All Book Reviews

The Heroine's Journey
Carriger, Gail
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

When I started writing over a decade ago, I subconsciously modeled my story structures off the stories that I enjoyed. I didn't go into my first novel with the plan to make it the typical "Hero's Journey," and the result was far from it. The stories I was writing seemed to work, even if they didn't abide by the known structure many authors had used before me. The problem was, I didn't have a name for the style of story I was writing. After reading Gail Carriger's book, The Heroine's Journey, I can finally label the stories I write.

Carriger makes it clear that stories that follow the Heroine's Journey don't always have females in the lead role. Instead, the Heroine's Journey is the antithesis of the Hero's Journey. Where the Hero's Journey is about individual achievement and sacrifice, the Heroine's Journey is more about building community to tackle a problem larger than any one individual. There are a lot of YA works out there that hold to the Heroine's Journey much more than the Hero's Journey, which is probably why it can hold its own in today's society.

As with most books on writing, there are plenty of examples provided in The Heroine's Journey. This helped me identify where I was using this structure in my writing, since these comp titles correlated with what I had already written. My only qualm with this book is in some of the formatting. There were quite a few moments where I couldn't tell if the author was trying to emphasize a point, use a quote from one of the books she had written, or just break up the pages of normal text with something different. Still, if you can get past these odd moments, there is a lot of truth within these pages.

A non-traditional story structure with a proven track record, I give The Heroine's Journey 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
The Man in the High Castle
Dick, Philip K.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

While I haven't seen the Amazon TV series based on this book, I had enough awareness of the basic premise going in. An alternate reality where the Allies lost World War II felt like such an interesting concept, I had to read the book that spawned this idea. Of course, I also enjoy Philip K. Dick's writing for the same reasons: he has novel ideas that he executes well. Unfortunately, I found The Man in the High Castle to be underwhelming.

To Dick's credit, his world-building for a history where Japan took over part of the United States after World War II felt quite thorough. Little subtle ways that people act, economies based on American antiques, as well as other differences that made sense with such a drastic change to history. The problem is, Dick was so focused on world-building that he forgot to write an actual story. None of the characters really stick out, and the titular Man in the High Castle is a Maguffin at best. I was left disappointed, which is rare for a Philip K. Dick story for me.

Maybe modern action thrillers have ruined this story for me, but when there are vast swaths of text dedicated to counterfeit antiques instead of forced cultural changes for the residents of the United States, a story like this can get boring quite quickly. If I had to pinpoint the worst part about this book, it's that the ending was not at all satisfying. There should have been something that better explained the book that told of an alternate history, considering how provocative the rest of this book made it seem.

An underwhelming execution for a top-notch idea, I give The Man in the High Castle 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Awards:
Tender is the Flesh book jacket
Bazterrica, Agustina
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book is about a world where a virus made all animals poisonous of people so the world turns to cannibalism to survive. The main character is Marcos who works in a meat processing plant to ensure his family is taken care off. It describes this daily work, slowly building how the world adapted. He's given a gift of live meat. Marcos seemed to look down and seemed to be the only one who saw something wrong with this. However a the end of the book the last few pages changed everything you know about Marcos, you see him in a different light. It feels like it came out of nowhere but, slowly looking through you see it building up.
The book is hard to put down and it explores the darker side of humans abilities to adapt. It makes you think and leaves you wondering about the world that Marcos built for himself afterwards.

