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

Book Review: Spy Camp by Stuart Gibbs

spy_campHaving recently completed his first semester at spy school, spy-in-training Ben Ripley is planning to enjoy his summer break hanging out with friends at home.  All of this changes, however, when he is informed of a mandatory spy summer camp.  As bad as spy school was, Ben now must face a death threat, an incompetent super spy, and an evil organization seeking nothing other than Ben’s recruitment.  As long forgotten secrets rise and old enemies appear at every corner, Ben must find out who is behind the SPYDER organization and stop them before it’s too late, or pay the ultimate price.

An inspiring sequel to Spy School (see my review), this novel -contains all of the same heart stopping action and witty retorts that we’ve all come to expect from Stuart Gibbs.  Be warned, this book is highly classified and, should it fall into the wrong hands, the CIA (Central Intelligence Agency) would have a big problem on their hands.  Most people think that spies live an exciting life of amazing missions, but that’s all tourist stuff.  Real spying is hard work, and this book shows just how hard it can be.

I highly recommend this book to anyone who likes a good mystery from time to time.  It’s always exciting when you can guess the ending before the characters do (I had solved the mystery by chapter 12, see if you can beat that record).  The author makes you believe one thing, then a revelation makes you believe something else, and then finally the author reveals that it was the first thing the whole time.  This is my third Stuart Gibbs novel and this one does not disappoint.

-Evan G, 6th grade

Book Review: My Heart and Other Black Holes, by Jasmine Warga

my_heart_black_holesMy Heart and Other Black Holes follows the journey of 16-year old Aysel as she plots her own death over the course of several weeks. Aysel is determined to die, she’s more afraid of what will happen if she lives than of the certainty of death, and she only has one thing holding her back. Aysel is worried that she might not have the courage to end her life by herself. She finds her solution on a website called Smooth Passages in the form of a boy name FrozenRobot (also known as Roman). Roman has his own baggage and his own reasons for wanting to die, but they both want the same thing in the end, to end their lives.

Over the course of several weeks the pair spends more and more time plotting their way out. As their plan becomes more concrete, it also starts to become more uncertain if it will reach fruition because Aysel starts to question everything about her future plans. Throughout the course of the book, Aysel and Roman go through a lot of character development that makes them very believable characters and makes for a very good read. The thing that really makes this book stand out though, is that it deals with suicide and depression in a very realistic and raw way; it doesn’t romanticize these feelings, but it doesn’t discount them either. Given that this is a YA novel, I think that this is a very important thing.

The way the plot develops is also nicely done, from the onset of the book we know that Aysel and Roman both want to die, but we don’t full know why, but as the plot moves forward we get bits and pieces until we can see the full story. Neither Roman nor Aysel know the full reason behind the other’s desire to die at the begging so both the read and the characters get this information together and it really draws you into the story. Roman and Aysel’s interactions with their family members is also very well done and interesting to watch develop and change. Roman’s mom and Aysel’s brother were my two favorite family members and I really enjoyed seeing how their actions influenced Roman and Aysel.

As a whole My Heart and Other Black Holes is a very powerful book that has a lot of emotion behind it and dose a wonderful job dealing with suicide and depression. The book ends on a hopeful note and is great read for anyone high school and up.

-Angela J.