Book Reviews by Genre: Literature

Grendel book jacket
Gardner, John
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

it was the worst book ever. pointless.

*spoiler alert* Beowulf is ugly and mean and rude and abusive and does not understand the concept of consent it made me cry for days what's the point of a book if it has the stupidest ending ever created.

Reviewer's Name: Grendel
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel about Jean Louise Finch (Scout), living through her father Atticus' controversial decision to defend a black man in court. Along with experiencing the tribulations of racism in her home town of Maycomb County, Scout, her brother Jem, and her friend Dill explore the curiosities of the town and investigate the mysterious Boo Radley. The plot gave me excitement to continuing reading, and the joining of the two plots at the end created a perfect ending to the story. I thought that the book was really good due to the knowledge that was gained about the history during the Great Depression and the progression throughout the book that helped develop the main character. This was a school required book, but I would definitely recommend it to readers in high school and above.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" begins with a straightforward introduction to its main character and narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick fancies himself a man of high morals and while he does not always succeed, he tries his best to adhere to his principles at all times. Nick comes from a prominent family in a middle western city; however, after fighting in the Third Infantry Division during World War I, Nick tires of the monotony of the Midwest and goes east — to New York — in order to learn the bond business and in pursuit of more adventure. Nick settles in West Egg, a village that is described best as housing those who are "new money," and is a direct counterpart to East Egg, home to New York's most elite. It is in New York that the we are introduced to Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin; Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband and Nick's former schoolmate; Jordan Baker, the Buchanans' close friend and renowned golfer; and finally, to Jay Gatsby, Nick's neighbor and the titular character of the novel. Nick becomes entangles within the affairs (both literal and figurative) of these characters, as both his fascination and friendship with Gatsby grow.

At face value, "The Great Gatsby" may appear almost to be a soap-opera, but in truth, it is the very opposite. Much like its characters, beneath its shimmering facade, "The Great Gatsby" houses profound and poignant messages and themes — about societal roles, the ever-elusive American dream, and human nature.

Reviewer's Name: Elaine
Things Fall Apart book jacket
Achebe, Chinua
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

In things fall apart we met the main character, Okonkwo, who once gained fame and respect by his village of Umuofia. Okonkwo is an ambitious man within the Umuofia clan of the Igbo tribe. By the time the British colonial administrator arrives everything that Okonkwo holds dear becomes threatened after an accidental shooting. Okonkwo must flee with his family from his beloved village for seven years, losing the life that he worked so hard to gain. He gets through his seven years of exile only to go back home and discover that everything has changed. White missionaries have come to convert Africa to their ways. we liked Things fall apart because it had this idea that capture African culture, specially Nigerian culture. Okonkwo is an interesting character because his unwillingness to adapt to the new change represents an internal struggle many pre-colonized Africans faced in the wake of colonization. The ending is symbolic because it represents the ultimate death of culture as a result of European exploration. Overall, the writer tried to make us see how Africans struggle to keep their culture and identity from colonization.

Reviewer's Name: Arsema
Fahrenheit 451 book jacket
Bradbury, Ray
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

"Fahrenheit 451" is a short story that tells about Montag's transformation from finding a pleasure in burning books, to loving books and all the knowledge that comes with it. Montag lives in a society where the government has forbidden to read books and seek knowledge through writing. Montag is part of a group called "Fireman" who are supposed to put out fire, but that's not the case since they do the opposite. He lives with his girlfriend and has a bad relationship with her. They don't really talk and just look after themselves. Deep down, he cares for her, we'll find out when Montag gets home and see she's fallen over because of an overdose, where he called the ambulance and the police. At the end of Fahrenheit 451, Montag escapes the city and joins a small community of survivors who have successfully fled the repressive society and are dedicated to memorizing books. The group is moving north to start anew, and for the first time in his life Montag has a future to look forward to.

The short story is one of the few books I find interesting. Usually, I do not read many books and definitely not with the genre "dystopia". If you compare this short story to the society we live in right now, you can see they are opposite to each other so for me it is very interesting to hear how the people in "Fahrenheit 451" were dehumanized. The introduction was very boring, but the further you got into the short story, the more interesting it became. In the end, someone was really good. I still think this short story is relevant to us today because it proves what good conditions we live in, and I certainly appreciate more the privacy and freedom I have. "Fahrenheit 451" has a lot of themes, such as the power of books, because you can really see how much a book can have meaning. All the power a book may have manifested in this particular short story. There are also other themes, such as, Loss of Individuality, Role of Technology and ignorance and Knowledge. All these themes have an important meaning in this short story.

After I read this book, I was trapped by the dystopian world and all the social problems they had. I wonder a lot what our society would look like if the government had banned reading books, would I have read this?

Reviewer's Name: Sadiiq
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about a farm of talking animals that push out their farmer after the abuse that they endure and proceed to create their own form of government. The animals form their government without the realization of the need to work for survival and have to adapt to the situation which causes discrepancies and arguments. I thought that this book was really good due to the surprising climax, ruthless betrayal, and the historical relation that it contains, but it does have some dragging parts. The plot is unpredictable and very interesting throughout. I had to read this book for school and thought it would be boring, but after reading it I gained knowledge of history through symbolism and recommend this book for history enthusiasts such as myself. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel about Guy Montag; a firefighter in a world that has illegalized books. His occupation results in burning books that are found in citizens' homes and after witnessing a woman that was burned with her books after refusing to leave them, Guy has a disturbing realization of his society. The progressive plot gave me the excitement of coming home and reading while the ending left me in a jaw dropping manner. I thought that the book was amazing due to the mysterious plot and the relations it has to our world today. I had to read this for school and thought it was going to be boring, but in the long run it became one of my most favorite books I have ever read and I would definitely recommend it for readers who love dystopian novels. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells is a science-fiction novel about a man in England in the 1800s who creates a way to make himself completely invisible without a way to change it. The life of a scientist named Griffin, who uses his invisibility for harm, is described throughout the book with an unpredictable ending. I selected this book for a school report, but I would definitely recommend the book to read if wanting a novel that keeps you on edge and wanting more. I thought that this book was pretty good due to the mysterious plot and ending though there were some dragging parts. I believe it is worth the wait for the surprising ending that left me in shock.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

"The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells is a gothic literature novel about an albino man in the 1800s who turns himself invisible. The book follows his journey through England as he commits a multitude of crimes and inevitably gets caught and killed. I didn't like reading it because I felt it was boring, and it was hard to keep reading since I had a strong dislike for the main character. Despite not liking the novel, I read it for school during our gothic literature unit, and it is a good example of gothic literature. "The Invisible Man" isn't surprising but rather shocking because the invisible man's actions are so abnormal. It could be relatable if you were wronged by someone or something and want to take revenge on them. It's not one of the best books I've read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana
Achebe, Chinua
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Introduction , imprint, synopsis, genre, central theme and evaluation

Reviewer's Name: Ruth
Pride and Prejudice
Austen, Jane
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Really Good.

Reviewer's Name: Leeann
Transcendent Kingdom
Gyasi, Yaa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

There was no sophomore slump for author Yaa Gyasi, who lit the literary world ablaze with her searing debut novel, Homegoing (2016). That work of historical fiction was deeply personal and her exceptional contemporary follow-up Transcendent Kingdom (2020) draws upon her experiences growing up with Ghanaian parents in in northern Alabama. This powerful and emotionally raw novel centers on Giffy, a fifth-year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford studying reward-seeking behavior in mice and the connections between depression and addiction. Her brother was a gifted high school athlete who died of a heroin overdose after a knee injury left him hooked on OxyContin. Her suicidal, deeply religious mother is bedridden. Dad left long ago. Giffy hopes science will find the why behind the suffering. But she still hungers for her childhood faith and struggles to find a balance between religion and science, hope and despair, living and inertia. It’s a personal journey with a conclusion that will leave you with hope, if not a clear answer.

Reviewer's Name: Joe P.
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an exceptional novel filled with mischief, fun, and excitement. Huckleberry Finn is a young teenage boy who just ran away from his civilized, structured life in search of something adventurous and new. After leaving on a raft, he meets a slave, Jim, who slipped away from his home. Huck and Jim set out on a rafting journey down the river to make a new life and find Jim’s family. Along the way, Huck is conflicted between turning Jim, the runaway slave, in, or letting him reach freedom. As they go along, he discovers his true self and makes his decision about Jim. Filled with fun stunts, mishaps, and laughter, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an amazing classic you’re sure to love.

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Book Review: The Color Purple
Walker, Alice
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I loved this book. Celie, Shug, Nettie, and Sofia were such strong women, facing a hard life and rising above it. Celie in particular has cemented herself in my mind as one of the great female protagonists in all of literature. I love how she didn't let her circumstances squash her spirit. I learned so much about a wide variety of things in this book. I learned a lot about Africa in the 30s leading up to WWII and the desecration of the tribal land by the English. I learned about the treatment of African American women by African American men and about their resilience and bravery. I loved the ending. Perfect.

Reviewer's Name: vfranklyn
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is about a futuristic society that revolves around conditioned people. People are made by machines that condition them emotionally and physically for a certain job. Since people are conditioned to perform certain tasks they are happy and content. This book follows Bernard who actively questions the system and is unhappy. Throughout the book, it brings up the question of whether it is better to have an orderly and perfect society or for people to have emotions and free will. Aldous Huxley does a wonderful job of building a world where individuality is erased. The book was an interesting read and would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
This Tender Land
Krueger, William Kent
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Orphaned and alone, Odie and his brother, Albert are sent to Lincoln Indian Training School where they spend the next four years of their lives. However, the superintendent is cruel and abusive, and after committing a grave crime, Odie is forced to run away. Together with his brother, Mose his friend, and Emmy, an orphaned girl, Odie and his newfound family take a canoe down the Minnesota River with plans to go to Saint Louis and settle down with their family. During their odyssey, the friends change in different ways as each of them grapples with their heart's truest desires.

This book is an allusion to a different popular story, and I loved the different references and allusions. The main characters are all children, but each of them brought me so much insight into the world and what it means to "find what's in your heart". The novel is also full of great surprises that kept me wanting to read even more! It's mostly an adventure novel, but there is some romance and elements of fantasy and magic, so there's a bit of everything for everyone. The ending was also beautiful, and although it was a bit sad, it was fitting.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Book of Lost Friends
Wingate, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

This book was not necessarily easy to read but it was so well done:it juxtaposes the two time lines and the main characters with aplomb and great sustained suspense. 1888 vs 1988 racism and the differences and the shameful similarities. Fascinating characters, great plotting and page turning suspense. Thought provoking and a really good read. Really glad I read this.

Reviewer's Name: Susan I.
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a short play about characters who are indeed NOT earnest. Algernon, a bachelor living in London, has an imaginary friend called Bunbury whose false existence he uses to get himself out of unpleasant social gatherings. Similarly, Jack—who lives in the country with his ward, an orphan named Cecily—has a made up brother named Ernest, whose constant state of “illness” allows him to visit the city when he pleases. From these false identities arises a huge misunderstanding, when Algernon decides to visit Jack’s country home posing as Ernest, the imaginary invalid brother whom Jack had planned to kill off that very day in order to end his pretending once and for all. The two friends must sort out the misunderstanding with their respective fiancées, and end up making an ironic discovery in the process.

This play is highly amusing, with its opinionated characters and witty commentary. It has a satisfying denouement; from start to finish the plot is engaging, and it doesn’t drag on. I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest to anyone who likes a clever and entertaining comedy, or just a good laugh!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Many have probably heard of this book, one of Shakespeare's best dramas written. Everyone has probably heard about how it's of how two lovers who try to keep a relationship through their parents' everlasting feud, but there's much more to it. It's not only about love, but also about trust, death, and interconnecting relationships. It's about heartbreak and pain washed away with heartache and drama. But one thing is for sure, the two won't stop trying to be together until death takes them apart.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha