Classics

Book Review: The Awakening

Book Review: The Awakening
Author: 
Chopin, Kate
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book is about Mrs. Pontieller, a woman in turn of the 20th century New Orleans. She falls in love and finds herself awakened to a natural state, one that doesn't conform to her life as a wife, mother, and socialite. I liked when Mademoiselle Reitz encouraged her to be a strong bird that defies the laws of gravity and soars above the ground below, not to be weak and come crashing to earth. At the end, Mrs. Pontieller sees a wounded bird fall from the sky and cements her fate likewise.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: The Red Badge of Courage

The Red Badge of Courage
Author: 
Crane, Stephen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

War is an ugly thing full of death and destruction. While most books written today bemoan this fact and complain that wars should never start in the first place, what do the individual soldiers handle a war that they didn’t even start? Set in the Civil War, The Red Badge of Courage is perhaps the best representation of the growth of a soldier from a deserter to a courageous fighter. Our intrinsic fear of death is what motivates so many of us to do the things we do to survive. Overcoming that fear and charging headlong into battle does take a measure of courage usually not present in most people.

Stephen Crane does a fantastic job weaving the story of a young man who has to learn what it truly means to earn the titular “red badge of courage.” His prose is almost poetic as he describes the landscapes, battles, and people who were forced to endure this historic war between brothers. There’s realism to the narrative that immerses the reader into the era and the battles that helped to define the war as a whole. In the end, though, this book could almost be set during any period and any war; the themes present within it are that timeless.

While it took me this long to finally sit down and go through this book, I’m glad I finally did. I had started it many years ago but lost interest for some reason. This time around, I was able to appreciate the story based solely on the strength of Crane’s writing. I know this book is usually assigned to elementary school students at some point, but if it has escaped your “read” list as it did for me, then I would urge you to pick it up and give it a read. It won’t take long, and it’s certainly worth the time spent reading it.

A timeless classic that deals with the human side of war, I give The Red Badge of Courage 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: A Tale of Two Cities

A Tale of Two Cities
Author: 
Dickens, Charles
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

“It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” The opening lines say it all. I do enjoy Dickens, but this is by far, my favorite novel of his. This book follows the effects and far-reaching ramifications of the arrogant cruelty of the French aristocracy before their Revolution. A man is saved from an unfair imprisonment, but must regain himself through his devoted daughter and friends. They build a new life in England, where we get to know an array of complex characters – each with their own foibles and narratives. Meanwhile the fervor of the people of France veers towards the inevitable overthrow of the tyrannical aristocracy, and as often happens, the oppressed become the new oppressors. Destiny drives our main characters into the French turmoil where they find chaos, danger, and ultimately redemption.

Reviewer's Name: 
Chris W.

Book Review: Moby Dick

Moby Dick
Author: 
Melville, Herman
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Moby Dick is a classic piece of literature, an iconic masterpiece. The story, once it pick up, is extremely engaging and interesting. The characters, such as Ishmael and Captain and Ahab, all exude personality and uniqueness. Plus, it has one of the greatest antagonists in all of literature: Moby Dick himself. I thoroughly enjoyed this novel from beginning to end. There are some downsides, such as the language of the seamen being somewhat hard to grasp, and the several chapters describing whaling or the anatomy of whales being completely pointless. However, these do not detract too much from the overall experience, and the novel is still an exceptional one. I would recommend this to anyone who is looking for a good novel to read, or anyone who has a passion for the ocean.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C.

Book Review: Frankenstein

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

The classic tale of mystery and horror is also one that is an extremely entertaining read. While it may not be the scariest novel ever, the mere ideas that it presents are certain to make one a bit uneasy. The plot is iconic: Victor Frankenstein, aspiring philosopher and scientist, creates a horrifying monster out of dead bodies and reanimates it from the dead. The monster then goes on a murderous rampage after being rejected by his very creator. The novel is very good, and the message it presents, of not overreaching for knowledge, is a timeless one. The only downside to this icon of horror is that some chapters tend to drag, and have little purpose. However, this is not a huge detriment since the rest of the novel is so entertaining. I would recommend to thriller or horror enthusiasts.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C.

