Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice is regarded as one of the most romantic stories of all time. Published in 1813, the plot centers around Elizabeth Bennett, who mistakenly makes hasty judgments and must come to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. Her father, Mr. Bennett, is the owner of a large estate, but it is entailed, meaning that none of his five daughters can inherit the property. Since Mrs. Bennett is not wealthy, one of the daughters must marry into wealth to financially support the family, should Mr. Bennett pass away. Eventually, the famous Mr. Darcy enters the scene, and he and Elizabeth fall into a passionate, albeit begrudging love. A story of the complexity of romance ensues, much to teenage girls’ delight.

I, personally, love this book. I find it amusing and intriguing, what with its layered characters and carefully developed plot. The novel has been famed for centuries and it is definitely easy to see why. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most critically acclaimed novels that has ever been written. I have read this novel countless times, and it never ceases to appeal to me. If you are ever looking for a beautifully written novel, make sure to give Pride and Prejudice a try. Simply put, it is truly a piece of art- Austen’s carefully crafted characters resonate within the reader, and one can’t help but become ensnared in the intricately woven story.  Pride and Prejudice is definitely a lovely read, and, as Caroline Bingley would say, “After all, there is no enjoyment like reading!”

-Arushi S. 

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen is a science-fiction novel about fifteen year old Kiva and her discovery that her life is not what she thought it was. Kiva believed that she was being raised in Ancient Alexandria, and had spent the first twelve frolicking with her best friend, Seth. When they were twelve, Seth’s Father, who was the pharaoh in the ancient Egyptian world, caused Seth to become less involved in their friendship. However, three years later, Seth comes back to Kiva to tell her that their world is not what they think it is. This leaves Kiva confused and hurt; she finds out that Seth has died. However, this all is a sham because the world that is portrayed is actually a virtual reality. Everyone portrayed in the world is in a hibernation in a spaceship.

Kiva wakes up to learn about the Planet Earth and how it was impacted by an asteroid, making it uninhabitable. A lucky group of people were able to escape on the ships that were originally intended for escape in a natural disaster. She is on a smaller shuttle, which is on its way to a spaceship to get a spare part for another spaceship. She wakes up to find Seth, who explains everything that happened. His Father died in real life, and he was told about the artificial world soon after that. Initially, Kiva finds it difficult to connect with him, but the two of them reconcile their differences to save the ship while battling foes.

This book was a quick read, and almost felt like the beginning of a novel. A lot of it was devoted to building up the world of Alexandria, and once it shifted to the spaceship, almost half of the novel was done. Also, the characters did not have much growth and were mostly one-dimensional. There was a romance between Seth and Kiva, but it almost felt forced and done in order to move the plot forward. Even though it did that, the moving of the plot really did not go anywhere until the last few chapters of the book. Overall, the book was a quick read. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow science fiction novel, than this one for you.

The Tomb by S. A. Bodeen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

An outlier from the usual fairy-tale-based fiction, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is a unique, compelling book with twenty-first century references and a search for a mysterious, magical wood. Both the title and the cover intrigued me into picking up the book. I read the synopsis, which also seemed intriguing. But when I began to read, I was pulled into a story that I hadn’t quite anticipated–though it was still quite intriguing.

I’ve found that most books based on fairy tales have the protagonist enter the fairy tale world within the first half of the book (if they aren’t there already). However, The Hazel Wood is not based mainly in the fairy tale world, but on a search to find it. The novel begins similarly to a realistic fiction novel with a main character named Alice Proserpine. She and her mother, Vanella (Ella), are constantly on the road, moving from town to town. Alice lives with an unease; her memories seem off, as if she doesn’t fully fit into the world.

Unsettling events seems to follow the mother and daughter. Alice doesn’t know why, but she does know that her mother refuses to speak about her mother–Alice’s grandmother–Althea Proserpine.

