Book Review: The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time by Mark Haddon

curious_incidentChristopher John Francis Boone has some “behavioral issues.”  These include social awkwardness, thrashing out when touched, a powerful loathing of the colors yellow and brown, constant irrational behavior, and being very racist toward France.  The story starts with Christopher staring out of his bedroom window in the middle of the night when he notices a dog, lying on the ground with a pitchfork sticking out of its side.  He decides then and there that he would find out who it was that murdered the dog. This is some of the “irrational behavior” that I mentioned above.   On his quest, he is arrested, threatened by a drunk, and finds out devastating family secrets that he was never meant to know.

This book is not for the prim and proper or easily offended and the many twists and turns will lead you to a conclusion that you would never expect.  This is not a book I would typically pick up because the title and cover page just shows an upside down poodle. It was given to me as part of the NPR top 100 recommendations list for teens so I took a crack at it and have to say I was pleasantly surprised and it is actually really good.  But seriously, the grownups throughout the story cuss, cuss, cuss throughout the entire book which I don’t think has anything to do with taking place in London. It is over the top cussing from these unsavory characters.  I am laughing as I write this because of the appalling use of language on every page.

-Evan G., 6th grade

Book Review: MAX: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson

maxMAX: A Maximum Ride Novel by James Patterson is a science-fiction book telling the story of the bold Maximum Ride and her daring flock rescuing Max’s biological mother. Max and her flock are 98% human and 2% bird, giving them the ability to fly. The entire flock has had many adventures together and because of their unique abilities they have been hunted by a numerous amount of enemies.

In this book, a man named Mr. Chu takes Max’s mother, Dr. Martinez. The reason for kidnapping her is that the CSM can cease to exist; CSM stands for the Coalition to Stop the Madness and its purpose is to spread global awareness on pollution. Joining the U.S. Navy in the search for Dr. Martinez, the courageous flock believes that she is being held off the coast of Hawaii. Is Dr. Martinez alive? Do they rescue her? Do they get rid of Dr. Chu? Read the book to find the answers to these puzzling questions.

I loved this book! It was fast-paced and very enjoyable to read. Liking how the book was in first person, I thoroughly loved Max’s wittiness and sharpness.The ending could have used a little improvement, but the book was great overall.This is my first Maximum Ride novel and now I want to read all of them after reading this one. I would advise this book for eight grade and above. Before starting this book, I would recommend clearing your schedule because you will not be able to put it down until the end!

-Anmol K., 8th grade

Book Review: Angel on the Battlefield by Ann Hood

angel_battlefieldThe book Angel on the Battlefield by Ann Hood is the story of the 12 year old twins, Maisie and Felix Robinson.

One day their parents tell of their divorce and both Maisie and Felix have to move with their mother to their grandmothers old mansion in Rhode Island. They decide to explore and find a secret room filled with magical artifacts that take them to different times in history linked to the objects.

They pick one up and end up on a Massachusetts farm in 1836 which so happened to belong to Clara Barton. They now have to find out why they’re there and how to get back.

Read the book for the whole story.

-Solana M., 6th grade

Book Review: Paranormalcy, by Kiersten White

paranormalcyUsually paranormal and cute aren’t words used together to describe the same book. So this might be the exception. Evie is not an ordinary teenage girl. She’s a little boy crazy, obsessed with pink, and most importantly can see paranormals. Or could she be one herself? One thing for sure is that her sight has ruined many paranormal stereotypes: vampires aren’t sexy, unicorns aren’t beautiful, and mermaids don’t have seashell bras. The only person with this sight, Evie works to track down paranormals causing problems and keep the humans safe for a paranormal agency.

Sometimes, situations aren’t always what they seem. One day, several paranormals wind up dead. No one can figure out why. Evie starts having strange dreams about a prophecy that ends in lots of death. And amid this mystery, there are also fairies. Fairies that cause trouble as they provide transportation for the paranormal agency. The most troublesome fairy for Evie is Reth, her immortal ex crush/boyfriend. He wants to force Evie into her destiny, by any means necessary.

Evie wishes for a normal life at a high school (like her favorite TV show), but otherwise she’s pretty content with her strange life. That is, until she meets a shapeshifter that makes her question everything she knew about the agency she works for. Well, it was less of a meeting than she tassed him with her sparkly pink taser Tasey. He quotes the very same prophecy from her dream and the plot thickens.

