Pride and Prejudice and Zombies: Fun Twist or Joke of the Classic Story

prideprejudicezombies_sethsmithPride and Prejudice and Zombies is set to hit theaters on Thursday and the exploding media coverage on this spin of a classic tale has me questioning whether or not I should see the movie…and read the book.

When I first heard of this strange idea for a book, I was immediately against it. I thought a classic could not possibly be transformed into a modern chaotic plot in any successful way. Especially one with zombies. I was not at all interested in reading the novel. However, both the book and the movie seem to bred quite a lot of hype. It has me thinking of reading and seeing how the story unfolds!

I wonder if Jane Austen would be okay with her novel being twisted into a sci-fi fantasy. Part of me is now intrigued because a zombie meshing with a character such as Elizabeth Bennet would certainly make for a fascinating story. Especially now it is becoming more and more common to have a strong female main character. It appears that Jane Austen may have been ahead of her time with her creation of Elizabeth Bennet. This timeless female character is still cherished today for her bold and unapologetic spirit. Undoubtedly in the updated version, Elizabeth would be the one leading the charge against zombies.

I have high hopes for reading this book. But I am also uncertain about opening its pages. Will it bring a cool new edge to the classic novel? Or will I be left disappointed wishing zombies had never entered England? I am definitely willing to find out and I’m curious what reviews or ideas you all have regarding these books and movies.

Let me know what you think!

~Posted by Kelsey H. 12th grade

Inspire a Passion for Reading

We all love to read. And as a Senior Girl Scout, deciding what to base my Gold Award project on was a no-brainer: reading. The Gold Award is the highest level of achievement in Girl Scouts—the equivalent of reaching Eagle Scout in Boy Scouts. For my project, I wanted to take my love of reading and expand the opportunities reading has for children. With the help of my take action team, I created children’s library programs that provided working parents with a free and safe place for their children after-school.

Through my project I was able to share my love of reading with kids from our community. I am so glad that I was able to use my passion to inspire others. I can say on behalf of all the volunteers who participated in my project that teaching children to read was an invaluable experience. Completing my Gold Award has taught me to be a thoughtful leader by listening to the ideas of others on my team. I also learned what it must be like for librarians and teachers to see the joy and understanding on a child’s face. It is truly incredible to be a part of their journey learning to read and experimenting with different genres and ways of reading.

Now that I have completed my project, I definitely recommend teens in our community to create their own ways of encouraging reading. Get creative! Maybe just by writing a blog about how you wish to promote reading, someone will be inspired to do the same. If we all share our experiences and our thoughts on the importance of reading, I am certain that we will have an impact in our community. Interview a teacher or a librarian—they are some of the best examples of how teaching children to read benefits them in the future. Research the facts showing the impact that reading has on the lives of children. Whether or not you choose to take action, I hope that my review of my experience will inspire others to join me encouraging reading. Together we can share our love of books with the people around us. But don’t forget to educate and inspire others to follow your lead!

I encourage you to think about ways you can use your love of reading to benefit others. Whether it’s on a local, national, or global level, your ideas can inspire and motivate people to take action. Please leave me a comment telling me what ideas you have for spreading the love of reading and some ways you think we can accomplish it together!

-Kelsey H.

Looking For Alaska by John Green

lookingforalaska_johngreenI was so excited to get my hands on this book! I had heard such great things about it for a couple of years now, so I couldn’t wait to start reading. However, I was not as thrilled with this book as I had hoped to be. I know this will be controversial because many people loved this book, but I really did not connect with the characters or the story in the way I thought I would.

So here’s a quick summary of the book: *WARNING THIS DOES CONTAIN SPOILERS* Miles, a high school junior, leaves Florida to attend a boarding school in Alabama. There he meets and befriends his roommate “The Colonel” and his friends Takumi and Alaska. As time goes on, Miles falls in love with the spontaneous, rebellious Alaska despite the fact that she has a boyfriend and that people tell him crazy stories about her. Miles becomes caught up in the Colonel’s pranks, games, drinking, and drugs and he realizes that this is the “Great Perhaps” he was searching for. One night towards the end of the book, Miles and Alaska kiss and fall asleep in her room. But a phone call in the middle of the night wakes Alaska and she goes hysterical screaming that she has to leave. So Miles (nicknamed Pudge by the Colonel) help her escape unnoticed by the deacon of the school. The next day they find out that Alaska was killed in a car accident on her way to wherever she was going the night before. Pudge and the Colonel are miserable blaming themselves for her death. Pudge decides to investigate the reason behind her leaving and whether or not her death was an accident or a suicide. The book ends with Pudge forgiving Alaska for dying-suicide or not- and writing a school paper about the “way out of the labyrinth” as Alaska had asked her classmates before her death.

