Literature

Book Review: Jane Eyre

Author
Bronte, Charlotte
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Charlotte Bronte's Jane Eyre is one of my favorite pieces of classical literature that explores the human experience through the story of an orphaned young woman, Jane Eyre, who remains steadfast in her beliefs despite the challenges she faces. Bronte's writing style is emotional and descriptive, immersing the reader in a detailed and symbolic representation of 19th century England. The novel's structure is well-crafted, with each chapter building upon the last to create a story that is hard to put down once you're reading. The character development is impressive, with Jane and supporting characters adding depth and complexity to the narrative. The novel explores universal themes of love, morality, and social class, making it a timeless classic that truly can resonate with any reader. Jane becomes a relatable character throughout the novel as she overcomes a variety of issues, and I found most of the drama she was involved in to be both intriguing and entertaining. Overall, Jane Eyre is a must-read for anyone who appreciates a good story or classic literature, especially one that explores coming-of-age and romantic ideas. Personally, this is one of my favorite novels across any genre as I have read it multiple times.
Reviewer Grade: 11.

Reviewer's Name
Addison

Book Review: Watership Down

Author
Adams, Richard
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

This is a book designed for lovers of Xenofiction (books from non-human perspectives). "Watership Down" is a book about a warren of rabbits. Hazel's brother Fiver has a disturbing vision that prompts him and others to leave the warren. Along the way they run into other, sinister warrens. Interwoven with the story, short segments describing the mythology of El-ahrairah ( a figure similar to Robin Hood).

Some may be familiar with the violent reputation of "Watership Down". This is an earned reputation. Although no main characters die, they do suffer grievous harm. Aside from that, there is a vivid and disturbing description of the original warren's description. However, I felt that the most disturbing parts of the books were the parts exploring the almost dystopian warrens the group meet. If you plan to read this book, keep this in mind. Do not read this if you are sensitive to violence.

If you can get past the disturbing content, this is an excellent read. The characters are incredibly charming. Hazel is an inventive leader, who sometimes acts recklessly to show off. Fiver is a timid rabbit who has glimpses of the future, based on the famous Greek oracle Cassandra. Bigwig is a gruff ally, who occasionally doubts Hazel's leadership, but has a big heart. The plot is equally as interesting, leaving me anxious at parts when things seemed to be going eerily well. The segments regarding El-ahrairah are also entertaining, giving insight into the rabbit culture.

All in all, if you aren't sensitive to violence, I would definitely recommend trying this book.

Reviewer's Name
Rose

Book Review: A Little Life

Author
Yanagihara, Hanya
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Until this book, I had not read anything that had impacted me this much. It was an absolutely heart wrenching book that was so beautifully written and was overall amazing. I love books that touch on the dark and uncomfortable parts of life and the human experience that aren't talked about very often and this is one of those types of books (check the trigger warnings before reading it because there are a lot of tough subjects in it).
A Little Life follows a man named Jude throughout his whole life. It focuses mainly on him and his friends when they met in college and follows them beyond, well into adulthood. It has flashbacks to Jude's childhood and the trauma he went through and how he coped with that trauma and how his relationships were affected. It has a strong message about friendship and has underlying themes of dealing with grief and abuse along with other tough subjects. This is hands down the best book I have read in a long time. The characters were incredibly developed and they felt real, it was one of those types of books that took me a long time to recover from after I finished it because I felt so close to the characters and the story. Even though some of the topics covered in this book are tough and uncomfortable, they are important to talk about and I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys raw and slightly gut wrenching books.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name
Makenna

Book Review: The Virgin Suicides

Author
Eugenides, Jeffrey
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Virgin Suicides is the elegy of the Lisbon girls, from the perspectives of the neighbors that are still haunted by them. The Lisbon family lives on a quaint suburban street in the Sun Belt, drenched in sunlight and white-washed shingles. Then one year, every Lisbon girl, starting with Cecilia and ending with Mary, commits suicide. This book is the observations and meditations of the boys across the street, the ones who loved them, who obsessed over them, who objectified them, and who watched them die one by one. The girls are doomed from the opening lines. The only question that remains is why they did it, and why our narrators can't let them go.
I read this book because I was told it was a staple of dark academia. It is not, no one here likes school. In reality, it is a treatise on girlhood, in all its insubstantial suffering. The first thing that struck me was the way the author sets the mood immediately. The entire book is dripping with malaise, the suffocating nature of sisterhood and parenthood on full display whenever the Lisbon house is described. The brief gasps of outside life are bright and crisp, while the references to the current day, middle-age life of the narrators is sad and listless. I wouldn't say this book is pleasant to read, but it is gripping in its complete commitment to its mood and setting. On that note, the choice of the author to tell the story entirely from outside perspectives was fascinating. The narrator is only described as "we", as the group of neighborhood boys who obsess over the girls in both childhood and adulthood. One conflict in the book is wondering if we are meant to sympathize with the boys who are scarred from the suicides, or see them as a commentary on the ways that the world seeks to capture and define teenage girls. I ended up seeing it as the latter, which likely made me view this book in better light than many of my peers. The boys actions always have an air of perversion about them, and at the end they seem to realize that all their breaches of privacy and decency have brought them no closer to understanding the girls. Another thing I liked about this book is the way that the girls are given a kind of privacy of thought from the narrators and the readers. Every attempt at scrutinizing their reasoning or emotions or motivations is always followed by a caveat. Nothing is certain with the Lisbon sisters, just the way nothing is every certain when we view the actions of others. The unknowability of their tight knit group gives them a dignity that their neighbors and community seem to want to violate constantly. This book is also a clear censure of suburbia. The neighbors try to do their best to help when they can, but still grumble amongst themselves about the Lisbon family leaving the leaves in their yard the fall after their youngest commits suicide. The great debutante balls and dances of the south are in full swing, but there is an undercurrent of corruption and distortion to the dancing and dating. The sexualization of the girls is also rampant, which, again, makes the book a lot harder to enjoy if you don't see it as a choice by the author in order to comment on it. In short, the suicide of the girls seems like a catharsis, a response to the disgusting and decaying world around them. Everyone around them represses their emotions, from their parents to the boys enraptured by them to their teachers to their peers. They are the only ones who get to set something free. The juxtaposition of the wailing EMTs to the quaint, straining neighborhood further demonstrates their freedom, even in their death.
This book did have problems. A lot of stuff is uncomfortable to read, even if viewed as a deliberate choice. The story often takes winding tangents that serve little purpose besides demonstrating the boredom and trivialities of suburban life. Still, the book is still a fantastic meditation on what its like to be a teenage girl, in all the wonderful and ghastly ways. I would recommend this book to anyone who is looking for good setting, shocking stories, and a good mystery to carry with them!
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: To the Lighthouse

