Assassination Classroom by Yusei Matsui

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Almost none of us like school, that’s for sure. But what if your school held a competition where poor students and delinquents are sent to the “END” class, to be bullied every single day? How would it feel to be told that you’re the worst of the worst, and that everyone else is better than you, and the only way to get better is through mindless studying?

And what if your savior is a yellow octopus whose hobbies are being weak and loves the word “tentacles”?

Enter class 3-E (considered 9th grade in America), whose students consist of one genius psychopath, a few smart kids that failed on tests because of various non-school related things, and a whole bunch of people who just don’t get the material or don’t study. Their new teacher, an octopus alien that can run at Mach 20 (twenty times the speed of sound) named Koro-sensei, who is really good at teaching but has plans to destroy the Earth just like how he reduced the moon to 70% of its original size. Because of this, the Japanese FBI takes a vested interest in the class and teaches the kids something they actually might be good at: the art of assassination.

This manga will set you on a roller coaster. As I was reading the chapters, I saw everything from a serious plot line to absolute comedy to tear-jerking moments to back to comedy and repeat about 100 times. The genre could be described as an action/comedy, but there are some tragic moments too. Additionally, for those who only like to read manga that has finished its run, this manga is set to end by mid-March, with 180 chapters of 20 pages or so each.

Finally, despite his 40 or so weaknesses, there is a thing or two we can learn from Koro-sensei. He teaches us that it’s okay to be weak, and that while we may only want to ace in one subject, we should try our best in others because all subjects are related. The reader actually learns a thing or too in school subjects too.

All in all, everybody, no matter what preference, can enjoy this manga.

-Megan V., 10th Grade

Assassination Classroom is available for check out at the Mission Viejo Library

Akatsuki no Yona (Yona of the Dawn) by Mizuho Kusanagi

Yona is a typical sixteen year old princess who has grown up with sheltered from the world. She is naïve, stubborn, hates her red hair, and can have anything she wants. Yona is in love with her cousin Soowon and doesn’t know her  annoying bodyguard Hak, who is strong at absolutely everything, has feelings for her. She dreams of marrying Soowon one day, and having Hak as her bodyguard forever.

This all changes when she discovers Soowon murdering her peace loving father.

Now, Yona has to escape with Hak and find the legendary four men with the powers of a dragon, who have said to inherited power that assisted the legendary great king with red hair.

Problem is, would these dragons want to cooperate? And if so, would she still want to kill Soowon when she finds them all?

This manga is amazing. Not only does the series live up to its expectations with politics and revenge, but there is a lot of amazing comic relief at the most random of times. For example, Yona is complaining about her hair in the first chapter. Her father asks Hak to cheer her up, and Hak replies that there’s nothing wrong with her hair, but rather her head instead.

Additionally, I love how the author does some really great character transformation on Yona. She learns a lot in her journeys, and goes from weak little girl to strong warrior princess that helps her kingdom, which is really a big change that is not often shown in a main character.

All in all, this manga is a very awesome one to read and very recommended.

-Megan V., 10th grade

2001: A Space Odyssey Essay

Throughout the movie, many parts led me to believe that David Bowman, in 2001: A Space Odyssey, is most relatable to Odysseus, in The Odyssey. David Bowman and Odysseus relate in many ways. First, David Bowman is emotionless and “cold-blooded,” just as Odysseus is throughout The Odyssey. Second, David Bowman could be described as intelligent and witty, as could Odysseus could be described as well throughout the story. Lastly, David Bowman is strong-willed and strong-minded, which Odysseus is in many sections of The Odyssey.

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David Bowman could be characterized as emotionless because in order for him to open the emergency latch door to get himself to safety, he lets go of the body of his fellow scientist, Frank Poole, who he recently just picked up. He does this to ensure that he could live because Hal, the “sixth member” and computer on board, malfunctions and doesn’t let David Bowman in with the body of Frank Poole. The body of Frank Poole was held onto by the claws of the pod that David Bowman was in. Since Hal didn’t let David to enter, he had to enter through the emergency landing pod, which had to be opened by the claws of the pod he was in, so without thinking twice, David Bowman let goes of Frank Poole’s body, into space. This shows how David Bowman is completely emotionless and that relates him to Odysseus because when Odysseus returns to find that his maids have betrayed him, he makes them clean up the blood, and then he decides to kill all of them, which I think is completely unfair because he never took a second thought to consider the circumstances that the maids were in. The maids didn’t really have any choice but to betray him. So, this is a reason why David Bowman and Odysseus relate.

