the Pequot.
Ishmael soon finds that Ahab had lost his leg and vessel to a powerful whale, who is called Moby-Dick. The captain and his crew sail around the world to hunt down the whale for revenge. The book does have a very deep and ambitious theme, as Herman Melville addresses many controversies throughout his writing, with subtle remarks. The characters and plot fit perfect together and everything is well developed with some sort of backstory. My only problem with this book is that it includes many useless and boring chapters. They don't add anything to the story, and while they attempt to bring up a deep topic, they completely and utterly fail to. Overall this book is decent and definitely aspires to be the "mighty book" that it's meant to be. I would recommend it to people who like high seas adventure novels.

Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: Steven L.
Awards:

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