Author
Woolf, Virginia
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Sometimes, a trip to the lighthouse can take the entire life. Or our life is just one long journey to the lighthouse. Sometimes we don’t even realize how much we are in need of light that we see every night out of the window. We may not even notice how it directs us and helps not to get lost in this misty world. But what happens if this light disappears? We are left with two choices: either go on search of if, following the illusive glance, or find it inside of your soul.
Virginia Woolf’s novel “To the Lighthouse” introduces the readers to the Ramsay’s family and their friends, staying in the summer house in Scotland. As they are going through daily routines, we discover their personalities and stories, so different and unique. They agree and disagree with each other, inspire and discourage, give hope and take it away, create and ruin. Their days flow as usually until the light disappears from the house. It seems like it’s possible to turn everything back and keep the life normal, but everyone can’t help noticing the missing part, until the characters go on their own trips to the lighthouse.
The story is mainly written in a form of reflection. Virginia Woolf lets the readers see the characters and percept the world of the book through two of her main characters’ points of view. It shows, in an unobtrusive manner, how people depend on those whom they are surrounded with. The language of the book is figurative and complex, just as lives of its characters. It plunges the readers into such an atmosphere, where cold Scottish wind keeps your hands numbed, as you are walking down the coast, but the thought of someone caring about you does not let you freeze from inside.
An amazing book that will turn the time of reading it into a very special period of life
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Oleksandra

Book Review: The Good Earth

Author
Buck, S. Pearl
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Good Earth follows a man named Wang Lung accompanied by his wife, O-Lan. This story is told surrounding China in the early 20th century told in a classic rags to riches tale. Important themes are told through this story to express what China in the 20th was going through and challenges the people had to face. Some of these themes include the oppression of women and man’s relationship with the earth.
I have to admit, the first time I read this book I didn’t really like it. After talking to someone about the book, I decided to read it again and recognized its importance. Not only is the book informative, but it’s also an all around good book. There are many different plot points and character development pieces that go into this story. While reading it, it made me think… is this what people had to endure in China in the 20th century? Knowing this, it pulled at my heart strings a little bit. I absolutely love this book and would recommend.
Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name
Abigail

Book Review: Flowers for Algernon

Author
Keyes, Daniel
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Flowers for Algernon is stunning commentary on the way society perceives intelligence and its connection to personal value. The creative liberties taken with this book to modify diction to match Charlie Gordon's knowledge create a more personal connection with the beloved narrator. I found myself celebrating the first time he used a comma or a metaphor. Although this book was difficult to read at first, I understand that those creative choices enhance the impact of the story later on in the book. The reason I wouldn't call Flowers for Algernon perfect is I feel some of the development in the middle diverted from his climactic conversations with the doctor and professor. The story seems to split into two at once: one of Charlie's emotional intelligence struggling to keep up with his knowledge, and one of his environment's reactions to his sudden genius. Though I enjoy both perspectives, I feel the conjunction creates clutter in what could be one flawlessly streamlined story. However, both stories are executed beautifully, and the journey of Charlie Gordon is both profound and emotionally charged. Flowers for Algernon is certainly a novel I'll mull over in years to come.

Reviewer's Name
Samah

Book Review: Mythology

Author
Hamilton, Edith
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Mythology, written about Edith Hamilton, creates a timeline and family tree of the Greek gods and demigods. The book is based in small sections, so it is essentially a collection of assorted stories. For example, there is a section called "The Great Heroes before the Trojan War", and in that section there are specific synopsizes on Perseus, Theseus, Hercules, and Atlanta. I enjoyed the book because you can read it 5 minutes at a time because it does not take long to read a section. I recommend the book to mythology and history lovers alike.

Reviewer's Name
Finn

Book Review: Frankenstein

Author
Shelly Mary, Wollstonecraft
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Frankenstein, a fictitious novel based Europe, details the account of a genius named Victor Frankenstein who creates a beast out of dead body parts. The beast then goes on to haunt him and kill everyone who Frankenstein loves. Frankenstein tracks the beast into the mountains and eventually speaks to him. The beast pleads Frankenstein to create a female beast, to which Frankenstein, comprehending of the horror that a lineage of beasts would survive, declines. The beast vows to kill every last one of Frankenstein's affections, and he does. Frankenstein is enraged and dedicated the rest of his life to tracking and killing the beast. The chase ends in the Arctic, where Frankenstein eventually dies. The beast sees his death and, with no more hope for a future mate, is overcome with grief.

Reviewer's Name
Finn