Fiction

Book Review: Great Expectations

Great Expectations
Author: 
Dickens, Charles
Rating: 
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

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

In eighth grade English class, we had to read the Hunger Games, but the third book, Mockingjay. Instead of reading all of this without knowing how it started, I decided to first read the first book first. Now I'm really glad I did. The first book of this series is about a girl, Katniss, who volunteers herself as tribute to attend the Hunger Games instead of her 12 year old sister, Prim. At the age of 16, Katniss struggles to survive the Hunger Games, along with her partner, Peeta, after they announced that they didn't want to kill each other. This book starts at the reaping while ends with Peeta and Katniss stepping out of the train- holding hands for the camera. Why? Read this book to find out.

Reviewer's Name: 
Trisha

Book Review: Eliza and Her Monsters

Eliza and Her Monsters
Author: 
Zappia, Francesca
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I enjoyed reading Eliza and Her Monsters, which, as the title suggests, is about main character Eliza who created a well-known webcomic called Monstrous Sea, but remains anonymous online. It was fun because I could relate to Eliza as an artist (not a visual artist, but the world-building aspect) and Wallace, the inevitable love interest, as a writer. Also, of course, the whole fandom idea tends to be very relatable for many teenage readers. Eliza starts to fall for Wallace at school when they connect after discovering that they're mutual fans of Monstrous Sea, though Eliza keeps her identity as the creator of Monstrous Sea secret. Their story goes through the predictable, somewhat cookie-cutter stages of a YA romance before concluding with... actually, I won't spoil it, but you'd probably be able to guess after reading the first few chapters of the book. Besides the predictability – which you'd honestly get with just about any YA romance – my other complaint is the characterization. A lot of Eliza's development or the introduction of her personality was done through telling instead of showing, and Wallace felt rather flat and underdeveloped. The book was entertaining though, and I might recommend it if you're looking for something quick, fun, and easy, and don't mind knowing what's going to happen ahead of time. In terms of content, it's clean besides the occasional profane language.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor
Awards: 

Book Review: The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy
Author: 
Adams, Douglas
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Of Giants and Ice

Of Giants and Ice
Author: 
Bach, Shelby
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I adored this series in middle school. Now that I'm older, I'm better able to recognize that it isn't exactly high literature, but it was fun to read. Putting a twist on middle grade and YA fiction's beloved fairy tale retellings, in Of Giants and Ice, main character Rory discovers she's a "character" when she joins Ever After School, which is supposedly an unassuming after-school program but actually a school where characters go on missions and eventually end up in "tales." As the name suggests, tales are when characters become characters in a fairy tale. Rory and her two friends, Chase and Lena, are thrown into a Jack and the Beanstalk tale, but discover there's something waiting for them that's more sinister than just giants. Of Giants and Ice follows a fairly typical middle grade fiction structure, with a "chosen one" middle school protagonist on an adventure with some friends and eventually solving a massive problem that, for some reason, the adults are incapable of handling without the help of kids, but it's an entertaining read with a fun premise. I would recommend for younger readers who are looking for something light and diverting.

Reviewer grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Author: 
Montgomery, L. M.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

Book Review: The Red Pencil

The Red Pencil
Author: 
Pinkney, Andrea Davis
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I actually analyzed The Red Pencil as a choice book for English class, but I really enjoyed it. It's told through a series of first-person poems, rather than the standard prose, which I liked because it helped me go deeper into the main character's perspective and her feelings about the things that were happening to her. The book tells the story of Amira, a twelve-year-old Sudanese girl whose village is destroyed by the Janjaweed as part of the Darfur conflict. She aspires to go to school where she can learn to read and write, and, among her numerous trials, finds relief through her art. The book is a work of fiction, but pulls from many stories that Andrea Davis-Pinkney gathered from real survivors of the Darfur conflict who faced similar challenges to Amira. The Red Pencil is very well-written and effective at evoking emotion and empathetic responses, and it provides the reader with insight into a life very different than the typical American's. I would definitely recommend it to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

Book Review: The Picture of Dorian Gray

The Picture of Dorian Gray
Author: 
Wilde, Oscar
Rating: 
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

Book Review: Mansfield Park

Mansfield Park
Author: 
Austen, Jane
Rating: 
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

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