Reviewer's Name: Hana
Things Fall Apart book jacket
Achebe, Chinua
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Things Fall Apart by Chinua Achebe is considered a literary masterpiece, with its unique perspective on colonization that isn't always told. Okonkwo, the main character with three wives and the memorable reputation of a great wrestler, has a great fear of losing any part of this status and ending up like his father. This fear is realized when Okonkwo is exiled (for an ironic crime) and returns to find his community overrun by Christian missionaries. They bring a seemingly-noble message of salvation, but it is only a matter of time before blood is spilt. Learning about Ibo culture through this book was a really cool experience, so I don't regret reading it. But, why is it that "classics" always have to include raging misogyny? Okonkwo almost constantly beat his wives, and despite this technically being historically accurate, I found the repetitiveness to be unnecessary. Despite this, Achebe's use of language, such as proverbs to create a story that feels like a fable, was something that I haven't seen before. Gaining a new perspective throughout reading Things Fall Apart was an experience I think everyone should have.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Candide
Voltaire
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The novel “Candide” is a satire on the philosophy of optimism given by German philosopher Wilhelm Leibniz. The concept of Optimism suggests that everything is going to end well in this best world. It was written by Voltaire, one of the most famous and well-read novelists in the world. The word "Candide" means an innocent, simple, and kind-hearted person. The protagonist of the novel traverses across the world and comes across many disasters and faces many hurdles. Pangloss defends optimism by saying that everything happens in this best world for a reason, and it doesn't matter whether it is good or deplorable.
The story opens with Candide, who lives in a noble castle. In the beginning, he is a strong believer of his master's optimism. But as the story proceeds on, Candide gradually begins to doubt in optimism when he is expelled from his castle for loving the daughter of the Baron. After that, another incident happens as the Bulgarians attack the castle of Baron and burn it to the ground, and they massacre all the ladies and children without mercy. After having seen all this, Candide is forced to say that if this world is the best, then why are all these disasters happening to those who don't deserve to be punished? Optimism is useful, and he calls it
"The mania of maintaining that everything is well when we are wretched."
After being expelled from his hometown, he enters the country of Eldorado and receives a very warm welcome from the people of this country. Here, the people nature lover, and their behaviour towards guests is very good and polite. This place is full of beautiful, prodigious mountains, green fields, people love each other, and Candide falls in love with this place. They are with four soups and two roasted monkeys for dinner without taking money. Candide thinks Pangloss was right: all is for the best. The dilemma of Candide about optimism goes on throughout the novel.
Candide offers us some significant themes. Let’s discuss those one by one. On many occasions, the cruelty of people can also be clearly seen in this book. For instance, on his way to Suriname, he sees a physically impaired negro. Candide asks him who did to you?, and the negro replies that we are given only a pair of cotton drawers as clothing twice an year. We work in sugar mills, and when we are tired of working and try to run away or refuse to work, they (white men) cut our legs and hands. We pay this price for the sugar you eat in Europe. His sorrows wrench us when he says animals are also less miserable than we are and he questions we too are human beings and the children of Adam, then why are we treated so horribly?
The tale of an old woman is also very painful. She is the daughter of Pop Urban X and the princess of Palestrina. She is a beautiful lass of honour with blue eyes and curly hair. While she is travelling with her mother to another place named Gaeta, they are attacked and captured by a Salle pirate. It is not easy for a princess to be taken with her mother as a slave to Morocco. She is still a virgin, but doesn't remain long. The flower that was reserved for the Prince of Massa Carrara is now perished by a negro who thinks he is doing her a great honour. Her mother and other women are raped and torn into pieces by these scoundrels.
Candide is a kind of character that shows we should not lose hope or impulse to reach our destination. For instance, Candide is kicked out of his castle because of his love for Cunegonde, whom he adores so much. then it is also reported that Cunegonde is dead, but he doesn't believe it, and after struggling for a long time, he finds her again and loses her again, but at last he marries his buff because he was determined to find her and never gave up.
The same whimsy is highlighted by Mian Muhammad Bakhsh in his tale “ Saif ul Malook”. The prince falls in love with a fairy named “Badi u Jamal”and sees her in his dreams. He sets out on a journey to find her, even though he doesn't know where she lives. His determination leads him to his fairy.
Giving power to someone over others makes people evil. The person to whom you give power will begin using it against others. As Shakespeare says:
"Power corrupts, and absolute power corrupts absolutely."
With great power there also comes great responsibility. According to the testimony of philosophers, exalted rank is very dangerous. For example, Eglon, the king of Moabites, was murdered by Ehud, and kings like Zedekiah and Jeconiah were made slaves. They all were perished because they had used their power for dark purposes. At the end of the day,
"We have to cultivate our garden.” (Voltaire)
Men are never contented with what they have, and their greed is unlimited. I think Tolstoy was right.
"Men are greedy by their nature."
After becoming the Prince of Persia, Candide rewards significant scientists and literary but they are still not satisfied and happy. Candide is quite with human nature and knows that men will never be satisfied with whatever they get because of their greedy nature, which cannot be changed easily.
In short, Candide is a master piece of Voltaire, and effects its readers deeply. Before reading it, I was desperate to know Voltaire's view on optimism. I enjoyed it a lot and might read it again because of its readable and diverse meaning under the layers.

