Roseblood by A. G. Howard

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From this beloved author we were told how Lewis Carroll wrote the stories wrong: how Wonderland is actually not a child’s world, but one of twisted madness, Tim Burton like worlds, and hot guys who wear hats and vine like tattoos. Now, get to learn that we also have a beloved opera that has been written wrong.

Enter into a world based in France, where the school Rune Germain has transferred to has its own Phantom of the Opera. Rune’s life is complicated: she was almost killed by her grandma, nearly killed a boy by kissing him, and on top of all that, her voice was cursed, causing her to let out faint sounds every time she sings. Meanwhile, young Thorn lives with a man named Erik, who is the phantom of the opera and has mask covering the burnt portion of his face. Thorn must do what Erik says, even if it is wrong, for reasons kept secret. What happens when Rune and Thorn’s destined fates cross? A lot basically, and not all of it good.

I love A. G. Howard as an author, especially with her Splintered series. That was why, since I saw the book at the library, I immediately picked it up and started to read it. The cover and colored ink on the inside looked very similar. Although not the same madness like tone that the Splintered series was written in, the mystical feel suits a archaic opera like time. The plot twist is also very interesting.

However, the book disappointed me in various ways too. For example, A. G. Howard, like always, expects you to remember the mysterious boy that appears in the girl’s dreams, the one that only appeared for one sec in the beginning and was not memorable enough. Additionally, compared to the Splintered series, she tells the story really fast. This is also more of a preference, but I didn’t like the way she told the story. She told the story through both Rune and Thorn’s point of view, and while both are important to the story, I feel as though it muddles things up. However, that is more personal. All in all, it was still a very great story and I would recommend it to everyone who wants to read it cause of the author, supernatural elements, or the like.

-Megan V, 12th Grade

Roseblood by A. G. Howard is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Magnus Chase: The Ship of the Dead by Rick Riordan

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For fans of Rick Riordan, as I have been for the past 7 or 8 years, welcome to the last installment of his Norse mythology series: The Ship of the Dead. At first, I was very surprised that this series was a trilogy, but then again, the Kane Chronicles were also a trilogy, so the five book per series might be only for anything involving Percy Jackson as a main character. Nonetheless, it is still a great sequel to the next chapter of the mythology series.

Speaking of Percy Jackson, we see him again in the first chapter as he teaches Magnus some tricks while at sea. Aside from the story, we get to see Percy and Annabeth as regular teenagers going to college, and Magnus realizes that if he doesn’t stop Ragnarok, they won’t get the happy ending they deserve, which is a huge eye opener when we had always seen Percy and Annabeth  being the ones shouldering the burden.

Additionally, we have the regular humor, such as with chapter titles like “I inherit a dead wolf and some underwear” and of course situational humor from Magnus himself. Additionally, each of the characters get their own backstory, development, and ending fit for them. We learn how Mallory and TJ die, each of them receiving their own development, and even a hope for the future- such as even though Mallory and Halfborn may break up once every decade, they still love each other.

Each character also teaches a lesson that is not only reflecting of Norse mythology, but also is different and unique compared to regular heroic events (a symbol that I see as part of Riordan’s growth as an author)- Hearthstone teaches us that anger is not always the way to win, Mallory shows that heroes are not always good, Magnus wins with a battle of wits rather than brawn. Additionally, there are some events that although hilarious and frustrating, symbolize the true nature of the gods, and Riordan was clever enough to depict it. Most importantly, there is a relationship that is revolutionary just as Nico and Will’s was, but I feel more in great development and satisfying.

However, I do have to wonder about Magnus’s newfound power, as I don’t believed it was ever explained, but there is hope for the future. I have never read the Apollo Trials, as I’ve been putting it to the side as I never really liked Apollo (who did?) but there are many sinister hints of the future of that series, and it may come that Magnus and the others may appear in that series, although we have never seen the Kane siblings in a very long time.

Overall, I really enjoyed every moment and cannot wait for the future of the series!

-Megan V., 12th Grade

Magnus Chase and the Ship of the Dead is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive and Hoopla

Boku no Hero Academia (My Hero Academy) by Kohei Horikoshi

Surely you have heard of famous anime? This is a franchise like Naruto, Dragon Ball, or even Attack on Titan that people know of even if they don’t read manga or watch anime. If you never heard of it, which is doubtful, you might be wondering why it’s famous among Americans. A good look at the source material shows us why.

