Dec 05 2014


Maze Runner Review

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Review of an A-maze-ing Book

            Slam, creak, clink, boom! Utter darkness, you stand up, blinding light, above is a group of boys who say, “Welcome to the glade greenie.” This is the situation that opens The Maze Runner, a global bestseller since October 6, 2009 when it was acquired from the Author, James Dashner by Delacourte Publishing. This dystopia novel is perfectly in line with many of its genre’s contemporaries, while examining the importance of memory on identity.

Thomas, the books protagonist awakens inside of a darkened elevator, remembering only one thing, his name. Finally, when the elevator is opened, Thomas is greeted by 50 boys, none of whom remember anything from before except for their names, and their time spent living in the Glade (Where the boys live) since they arrived. Surrounding the Glade are 200 foot tall stone walls that open to an ever-changing maze during the day and a close to protect the citizens of the Glade at night. During the day, the boys run their small society, while an elite group of “Maze Runners” explore the depths of the maze in hopes of finding a means of escape. Meanwhile the “creators” observe the boy’s every movement through small robotic lizard called beetle blades. While in the glade Thomas and his new friends try to escape the maze, and learn about who they are in the process.

Without memories, the characters are forced to figure out who they are through day to day interactions. With no identity, characters are often questioning who they are, and if they are be doing what they would have done before the memory wipe. In addition, this aspect of memory loss is intentional, how could it not be? This allows for a deeper level of understanding of the characters, because no character is static. Every character introduced is dynamic out of necessity, further making The Maze Runner a great read.

This novel takes an original approach towards the dystopian worlds. In every dystopia people have life experience and a sense of moral that define who they are and how they react to situations. Tomas starts out as a blank sheet. Every choice that he makes through the novel is because of the ideas’ that he is forged and tempered with within the maze, providing the novel with a unique sense of depth due to understanding the character so well that the justification of “why”  the character is who he is obvious.

The Maze Runner is a wonderful piece of literature that Divergent and Hunger Games enthusiasts must read. James Dashner’s book has both created and defined his career. Dystopian literature can only hope is that he will continue to write literature that can remain fast-paced while providing a level of profound thinking and character relatability that make The Maze Runner, the must-read book of the decade.

3 responses so far

Dec 05 2014


13 Reasons Why review

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Jay Asher’s 13 Reasons Why tells the story of Hannah, a teen girl who committed suicide. Her story is told through a friend of Hannah’s, Clay, while he listens to 13 tapes that Hannah left behind to explain why she killed herself. It is a dark book, but it has a great message hid behind the depressing stories of Hannah’s life. The book teaches readers to recognize signs of depression and suicidal thoughts. It also helps kids realize that their “joke” may cause destruction and heartbreak, the same way that the people on the tapes led to Hannah’s death.

This dramatic realistic fiction tells a touching story that can really capture your heart by how realistic and relatable it is. But, it is written for more mature audiences, so I would only recommend this for teens and adults.

