Other Fiction

Book Review: Land Mammals and Sea Creatures

Land Mammals and Sea Creatures
Author: 
Neale, Jen
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I believe there are many factors that will determine whether or not a reader enjoys this book. It is a first novel by this author and the reader's age may impact their willingness to immerse themselves in an environment, however fictional, that is, from the outset, purposefully created to be offensive to one's sensory organs. This is, and continues to be, crucial to both the plot of the book and an underlying message.

The characters are realistic and set in what is generally considered to be a gorgeous part of Canada's Pacific Coast, British Columbia. But the events of the book usually overwhelm one's ability to bask in that beauty for long. While the sadness of the characters' lives and the ugliness of their relationships with their environment are not without purpose, it is a tough read.

Including motherlessness, PTSD, isolation, human destruction of the environment and suicide in one book rarely makes for light reading. But it would be helpful to the reader to envelope those topics in a book that provides some wisdom or hope for progress on more than one front.

The author seems to be presenting some positive rationales for suicide, but these characters are all so far gone by the time the story begins that it is just another false glimmer to think that the outcome is anything more than part of the death all around them.

Reviewer's Name: 
Catherine

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

The Perks of Being a Wallflower
Author: 
Chbosky, Stephen
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is a coming-of-age story of Charlie through his letters to someone he seeks guidance from, although we do not know the name or identity of the person who receives his letters. It is Charlie’s first year of high school and he writes to find comfort in simply telling his story to someone else. This was a beautiful book about the actuality of the dark corners of life and the necessity of good friendships. I picked this book up out of interest in watching the movie afterward, and it was a good decision to read it because I learned so much about true love and life through Charlie’s search for who he wants to be. This story is specific to Charlie’s life but is relatable to anyone who is struggling through the questions of their own personality and relationships. Overall, I highly recommend this book to people who just need to feel love and to learn that even in loss they will be okay.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Anya G

Book Review: The Last Holiday Concert

The Last Holiday Concert
Author: 
Clements, Andrew
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

The Last Holiday Concert is an okay book. It tries to address themes of popularity and leadership, but doesn’t do a good job of it. The characters are all bland, and the conflict is generic. Although it's a children’s book, I felt like the author could have done a way better job in all aspects. Overall, I wouldn’t really recommend this book to anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L

Book Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
Author: 
Green, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Looking for Alaska follows the ordinary story of a boy by the name of Miles "Pudge" Halters. In his chaotic first year at Culver Creek Boarding School, he meets many people who guide him in his search for himself, including Chip Martin and Alaska Young. Love, friendship, and innocence are tested in this rapid novel as John Green marvelously weaves unpredictability and relatability in between the lines of this gripping book. I liked this book because of its intricate simplicity; the telling of the story made it feel like it was specific to Pudge, but within the awkward relationships and persistent daydreams I saw a bit of myself reflected back at me. I picked this book up in an effort to empty my bookshelf, and as it cleared my shelf it filled my heart with raw emotions that I was not expecting. My favorite part was the contrast of the before and after of the pivotal point in the story. The only thing I didn't particularly enjoy was the undeveloped relationships between characters that were evident in some chapters. Overall, Looking for Alaska was worth my time and told a unique story that twisted the basic "new kid" story into an unpredictable plot.

Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Anya G

Book Review: The Stranger

The Stranger
Author: 
Camus, Albert
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Albert Camus was a French philosopher and author who gave rise to the idea known as absurdism, the idea that humans live in a meaningless, chaotic universe. His novel, The Stranger, reflects this idea quite well. The novel is about a man named Mersault who, after his mother's death, murders an Arabic man on a beach and is sentenced to death.

Throughout the novel, Mersault is quite passive to the things around him; to his mother's death, to him shooting the Arab, and to his death sentence. This suggests the idea of absurdism: why should he protest to what is happening when he will one day die? While I like the message and the ideas the book puts forward, the writing can be a big lackluster. For example, the first half of the the novel is quite boring and moves at a snail's pace, which made it hard for me to remain interested. Thankfully, the book is quite short so it's not that big of an issue. I would recommend this novel to fans of philosophy or like novels about existentialism.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: As You Wish

As You Wish
Author: 
Sedoti, Chelsea
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

