Poetry

Book Review: William Shakespeare's The Force Doth Awaken

William Shakespeare's The Force Doth Awaken
Author: 
Doescher, Ian
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

As I’ve been working my way through Ian Doescher’s Shakespearean adaptations of pop culture movies, I think I’ve hit the point where the novelty has worn off. For whatever reason, I didn’t feel like The Force Doth Awaken had the same charm as other entries in this quirky mash-up series. I have a sneaking suspicion that this may be due to one of two factors: 1. The newer movies have more “modern” dialogue that seemed as if it was directly plopped into the Shakespearean format, or 2. The original trilogy had more time to be ingrained in my psyche, and the translation to Shakespearean felt appropriate.

I don’t want to downplay the novelty of this adaptation, though. The voice acting is still superb, and the sound effects add a little something extra that immersed me as I listened to this audiobook. Plus, it’s not like these books are that lengthy anyway. If anything, I’m out a little over an hour of my time to listen to it (since I listen at 2x speed). I did appreciate that Chewie finally received the internal monologue that R2-D2 originally had since these un-translatable individuals still have something to add. I was, however, disappointed that BB-8 didn’t have the same treatment.

One of the other factors with this “translation” that I wasn’t too keen on was the meta aspect that kept winking at the reader and saying, “See? Do you get that reference?” I understand that everything exists in the Star Wars universe, but I think most people who will pick up this book will already know those references anyway and don’t need the coy allusions to other parts of the series. Of course, I’ll still end up listening to the rest of these when I can get them from my library, but The Force Doth Awaken felt like a low point (at least until I get into the prequels).

An almost too modern and meta Shakespearean adaptation, I give The Force Doth Awaken 3.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Sun and Her Flowers

The Sun and Her Flowers
Author: 
Kaur, Rupi
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Sun and Her Flowers is a book filled with relatable poetry. The poems are mainly focused towards a female audience, and bring to light the realities and harshness of life. The book has three parts that are based on the flowers, blooming, withering, and rebirth. The poems follow those specific categories with happy, sad, and hopeful poems centered around it. The poems are also centered around heartbreak and love, some of the poems share lovely scenes of first dates; where others are tragically centered around heartbreak. Poems of heartbreak talk of crushes not sharing love for the other, and relationships that took a turn. The poems are easily relatable to teenagers and the daily struggle of their lives. I gave this book a high rating because it not only made me laugh and smile but it also moved me to tears several times throughout, the poetry is touching on an outstanding level.
Reviewer Grade: 12

Reviewer's Name: 
Madison S

Book Review: Inside Out & Back Again

Inside Out and Back Again
Author: 
Lai, Thanhha
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Inside Out and Back Again is a historical drama all told in poems. A Vietnamese family is forced to flee their home in Saigon, Vietnam due to the outbreak of the Vietnam war. Luckily, they escape and flee to Alabama, however, Ha, the daughter in the family has trouble adjusting to the different lifestyle in the U.S. In, this book, you get a view into the life of Vietnamese refugees and their struggle to adjust to a new life, all in the form of poems. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a great story filled to the brim with poems.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: The Odyssey

The Odyssey
Author: 
Homer
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

The Odyssey is an epic poem written by Homer, and it is a literary classic about two great quests. Ten years after the fall of Troy, Odysseus still hasn't returned home to Ithaca, and his house is plagued with suitors wanting to marry his wife, Penelope. His son, Telemachus, feels overwhelmed but is sure that Odysseus isn't dead. With the help of the goddess Athena, he sets off to search for his father as the reader learns more about Odysseus's previous journey and resulting enslavement. Telemachus encounters many obstacles which shape him and build his confidence by the end of the story.
Although this book is a classic and was probably very popular in ancient Greece, it is not an enjoyable book to read. There is too much unnecessary dialogue, and the plot is excessively long. Due to the old language and lengthy descriptions, reading The Odyssey is a very strenuous task.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H

Book Review: Citizen Illegal

Citizen Illegal
Author: 
Olivarez, Jose
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

I want to start by saying this book is definitely intended for an older, more mature, audience. This book uses many curse words and makes some drug references. “Citizen Illegal” is a series of poems depicting life as a legal citizen citizen of the United States whose parents are illegal immigrant. I picked up this book primarily because it was on the adult reading list in addition to being interested in a different perspective on illegal immigrants. I have never read a book in verse before so I really enjoyed the way the speaker developed. The book was pretty good and I felt brought me a new perspective on illegal immigrants.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKenzie W

Book Review: William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back

William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back
Author: 
Doescher, Ian
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I said it for my review of Shakespeare’s Star Wars , and I’ll say it again: this combination of old verbiage and meter with popular science fiction is a match made in heaven. The follow-up to the first part of the original trilogy, Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back continues to be an amusing exercise that anyone who loves Shakespeare and/or Star Wars will enjoy. Some consider Empire to be the best part of the original trilogy, and its adherence to the plot won’t disappoint. Additionally, the audiobook version continues to use music, sound effects, and voice acting to recreate an experience as close to the source material as possible.

While the audiobook did provide a robust experience of the text (especially the voice actors who recreated Han Solo and C-3PO’s speech patterns), the author’s explanation at the end made me realize there were some aspects that weren’t quite as clear as they would have been if I had just read the book normally. For instance, Yoda’s typically backward speech wasn’t as backward as I would have thought—mostly because the Shakespearean cadence sounds a little backward. Instead, Yoda spoke in haiku, which I’m sure would have been more evident if I was reading the words on the page.

As I mentioned above, Empire is the favorite of many Star Wars fans. However, I’m one of the rare few (like the author) who find Return of the Jedi to be their favorite of these first three films. Consequently, since this book held close to the original plot, it seemed to sag a little between the opening act on Hoth and the third act in Cloud City. At least the added soliloquies from ancillary characters like the AT-AT walkers, random Stormtroopers, and the dangerous creatures of the universe added in some humorous elements to the narrative that weren’t strictly canon.

A fantastic audiobook that still might require a read-through, I give Shakespeare’s The Empire Striketh Back 4.5 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Odyssey

The Odyssey
Author: 
Homer
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This epic poem is one of the most fascinating pieces of literature I have ever read. Following the story of Odysseus, it is an epic journey where gods and mythical monsters try and impede his journey home. There is mythology intertwined with adventurous storytelling, and the style of writing, while obviously more difficult than modern writing, is not too challenging that it makes the poem hard to read. I would recommend reading it for both its historical significance and because of how interesting the story itself is. While it will take some time to get through, the story, I believe, is worth the time. The monsters that Odysseus encounters barter with him and tell him stories that deepen the plot; his interactions and relationships reveal mysteries and provide new motivations or points of interest.

Everything is complexly interconnected and it does take a bit of historical context or background knowledge to understand all parts of the story, so it is an undertaking. However, the fantastic and timeless story is entirely unique. I would give it five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: 
Molly Q

Book Review: Booked

Booked
Author: 
Alexander, Kwame
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This poetic form of literature was but another outstanding work by the Newbery Medal award winner for his well known book: "The Crossover", Kwame Alexander. This book is a sensational work from what I think is one of the greatest masters of the art of literature. His book... uh... "Booked" is one of the greatest pieces of literature that I've read in my life as a teenager. This BOOK (get it?) has a great mix of drama, moral dilemma, and romance (well, more or less).

Reviewer's Name: 
Haegan

Book Review: Rebound

Rebound
Author: 
Alexander, Kwame
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This follow up from Kwame Alexander's Newbery Award winning book, "Crossover" was a sensational masterpiece! This New York Times Bestseller has struck me with its drama, moral dilemma, and when the story got all casually on me, it "Rebounded" with sadness and passion.

Reviewer's Name: 
Haegan

Book Review: The Crossover

The Crossover
Author: 
Alexander, Kwame
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This phenomenon of a book has great detail and a mix of drama, sadness, and love. Kwame Alexander has really proven his expertise in his book "Crossover." This book is a great source of human literature for all ages. This book was "Cross" of drama, brotherly love, and loss. The recipe for a great book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Haegan

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