Review Crew Book Reviews by Genre: Literature

The Old Man and the Sea book jacket
Hemingway, Ernest
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

The story of Win and Loss, one of Ernest Hemingway’s most famous works, The Old Man and the Sea introduces us to a fisherman Santiago. He is old, but he has determination and a goal. He wants to catch his Big Fish. He does not give up even after eighty four days of failure and on the eighty-fifth day luck finally smiles at him. Big Fish is on the hook. Three days of confrontation between the fishermen and the fish reveal Santiago’s incredible inner strength and will power. But when he finally comes back to his hut, exhausted and barely alive, he’s left only with a skeleton of his dream and a poor illusion of a better life.
The deep symbols that the story contains can be interpreted in many different ways. Some of the readers may find the old man’s hunt as a waste of effort on a goal that is not worth risking his life. Others, however, will discover Santiago as their role model and an example of undefeatable human nature and endurance on the way to the dream. But this controversy and ambiguity is exactly what makes the book so unique and attractive to the generations of readers.
The language of the novella is typical for all Hemingway's books, simple and straightforward, however, this time the symbolic meaning is hidden under the coat of realistic story. It encourages the reader to think and reflect on the pages that he’s read and on his own life as well and find his own interpretation of the fisherman’s story.

Reviewer's Name: Oleksandra
Medea book jacket
Euripides
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Medea by Euripides is a play about a princess in Greek mythology. She is betrayed by her husband when he weds another woman and Medea vows to take revenge. She plans to hurt everyone who hurt her, but by doing this she puts people who did her no wrong at risk. Will she end up getting revenge and living out her days or will she join the same fate that she curses down upon? I recommend this book to anybody who is into Greek mythology or would like to get into it. This is a fast read of about 50 pages.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
Oedipus the King book jacket
Sophocles,
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

Oedipus the King by Sophocles is a Greek play that follows the tragedy and downfall of this King. He is presented by a messenger that a disease has spread across his land and he needs to save his people. He sets out in search of this issue, but slowly comes to the realization that this something is a someone within his borders. What if this someone who needs to be eradicated is one who governs it? I would recommend this book to anybody who likes Greek mythology or the adventure genre.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
The Awakening book jacket
Chopin, Kate
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Awakening by Kate Chopin is a fictional novel that questions what it is to be an independent woman in a male dominant society. Edna lives in the Creole society in New Orleans that values the idea of women being a housewife. Edna strays away from this ideal and attempts to break the boundaries of what women think and can do. Is Edna strong enough to break these barriers or will the barriers break her? I recommend this novel to anybody who loves twists and turns and what it truly means to be independent.
Jaala 12

Reviewer's Name: Jaala
The Things They Carried book jacket
O'Brien, Tim
2 stars = Meh
Review:

The Things They Carried is an interesting narrative about a group of soldiers as they navigate the horrors of the Vietnam War. Each chapter is fairly short and tends to have a lot of action or interesting commentary, so it was pretty engaging. What I didn't love, though, was the author's combination of realism and fiction. He used his own name as the main character, but experienced fake scenarios with people who never existed. It was sometimes frustrating, not knowing what was real or not. O'Brien was a soldier in the war, but he said that fictional war stories are a way for him to convey important messages of courage without reliving the trauma of his actual experiences. This is a unique genre, so it's worth a try if you like realistic fiction.
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Maggie
Breasts and Eggs
Kawakami, Mieko
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Breasts and Eggs, lengthened from its original version, is a breakthrough piece for Mieko Kawakami, but also for the literary world. Her masterful prose is able to capture the attention of any reader, and draw anyone into the worlds she creates. The book is centered around a family of low-income Japanese women, battling their way through life and facing poverty, the image of their bodies, each other, and their desires for the future. Each conversation is written as if it's taking place in the readers' living room, and each sense is captured on every page. Kawakami works through seemingly every contemporary issue effortlessly, putting each piece into place within the story, instead of unnaturally breaking the flow of her storytelling She plays with issues of fertility through a character whose journey should, on paper, be shocking and different than anything readers have seen, but does it in a way that makes it feel real and beyond possible. The book is so fantastic that it could be read in a day if readers can't make themselves put it down, but it would be a rollercoaster of a day.

Reviewer's Name: Malachi
Interpreter of Maladies
Lahiri, Jhumpa
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Interpreter of Maladies by Jhumpa Lahiri is a collection of nine short stories about cultural differences. In each of the nine stories, the beautifully composed characters are taken through inspirational journeys, whether conflicts about romance, communication, cultural differences between India and America, or separation. Not all endings are happy, but a lesson can be learned from each story. It is a must-read book that challenges cultural differences and will transform a mindful reader's perspective. Overall, I would rate the book five out of five stars.

