The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien

The Hobbit, or There and Back Again is a fantasy novel by J. R. R. Tolkien. The book is set in a world filled with elves, dwarves, orcs, magic, and all sorts of strange creatures, known as Middle-Earth. In The Hobbit, a company of dwarves, along with a wizard, attempt to reclaim their lost kingdom and gold, which have been taken by a dragon.

The book’s protagonist is a hobbit, a race similar to humans, but shorter than dwarves, named Bilbo Baggins. Bilbo lives a quiet, ordinary life inside his hobbit-hole, until one day a mysterious wizard named Gandalf the Grey and a company of thirteen dwarves show up at his doorstep, asking him to join their quest to reclaim their gold and slay the ferocious dragon Smaug. Bilbo initially refuses, but eventually gives in to temptation, and soon he, the dwarves, and wizard are thrown into an action-filled adventure.

The Hobbit mainly shows Bilbo’s growth and transformation into a hero as the dwarves are traveling towards their goal. Against obstacle after obstacle, Bilbo begins to prove his usefulness and worth, as he saves the dwarves from countless threats, from elven kings to deadly spiders.

The Hobbit is a great book that can be enjoyed by all ages. It is filled with adventure and there is action at every turn. Overall, The Hobbit is a classic novel that should be read by everyone.

-Josh N. 

The Hobbit by J. R. R. Tolkien is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Animal Farm by George Orwell

Animal Farm takes place on a mismanaged farm in England. The animals, upset with their treatment, prepare a rebellion to take over the farm. Once the farm is taken over, the animals attempt to validate their rights by painting seven commandments on the wall; these commandments are known as “animalism,” and they set the basic laws for the farm animals. These laws are: whatever goes upon two legs is an enemy. no animal shall wear clothes, no animal shall sleep in a bed, no animal shall drink alcohol, no animal shall kill any other animal, all animals are equal, and whatever goes upon four legs, or has wings, is a friend. In addition, the farm, known as the Manor Farm, is renamed into Animal Farm.

Soon after the animals seize control of the farm, the pigs, the leaders of the farm, run into management issues. The two leaders of the farm, Snowball and Napoleon, can not decide how they want to run the farm; Snowball wants a windmill to be constructed in order to reduce work hours, while Napoleon believes a hard-working, simple farm is the happiest lifestyle the animals can work.

Day after day, the pigs become more human than animal, and they begin to slowly change the seven commandments, in order to manipulate and dominate over the other animals. For instance, the law “no animal shall drink alcohol” is changed into “no animal shall drink alcohol to excess,” and as time goes on, the pigs even begin to purge the farm of opposition to their reign.

Animal Farm reflects history since it shows even a government with the noblest intentions can be corrupted. Snowball represents the idea of capitalism, while Napoleon represents communism. Napoleon controls the farm through the belief that the animals are their own rulers, and that they are better off ruling themselves than they were under the reign of humans. The reality is that Napoleon is simply deceiving the animals with words and numbers, as the pigs slowly force the other animals into submission until the animals cannot differentiate pig from human.

-Josh N. 

Animal Farm is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin

A Game of Thrones, the first novel of A Song of Ice and Fire, is a fantasy novel by George R. R. Martin. It is considered an adult novel, with explicit scenes, so it should not be read by younger readers. The majority of A Game of Thrones takes in Westeros, a vast continent that spreads from a warm south to a freezing, mysterious north. In the north is a massive wall, manned by an organization known as the Night’s Watch, designed to keep an alien, zombie-like race known as the Others out, while the country’s center of power is in King’s Landing, a city in the South that contains the Iron Throne. Upon the Iron Throne sits the King of Westeros, who supposedly has the support of the seven Great Houses.

A Game of Thrones has three main plot lines. The first focuses on the fight for the Iron Throne in King’s Landing. Here, King Robert Baratheon and his Hand, Eddard Stark, attempt to keep Robert in power as they struggle to determine who is friend and who is foe. Robert and Eddard are surrounded by enemies, bystanders, and traitors, all while the country’s Great Houses wage war for control over the Iron Throne.

The second significant plot line is that of Bran Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow. Bran Stark, Robb Stark, and Jon Snow are all sons of Eddard Stark, but Jon is an illegitimate son. While Bran and Jon defend the Wall from northern invaders, like the mountain men and Others, Robb Stark focuses on becoming the ruler of Winterfell, in place of his father’s absence.