I liked how Green portrayed raw qualities of teenagers rather than the perfect good students in most books. The main character falls in love with an emotionally unstable girl-that’s not something every book does. I still thought it was a good book; there were just some things that bothered me. For instance, I did not like the actual plot of the story because it felt like there was no purpose to the events. Prank after prank you feel, as the reader, that something big is going to happen, but when it happens it doesn’t bring closure, instead it brought disappointment. I also really did not like how the entire second half of the book is Pudge’s depression over losing Alaska and his inability to do anything about it. Only the very end of the book brings closure to the story. And yet still, after finishing the book I felt as though Pudge’s story was insignificant. And maybe that was the point, I can see how Green might have had a greater point that I missed. Regardless I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book. There could have been more to it-more characters, major events, something pleasing to the reader.

I still praise John Green as an author because I loved Paper Towns and The Fault in Our Stars but this is not on my top ten books list unfortunately. Feel free to leave a comment about what you thought of this book!

-Kelsey H

Looking for Alaska is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library, Overdrive, and Axis360

The Scarlett Letter by Nathaniel Hawthorne

scarletletter_nathawthorneI recently read the classic novel The Scarlet Letter. I really enjoyed the dramatic story of Hester Prynne and her daughter Pearl as they live in a strict Puritan society. Nathaniel Hawthorne was clever in his symbolic elements to highlight the importance of such things like the scarlet letter itself, her daughter Pearl, and Mr. Dimmesdale among others.

To give a brief description of the story: The novel opens with a woman named Hester Prynne being publicly scorned after her release from prison. The reader is informed that she was convicted of adultery and as punishment must wear a scarlett letter “A” sewn onto the breast of her dress. She is holding her daughter in her arms who we later find out is named Pearl. As the story progresses Hester and Pearl face challenges for being outcasts of their society. But Hester’s love for her daughter and her strength in character get them through along with the help of a sacrificial man (whose name I will not reveal because no spoilers!) The story ends dramatically but you will have to read to find out!

I loved how Hawthorne ended the book because he brought closure with a tiny cliff hanger that perfectly balance the other out. My favorite character is Arthur Dimmesdale-the adored priest of the town who saves Hester from having to give up her daughter. His charm and genuine heart carry off the pages and into the hearts of the readers. The dreary character of Robert Chillingworth gives an eerie vibe to the story when he sets out for revenge against his wife and her mysterious lover. The story and the characters come together in this Puritan society through love, revenge, and more, and it is definitely one of my favorite required reads so far.

All in all, this twisted love triangle story is a classic for a reason. I love the writing and though the vocabulary is tricky at parts, this book is definitely recommended by me!

– Kelsey H., 11th grade

The Scarlet Letter is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.

Series Review: The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

delirium_seriesIt was bittersweet to read the last book in the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver! I love the series and did not want it to come to an end. Regardless, I swept through the last book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. Oliver has a way of writing that catches the mind and causes you to lose track of time. And in my opinion, all the best authors have the ability to do so.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of the first two books. In Delirium we meet Lena, a teenage girl living in a society where love is considered a disease and eighteen year olds are “cured” from the disease, matched with someone, and left to live their lives void of emotions. Just before her eighteenth birthday, Lena meets and falls in love with a mysterious boy named Alex. Despite her family’s disgust and her society’s warnings, Lena chooses to secretly meet Alex and develop a relationship with him. Tracing the revolution, revolts and raids by the “Invalids” (those who escaped society for freedom) begin in the first book while Lena and Alex are at a forbidden party. The first book ends with Lena escaping with Alex into the Wilds. But just as Alex throws Lena across the fence, guards swarm in and cover Lena’s sight of him.

In Pandemonium, Lena learns to survive in the Wilds. She is taken in almost dead by Raven and Tack and their entire family and struggles to cope with loss throughout the whole book. She becomes almost a daughter to the couple and joins in with family work. Lena also learns that the family supports the rebellion against the society and decides to join in the fight. Going undercover as a supporter of the DFA (Deliria Free America), Lena learns the group’s tactics and reports back to the Wilds. During one of the meetings, a group of Invalids known as Scavengers attack and take Lena and the leader Julian as captives. Forced into one prison cell, Lena learns about Julian’s past and falls in love with him. Julian, on the other hand, does not know love because he has not escaped like Lena has, and learns how to love Lena in return. The two make a break for freedom and succeed ending the book in a joyous reunion, or so it may seem. You’ll have to read to find out for yourself!

Requiem features Lena and Julian (with some surprise guests) in the Wilds working to break the wall into the society. This book switches between the perspectives of Lena and Hannah (Lena’s newly cured friend from Portland.) I liked how the reader was able to see what was happening in both the Wilds and society. It was especially exciting right before the final rebellion because the suspense on the Wilds side far surpassed the unknowing calm of the cureds. I don’t want to give away too much but Lena struggles between making choices based on the memories of her past and her feelings in the present. I love the ending of the book and how Lena proves that she is a trustworthy friend even in the most desperate situations. The main themes of this book are friendship, love, sacrifice, and survival.

