Book Review: No More Dead Dogs, by Gordon Korman

no_more_dead_dogsLet me start off by saying: best book ever!

Wallace Wallace, (not a typo- that’s his name!) the most popular kid in school who is the football star, doesn’t tell lies… He has learned that lying is horrible; from his dad who lied on everything possible to Wallace, one of the big lies was that he was in the army. LIE! So that’s where Wallace learns not to lie from, so when Mr. Fogelman gives Wallace an assignment to read and give a book review about “Old Shep, My Pal” he writes this:

“Old Shep, My Pal by Zack Paris is the most boring book I’ve read in my entire life. I did not have a favorite character. I hated everyone equally. The most interesting part came on the last page where it said “The End”; this book couldn’t be any lousier if it came with a letter bomb. I would not recommend it to my worst enemy.”

Mr. Fogelman was enraged! How dare Wallace say that?! So after confronting Wallace, which ended in an argument, Mr. Fogelman gave a detention to Wallace where he would write a “proper’’ review, which meant he couldn’t play football until he was done with detention! And as everyone knows Wallace can’t say a lie! So how will Wallace be able to join football again…..?

And with that, something horrible keeps on happening to the school play… which Mr. Fogelman is the director; all eyes are on Wallace as the prime suspect. Nothing could be worse; the Giants are on a losing streak without Wallace! The team hates him, the drama club thinks he is the person who destroys the set of the play, and most of all how can he lie in his report!? You’ll have to read the book to find out what Wallace does…..

I would recommend this book to boy or girl ages 8-14. It’s an amazing read. Enjoy!

-Satej B., 8th grade

Book Review: Revived, by Cat Patrick

revivedImagine knowing that you would be able to die over and over, and still be brought back to life within minutes. What kind of risks would you take if you were able to achieve the impossible and cheat death?

Cat Patrick’s sci-fi novel Revived describes the life of Daisy Appleby, a fifteen-year-old who is part of a top-secret government experiment. As a child, she died in an unfortunate bus accident. But thanks to a newly developed drug name Revived, Daisy was able to be brought back to life. Since the first accident, Daisy has died a total of five times. As a result, Daisy lives a very careless life, as she knows that she will always be able to beat death. However, something changes when she befriends the optimistic, charismatic, Audrey, and her caring brother, Matt. Daisy starts to question her morals and slightly skewed approach to life. Is it truly right to take life for granted, while others only have one chance to make the best of it?

I must admit that the characters were very relatable, especially Daisy, because she struggles with the same everyday life dilemmas we have today. After each death, Daisy is forced to move to a different state and take on a new identity, in order to avoid suspicion. She struggles to fit in and find her place in the world, which is pretty difficult if she is constantly transferring schools. Nevertheless, I felt that Daisy was selfish and immature at times when complaining about how she can’t have a “normal life,” even though she is able to die more than once. I believe that she wouldn’t have to face this problem if she was simply more careful and aware of her surroundings.

While I did think Revived was predictable at times and left too much information unexplained and vague, I did enjoy it because it was different than most young adult books today. The setting wasn’t a dystopian, future society, and the romance wasn’t overdone, so it didn’t take over and ruin the main plot line. I would rate this book a 7 out of 10 and recommend it to those who like reading simple, science fiction novels. In my opinion, Revived was a good book, but not good enough to rate it as one of those “must read” novels. Most importantly, though, it conveys the message that we should make the most of and always appreciate the gift of life.

-Kaylie W., 10th grade

Book Review: We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart

we_were_liars“Welcome to the beautiful Sinclair family. No one is a criminal. No one is an addict. No one is a failure…We are the Sinclairs. No one is needy. No one is wrong. We live, at least in the summertime, on a private island off the coast of Massachusetts. Perhaps that is all you need to know.” (3)

With its thought-provoking title and captivatingly blurry cover-photo, I expected We Were Liars to be an interesting read. That being said, the book largely exceeded my expectations.

We Were Liars is told in the first person point of view and bounces back and forth from summers past to present. These snippets of information provide the reader with a detailed history of the Sinclair family; along with a deeper understanding of the protagonist’s character and motives.

This contemporary, realistic YA novel contains stories of criminal activity; childhood adventure; constant action; uniquely limited friendships; forbidden romance; excruciating loss; unconditional love; utmost regret; what it means to belong; and the truth regarding mental inadequacy.

