Book Review: Cinder, by Marissa Meyer

cinderCinder by Marissa Meyer is a great summer read!  With a fusion of the classic fairy tale, Cinderella, and the futuristic story of Star Wars, Cinder had me on the edge of my seat the entire time!

This sci-fi story takes place in the far future.  In the future Earth has been through two more World Wars, been unified as a peaceful place, and is neighbors to the powerful alien race, Lunars, who live on the moon.  Earth leaders have been trying to negotiate a peace treaty with Lunars.

The protagonist of the story is, Cinder, a teenage cyborg girl who is looked down upon by society and by her stepmother.  When Cinder meets the charming Prince Kai, she finds her world slowly turning upside down.  At the same time, her family is being attacked by the incurable plague.  Devastated from the aftermath of the plague, Cinder’s stepmother volunteers Cinder to the cyborg draft.  The cyborg draft has cyborgs test cures for the plague and no cyborg has come out alive.  At the medical facilities, Cinder unravels the hidden truths about her life.  These truths put herself, Prince Kai, and the entire Earth in danger.  Cinder is soon intertwined with the outcome of every being on Earth and Luna!  Check out this book this summer to live through the adventure of Cinder!

I would recommend this book to every teen! Cinder is an amazing new twist to the fairy tale we all know and love.  There is action, romance, and suspense!  It is filled with so many new surprises!  There is that one big question that haunted me and I didn’t know the answer until the very end of the book.  I couldn’t help but constantly wonder what was going to happen next!  Because of that I couldn’t stop reading it!

If you liked Divergent or The Hunger Games I recommend this book for you!

-Erika T., 8th grader


Being a Member of the MVL Teen Voice Blog

138288303Roughly a year ago, I was in the Mission Viejo Library, browsing through the new books in the teen section when I saw a flyer advertising a new program at the library– and that program was this blog. I remember grabbing the flyer and thinking what an amazing idea it seemed like, but not being sure if I would be able to take part in it. I thought that it might be too techy for me, so I put aside the flyer for a about a month and forgetting about it for a while. I don’t quit remember what piqued my interest in it again, but eventually I sent an e-mail to find out more information. I was so excited when I got a reply and discovered that I would be able to take part in this amazing opportunity.

My first post was an “Authors We Love” post highlighting the works of Ellen Hopkins. In fact my first three posts were related to her. Since that first post I feel like I have grown a lot as a writer and branched out a lot more. Writing for this blog has helped me look at books differently. I have always been an avid reader and I have always have a strong opinion of what I would read, but I never really tried to express that opinion while still trying to remain at least a little unbiased.

Thinking of a topic idea is one of my favorite parts of getting to do this. Sometimes it will take me several weeks to think of something, and sometimes it comes easier. Regardless of how long it takes for the idea to come, once I get one it’s an amazing feeling. I tend to write more  “Authors We Love,” opinion, or essay type pieces than book reviews so usually I’ll think of a broad topic and think to myself “I can’t wait to start researching this” or “Now I have a great excuse to re-read all of these books.”

Writing, of course, is a big part of being a member of the Teen Blog Team, and I love it. It’s really amazing to be able to type something up that exposes someone to new books, new authors, new ideas, and maybe something that gives someone more information about a book/author/idea if they already have some information about it. While I don’t tend to write many book review pieces, I enjoy writing those because it is a fun challenge to review a book without just summarizing plot points. I really love doing “Authors We Love” posts and other types of pieces where I can include lists. I love being able to take a  topic and point out all of the great points of it and then also point out then not-so-great points but still be able to end on a positive note.

What I have gotten from this experience is just an all-around wonderful experience. I have had a great chance to improve my writing, to write for an audience, and to get feedback on some of my pieces. I have also been made more aware of events going on at the library and have attended a lot that I normally would not have really paid any attention to. I have also gotten to read all of the wonderful posts on this blog; the overall talent of this group never ceases to amaze me.