Reviewer's Name: Lucia
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is a novel following a group of farm animals who want to topple their human farmer's regime, creating a society that is perfect for themselves. While Animal Farm starts off a bit ridiculous, using pigs and other farm animals as the main characters of the story, I think that Orwell using farm animals to explain the message of his story was actually very imaginative, and made the story much more intriguing and unique. Since Animal Farm's main theme is about revolution and the obstruction of democracy, I enjoyed analyzing the symbolism that was placed in the novel, seeing the hidden parallels between the farm animals and the historical events that were occurring during that time. I liked being able to link events from the story to real historical events, such as the communist movement, the Soviet Union, and World War 2. Personally, I think that Orwell's technique in linking his novel to these historical events by using only symbolism was very creative and was written in a very thoughtful and intelligent way. Seeing how some of the book events contrasted with historical events was very strange and interesting for me, and it made me wonder how Orwell could have even thought of linking the two subject matters by only using farm animals.
Overall, I would recommend this classic novel to anyone who is open to an interesting and thought-provoking read.

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Awards:
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

A classic novel about the "American Dream," and the qualms of social classes, this 1925 based story is centered around four main characters. Nick Carraway, Jay Gatsby, and Daisy and Tom Buchanan. This novel was written in a way, where all four of these characters come from different social classes and walks of life. We are given insight into the personal lives, fears, and secrets that each of these characters carries with them, and as we slowly begin to know all of these characters' stories, Fitzgerald immediately throws us for a loop. The Great Gatsby unearths every little dirty secret every character in this novel hides and turns all of our familiar characters into something much more sinister. The Great Gatsby speaks volumes on the importance and issues of social classes, and the so-called "American Dream." All in all, a highly renowned classic, The Great Gatsby lives up to its fame and delivers beautifully written lines and shocking twists.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Passing book jacket
Larsen, Nella
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Passing by Nella Larsen is a classic novel following Irene Redfield and Clare Bellew. The novel follows the timeline of the Harlem Renaissance and delves into themes of 'white-passing' amongst the black community.
Irene, the narrator of the novel considers herself to be a very levelheaded, calm, thoughtful woman, who looks out for her children and is a perfectly attentive wife. Clare Bellew on the other hand is Irene's childhood friend, and her personality is much more colorful than Irene's. When Irene and Clare reunite after many years, we delve into their complicated relationship and clashing personalities.
Passing is a novel that illustrates what the standards of beauty really are and educates readers on the logistics of what passing of as white can mean for a black woman back in the 1920s.
I really enjoyed reading this novel, as 'white-passing' was something I wasn't super aware of, and barely even knew it was a phenomenon in the 1900s. Larsen also created a very interesting dynamic between Irene and Clare and crafted very realistic characters. I enjoyed reading Irene's inner monologues, as it's pretty rare to see an author build up very dynamic characters, that are also painfully human. I would recommend this book to pretty much anyone, as it contained lots of powerful messages and themes, without coming off as cliche or overdone.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Michelle
Decameron  book jacket
Boccaccio, Giovanni
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
Doctor Faustus
Marlowe, Christopher
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Doctor Faustus by Christopher Marlowe is an amazing study of enlightenment views on religion, morality, and social structure, all wrapped up in a fascinating tale of the supernatural. Doctor Faustus makes a deal with the Devil in exchange for power and knowledge, but, as a result, he constantly wars with himself. On one side, Faustus wants to repent his actions and avoid damnation, however, Faustus also is driven on by his greed and arrogance to pursue his dark arts and continue fulfilling his desires, visiting places such as the Papal and Imperial courts, leaving only after he has achieved his mischief. The story is amazing when considered within the historical context of its writing, the enlightenment philosophy and religious teachings show throughout the book, pitting the Old Testament views of damnation and repentance against the more forgiving views of the New Testament. I would highly recommend Doctor Faustus to those seeking to learn about the enlightenment and 16th century culture.
Harrison
Grade 12

