About Sophia D.

Hi. I do book review. My friends call me Padfoot, so shoutout to all you Marauders fans! Mssr Padfoot, at your service.

School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

‘In the forest primeval, a school for good and evil, two towers like twin heads, one for the pure, one for the wicked, try to escape you’ll always fail, the only way out is, through a fairy tale’

These are the opening words of Soman Chainani’s first book in the School for Good and Evil series, also known as SGE to many fans. The first book, which is called The School For Good and Evil, has 488 pages, and can be found in the children’s section of the library.

This is one of my favorite books, and it holds deep meaning for me. When I first met my pen pal, this was her present to me. I have cherished this book and series, because it is a reminder of her, no matter how far apart we live.

We begin our tale in a small town. We meet Sophie, the epitome of a pretty pink princess. While she goes about her daily routines, including rigorous skin care, and primping and preening, we find out that there are kidnappings in this town, every year.

The villagers of this town have come to the conclusion that there is a ‘Schoolmaster’, kidnapping two children every year. At first, it seems as though there is no pattern to this kidnapping. Some years, two girls. Others, two boys. Sometimes, one of each. But finally, the villagers make the connection. One child is pure and good. The other is wicked and ‘evil’. The adults in the town didn’t know what to make of this. But, the children did. They found their old schoolmates in the pages of their favorite stories. These kidnapped children were becoming the heroes and villains of fairytales. And they were kidnapped to go train for fairytales at the Schools of Good and Evil

We find out that Sophie is pining to be kidnapped, to go to the school of Good. We also find that Agatha, her ‘friend’, is the perfect candidate to be kidnapped alongside Sophie, and attend the school of Evil.

Well, the hopes of Sophie and the assumptions of the villagers were correct. Agatha and Sophie were kidnapped by the Schoolmaster. But, as they are dropped off at the School for Good and Evil, some things did not go according to plan.

Agatha was dropped at the School for Good, and Sophie was dropped at the School for Evil.

Well, I won’t spoil anymore. I highly suggest checking this out at the library. Happy reads!

-Sophia D.

The School of Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani is available to download for free from Overdrive.

Book vs Movie: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

I’m sure you’ve all heard of Wonder, by R.J. Palacio. It’s a good book that bring to light bullying in middle school. Wonder is about a boy named Auggie Pullman. He’s been homeschooled all his life, and now his mother has decided to put him into public middle school. Of course, we know that middle school can be cruel. For Auggie, it’s a bit more than normal bullying.

Auggie was born with a facial deformity. Throughout his life, he struggled to accept this, often wearing an astronaut helmet when he went out in public. As expected, Auggie is bullied in his new school. He has one good friend who tends to stick by him. Just like in real life, and perhaps more for Auggie, he goes through ups and downs with his family and friends.

The book is very good, and shows how a family must always be there for each other. Auggie’s family is there for him throughout the book. It also shows that friends can be there to help too.

Now, the movie. I actually did not like the movie, I’m sad to say. Though I loved the book, I felt like Auggie was a jerk to his family, especially his mom. His mom is always so supportive of him and just wants the best for him. I just felt like Auggie acted like a brat who thought he could get whatever he wanted. This makes me sad, because Auggie is not like that in the book (in my opinion).

My interpretation of book Auggie was that, yes, he had his difficulties in school. And sure, he might of argued with his mom. But I think that it was the heat of the moment, and he always apologized in the end.

With movie Auggie, I felt like he yelled and screamed at his mom when he didn’t get his way. Then, he would run to his room and slam the door. When his mom came to comfort him, he would yell at her more, even though she was trying to make him feel better. And when he apologized, it sounded insincere.

In summary, I enjoyed the book, but thought that the movie was not enjoyable.

-Sophia D.

Wonder, both the book and film, by R. J. Palacio is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

If you wish to read The Maze Runner, you’re in for a long adventure, totaling in four books and two behind the scenes books. Once you start, you cannot stop. Prepare to be thrown headfirst into a whirlwind of life, death, happiness, sadness, love, and hatred.

We begin in the Box. We watch as Thomas, the main character, is thrown into a community of 40-50 boys, who live in a place they’ve come to call ‘the Glade’. We learn that the place these boys live I see actually a maze, surrounding the Glade on all sides. The boys have been trying to figure out the maze for two years, and a new boy, or Glader, is sent up in the Box every month. Just like clockwork, one boy every month, none of which have any memories, except their names.

The boys in the Glade have developed a system, to keep them from going crazy. A boy named Alby is the leader, with a boy named Newt as his second in command. There are 9 jobs in the Glade: Builer, Slicer, Cooks, Track-Hoes, Med-Jacks, Baggers, Sloppers’ Brick-Nicks, and Runners. Being a Runner is the most dangerous job, because it is your job to run through the Maze and memorize the corridors. Then, you must return to the Glade, and write down what you’ve memorized.

You may ask, ‘well, why is this job so dangerous?’ This is because in the Maze, monsters come out at night. They are called ‘Grievers’ by the Gladers, and are disgusting, fleshy creatures that roam the Maze at night. If you are stung by one of these creatures, you go through something called the Changing, which gives you back your memories in a painful process.

Thomas, of course, wishes to become a Runner. We all assume that he will lead a happy life in the Glade, and that perhaps he and the boys will be able to escape. But, as usual in adventure books, something happens.

A girl comes up in the Box, only a day afterward Thomas. She is delivered with a note explaining that she is the last one. She is in a coma, only speaking a few words, such as ‘I’ve triggered the Ending.’

The Maze Runner is a fast paced, exciting book. Many will enjoy to twists and turns of the thrilling adventure novel created by James Dashner. I highly suggest this book!