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Dec 05 2014


The Fault In Our Stars

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The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green, a young adult novel, showcases the point of view of 2 teenagers with cancer who have very unorthodox and realistic point of view on the world around them and their situation, while blatantly expressing how love can be found even in hard times. The Fault in Our Stars could be called a Romantic genre book, but that couldn’t possibly encompass all of the elements in it.
Hazel Grace Lancaster is a 16 year old who has been diagnosed with cancer, and knows she is terminal. She is depressed, and cynical, knowing that she only will live for a limited number of years, or months. She meets Augustus Waters, a more optimistic teenager, at a church support group that she is forced to go to, and he is swept away by her critical personality, and beauty. Hazel introduces her favorite book, “An Imperial Affliction”, to Augustus after they begin dating. But the book ends in the middle of a sentence, because the main character dies, and so Hazel and Augustus are left to wonder what happens next. Luckily, Augustus saved his wish from the Make a Wish Foundation, and the two are sent away on an exquisite trip to Amsterdam, to meet the author of “An Imperial Affliction”, Peter Van Houten. He turns out to be a cold hearted person, but the two enjoy their “Wish” anyway, going to nice restaurants, and visiting famous sites around the city. Shortly after, Hazel finds out that Augustus’ cancer has returned and he dies shortly after leaving her a note from Van Houten.
This book being so popular among teens was surprising; it included romance, and heartbreak. But the reason I think that it is so popular, is because of the way it portrayed the teenagers, witty, sarcastic, and outstandingly smart and aware, not the way that the world tends to view them. Hazel comments in the beginning of the movie that she would like to say that the world is perfect, but it’s not. The teenagers consistently say comments that look like this, “I’m in love with you, and I’m not in the business of denying myself the simple pleasure of saying true things. I’m in love with you, and I know that love is just a shout into the void, and that oblivion is inevitable, and that we’re all doomed and that there will come a day when all our labor has been returned to dust, and I know the sun will swallow the only earth we’ll ever have, and I am in love with you.” I think that teenagers like to be portrayed in this way, saying big words and adding deep and critical thoughts to express themselves. They use analogies and metaphors and to express themselves and their love for each other. This wasn’t the average teenage romance either. While there was a vandalism scene, a sex scene, and underage drinking, while inappropriate for yound readers, were all done very tastefully and added the real love story that Hazel and Gus shared, making this a very bittersweet book to read.
Maybe John Green’s purpose of writing this was to convince readers to be hopeful, or romantic, or to simply entertain them as they are while they are whisked away on Hazel and Augustus’ traumatic love story. But mainly, I think Green was trying to show readers a love story through a harsh circumstance, almost too realistic, through this fiction piece. The setting was very normal, taking place in Indianapolis, and Amsterdam, nothing was extraordinary, but their love, and I think that showing such a beautiful love story like this one can show that love can come out of something so dark, and that it really is a fault in our stars that life has to be this way. It wasn’t that they both had cancer, and their lives were miserable until they found each other. Hazel isn’t the type of girl that everyone would picture exactly beautiful. Green describes her hair, how it has awkwardly grown back after losing it to chemo, and how she carries an oxygen tank around with her and has to constantly walk slower and can’t get out of breath. And Augustus is portrayed in an almost perfect way when they first meet, except for his prosthetic leg, but there is a scene where he is vomiting blood, and crying in his car at a gas station in the middle of the night. The characters fight for their life from cancer was not cured by their romance, and that made it seem so much more realistic. Because as they loved each other through, as Hazel describes it, their “little infinity” of a love story.
Augustus’ biggest fear was dying without making an impact on the world, by doing something great, while Hazel wants to be, almost unnoticed. Hazel convinces Gus to realize that his life in fact, was extraordinary, because he shared that little infinity with her. She knows that hers was too. They both had to accept that protecting each other from themselves death wasn’t an option and that they should just live and enjoy the little romance that was their life, because as Gus said, “love is just a shout into the void, and oblivion is inevitable”. The Fault in Our Stars will have you laughing and crying as you too realize the harsh realities of the world of cancer and how even in the midst of them, a love story can transpire.

4 responses so far

Dec 05 2014


Dead or Alive: Book Review

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Matthew Shearing
Ms. Nickel
Journalism
11/12/14

Dead or Alive: Book Review

In this techno thriller type of book, John Clark and Domingo “Ding” Chavez, the main characters are force into retirement from the CIA and “Rainbow” who is an agency for the CIA. In their retirement they join “The Campus” with Jack Ryan, Jr. The Campus is a privately run intelligence organization. John and Ding train Jack Jr. for field work while they themselves crack a plot by a group of Islamic extremists to assemble and detonate a nuclear device in a nuclear waste storage facility in order to poison the water table for the entire western US. While all that is going on Jack Ryan Senior is running for president from his successor President Ed Kealty.

I loved this book because of its nonstop action, it kept me reading to the last page without getting repetitive or boring. On top of that this book is very realistic and can be placed in today’s time period of something of this nature happened. This book followed in the steps of the great Jack Ryan series which I’ve read every single one of those books. Putnam Adult is the publisher of this great book. This book is great as all the other books in the Jack Ryan series.

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Dec 05 2014


Love and Cancer

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Love and Cancer

            Emotional, graphic, and a down to earth love story will be worth all the time you will spend reading The Fault in Our Stars over and over again. The author, John Green, has created a romantic tragedy that is centered on two individuals who have come to love each other with a strong passion while fighting cancer. In this romance novel the intended audience, teenage girls and those with related problems, will connect deeply with the book and have an inability to stop reading.

Green has also done several educational videos in his career, especially on American History. With his previous background and educational drive that allows me to understand why he chose the topic he did for The Fault in Our Stars. In the book, Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters, main characters in the novel, both experience two forms of cancer, while attending a support group they begin to fall for one another and with their strong love; the two will have to battle through each of their cancers together all while maintaining a relationship. This book takes you on an emotional rollercoaster, similar to the American history world, where reality seems to take over the lives of so many.

The book, from the outside, is of two conversational bubbles that seem to be floating in the sky. My first impression of the cover is of a text conversation where I can imagine that the book will be about two people texting during the evening. Now the cover may not give us many clues but the title of the book holds some evidence. The Fault in our Stars, from what I know, is something important and from that I concluded sense the book will be about the two teens with cancer and the love the share, the fault is the cancer, while their love is the stars. It at first is hard to grasp, but in the end of the book you will be able to establish the connection. Lastly, the cover is smooth and has blue, white and black colors, making this an inviting cover and a sure grab off the shelf.

