Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

prideandprejudice_janeaustenWhat has made Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s 19th century book, so timeless? We no longer live in an era where the only way to do well is to marry well. But, as it turns out, not much is different.

People today hold prejudices, albeit of different scales. What makes this an issue is if a person acts on those prejudices, without getting to know the truth. For example, I don’t like papaya or kiwi. I don’t remember if I actually tried the fruit when I was younger, but to this day, I refuse to eat the fruit. Maybe I had tried one bad kiwi, or had been influenced when my sister got sick after eating papaya. either way, I never tried it again. My pride comes into play, because I never want to be proven wrong. What if I ate a kiwi and loved it? Then I would be embarrassed for my embargo that has lasted my whole life so far. So to me, it’s best to never risk it.

Thinking about it now, this is definitely the wrong way to go about things. It may not seem serious, but this issue becomes serious in other circumstances. What if, instead of hating a type of fruit, someone hated a group of people? Maybe this was only because of one bad experience they had (or even heard about). Sometimes this hate can even be unfounded. People constantly make generalizations about people, which add bias to their actions, and they forget the most important virtue: to understand.

People need to understand why another person might have acted a certain way. It’s unfair to make judgments about a person without actually getting to know them. Elizabeth, in Pride and Prejudice, proved this. She was cold toward Mr. Darcy the entire book, thinking him a stuck-up, unfeeling man, and she was content in thinking this. But she soon found how much she was missing, finding out what Mr. Darcy had actually done (rather than hearing it in rumors from Mr. Darcy’s “enemy”) and seeing how kind and good-hearted Mr. Darcy had been to help Lizzy’s sister. (Spoiler alert!) Once she got to know him, her opinion widely changed.

Before long, her prejudices were broken, though perhaps not entirely gone. Before, she was too proud to admit that she could be wrong, but by the end, she realized her mistake. She then had to convince others of her feelings, since her previous prejudices had rubbed off on the rest of her family. Long story short, she had a lot to learn by getting to know another person. Just by giving him a chance to explain himself, Elizabeth radically changed her (and Mr. Darcy’s) life.

Thus, a lot can be learned from Jane Austen’s novel. I mean, for me, I’m definitely going to try kiwi this weekend. But for the rest of my life, the message of Pride and Prejudice will stay with me. I hope that those of you who have read this classic will keep the message in mind. For those of you who haven’t read the book, I truly recommend it.

-Leila S., 11th grade

Pride and Prejudice is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

adventuresoftomsawyer_marktwainThe Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, chronicles a few of the adventures of 12-year-old Tom Sawyer. Living on the Mississippi River, Tom lives with his Aunt Polly and his half-brother Sid. Tom gets into many misadventures and he just as deftly gets out of them. At times, when Tom is punished, one can see how he gets out of trouble and chores by manipulating his friends (though not necessarily in devious ways).

Tom and his friend, Huckleberry Finn (the subject of another book by Mark Twain, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn), get into all kinds of trouble, from seeing things they were not meant to see, to running away with friend Joe Harper to an island, to going treasure hunting and discovering a dangerous secret. Tom also indulges in more normal pastimes, like playing pretend and going on picnics (though he does get lost in a cave with Becky Thatcher, a girl he is trying to impress). Overall, I thought that this book was a good read, as it was relaxing in some places and funny in others. Plus, in addition to being a nice book about the adventures of a child in the past, it also had some moments where I was figuratively gripping the edge of my seat to see what happened next.

-Aliya A.

The Adventures of Tom Sawyer is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Sun Also Rises by Ernest Hemingway

sunalsorises_hemingwayDescribed as “the quintessential novel of the Lost Generation,” The Sun Also Rises is one of Ernest Hemingway’s first masterpieces that established him as one of the greatest writers of the twentieth century. Set in Paris in the 1920s, the novel explores the disillusionment and anxiety of the “lost” post-World War I generation. The story follows the unfortunate Jake Barnes, the ostentatious Lady Brett Ashley, and a disenchanted group of American and British expatriates on their journey to rediscover their purposes in life. From parties in Paris, to a fishing expedition, the group eventually finds themselves in Pamplona, Spain during a wild fiesta and bull-fight. The group’s encounters throughout the novel perfectly reflects the Lost Generation’s moral conflicts, spiritual disenchantment, unrealized love, and most of all, the tragedy of lost hope and dreams.