Another reason why David Bowman is like Odysseus is because David is intelligent. Throughout the movie, David Bowman shows his smartness in many ways. First, when Hal restricts David from entering, he thinks of another way, and succeeds. David entered through the emergency landing pod. Since he didn’t have a helmet, he had to improvise. He brilliantly lined the door to the opening of the emergency pod landing, then he jumped out grabbing the latch handle to close it. That plan that he made, in a matter of barely any time, saved his life. This is why I would describe David Bowman as intelligent and smart, which would relate to Odysseus too because in order for Odysseus to defeat the cyclops, he used his skilled mind to blind the cyclops and save his crew, quite simply from dying. Another time in The Odyssey when Odysseus shows how he is smart is when he heeds to Circe’s advice to not eat the cattle on the island of Helios.

odyssey_homerLastly, I would relate David Bowman and Odysseus with the trait of strong-willed. David Bowman, shows how he is strong-minded when he continues to Jupiter even though he lost all of his fellow scientists and cutting out Hal.This, to me, shows that he is persistent and will do anything to succeed in the mission. Whether that’s always good, or not, that’s arguable on the situation at hand, and in the circumstances, I would say that it is a good thing that David Bowman in strong-minded and strong-willed to continue to Jupiter. This attribute relates to Odysseus in many ways. Throughout, The Odyssey there were many times where Odysseus showed his courage and his strong mind. For example, when they passed by the Sirens, he sacrificed himself for the crew, he stayed tied to the mast ended up being the first man to survive the Sirens’ song. Also, he shows he is strong-minded when he is forced to stay for seven years at Kalypso’s island. He does end up staying all seven years and then is set free, so his time in the island, shows the readers how strong-willed and strong-minded he can be.

Throughout 2001: A Space Odyssey, David Bowman shows how he relates to his Greek equivalent, Odysseus. First, how emotionless he is when he lets go of Frank Poole’s body into space and how Odysseus slaughters all of his maids. Second, when David Bowman shows his intelligence, quite like Odysseus blinding the cyclops, when he finds another way to enter through the emergency landing hatch. Lastly, David Bowman’s strong mind related to Odysseus when he continues to go to Jupiter, and when Odysseus stays captive for seven years, but “toughs it out.” Overall, out of all the characters in 2001: A Space Odyssey, I would say David Bowman relates to Odysseus the most.

-Satej B.

2001: A Space Odyssey is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

delirium_laurenoliverWhat would happen if love were outlawed? If it were eradicated from society, with all teenagers given a “procedure” which prevented them from feeling strong emotions?

This is the basis around the life Lena lives. Her mom committed suicide after Lena’s father died because she loved him, unlike the other couples who learned to live with one another. Lena’s older sister was also in love and had to be dragged to her procedure. Now, everywhere Lena goes, the story follows her, words of suicide and diseased.

But everyone claims the procedure is the cure. After that, people can live normal lives, go to college, get paired and married, and have the exact number of children the government requires. All the “cureds” are protected from the Invalids, those who are diseased with amor deliria nervosa, by barbed wire fences and guards. Regulators within the city keep everyone in line, at home before curfew and safe from the sympathizers who might pose a threat to their fragile society.

Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite.

All this supposed safety comes with a price. No one can be seen in public expressing any sort of strong feelings. Even parental love, such as between Lena and her mom before the suicide, had to be hidden. No loud music can be played; the only music even allowed is on the government’s list of approved songs. The same goes for books.

Lena had been living a normal life, looking forward to her cure and the chance to forget the pain associated with her mother’s death. She spends every second with her best friend, Hana. Yet at her evaluation, which rates her to be paired with a suitable future husband, something happens. It is quickly covered up with a lie from the government, but knowing the truth changes her view of her life.

And then there’s the boy who was standing on the observation deck throughout the whole thing, laughing…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. So many things which seemed predictable at first actually took me by surprise. I truly couldn’t put down this book and I finished it in less than two days, though I could have read it faster if I didn’t have an appointment. I recommend this book to anyone, though younger audiences might struggle with some of the content. Plus, like any good book, it also made me cry, but in a good way.

– Leila S., 10th grade

Delirium is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Enrique’s Journey: The True Story of a Boy Determined to Reunite with His Mother by Sonia Nazario

enriquesjourney_sonianazarioTo be honest, this book had been sitting on my shelf for a while before I thought to read it. To me, it seemed interesting, but I wasn’t so sure. I was used to fast-paced, dystopian novels, not true accounts. So when I picked it up and saw a map on the first page, I was skeptical.

But of anything that I’ve read recently has a deep meaning, it’s this. This story follows Enrique, a young teen from Tegucigalpa, Honduras. When he was five years old, his mother, Lourdes, left him to go to the United States, in hopes of getting a job and helping the financial situation of her family. Her plan was to be gone for only a short time, an idea which was further fomented by pictures of rich cities in the United States. So when she arrived in the US, her plan did not go as she expected.

For young Enrique and his sister, Belky, it was hard to see their mother so far away. They could not imagine why she would want to leave them. Added to that was years of false promises of her return, and the children were not happy. Enrique was affected most of all. His life became difficult in the Honduras. He decided not to go to school anymore. He sniffed glue and was high more often than not. His family, and his girlfriend, worried about him.