My Hero Academia is set in a world where everyone is an X-man: they all have a power they were born with. And with these powers, everyone can become a superhero – or a villain – if they want to. Well, everyone except Izuku “Deku” Midoriya. Despite being born without a Quirk, he plans to live up to his hero, the strongest man All Might who always saves everyone with a smile. In fact, while trying to get his autograph, Deku finds out that All Might was born without powers too, but was given a special kind of power that could be transferred to others. Deku uses that skill to win a spot at the hero training academy high school. But his trials are not over as he faces old and new classmates, class battles, and tests of whether he can be a true hero.

Why do Americans like this manga? Superheroes. Like I have said earlier, the idea of powers makes it seem like X-Men, and All Might looks like the surfer version of Superman. Additionally, while some of these powers, called Quirks, are the familiar to comic readers, such as turning invisible, there are new and unique quirks that the author created, such as the power to use both fire and ice.

The characters are also very easy to distinguish, with fun character designs, such as a girl who is literally invisible all the time or a girl who has a frog like power, and thus looks like a very cute frog. Finally, a main point to be made are the villains. Not only do they make the characters think about themselves, but they are just as awesome as the heroes. They have amazing powers, and one of the villains has a hand on his face the whole time.

Even though I don’t care for superheroes all that much, I do love how the author writes the story, and if you are interested in superheroes this one is for you.

-Megan V, 12th grade

Boku no Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi is available for checkout from the Mission VIejo Library

Othello by William Shakespeare

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Let’s get this out of the way: this play is one of Shakespeare’s many tragedies, and as always, everyone dies at the end. I did write about one of Shakespeare’s other tragedies, Hamlet, which is my favorite Shakespeare play. However, although it is not my favorite, Othello is also a very good play, full of jealousy, lost love, and has a way better love story than Romeo and Juliet or Twilight.

We meet Othello, who is the greatest man in Venice. He is handsome, kind, charismatic, humble, and courageous. He is also a very strong leader of the Venice army, has a very beautiful and perfect wife, and is about to be promoted. So why he is set up for a tragedy? There are two reasons. The first is that he is a Moor, who are known for their dark skin, and Venice is full of people who think that Othello used magic and witchcraft, as it was assumed all Moors could do this, in order to marry the one he loved. The second is that he promoted a foreigner, Cassio, as his right hand man instead of Iago, the most manipulative man in Venice. Thus, Iago hatches a plan that brings Othello, his new wife Desdemona, and Cassio into ruins, all because he had the “green eyed monster” of jealousy inside of him.

This play is great not only because of the plot, but because of the ties to today’s time. The people of Venice, especially Iago, sometimes scorn Othello because he is a foreigner Moor with dark skin, just like how there are many people in the world who are racist today. Additionally, there is also the theme of jealousy that can be seen today. Iago is like the person at a workforce who is envious of someone who received a higher position and decided to destroy that person with a scandal. Finally, there is also the theme of women, which lays out questions for both Shakespeare’s time and ours. In a place and time where women were not thought of as much, the women in the play have a lot of questions to answer. If it gave their husband the world, should they be dishonorable? If every action they had done was perfect except for one lie, can they ever be trusted again? And should they obey every wish of their husband, even if they don’t know why they have to do it or if it is evil?

For the genres, in case one likes these genres, there are politics, a better love story than Romeo and Juliet, tragedy, and much more.

I hope that you can read this amazing play!

-Megan V., 12th Grade

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas

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I only do a series if the whole series is good or if the other books of the series are better than the first of the series. In this case, its the later.

In the first book, Feyre, strong and unbending, kills a wolf knowing that it’s a fae. She needed the food, and so did her family during a harsh winter. In return, Tamlin of the fae kidnaps her and brings her on the fae side of the wall that divided fae and human. Of course, she falls for Tamlin, and there are mysterious cute boys and sadistic evil queens in the distance.

In the second book, Feyre, without putting in too many spoilers, is having nightmares and depression after facing the evil queen in the first book, and cannot be happy even though she’s marrying Tamlin. She then gets kidnapped by this mysterious cute boy from the first book, named Rhysand, at her wedding and he takes her to his house and she helps fight the even eviler fae king, which continues into the third book.

Of course, this is myself trying not to do spoilers. Now, I have to show what I think about the series. For those who like evil fairies and magic will love this series.

