Short Stories

Book Review: Stars Above

Author
Meyer, Marissa
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

Something I feel is underappreciated in book series is when authors don't try to cram in as much material and side stories as possible to pad each of the books to be longer than they should be. Keeping the core books of a series concise helps drive the main plot forward without requiring larger and larger volumes to tie up all the loose ends introduced along the way. The Lunar Chronicles excels in this. Look no further than the "prequel," Fairest, and the collection of short stories and epilogue that is Stars Above for proof of this restraint.

I can appreciate that worldbuilding will often create so much content that it doesn't always make sense to include it in the actual storytelling. Still, some origin stories might seem interesting, only to find out that most of these moments of exposition happened along the way as the character's motives are revealed to the reader. Ergo, some stories don't need to be told. Stars Above has some stories like this, but it also contains a few worth reading, the best of which is the pseudo-epilogue to the Lunar Chronicles.

With so many different fairy tales to pull from into the Lunar Chronicles, I'm glad that Marissa Meyer had some restraint in recognizing when some of them wouldn't work with the main narrative of Cinder's rise to claim her rightful throne. The "Little Mermaid" story in this collection works on its own, but I would find myself hard-pressed to see how it would add anything to the overarching plot of the Lunar Chronicles without reworking the whole thing. Even so, it's a good story that any fan of this series will likely enjoy.

Some necessary (and not so necessary) short stories that round out the Lunar Chronicles, I give Stars Above 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Decameron

Author
Boccaccio, Giovanni
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

In plague struck Italy around the 1350s, 3 young adult boys and 7 teenage girls as well as their servants hide out in various castles while telling each other stories to pass the time. Each of them has to tell one story per day. For each day there is a new theme decided by the"ruler" of that day. These themes include; Misadventures with happy endings,Tragic loves, Bawdy loves, Munificence, and Avoiding Misfortune with witty remarks.

Though this is a good and classic book it is not for everyone due to it having mature sexual themes, so if you do not like such things either dont read this book or stick to the days that arent about things like those... also watch out for Dioneo's stories because he can say a story on whatever he likes. Alltogether a good book if not for everyone.

Reviewer's Name
Valkyrie

Book Review: The Things They Carried

Author
O'Brien, Tim
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

The Things They Carried by Tim O’Brien horrifically recalls Tim’s time during war, in what he calls “A true war story that isn't real”. This book recreates the experiences O’Brien went through during wartime, and is written in a very grotesque manner. The story jumps around from timeline to timeline, in a way that a lot of the time you aren't sure what perspective you’re reading from. While written very well, O’Brien has a habit of making every character seem like a horrific person and puts himself on kind of a metaphorical pedestal, in what seems to be an attempt to reconcile with the guilt he faced from the atrocities committed by him and his platoon. I would definitely recommend this book to others, despite its faults, but I believe the most important thing to know going into this book is that the events described are so grotesque they seem like made up fantasies or true stories that have been modified to seem worse than they actually are, which is part of O’Briens intention of telling the story the way he remembers it happening, not the way that it actually happened.

Reviewer's Name
Jaala

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Author
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Lewis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, that has the misfortune of having to control and mask his alter identity, Mr. Hyde. After some unfortunate events partake, others begin to realize that the wise Dr. Jekyll has an alter identity. This novel has an unpredictable ending that left me stunned. I thought that the book was really good due to the continuously moving plot and the amazing characters that create a wonderous mystery throughout the book. I was required to read this book for school and I would definitely recommend it for readers that are in middle school and beyond that enjoy a great science fiction or mystery novel. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name
Nicola

Book Review: The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde

Author
Stevenson, Robert Louis
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson is a novel about a scientist in London, Dr. Jekyll, who struggles with controlling his alter ego, Mr. Hyde. As he attempts to mask his other personality, horrifying events occur that present the horrible personality of Mr. Hyde. Other citizens begin to discover the connection between Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde as the novel finishes with a jaw dropping climax and resolution. I was required to read this book for school and I would recommend it for readers middle school and above. I really enjoyed the progression of the plot and the ending that was unpredictable. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name
Nicola

Book Review: Look Both Ways: A Tale Told in Ten Blocks

Author
Reynolds, Jason
Rating
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review

Look Both Ways By Jason Reynolds is a ten different short stories about kids walking home from school. The ten stories are woven together by the context of a school bus falling from the sky. But no one knows because they were all too busy with their lives. In ten different walks home from school, Look Both Ways captures the humor, poetry, and liveliness encompassing middle school and early high school life. It also explores seeing two sides or more of the same perspective. For example, the ‘bad kid’ may be good-hearted. I think the book was masterfully put together and woven ten stories seamlessly together. This book made me laugh, hope, cry, and believe. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book with 5 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name
Lucia

Book Review: Stories of Your Life and Others

Author
Chiang, Ted
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

After reading Exhalation , I found myself in search of more stories by Ted Chiang. This led me to Stories of Your Life and Others. Partly because this collection included many of Chiang’s earlier stories, not all of them were great pieces of literature like the ones in Exhalation. I could tell that Chiang was still trying to find his voice as a writer as he explored many science fiction topics common to the genre. While not all of the stories are fantastic, there are enough good ones to warrant reading this collection.

What’s a little disappointing is how some of the ideas Chiang explores in this book are truly interesting topics, but the execution of these stories feels a little too erudite for the common reader. I appreciate Chiang’s later ability to humanize these ideas (as shown by my love of Exhalation), but he just wasn’t quite there yet with these early works. Still, there are a handful of award-winning stories in this book, including “Tower of Babylon” and “Hell Is the Absence of God.” Chiang’s ability to combine science and religion is second to none, and these stories prove as much.

One story in this book stands out from the rest. It makes sense that “Story of Your Life” was the titular choice for this book. For those unaware, the movie Arrival (2016) is based on this short story (and is a pretty close adaptation). Even if you only read “Story of Your Life,” I think you’ll get something out of this collection. It is by far the most approachable of these stories, and it deserved all of the awards bestowed upon it when it was originally published in the late 1990s.

A good collection of Ted Chiang’s early works that contains a few sparkling gems, I give Stories of Your Life and Others 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Wrong Train

Author
De Quidt, Jeremy
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

A boy is trying to get home by train, but he ends up on a strange platform with no one around and no idea when the next train is coming so he can get home. A man suddenly appears and sits with the boy, telling him rather strange stories while they wait.

This book is a collection of short stories that revolve around a bigger story. All of the stories are creepy and mysterious. If you are the kind of person who likes to be creeped out just a little, but would still like to sleep at night, this book is for you. I am not a huge horror fan, but I could not put this book down. I found this book in the kids section (the little ghost sticker on the binding intrigued me, so I thought I would give it a try) so this could be the reason I found it more bearable and less creepy than other books of that genre. No matter what grade, if you are looking for a spooky book, you should give The Wrong Train a try (unless you find it not scary at all, in this case I suggest you read it anyway because it's still pretty good.)
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name
Emma

Book Review: The Metamorphosis

Author
Kafka, Franz
Rating
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review

After turning into a bug, Gregor realizes he is late for work. However, it soon becomes apparent that Gregor will no longer be able to work. His family's view of him quickly changes as his previous contributions to it are quickly forgotten. This thought provoking book questions people's worth after they are lo longer able to contribute to society. Although the writing style is dry, the book is filled with allegories and symbolism that comment on the nature of individuals in society. This leaves readers to examine their own views on an individual's worth to society.

Reviewer's Name
Mark

Book Review: Everything's Eventual

Author
King, Stephen
Rating
4 stars = Really Good
Review

I read this book because I watched the movie “1408” which is based on the short story by Stephen King thats in “Everything’s Eventual” and I wanted to see if the book was as good as the movie. Everything’s Eventual is a book that’s full of short story’s, and while I didn’t like a few, there was also a couple really good ones! I would highly recommend one of the short story’s called “The Road Virus Heads North”. It has actually become one of my favorite Stephen King stories. Also, I personally thought it was one of his creepiest. Overall, if you are a big Stephen King fan like me, I would recommend reading this book.

Reviewer's Name
Emani K.