Avalon by Mindee Arnett

avalon_mindeearnettAvalon by Mindee Arnett is a science fiction novel telling the tale of Jeth Seagrave and his group of teenage mercenaries. Set in the future where space travel is possible, the Interstellar Transportation Authority (ITA) is responsible for this technology called metatech. With metatech, one is able to travel to other places in the universe faster than the speed of light.

Unfortunately, Jeth’s parents are dead and he and his sister Lizzie are stuck working for the crime lord, Hammer. Hammer gives Jeth and his crew different types of jobs that they complete to earn money. Jeth wants to save up enough money to buy his ship, Avalon, back from Hammer. This ship is very close to Jeth’s heart because it used to belong to his parents, but his uncle lost it while gambling.

Receiving a new job from Hammer, Jeth realizes that they pay-off would be enough to get Avalon back. With more enthusiasm than usual, Jeth commits to the job: go to the Belgrave quadrant, an area known to be haunted and those who go there rarely come back. Despite the danger, Jeth continues with the mission of getting an abandoned ship for Hammer. Jeth was ordered to stay off the ship Hammer wants, but he disobeys those orders and finds a group of humans. As he learns more about the stories of the survivors, Jeth realizes there is something very important on the ship. Acquiring very important information on the ship, Jeth realizes that the government and crime lords would be willing to kill to acquire this pivotal information.

I have been waiting for some time to read this book, and the wait was worth it. I enjoy the genre of sci-fi, and unfortunately there aren’t many good books in that genre. This book was great with its non-stop actions and the twists and turns. Headstrong and brave, Jeth was a great main character, but he fell flat in a couple of places. I also enjoyed how the story had many plot-twists. Some of them were predictable, but the rest were surprises. If you like Avalon, then make sure to check out the sequel, Polaris.

-Anmol K.

Avalon is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

thedarkestminds_alexandrabrackenHave you ever read a book that you had never seen before but upon finishing it, you wondered how it stayed out of your life? If not, you haven’t read The Darkest Minds.

In an imaginary, futuristic world, the adolescents of America and many other countries have been afflicted with IAAN, Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. Sounds scary, right? To many, yes. This disease gives the kids of the Psi generation “abilities” to see in another’s mind, to move things with a flick of their hands, to short circuit a car, the list goes on and on. The government issued a list of warning signs for parents to look for to “protect” their children, so that they can be “reformed.” So when Ruby was sent away to Thurmond, one of the government’s “rehabilitation camps” to be sorted, she was scared like any 10-year-old would be. But she had a secret to keep. One that made her more dangerous than she could imagine.

Truthfully, I was rather confused at the beginning of the novel, as I wasn’t sure where the story was going. But the mismatched events worked themselves out quickly, and now this book has made it near the top of my list of favorite books.

My favorite part was that I couldn’t put the book down. Though I had other things to be doing with my time, the book demanded my attention. I love when a book is able to make me laugh out loud one moment and make me cry the next, and this novel definitely fulfilled that requirement. I also loved that in the book, one of the characters, for more complex reasons, wrote a mini blog post, as a means of communicating with his mom. It contained a secret message only his mom could find.

But with any book, I do have a least favorite part. Little did I know, The Darkest Minds has a major spoiler for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which I have not finished reading for my English class! But oh well… If that’s the only complaint I have about the book, then it must be a great read! I highly recommend checking it out!

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Darkest Minds is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Essay: Should school be starting earlier?

For as long as we can remember, school has started in September, usually after Labor Day. However, this year it started two weeks earlier, a controversial change among parents, students, and teachers. While some think that this change will benefit students, a popular belief is that it is a dreadful decision.

Summer means late nights, beach time, and sleeping in. As a result, the remaining question is: is it okay for the school to cut our summer? Of course, there are academic benefits but they introduce us to nights of little sleep and stress earlier than normal.

Of course there are many benefits to school starting earlier. For starters, it gives teachers more time to prepare their students before AP and IB tests. Furthermore, it means less time wasted after AP and IB tests. And starting earlier means getting out of school earlier, a benefit to some seniors since all University of California schools with the exception of Berkeley start in late September.

However, there are many downsides. One of them being that you have less time to do summer homework. It is very hard to find time to play sports, go on vacations, and have fun with your friends as it is and school starting earlier doesn’t help the situation. Cutting our summer could give us even less time to finish the pages and pages of summer homework we have.

Another issue that comes along with school starting earlier and a shorter summer are the constraints it puts on family vacations. Trying to find a time when sports don’t conflict with vacation time becomes very difficult when school starts at a different time.
One factor that must be taken into consideration is that only this summer and next summer will be affected. After these two summers, the school year will fall into routine again. Although it may seem inconvenient right now, over time this will become insignificant due to the fact that school in August will become a standard start to school.
In the end, school starting earlier may be better academically, but it introduces stress, summer homework, and many other problems sooner than necessary.

-Melika R.

New Year’s Resolutions

Yes, I’m afraid it’s that time of year again. “New year, new you” as they say. There is a constant battle about resolutions that still hover over you as those final ten seconds of the year tick away. Many have mixed feelings about setting new resolutions because they feel pressured over what they should be, whether it’s as simple as being nicer or something a harder like losing weight. In my opinion, New Year’s resolutions are a good thing. You’re setting goals for yourself and pursuing what you want. Even if some seem hard at first, you shouldn’t give up. Remember that you have a whole year! Take it one small step at a time to get where you want to be.

Now, this doesn’t mean you can procrastinate. Believe me, I love to wait until the last minute to do things, but that doesn’t help me at all. You should plan it out, making sure that by the end of the year, you’ve completed what you wanted. Also, don’t set a goal that’s going to be impossibly hard to achieve. However, it shouldn’t be too easy, just enough to push yourself.

If you are happy with where you are and what you’re doing, that’s awesome! If resolutions stress you out, don’t worry about. Just make sure that you’re doing what you really love. Happy New Year’s, everyone! Don’t be afraid to step out of your comfort zone a little and live the way you want.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade

The Rest of us Just Live Here by Patrick Ness


Percy Jackson and the Olympians was told in the view of Percy Jackson. The Harry Potter series was written as a narration following Harry Potter. But does one really have to be the hero in order to tell the story? What if the hero’s story, set in a small town that occasionally gets hit by the zombies, vampires, and whatnot of apocalypses, causing the town to explode and get saved by a hero/heroine.

But what if the story is not told by the heroine herself, one of her friends, or even the villain? What if the story is from the point of view of Mickey, a boy who just wants to graduate high school, have fun with his twin and their friends, and even try to ask a girl to prom? So what if there are zombie deer and cops with glowing blue eyes; he just wants to survive his daily life.

Even if his best friend’s a quarter god, his twin has an eating disorder, and he has OCD.

I love how Ness wrote this book. At first I didn’t get what was going on, but that’s the author’s point here. He wants to show that ordinary kids can be the heroes of the books that we read while we were kids, no matter who we are or what we consider ourselves. We’re all special, making us the heroes of our own lives. It really gave me food for thought.

Although the book isn’t written like a typical heroic story, Ness does provide a short summary of the plot of the supposed “heroes” at the start of every chapter, which is very confusing until you realize that is from a different plotline. This book is definitely a huge recommend who like fantasy and school life.

-Megan V.

The Rest of Us Just Live Here is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.