One specific facet of this story that I liked was the humor; strategically placed between solemn moments of the novel, We Were Liars had me laughing out loud in the middle of English class. The comedy utilized is clean, spontaneous, John Greenesque, and (in other words) inexplicably hilarious.

“‘Don’t look at my troll feet,’ says Gat suddenly.

‘What?’

‘They’re hideous. A troll snuck into my room at night, took my normal feet for himself, and left me with his thuggish troll feet.’ Gat tucks his feet under a towel so I can’t see them. ‘Now you know the truth.’

…‘Wear shoes.”

‘I’m not wearing shoes on the beach…I have to act like everything’s okay until I can find that troll. Then I’ll kill him to death and get my normal feet back. Have you got weapons?’

‘No.’

‘Come on.’

‘Um. There’s a fire poker in Windemere.’

‘All right. As soon as we see that troll, we’ll kill him to death with your fire poker.’

‘If you insist.’” (72)

Another aspect of We Were Liars that I came to enjoy was E. Lockhart’s particular style of writing, which is notably similar to Tahereh Mafi, author of the Shatter Me trilogy. Occasionally their prose transforms into free verse and then back again like a flicker of poetry, in a fashion that successfully mimics the subconscious rant-like thought process.

“I plunge down,
to rocky rocky bottom, and
I can see the base of Beechwood Island and
my arms and legs feel numb but my fingers are cold. Slices
of seaweed go past as I fall.
And then I am up again, and breathing.
I’m okay,
my head is okay,
no one needs to cry for me or worry about me.
I am fine,
I am alive.
I swim to shore.” (142)

Liars is truly a roller coaster full of unexpected twists, sharp turns, and gut-wrenching drops; I guarantee that you will be kept on your toes as Cadance strives to recover her past, no matter what that might mean or whom it may affect.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for a good read, particularly fans of John Green, Lauren Myracle, Maureen Johnson, Scott Westerfeld, Ally Carter, and Libba Bray.

-Danielle K., 9th grade

Book Review: The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass

frederick_douglass“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

When my AP Lang class was assigned to read The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, I thought it was going to be difficult to get through, but after only reading the first chapter, I was captivated by Douglass’ writing style.

As it was an autobiographical narrative, there wasn’t any plot, but in order to engage the reader as well as to demonstrate his impressive self-taught writing skills, Douglass uses deep rhetorical language to really get to the reader. He takes the horrific atrocities of slavery which he experienced and lays them all down in order for the reader to better understand this dark time in human history. The book is a fast read, and can easily be finished in a couple of days, at most.

“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny”

-Sara S., 11th grade

Series Introduction: The Heir Chronicles, by Cinda Williams Chima

heir_chroniclesHave you ever wanted to be able to see the future? To be able to do magic? Fight with magic swords? Talk people into giving you things, heal the toughest of wounds and illnesses, or take power and energy out of other people?

The ones who can are called the Weir. They have five guilds, all with separate powers and abilities. The sorcerers can heal any wound and can work with amulets and other material magic. Enchanters can talk people into giving them anything, or even doing something for them. Warriors are the brawn of the guilds and the weapon wielding Weir. The seers can see into the future, and can sometimes control it, too. Wizards, the most powerful of all, shape magic with words and have enslaved the other guilds into obeying them and giving them authority.

This four book series, which includes The Warrior Heir, The Wizard Heir, The Dragon Heir, and The Enchanter Heir, are stories of how these guilds battle against one another and fight for equal power amongst all the guilds. The main characters include Jack and Ellen, who are warriors, Will and Fitch, who are AnaWeir or non magical, Linda and Jonah, who are enchanters, Leander, Seph, Jason and many others who are wizards, and Madison, who is an elictor. Elictors draw magic out of other people to use it themselves or to stop their opponents.

I am currently reading the fourth book of the series, The Enchanter Heir, which is about a young enchanter named Jonah. I haven’t gone too far into the book now, but right after I finish writing this I am going to go and read it. If anyone has read these books please post a comment below about which guild you would be a part of or if you liked these books!

