Adult Book Reviews

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 World to Come
Horn, Dara
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

For lovers of art, WWII history, and philosophy, Dara Horn's "The World to Come" packs quite the punch with it's mixture of topic materials and introspection on family, religion, politics, and the concept of preservation. This book follows a family's history from before birth to the afterlife and it's attachment to a very famous painting. In terms of literary analysis, this story has some of the most vivid and interesting imagery and metaphors I have ever seen in a book. Also, it's interpretation of the Jewish afterlife is incredibly interesting, although maybe that is just because I am outside the faith. However, this book is a beautiful, sometimes gorey, piece of
literature that expanded my perspective on many aspects of global life and connection, especially the impact of war on families and time in general.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
Awards:
Genres:
The Ocean at the End of the Lane
Gaiman, Neil
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Neil Gaiman's novel The Ocean at the End of the Lane gives an interesting perspective on the nature of childhood and the truth of reality. A folktalishly fantastical novel, this book follows a man as a he thinks back on his childhood and the magical and sometimes terrifying experiences he had as a kid. I at first found this book a little confusing because I didn't quite understand the time switch and whether or not it was meant to be serious or mystical. However, reading this book is very enjoyable as it gives very homely vibes and contains interesting mysteries to uncover. With an open ending that leaves the reader wanting, this is a great quick read for fans of Neil Gaiman or just general fiction enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
See, Lisa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As both a tea lover and someone who is interested in world cultures, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an absolutely fascinating read. The story follows the path of a minority Chinese woman who grows up in the Yunnan province tea mountains and her journey back to someone she lost. With a focus on the fermented tea Pu' erh tea, the book details the many processes for making, aging, and steeping the highly sought after tea. I really enjoyed that the author went in depth on the tea making process, especially the Chinese traditions and culture surrounding the practice of drinking tea. Unlike any book I have read, this educational and inspiring piece of literature is a must read for any bibliophile.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
Genres:
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
Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Book Review: Invisible Man
Ellison, Ralph
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an essential American classic. Written in the late 1940s, it tells the story of a young African American man who moves north during the Harlem Renaissance and faces many trials as he attempts to find his place in society. This novel is a candid portrayal of life for Black Americans in the pre-Civil Rights era, exposing the hardships and prejudices that are often overlooked in retrospect but were all too real for Blacks during this time. It is honest, reflective, and blunt; often unsettling and disturbing. A central theme of Ellison's novel is the idea of blindness and how it affects identity. The protagonist is left confused and misguided as a result of the blindness of those he encounters, trying to fit into the expectations of others, until at last he realizes that he is, and has always been, "invisible" to society. With this revelation, the invisible man at last finds his own identity.

The novel recounts all of the events leading to the protagonist's discovery of his invisibility, beginning at his colored college in the south and taking the audience north to Harlem. The protagonist faces many different circumstances which reveal just how marginalized Blacks were in the United States in the 30s; each episode is a testament to the challenges faced by African Americans (even a reflection of the challenges faced by African Americans today) due to the blind discrimination of white people. Each incident faced by the invisible man is largely a reiteration of previous ones, merely taking place in different circumstances, which emphasizes his lack of identity--even his own blindness. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident, the protagonist loses all sense of who he used to be, and this is what allows him to begin to make change--for better or worse. There are numerous violent and suggestive scenes in this novel, so I would recommend it to older, more mature teenagers.

Ellison takes his readers on a powerful, enlightening journey with Invisible Man. His compelling writing is intertwined with tragic humor and soulful undertones of blues and jazz, the backdrop for an incredibly raw and moving novel. The invisible man's story is very relevant to society today, and Ellison's messages should serve as reminders to us all. I believe every American would benefit from reading this novel at some point in their life; it illustrates such an important part of our nation's history, and that of African Americans. Ellison portrays the protagonist's emotions with such introspective depth, every conflict and thought explored in all its complexities. Invisible Man may not be a particularly fun read, but it is important and it is worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
The Pilgrim's Progress
Bunyan, John
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Really Good!

Reviewer's Name: Chebet
The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind: Creating Currents of Electricity and Hope
Kamkwamba, William and Mealer, Bryan
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

This book is one of the most inspirational stories I've ever read. The journey put forth, following William, is truly a gem that makes you think about what could've happened if something had been different. I loved reading it because I felt every details of William's journey to develop his windmill that put him on fame. His determination to prove that science is 'real' and can make a difference, especially during a time and in a culture that rejects it, shows his character and his want for a better life in his land. He perseveres through the struggles of drought and hunger, and overcomes the ridicule thrown from all sides to be able to rise up and rise above, and make his visions come true. A really inspirational story, that shows a hero's journey in a way not usually thought.

