Messenger by Lois Lowry

By this point in The Giver series, people have given up reading for a host of reasons. First, they never even made it to Gathering Blue. Third, they read Gathering Blue and did not see the connection to The Giver so didn’t see a point in continuing. They have something against their amazing book.

First of all, it’s a series so, like, get with the program. Plus they are great reads anyway so you won’t be wasting your time. Basically, there is this world (presumably ours but in the future) where there are scattered communities that are pretty much all messed up. One is a utopia, where a boy named Jonas is selected for a special job that will lead him to see beyond the norm. Another is just really wonky and the government (which btw is all guys) pretty much enslaves children with talent. Here, Kira is commissioned as a slave for her skill in weaving.

The Giver is dedicated to Janas and his story while Gathering Blue tells of Kira and her triumphs. A lot of the time people read The Giver and are like “Wow, that was great! (The book, not the society people, don’t go thinking that) What rose can I read by my new queen, Lois Lowry?”. Then they are like, “Oh, Gathering Blue, this looks cool.”. And they go through and read it but don’t actually pay attention to it because they spend the whole time trying to figure out how it is related to The Giver (myself included). Friend, don’t make that mistake. Not if but when you read Gathering Blue, appreciate it for what it is. Don’t meet Micheal Jackson and then Janet and spend your whole conversation trying to look for things that make them look related! You’ll miss out on everything that she has to say.

The point is, before you do anything else with your life, read The Giver. Then, before you even blink start reading Gathering Blue and get your life back on track. If it is not apparent, these books are, like, sacrilegious to me. Messenger does not really connect The Giver and Gathering Blue. Now you are probably thinking, “What, I just went through all of your lamenting for that”. Hold your horses. Messenger lays the groundwork for Son, the last and longest book in the series. Messenger and Son are as related as The Giver and Gathering Blue are unrelated if you catch my drift. In Messenger, you see more of two background characters from Gathering Blue. If you would like the general summary, continue further.

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR EVERYONE WHO IS NOT TAKING THE TITLE OF THIS PARAGRAPH SERIOUSLY.

You have been warned. If you thought that I was ranting up top, you have not seen the beginning. Deep breath and…once upon a time in Gathering Blue when Kira meets her father, Seer, he says that he lives in a community that is like literally the only nice place in the world to raise your kids. They accept refugees from all of the other wackadoo cities, in fact, it was founded by them too. Kira’s friend Matty goes to life with Seer. The story takes place while Matty is coming of age (surprise surprise, Lois Lowry is a partial time that age) and is looking for a job/purpose in the world. He really likes to deliver letters and parcels for the villagers (because there aren’t and forms of digital messaging here). He is like the Hermes, going back and forth. He aspires to be the town’s mailman. In this city, it is sort of like in colonial times. Everyone is an expert at something. For example, there is one baker, one teacher, one candlestick maker. You name it, there is only one. Matty wants to be an expert delivery man. Anywhoo, he is coming of age and learning about himself when low and behold, a conflict arises! This town is basically full of first-generation refugees. These people understand the serious oppression in their world. They get that it is no bed of roses.

Not only that, these people were brave enough to escape and start new lives for themselves. They are the spinning images of chivalrous; morally strong and outwardly brave and kind. However, this super sketchy dude comes along and (almost) ruined it. In case you have not picked up on it by now, everyone’s superpowers are kind of magical. Jonas and his “seeing beyond”. Kira’s impeccable weaving. Matty’s, uh, speedy deliveries. Well, this sketchy guy, Trademaster, he’s magical too, but he has dark magic. He operates this event where he comes into the good little town and tempts people with things that they desire in refers to part of their soul. Mahhhh! I know, it’s super trippy. So, say you want the winning lottery ticket. Snap! He makes it happen. Awesome, right? No friend, most defiantly not awesome. In return for that lottery ticket you are going to have to part with part of yourself. “Great!” you think yo yourself, “I get this lottery ticket and I get to get rid of my bad temper, cool!”. FRIEND, sit down, sit down right now.

Trademaster would not want your bad temper, no one does. He collects juicy things like “kindness”, “morality”, “intelligence”, “bravery”, things to put on your resume. So you get the lottery ticket and you win and you are loaded but your partner breaks up with you and you and says your breath stinks and you are losing hair and getting fat and wrinkly and old. Then you are sitting all alone one-night scooping ice cream out of a carton watching soap operas and wondering what happened to your life. Your rich, but lonely. Snap! Trademaster took your “romanticness”. Not worth it, huh. But now it’s too late. You are stuck being lonely and single forever. So basically, Trademaster rolls into town and everyone is like Oh, ah! Matty quickly learns from the wisdom of Seer that Trademaster is sketchy and tries to convince everyone else of this. Meanwhile, Trademaster is corrupting the town. This empire of refugees is building a wall to block out people seeking freedom and a new life. Also, if the wall is closed up Seer will never see Kira again! Matty has to go on the most important delivery mission of his career, to bring Kira to see her father. I am going to leave you on a cliff hanger. But hopefully, my summary has intrigued you enough to keep reading the series.

Once upon a time there was a rural, simple little town built of refugees from maniacal communities. There is a boy who is coming of age and wants to discover his calling and has a passion for mail delivery. He and his adopted father are the only ones who see through Trademaster an evil magician who’s ambition is to turn all of the noble-minded people against one another and all other refugees. I can never give it the justice that it deserves.

This book is not as exciting as the other three, that’s true. However, it connects Gathering Blue to the last book and lays the foundation for Son which is really, really phenomenal. Thank you for listening to my ranting, hopefully, it has done you some good and Good Night!

-Ainsley H. 

Messenger by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games is a dystopian novel set in a futuristic fictional nation known as Panem, located in the midwestern United States. The novel’s protagonist is Katniss Everdeen, and she must survive a deadly competition known as the “Hunger Games.”