-Sophia D.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Movie vs. Book: Ready Player One

As many of you know, Ready Player One has been out for quite some while. Most people who wanted to see it have. But did you know (because I certainly didn’t until it was gifted to me) that Ready Player One was a book as well? If you did know that, points to you. If not, then go to the library, go check out the book, and read it. It’s  very good, in my opinion. Then, come back, and finish reading this. I hope you’ll find it interesting.

The premise of Ready Player One is interesting. There is a high school aged boy, Wade, who lives in the future, 2045 to be precise. The world is in pretty awful condition, and everyone knows it. It’s dirty, global warming is through the roof, and the population is skyrocketing. The only place you can escape, is the OASIS.

The OASIS is a high tech virtual reality system, created by James Halliday. As a child, James Halliday was not exactly a social butterfly. He disliked interacting with other kids, preferring the eccentric adventures of video games over playing outside. James Halliday grew up to become an advanced programmer, eventually creating the OASIS, a place where he could escape from the world and live as a part of the video games he loved.

When Halliday dies (which is inevitable), he creates, basically, an Easter Egg hunt. If you won this hunt, which happens if you complete the clues and series of tasks first, you would inherit Halliday’s large fortune, and control the OASIS. There are three keys that you must find (the Copper Key, the Jade Key, and the Crystal Key), which then unlock three gateways (simply called the First, Second, and Third Gates).

This is the picture of the both the movie and the book. This does not change. However, the characters, Gates, and Keys are very different.

In the book, it is clearly stated that the Avatars in the OASIS are lifelike, at least for the main characters: Parzival, Art3mis, Aech, Daito, and Shoto. It says that you can hook up your system to recognize your facial features, and transfer them onto your avatar. Art3mis is said to have used that program. But, in the movie, Art3mis (the Avatar) is portrayed as a pinkish red alien girl with short cropped red and black hair. Aech is shown as a larger-than-life ogre, when in the books, he is described as a tall, blonde, Caucasian man.

When attempting to obtain Keys and pass through Gates, you must complete a task. This is true for both the hook and the movie. But, the tasks in the movie and in the book are drastically different. For example, to earn the Copper Key, in the book, you must enter the Tomb of Horrors (from a Dungeons and Dragons adventure module), then compete against Acererak the Demi-Lich in a game of Joust (a game in which two players competed to pass levels. You played as a knight riding on a flying ostrich, trying to defeat waves of buzzards). In the movie, the key is obtained by participating in a dangerous race through New York City to Central Park.

The difference is huge, as everyone know how to get the Copper Key in the movie, yet couldnt get past the obstacles. But in the book, no one knew about the Tomb of Horrors, other then Parzival and Art3mis. This is just one example of how different the Key tasks were, the other Keys (the Jade Key and the Crystal Key) also varied between the movie and the book. The Gates, which you opened once you achieved the Key, were also drastically different.

The one other thing that’s bothered me in the difference between the movie and the book, is the moment when Parzival and Art3mis meet in real life.

Meeting in real life is tricky for OASIS players. You don’t know what the person looks like behind the avatar, and it could be potentially dangerous (just like in real life. Never go to meet someone you met online without a parent/guardian/adult). So, when Parzival and Art3mis met in real life, it was a big deal (especially because Parzival had a LARGE crush on her). The difference between the meetings in the book and movie is huge. I was quite disappointed with the meeting in the movie, it wasn’t as heartfelt, or as dramatic as it appeared in the book.

When I went to watch Ready Player One in theaters, I expected something completely different. Although it was the same storyline, I was a bit disappointed they didn’t stick with the original tasks, characters, avatars, etc. But, I did enjoy the movie, and I thought it was worthwhile to go watch. But, you are interested in the movie, and haven’t read the book, go do so. You will NOT regret it.

-Sophia

Ready Player One, both film and the book, are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Hamilton: An American Musical

Mostly everyone has heard of the musical that has swept theatre geeks off their feet when it first came out in 2015. Yes, I’m talking about Hamilton. If you don’t love it, you’ve heard of it. If you haven’t heard of it… you’ve come to the right blog.

Hamilton: An American Musical was written by Lin-Manuel Miranda who has had experience in writing a musical with In The Heights. He co-wrote the songs from Disney’s Moana. But, Lin-Manuel Miranda is most popular for writing Hamilton.

Hamilton is a perfect combination of spunky, fast-moving rap, and slow, sweet, and sad melodies. I’ve listened to the music over and over, until it’s been ingrained into my memory, like the true geek I am. Unfortunately, this means I have physically lost the power to cry over ‘It’s Quiet Uptown’. Now, listening to the soundtrack on YouTube and watching the musical are two very different things. I had the privilege to go see it at Segerstrom Theater. I think when we entered the waiting room to buy tickets online, it was the most stressful 43 minutes of my theatre life. And that’s saying a lot, because I’ve had to wait a week to get my part in multiple musicals. When I was watching Hamilton, it was different from listening, partially because it wasn’t the original cast (I wish it was!), and of course they sounded different. But, watching the actors pour their souls into the life of a man who lived centuries ago.

If you were to ask me who my favorite character was, or who stole the show, I wouldn’t say Angelica, Eliza, or even Peggy (although she was amazing). King George was a showstopper. Though he stood in one place for the remainder of his songs, something about him, singing about death, completely calm, just made everyone laugh. In the beginning, he stood calmly, but in the second half of the show, King George, just like in real life, started to go mad. His eyes were wild, and his laugh maniacal. He completely stole the show, in my opinion.

Hamilton: An American Musical, is something me and my theater friends bond over. Before rehearsals, we could be heard singing Farmers Refuted, or Cabinet Battle #1. Hamilton is the perfect mix for anyone, whether you like rap, or slow, sweet songs, it has it all.

-Sophia D.