Evie as a character has a great mix of optimism and sarcasm. She is perky and gets excited over the simplest of things like lockers and dinner dates. Oh, and her obsession of pink. The story follows Evie’s journey to find herself and her discovery she is not alone. She isn’t a perfect character by any means, but that what makes her different yet still relatable. She’s quirky at times, always saying bleep instead of any real curse words. Long story. Then there are some times I want to slap her from being so naïve, but some twists I admit I didn’t see coming.

This light-hearted paranormal read is really fun and easy to get through. I’d recommend it to anyone who likes reading about vampires and werewolves, or anyone who is tired of the traditional view of paranormals. Except for fairies. Fairies are always trouble.

-Nicole G., 11th grade

Book Review: The Boy in the Striped Pajamas by John Boyne

boy_striped_pajamasFor this month’s post, I decided to write about one of the most shushed topics of history: WW2.

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas is about Bruno and his “explorations” during WW2. In the beginning, he and his family have to move since Hitler, or the Fury as it says in the book, gives a commandment job to Bruno’s dad. In the book it does not say that the Fury is Hitler but the reader can figure that out since the people on the other side of their house, the new house, are wearing striped pajamas and are being killed systematically.

For this book, instead of a summary, I wanted to give my opinion on how this book is.  I thought overall this story was very good. But, honestly, I thought the ending was way too harsh. SPOILER ALERT! When Bruno and Shmuel are gassed, it leaves the reader with nothing. As the reader, we have been on a long journey with both of them and in the end they suddenly die by being gassed. So, overall I would say this book was a 4/5, I just can’t bear the ending.

Let me know what you think about the ending– was it too harsh or was it perfect?

-Satej B., 8th grade

Book Review: Macbeth by William Shakespeare

macbethWilliam Shakespeare, the great English playwright, is renowned for his many works, ranging from plays to poetry to sonnets. However, Macbeth is considered to be his best achievement, known for its dark and powerful theme.

Also Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy, Macbeth tells the story of a brave Scottish general named Macbeth. When he receives a prophecy from three witches that declares he will be the King of Scotland, Macbeth becomes consumed with his growing ambition. With the urge of his wife, Macbeth commits a horrible murder in order to take the throne for himself. This terrible deed soon triggers a chain of multiple actions that eventually lead to a civil war that throws Macbeth and Lady Macbeth into a world of treachery, madness, and death.

Compared to the other Shakespearean plays that I have read, Macbeth was fairly easy to follow, as it had a plot line that was intriguing, almost like a novel. I found it interesting how Macbeth, who was once an honorable general, transformed into a heartless monster, whose ambition made him lose all sense of right and wrong. Overcome with guilt and paranoia, Macbeth begins to slowly mentally break down, to the point where he sees ghosts, as well as Lady Macbeth, who becomes convinced that her hands are permanently stained with the blood of the person they murdered.

All in all, I would certainly recommend this play to anyone who thinks Shakespeare is frustrating and difficult to read. Macbeth gave me a new insight on the writings of Shakespeare, and surprisingly, was very enjoyable. For those who have trouble understanding Shakespeare’s language, I would suggest finding a version with footnotes that explain and help in comprehending the Early Modern English. Macbeth is one of Shakespeare’s works that everyone must read during their lifetime, and it reminds us about the danger of ambition and the evil that lurks in every single one of us.

-Kaylie W., 10th grade

Book Review: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith

tree_grows_brooklynThe novel A Tree Grows in Brooklyn is about a young girl growing up in Brooklyn, New York at the turn of the century. It begins with a child, Francie, born in the tenements. During her childhood she would read her books in the fire escape and look at the tree in the center of the tenement district. The tree only grows in the districts and grows out of cement. On Saturdays she would bring junk in with her little brother, Neeley Nolan, to earn pennies so they can buy candy from Cheap Charlie’s, a penny-worth candy store. Charlie, the owner of the store, had a prize board but no one ever got a real prize, just candy for trying. She dreamed of coming back to the store with fifty cents so she can win all of the prizes on the board.

During her childhood, she went to school and was very good at writing. As she grew up, Francie went through her ups and downs as she overcame every one of them. She worked two jobs to support her family and to receive money. Francie’s first jobs was in an artificial flower-making company where she had to wrap green paper around a piece of wire to create the stem of the flower. Her second job was at a newspaper company where she had to read newspapers and clip article strips and sort them out by state. Finally, she grew up with her family and came out as a beautiful young lady.

I really liked this book because it had me interested with each chapter. It was a bit slow in the beginning but then it became full of character. There was some surprises along the way but they came at very great times during the book. I would recommend this book to people 13 years and up just because some of the events that happen are not for younger kids. If you ever read this book, I hope you will enjoy it.

-Samantha S., 8th grade