Reviewer's Name: Muhammad N.
The Song of Achilles
Miller, Madeline
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.
Supernova
Meyer, Marissa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

If there's one thing I appreciate about Marissa Meyer's writing, it's that she has a conclusive ending in three to four books. The Lunar Chronicles wrapped up everything nice and tight in four books, and the Renegades trilogy does the same thing with the last book, Supernova. After all, I enjoy reading a tight set of three or four books instead of a meandering series with dozens of entries. That being said, I wasn't a fan of the epilogue in this book, but at least everything else concluded in a way that made sense for the narrative arc of the whole trilogy.

In the first two books of the Renegades trilogy, I had some assumptions about the big questions Meyer presented to the reader. Who really killed Adrian's mom? How would Nova eventually be found out? Who is Phobia? While Archenemies really hit it out of the park by introducing the moral gray area of super-powered humans, I was a little disappointed with how this book answered the remaining big questions of the trilogy. At least Meyer actually answered them instead of letting them remain mysterious.

While there wasn't a lot of evidence to back up my theory, I thought that Adrian's mom would have died accidentally after being exposed to Max's power. That's what made sense to me. However, the canon answer for her death definitely works and has a much more meaningful explanation despite it being slightly paradoxical and almost a non sequitur in my opinion. In the end, Supernova completes a fantastic series that asks hard questions about superheroes that other series like Invincible and The Boys have managed to do in their own right.

Answering the questions of the Renegades trilogy while also faltering in the epilogue, I give Supernova 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Pity The Reader
Vonnegut, Kurt
2 stars = Meh
Review:

People will always ask successful writers how they do what they do. What tricks do they have? What techniques make their writing timeless? Kurt Vonnegut is definitely a successful writer, so we'd want to know how he writes so we can apply his lessons to our own work. I picked up this book thinking it was like Stephen King's On Writing , not initially realizing that this book was released over a decade after his death. Consequently, this book was a disappointment.

I would say that Vonnegut did not actually write any of this book. If he had, I'm sure it would have been much shorter. Instead, we get a pseudo-biography of the man who wrote such classics as Slaughterhouse Five and Cat's Cradle. This is a book written by Suzanne McConnell. And while she may have been close enough to Vonnegut to glean a few extra writing tips, his writing already contained most of these portions of advice. It's nice to have them collected here in one place, but they are so diluted by anecdotes from his life as to almost be hidden in this book about how to write.

It's almost ironic that they titled this book Pity the Reader. I pity any neophyte writers who are looking to one of the greats of American literature for any sage advice. Over a decade after Vonnegut died, this book feels like a cash grab. A flashy bit of literature with his name on it, meant to sell copies to the unwitting weekend novelist or stay-at-home mom who writes on the side. He probably would have hated it, if for no other reason than him not seeing any profits from it.

A misleading book that takes advantage of Vonnegut's name, I give Pity the Reader 2.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: Benjamin W.
Genres:
Where the Crawdads Sing book jacket
Owens, Delia
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Please believe me when I say, this book deserves the hype. It is genuinely one of the best books I have ever read. The storyline was unique, the pacing was perfect, and the characters were so interesting. Kya is a girl living in the marshlands of South Carolina who is abandoned by her family at a very young age. The book follows her journey to survive, using nature's resources and a few memorable lessons from her mother to become a strong and capable woman. Despite this accomplishment, Kya is labeled as an outsider and is linked to a cruel murder, whose ruling will determine if she will ever grow beyond the constraints of others' opinions. Kya is a character with much perseverance, and her gratitude for the simplest of things is a lesson to take to heart. The friends she meets along the way are also patient and caring. The jump between timelines kept things interesting, and the two dates finally colliding into one made it impossible to put the book down. It is worth reading this book for the themes of child psychology, social rejection, appreciation for nature, and much more.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
You'll Be the Death of Me book jacket
McManus, Karen M.
2 stars = Meh
Review:

You'll Be the Death of Me was disappointing to say the least. McManus' other book, One of Us is Lying, had fascinating characters and a clever plot. This book felt like a knock-off. Ivy, Mateo, and Cal are three high school students who skip school one day and get swept up in a shocking murder mystery. The actual plot and eventual killer was kind of interesting, but not enough of a shock to be fully entertained. This is one of those mysteries that you can absolutely guess midway through the book. The three main characters are pretty bland and don't have good chemistry. Why do they just remember this one "Best Day Ever" in middle school and decide to randomly skip school? Were they actually long-term friends or just acquaintances? It seems like the author couldn't decide. Plus, every romantic interaction felt forced and uncomfortable. Not my favorite.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Tweet Cute book jacket
Lord, Emma,
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Finally! Two main characters with different, yet well-developed, personalities! I really loved Pepper and Jack, both of whom struggle with the pressures of running the social media side of their family businesses. The two are considered enemies, but fall in love on an anonymous texting app. Their busy lives with balancing swim team and good grades made each chapter entertaining. Their banter throughout the book was great, sarcastic and witty without being mean. I was kind of put off at the beginning because Jack and Pepper realized they were both fighting on Twitter very quickly, so I wondered what the rest of the book would be if the main plot was already spoiled. However, they had been clueless on more platforms than one! If contemporary enemies-to-lovers books intrigue you, this one will not disappoint.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Pay It Forward book jacket
Hyde, Catherine, Ryan
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A twelve-year-old boy in a small California town named Trevor McKinney accepts his teacher's challenge to earn extra credit by coming up with and creating a plan to improve the world in the lovely and inspiring book Pay It Forward. When others hear about Trevor's idea, they immediately dismiss it because it is so simple and naive. Even Trevor starts to have second thoughts when his "pay it forward" scheme seems to fail due to a mix of bad luck and the worst aspects of human nature. This book is incredibly realistic, enjoyable, and motivating. The main characters all have distinct personalities that set them apart from one another. As you read on, you can clearly visualize the characters in your head. It's difficult to keep reading this book without taking a break. There is plenty of drama, action, and romance in the book. I adore that this book has a deep significance behind its title, Pay it Forward. This was chosen by the American Library Association for its list of the Best Books for Young Adults, and it has been distributed in more than 30 countries by being translated into more than two dozen different languages. This is a very powerful, moving story. At first, I found the style a bit difficult to read as it kept jumping around to different viewpoints. This was a different read for me at first. It had characters that were coming into the story, and didn't know how they fit in. Later it made sense Once I figured the actors read smoother.
Reviewer’s Grade 8th

Reviewer's Name: Anushka
Gulliver's Travels book jacket
Swift, Jonathan
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

Part of the reason I rated this book low is because I had high expectations. I read an abridged version as a kid and I thought the general story was cool. Part of the reason I rated this book low is because Swift fills the reader's head with unnecessary details until important plot points are lost in the middle of description paragraphs. The events that take place in Gulliver's Travels are interesting, sometimes clever references to 19th century politics and general social commentary: Gulliver passes through a variety of islands with caricatured citizens. Although I do not expect Gulliver or the citizens of these islands to be developed characters, as their only purpose is to serve as a means to tell the story, the intrigue of the plot dissolves when paired with Swift's writing style. Swift is a meticulous writer who insists on heavy descriptions of every detail and, consequently, there is little to no stylistic separation between key points in the story and the personal life of a particular citizen. Gulliver's Travels is also a relatively short read at around 300 pages, so it is fast-paced compared to other books written in similar detail, which further muddies the plot. The dialogue in this book is also near nonexistent; I can't recall a single line. When Swift means to relay information between characters, he will most often do so in paragraph format. As someone who usually enjoys classics, I am disappointed to say I really only valued the skeletal plot outline rather than the book itself.
Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Samah
Loveless book jacket
Oseman, Alice
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Alice Oseman's Heartstopper series blew me away, so I was excited to see her take on a contemporary novel. It was... pretty good. The main character Georgia has a very relatable personality as she experiences her freshman year of college, as she tends to overthink interactions and struggles with finding her identity. The close relationship she has with friends was a really beautiful story to read about, so that part was amazing. Pip was a really funny character, and I liked how she also had depth as a side character and didn't need to be with Georgia at all times. However, the plot revolves mostly around Georgia discovering her sexuality, and that felt very repetitive. It was really cool to have asexual aromantic representation, and finding peace in that identity with the loving LGBTQ+ community. I do just think that Georgia kept having the same discussion with herself and dragging friends into experiments with her sexuality for no reason. For example, I found it weird that her roommate, Rooney, was obsessed with getting Georgia a romantic partner. Georgia mentioned being single once, and now Rooney just won't let it go? The book would have been much better if Georgia had just consulted her friends instead of dragging them into this great mission of finding a partner (but it would be a short book if everyone communicated too well!). Overall, I would really recommend this book to anyone who is struggling with their sexuality or just a new experience like going away for college. It is a great coming-of-age piece.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
The Picture of Dorian Gray book jacket
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Imagine what could happen, if people possessed magic mirrors that reflected not their faces, but their souls? Dorian Gray, from the novel by Oscar Wilde, gets a chance to fully experience it.
An artist, Basil Hallward, paints an incredibly realistic portrait of an even more incredibly handsome young man. As he’s still innocent, the picture reflects just his appearance, but later, when Dorian starts doing cruel and ugly things, the portrait begins changing too. Every sin, every crime against the other human reflects on the face on the canvas, adding more and more ugly wrinkles, spots and ulcers. His own face, however, stays unaltered, always fresh and young. The portrait shows not what he looks like, but what he truly is. Finally, when Dorian kills the artist, he reveals the picture and the face of an old disgusting man on it.
The entire transformation proves what a high price one has to pay in order to realize his wish to stay young and attractive all the time. Under the influence of his old friend, Dorian loses his life guides and devotes his time to looking for new enjoyments. He does not understand that true beauty comes from the inside. It’s not necessarily visible. It’s not on your face, it’s in your thoughts, words and actions.
The novel is written in magical realism, so even the most incredible plot turns feel like something natural. It involves from the first page and makes the readers go through all the transformations together with the main characters.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
The Metamorphosis book jacket
Kafka, Franz
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