Overall I loved this trilogy! I wish Oliver had written more books in the series but I also understand how the ending makes sense. After reading Delirium, I truly did not believe the other books could be any better, but each time they exceeded my expectations. I recommend these books for any Hunger Games, Divergent, or Matched fans out there!

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

Authors We Love: Lauren Oliver!

lauren_oliver_headshotLauren Oliver has become one of my favorite authors already, and I’ve only read two of her books! Her writing style is so intriguing; I literally cannot put her books down. I read both Before I Fall and Delirium over the summer, and both made me smile and made me cry. In her writing, Lauren Oliver makes the reader contemplate many interesting questions such as: What happens after death, or rather, what could happen after death? What if love was a disease? Would you take the cure? I found that after reading chapters upon chapters of her work, my mind happily became consumed in her book worlds. Lauren Oliver will help you identify yourself through reading her novels and you too will be left wondering.

before_i_fallBefore I Fall is the story of a popular girl named Samantha Kingston who hasn’t a care in the world. However, the story behind this one is that Samantha died on one particular day. This story is told through the perspective of Samantha given more chances to relive that one day, and it truly shows the value in second chances. Each time she gets to relive her last day, Samantha makes kinder and more impactful decisions to benefit those she hardly would have glanced at before. I loved how every chapter started the same, as if Samantha really was waking up to her alarm for the first time, even if it was the sixth or seventh time. It was fascinating to read the perspective of someone who can finally see their life clearly, because they have no blinders to protect them. They see their life as a whole, and therefore can make wiser choices. A famous saying that works perfectly with the theme of this story is: “Hindsight is always twenty-twenty” –Billy Wilder. Oliver poses the question: What would you do if you had second chances to live?

delirium_seriesOn the opposite genre spectrum, Delirium is a dystopian themed trilogy starter about a girl named Lena who lives in a society where love is considered a disease. Young adults are cured of the disease at the age of eighteen and then they are matched with someone for life, void of attractions to each other. All her life Lena has not questioned the decision of her elders that love is dangerous, until a few months before her eighteenth birthday when she meets a boy and ultimately falls in love with him. Suddenly all that Lena thought was good for the citizens becomes evil, and she must learn to identify with herself.

Oliver writes brilliantly, accurately portraying the confused and headstrong teen while showing their sensitive sides as well. I fell in love with Lena and Alex because they aren’t perfect. So many couples in literature have these magical fairy tales that just aren’t reality, so it’s so fresh to have a pair who have flaws. The real testament of their love is how they stay together despite the society security and Lena’s family against them. I find it so inspiring to read about “What ifs.” It’s one of my favorite types of books to read because they make you think beyond the characters into imagining what you at first thought to be impossible become possible.

Lauren Oliver is an incredible author for young adults because she writes to pose questions, not answers. She opens your mind to possibilities, and just like every good author, she transports you to another era, time, place, and world. I would absolutely love to see both of these books be made into movies so long as the directors and actors stay true to the books’ messages. If they try to turn it into a perfect Hollywood romance or emotional bologna, then it will do injustice to the thought-provoking genius that is Lauren Oliver. Lastly, I believe that characters with imperfections are so important to give to readers because they prove that it’s okay to not be perfect.

Please leave me a comment if you have any recommendations of books I would like that are similar to Lauren Oliver’s writing and your thoughts on my post!

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

AP Lang Bible Assignment

bookstack2I decided to write a blog on this topic because I found it surprising and interesting that I would be required to read the Bible for AP summer work. I grew up listening to stories from the Bible and have grown accustomed to hearing my pastor speak about random passages, but I never knew how the dialect of the Bible and the famous stories have translated themselves in many ways into works of literature.

As a pre-AP Lang student, I am responsible for reading the entire chapter of Genesis from the Bible and creating an alphabetized dictionary full of important people, events, and places. I must also read the entire gospel of Luke and retell fifteen of the most significant parables stating their significance. A parable is a short story that has a purpose and moral/lesson.

I’m sure many of you incoming AP Lang students have this odd homework assignment along with me. At first, I was surprised that a public high school would incorporate religion into the Common Core assignments, but my previous English teacher explained to us that we must familiarize ourselves with the biblical stories in order to better understand the allusions referencing subjects such as the Garden of Eden or the historic “Christ” character in many novels. Regardless of the assignment, I’m fascinated by the different approach I have to the Bible now. No longer am I just a Christian reading the Bible, but now I am a “college” student analyzing the stories and parables.

If you too find this AP Lang assignment interesting, feel free to leave a comment expressing your opinion on the work, not the religion 🙂

-Kelsey H., 11th grade