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Nonfiction

Book Review: Into the Wild

Into the Wild
Author: 
Krakauer, John
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I was required to read Into the Wild for English class and normally I’d be
procrastinating to get into those books but I enjoyed this one a lot. In
1990, based on real life events, a wealthy boy named Christopher McCandless,
fresh out of college from the East Coast, abruptly decided to donate all of
his money to charity, sever contact with his parents, and set out for the
great Alaskan wilderness. He journeyed all over the West Coast traveling
around California, New Mexico, and Arizona and even held a job at a farm in
South Dakota, eventually renaming himself Alexander Supertramp. Alexander
picked up new skills and information such as how to skin a moose, different
camps he might stay at, what weapons he needed, etc. from all of the
individuals he met. For years, he remained in the continental United States but his
goal was always to live off the earth in Alaska - he thought there was more
to life than the money and fame his parents treasured. What I enjoyed most
about this book was that there were actual accounts of Alexander’s journey
either from his personal journal or the friends he encountered that allowed
the readers to sympathize with Alexander and understand his goal despite his
unfortunate fate. The problem with the novel was that I think Alexander was
portrayed to be more conscientious and experienced than he truly was due to
the fact the author, Jon Krakauer, outright states he idolizes him in the
foreword. This concept can also be emphasized by the epigraphs at the
beginning of each chapter that provide quotes from famous adventure novels
including The Call of the Wild and White Fang as if trying to ensure that
Alexander was the hero Krakauer thought he was. However, I did find
Krakauer’s bias easier to support the claim that Alexander was naive. Why
else would the author be trying so hard to prove he was not? Slow-paced at
some parts, but I do think this is an interesting telling of what so many
individuals are afraid to do.

Reviewer's Name: 
Isabella W.

Book Review: Oedipus Rex

Oedipus Rex
Author: 
Sophocles
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The hero isn’t always epic and won’t always have a happy ending, sometimes he may face a tragic event and meet his downfall. Sophocles Athenian tragedy Oedipus Rex, or Oedipus the King, is a phenomenal play written and first performed around 430 B.C. The play follows the story of Oedipus, a man who became the King of the city Thebes by solving a riddle and defeating a sphinx that was threatening the city and then marrying the queen of Thebes, Jocasta. One day, when Thebes is suffering from a catastrophic plague, Oedipus sends his brother-in-law Creon to an oracle to find out how to stop the plague. Creon returns telling Oedipus that the plague will cease if the killer of the previous king, Laius, is found and exiled. Little does Oedipus know, he is Laius’s killer. Before Oedipus was born, a prophecy was told to Jocasta that her son would kill his father and marry his mother, and so she sent her son out to be killed in the mountains. That boy was Oedipus, and as the prophecy stated, he has returned to Thebes unknowingly to fulfill that prophecy. I love this Greek play by Sophocles because it is one of the first pieces of literature that tells the story of the “tragic hero” and his downfall. I recommend this play to all, but more advanced readers as the translation is also a bit complex.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: The Invisible Wall

The Invisible Wall
Author: 
Bernstien, Harry
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Harry is a small boy living in a war torn part of England. His street is divided by an invisible wall… a wall divided the Jews from the Christians.
There is an unspoken hatred of the other side, and any possible relationship between the two sides is crushed. But what happens when a Jew and a Christian fall in love? Harry’s elder sister begins to love a Christian boy, and is treated horribly for it. She is beaten by her drunken father and shamed by her family and friends. Harry is forced to choose between what he knows to be right and what he has been raised to accept is right.This book is nonfiction.
I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars. It was wonderfully written and I loved the author’s narration. Although, I felt like nothing good ever happened. It seemed like the author was just choosing the most terrible, most horrendous things and depicting that as the everyday life. Who knows? Maybe that’s how it actually was.
Reviewer Grade: 7

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T

Book Review: Beowulf

Beowulf
Author: 
Heaney, Seamus
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The mighty hero triumphs over evil and saves the people from utter destruction. Sound familiar? Of course it does, it’s the basic plot line of the cliche hero’s tale that everybody knows. However, all of these tales most likely spawned from Beowulf, the oldest surviving English poem written in Anglo - Saxon around the 11th Century A.D. Beowulf is an epic poem that begins with Hrothgar, King of the Danes. Hrothgar’s people live in peace when they are attacked and threatened by a monster named Grendel, who kills off the Danes everynight in their mead-hall, Heorot. So in comes Beowulf son of Ecgtheow, a mighty warrior from Geatland who promises to defeat Grendel and bring prosperity back to the Danes. Beowulf is an amazing poem as it not only tells the classic tale of the epic hero and his journey, but contains hidden meanings aside from literal. Beowulf has no known author, but contains elements of factual history, which tells us this may be a tale describing actual events. This piece of literature is a traditional master piece and should be preserved as an example of how words and tales can evolve over decades. Reviewer Grade 12.

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe T.

Book Review: As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride

As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride
Author: 
Elwes, Cary
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

While I love audiobooks for their capacity to let me mindlessly absorb books while I’m driving to or from work, much of the story comes down to the narrator and their inflections. Sometimes these narrators can be annoying, or incomprehensible, or vary their volume too much. It is a rare treat to find an audiobook that fully capitalizes on the medium, either by adding music and sound effects or (in this case) using the voices of actual people to narrate the story. As You Wish is just such an audiobook, and I would even go so far to say it is the superior version of this book, even without “reading” it for myself.

As one of the most frequent and common of quotable movies, The Princess Bride (1987) is an odd little film that just works. It’s fantasy, it’s comedy, it’s family-friendly. It’s all these things and more. But what about the people who made it happen? There have been horror stories of narcissistic directors or difficult actors making successful films, even despite their personalities. Fortunately, this most beloved of classics was not like that at all. All the behind-the-scenes stories helped to add an understanding and depth to The Princess Bride that should appeal to both diehard fans and those unfamiliar with the film.

Cary Elwes does a fantastic job of stringing these stories together while also exploring the backgrounds of all the characters (and the actors who played them). While the other actors do get their say in this audiobook, it’s Elwes’ impersonations of many of the individuals that was hilariously on point. He takes a humble and even-handed approach to storytelling that brings the listener into the midst of the filmmaking process without letting his personality get in the way of recounting historical events. Whether you’re a fan of the movie or a fan of audiobooks, his book is absolutely worth a listen.

A superb audiobook that everyone should listen to, I give As You Wish 5.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin

Book Review: Rules for Radicals

Book Review: Rules for Radicals
Author: 
Alinsky, Saul
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Rules for Radicals is a complicated book and yet one i find myself applying more and more to my everyday life as time wears on. It was written by a lifelong political organizer and social reformer and is a guide he wrote on these topics when his health started to fail. The title may sound extreme and certainly some of its content is, the majority of its pages are simple and can be applied to much of one’s life in the form of philosophy. It covers topics from government to culture and how they should operate, how to tell if they are corrupt, and when corrupt if they should be reformed or replaced. In an age of vast political change I see this easily being applied to many facets of life.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaydon K.
Genres: 

Book Review: Fast Food Nation

Fast Food Nation
Author: 
Schlosser, Eric
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I picked this book to do for a book report on non-fiction American novels because of all the talk that "fast food is going to kill everyone" going around. According to the book that may be true. Eric Schlosser talks about the issues in the food industry today and how it is going to affect people in the long term. He gets his evidence first hand from interviews of all kinds of people involved with fast food production and the stories of past openings of these restaurants. The encounters take place with French fry distributors, McDonald's employees, old fashioned ranch owners, parents of children who have died form food borne illnesses, and food engineers. The book gives the story of the start of processed food and what it has evolved into today and real world examples and facts of what is happening to the population and what will continue to happen in the future if it is not stopped. The book was very enjoyable as secrets and interesting facts were revealed that would make me think twice before heading to another fast food restaurant but it also gave perspective to those running the business and what their daily life is like. Eric Schlosser also discusses the past productions of food along with the present to show how little the industry has done to improve and the little interest they have in their consumers and employees. Childhood obesity is also addressed in the novel along with the tricks used against children to put processed food into their systems early and for as long as possible to make a profit. The solution mentioned is to abandon all processed foods and return to the old ways of nutrition, only eating the foods we can produce ourselves without the help of machines or chemicals. The characters in the book are everyday people that anyone can relate to in their struggles just to get by or enjoy life without the hassle of thinking about what they should eat or feed their families that night. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in food production or interested in nutrition and what is best to fuel our bodies.
Reviewer Grade:11

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison G.

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks

Book Review: The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks
Author: 
Skloot, Rebecca
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot is a powerful narrative detailing one of the most revolutionary scientific and medical discoveries of the 20th century: HeLa cells. Henrietta Lacks was diagnosed with cervical cancer in 1951 when she was 31 years old. During a surgery to remove some of her tumor, one of her surgeons took a sample of that tumor for testing in his lab. As he had tested many other cancerous cells, he expected Henrietta's cells to die within a few hours. They never did. Her cells continued to reproduce, and still do to this day. Henrietta's family, however, was never notified that her cells were taken. They discovered this in a news article years after the fact. The book not only tells Henrietta's story, but her family's as well. Rebecca Skloot worked for years with the Lacks family to ensure that justice was done, and Henrietta was not lost to history. I enjoyed the personal perspective that Skloot used to tell the story. It had the full potential of being written like a scientific journal, but Skloot told it as a beautiful narrative. Henrietta, her husband and children, and even Rebecca herself were characters and there was emotion on every page. It reads like a novel. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in medicine and its history.

Reviewer's Name: 
Hannah H.

Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Book Review: When You Are Engulfed in Flames
Author: 
Sedaris, David
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

David Sedaris truly does not disappoint in his autobiography, When You’re Engulfed in Flames. The way that he is able to express himself while being true to his own story is amazing. He takes a normal self-discovery story and adds enough detail and personal insight, that it makes it one of the most entertaining books that I have ever read. I can see, however, that this is not the book for everyone. It uses quite a bit of vulgar language, discusses about adult topics, and talks about multiple controversial subjects (political subjects in our nation). It has a very liberal feel, and would most likely not appeal as much to strict conservatives. But, nonetheless, a book is a book, and this one was extremely well written and hilarious. I had to bite my lip to keep from laughing out loud in quiet environments. The wit that David Sedaris has is impeccable and one of a kind and constantly present throughout the book.
I initially picked up this book because it was given to me as a gift. The gift giver had not read the book but had just seen the exquisite artwork on the cover and knew it was going to be good. Since then, I have recommended this book to so many who want a quick, funny, uplifting read. And that is why I recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading self narratives with a humorous twist.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emma K.

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