Book Review: The Giver

The Giver
Author: 
Lowry, Lois
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

In the story "The Giver", the main character Jonas lives in what he thinks to be an utopia until he receives knowledge that only him and another person in the community hold. With this knowledge he realizes that his community lacks so much that things must change. Jonas decides to rebel against the guidelines with the other person in the community that holds the information he does which is The Giver. Jonas leaves the community by simply walking out of the borderlines and as a result the community receives the change Jonas and The Giver wanted. The book does end on a cliffhanger, which I did not like and what happens to Jonas and his escape partner is not definite. I read this book because it was what we were reading for the unit at my school in advanced language arts. I did not like the book. I didn't like the characters or the setting. "The Giver" is in a genre of books that I do not usually read and I think that is why I was not fond of it. The characters are not relatable in my opinion but to other people they might be. The plot of "The Giver" was disappointing. In general I just really didn't care for the book, but it wasn't the worst book I have read this year.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: Hatchet

Hatchet
Author: 
Paulsen, Gary
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The award winning book by Gary Paulsen, Hatchet, is about a boy named Brian
whose parents are divorced. Right before, Brian gets on the plane that would
take him to his Dad’s house, his mother gives him a hatchet. While flying
over the 1000s of miles of forests in Canada, the pilot has a heart attack
and dies. Brian is forced to fly the plane into a lake in the middle of the
forest. Somehow he survives the crash, but now he is stranded in the
wilderness. He must survive against the harshness of nature with only his
mind and the hatchet to help him.

The realistic scenarios make the reader feel like they are trapped in the
forest with Brian. It was interesting to think about what would have happened
if he did not have the hatchet with him and the reader wonders what they
would do in Brian’s place. Would they be able to survive until help came
and make life or death decisions?

Hatchet is actually the original book in what Paulsen turned into a five book
series. I would recommend reading the whole series, it really deepens the
view of the story. My personal favorite is the second book, Brian’s Winter,
but the entire story is definitely worth reading. 8th Grade.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben

Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

Book Review: The Adventures of Tom Sawyer
Author: 
Twain, Mark
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Tom Sawyer is not the most likable of characters, but he is clever. This book seems to be an honest depiction of a young boy growing up in the 1840s. I like that Tom, Huck, and the rest of his friends go on adventures big and small. Our children can't do that today, which is a shame. This is a fun book to listen to on audio.

Reviewer's Name: 
vfranklyn

Book Review: Peter Pan

Peter Pan
Author: 
Barrie, J. M.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I LOVED this book! Although it was written a long time ago by an unsuccessful playwright, J. M. Barrie perfectly captured the imagination and creativity of young children. The reason he was disliked in his time was because he never really grew out of his kid-self. Which, I think, I think is where the inspiration for Peter Pan came, “the boy who never grew up”.
But anyways, Wendy and her younger brothers are born into a family that struggles financially but are obsessed with appearing rich to their wealthy neighbors… a common trend, even today. But Wendy and her brothers are whisked into a world where imagination runs wild-- the land that is hidden in all children’s minds, the one that is different for every child, Neverland.
What I love about this book is the constant thread of hidden and discreet themes about humanity, ones that continue today. It also taps into a child’s world of freedom, imagination, and oppression from adults. One of the most heartbreaking chapters is at the very end, when Wendy grows up, forgets about Peter, and gets lost in the adult world. But she has a daughter, Jane, and Jane is a kid, so she can imagine and believe in Peter Pan. Naturally, Peter Pan never really hit it off in it’s time, because of the controversial thoughts, and the point of view from kids.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, Scott F.
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I thought this book captured an element in life that writing doesn't normally follow. While most books talk about the underprivileged, or those trying to overcome a great challenge, this book spun a tale about glamorous cocktail parties, elegant evening wear, the enticing, almost seductive society of wealth. Nick Carraway moves into a house next to Gatsby, an extravagant, self-made millionaire in the 1920's, and is thrown into the fast-paced and whirling word of millionaires and all their expensive friends.
But Gatsby has a secret, buried under fancy cars and fizzy drinks: he is still in love with Daisy, the wife of Tom Buchanan. In his attempts to cultivate an affair with her, Nick documents the heart-wrenching, and frankly, very interesting, journey of a man who realises money can't buy him love. -Jordan, 8th grade Your Name: Jordan T, 8th grade

Reviewer's Name: 
Jordan T.

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