Messenger by Lois Lowry

Cover image for Messenger / Lois Lowry.

Messenger, the third installment of The Giver Quartet by Lois Lowry, was a great book. Like The Giver and Gathering Blue, Messenger does not follow the previous protagonists but instead follows a past character in Gathering Blue. Messenger ties in the previous books by incorporating the past characters from The Giver and Gathering Blue

Messenger follows Matt or now known as Matty. Matty had first appeared in Gathering Blue and now lives in a village that he discovered while on his first adventure trying to find something for Kira in Gathering Blue. He lives with The Seer, a blind man who was found out to be Kira’s biological father. These two live in the village Jonah, from The Giver, had created. In the new village, everyone is equal no matter the disabilities they have or injuries they come with. Soon, the village changes due to something unseen and they now want to close the village off from outsiders. Before that can happen, The Seer wants to bring Kira to the village to live with him and Matty. Jonah, also known as Leader, does not want to send anyone into the Forest since it had recently become too dangerous. Matty convinces Leader to send him despite it being dangerous and in the end, Matty goes into the Forest to bring Kira to the village. Going through the Forest the first time was alright, but once he began to head back with Kira, things became more dangerous, threatening their lives. 

Throughout the story, we learn the true powers of Jonah, Kira, and Matty. Jonah can “see beyond” allowing him to sense the dangers and view particular things. Kira can weave her threads into predicting the future, and Matty has the power of healing. Messenger ties in the past books of The Giver Quartet and creates more depth to the characters and introduces more lore to the series. 

This book was more enjoyable than Gathering Blue and is on par with The Giver. Messenger introduces more lore and gives more depth to new and previous characters. It has a good balance of excitement and calm sections. Through the calm sections, it builds and introduces characters to see and understand who they are now. Within the more exciting sections, it shows what the characters can do and what they have grown to be. It shows their struggles and what they must go through. When the book finishes, Matty is the hero, healing the area around him and the people around him and is named The Healer. This book shows the true character growth of Matty, Kira and Jonah from how they were in their previous books to what they are now. 

I enjoyed Messenger. The new characters and brought back characters were important to the plot and each had their own personalities and stories. The events in the story were intriguing and exciting. Once again, this book ended in a cliffhanger, but soon I will read the last installment of The Giver Quartet, Son. Lois Lowry has done a great job with this book and I thoroughly enjoyed it. 

-Nicole R. 

Messenger by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Scourge by Jennifer A. Nielsen

My Mom found this book in a book shop a little while ago. I had just finished reading the False Prince that was also by Jennifer A. Nielsen and I had been looking for another book in the same series. Since I enjoyed the False Prince, my Mom had given me this book and I had decided to read it. 

In The Scourge, by Jennifer A. Nielsen, Ani Mells has gotten herself in trouble and is encountering a series of problems. Ani is a River Person who is less better off than what their people would call, the “pinch worms”. Ani seems to have caught the Scourge; the sickness that has spread across the country of Keldan. It is highly contagious and supposedly incurable. Ani is sent to the Colony, where all the Scourge victims are put and to be left for their demise. Weevil, Ani’s best friend, and Della, a pinch worm, are all on the Colony together. During her time on the island, Ani finds something suspicious going on on the island, and she plans to get to the end of it and make everything better. 

This book was wonderful. At first, I was reminded of COVID since a big part of the plot was about a virus that was hard to cure. The farther I read, however, I realized that that wasn’t the case. The story had a huge twist at the end of the book that had a great build up. And throughout the story, there were more surprising events. They were definitely unexpected to me. There was great character development; especially from Ani. Ani’s confidence levels grew, and so did her leadership. But all characters had character development. Even the smallest of side characters had character development. 

I believe that this book was the second Jennifer Nielsen book I’ve read and it definitely didn’t disappoint me. It’s an enjoyable book that isn’t super long, so you can finish it quickly. I would definitely recommend this book to other readers.

-Nicole R. 

The Scourge by Jennifer Nielsen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry

Gathering Blue is the sequel to the first book, The Giver, also by Lois Lowry. However, this story does not follow the main character of The Giver, Jonas. Instead, Gathering Blue follows a new protagonist named Kira. 

Kira lives in a village in which its society does not accept those who have disabilities, such as Kira. Kira has had a damaged leg since birth and the society does not accept her. Recently, her mother died, leaving her with no parents,  giving her no protection from society. She is put on trial to be sent to the Field where the dead, disabled, or seriously injured are brought. In the end, the council decides that she will work as The Weaver. Her friend, Matt, helps in gathering her belongings and brings them to where Kira will stay. As her job, Kira repairs the robe of the Singer (another person given a special task), and over time, meets and befriendsThomas the Carver. As the story progresses, Kira, