Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Classics

The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
1 star = Yuck!
Review:

"The Invisible Man" by H.G. Wells is a gothic literature novel about an albino man in the 1800s who turns himself invisible. The book follows his journey through England as he commits a multitude of crimes and inevitably gets caught and killed. I didn't like reading it because I felt it was boring, and it was hard to keep reading since I had a strong dislike for the main character. Despite not liking the novel, I read it for school during our gothic literature unit, and it is a good example of gothic literature. "The Invisible Man" isn't surprising but rather shocking because the invisible man's actions are so abnormal. It could be relatable if you were wronged by someone or something and want to take revenge on them. It's not one of the best books I've read this year.

Reviewer's Name: Oriana
Under the Lilacs
May Alcott, Louisa
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The book, Under the Lilacs, is a heartwarming story that everyone of all ages would enjoy. It follows Bab and Betty, two young girls living with their mother. While out on a picnic with their dolls, the girls find that someone has stolen their cake. They find that the culprit is a dog-and the dog belongs to a boy named Ben. After learning that Ben is alone without a guardian, Bab, Betty, and their mother take him in. Ben is mischievous, but well mannered and fun. Throughout the rest of the novel, Ben finds a place inhis new home, and though there are struggles along the way, it's ultimately a happily ever after. Under the Lilacs by Louisa May Alcott is an amazing book that you should definitely try!

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
The Adventures of Tom Sawyer book jacket
Mark Twain
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a captivating novel filled with trouble, fun, and humor. Tom Sawyer is the classic mischievous kid, always looking for excitement and getting into predicaments. When he witnesses something completely out of the ordinary, Tom has to speak up and fear the consequences. His adventures help him discover himself, make new friends, and learn the importance of family. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is a clever, laughable book that you’re sure to love. A classic novel for everyone to enjoy, just don’t read it too quickly!

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Treasure Island
Stevenson, Robert Louis
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is an amazing book filled with suspense and action to no end. It follows the story of a boy named Jim Hawkins, whose life takes a turn after buccaneers turn his quiet inn life upside down. He is whisked on a voyage after learning of a "treasure island". After overhearing a conversation between some of his most trusted friends, Hawkins has to find a way to fix the voyage-and stay safe! Treasure Island is filled with twists and turns that will certainly keep you on edge for the whole book! Check it out, you'll definitely enjoy it.

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH
O'Brien, Robert
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mrs. Frisby, a mouse, and her family have lived in peace, traveling between summer and winter homes to account for the farmer's plowing and the weather.
But when Timothy, her youngest son falls very ill, and cannot be moved in time, Mrs. Frisby sets out to fix her dilemma. She soon comes across the rats of NIMH, who are very strange and very smart. They are more than willing to help her, but they already have a problem on their hands, one they aren't even aware of.

This book is amazing! It shows the thoughts and worries of Mrs. Frisby, and then her ways of dealing with them in a terrific way. I loved the characters and the suspenseful plot. It kept me up late, because the rats are just so fascinating, especially in their way of coping with their unique problems.
This is a fantastic read, and everybody who reads this book will love the sweet and charming character of Mrs. Frisby, and the spectacularly mysterious rats. Even if you usually stick to nonfiction, you will love this book, because it shows some interesting science...

Reviewer's Name: Kelsey
The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Twain, Mark
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an exceptional novel filled with mischief, fun, and excitement. Huckleberry Finn is a young teenage boy who just ran away from his civilized, structured life in search of something adventurous and new. After leaving on a raft, he meets a slave, Jim, who slipped away from his home. Huck and Jim set out on a rafting journey down the river to make a new life and find Jim’s family. Along the way, Huck is conflicted between turning Jim, the runaway slave, in, or letting him reach freedom. As they go along, he discovers his true self and makes his decision about Jim. Filled with fun stunts, mishaps, and laughter, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is an amazing classic you’re sure to love.

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Rose in Bloom
Alcott, Louisa May
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Louisa Alcott’s book, Rose in Bloom, is a highly engaging and unique story for all readers. It follows Rose, a young woman who has returned from Europe and finds her cousins and friends all grown up. Throughout the course of the novel, Rose struggles between self-discovery and societal pressures towards marriage. As she learns more about herself and life, Rose finds that she can take control of her future and be her own person. Rose is a very philanthropic and independent character and the plot will pull you in; it’s a must read for everyone! You should totally give it a shot-I’m sure you’ll love it!