One morning he woke up and discovered himself being a beetle. Not the best beginning of the day for sure. The worst part was that he had to live in the insect's body till the end of his life.
The immediate problems that Gregor faced, such as being unable to get out of his bed, would’ve perhaps been amusing, if he was not afraid of his family’s and boss’s reaction that much. “I will be late for my train to work!” I wish that was my biggest worry if I turned into a beetle. Panic, helplessness and pettiness that he exuded were so strong that I could feel it surrounding me. Written in Kafka’s original style, all the emotions and perceptions are strong and relatable, which makes even the most impossible action seem realistic.
The novel starts hurting, when Gregor notices how strongly his family’s attitude towards him has changed. They all are disgusted with a new creature in Gregor’s bedroom (which we can’t really judge them for). Grete, his sister, seems to be the only one who still believes that her brother’s mind and soul are captured in the beetle’s body and tries her best to take care of the huge insect. As the time goes, Gregor’s behavior changes a lot. His thoughts become more of beetle’s as well as his tastes. Having some rotten food for dinner? Delicious!
The way that he describes the new vision of the world around him, opens a lot of hidden information and evokes true sympathy and sorrow for his fate.
The novella leaves a lot to think about. The transformation that happened to the main character can be interpreted in different ways as well as the changes that his family members go through, trying to adjust to a new life with a human-size beetle living in their house.
Metamorphosis is a great choice for those who feel like they’re living an insect life and their routine is just a big dung ball that they have to push forward all the time.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
What You Can See from Here book jacket
Leky, Mariana
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

What You Can See from Here follows a small cast of characters in their small town as the world changes around them. There's Selma, the old woman who sees an okapi whenever someone is about to die. There's the optician, who is desperately in love with Selma and doesn't know how to tell her. There's Selma's granddaughter Luise, our confused and content protagonist. There's Japanese monks, ten-year-old strongmen, experts on light, and one truly unpleasant neighbor. Together, this community will learn to process love, loss, and the ties that bind us together.
This book is something strange and special. It took me a very long time to read, and yet is completely entrancing. There's a scattershot plot, yet I could follow every theme perfectly. It was translated from German, but you can hardly tell with the expert job the translator did at keeping the prose spellbinding and heartbreakingly beautiful. Honestly, the fact that the prosaic writing was still the strongest part of this book despite it being from a foreign language is a testament to the expertise of both writers. Besides the stellar writing, the characters in this book have so much life to them. Losing any of them is a genuine blow to the reader despite the large amounts of foreshadowing, since over the course of the novel we grow to know them as well as the real people in our lives. They're also funny and fascinating, making it so fun just to watch them interact and learn and grow from each other.
There are issues with this book, mainly the pacing. There are a lot of slow parts of the novel that make it difficult to stay focused. But I hesitate to condemn the book for this, since even the slower pacing feels intentional. This is a book all about the slow parts of life, about the gaps in between. A major theme is how taking the time for something or someone is very often worth it, and that's what I think about the book itself. I also appreciated that the book was willing to spend so much time on character and backstories, since it really gave me the feeling that I was living in this small town right alongside Luise. The ending of the book was also wholly satisfying. It was cyclical without being repetitive, and I find myself thinking about it and what it means from time to time.
All in all, this book was mystical and grounded and heartbreaking and hilarious. I would recommend it for anyone looking to learn a bit more about what life and love means, and how our community traps and shapes and grows us all the same.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: Eve
The Three Musketeers book jacket
Dumas, Alexandre
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Despite its lack of general theme, Dumas' The Three Musketeers is a beloved classic. The story follows a young man D'Artagnan as he serves under M. de Treville, the head of the French king's musketeers (Athos, Porthos, and Aramis). As he spends more time with the musketeers, D'Artagnan is caught up in the convoluted politics of the king and jealous cardinal. Somehow, however, in the epic tale of adventure, companionship, romance, and betrayal, Dumas' message is lost to the fast-paced plot. His use of dialogue is masterful in creating realistic suspense between characters; not in all 600+ pages is there a dull moment. Overall, however, The Three Musketeers is best read for an interesting story and nothing else. The main cast is well-developed and serve as contrasts to each other. Although the plot itself is well-constructed, the events lack any greater relationship to each other beyond causation. When I picked this book up, I expected the adventure to follow some sort of formula to parallel D'Artagnan's personality; his personality, however, has little impact on the general plot. Dumas' talent in diction and ability to tell a story is evident, and The Three Musketeers was an enjoyable read, as long as you know what to expect.
Grade: 11

