Anthem by Ayn Rand

Anthem, a dystopian novel by Ayn Rand, is certainly a unique piece of literature. Described by herself as not a book, but a poem, and with a plot lasting less than 50 pages, Anthem is an ode to Objectivism. Written in 1937, imagined in the Soviet Union, Rand wrote the book in a time of political turmoil, which is reflected in her writing.

The story follows Equality 7-2521, a man who lives in an entirely collectivist society. Forbidden to think individual thoughts or exercise free will, Equality knows that something is wrong with the world he lives in. Since he was a child, he was different than his peers: he was always curious. When it is time for him to be assigned a job, he is not given the job of a scholar, as he wishes, but is sentenced to a life sweeping streets for this essential sin. However, this dark future opens up to light, quite literally, when he makes a revolutionary discovery.

Without spoiling the plot of the story, I can say that the book praises the human ego. Ego seems today to have a negative connotation, like a person obsessed with themselves. It can almost be confused with narcissism. Whatever picture that you have in your mind of “ego”, put it out. In this context, Rand praises man’s control over his own mind, man’s independence, and man’s freedom to learn, be successful, and make choices for himself. As shown in the book, ego is a beautiful thing that society falls apart without. Anthem is the perfect, short read for anybody who wants to have more food for thought than even some average length novels can provide.

-Mirabella S. Grade 9

Anthem by Ayn Rand is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon

Image result for the sun is also a starThe Sun Is Also A Star, by Nicola Yoon, is told through the perspective of two teenagers: Natasha and Daniel. Natasha is Jamaican senior who loves music and science.  She is going to be deported from the United States, and tries to talk to a lawyer to let her stay in America. Daniel is a Korean senior who meets Natasha by fate.  They spend the day together, trying to get to know each other better. Natasha is dealing with trying to not be deported, while Daniel is trying to avoid his Yale interview. They discuss science, life, poetry, and love. Natasha doesn’t believe that she can fall in love with him, while Daniel thinks the opposite.

Even though the author wrote back and forth between Natasha and Daniel in short paragraphs, and had background information about several topics in the book as another chapter, I thought that this book was well written. You spend the entire book hoping that Natasha isn’t deported, and think that Daniel and Natasha are meant to be together. I thought that the ending was well written, but the epilogue should have been longer.

This book is for the fans of John Green.  It’s bittersweet, and it makes you think that even though you think there’s no hope, there still is hope. It’s okay for most audiences. I would recommend this book for people who are okay with a sad and meaningful book.

-Rebecca V., 8th grade

The Sun Is Also A Star by Nicola Yoon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Writing Prompts

Prompt: A fair has come to town with a strange funhouse. Inside is a mirror that shows the viewer that last thing they will see before they die.

“Come on, Cam!” He shouted. “It’ll be fun.” I should’ve known he wanted to come here. The annual fair was his favorite place to go. I just didn’t think he’d drag me here on our 7 month anniversary.

“Why don’t I just wait out here while you go in?” I laughed, trying not to ruin his mood. I really didn’t want to spend ten minutes in a mirror maze that’ll leave me with a headache as soon as I come out.

He used his infamous puppy dog eyes on me. “Please…You know it’s no fun if I go alone.”

I sighed. I really didn’t want to be the kill of his excitement. I smiled and followed Jay through the doors, preparing myself for the vertigo. The space behind the door opened up into a hallway of mirrors with dark lighting and a door at the end. I started to walk towards it when I realized it was only a reflection of the original one, bouncing off the other mirrors. Other than that, there wasn’t much excitement in here. About to ask if we could go, I was interrupted by a sigh.

“Shoot. I think my hat fell off outside.”

I turned back to him and laughed. Relieved that I had an excuse to leave, I replied, “Let’s get it then.”

“No, you stay here and enjoy it. I’ll be right back.” Before I could answer, Jay was already out the door. I rolled my eyes and made my way to the exit. No way I was staying here by myself.

I reached for the handle on the door and was met with a hard surface. I tried again and the door handle wasn’t there. I looked up at the reflection I had thought was real. Unbelievable. I turned around and walked down the hallway, seeing my figure follow me with my peripheral vision. When I got to end, the door did the same thing. No handle. Just a reflection. I groaned in frustration. How did I get so turned around?

