Fiction

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters

Image
The Screwtape Letters
Author
Lewis, C. S.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a novel told in correspondence. Specifically, letters back and forth between a demon called Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood. These demons write to one another about all sorts of things, as families do, but mainly the humans. In this book, humans are the occupation of demons. Keeping them distracted, discontent, and leading them to misery is a merit of any accomplished demon. Readers will enjoy Wormwood's questions of "why must we do this?" or "is there a better way?" as he struggles with his mission to lead humans astray. Screwtape and Wormwood discuss many relevant issues of our own time, and the subject of spiritual warfare is present throughout. The Screwtape Letters is highly recommended for fans of Lewis as an introduction to more serious work or works on theology.

Reviewer's Name
Lily

Book Review: Yolk

Author
Choi, Mary H. K.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Yolk follows two sisters. They're both in their 20s and in New York City, but that's where their similarities end. Jayne is emotional, artistic, extroverted, and endlessly neurotic. June is stiff, high-performing, self-sufficient, and horrifically condescending. The two of them want nothing to with each other. But when their lives start burning up around them, and their past starts weighing down on them, they'll have to come together to find a way to move forward.
This is one of the most realistic books I've ever read. I don't mean realistic in terms of it being sad, or technical, or boring. I mean this book creates a perfect picture of sisters, children of immigrants, the weight of expectations, and the struggles of just being alive. Starting on the sisters, I loved how the author portrayed June and Jayne. Jayne is the main point of view, but the author still manages to flesh out June for the audience without too much of Jayne's bias. They're both very flawed, they're both very talented, they both hate each other, and they both love each other. Their exchanges were the best part of this book, just as snippy and reflexive as real siblings. I also liked how Jayne, the point of view, was portrayed. She clearly doesn't like herself, and lots of that goes into her narration, but the audience is still able to marvel at her courage and resourcefulness even if she doesn't see it herself. This book also went very in-depth to Asian and immigrant culture in general. You can feel the cataclysmic effects this has upon the family, and how it still effects them all decades later. You can also see the struggles with being an immigrant/minority in the US, from microaggressions to family expectations to finding the right type of noodle at the very limited amount of Asian markets. On this point, the weight of expectations is a well done, and a driving theme of the novel. Both these girls, regardless of if their successes, feel crushed by what their parents expect of them. And their parents are shown to also be conflicted, feeling like outsiders in America.
Basically, this book has very fleshed out characters, accurate relationships, and fun dialogue! I'd recommend this to anyone fascinated by New York, sisterhood, and the struggles that make life worthwhile!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: Some Other Now

Author
Everett, Sarah
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Some Other Now is about a girl torn between two summers, two brothers, the mistake that will destroy them all, and what it's going to take for her to move forward.
This book is pretty solid, very emotional, has some good characters, and doesn't do much else. I did like reading it, but it was a very typical story. Some of the tropes seemed played out and overly dramatic, especially in the romantic scenarios. But the things it does well, it does very well. I really liked the contrast between the narrator in the first summer and the narrator in the second summer, and how it showed her guilt and grief. I liked the complexity of her family structure, both chosen and biological, and how it weighed on her. The main character overall is very well developed, with a lot of complexity and flaws and inherent kindness that makes her very easy to root for. I honestly didn't like either brother that much, but that's to be expected. The story does a great job of exploring depression and grief and guilt and mistakes that we can't take back, making it very relatable.
All in all, it's a very typical story, but done very well, and I don't have much to say about it. I would recommend this to anyone looking for a sad story, some drama, and good characters!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: The Great Divorce

Author
Lewis, C. S.
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis is a metaphysical novel following a bus tour through the afterlife. Strangers embark on wild journey through Heaven, Hell, and everything in between. As the story unfolds, characters realize every choice they make has a consequence, and their eternal destinies await them. Lewis speaks to universal experiences of grief, loneliness, and tragedy; his characters' stories are slowly told throughout the novel. Readers will enjoy the characters with varying backstories, explaining why they got on the bus tour. Follow humanity and hope unveiled in The Great Divorce. Next Stop: your bookshelf!