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

451͒ Fahrenheit is the temperature when paper starts burning. Guy Monteg knows it for sure. He’s a fireman. However, his job is not to put out the fire, but to make it and burn the books. He likes his job, but there is something that he hides from everyone, including his wife.
From every fire, Guy saves a book. In his society, books are forbidden, as they are considered to make people unhappy, evolving complicated emotions and making the readers think. No books means no worries, but a careless life, full of joy and simple entertainment.
One day, Guy Monteg decides that he does not want to live like he used to anymore. He finds a former English professor and asks to teach him to understand what he reads about. Together, they make a plan to save more books in the hope that war will destroy the existing system that they have to live in.
But any secret becomes clear, and the next night Guy gets an order to burn his own house. He destroys it with a flamethrower, as well as his captain, co-workers and the Mechanical Hound.
Monteg escapes. He does not know though, that after all the dangers on his way, he will finally find his destination and meet those whom he will belong to.
It may be hard to feel, but the book is sharp and straightforward. Through the adventure in a fictional universe, Ray Bradbury shows us what might happen, if humanity keeps moving in a direction that will only satisfy basic needs and bring momentary pleasures. I’m sure, some of us can already recognize ourselves with shame in Beatty or Mildred. We’ve already made that first step on the path to the world, where people burn books. This dystopia teaches us that we can always make a difference in the world and change our lives the way that we believe is right. There will be those who will try to destroy you, but there will also be those, whom you will be able to rely on.
The novel creates a tense engaging atmosphere, where you can smell threat in the air and hear the chase behind your back. It does not let the reader go till the very end and stays in mind days after.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
The Crucible book jacket
Miller, Arthur
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Hysteria, spreading throughout Salem, Massachusetts in the 17th century. Teenage girls, being accused of witchcraft for dancing in the woods. A puppet with a needle that can cost someone’s life. Agreeing on execution in order to protect the good name for your family. Mass trials on people being suspected of doing magic. Sounds crazy? Welcome to the world of The Crucible.
The play by Arthur Miller takes us to Salem in a period of witch trials. Everything starts pretty prosaic: a girl named Abigail wants to get love from a local farmer, John Proctor. As it often happens, she finds a love potion the easiest way to reach the desirable goal, however, she, her friends and the family slave Tituba get caught on doing this ritual late at night.
Nobody wants to be punished. Nobody will believe a slave over his own daughter or niece. Considering these two statements, Abigail decides to avoid a punishment by accusing Tituba and the entire list of other women in a town of being witches.
And here is when things start to go heels overhead. Like a huge snowball that captures everything that is on its way, panic enhances more and more people around. Men and women are being executed for no true reason. Even an expert in demonology is invited to take part in the case. And in all this chaos Abigail makes another attempt to get a chance for a future together with John Proctor.
The action develops dynamically in the play, and the characters add more tension to the plot with their bright personalities. You can’t stay indifferent. You either love or, more likely, hate them. A lot of situation are ironic and absurd, however, the play tastes bitter, when you realize how many people had to struggle because of someone’s stupid wish and lack of responsibility.
The book refers a lot to the time of McCarthyism, which had impacted the author’s life in particular. It makes a strong impact on the audience, especially, in the end, and leaves the readers with a lot of questions: Do people change? Is reputation worth sacrificing your life? Whom to believe and what to deny?
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra