Film Review: Black Panther (spoiler free)

Many superhero movies often fail to live up to standards set by fans and are looked
down upon. Black Panther is not one of those movies. In light of recent events, many are
rewatching movies such as Black Panther to celebrate the work, and it certainly is a movie worth celebrating. Black Panther focuses on social issues while providing both an entertaining watch and a top tier soundtrack. Overall, It is a must-watch given the quality of the film.

Of the recent movies, Black Panther stands out among them due to many aspects. One
of the major selling points of the movie was the action scenes. The scenes are not only action packed, but also flow well and very natural. None of the scenes feel like they are forced and have very smooth transitions. The action and music are very compelling and the music bolsters the excitement of the scenes. The soundtrack is another major boon of the movie. All the songs played (or lack of it) fit each scene extremely well, enhancing the mood and making the scenes more lively. Each track is composed wonderfully and brings out the most in the movie.

Another major aspect of the movie is the social ideas brought up. The movie addresses
many social issues and approaches to fixing them in tandem with the growth of the characters themselves. Many characters are well represented, although there is little African American representation, and are brought out in a primarily positive manner. The only complaints that I had after watching the movie were the primary motivation of certain characters overall and how irrelevant a few characters were, although it is a minor complaint compared to how good the movie was overall.

In general, I would rate this movie as one of the best movies to come out over the past
few years and it certainly lives up to the hype it received upon the release. I would highly
recommend this movie for those who have not watched it or those who want to rewatch it, as it is highly exciting and absolutely worth the time.

-Benjamin L.

Black Panther is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie

A confession from a dying woman to a Catholic priest may seem an ordinary occurrence, but when that same priest is struck dead in the fog not a few hours later, found with a list of names hidden in his shoe, a deep conspiracy involving families across the country is unveiled, all revolving around one place: the Pale Horse.

Mark Easterbrook, a young man and author, observes a fight between two young women, only to later discover that one of the opponents died of the flu a mere week later. When Mark later meets with his old friend, the police surgeon, the death becomes less clear when he observes that the woman’s name is on the list. After learning from a friend of the Pale Horse inn, a place that is rumoured to anonymously arrange deaths, a gruesome truth surrounding the list begins to emerge from the darkness.

With the help of fiery redhead Ginger Corrigan, a friend of Mark’s who lives near the Pale Horse, Mark must operate undercover in order to save the lives of possibly hundreds of people whose deaths are meticulously being planned by the most innocent seeming people.

As the clock ticks for Mark and Ginger, Agatha Christie continues to raise the stakes in The Pale Horse, and while it is not one of her more well known mysteries, its exciting plot and unforeseeable plot twist make it one novel that all mystery fans should read. 

-Mahak M.

The Pale Horse by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Angels and Demons by Dan Brown

Angels & Demons: A Novel (Hardcover) | Tattered Cover Book Store

When CERN director Maximilian Kohler discovers the dead body of his top physicist, Leonardo Vetra, in his secure lab, branded with the dreadful Illuminati ambigram symbol, Harvard symbologist Robert Langdon’s world is turned upside down. Traveling to Switzerland, Langdon realizes that the Illuminati, a secret society long thought disbanded, is actually alive and well, and have only one assignment to fulfill – the complete annihilation of the Catholic Church and Vatican City.

Together, Langdon and Vetra’s adopted daughter Vittoria must race to locate a deadly sample of antimatter taken from the late Vetra’s lab. To make matters worse, unless Langdon and Vittoria successfully track down the stolen antimatter, and Vetra’s killer, before the clock strikes midnight, not only will Vatican City explode, due to the recent death of the Pope, every major figure of the Catholic Church will perish along with the Vatican.

On a race against time, Langdon and Vittoria must follow the path laid by the ancient Illuminati members centuries ago, in the hopes of saving lives as they do it. However, the closer the two get to the final showdown, the higher the stakes are raised, and the more danger they find themselves embroiled in.

