Waste of Space by Gina Damico

Most children dream of becoming astronauts and going to space. Even though most of us do not go to the moon, the dream of going to space is always there. In the book, Waste of Space, the dream comes true for ten teenagers. The production company, DV8, needs a new television show, and they come up with Waste of Space.

The premise is to send ten teenagers to space in a spaceship, where they will live together for an indefinite amount of time, and will have to deal with everybody aboard the ship. In reality, however, the teens will be taken to a sound stage in the middle of the New Mexican desert. DV8 is own by an ambitious, young man named Chazz Young who would do anything for his shows to get views. Working with NASAW (a different group of scientists from NASA), Young is able to produce a show that leaves a lot of people wanting more along with a lot of questions.

Picking this book, I was enticed by the summary of the book. The book is not written like a normal novel because it is a compilation of evidence by an investigator. It is like this because contact with the kids is lost in the middle of their time aboard the “spacecraft.” Initially, I just thought it was going to be a story about the kids finding a way back to earth, but it was different from the typical story about people finding their way home. Instead of being an adventure in “space,” the novel is a mockery of American television and culture. The portrayal of the teenagers and the way Young handles the various issues of his show make fun of reality shows in America, and the seriousness some people have when watching them. Another layer to this story was the mysteriousness of the NASAW organization. This aspect made the story more complex and mysterious. I would recommend this book to anyone looking for a satirical take on America with a layer of mystery and adventure.

-Anmol K.

Waste of Space by Gina Damico is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski is a science fiction novel about a competition organized by NASA among the brightest, gifted young adults from across the globe. One of these great minds belongs to seventeen-year-old, Cassandra Gupta. She has been training for a chance like this for her entire life. She is at the top amongst her classmates, but she must compete and be better among the others, who are of her caliber. The winner of the competition will be chosen to join astronauts on a secret mission.

Cassie is determined to be the one to go on that mission. As part of the training, everybody has to go through various physical and mental tests. Through the competition, Cassie discovers things about herself and others around her. When the time comes to chose someone for the mission, NASA picks someone who, in their eyes, will be the most successful.

The plot of the book was what enticed me to pick up this book to read, and I am glad that I picked it. With a great main character, the book kept me reading it till the end. Cassie is head strong and determined, which is the driving force behind the plot of the book. Also, she is able to keep going past her limitations; this is true, especially when she is in life and death situations. With a surprising ending, this book will be sure to keep you on the edge of your seat.

-Anmol K.

Dare Mighty Things by Heather Kaczynski is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Graceling by Kristin Cashore is a fantasy novel about Katsa, who has been graced with the ability to kill. In her world, there are some who are graced with supernatural gifts and have different colored eyes. Those with useful gifts, such as Katsa, are brought to their King so he can use it. Unfortunately, Katsa is the niece of the King, and is used to intimidate would-be criminals. Engaging in secret espionage to help hinder his actions, Katsa is constantly working with the other members of the court.

On one of her missions, Katsa encounters Prince Po. Graced himself with an amazing ability to fight, Po goes to Katsa’s court. There, they fight together and maximize each other’s capabilities. Katsa has been trying to solve the case of a man she and other members of the court had rescued from another Kingdom. They did not know who had kidnapped him, but soon discover that this man is Po’s grandfather, who Po had been looking for. Working together, Po and Katsa discover the secrets behind both the kidnapping and their graces.  

The plot was intricate, but developed into a great story by the end. Katsa is a strong lead, and the development of her character is seen through the course of the story. Initially, she was reticent, but developed into a strong, self-assured character by the end of the story. Po also developed throughout the story, and was a great second character. The plot was simple, and easy to follow. However, there were some instances where it felt stretched out and a little boring, but there were not too many scenes like that. I would recommend this too whomever is looking for a fantasy read with a strong female character.

-Anmol K.

One of Us Is Lying

One of the best books I have read, One of Us Is Lying by Karen M, McManus, kept me hooked till the end. The plot revolves around five high school students: the jock, the brainiac, the troublemaker, and the princess. Cooper, Bronwyn, Nate, and Addy all are in detention together for having cell phones in their backpacks when they were supposed to be left in their backpacks. Each one claims that the cellphone was planned by someone else because each kid claims to have left in their locker, but the teacher does not believe them. Figuring that it must be a prank, they go to detention. Along there with them is Simon, a fellow senior. He is there for the same reason, but does not fit into any of these said stereotypes. While the students are serving detention, Simon goes to fill a paper cup with water. All of the sudden, he collapses and is rushed to the hospital. There, he is proclaimed dead from a severe allergic reaction to peanuts. The whole community is shocked, and blame is placed upon the four other students who were in that room with him. Each claims to be innocent, but each also has secrets to hide. Did someone in that room do it, or was it a group of them, or was it someone else with their own motives? To find out, read this novel and be prepared for a great plot.

I absolutely enjoyed this book because of the plot and the characters. As a fan of thriller novels, I especially enjoyed the high school aspect of it. It helped make it more relatable and added to the suspense. Another great aspect of this book is the characters and what each of them brings to the plot. As the story went on, their secrets were revealed. Those various revelations helped to make the plot more twisted. The main question of who did the crime was on my mind the whole novel, and the answer was delivered in an interesting way. As clues were revealed, I started to figure out the answer, but it was close to the end. I would recommend it to any high school student looking for a thrilling read.