Reviewer's Name: Gemma
Brave New World
Huxley, Aldous
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley is about a futuristic society that revolves around conditioned people. People are made by machines that condition them emotionally and physically for a certain job. Since people are conditioned to perform certain tasks they are happy and content. This book follows Bernard who actively questions the system and is unhappy. Throughout the book, it brings up the question of whether it is better to have an orderly and perfect society or for people to have emotions and free will. Aldous Huxley does a wonderful job of building a world where individuality is erased. The book was an interesting read and would give it a 3 out of 5 stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Frankenstein: or, The modern Prometheus
Shelley, Mary Wollstonecraft
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein, published the year she turned 20, marks the beginning of one of the 21st Century’s favorite genres - science fiction. Written as a series of letters, the story is narrated by an explorer who encountered and rescued a scientist in the far north of Europe. He recounts an adventure told by the mysterious scientist, Victor Frankenstein, who had been fascinated by mysticism and modern science since childhood. Destroyed by grief from personal loss, Frankenstein spent his adulthood constantly occupied with experiments. The experiment that brought him near death and freezing to a stranger's ship had toyed with human life as we know it.

The book follows this experiment and Frankenstein himself as they goes through grief, excitement, devastation, apathy, loneliness, and fear. Mirroring experiences Shelley had gone through in her own devastating adolescence, Frankenstein is an achingly heartfelt book to feature such an absurdly impossible plot. This combination illustrated by such a talented author makes for an excellent book, and allows readers to experience a story that has deservedly become a hallmark of modern literature.

Note: For a book written by a woman, there are shockingly few female characters, and seemingly none with importance to the plot. But readers must remember - such gifted writers do everything for a reason. I would recommend looking into the moon as a symbol for maternity, and to the lack of female characters as an element that relates to the chaotic cycle of the story. This book is often a required part of high school curriculums, and therefore includes powerful themes that rest just behind the inherently dark storyline.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Bless Me, Ultima
Anaya, Rudolfo A.
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Taking place just after World War II in New Mexico, this novel follows the coming of age of Antonio (Tony). The story is told through the perspective of adult Tony who reflects on his childhood, starting at the age of seven when an elderly curandera, Ultima, moves in with him and his family. Throughout the novel, Tony struggles with understanding his destiny, and whether he should embrace the vaqueros of his father's family or the religious farmers of his mother's. Torn between his parents' different dreams for his future, Tony forms a close bond with Ultima, who serves as his middle ground. During the course of his childhood, Ultima shows Tony how to embrace all sides of his identity to create something new.

I enjoyed this book because it covered a variety of important themes, and although it's centered around Chicano culture and literature, its message transcends cultures. Tony's story was full of heartbreak, adventure, love, and hope, and in one way or another, I found that I could relate to his story and the characters around him. The 2013 film adaption also does a good job of following the original storyline.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Set during the Jazz Age of the 1920s, this novel is told through the perspective of Nick Carraway, who moves to Long Island New York for work. There, Nick meets Jay Gatsby, a mysterious multi-millionaire who has an obsession to reunite with his former lover, Daisy. Throughout the course of the novel, Gatsby makes several attempts to get Daisy's attention, and with the help of Nick, the two eventually begin a secret affair. Ultimately, however, Gatsby's disillusionment with Daisy ends in tragedy.

I gave this novel a three-star rating because I felt that while the plot and storyline were interesting, it doesn't resonate with young adults so I got bored reading through it. None of the characters are likable because they all commit or help in a crime, and many of their motivations are morally corrupt. Given the time it was written, some of the characters also reflect biases held at the time, which are outdated and borderline offensive now. I did like the overall themes and message of the book, and the 2013 film adaption is the best adaption of the four.

Reviewer's Name: Nneoma
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

William Goldings Lord of the Flies is a classic read. It follows a group of British schoolboys stranded on an island after being shot down. Over their span on the island, with no adult supervision, the children start separating into their own groups, based on their priorities on the island, and their personalities. The entire book looks at a lot of Freudian theories, and the moral conciseness of people stripped of a society. The psychological elements involved in the book are written quite flawlessly, and there is a good balance of action, and story throughout the book. In my opinion, the book is quite unpredictable and is a very valuable read no matter the audience.

Reviewer's Name: Judah
Genres:
Of Mice and Men
Steinbeck, John
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men is quite the definition of a classic book. The two main characters, George and Lennie wander around Soledad California in the 1930s, pursuing their dream of owning their own farm. Throughout the book, there is a lot of conflicts involving Lennie, who battles with intellectual disabilities. Of Mice and Men does a fantastic job of highlighting the ups and downs of a relationship, especially when George is left to a lot of "caretaking" roles. The book was not excessively predictable, however, this is a definite element of foreshadowing that could add predictability. The entire story involves the idea of pursuing your dreams, as well as the difficulties people ran into during the great depression, and some of the sexism, racism, and overall discrimination. I think that this is a very important topic to bring awareness to, especially during the time, and I believe that Of Mice and Men does a great job illustrating that.

Reviewer's Name: Judah
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.

Reviewer's Name: Maddie
The Importance of Being Earnest
Wilde, Oscar
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

The Importance of Being Earnest, by Oscar Wilde, is a short play about characters who are indeed NOT earnest. Algernon, a bachelor living in London, has an imaginary friend called Bunbury whose false existence he uses to get himself out of unpleasant social gatherings. Similarly, Jack—who lives in the country with his ward, an orphan named Cecily—has a made up brother named Ernest, whose constant state of “illness” allows him to visit the city when he pleases. From these false identities arises a huge misunderstanding, when Algernon decides to visit Jack’s country home posing as Ernest, the imaginary invalid brother whom Jack had planned to kill off that very day in order to end his pretending once and for all. The two friends must sort out the misunderstanding with their respective fiancées, and end up making an ironic discovery in the process.

This play is highly amusing, with its opinionated characters and witty commentary. It has a satisfying denouement; from start to finish the plot is engaging, and it doesn’t drag on. I would recommend The Importance of Being Earnest to anyone who likes a clever and entertaining comedy, or just a good laugh!

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Romeo and Juliet
Shakespeare, William
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Many have probably heard of this book, one of Shakespeare's best dramas written. Everyone has probably heard about how it's of how two lovers who try to keep a relationship through their parents' everlasting feud, but there's much more to it. It's not only about love, but also about trust, death, and interconnecting relationships. It's about heartbreak and pain washed away with heartache and drama. But one thing is for sure, the two won't stop trying to be together until death takes them apart.

Reviewer's Name: Trisha
Robinson Crusoe
Defoe, Daniel
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: Steven
Book Review: Invisible Man
Ellison, Ralph
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an essential American classic. Written in the late 1940s, it tells the story of a young African American man who moves north during the Harlem Renaissance and faces many trials as he attempts to find his place in society. This novel is a candid portrayal of life for Black Americans in the pre-Civil Rights era, exposing the hardships and prejudices that are often overlooked in retrospect but were all too real for Blacks during this time. It is honest, reflective, and blunt; often unsettling and disturbing. A central theme of Ellison's novel is the idea of blindness and how it affects identity. The protagonist is left confused and misguided as a result of the blindness of those he encounters, trying to fit into the expectations of others, until at last he realizes that he is, and has always been, "invisible" to society. With this revelation, the invisible man at last finds his own identity.

The novel recounts all of the events leading to the protagonist's discovery of his invisibility, beginning at his colored college in the south and taking the audience north to Harlem. The protagonist faces many different circumstances which reveal just how marginalized Blacks were in the United States in the 30s; each episode is a testament to the challenges faced by African Americans (even a reflection of the challenges faced by African Americans today) due to the blind discrimination of white people. Each incident faced by the invisible man is largely a reiteration of previous ones, merely taking place in different circumstances, which emphasizes his lack of identity--even his own blindness. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident, the protagonist loses all sense of who he used to be, and this is what allows him to begin to make change--for better or worse. There are numerous violent and suggestive scenes in this novel, so I would recommend it to older, more mature teenagers.

Ellison takes his readers on a powerful, enlightening journey with Invisible Man. His compelling writing is intertwined with tragic humor and soulful undertones of blues and jazz, the backdrop for an incredibly raw and moving novel. The invisible man's story is very relevant to society today, and Ellison's messages should serve as reminders to us all. I believe every American would benefit from reading this novel at some point in their life; it illustrates such an important part of our nation's history, and that of African Americans. Ellison portrays the protagonist's emotions with such introspective depth, every conflict and thought explored in all its complexities. Invisible Man may not be a particularly fun read, but it is important and it is worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name: Alexa
Dune
Herbert, Frank
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Frank Herbert’s Dune is one of the most iconic science fiction novels of all time. Featuring an imaginative universe filled with strange aliens and even stranger planets, Dune provides a sense of adventure and wonder to every reader. It follows the story of a young noble as the Emperor gives his family control over the planet responsible for generating the most valuable resource in the universe, spice. But this advantageous appointment is not without its risk, and soon rival houses come to try and take control of the planet. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any kind of science fiction, and it is a must read for every Star Trek and Star Wars nerd out there.
Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
Lord of the Flies
Golding, William
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

A group of boys crash on an uncharted island. The boys are left with no adult supervision, leaving them to survive on their own. They begin to create a form of order, but soon that order collapses and terror begins.

I had to read Lord of the Flies for school, but it exceeded my expectations. This book made me want to cry, stare at it and ponder what I had just read and throw it across the room all at the same time, but in the best way possible. This book will keep you on the edge of your seat and reading until the very end. There will be a character or characters that you can relate to and root for. This book is a little more on the violent side. I would definitely recommend it for an older audience. Even though classics are considered boring and bland, this one is definitely worth a try. It's an emotional roller coaster that you don't want to miss.
Reviewer Grade: 10

Reviewer's Name: Emma