Reviewer's Name: Harrison
The Little Friend
Tartt, Donna
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Little Friend is a story about family, loss, remembrance, and childhood. It all rotates around a mysterious tragedy in the Dufresnes family, where the youngest boy, Robin, was found strangled and hung in a tree out back. Years later, his precocious younger sister Harriet is determined to find the killer. In her quest, she tangles with snakes and water towers and drugs and family trauma, all shown through the eyes of a bright and, for now, innocent child.
The reason this book gets a three is not because it is a so-so book, mediocre in all avenues but largely strung together enough to earn the title "Pretty Good". This book was fantastic. And bad. And thrilling. And boring. And gloriously written. And horribly structured. I read this because Donna Tartt wrote it, and I love her writing style. This style came alive in her book undoubtedly, but any future readers should be warned that the writing, and the characters, are the only things of substance in this story. The writing is prosaic and setting appropriate and beautiful and heart wrenching and perfect. The characters are so fleshed out and developed that when you're reading you can hear them breath. But that is it. The plot is nearly insubstantial, or at least insignificant. On one hand, I read this whole book and found no story of relevance. On the other hand, through the writing and the characters and the subtle morals and stories along the way, I was pulled through an entire book where I found no story of relevance. Would I recommend this? It all depends on you. If you want a story that all ties up loosely and leaves you happy and fulfilled at the end, I would say no. But if you want a tale that is so realistic and magical that you can't take your hands off the strange, wonderful pages, then I would say go for it. All in all, this book earns three stars for being nearly incomprehensible, and yet, one of the most meaningful books I've ever read. I loved it, and I will never read it again.
Reviewer grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: Eve
To Kill a Mockingbird
Lee, Harper
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is a novel about Jean Louise Finch (Scout), living through her father Atticus' controversial decision to defend a black man in court. Along with experiencing the tribulations of racism in her home town of Maycomb County, Scout, her brother Jem, and her friend Dill explore the curiosities of the town and investigate the mysterious Boo Radley. The plot gave me excitement to continuing reading, and the joining of the two plots at the end created a perfect ending to the story. I thought that the book was really good due to the knowledge that was gained about the history during the Great Depression and the progression throughout the book that helped develop the main character. This was a school required book, but I would definitely recommend it to readers in high school and above.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Great Gatsby
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

F. Scott Fitzgerald's "The Great Gatsby" begins with a straightforward introduction to its main character and narrator, Nick Carraway. Nick fancies himself a man of high morals and while he does not always succeed, he tries his best to adhere to his principles at all times. Nick comes from a prominent family in a middle western city; however, after fighting in the Third Infantry Division during World War I, Nick tires of the monotony of the Midwest and goes east — to New York — in order to learn the bond business and in pursuit of more adventure. Nick settles in West Egg, a village that is described best as housing those who are "new money," and is a direct counterpart to East Egg, home to New York's most elite. It is in New York that the we are introduced to Daisy Buchanan, Nick's cousin; Tom Buchanan, Daisy's husband and Nick's former schoolmate; Jordan Baker, the Buchanans' close friend and renowned golfer; and finally, to Jay Gatsby, Nick's neighbor and the titular character of the novel. Nick becomes entangles within the affairs (both literal and figurative) of these characters, as both his fascination and friendship with Gatsby grow.

At face value, "The Great Gatsby" may appear almost to be a soap-opera, but in truth, it is the very opposite. Much like its characters, beneath its shimmering facade, "The Great Gatsby" houses profound and poignant messages and themes — about societal roles, the ever-elusive American dream, and human nature.

Reviewer's Name: Elaine
Animal Farm
Orwell, George
4 stars = Really Good
Review:

Animal Farm by George Orwell is an allegory about a farm of talking animals that push out their farmer after the abuse that they endure and proceed to create their own form of government. The animals form their government without the realization of the need to work for survival and have to adapt to the situation which causes discrepancies and arguments. I thought that this book was really good due to the surprising climax, ruthless betrayal, and the historical relation that it contains, but it does have some dragging parts. The plot is unpredictable and very interesting throughout. I had to read this book for school and thought it would be boring, but after reading it I gained knowledge of history through symbolism and recommend this book for history enthusiasts such as myself. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
Fahrenheit 451
Bradbury, Ray
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review:

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is a dystopian novel about Guy Montag; a firefighter in a world that has illegalized books. His occupation results in burning books that are found in citizens' homes and after witnessing a woman that was burned with her books after refusing to leave them, Guy has a disturbing realization of his society. The progressive plot gave me the excitement of coming home and reading while the ending left me in a jaw dropping manner. I thought that the book was amazing due to the mysterious plot and the relations it has to our world today. I had to read this for school and thought it was going to be boring, but in the long run it became one of my most favorite books I have ever read and I would definitely recommend it for readers who love dystopian novels. Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
The Invisible Man
Wells, H.G.
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review:

The Invisible Man by H.G. Wells is a science-fiction novel about a man in England in the 1800s who creates a way to make himself completely invisible without a way to change it. The life of a scientist named Griffin, who uses his invisibility for harm, is described throughout the book with an unpredictable ending. I selected this book for a school report, but I would definitely recommend the book to read if wanting a novel that keeps you on edge and wanting more. I thought that this book was pretty good due to the mysterious plot and ending though there were some dragging parts. I believe it is worth the wait for the surprising ending that left me in shock.
Reviewer Grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: Nicola
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
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