I looked at my surroundings, trying to find the way I had come in. All I could see was my own confused face staring back at me. It filled the room, ceiling to floor. Then suddenly the lights went out. Just great.

“Hello?” I called out. “There’s someone in here. Could you turn the lights back on please?”

The hallway immediately filled with light once again, but the reflections were gone. In fact all that was around me was the wood of the walls, except for the screen at the end of the hallway. Walking to it, a movie starting playing. It didn’t seem like a movie that I had seen before.

The screen went into focus and I saw the funhouse. The same one I was in with it’s wooden door, leading into this hallway. I saw the carousel across from it and even Jay walking towards the entrance just like before when he beckoned me inside.

What the hell was going on here?

The image flashed forward to night. Jay was driving his beat up truck on the freeway towards home. Our favorite band was playing on the radio, and we both sang along. We screamed the lyrics with the windows rolled down and the wind whipping my hair. I smiled at how happy we looked.

But then the camera zoomed in on the speedometer the pin moved from 70 to 75…85…100…

“Stop!” I screamed at the video. But we just kept on singing. As the car moved faster, our voices got louder, louder than the cars around us, louder than the revving engine, louder than the honk of the upcoming truck as we crashed into it.

“No!” Tears filled my eyes, and I pounded on the screen. I wanted out of this hallway. I threw myself at the wall and felt the jab as the doorknob poked my side. The door! I twisted it and was met with the sun and the carousel and most importantly Jay, who was waiting just outside the door. Alive.

I flung myself into his arms. “You’re okay!” I hugged him tight so he couldn’t move away. Thankfully, he wrapped his arms around me, reassuring me that he was real.

“Of course I’m okay.” He laughed. “What’re you so worried about?”

I looked up at him through the water in my eyes. “You died. I died.”

He wiped at my face to clear it. “What are you talking about, sweetie? Everything’s fine.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back.

“How long was I in there?” I asked, hoping for an answer.

“Only a second. I was coming right back in when you came out.”

I noticed the hat on his head. “But that’s impossible.”

“Are you okay?” He asked, brushing the hair from my eyes.

I shook my head. “It was so real,” I whispered.

He kissed my head. “It’s okay now, Cam. The sun’s setting already. How about I just take you home?” I nodded and let him lead me to the fair’s exit. “And don’t worry, it’ll be faster if I take the freeway.” He winked.

Prompt: An extra hour occurs at midnight but only a handful of people can experience it. It is called the Dark Hour.

When the minute hand landed on the daunting 12, the chimes were cut short as the second hand stopped. Silence rang through the still house. No one was moving, no one was breathing, for time was frozen. It was a time when the unknown could venture undetected. Alone in the world, they could roam with no humans in their way. That is except for the chosen.

These few people were able to experience the extra hour given to them. Some viewed it as a blessing, others a curse. When the creatures came out for leisure, they didn’t take kindly to the ones who disturbed them. If someone was awake, they’d know.

So when Brian opened his eyes that night for his first Hour, he had no idea the things he would never be able to unsee. The abrupt stop of the clock awoke him, and his eyes snapped open to the chill of lifelessness. He could feel it in his bones; immediately he knew what it was.

Slowly, he shuffled his feet to the floor and was surprised at his silent steps when the floor didn’t creak. All there was was quiet. Nothing moved out of place. His discreet footsteps took him to the screen at back door where he expected to find the trees rustled by wind but there was none. Life was like a picture, a completely unmoving portrait.

Until the first monster ripped through the illusion and made its presence known with a roar.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

With Malice by Eileen Cook

Get ready to clear your schedule because With Malice by Eileen Cook will keep you hooked and unwilling to put her story down. Yale-bound, 18-year-old Jill Charron’s life is turned around when she wakes up in a hospital bed with a big blank where the memories of the past six weeks should be. Learning that she was in a cataclysmic car accident, she is shocked when she learnt it happened in her dream school trip abroad in Italy. Struggling to recover from her injuries sustained in the accident, she is startled to discover her best friend of over ten years, Simone, is dead.

Furthermore, she discovers her affluent father has hired a top-notch lawyer because the car accident and Simone’s death are being investigated as a murder, and Jill is being accused of causing Simone’s death. Simultaneously recovering from her injuries, and dealing with the aftermath of the accident, Jill must piece together the glimpses of memories she has to figure out what really happened to her best friend.