Authors We Love: Meg Cabot

On August 7th 2017, Mission Viejo was graced with a visit from world famous author, Meg Cabot. There to promote her latest novel, Royal Crush, Meg Cabot has wrote many books; she has written the Princess Diaries, The Meditator, 1-800-WHERE-R-U, All-American Girl, Avalon High, The Airhead, and The Abandon series. In addition to this, she wrote numerous standalone novels. With such a wide collection of works, there is sure to be something for everyone. Just like the various characters Meg Cabot has wrote about, she has an interesting life story.

Born in Bloomington Indiana, Meg Cabot started to write stories from the age of seven. She was a big fan of Star Wars, and admired Princess Leia so much, that she wrote stories about her. As she grew older, she realized she could not do that, but she still loved Star Wars. In high school, she flunked math because she was too busy drawing all the time because she loved it as much as writing. After high school, Ms. Cabot attended Indiana University. Not sure about her major, she runs into a guy at a party who tells her not to major in creative writing. Taking his advice, she decides to major in art. During her time at college, she did not take a single writing class. At graduation, her diploma tube was empty because of that.

After graduation, Ms. Cabot moved to New York where she worked as an assistant residence hall director at New York University. There, she met the same guy from the party who told her that he was drunk at that time, and did not know what he was saying. They started to date, eventually got married, and have been married for over twenty years. Around the same time, her Father passed away, which really hurt her. She also decided to start publishing her works, but they kept getting rejected. Three years later, Ms. Cabot finally published her first novel, Where Roses Grow Wild, under her pen name of Patricia Cabot at the age of thirty. Her most famous series, Princess Diaries, was originally based on Cabot’s life about a woman her age having her mother starting to date her teacher. After writing about it, her friends feel it’s weird, so Ms. Cabot makes the girl fourteen, but nothing really happens. Ms. Cabot revises the story to make the girl a long-lost princess, and Princess Diaries is born. An interesting fact about the series is that the Father is not in the movie because the producers wanted Julie Andrews, who plays the grandmother, to have a lot of speaking parts.

As a writer, Ms. Cabot gets ideas for her novels from everywhere. Some are based on her own anecdotes, while others are just from her imagination. She advises aspiring writers to never give up their dreams. She lives in Key West, Florida with her husband and her many cats.

-Anmol K.

Royal Crush and the works of Meg Cabot are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

 

Winning by Lara Deloza

Calculative, demanding, and brilliant, Alexandra Miles has one goal in mind in the novel Winning by Lara Deloza, to be homecoming queen. With the ability to make people do whatever she says, Alexandra is the unofficial queen at her school. She wants to cement her status by obtaining the crown. On her side is her loyal best friend Sam. Even though Sam considers them to be best friends, Alexandra only uses her for her own benefit. Alexandra’s scheming for the crown is ruined when the new girl, Erin, moves to the school.

Lively and popular, Erin’s move threatens to hinder Alexandra from achieving her goal of homecoming queen. Along with Sam, Alexandra implements a plan to ensure the crown will land on her head and nobody else’s.  The novel is sure to keep the reader flipping the pages to see if Alexandra ends up getting the crown or not.

Personally, I am not a big fan of stories about the high school hierarchy; I tend to stick to novels with more action and adventure. After reading the synopsis of this novel, I was intrigued. Opening the novel, I could not put it down. Even though the characters were underdeveloped, I continued to read the novel. I would recommend it for high schoolers because of some parts. Otherwise, all highs choolers will relate to some part of this novel.

-Anmol K.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan

Interwoven by a single object, the three lives of children are forever changed by magical harmonica in the novel Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan.

The story begins with a young boy named Otto, who meets three sisters when he gets lost in a forbidden forest. Interacting with them, Otto realizes the mysterious nature of them. The sisters guide him home, and give him a harmonica with a special “M” seal. The harmonica makes its way to a young boy named Friedrich in Germany.

Hitler is rising, and the Nazi’s party influence is very prominent; resistance to it is very difficult. Discovering the special harmonica in the factory his Father works in, Friedrich plays it and realizes there is something special about it. Because of unforeseen circumstances, he is forced to get rid of the harmonica.

It travels next to Mike, an orphan, in Pennsylvania. Constantly taking care of his younger brother, Mike is looking for a break to help himself and his brother out of their destitute lives. Musically gifted with playing the piano, Mike discovers the special harmonica. He and his brother are eventually adopted, but there are some complications with their new guardian. The last child in the novel is Ivy. Receiving the harmonica, her special talent for playing is recognized by her teacher; her teacher chooses her to play a solo in a special concert, but Ivy’s Father receives a job, forcing her to move way. Her Father’s job is to take care of a farm of Japanese family, while they are in an internment camp. The neighboring farms are anti-Japanese, and some vandalize the property. The harmonica helps her adjust to the move. Each of the children’s lives have their own story with the harmonica, but the ending ties them all together beautifully.

Even though this book is intended for younger children, anybody of any age would enjoy this novel because of its simplistic nature and “feel-good” element. My favorite part of this book was how there were multiple stories, and they were told in such detail, that one was able to connect and understand the individual characters. It is also relatable because of the backdrop of the second World War, and how it impacted people differently depending on where they lived. The “magic” element made the novel all the more enjoyable because it captured the innocence of the young children.

I loved Echo, and I would recommend it to anybody looking for a light, quick read.

Echo by Pam Muñoz Ryan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.