-Kyle H., 8th grade

Authors We Love: Lauren Oliver!

lauren_oliver_headshotLauren Oliver has become one of my favorite authors already, and I’ve only read two of her books! Her writing style is so intriguing; I literally cannot put her books down. I read both Before I Fall and Delirium over the summer, and both made me smile and made me cry. In her writing, Lauren Oliver makes the reader contemplate many interesting questions such as: What happens after death, or rather, what could happen after death? What if love was a disease? Would you take the cure? I found that after reading chapters upon chapters of her work, my mind happily became consumed in her book worlds. Lauren Oliver will help you identify yourself through reading her novels and you too will be left wondering.

before_i_fallBefore I Fall is the story of a popular girl named Samantha Kingston who hasn’t a care in the world. However, the story behind this one is that Samantha died on one particular day. This story is told through the perspective of Samantha given more chances to relive that one day, and it truly shows the value in second chances. Each time she gets to relive her last day, Samantha makes kinder and more impactful decisions to benefit those she hardly would have glanced at before. I loved how every chapter started the same, as if Samantha really was waking up to her alarm for the first time, even if it was the sixth or seventh time. It was fascinating to read the perspective of someone who can finally see their life clearly, because they have no blinders to protect them. They see their life as a whole, and therefore can make wiser choices. A famous saying that works perfectly with the theme of this story is: “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty” –Billy Wilder. Oliver poses the question: What would you do if you had second chances to live?

delirium_seriesOn the opposite genre spectrum, Delirium is a dystopian themed trilogy starter about a girl named Lena who lives in a society where love is considered a disease. Young adults are cured of the disease at the age of eighteen and then they are matched with someone for life, void of attractions to each other. All her life Lena has not questioned the decision of her elders that love is dangerous, until a few months before her eighteenth birthday when she meets a boy and ultimately falls in love with him. Suddenly all that Lena thought was good for the citizens becomes evil, and she must learn to identify with herself.

Oliver writes brilliantly, accurately portraying the confused and headstrong teen while showing their sensitive sides as well. I fell in love with Lena and Alex because they aren’t perfect. So many couples in literature have these magical fairy tales that just aren’t reality, so it’s so fresh to have a pair who have flaws. The real testament of their love is how they stay together despite the society security and Lena’s family against them. I find it so inspiring to read about “What ifs.” It’s one of my favorite types of books to read because they make you think beyond the characters into imagining what you at first thought to be impossible become possible.

Lauren Oliver is an incredible author for young adults because she writes to pose questions, not answers. She opens your mind to possibilities, and just like every good author, she transports you to another era, time, place, and world. I would absolutely love to see both of these books be made into movies so long as the directors and actors stay true to the books’ messages. If they try to turn it into a perfect Hollywood romance or emotional bologna, then it will do injustice to the thought-provoking genius that is Lauren Oliver. Lastly, I believe that characters with imperfections are so important to give to readers because they prove that it’s okay to not be perfect.

Please leave me a comment if you have any recommendations of books I would like that are similar to Lauren Oliver’s writing and your thoughts on my post!

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

Book vs Movie: Percy Jackson

percy_book_movieI think this is the best place to say “The books were better than the movies” because I am going to talk about the Percy Jackson series. That saying works best with this series because the books were the best books I have ever read and the movies… not so much.

If I had not read the book and I saw the movie, then I would have thought that it was a cool story and a good movie overall. But since I read the book first, I had a 10/10 rating in my hand and a less than 10/10 rating on the screen. The movie makers aren’t even going to make a third movie because they aren’t making a profit on them.

The books are written in the perspective of Percy Jackson, which is hard to do when you’re writing, and gives a whole lot more description about what is going on. First off, in the movies, there was no description as deep as the description from the books and they left out huge things from the books that the storyline barely made sense. They also added things from the last book that totally ruined what the second book was about!

But I am not just here to criticize the movies; I am also here to talk about how AMAZING the books were. You’ve got action most of all that is really cool to picture in my mind. The description is really great because I am able to visualize and make a movie in my head about what is happening in the book! My head movies are better than the movie theater movies even! (I wonder if the director even read the book…)

Also, the Heroes of Olympus series is just as good. All these books aren’t some of those “and they lived happily ever after” stories; these books actually make you think and enjoy and relate to the characters. I know I am not the only one that is waiting for the next Heroes of Olympus book that just came out and I also know that I am not the only one who is really excited for it!

I know this Book vs. Movie post is kind of late, since the books have been out a while and the movies too, but I have just recently been reading them and watching them again. I am sorry for those of you who turned 13 and did not get chased by monsters to Camp Half Blood, but those of you who are not 13 yet, don’t lose hope! If anyone, and I am sure there are a lot of you, feels the same way about these books and movies, or if you don’t, please leave a comment below!

-Kyle H., 8th grade