As a whole, I am extremely glad that I took that first step of sending an e-mail last year. I hope that my posts have introduced people to new books, new authors, and new information, and an enjoyable reading experience. I am looking forward to what the future holds.

-Angela J., 12th grade

Strong Heroines in Fiction: Katniss and Tris

I love both of these heroines because they play the perfect part for women. Usually, you see men as the heroes in books, while women are mostly played as the love interests. The Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies have great examples of women who are heroic and brave. They are shown as the person to look up to in their books.

katnissKatniss Everdeen, from Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games, is a daring and wild girl in her series. She is the one girl who everyone either sees as an enemy or a hero because she is so powerful and takes charge. She is the inspiration for a revolution even though she came from humble beginnings. Although she is pretty, and many guys like her, that isn’t the reason for her existence in the books. She was written as a strong character who can fight her own battles and isn’t afraid to say or do what she wants.

trisTris Prior, from the Divergent books by Veronica Roth, is also a major rebel who doesn’t play by her society’s rules. She is a great role model for people, not because she is a rebel and rule breaker, but because she is strong and independent. She is the ultimate rule breaker and won’t have someone boss her around. She is also a leader of her own rebellion. She could’ve easily been portrayed as a love interest in the books, but luckily that wasn’t the case. Her strength and wisdom also make her the brave woman that she is.

These two amazing rebels are just some examples of the many great heroines in other books. Some other books with strong female heroes are: Unbreakable (Kennedy), Harry Potter (Hermione), Percy Jackson (Annabeth), and–my mom’s favorite–Pride and Prejudice (Elizabeth). Are you reading a book with a great feminine hero? If you are, I’d love to hear about it in the comments! Finally, I want to thank all of the authors who write about great heroines.

-Sabrina C., 9th grade

Book Review: Under the Never Sky, by Veronica Rossi

never_skyI don’t know if you have heard of this book. It’s become bigger recently but it isn’t the most popular title in my library. However, it is an interesting read and a very unique take on dystopian lit.

This isn’t the ordinary, “girl lives in society – society is corrupt – girl rebels and becomes an outcast. - falls in love with a rebel boy – take down corrupt society or government together - the end.” There are definitely those elements in this book, but there’s also cool new technology and a fresh new writing style. It does share elements with Divergent,
The Hunger Games, The Selection, Uglies, etc. However, I thought it was more than the generic dystopian book that has seemed to take Barnes and Noble by storm.

This book takes place in a world where civilized people live in pods and for them to go outside would mean certain death. Aether, the energy that fills the sky, has been zapping the ground for 6 generations. First it started fires and then it started plagues. There are tribes that live in the wild, savages, but for the average citizen, outside the pods is called the death shop. Even to breathe the air is certain death. So when Aria gets dropped off in the middle of the desert after an attempt to find her mom that kills three of her peers she is certain she will die and never see her mother again. But with the help from a Savage named Perry, she learns to survive and fight. But she continues to hunt for her mother.

This book was not extremely well written but the world Veronica Rossi creates is a fascinating concept that has not really been touched by a lot of dystopian authors. I thought that the storyline was good and the plot twists came out of nowhere. I would recommend it to anyone who likes dystopian or wants to try something new.

-Becka O., 8th grade

Book Review and Music Pairing: Keeper of the Lost Cities, by Shannon Messenger

keeper_lost_citiesKeeper of the Lost Cities is about a girl named Sophie Foster who learns that she is not human. Shocker! She is a 12-year-old senior in high school and has been admitted to the most prestigious Ivy League schools. It all begins when she is sitting in science class one day, with ear-buds in, listening to music. The teacher asks her a question that she is not expected to know the answer, but her very rare ability, her photographic memory, helps her. Later, on a fieldtrip to a museum, an odd-looking boy tells her the words of her fate, “It’s okay, Sophie. I’m here to help you. We have been looking for you for 12 years.”

She has no choice but to go with him. She learns that his name is Fitz, and she is amazed at the lost world of the elves they have entered. Messenger provides some history and explains that the Ancients, the governing body for the elves, had a fight with the Humans a long time ago. When I read this, I thought of the song “Revolution” by the Beatles. After reading further, I realized not only is this not a revolution, but also it is the start of a broken bond. If the two groups had actually agreed, perhaps the world would be much happier. But, they didn’t. The Ancients wanted peace; however, humans wanted to go to war. So the two were separated, and the elves became forgotten to the humans except for the ones believed to reside in the North Pole. The forgotten elves actually live in areas called the Lost Cities. The human cities are known as Forbidden Cities to the elves, because nobody except for the Ancients and the Council members are allowed to enter them.

Sophie Foster starts school at the most prestigious school for prodigy elves. She learns that she is a Telepath with impenetrable brainpower, an elf who is able to read minds and transmit thoughts without anybody reading hers. She has always been able to read human minds. However, elf minds proved more difficult. And, another thing, it turns out a group of elves are out to get her. If this book was turned into a film, the song “When you wish upon a star” from Walt Disney’s Pinocchio is a symbolic song for the credits. Sophie wished that she could belong and not stand out as the only prodigy. I give this first book in the trilogy 11 stars out of 10! I loved it and the series so much that it is now my second favorite book series next to Harry Potter! Kudos, Shannon Messenger.

-Maya Salem, 6th grade

Book Review: I Even Funnier, by James Patterson

i_even_funnierWARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD! If you haven’t read I Funny, you may want to skip this for now…

In this sequel to I Funny, Jamie Grimm comes back with a bang.

After winning the competition for Planet’s Funniest Kid Comic in Long Island and in New York, next up is the competition in Boston. But before that, he still has to deal with Stevie Kosgrov, bully extraordinaire, and goes on a date with Gilda Gold to a movie theater. Joey Pierce and Jimmy Gaynor, Jamie’s best friends, come along as well. While at the theater, Gaynor treats all of them to popcorn, and lots of other things with cash that “his mother gave him.”

However, Kosgrov comes along and ruins everything, and Jamie and Pierce find out that Gaynor got the money from stealing out of people’s lockers. After all of this, Jamie goes to the competition in Boston. There, he gets trampled by one of his former idols and finds out that Judy, who came in second at the competition in New York, is back for round two. Does he win? Read more to find out!

I liked this book a lot, maybe even better than the first one! A few new characters are introduced, and as mentioned in my review of I Funny, there is a crossover for a few pages where Rafe Khatchadorian(Middle School: The Worst Years of My Life and others) meets Jamie Grimm! Also, there are slightly more jokes than in the first volume, and there are better jokes as well. Overall I would give this a 9.5 out of 10- not perfect, but fantastic all the same.

-Linna C., 7th grade

Book Review: When You Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead

when_you_reach_meWhen You Reach Me is a book about friendship, child independence, and even a touch of time travel.

The book takes place in New York City in the year 1979. In the story, Miranda’s best friend, Sal, is randomly punched hard by an unknown boy for what seems like no reason while they are innocently walking home from school. Sal then shuts Miranda completely out of his life. Miranda’s house key is then stolen and she finds a strange note that says, “I am coming to save your friend’s life, and my own. I must ask two favors. First, you must write me a letter.” She finds more and more notes that lead her closer to the writer and they give her clues how to prevent a tragic death. This writer speaks to her of events before they even happen.

When You Reach Me has received many awards and deservingly so. I recommend this story to kids in 4th grade and up. This is a detailed read with an intricate ending. Before reading this book, you may want to pick up a copy of A Wrinkle In Time, because there are many references to that book in the story. This book was on my school’s summer required reading list. I found it to be interesting and engaging and I enjoy mystery novels. It gave me insight into how kids lived their lives before the age of technology and cell phones in that they walked the city streets free to explore without constant supervision even in the light of danger. I wish that kids today could have the same type of independence to explore their worlds during their childhood.

-Evan G., 6th grade