As I read this book, I was completely enamored with the story, and I could not put it down. The concept of the story may not be unique, but it was told in a way that made it seem like it was. The way Jill was portrayed in the story was accurate and she seemed like a real person. The ending fell a little bit flat, but overall the story was engrossing.

-Anmol K.

With Malice by Eileen Cook is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

Magical Girl Raising Project by Endou Asari

Welcome, pon! My name is Fav, pon!

I am called a cyber fairy. My masters, from the land of magic, came up with a brilliant plan to help save the world by using a famous social game, pon! We will use the social game to find “magical girls”, those given special feminine bodies to help save the world, pon!

We allow boys, girls, and even animals so long as they have the aptitude to believe in magic, pon! Of course, they will be turned into girls whenever they want to use magical powers, pon!

What magical powers, you ask, pon? Well, I just transformed a girl named Kyouki into the magical girl “Snow White”, who can not only run fast, jump high and be super strong, but can also “hear the voices of those in distress.”

Of course, the magical powers all depend on the person, pon. Snow White had always wanted to be a magical girl, even though she had previously thought that they were only in anime and manga. When she became a magical girl, she wanted to save people, hence her power, pon! But there’s girls who believe that ninjas and cowgirls are the best magical girls, pon!

But unfortunately, the magic in the Land of Magic is running out because there are too many magical girls, pon. So, there will a test; those who cannot collect enough magical candies every week will be eliminated, pon!

Oh? You want to know what I mean by eliminated, pon? It’s like it sounds! The losing girl will lose her magical girl powers, which essentially means taking a part of herself away from her, which means that she will die, pon!

Of course, if one girl dies before the week is up, no one will be eliminated, pon!

Oh, and I heard that there will a light novel of the events to come is coming out on June 20, so I know that these girls will provide a great psychological and gruesome tragedy that readers will enjoy, pon!!!!

Er, I mean, it will be a light novel (novella with a few manga-like pages) of sixteen girls who discover the true meaning of magical girls and friendship through enduring tests and experiencing each one of them losing their magical girl powers.

Bye for now, pon!

-Megan V, 11th Grade

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips

Sometimes judging a book by its cover is an incredible thing. For instance, take a look at Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips: an orange background adorned by a marble Adonis in purple boxers.

I mean, how can you not want to read that book?

While it’s definitely R-rated in some scenes, this novel is a more crass Percy Jackson. I remember desperately trying to throw myself back into Riordan’s series in middle school, only to be entirely bored. I’m pretty sure my heart fully stopped during The Battle of the Labyrinth.

But it was no fault of the books! They had stayed the same, and I had merely grown out of them. I needed my fix of mythology from somewhere else.

Marie Phillips manages to recapture the magic of Greek gods and goddesses living in the modern world. London, England, Modern World, as a matter of fact. Crammed in a tiny house, a handful of minor deities work in satirical jobs amongst mortals, have startling amounts of sex, and are generally terrible to one another.

They rally against the loss of their power, feeling lost as the world slowly forgets about them.

This book is very British, in addition to being extremely funny. It is one which can jump-start a fading love for reading. I would recommend it to anyone who doesn’t have too delicate of sensibilities, and is looking for a quick romp through the lives of Olympians.

-Zoe K., Grade 11

Gods Behaving Badly by Marie Phillips is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Island by Olivia Levez

The Island by Olivia Levez was my “Book Set in The Wilderness” for the PopSugar 2017 Reading Challenge. Let me tell you, I was not emotionally prepared for this one.

This story is built on pain, suffering, redemption, and most importantly, survival. I have fallen in love numerous times with survival stories. The Book Thief and The Storyteller broke my heart one after another. A word of advice, do not read these in succession. They will wreck you.

But there is something special about The Island. Outside of Levez’ incredible and unique writing style – one which uses, actually uses, syntax – the story itself is exciting, quick, and witty. Frances’ internal monologue is sarcastic and hilarious, if not a bit abrasive.

In between the struggle to live on her deserted island in the middle of the sea, Frances recalls the pain of her modern life. There is a constant fear of death, of losing what little one has gained.

Though I have never come close to feeling my life was in this level of danger, there is still a deeply engaging in a story about someone fighting for herself, and only herself.

The pages practically turn themselves. The Island is an under the cover with a flashlight read; one you read through the night and into the morning.

-Zoe K., Grade 11

The Island by Olivia Levez is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library