Dan Brown’s Angels & Demons is a definite read for fans of real historical facts interwoven with heart-racing action scenes and mystery theme elements. Fans of The Da Vinci Code will certainly enjoy the first chronicle of Langdon’s adventures.

-Mahak M.

Angels & Demons by Dan Brown is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Disobedience

In 1891, Irish author Oscar Wilde (1854–1900) observed, “Disobedience, in the eyes of anyone who has read history, is man’s original virtue. It is through disobedience that progress has been made, through disobedience and through rebellion.” However, his claim that disobedience is a valuable human trait and that it promotes social progress is not valid, as there are more cases of civil disobedience ending up being ineffective and destructive than there are that promote social change. 

With social media and online forms of activism becoming more and more common, taking issues out to the streets and handling them out there has become less and less common, and therefore less effective. In fact, people in high positions of power may see these cases of disobedience not as powerful or meaningful, but rather a burden. Malcolm Gladwell’s assertions stay consistent with this concept, as it is much easier and more efficient for people to express themselves online rather than in-person. The majority of news will spread faster and to more people on social media, making it unlikely that people will take it out on the streets. Also, the majority of protests and acts of activism that happen online often stay unnoticed or local. Such means that these acts of activism are unlikely to reach a state or federal level in promoting change, and are unlikely to spread the awareness intended to. Activism through the use of social media is much more effective and efficient at both of these.

Civil disobedience may not only be ineffective, but it can also be destructive and harmful to others. Take for example, riots and violent protests in Minneapolis and other U.S. cities regarding the death of George Floyd earlier this year. Although in the end, Derek Chauvin was charged with third-degree murder on the morning of October 22, 2020, many innocent locals had to pay the price for it. Many people’s jobs, livings, and neighborhoods were destroyed as a direct result of this case of disobedience. The Western Journal released a video on May 29, 2020, of K.B. Balla, a colored sports bar owner, breaking down after he lost his entire life’s work to rioters. It seemed to Balla that within an instant, the sports bar that he took pride in and cared about was gone. There are many people like Balla who have lost their businesses and other important things thanks to violent rioters. Even though justice was served in the end, it was not worth millions of dollars in property damage, countless injuries, and possibly even multiple deaths.

Wilde’s claims are not valid as the majority of civil disobedience has turned out to be destructive and ineffective. Civil and peaceful methods of activism and protest are much more effective than disobedience and are much more likely to appeal to people in high positions of authority. There are even cases of disobedience when it comes to other topics besides social change, but in the end, these methods are not necessary nor valid.

-Jeremy L.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson

During the Golden Age of Piracy, treasure was almost the most valuable thing to everyone; pirates, commoners, and rulers. Everyone loved treasure, and they were willing to do anything for it, even kill others. This classic novel does not disagree with that idea, and it does not disappoint readers who dare to board the boat which leads to Treasure Island. 

The book starts off with Jim Hawkins, a young man living with his parents and working at Admiral Benbow, a bar. Jim is then forced to let a blind pirate named Black Dog into the Admiral Benbow to speak with Captain Billy Bones, Black Dog’s former captain. But, of course, pirates are known to be greedy and that was exactly the story with those two buccaneers. A couple minutes after Jim left the scene, they both drew their cutlasses and got into a full fight which led to Black Dog running off and the Captain injured. 

A couple days later, Jim gains some hard experiences with the deaths of his father, and his friend, Captain Billy Bones. Right after the Captain’s death, Black Dog and his crew of pirates all come to steal Captain Billy Bones’s treasure map, but it is not there. Jim Hawkins was one step ahead. Jim and Dr Livesey gather a crew of their friends, and get on their ship and start sailing to the Island with buried treasure. 

