Science Fiction

Book Review: Clockwork Angel

Clockwork Angel
Author: 
Clare, Cassandra
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Clockwork Angel follows Tessa Gray, a 16 year old girl from America, on her journey to England to meet her brother, where she is subsequently kidnapped by the Dark Sisters. This is her introduction to the Shadow World, a world where vampires, werewolves, warlocks, faeries, and Shadowhunters live just out of sight of mundanes, who are people without a magical background. It takes place in Victorian England, where Tessa meets a variety of interesting people. These people include the vampire Camille Belcourt, the warlock Magnus Bane, and many Shadowhunters such as Will and Jem. There are battles, escapes, and a pinch of romance. Recommended for ages 14 and up. I have read this book many times, and it is only the beginning of a much bigger universe.
Discovery lies behind every turn of the page. I love this book because of my connection with Tessa, whose love for books connects so deeply with my own.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Settare R

Book Review: At the Mountains of Madness

At the Mountains of Madness
Author: 
Lovecraft, H. P.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

H.P. Lovecraft is commonly known as one of the titans of horror, one of the pioneers of the genre who influenced people such as Stephen King, and has even inspired several video games, such as Bloodborne. At the Mountains of Madness is considered Lovecraft's magnum opus, his best work to date. It is a novella telling the story of a small group of geologists, aviators, and explorers who travel to Antarctica in search of unique rock specimens. While there, however, they encounter several horrors, including unearthing ancient specimens known as Old Ones, a decadent, purely weird city built by the Old Ones themselves, and even giant albino penguins. This novella is truly horrifying, as the suspense Lovecraft is able to build through usage of the setting is gripping. If one is looking to begin reading Lovecraft books, this one is a great entry point, as it introduces the reader to the Old Ones, the Necronomicon, and even Cthulhu himself. I would recommend to anyone who loves horror novels, or anyone who wants to read Lovecraft.

Reviewer's Name: 
Peter C

Book Review: Animal Farm

Animal Farm
Author: 
Orwell, George
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

"Animal Farm" by George Orwell is about a seemingly normal farm that turns against their farmer. The animals take over the farm with the help of their leaders who are pigs. After all the humans are gone from the farm they continue under the rule of the pigs and create a system of rules to follow as a guideline for their new life. Everything goes well until one of the pigs, Napoleon, uses the dogs he trained to remove the other leader, Snowball, from the animal farm. With Snowball gone Napoleon takes complete control of the farm. He alters the rules made by Snowball, abuses his power, and makes poor decisions that negatively affect the other animals. One of their rules/guidelines was that humans were evil and not to be associated with.

Napoleon breaks that rule many times starting with making a trade of wood with another farm run by a farmer. They get scammed from the exchange with the human, but that doesn't stop Napoleon from dealing with humans. He goes to the extent of not telling the fellow animals the truth and putting all pigs above everyone else. From there things get progressively worse until Napoleon eventually befriends the humans along with the other pigs. They become so much like the humans that it gets to the point that the pigs are basically humans.

I would recommend the book. "Animal Farm" is interesting and in my opinion is in a sense satire, so I really enjoyed it. I read this book because I was planning on reading 1984 by the same author for a BTS theory and wanted to read other books by George Orwell. I kind of could relate to some of the animals because when they disagreed with Napoleon they brought up good points, but no one listened to them. The ending is very surprising and the book isn't predictable.

Reviewer's Name: 
Oriana O.

Book Review: A Closed and Common Orbit

A Closed and Common Orbit
Author: 
Chambers, Becky
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

After the refreshing sci-fi The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet , I was ready to follow the crew of the Wayfarer to their next adventure. Unfortunately, the sequel, A Closed and Common Orbit, decided to take a path more akin to The Godfather Part II (1974). Instead of following the main characters of the first story, this sequel delved into the new life of the AI now known as Sidra, while also interspersing a quasi-related prequel story of one of the new characters introduced in this book. Fortunately, these two stories were well paced against each other.

Even though I feel readers could pick up this book without having read The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, there are certainly a few details about the diverse races found in this universe left out of this book—probably for the sake of brevity. This didn’t necessarily detract from the enjoyment of A Closed and Common Orbit, but having that previous knowledge certainly helped to bring these alien creatures to life in my mind. Still, the main characters are basically humans, so the interactions with the aliens would be the main reason to know how these creatures communicate.

While this book is only tangentially related to the one that proceeded it in the series, the universe the author has created is solid enough to support a few more additional stories like the ones found here. With fewer characters to focus on in this book, A Closed and Common Orbit was able to dive deep into some pretty heavy topics, including child slavery and artificial intelligence. The writing still retains its casual dialogue style that genuinely helped bring these few characters to life. If anything, the author’s writing is what will keep me coming back to this series.

A mostly unrelated, but still expertly written sequel, I give A Closed and Common Orbit 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Never War

The Never War
Author: 
MacHale, D.J.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Never War, by D. J. MacHale, is the third book in the Pendragon series. The series take place in a dystopian universe where multiple "territories" exist. This time, Bobby Pendragon, the main protagonist, is forced to set out to "First Earth" to protect New York City during the year 1937. The book's setting is amazing and cleverly crafted, as always, and the plot is intruiguing as well. The characters are also well developed and their identities start to mature after the first two books. The antagonist Saint Dane is also fascinating as his entire identity is shrouded in mystery.

Overall, the book is a great adventure novel and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested in books like the Harry Potter series.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven L

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 Last Star

The Last Star
Author: 
Yancey, Rick
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Last Star by Rick Yancey was an enthralling close to The 5th Wave trilogy that left me in a trance of teardrops and the grip of a smile. Throughout the series, a group of survivors varying in age and personality banded together while a cruel species from another planet seized the Earth in determination
for solitude-- without care to the danger of the human life that already inhabited the planet. The book follows the minds, attitudes, and decisions of several characters, including Cassie Sullivan, her little brother, and her high school crush, along with other rogues that had survived the inhumane attacks of the inhuman. It was a race to get to the next page as the question of survival blared atop the ink and paper and as hate and wrongdoing and abandonment bloomed within the dying fields of love and innocence and hope. I thoroughly enjoyed this story because of how unfathomable yet relatable it was; the idea of aliens attacking Earth is very far from reality, but the way humans responded to the intruders in The Last Star was raw and familiar. I picked this book up because I had previously read the first two books of the series (The 5th Wave and The Infinite Sea) and appreciated the storyline of the movie, "The 5th Wave". The Last Star was at no point predictable; there were plot twists tucked into the spaces between chapters. Along with this, Rick Yancey's poetic script was remarkable throughout the story because of his beautiful descriptions of the action that allowed a new depth to be reached within the intricate plot. I would recommend this book to anyone who seeks adventure from the confines of a bedroom, as well as the understanding of the crude emotion that helps us to grow not as persons but as a people.

Reviewer's Name: 
Anya G.

Book Review: The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games
Author: 
Collins, Suzanne
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

In "The Hunger Games", sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers to take her young sister's place in the cruel Hunger Games, an annual televised competition where children fight to the death until one remains. Although I'd watched all the movie adaptations before reading this book, I was still completely hooked. Everything about this book is absolutely fantastic -- the characters, the plot, the writing. The characters are complex and complicated, blurring the line between good and evil -- Katniss, in many ways, makes a phenomenal anti-hero. The plot moves quickly -- every chapter leaves on a cliffhanger, making it impossible to put the book down. The writing is succinct and gripping. The only criticism I could think of is that the beginning is a little slow, but it picks up very quickly from there. Everyone should read this book -- it's possibly one of the greatest books I've ever read. "The Hunger Games" is simply amazing.

Reviewer's Name: 
Gillian P.

Book Review: The Long Cosmos

The Long Cosmos
Author: 
Pratchett, Terry
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

By the time I reached the end of the Long Earth series, I had a revelation. With the bounding conditions of the universe being that there are multiple worlds accessible via stepping and that no iron can pass between worlds, the ideas to explore these multiple worlds are almost endless. My revelation was that this series would have been better as an anthology of short stories from a collection of authors, instead of a handful of semi-disjointed novels that didn’t ever quite know what they were doing. The story never shined through, instead of feeling like a distracted three-year-old who wants to explore the potential of other worlds.

While I felt the series was starting to succeed in telling coherent and solid plots, this book removed that forward progress. When nearly one-third of the first part of the book seems to be comprised entirely of summary and recaps of the last four books, you know there’s not a lot of original ideas present in this one. And while minor tangents like the Johnny Shakespeare side-plot were amusing, they were loosely connected to the main plot at best. Even this main plot didn’t feel like it had enough time spent on it, as the main character of Joshua Valienté seemed to spend most of his time distracted on other worlds with unique trees instead of exploring the Long Cosmos that this book was supposed to be describing.

Even though this book was released after Terry Pratchett's death, it was clear he still had some of his influence on the plot and characters. Unfortunately, as was the case in the other books of the series, his contributions seemed to be fairly obvious, as they were the ones that didn’t quite fit in with everything else and just managed to be silly in an otherwise scientific exploration of new worlds.

The final book in a series that should have been an anthology, I give The Long Cosmos 2.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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