Althea Proserpine is the reclusive author of the book of fairy tales Tales from the Hinterland. It’s a difficult book to get a copy of, but its fans are extreme. Alice has never been allowed to read the book, and has only snuck in a few lines from a story called “Alice Three-Times”.

When Alice’s mother receives a letter saying that Althea has passed away, she seems to relax. However, just when she marries and they finally slow down, Ella disappears. Alice, who has been struggling with going to a school full of rich kids (her step-father lives in a rich neighborhood and was able to find her a place in the school), must take on the much larger problem of finding her mother. She and an extreme fan of her grandmother’s stories named Ellery Finch begin a search for Althea’s estate, the Hazel Wood, which is just the place where Ella ordered Alice not to go.

During their search, Ellery and Alice notice characters from Tales from the Hinterland who have somehow left their world, and Ellery tells Alice parts of Althea’s stories, which are horrific and evil and not at all happily-ending.

Sprinkled with references to our popular culture, The Hazel Wood takes place mostly in the modern world, and is understandable for a young adult audience. I liked how Melissa Albert uniquely did not embellish the story with unrealistic romance or happy endings, which made the story more realistic: Alice’s stepsister is not ugly or really unkind to her, not everyone leaves the Hazel Wood, and the protagonists of some fairy tales are evil.

The Hazel Wood is a wonderful book to read if you are searching for a non-cliché young adult novel that puts an eerie spin on fairy tales.

– Mia T.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Silas Marner is a book by George Eliot about an outcast who finds redemption in a child. The story is simple yet beautiful, showing the depth of human kindness.

Silas, the protagonist, grows up in a small, church-centered town. He is a respected, virtuous citizen. However, one day, he is framed by a close friend for embezzlement and is cast out of the town. His trust in humanity bruised, he settles on the outskirts of Raveloe, a rural but prosperous village.

Years pass, and the quiet, reclusive weaver makes no effort to assimilate with the villagers. Hoarding gold, he saves up a good amount of money. Suddenly, tragedy strikes. A mysterious thief steals all of Silas’ accumulated earnings. Silas, distraught, mourns the loss of his fortune.

One day, a lost child wanders into Silas’ lonely cottage. He takes the child in and raises her as his own. Through her presence, Silas reconnects with humanity and becomes an upstanding member of society once again.

All in all, this book is a nice, quick read with a simple but entrancing plot. Hope you enjoy it!

-Joshua M, 7th grade

Silas Marner by George Eliot is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

 

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

Aside from the horror classics of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Call of Cthulhu” among one of Lovecraft’s most famous and known stories is “The Dunwich Horror”. The story is often criticized by scholars for being somewhat “formulaic” and for being the exception in Lovecraft’s ideas of an indifferent cosmos and humans being infinitely insignificant in the eyes of the universe.

Rather, the story is a classic battle between good and evil and is one of the few stories in which a hero is seen defeating the villain, although the triumph is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Without spoiling too much, since I heavily encourage people, especially horror fans, to read the story, the tale is of the terror that is Wilbur Whateley and his family.

Born to the deformed albino Lavinia Whateley, they lived in Dunwich. Mainly isolating themselves from the rest of the world, Wilbur was obviously something else. Reaching maturity by the age of ten and being an eight foot, misshapen being who caused dogs around him to go into frenzies, Wilbur was being groomed by his grandfather, Old Whateley, in what many townsfolk presumed to be dark magic.

Progressively, their house increases in size as Old Whateley and Wilbur add more floors and enlarge it, to accommodate for… something. They shy away from people but routinely go to the top of Sentinel Hill to chant in odd hours before hiding away. It all goes downhill when Old Whateley dies, and Lavinia mysteriously disappears.

Overall, while the story is very in line with further rounding the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, it is quite different from Lovecraft’s typical stories. This is more focused on humans and despite how little the great cosmos thinks of them, they were able to vanquish the horrible monstrosity, although the true threat still lurks in the dark periphery that humans are not allowed to glimpse into.