The Sun Also Rises was my first Hemingway book, so my expectations were quite high, especially because Hemingway is widely known as a literary genius. Upon first look, I personally felt that the novel was quite uninteresting. The characters seem to do nothing but drink and quarrel constantly. Although the writing is simple and very easy to understand, there is no plot and no climax. Although the group does journey outside of Paris and explores Spain, they ultimately end up exactly where they are when the book starts, stuck in Paris and wondering when love and adventure will find them. However, upon closer examination, I realized that this was Hemingway’s sole purpose, to portray the hopelessness and despair of the Lost Generation, men and women who served heroically in the war and returned only to find that they no longer had a purpose in life. Just as the title implies, the sun rises every day, and the novel’s characters repeat the same routine of drinking and partying and wandering aimlessly every day.

In retrospect, while the writing could tend to be lackluster in some parts, the book was quite enjoyable, and I can now appreciate the genius that Hemingway was behind the novel. He flawlessly depicts the Lost Generation and evokes the same feeling of confusion and aimlessness that the people during the post-World War I age experienced through his words, truly making The Sun Also Rises a literary masterpiece that should be experienced by everyone.

-Kaylie W.

The Sun Also Rises is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.

Manga Introduction: Death Note By Tsugumi Ohba & Takeshi Obata.

deathnote_ohbaWhat if you were given the power to kill? Anyone you wished and no one could find out you did it? You could kill anyone by simply writing down their name and knowing their face. What if someone was given that power and decides to use it to enforce his own justice?

This is the premise on which Death Note is based on.

Light Yagami, a high school student, finds a notebook. Not just any notebook: a Death Note. It was dropped by a shinigami (death god) named Ryuk and grants the ability to kill anyone by knowing the name and face. Light first thinks of it as a joke, but soon comes to learn its true power. He decides “cleanse the world” from evil and become the world’s “god” using the notebook. He wants to create a world where people he deems are morally correct and good. Light becomes known as a “god” called Kira through killing those who commits crime both big and small. The killings attract the attention of a genius detective, who is only known as “L”. L believes what Kira is doing is wrong and need to be brought to justice. There begins their game of cat and mouse to see who is truly bringing justice.

Some quick facts

  • It was published in December of 2003 and ended three years later in May of 2006
  • There are 12 tankobon volumes (manga books).
  • Serialized (published) in Shueisha’s manga magazine Weekly Shōnen Jump
  • The Death Note manga has sold approximately 30 million volumes as of 2015.
  • A anime adaptation was aired from October 3, 2006, to June 26, 2007
  •  In 2007, the first three volumes of Death Note were on the American Library Association’s 2007 Great Graphic Novels for Teens Top Ten list.
  • On ICv2’s “Top 10 Shonen Properties Q2 2009”, Death Note was the third best manga in North America.
  • Won the 2008 Eagle Award for Favourite Manga as voted by UK fans.
  • According to a survey conducted in 2007, by the Ministry of culture of Japan, it occupies the 10th place among the best manga of all time.
  • Many Live Action Adaptations
    • Three Japanese films have been produced based off the manga, there is another that will be released this year.
    • An American film adaption which is currently being filmed (Rated R)
    • A Japanese live action drama was released in 2015
    • A musical adaption has been produced and had successful runs in both Korea and Japan.

This is a masterpiece of a manga. Certainly, one of my top favorites. The fundamental story does have a strong cultural base, so it may be slightly confusing to non-Japanese readers. It delves deeply into morality and what is justice. There is not a “good” and “bad” side but rather two sides who are battling each other to prove that their justice is the correct justice. Light and L are some of the best developed characters I have seen. There is two of what could be called arcs, both of which featured a suspenseful story that keep me reading.

I would recommended for older readers as it deals heavily with morality and death. It raises many questions, which would be harder for younger readers to understand.

I think it is fantastic but read it for yourself and decide.

-Sarah J.

Death Note is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

 

That Time I Joined the Circus by J. J. Howard

thattimeijoinedthecircu_jjhowardThat Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard is about Lexi Ryan, a native New Yorker, forced to look for her mother after a tragic accident took the life of her father. Tracking her mother down to a circus in the middle of Florida, Lexi leaves New York on a one-way bus ticket to the location of the circus. Arriving at the circus, she soon finds out that her mother is not there. Despite her mother’s absence, Lexi finds a home for herself, and people who are willing to accept her and take her in. Settling and enjoying her time at the circus, Lexi’s world is thrown into turmoil when her best friend, Eli from New York, shows up at the circus. This debut of a book has humor, wisdom, and a great narrator.  

I have had this book for years now, and it is one of the novels on my shelf that I read over and over again. Despite reading it so many times, I am still intrigued by the storyline and the characters. Admiring how Lexi was able to overcome her various obstacles, I thoroughly enjoyed her character. As for the plotline, I did not really enjoy the fact that it jumped back and forth  from Lexi’s life before her Father’s death to her time spent at the circus. I enjoyed thoroughly the familial aspect among Lexi and the people of the circus; especially, Lexi’s friendship with the daughters of the ringleader was sweet.  Despite its title, there are many other elements to this amazing book besides the circus. I would recommend this book for those looking for a contemporary circus story.