Reviewer's Name: Evelyn
Awards:
Dave Barry's Greatest Hits
Barry, Dave
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Dave Barry’s slapstick comedy has never been funnier than it is in Dave Barry’s Greatest Hits. It is filled with the funniest columns of his career, and they are certain to please. Barry’s style of humor will make even the sternest of audience chuckle, and it is sure to brighten your day. I enjoyed this book very much, and it has helped me through some stressful times. I would recommend it to anyone in need of a pick me up, or just looking to have a couple laughs.
Reviewer's Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Genres:
What If?: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question
Munroe, Randall
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What If? by Randall Munroe is an amazing series of completely impossible and extremely strange scientific questions that are answered with complete scientific accuracy, and a bit of humor. Munroe takes questions people ask over the web and applies physics, chemistry, and other sciences to answer the questions. One of my favorite hypotheticals is what would happen if everybody pointed a laser pointer at the moon? Munroe approaches this by slowly increasing power, until the moon’s surface explodes, and it propels itself away from earth. The hilarious and entertaining questions can provide fun for anyone with an interest in science, and I would recommend it to anyone who’s thought of an impossible hypothetical question.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Ruin of Kings
Lyons, Jenn
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The Ruin of Kings by Jenn Lyons is an amazingly crafted fantasy story following a young boy named Kihrin as he discovers the secrets of a world filled with gods, demons, dragons, and mages. However, Kihrin finds that his past will come back to haunt him, and he must survive with the help of anyone who will accept him. Including, but not limited to, gods, dragons, and deposed kings. The plot twists and amazing scenery make this book amazing. I enjoyed reading it very much, and would recommend the book to anyone who enjoys fantasy novels.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Awards:
Dune
Herbert, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most iconic science fiction novels of all time. Featuring an imaginative universe filled with strange aliens and even stranger planets, Dune provides a sense of adventure and wonder to every reader. It follows the story of a young noble as the Emperor gives his family control over the planet responsible for generating the most valuable resource in the universe, spice. But this advantageous appointment is not without its risk, and soon rival houses come to try and take control of the planet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of science fiction, and it is a must read for every Star Trek and Star Wars nerd out there.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A group of boys crash on an uncharted island. The boys are left with no adult supervision, leaving them to survive on their own. They begin to create a form of order, but soon that order collapses and terror begins.

I had to read Lord of the Flies for school, but it exceeded my expectations. This book made me want to cry, stare at it and ponder what I had just read and throw it across the room all at the same time, but in the best way possible. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. There will be a character or characters that you can relate to and root for. This book is a little more on the violent side. I would definitely recommend it for an older audience. Even though classics are considered boring and bland, this one is definitely worth a try. It's an emotional roller coaster that you don't want to miss.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma
Fast Food Nation: The Dark Side of the All-American Meal
Schlosser, Eric
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Fast Food Nation is a nonfiction book that is extremely informative about the fast food industry. The book starts with the history of fast food and then informs the audience of business deals, the horrors of fast food, and ways the fast food industry affects others. I picked this book because I wanted to know the truth to what happens in the fast food industry and all of the gross things that are done to the food. Fast Food Nation has several local and state references from Cheyenne Mountain to Greeley, Co. I really liked this book since it was outstandingly educational about every aspect of the fast food industry such as the meat industry, fast food employees, advertising, food poisoning and more; however, I would have liked it more if it went even more in-depth about all the ways the food is handled. Overall, I recommended this book if you want a good nonfiction read and if you want to be more educated about the five to ten dollar meal you buy frequently.

Reviewer's Name: Lana
Awards:
Great Expectations
Dickens, Charles
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name: Ethan
Awards:
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Adams, Douglas
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

I'll be honest. The main reason I picked up this book was because I kept hearing people talk about how 42 is the meaning of life and I had no idea what they meant. I also read it because I'm generally a big fan of science fiction, but it was mostly to understand the 42 reference. Despite my less-than-admirable intentions, though, I massively enjoyed it. The author is very creative and the writing itself is well-crafted, but, at the same time, the book doesn't take itself too seriously. It's hilarious. From the "42 is the meaning of life" idea that everyone talks about to the name "Slartibartfast," this book made me laugh out loud several times, which isn'ta common occurrence when I'm reading. I also read it as an audiobook, and Stephen Fry as the narrator makes it that much better. My only complaint about it is that the ending was a bit abrupt, but that's what sequels are for, so all in all, I would highly recommend.

Review grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Elanor
The Picture of Dorian Gray
Wilde, Oscar
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Dorian Gray is a beautiful young man untainted by sin and unworn by his years, or so he seems. The Picture of Dorian Gray follows Dorian after having his portrait done by a friend, and finding the painting, not his face, bears every mark impurity of evil and age. As a result, Dorian acts however he wants, knowing the outside world will still regard him as innocent and youthful, with no suspicions of his true character. The novel carries important themes of honesty, virtue, forgiveness, and sin. Highly recommended for lovers of period drama, mystery, and light horror. The book is also quite short which makes for a quick read.

Reviewer's Name: Lily
Genres:
Mansfield Park
Austen, Jane
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

As a young girl, Fanny Price is sent to live with her cousins the Bertrams at their large estate in Mansfield Park. The book follows Fanny from her childhood living at Mansfield into her early adult life. Although they are family, Fanny has no one to rely on. She is isolated from the world and finds comfort in reading. Austen most wonderfully masters the art of empathy in this novel, as the reader feels incredibly broken whenever Fanny is hurt or emotionally worn. Mansfield Park has been called controversial for the fact that Sir Thomas, Fanny's uncle, owns a plantation with slaves. Although this is wrong, it is an uncomfortable reality of the time that is era-appropriate. Besides this, Sir Thomas is not made out to be a good person worth emulation. This book is highly recommended for lovers of Austen or Jane Eyre.

Reviewer's Name: Lily

Pages