Book Review: Wake, by Amanda Hocking

wake_coverWhat story portrays a beautiful setting of the modern world, Greek myths, horror, a Frozen-like sister bond, and a few love stories that seem at have many obstacles thrown at it? Why, of course, it’s Wake, the first book of the Watersong series.
Gemma is an ordinary teenage girl, with an older sister named Harper who is proper, a dad who is torn, a mom who lost her memories after an accident, a crush on the nerdy boy next door, Alex, and a love for swimming. She lives in a small town called Capri, in which there are no strangers. So when four absolutely beautiful girls that no one knows about arrive in town, people become suspicious, especially when one goes missing and the three girls take an interest in Gemma. That’s when Gemma drinks a mysterious potion given to her by the same three girls that turns her into a mythical siren, with a tail, love for swimming, ability to attract any boy, and a desire to eat human flesh.
This story has an excellent plot, with real-life characters and surprising twists. For those who love mythology, there aren’t just sirens; there are mentions of the Olympians, the Minotaur, and Orpheus. But the thing I feel that others would like most is the important messages, such as why we should only have sex with the right person, the corruption of power, and the importance of bonds with others. However, this book does have some more adult scenes, so anybody under the age of 13 should wait to read it.
-Megan V., 10th grade

Would You Stay?

Here’s the secret, baby: if you live, if you die, it’s all up to you. So whatever fight you got in you, you gotta pull it out now.” – If I Stay.

if_i_stay_posterWhen I first picked this book up I could not get past the first chapter, and left it on my book shelf. Fast forward three or four years after seeing the movie trailer, which took my breath away and left me in tears, I had to pick up the book again and give it another shot. I am more than happy that I did, because I could not put the book down.

Multiple times I would lose myself in the book and by the time I looked at the clock I had ready four hours. I found myself constantly thinking about the book and counting down the days till the movie was released, re reading the book multiple times just to get that feeling again. I even got the chance to see that movie, another time that I shed my fair share of tears.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is the story of Mia, an average seventeen-year-old girl who has a lot to love in life; she is a cellist with a chance at making it into Julliard. Her family and friends give the story an added bonus with their loving, caring, charming, and lively qualities. And Adam, her perfect boyfriend– their love makes the story and makes it that much better. But after a car accident takes away her mom, dad, and brother, she is forced to make the choice between life and death.

I always put myself in the character’s place, when reading, and after I found myself constantly wondering what I would do if I had to make the decision.

Before even starting the book my decision, was without a doubt I would stay. But about half way through the book I changed my mind. During one of the many flashbacks, this one in particular was when Mia’s dad quits his band so he could make a better life for Mia and her brother soon to be born.

This brought into play my sister, and how I could not imagine living without her, how I would never be able to call her, or sing songs with her. So the choice seemed again, easy.

But that was leaving a blind eye to the fact that I would be giving up everything that I had already worked for. And all the dreams I had, and the thing that I had not been given the opportunity to do. The friends I have not made, the books I have not read, the music I have not heard. And was I really willing to give all that up?

So I was stuck again just like Mia, thinking about all the things that would be keeping me from making the decision either way.

The perfect was to describe it is a part in both the movie and the book where Mia and her mom discuss the in convinces of falling in love at seventeen and how she is torn in half over a decision. She explains, “Either way you win. And either way you lose. What can I tell you?”

This seems small when in the book, just something a parent says, that we would probably ignore. But after thinking about it, those fourteen words split into three sentences describe the whole book and was genius representation of universal theme. That conveys all the emotion and the hard truth of the book.

Which is why this became a big changer for me again, and I realized that either way I would never be completely happy with the decision. So I end this with my favorite quote of the book, one that I believe is different for everybody and describe the choice perfectly.

“Sometimes you make choices in life and sometimes choices make you.” – Gayle Forman

-Shelby B., 10th grade

Book Review: The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien

hobbit_coverHere is the story of Mr. Bilbo Baggins:

Bilbo, a creature who doesn’t really have a taste for adventure and never travels further than his cupboards, is greeted by a wizard, Gandalf, and fourteen dwarves.  Gandalf had chosen Mr. Baggins to join them on their adventure to The Lonely Mountains as the burglar.  He becomes very hesitant but agrees.  The visitors have a feast and stayed the night inside the hobbit’s cozy hole.  Bilbo wakes up and finds that he is alone. At 10:45 Gandalf comes by and tells Bilbo that the dwarves left a note saying to meet them at the Dragon Inn, Bywater at eleven sharp.  Mr. Baggins races there and arrives just in time.  With everyone on their horses their journey begins.

Along the way they get themselves into quite a few mishaps, such as being caught by trolls and goblins, almost being eaten by spiders, and many more.  Many months later, they finally reach the mountains.  The group is there for the treasure inside, but it is guarded by a fearsome dragon.  Will they be able to retrieve the loot they came all this way for?  Or will something else happen?

I really liked this book because it has unique places and page-turning chapters.  It has adventure, cliff-hangers, and a bit of fantasy.  I hope you enjoy this story.

-Samantha S., 8th grade

Book Review: Positive, by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin

positivePositive is a memoir by Paige Rawl with Ali Benjamin that tells the story of Paige’s life growing up being HIV positive since birth.

Positive was a unique book choice for me as I typically do not read memoirs; in fact, I usually avoid them like the plague. My problem with  memoirs is that they are often written by people that while they have experienced something unique in their life are just ordinary people, not writers. It’s not that I don’t appreciate the stories told in memoirs, I do, it’s that too often they feel like assigned reading that I just can’t get through to matter how much I may want to.

I had this problem with I Am Malala: The Girl Who Stood Up for Education and Was Shot by the Taliban, it wasn’t that I didn’t appreciate her story, it was just clearly not written by a writer, and I just couldn’t get through it, despite the captivating story. Still even with my past difficulties getting through these types of book something about Paige’s story interested me enough to give it a go, and I am so glad that I did.

Manga Introduction: Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa

fullmetal_alchemist“There’s no such thing as a painless lesson-they just don’t exist. Sacrifices are necessary. You can’t gain anything without losing something first. Although if you can endure that pain and walk away from it, you’ll find that you now have a heart strong enough to overcome any obstacle. Yeah… a heart made Fullmetal.”- Edward Elric from Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa.

Edward Elric and his younger brother Alphonse are in search of the sorcerer’s stone in order to restore their bodies after a fail human transmutation. Human transmutation is one of the forms of alchemy, but the brothers are determined to have their full bodies back . They might seem like a odd pair with the elder at 4’8″ with a automail arm and leg and the younger twice the height trapped in a suit of armor yet even with these odd fact, the brothers fight to gain what they want.

Here are some fact about Fullmetal Alchemist by Hiromu Arakawa:

  • It was published in July of 2001 and ended 9 years later in July of 2010
  • There are 27 tankobon volumes (manga books) with 4-5 chapters in each.
  • It was published monthly by Square Enix in the magazine Monthly Shōnen Gangan
  • The Fullmetal Alchemist manga has sold approximately 61 million volumes as of 2013.
  • The English release of the manga’s first volume was the top-selling graphic novel during 2005.
  • In two TV Asahi web polls, the anime was voted the most popular anime of all time in Japan. At the American Anime Awards in February 2007, it was eligible for eight awards, nominated for six, and won five
  • There is an ongoing light novel series.
  • It has two anime series. The first one is called Fullmetal Alchemist and does not follow the original plot of the manga. The second series is called Fullmetal Alchemist Brotherhood and follows most of the manga’s plot. Each series has a full-length anime film, Fullmetal Alchemist the Movie: Conqueror of Shamballa and Fullmetal Alchemist: The Sacred Star of Milos respectively, to complete the series.

This is such an amazing series that I could go on with the facts but instead I will write about what I think of this manga. This is truly one of the best I have seen or read. It has a near perfect mix of characters and themes to spin a wonderful tale of adventure and excitement. One of my favorite things about this manga is that each characters each have their own quirks. Such as the main character, Edward Elric, sensitivity about his height and his habit of exploding and uttering comical lines of frustration.

“Shorty?! Could a shorty do this?! What else you want to call me: a half-pint bean-sprout midget?! I’m still growing you backwater desert idiots!” – An example of Edward Elric “short rants”

Another thing to admire about this manga is the many important themes it brings. Yes, this is set in another universe but there are many themes that could be applied to daily life. Such as the importance of a family and how they can make a difference in someone. There are many quotes in the manga that are worth memorizing. This is a very complex manga to explain in words. It easier to just read it and decide what you think. So why don’t you?

- Sarah J., 10th grade

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

catcher_in_the_rye_cover“The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” -Wilhelm Steckel

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, although highly controversial, is no doubt in my opinion a work of art. Most people who have read this book either love it or hate it, and if not properly read and analyzed, it’s completely understandable if you hate it. On the surface it’s a boring story about a whiny teenager moping around New York City, but really its so much more than that.

Holden Caufield tries to mask his sensitive and delicate true character with a crude and uncaring persona, and with deep reading, it’s apparent when his real character bubbles its way to the surface. He travels around New York City revealing bits and pieces of his true identity as the book progresses. While he reveals information about his character, we also learn about his past, which you are taken back to beginning in almost the first chapter. All in all, I greatly appreciate this book and I hope more people will enjoy reading it.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

-Sara S., 11th grade

Book Review: The Invaders by John Flanagan

invadersThe Invaders is the second installment of the Brotherband Chronicles written by John Flanagan. Check an introduction to this series by Kyle H.

“Oh, it’s going to be such and interesting voyage,” – An excerpt from The Invaders by John Flanagan.

Eight boys and an older warrior have set out to sea and their journey has just begun in the book The Invaders. After failing to fulfill the mission of protecting the Skandians’ sacred artifact, the boys try to redeem themselves by tracking down the thief and recovering the treasure with the help of and a rather reclusive warrior. With Hal as the skirl (captain) of their wolfship, they set out on their voyage. Each boy faces his problems as they travel farther and farther from the home they knew best. The warrior, Thorn, an old friend of Hal, becomes their trainer and helps they develop new skills and abilities. They encounter a female hunter who leads them to a town taken over by the very pirates they were seeking. This starts the biggest challenge they had yet retaking a town full of hardened sea pirates with band of farmers, themselves, and a few others.

The Invaders has an amazing cast of characters that weave together a tale of adventure, danger, and teenage mischief. This is a perfect fit for those who like sea adventure coupled with teenage characters. This book deals a lot with working together as a team and following a trustworthy leader. It does go over rougher times they face together. The characters learn more about their warrior friend and each other, making their relationship grow deeper and stronger.

This is only what I think– read for yourself and decide.

-Sarah J., 9th grade