It feels real, Dunwich feels real, the terror of what characters go through feels real. It is the unspeakable terror that desecrates a small town. It lurks in the night but is preceding something far, far worse.

Nevertheless, humans prevented what would have been a global disaster, even if it may inevitably be temporary. While the story may not necessarily be about this triumph, but rather that we will never truly know the extent and power to which beings beyond us possess, and how many people are willing to give their devotion and whole life to it.

This is one of Lovecraft’s more accessible stories if you will. It is weird, yet grounded in his unconventional reality, and is an interesting mix of science fiction and horror. He gives vivid descriptions of the area and surroundings, immersing you into it, allowing you to visualize what types of horrors will befall this tiny outskirt village.

It is not like his typical stories, it has appeal for larger audiences, is weirder and almost surreal than his bone-chilling horror and is among his more popular works. He makes many exceptions to his rules and theories on this universe and mythos he has created, and although “The Dunwich Horror” bends that, it is done so to a great effect. A wonderful tale is created in the process, and his pantheon of horrors is expanded.

-Farrah M.

Th Dunwich Horror and other tales from H.P. Lovecraft are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel actually exceeded my expectations. I went into the movie thinking that it would be extremely hyper-feminized in a way where it would actually take away from the movie especially, because of all the controversy surrounded the main actor Brie Larson. However, this movie did represent feminism in a way that was not annoyed and seemingly forced unlike many other movies that have been coming out recently. Which was nice. It showed the empowerment of women but did not push the idea so much that it took away from the movie.

The movie was by no means amazing or anything revolutionary or new. But, it was a pretty good average superhero origin story. It had some good actions scenes mixed in with an okay story line. Though nothing was truly that originally or different from any other super hero movie that has come out. There was a pretty cool plot twist which, I am not going to ruin which did make it a little bit more interesting. But, many of the main concepts where just like any other movie, the main character gets in a battle, looses, so then she goes back and finds her roots and all of a sudden she is a lot stronger. It is nothing new.

Overall though, the movie was entertaining and it was nice to see a woman taking a lead role in a superhero movie and showing the empowerment of woman and what they can do. It was cool to see that women where being represented in action movies and not just romance movies. The actions scenes where also very well done and the music chosen for the movie was amazing.

This movie is a great one to see to just pass some time and have some fun with friends or family. It is enjoyable to watch and is relatively engaging. I would suggest this movie to anyone who just wants have to have a movie night with others.

-Ava G.

Places to Visit in San Diego during Spring Break

Recently, my school got out for spring break so my family and I decided to take a trip down to San Diego. For some reason, I thought it took at least four hours to get from Mission Viejo to San Diego but it only took 1 hour and 20 minutes (and that was with pretty bad traffic!)

Before we left, I looked up some places to visit that my family would enjoy and I was satisfied with what I found. Some fun places to visit are: San Diego Zoo, San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley, Balboa Park, Downtown San Diego, Old Town San Diego, USS Midway Museum, La Jolla Beach, and more!

For the San Diego Zoo, adult tickets (ages 12+) are $56 and child tickets are $46 for 1 day-passes. Prices for the San Diego Tour: Hop-on Hop-off Trolley are $42 for adults (12+) and $25 for kids ages (4-12). Tickets for children under 4 years old are free!.

For Balboa Park, the One-Day Explorer Pass allows you to visit up to 5 of any museum in the park. For adults (ages 13+), the cost is $46 and for children (ages 3-12), the cost is $27. Just visiting for the day? Choose the One-Day Explorer Pass, which allows you to go to as many as five of the park’s participating museums. The cost is $46 for adults (ages 13+) and $27 for children (ages 3-12). 

Most of the tourist spots in San Diego do not require admission to get it like Downtown and Old Town San Diego, but some locations do.

Overall, I loved visiting the wonderful city of San Diego and I cannot wait to go back! I hope that this article was helpful to those who would like to visit San Diego one day!

-Phoebe L.