Panem is divided into twelve districts, each of which is like states. Each district has a specialty; for example, Katniss is from District Twelve, which specializes in coal mining. Because of a failed rebellion years before, each of the districts is required to send one “tribute” to an annual event known as the Hunger Games, during which two tributes from each district, a male and female, all fight to the death to claim the glorious title of “victor.”

The story begins before the Reaping, an event that chooses the two tributes from each district by random. Katniss’s younger sister is drawn, but Katniss volunteers to take her sister’s place, knowing that going means almost certain death. Chosen alongside Katniss is the male tribute, named Peeta.

Katniss and Peeta are both sent to the Capitol, a wealthy and powerful state that rules over all the districts and runs the Hunger Games for its own entertainment. Together with their coach and advisor, they begin to prepare for the Hunger Games, training and making alliances with other tributes.

I would recommend the Hunger Games because of the extreme suspense that the author creates while the tributes are fighting during the games. The story is touching, but it contains extreme violence, so I wouldn’t recommend it to younger readers.

-Josh N. 

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Fellowship of the Ring is the first novel in The Lord of the Rings trilogy. The story is centered upon a magic ring found by Bilbo Baggins sixty years earlier during The Hobbit that must be destroyed. Bilbo has aged by the time of The Fellowship of the Ring, so with the advice of Gandalf, a powerful wizard, he passes the Ring on to his cousin Frodo and leaves for a “vacation.”

Years pass and Gandalf returns, and he discovers that the magic ring is no ordinary magic ring and that it is the ring of a powerful dark lord named Sauron. Gandalf tells Frodo that if the Ring were to fall into the hands of Sauron, he would conquer the world, and therefore it must be destroyed.

Gandalf sends Frodo, escorted by his friends Sam, Merry, and Pippin, to escort the Ring to Riverdale, an elven stronghold, where the fate of the Ring would be decided. Along the way, they face many threats, like the Ringwraiths, Sauron’s powerful servants. At Riverdale, it is decided that the Ring could only be destroyed in Mount Doom, a volcano near Sauron’s fortress where the Ring was forged in.

Frodo volunteers to travel to Mount Doom, and he is escorted by his friends, Gandalf, and some of the greatest heroes of Middle-Earth (the fictional world the story takes place in). The rest of the book is about the fellowship’s travels and adventures, and how they deal with problems and threats that they face on their journey to Mount Doom.

Ultimately, The Fellowship of the Ring is a good book, although it is quite long. I would recommend it to readers who love really long stories filled with action and adventure, like Greek epics such as the Iliad and Odyssey.

-Josh N. 

The Fellowship of the Ring by J. R. R. Tolkien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Light In August by William Faulkner

This is perhaps my favorite writing so far done by Faulkner. In this novel, he explores the prejudice Americans have against each other. Diversity in this country oftentimes is merely seen as a glorification of racism. Back in the days when this book was written, southerners didn’t like northerners which is why Miss Burden had to suffer so much. Not that she was a huge advocate of the north, but that her attempt to live a peaceful and honorable life at the south was denied because of her heritage. Residents in Mississippi, a typical southern state, are not willing to give her a second chance at life merely because of her heritage, instead of other wrongdoings she has committed before, reflecting the deep-rooted bigotry people used to have and still remain today.

Joe Christmas, my favorite character in this novel, is no different. His cold and even brutal personality is a product of his upbringing in an orphanage. When he once caught the dietician making love to a male doctor while vomiting because of eating too much toothpaste, he denied the bribery which the dietitian offered—one dollar. Later on, because of his biracial ethnicity, he was sent to a black orphanage by the janitor who always watched him but later recalled by the matron. Christmas was adopted and got his name changed to McEachern because his father, a religious man thought the name represented sacrilege.

Joe Christmas’s life reminded me of his sense of repugnance for this world when he didn’t belong anywhere. Since he never received love, he didn’t have much to give. He has no fear in life and fears himself to some degree. His mixed-race endowed him with endless audacity but also imposed extremely low self-esteem upon him. In modern days, perhaps the reason why there are so fewer personages who are not white is not because of their inability to do well and contribute to the country, but because they felt disparagement and disenfranchisement from white supremacists who might be discouraging from having confidence and speaking for what they believe in.

-Coreen C. 

Light In August by William Faulkner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

 

On the Duty of Civil Disobedience by Henry David Thoreau

Written in the late 1800s, Henry David Thoreau’s essays tell of civil resistance in society. He believed that many laws were bound to be broken and the people had the right to protest. In his essays, he says that human laws overcome government laws.

As a transcendentalist writer, Thoreau believed that humans could live beyond reality and could not be limited by temporary worldly objects. He shuns the idea of materialism and embraces the power of nature. Thus, people must take advantage of their individual power given by nature and represent their opinions.

Surprisingly, the essays of Civil Disobedience still apply to society today. In the past, Thoreau created an act of civil disobedience by not paying his taxes in order to protest against slavery and the Mexican-American war.

Today, people around the world refuse to follow laws to stand for an issue they believe in. Similar to the nineteenth century, materialism has taken over many peoples’ minds and distracts them from politics, the environment, and other important things. The protests that happen in the twenty-first century go along with Thoreau’s words in his work. Just as Thoreau mentions, many protests and strikes need to create an act of civil disobedience to bring awareness to the matter at hand.

As written in the work, society cannot learn and fix their past mistakes without acts of civil resistance. Thoreau emphasizes how individuals must hold onto their personal beliefs and make a difference to advance their society. It is amazing to see how a series of essays from 200 years ago still accurately applies to our society today. This can also be a bit frightening as some negative aspects of governments around the world have not been changed.

-Zohal N.