For the first book, I felt that it was okay. I felt that Feyre was being treated like a princess, as she was told by everyone that she should stay behind and not move or else she would get hurt. She does get hurt by the end of the book, and it is quite nasty, but I feel that she grows from it. I would guess that readers should be at least fourteen to read it, which is typical.

Then we reach the second book, where Feyre is treated like a queen. There were a lot of events that led up to this, such as a book character that every girl wants for their husband, but this was the development of Feyre that I would want in any protagonist, and it has only been the second book. However, I would warn readers that the book is rated very older teen. Feyre going into depression is nasty, with her having bulimia and no one being there to help her, which is very depressing in itself, and there are other mature and…. er…. questionable scenes.

Finally, the third book. Not only is Feyre being treated like a queen, but she also has to bear the responsibilities of the crown and has to face her own nightmares. The rating is older teen, with the scenes not as numerous as the second book but still quite as questionable.

There are also many splendid and enjoyable characters besides Feyre: a member of one of the LGBT groups, a woman that makes everyone scared (to make you scared, she drinks blood from a bowl!), two goofy males that are supposedly the strongest of their kingdom, a man who is trying to choose between the duty to his lord and what he thinks is right, and a man that is trying to support everything and everyone, but needs an equal to support.

To sum up, I found this series to be the best I have read in quite a while, and I hope that more people could read it.

-Megan V., 12th grade

Sarah J. Maas’s books are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

1984 by George Orwell

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C’mon, admit it, you love dystopian novels. The Hunger Games, The 5th Wave, Divergent, all are popular teen novels that kids love reading these days. But how about older dystopian novels? Those ones that actually have the tragic end that they were promising from the beginning of a broken down world? Sure, I could be talking about Fahrenheit 451, another really great older dystopian novel, but I am talking about the one I enjoyed even more: 1984.

Although written in 1949, it talks about a world that has experienced wars ever since WWII, only to be pulled out of the dumpster by a totalitarian government that gave the people total war, slavery, and ignorance. The nation of Oceania controls this post war London, where there is never enough products, and everything already there, like houses, is over 50 years old. Winston, who works in the government, notices this but keeps on writing lies to public so that they would like the government more. After meeting a person he likes, O’Brien, and a person he hates, Julia, he starts to want to rebel.

I really liked the themes of the book. The government is always watching them, which is cool. We also sometimes take freedom for granted, but as Winston says, he doesn’t even have the freedom to say 2+2=4.

However, there is some adult things to be worried about, like a graphic torture scene or two, and a lot of themes of fertility. I also did not personally like the main character. Although he perfectly suited the themes of the novel, I kept screaming at him to not be stupid.

And, finally, this is a really great novel. Even if you don’t like old books, you’ll love the idea of corrupt governments, and a desire for freedom.

-Megan V

1984 by George Orwell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Road By Cormac McCarthy

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Anyone who has read Lord of the Flies, or seen the Walking Dead television show, knows that when the world comes to an end, people are going to do whatever they can to survive (ie cannibalism, children killing other children). This is the same with The Road- people shouting “You would have done the same!” as they try to steal and murder each other. But wouldn’t it be just nice if even in this dystopian world, everyone was nice to each other?

An unnamed father and son travel down a road to the sea and try to survive amid the thieves and not knowing who to trust. We don’t fully know what caused the world to be like this- earthquake? extremely hot temperatures? But we do know that rations are limited and they must keep traveling in order to survive. The father always seems to try to resort to a dark side- giving up food for his son, trying to kill everyone who crosses them- but the son keeps him on the road- noticing when the father tries to give the son bigger portions, begging the father not to kill anyone.

All in all, it is a very pleasant story to read, especially since it gives a theme that man will not fully go down the evil side even when there is no hope. However, there are a few writing styles that will turn a few people down. First of all, there are not quotation marks- whenever the character speaks it is either its own separate paragraph or embedded in another paragraph, which makes the reader go back a couple of times in order to figure out who is talking. Additionally, most of the book is written in camera style- the story’s plot moving along because of dialogue, not because of what they thought. This narration is often considered boring by some readers.

However, the story is beautifully written to me, with a compelling message and a heartfelt plot. It is also a quick read compared to some other books. For those who are looking for a twist on the dystopian genre, it is a worthwhile read.

Megan Villagracia, Eleventh Grade.

The Road By Cormac McCarthy is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.