Though this may be a tragic romance between two cancer patients the writing style is very free- flowing which supports the main idea very effectively. Green engages the reader throughout, there is never a dull moment, he makes readers feel sorrowful in which creates a very tragic effect. There are romantic instances where sex and kissing occurs, but nothing too drastic, it is what keeps the spirits high during the book.

This book is going to be a huge success for all the teenage girls, especially those who like a good love story. Even though it may be sad, Green allows us to capture those emotions and feel how the two characters actually felt during their cancer treatments. Green did a terrific
job and if I were you, if you have not read this book yet, go to the bookstore and buy it, it will be the best purchase of your life.

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Dec 05 2014


The Darkest Minds Book Review

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The Darkest Minds Book Review

The book, The Darkest Minds by Alexander Bracken, is about a girl names Ruby who woke up on her tenth birthday, but there was something about her that made her parents locks her in a garage. After that she was sent to a camp where guards called PSFs are forcing the children to fear their ability they cannot control. After six years in the camp Ruby brakes out of the camp and finds Liam, Chubs, and Zu as they all try to escape their fate in the corrupted society to safety. The novel shows how our society will be with a corrupted government where no one can trust anyone. The theme I found when reading this book was “Do anything to protect the ones you love.” Just like how Ruby did to protect her friends by using her ability, which she despised.

The first thing that catches your attention is probably the cover; the sign of the PSFs written with a touch of mystery on it will make the readers want to pick it up. The first page on each of the chapter is also decorated to give you eerie, but engaging feelings.

Both the wordings and the story plot are great and is one of the best dystopian stories that I have ever read. Decision that Ruby has to make will make her stronger little by little and give the story an interesting twist. But it is also a little gory and sad, so is you are easily disturbed by those contents, please do not try to read it.

 

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Dec 05 2014


Scribbler of Dreams- Book Review

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        Kaitlin Malone is starting fresh at a new high school enrolled as Kaitlin Hampton (her mom’s maiden name).  Why? Her family has had a burning hate for the Crutchfields for generations and her father, Mr. Malone, is behind bars because of a dispute with Mr. Crutchfield over land ownership.  Kaitlin ends up meeting Bram at school and becomes good friends with him before she even realizes that he is a Crutchfield.  Now she is torn between the possible love of her life and betraying her family by associating with a Crutchfield.

        Author Mary E. Pearson explores strong ties that can bind or break families and the brave actions/choices that Kaitlin makes in attempt to start fresh.  Some of Pearson’s other books such as The Fox Inheritance and The Kiss of Deception deal with connections that she makes to her own life, she has a very strong personal connection with The Fox Inheritance.  Most of her works fall under the categories of mystery/gothic novels and some romance.  Scribbler of Dreams is a romantic/mystery novel intended for pre-teens (ages 11-12) and teens and includes of dramatic events, over emotion, and confusion, that the main character, Kaitlin, faces.  The title fits the novel appropriately because Kaitlin writes about how she feels in her journal and later finds that she is not so different from Bram’s great-aunt Maggie, who also kept a journal. The Crutchfields aren’t so bad in her mind after getting to know them herself.

        Kaitlin makes a connection with the reader when she writes her quotes at the beginning of each chapter.  Towards the end of the novel, Kaitlin scribbles dreams of the future, which ties the whole book together.  She writes, “On a small planet, where minute follows minute, day follows day, year follows year, where tradition marches on with a deafening, orderly beat– sometimes the order is disturbed by a dreamer, an artist, a scribbler– sometimes the beat is changed  one person at a time.”  Scribbler of Dreams is a novel that demonstrates that love and hate are strong feelings, but they do not always last forever.

Rachel Winnick

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Dec 05 2014


Looking for Alaska

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John Green, the author of many successful young adult novels such as, The Fault in our Stars, and Paper Towns. He hits the soft spot in everyone’s heart with his book, Looking for Alaska. The adventures of Miles “Pudge” Halter in his first time at a boarding school, Culver Creek, with his friends Alaska Young, The Colonel, Lara and Takumi. Throughout the book the group will get away with outrages pranks, skipping and leaving their classes, under-age drinking along with smoking. The character build up that Pudge goes through really makes me feel like I am changing along with him and the others. Wanting to loosen up as well as having fun by hiding in barns is what anyone will want to do while reading Looking for Alaska.

I really started to feel for Pudge and connect with him on his struggles or trying to fit in but not knowing how and being an awkward new kid in a strange crowd. I really felt like I knew the characters. I laughed, cried and was angry as they were as well because I was really able to put myself in their shoes at certain parts.