At this point, Enrique cannot be stopped. He has decided to hitch-hike his way all the way to the United States, on top of trains and through the countryside. This is an extremely dangerous undertaking, because of the threat of gangs and migrant police and general disdain for migrants, not to mention that riding atop a moving train is not exactly the safest way to travel. This story follows Enrique as he makes not one but eight trips to try to get to the Mexican-American border, and the hardships and joys he experiences along the way.

It was truly eye-opening to read this story. In light of political comments about immigration in the United States, it was interesting to see the argument from the other side. I never knew it was this difficult for people to come to the US, where they aren’t even welcomed half the time. It was honestly depressing to see how cold and selfish people can be towards other people, especially after seeing how difficult life was for people in these situations. It certainly puts my experiences into perspective.

On a related note, the author of this account, Sonia Nazario, actually made this trip herself, so she could make the story more realistic, which shows a lot of dedication to her job. So not only am I in awe of Enrique’s courage, but also of Nazario’s selflessness and willingness to do anything in order to share such an important story.

– Leila S., 10th grade

Enrique’s Journey is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive

Movie Review: August Rush

augustrushI was very surprised to discover that not many people have heard of or seen the movie August Rush. It is my all time favorite movie and, in my opinion, deserves a lot more recognition than it has been given. Though the movie came out in 2007, August Rush is one of those movies that stays with me forever; like some would say about Star Wars or Harry Potter. 

August Rush is a movie that effectively expresses the talents of Robin Williams and Freddie Highmore. Highmore’s character, Evan, grows up in an orphanage and is bullied by the older kids. Evan has a special connection to music and hears it everywhere he goes, and he hopes that it will reconnect him with his parents. Evan’s mother, Lyla, never wanted to give him up, however her disapproving dad told Lyla that she lost the baby, when really Evan was sent to an orphanage. Evan’s father, Lewis, is a businessman who used to be the lead singer in his band until he quit. The movie follows Evan on his journey to find his parents.

Along the way, Evan meets The Wizard, played by Robin Williams, and finds that he is a musical prodigy. He picks up guitar in minutes, and starts playing for Wizard on park benches to get money. Wizard gives Evan a new stage name: August Rush. Evan later realizes that Wizard just wants Evan, now August, for his talent in which to make money. He escapes and comes to a church where he again displays a knack for music when he starts playing piano and reading music for the first time. The reverend gets August in school at Juilliard, and he composes an original piece called August’s Rhapsody. While in school, Wizard tracked him down and tries to take him back by pretending to be his father. Meanwhile, Lewis (August’s dad) gets back into music and starts playing guitar again.

While August is playing in the park waiting for Wizard to arrive, he is approached by Lewis and the two play together, not knowing they are related in any way. Later in the movie, August escapes Wizard yet again to perform his rhapsody in the park for thousands of people. His mom performing before, and his dad being nearby, August’s music reunites his parents with each other, and later, himself. August Rush has given me a new perspective to music and is a great film for all ages.

-Kyle H.

August Rush is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Film Review: Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

batmanvsupermanBatman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice is a film directed by Zack Snyder and produced largely by Warner Bros and DC Entertainment. It stars Henry Cavill and Ben Affleck. This has been a hugely anticipated movie for people of all ages, breaking box office records in its opening weekend and garnering the attention of nearly every comic fan.

If you couldn’t tell by the title of the movie, Batman V Superman pits two of the most iconic superheroes of all time against each other, but it’s not nearly as simple as that. Various characters such as Superman’s rival Lex Luthor and girlfriend Lois Lane impact and shape the story.

Unfortunately, I felt that the pacing of the movie was very poor. I was very uninterested for the first 45 minutes of the film, and if it weren’t for the fact that it was Superman and Batman, I might have fallen asleep. The movie constantly jumps between different characters and rarely stayed in one setting for longer than 10 minutes, which made the story feel broken instead of a seamless narrative. However, this also built each character a bit more as it revealed how each of them had their own motivations. Despite previous doubts, I felt that all of the actors delivered solid performances, especially Henry Cavill as Superman and Jesse Eisenberg who made a very entertaining Lex Luthor.

The action and special effects in the film are top notch, with all the explosions and brawling you could ever ask for, especially between some of the famous superheroes. The only time the CGI felt a little rough around the edges was in the beginning of the film.

Even so, I really felt this movie fell flat of its expectations. They put far too much plot and backstory into one movie, trying to introduce and establish multiple pivotal characters at the same time in the same movie. They wasted too much time on build up and seemingly rushed the actual fighting between Batman and Superman, which is not even close to the end of the movie. Whenever I thought they would stop adding more side stories and complicating the plot more, they kept pushing and pushing then seemingly threw it all away in the last 45 minutes. Without giving anything away, there were multiple events where I was just shaking my head, thinking “Why would you do that?”

Overall, I felt that Batman Versus Superman: Dawn of Justice was very average as a movie and somewhat above average as a superhero movie. I’d recommend for anyone who is interested in action packed movies or is a superhero fan to go watch it. However, just appreciate it as a loud dumb popcorn movie and don’t think too hard about the story.

-Ahmed H.