Finally in the far east, upon another continent across the sea, is the plot line of Daenerys Stormborn, daughter of the Iron Throne’s previous king, who had been overthrown by King Robert. Daenerys and her brother Viserys Targaryen focus on reclaiming their rightful inheritance, as they begin to gain power in the east.

A Game of Thrones is a complicated mess, with main characters scattered throughout the globe. It can most similarly be compared to The Lord of the Rings, but with more complexity, more characters, and more explicit scenes. A Game of Thrones should only be read by a dedicated reader, or by a person who has the time, due to its length and large amounts of characters. Readers desiring a quick read should definitely not check out A Game of Thrones.

-Josh N. 

A Song of Ice and Fire: A Game of Thrones by George R. R. Martin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel set in the distant future when humans have accomplished interstellar travel and faster than light communications. In this age, humans are threatened by the existence of the Formics, commonly known as the Buggers, an alien race that nearly wiped out humanity in two previous invasions. Ender’s Game is a science fiction classic with lots of physiological themes.

The protagonist of Ender’s Game is Ender, a child prodigy with exception intelligence. Ender is recruited for Battle School, a space station where exceptional children like Ender are trained to become commanders and leaders to combat a future Formic invasion. At Battle School, students are sorted into “armies,” which are their groups for a game similar to laser tag, but in a zero gravity situation. These armies are extremely competitive, and Ender soon finds himself many allies and enemies as he emerges as the best of the best.

Ender’s Game also has many psychological aspects, as Ender is constantly forced to outsmart and outplay his enemies. For example, Ender states that he constantly beat one of his bullies at the beginning of the novels to win the current fight and all future fights. There’s lots of psychology in the book since the novel is about geniuses.

Ultimately, Ender’s Game can be considered a masterpiece. It is a must-read for science-fiction novel fans and is simply a very enjoyable book.

-Josh N.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, known as Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone in certain countries, is the first book in J. K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series. The book is about a young boy named Harry, who lives with his abusive relatives, but one day, a giant named Hagrid arrives, telling Harry that he’s a wizard an celebrity. Hagrid introduces Harry to the magical world and other magical sites in London, like Diagon Alley and The Leaky Cauldron.

At Hogwarts, a school for magic, Harry befriends Ron, his first friend ever, and the book-worm Hermione. As Harry is beginning to adapt to his new magical life, he becomes stuck in the middle of a mystery: a magical object has been transferred to Hogwarts’s dungeons, and Harry and his friends believe that someone is trying to steal it. As the school year progresses, Harry struggles to deal with his past, and he his friends face countless of challenges as they try to solve the mystery; they fight a troll, see a mysterious figure in the woods, and play chess on a gargantuan, animated chess board.

In conclusion, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is a great beginning for the Harry Potter series. The book is an interesting novel to read, and its sequels only get better.

-Josh N. 

The Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expéry

The Little Prince, known as Le Petit Prince in France, is a best-selling novella by French aristocrat and writer Antoine de Saint Expéry. The narrator, a pilot who crashes in the Sahara Desert, is repairing his plane as he is approached by a young boy, the little prince. The prince claims to come from an small asteroid, where he lives with a rose that he loves dearly, and the little prince wants to explore the universe..

The prince first asks the pilot to draw him a sheep, but the pilot is not able to draw a satisfactory sheep for the prince, so he merely draws a box and tells the prince that the sheep he desires is hidden inside. Over the course of a week, while the pilot fixes his plane, the little prince recounts his interesting life story. The prince says he has visited six planets on his journey, which each housed one person: a king, narcissist, alcoholic, businessman, lamplighter, and finally, the last planet had a geographer. The prince also tames a fox, which teaches him that important things can only be seen with one’s heart, not one’s eyes. The book has quite an interesting end: the prince supposedly commits suicide by letting a snake bite him, but claims that he is returning home to his asteroid. The prince finally tells the narrator that it will look like he has died, for his body is too heavy to bring with him. However, the next day, the pilot is unable to locate the little prince’s body.

Ultimately, The Little Prince is a very interesting and touching story with deep lessons behind it. The six people the prince met on the planets each represent a different negative aspect of society, and the reader is left to conclude whether the prince returned home to his rose or died. The Little Prince can be enjoyed by all people of all ages, and it has a different meaning and interpretation for everyone.

-Josh N.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expéry  is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.