-Anmol K.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

harrypotter1_jkrowlingHarry Potter is an eleven year old boy, but not an ordinary one. Certainly not ordinary. He is a wizard. But he never knew this for eleven whole years.

Harry Potter is a boy who learns on his eleventh birthday that he is the orphaned son of two powerful wizards and possesses unique magical powers of his own through hundreds of mysterious letters. He is summoned from his life as an unwanted child to become a student at Hogwarts, an English boarding school for wizards. There, he meets several friends, Ron and Hermione, who become his closest allies and help him discover the truth about his parents’ mysterious deaths: That they were killed by the Darkest wizard of all time, Voldemort.

Voldemort was such a powerful Dark wizard, that many feared to speak his name. He was know by common witches and wizards by “You-Know-Who.” Voldemort was part of Harry’s mysterious past, of why he was left on the doorstep of his mother’s sister’s house, eleven years ago. Harry’s mother and father, James and Lily Potter, were both of magical blood. Voldemort tried to kill Harry and his family one night at Godric’s Hollow, but failed to do so. Harry’s parents died tragically trying to save him, but Harry Potter lived on with only a lightning scar on his forehead to resemble his horrible past connected to Voldemort.

So this was why Harry Potter was brought to where his aunt, the Dursleys, lived, at the age of one year old. And he lived there for eleven years, not know he was famous, not knowing that Voldemort had tried to destroy him, not knowing he had broken the powers of one of the most powerful Dark wizards of all time. The young wizard lived with the Dursleys, where he was treated like a slave. But one day Hogwarts wrote to him, and off he went to the magical school, where he and his scar were famous.

At the magical school, Harry meets Ron, a good-natured, red-haired wizard, and Hermione, a bossy know-it-all witch at Hogwarts. Overtime, they become good friends. Harry found Hogwarts very exciting, what with all of his classes, perhaps except for Professor Snape’s class, which was Potions. He has never flown on a broomstick, played Quidditch, the popular sport in the magical world, or worn a cloak of Invisibility.

But not that his whole year at Hogwarts was fun. At the end of term, who other does he come face-to-face than Voldemort, his arch-nemesis. Harry barely manages to escape, but in the end he does, by using his wit and courage.

And there goes the story of a brave wizard, where he is remembered as the true hero at Hogwarts. However, he has to spend his summer with the Dursleys, which he is definitely not looking forward to. Oh, well. He can’t wait for his second year at Hogwarts, where he knows there will be more adventures to come.

I really liked this book, because it was really unique. Harry Potter’s adventures, Quidditch, everything, was so original. My favorite part of this book was when Harry, Ron, and Hermione went through a secret trapdoor to defeat Voldemort once and for all. I would recommend this book to anyone who loves thrillers and adventure! I know I certainly enjoyed the book!

-Katharine L.

Harry Potter and the Sorceror’s Stone is available to checkout in multiple formats from the Mission Viejo Library and online through Overdrive

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Jacob used to believe in his grandfather’s stories. Stories of children who could lift boulders, be invisible. Stories of his grandfather fighting monsters, those that will one day be after him. Not anymore. Jacob doesn’t believe in them now that he’s in high school. The monsters? WWII nightmares of the Nazis. The children? Those photos were obviously faked.

He didn’t believe in them again until he saw a monster with tentacles killing his grandfather. But that couldn’t have been real, right? No way monsters were real, just like everyone said around him. But the more he dug into his grandfather’s stuff, the more he believed his grandfather.

He found out that his grandfather used to live on an island off Britain. He convinced his father to go there, and found that his grandfather’s stories were true. A land stuck in 1940, where every day is paradise, and no one ever dies. A place that can hold “peculiars”, children with powers, and keep them safe. And he met an invisible boy, a girl who could fly, and a pretty girl who could control fire, all who knew his grandfather. But he soon learned that if the children are real, the monsters must be too.

I really liked this book, and the sequels after it. Not only did Riggs create a remarkable tale just from looking at pictures, but adding the pictures made the characters seem more real. Jacob is your typical teenage boy, so he has a very funny side, especially when talking to the peculiars about the modern world, such as about email. Additionally, the plot is very well done and intriguing, with well depth ideas about the consequences of time travel and relative nature of crazy.

The powers of the peculiars are also all very interesting, with Hugh’s bees and Howard’s prophetic dream power. Also, there is also a bit of a feminist theme, as the leaders of the Ymbryne are all women, with men not having the ability to be leaders, which is the opposite as of on Earth. I would recommend this book to anybody who likes the idea of women being in power above men, time travel, craziness, fantasy, or historical fiction.

-Megan V., 11th Grade

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library