Reviewer's Name
Lily

Book Review: May Bird and the Ever After

Author
Jodi Lynn Anderson
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

An amazing and intriguing story about a girl who has lived in a town where a total of 17 people go missing in the same woods, gets lost in these same woods and has an adventure of a lifetime. This girl’s name is May Ellen Bird and she is the social outcast of the town she lives in and the town over, where she goes to school. She's considered weird for always collecting random things and always talking to her cat, Somber Kitty. While exploring her basically abandoned town she finds a letter in the crumbled and destroyed little box of a post office with her name on it, yet it was from 1951. In this letter there is a map for a lake not far from her house, yet there shouldn’t be a lake as in Briery Swamp, West Virginia has been a drought for years. She goes to look for it and sets out on a quest to find it full or not full. She finds it and falls in, after climbing out to her dismay she is now able to see ghosts. For some odd reason she decides to go back to the lake, falls in again and gets pulled to the strange world of the Ever After, where the story really starts to unfold with twists and turns, ghosts, and other things most people would be terrified of seeing.
This book is definitely different from your regular fantasy book, as it ties in slight horror. I won’t lie when I had my suspicions about this book when I first read it, but they were infact wrong as this book sucked me in and captivated me with the depth and descriptive story. There is so much character development for all of the main characters and even the side characters as well, which is rare in most books, and there is so much description for every single little thing that you really get to know everything and everybody that you encounter throughout this book. I absolutely loved reading this book and I think many others would as well if you are looking for a slightly horrific book with adventure, friendship, and hardship along the way.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Margaret

Book Review: John Dies at the End

Author
Wong, David
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

John Dies at the End is a story on two levels. On hand hand, it's a poignant exploration of the darkness of humanity, the fear of the unknown, the tragedies of life, and the devastating realities we exist besides everyday. But also, it's about two idiots on a space drug and their strangely resilient dog.
This book should be the blueprint for every dark comedy. It isn't a needlessly tragic story with a few laughs thrown in or a joke fest that undercuts every poignant moment. It blends comedy and tragedy seamlessly, balances it perfectly, and hits it for a home run with meticulous writing and characters. This is mostly done by finding the hilarity in tragedy, specifically the tragedy of life. This book is strangely and wonderfully existential for being mostly about shadows and movie monsters, a very classic demons of a character mirrored by demons of the world. The characters in general are stellar, with so many flaws and so much cynicism but with some shining nuggets of morality and love that makes them very easy to root for.
The entire thing is a joke that takes itself seriously in the best way possible. There are horrible moments of death and gore and dehumanization, and I would definitely look up some content warnings, but it's still such a fun ride. One minute there's gruesome character deaths and existential dread and body horror and such, the next minute one of the characters need to just kill the alien larvae quickly to get to work on time. Or their dog explodes and shows up like two days later and they don't care enough to investigate that. It's a rollercoaster of mood swings, but in a good way.
All in all, I don't know how to describe this book without using far too many words. Basically, despite some anticlimactic moments and weaker plot structure, this is a perfect dark comedy. I'd recommend this to any fans of horror, humor, existential dread, nihilistic humor, and well-written alien drugs!

Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Eve

Book Review: A Winter's Promise

Author
Dabos, Christelle
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

A Winter's Promise is originally translated from French, and the author's writing style carried over well. The story is about a girl named Ophelia who lives in a dystopian world where people can have special powers, hers being the ability to travel through mirrors. When Ophelia is engegaed to a man she's never met, she must discover what's most important: her freedom or her family's reputation. It's not so easy, however, with the fear that the family of her betrothed has malicious intentions. With that interesting premise, it was easy for me to finish the book. However, a lot of the dialogue was muddled for me because the characters weren't easily diferentiated. Though Ophelia was a headstrong main character, I was concerned by her dangerous choices and it felt like there wasn't any character development. If I put a bit more effort into understanding the world-building, this book would likely have a higher rating. Complex fantasy worlds aren't really my thing because it may take away from the characters, and it did in this case.

Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Maggie

Book Review: The Lost Hero

Author
Riordan, Rick
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

As a continuation of Percy Jackson and the Olympians series comes The Lost Hero. A novel continuing the world of Percy Jackson with all new faces and plots. Just like the original Percy Jackson series, I loved this first book of the Heroes of Olympus. The Lost Hero begins with Jason, a kid who can’t remember anything of his past waking up on a school bus with other students and two people talking to him. These two people are Piper and Leo, his apparent best friends and girlfriend. He doesn’t remember either of them at all. Even though they remember him and all the memories they shared. Piper is a kid from a famous father who does bad things to get his attention. Leo is the comedic relief of the group and makes everyone laugh, while also being a genius with mechanics. They are all in a school for delinquents and their actions sent them there. They are visiting the grand canyon when all of a sudden monsters attack causing everyone to panic. Jason starts to speak Latin randomly even though Piper and Leo had no clue he spoke it and never heard it, and Jason didn’t know that he could either. Jason also refers to the Gods with their roman names as the monsters talk to them. They are rescued by people from camp half blood and as expected there are some familiar faces. They get to camp and realize why they act the way they do and are eventually sorted into their cabins and Godly parents. They hear a prophecy and are instructed to save Hera and hear a new prophecy. They start on their quest and along the way, they learn more about each other and build a friendship from scratch again starting from the school bus. They encounter many new and different minor Gods and Goddesses as well as new creatures and people never seen before.
Just like Percy Jackson and the Olympians series, Rick Riordan can make new and exciting plots and characters. The amount of detail in this book was upped by a lot compared to his earlier works as they were much larger and could fit in much more story, allowing for a better and deeper story. I would suggest this book and the rest of Rick Riordan's books to anyone that loves Greek mythology, great writing, and as well as adventure, fantasy, comedy, friendship, mystery, and a little bit of romance all tied up into one great book.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Margaret