Like most of John Green’s work, Looking for Alaska had a lot of romance, teen rebellion, metaphors or secret meanings, moments of tragic times and leaving the readers wanting more and more. This book is very similar to his book Paper Towns because they both consists of a very mischievous female strong leads and shy males that “go with the flow” and pages of pranks and metaphors. It compares as well to his other book An Abundance of Katherine’s with the type of friends these characters have and the relationships with each other. Also that the males have this strange talent that everyone loves and for Pudge, his talent was learning the last words of famous people before their deaths.

The genre of the book would be non-fiction for young adults with some romance, mystery and humor scattered all over the book. This book is not recommended for people of the age 11 or under. It is a very enjoyable book for people who would understand what is going on. For all the readers that will judge the book by the cover will probably have a harder time judging for this one. Looking for Alaska has a very mysterious cover because of its emerging gray smoke; you cannot tell what it is saying.

The theme for this story would be ‘Through all the hardships there will be some relief.” Or in the context of the book it would be “There is always a way out of the ‘labyrinth’ of life.” It is a really good, fun and exciting book for practically anyone. I give it nine fox bandanas out of ten. I’ll be looking forward to more of John Greens great books to come ahead in the future.

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Dec 05 2014


Stephen King: Pet Sematary

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Stephen King continues to captivate readers with Pet Sematary, a book that tells the story of the Creed family after discovering a mysterious sematary behind their home. This book explores the boundaries of human love and desperation. Pet Sematary is a prime example of King’s ability to delve deep into the reader’s mind. He is able to scare his audience while still keeping them intrigued due to the connection he is able to establish with his readers.

Pet Sematary takes place in the town of Ludlow, Maine, where a family consisting of Louis, Rachel, Ellie, and Gage Creed had recently taken residence. They moved from their old town because of Louis getting a new job. King is able to change up a classic horror cliche, such as a stereotypical nuclear family moving into a new home, where everything isn’t as it seems. He turns this cliche into something even darker, that extends beyond the house, and beyond the family. The pet sematary they are shown behind their house soon proves to have more mysterious abilities than originally thought.

 

After the death of the Creed’s family cat, Winston Churchill, the family’s new neighbor, Jud Crandall, suggests burying the cat in the sematary. Louis decides to follow through. Shortly after burying the cat, Louis sees Winston wandering around the garage, alive. He keeps the news to himself about the cat’s passing in order to avoid upsetting his children. He realizes that there is something powerful, and maybe otherworldly about the pet sematary. Louis keeps that cat around, despite knowing that what he has done is wrong and immoral.

 

Soon after the death of Winston Churchill, Gage Creed, the youngest member of the family, is killed in a sudden car accident. Louis decides to take advantage of the pet sematary’s power, bringing Gage back from the dead. This is overall the biggest point of his character’s development in the story. Louis discovers how far he is willing to go to be with his loved ones and to appease those closest to him.  He knows that he disobeying the natural order, even that he is playing God, yet he does so anyways for his own emotional benefit.

 

Pet Sematary is probably one of Stephen King’s best novels so far. He creates an original story that the readers can connect to. It makes one think about how far they are willing to go to be with those that they care about. King’s demonstration of character development in this novel is astonishing. Louis goes from being a normal man working at a hospital, to defying the natural order of things to bring back his son from the dead, then discovering how far he is willing to go to be with his loved ones. This book would be enjoyed by older audiences and those who enjoy scary, thrilling books that really make one ponder the capacity of human emotion.

 

One response so far

Dec 05 2014


Book Review

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Flip

            Flip is about two boys who end up switching bodies and we only get the perspective from the one named Alex. Six months of time pass’s and he wakes up in a mysterious house with different people that he doesn’t know he attends a different school with different classes he cannot recall. Alex searches for a clue of what has happened to him and meets up with a guy that has had the same out of body experience like him, instead of it only being for seven months so far it was four years for him, and he still hasn’t gotten used to it.

During the time Alex was in the other boys “Flip or Philips” body he started getting used to it, the different voice, the height difference and the body itself. Flip had a girlfriend something that Alex has never had and so when Flips girlfriend came up and kissed him she said “something the matter Flip it’s like your first kiss all over again”, and for Alex it was. After spending some time in this new body far away from his own he started to look for ways of getting back into his very own body.

After about a year being in Flips body something strange happened he could feel Flips soul as if it was calling out to him cursing him for stealing his body, not too long after he tried a technique that was rumored to work, he woke up again but in a different setting, back in his own body.

Flip was a very interesting book to read it had lots of interesting details and a few plot twists that kept the story interesting and entertaining the author Martyn Bedford really put good ideas of out of body experiences and explaining in almost perfect detail of what it would be like to have someone else’s body.

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