This novel teaches readers about betrayal, cooperation, and loyalty. In times where Jim was struggling with what decision to make, he always made the right one, the one that showed his values. In this story, Jim Hawkins learned a lot of life lessons through the experiences he had. Treasure Island is an exciting novel with lots of plot twists which makes it impossible to put down. This book will not make you regret reading it, and while reading it, you will also be on a ship, sailing to Reading Island, where you will find that magnificence that classics have behind them. 

I rate this book a 9/10 because it was a great book. The only negative about the book is how slowly it moves throughout the plot. Treasure Island is an amazing novel! I really recommend this book.

-Mert A.

Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck

The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a well-known classic, and it narrates the story of two migrant workers named George and Lennie. George and Lennie are best friends, and readers quickly realize that Lennie has a slight mental disability. Nevertheless, George and Lennie’s bond is one of the strongest of the literary world, and their story helps readers understand the lives of migrant workers during the Great Depression as well as the Dust Bowl.

Before reading this novel, I highly recommend doing some research on the Great Depression, for so many influential literary works have references or settings relating to the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl, etcetera.

In Of Mice and Men, Steinbeck cleverly implements many literary devices to convey the story of these two best friends into readers’ hearts. Some of the most prevalent themes in the book include friendship, loneliness, dreams, and more. This book also has a multitude of significant symbols, as well as meaningful characterizations, clever allusions, foreshadowing and quotes.

Personally, I think that the best part of reading this book was the remarkable theme of loneliness. Almost every single character in the story contributes to the development of this theme. 

As I mentioned before, this story takes place during the Great Depression and allows readers to visualize life for migrant workers. These workers mostly travelled alone from place to place (hence the “migrant”). Through the dialogue and actions of other characters, readers understand that George and Lennie’s bond is remarkable, but very unusual, and the theme of loneliness is further emphasized.

The novel Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is a phenomenal piece, and I would recommend this book to avid readers in high school and above.

-Ayati M.

Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

Book Love by Debbie Tung

Do you like books? How about graphic novels? If you are a bookworm who also enjoys graphic novels, this book is for you! 

This is an outstanding graphic novel. It is about a bookworm’s love for books. 

The main character, Debbie, leads a very interesting lifestyle. Books surround her everywhere and almost always. She sometimes finds herself walking into a book store saying things like, “Just a quick browse”, but then comes out looking like she bought a whole shelf of books. She is a huge bookworm. 

It dives a lot deeper into how some people have a different style than others, like how Debbie loves books, but other people prefer other activities. Here is one of my favorite comic strips from the book:

This story is filled with humor, while at the same time putting together an outstanding graphic novel. The main character loves to relax and unwind with a good book. It reduces her anxiety! Also, at certain times, Debbie must decide between either having something else, like food, or books. Her reactions to these situations are amusing!

Book Love is written and illustrated by Debbie Tung. Debbie Tung has also written Quiet Girl in a Noisy World and also recently published Happily Ever After (and Everything in Between). She is an introvert, similar to the character Debbie from her books. 

I really enjoyed reading this book because I love to read a lot. It made me feel happy and I liked how it is funny and easy to read but at the same time filled with great lessons.

I would recommend you to read this book. This is a perfect book for you to read, since it tells the funny and amazing story of a bookworm.

Also, here are some great reading tips:

Happy Reading! 

-Peri A.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper

At age eleven, Melody Brooks is full of knowledge and curiosity. However, she struggles from cerebral palsy, which limits her body, but not her mind.

For her entire life, Melody’s communication has been limited to a small board with twenty basic words printed on it. All she can do is point to the words, with no other way to put her complex thoughts into words and sentences.

Born with a photographic memory, Melody is a video recorder always capturing everything around her. However, she’s never been able to share what she thinks and knows. Always being underestimated, Melody’s daily routine at school is listening to nursery rhymes and reviewing the alphabet. Every. Single. Day.

All Melody’s memories have words, and all her words have meanings, but only in her head: She’s never spoken a single word. Most people don’t realize the importance and power of words, but Melody definitely does. She explains that thoughts need words, and words need a voice, which is something almost everyone except her has.

One day, Melody and the rest of her class—other kids with physical differences—are informed that they will get to attend some inclusion classes. Real classes with ordinary fifth grade students! But this experience isn’t as great as it sounds. The other students look at her funny and seem to believe she’s just as mentally challenged as she is physically. In truth, she’s the smartest student in her entire school.

But there’s no way anyone will ever know that. She can’t walk, she can’t write, she can’t talk . . . until she discovers a device that will allow her to speak—out loud—what’s on her mind, for the first time ever. At last, Melody has a voice! Even so, as she journeys through fifth grade learning, growing, talking, and making new friends, she realizes that not everyone is ready to hear it.

Out of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper is an absolutely incredible must-read that cannot be passed over. The perspective and power of this book have significantly changed me and the way I think. As Melody Brooks strives to teach everyone—herself included—to believe in her, readers will be taken on an unforgettable experience. While taking in this wonderful story, readers will think about everything they’ve ever known in a different light and realize that some things we take for granted don’t come as easily to others.

-Lam T.

Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch

Amazon.com: Love & Gelato (9781481432559): Welch, Jenna Evans: Books

If you are looking for a cute romance novel to read, I have the perfect book for you! Love and Gelato was written by Jenna Even Welsh in 2016. It falls into the categories Romance and Young Adult Fiction. The story follows young Lina, who moves from Seattle to Florence to live with her father after her mother passes away. There’s only one problem- Lina has never met her father. And she does not want to. 

However, Lina promised her mother she would make an effort to get to know him right before her mother passed away, so she doesn’t really have a choice. Although Lina is moving to a foreign country to live with her absent father she has never met, she tries to make the most of it. 

However, her plan to stay positive comes to a crashing halt when she learns her father lives in a cemetery. But when things seem as though they can not get any worse, Lina is given a journal that her mother kept while living in Italy. It was Lina’s final chance to connect with her mom now that she is gone. Lina travels all over Florence with Ren, the boy next door. She meets tons of new people and tries all sorts of new things. She visits different parts of the city, including all her mother’s favorite parts. Once in Florence, with Ren, Lina finally feels like she can be happy without her mother-she starts to find herself again. But, the best things she finds in Florence are Love and Gelato!

This book makes for a great quick read. Once you start it, you will not be able to put it down! Trust me, I have read it three times! Not only is it a romance novel, but it has a great plot with countless twists and turns. You will be kept on the edge of your seat while also rooting for your favorite couple!

-Hidaya R.

Love and Gelato by Jenna Evans Welch is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Game Review: Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc (spoiler-free)

Danganronpa: Trigger Happy Havoc is a popular game, primarily revolving around a “killing game” based on trials. It is the first main game of three, originally released in 2014. The goal is to solve the mystery of each trial and to find the killer. The game contains a wide cast of characters, including 16 students and one bear. Overall, Danganronpa is a very interactive game with a unique trial system that makes the user feel engaged while also learning about the large cast. 

One great part of the game is the art style and game design itself. The environment you are in is not only visually intriguing, but contains a wide variety of different areas. Each area is well designed and pleasant to look at. The art style also matches very well with the actual gameplay mechanics and design as the user interface contrasts the background. The art is also very unique compared to other games as the game is effectively a visual novel, making it a fresh experience. The characters in the game are also quite compelling. Every single character is a master of their craft and provides their own unique experiences. Their personalities and the way they interact with each other always brightens up the game. The characters and their designs were by far my favorite part of the game. Each invoked a certain emotion in you regardless of whether or not you liked them, making the game more enjoyable and entertaining as a whole.

In general, I would rate this game a 10/10. The game is absolutely worth the price point and the interactive visual novel is both entertaining and well written. The game may start somewhat slow but the gameplay itself and world overall make up for it. 

-Benjamin L.