Book Review: The Lightning Thief

Author
Riordan, Rick
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I have always loved Greek mythology, so when I found this book I knew I would love it. I was right I loved it, it was amazing. The Lightning Thief centers around a pre-teen named Percy Jackson, who lives in New York and has trouble in school. He has been in and out of many schools, almost a different one each year. At twelve years old Percy always felt like an outcast, like he fit in somewhere just not anywhere. He struggled with dyslexia and ADHD. Every year at school he has had some strange occurrence that ends up getting him kicked out. He has a best friend, Grover, and an amazing mother, Sally. He also has a stepfather that is abusive and he has pushed his mother to leave him but she won’t. There is a reason though for all of what Percy has gone through in his life. After encounters with many horrible and terrifying events and things in which most try to kill him, he and Grover end up at Camp Half-Blood. At camp he learns many new things, his best friend isn’t human but a centaur, his father is the God of the sea, Poseidon, and there is a prophecy that he is destined for great things. At camp Percy meets Annabeth, a girl that is a child of Athena the goddess of wisdom and warcraft, she is crazy smart and very resourceful, yet also seems to be an amazing friend and person altogether. As the three of them go on a quest to find Zeus's missing lightning bolt and return it to him. Percy, Grover, and Annabeth set out across the country for a quest of a lifetime, all at the age of 12/13. Percy and his friends face monsters and things they never could have imagined.
This book was honestly one of the best books I have read ever, and I have read a LOT of books. Although it is for a bit younger age group it is still an amazing read for anyone who is looking for a lighthearted and funny fantasy and adventure book, combined with Greek mythology and overall great writing and plot structure.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Margaret

Book Review: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe

Author
Lewis, C. S.
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

I first read this book when I was much younger and have read it many times since then, yet not in recent years. I just finished reading it once again about a month ago. Just like when I read the Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe for the very first time there was so much magic and wonder that engulfed me once more, and will again many times more.
It begins during the Blitz in 1940 with a family of four kids, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy. They, like many other children during this time, go to the countryside of England to escape the war and be safe. Yet their time in the countryside will be much different than any of the other children’s. They arrive at this mansion owned by a professor, who has a housekeeper that doesn’t want children there and makes sure that they don’t touch anything. The four children don’t want to leave their family and their home in London, but the homesickness fades away quickly once they start to have fun in the house and find a world of magic and endless possibilities. Lucy, the youngest of the four, finds a wardrobe hidden away in a spare room in the house, in it are a bunch of fur coats. She makes her way through with her eyes closed as the soft fur rubs against her cheeks when she suddenly feels something prickly and cold. She finds herself in a wood in the middle of winter and a faint light in the distance, the light coming from a singular light post in the middle of nowhere and nothing to power it. Here she meets Mr. Tumnus, a faun, who invites her for tea and cakes. She spends hours with him and learns about the land she is in, Narnia which is in a 100-year winter, and that she is the first human in this strange land in a long time, as well as that there is a witch, the White Witch, who has enslaved all of Narnia. When she returned she had been gone for hours, yet to her siblings, it was mere seconds, they didn’t believe her and when they went to check the wardrobe there was no wood. Edmund was especially mean about it but followed her in the middle of the night and found himself in the middle of the same forest she described and Edmund met the White Witch. One day all four children were rushed into the wardrobe as the housekeeper gave tours of the house since it had many relics, and they found themselves all in Narnia, not at all ready for the adventure ahead of them.
This magical place and book always make me feel like I was there with Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they had their adventures. The magic that C. S. Lewis was able to resonate with me every day as I too looked for a magical portal to a world unknown. This book is so enveloping as you read and finish it, it stays with you for years, making you think in ways you never thought of before. This book is an amazing book for anyone looking for an amazing fantasy book or a book that every time you read it you see something new.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name
Margaret