"As You Wish" of Chelsea Sedoti, an interesting story of fantasy and myth, shows that wants can shadow what is truly important. The way Sedoti wrote this story is both engaging and interesting. On the surface, it seems cliche and boring, but the pages hold so much depth and wonder it makes the book nearly impossible to put down. I love how this book makes you feel like you are walking and breathing with the characters written in ink. This book is interesting and makes you think. If you love parallel universes, mysteries, and wonder, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: Fangirl

Fangirl
Author: 
Rowell, Rainbow
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"Fangirl" of Rainbow Rowell, a beautiful story of love and finding yourself, shows that often times things are not always as they seem. This book is a page-turner; the way Rowell writes flows easily and you can tell her words hold meaning. This book is told from the perspective of an anxious college freshman, making many readers (like myself) connect due to relating to the feeling of new surroundings and people. However, I not only liked this book because of the instant connection, but the way the plot was so interesting and engaging. This book does include some older topics, so it may be inappropriate for younger audiences. If you like happy endings, "Eleanor and Park" or more by this author, or a well written and attention-grabbing read, then this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: The Haters

The Haters
Author: 
Andrews, Jesse
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

"The Haters" of Jesse Andrews, a down-to-earth novel about lust and dreams, depicts that life does not always go as planned. This book is by the author who also wrote "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl". "The Haters" is a book about two best friends who sneak away from band camp with a girl they met there. This book is both immature and wise... it has a moral and lessons throughout, but the way this story is written lightens the mood and makes it seem as if written by a teenager. I really liked how smooth and easy of a read this book is. It was clear and easy to understand, and entertaining and nearly impossible to put down. This book does include some PG-13 themes, so if you are of a younger audience, this book is not for you. However, if you liked "Me and Earl and the Dying Girl" or you just want a fun and engaging read, this book is for you!

Reviewer's Name: 
Siena G

Book Review: Pop

Pop
Author: 
Korman, Gordon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Pop is about a boy named Marcus. In his second year of high school, he moves to a new city and a new school. In his old town, he was a Junior Varsity football player and he wants to try out for varsity this year. After he trains all summer, he shows up to tryouts to discover that he is unwanted on the team. The last season, they went 11-0 and won the championship, so they don’t want to risk losing another perfect season. He barely makes the cut but knows he will be sitting on the bench a lot.

One day while he is practicing, a strange middle aged man appears. Besides being able to catch, throw, and hit like a truck, he has an impeccable sense of balance. While Marcus is getting better at football, he wonders who the mysterious guy he practices with is and his oddities. Meanwhile, the team is headed for its second perfect season and, with Marcus’s monster blocking, they are unstoppable. Marcus finds out that the guy who has been helping him is really a ex-NFL player, but doesn’t remember because he has Alzheimer’s Disease. The family is hard at work keeping the disease a secret but it is getting Marcus in trouble. Will Marcus be able to get himself and Charlie out of trouble without spilling the big secret?

I loved this book! While I enjoy Gordon Korman’s books, I don’t usually enjoy books about sports, but this one was really great. It touched me how Alzheimer’s Disease affects not just people’s everyday lives, but how it affects the person themselves. I don’t know how you keep living when the truth is revealed to you and you are so confused.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ben D.

Book Review: One Hundred Years of Solitude

One Hundred Years of Solitude
Author: 
García Márquez, Gabriel
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I’ll admit: I didn’t really “get” this book. I had seen a TED-Ed YouTube video that told me how great it was, and I decided to give it a try. While there were parts that were entertaining, most of this book went over my head. I suppose if I understood Columbian history and the culture of Central and South America, I might have had a better grasp of what was going on. As it was, I felt lost most of the time and kind of wonder what makes it so highly-recommended.

Perhaps my biggest qualm with this book is how its narrative structure is laid out. There’s practically no dialogue, and it’s basically told in the form of a parable or fairy tale. There are a lot of characters, but their names were so similar that I had trouble keeping track of them all. I get they’re all part of the same family, but having to remember so many individuals and the familial connections to each other was a struggle. I also felt a little lost because there wasn’t a strong narrative thread tying everything together other than the fact that it all took place in the same small town.

This is not to say One Hundred Years of Solitude has no merit, though. Some of the elements of “magical realism” were interesting and could have been the solid base of their own stories instead of being jammed together in this book. The pacing of this book was also pretty peppy, as it didn’t seem to linger too long with one character, realizing that it had many generations to cover. Even though it’s considered a classic (much like Ulysses ), I’m not sure if I agree, and I am certainly welcome to my opinion as you are welcome to yours.

A much better book for those who are “in the know,” I give One Hundred Years of Solitude 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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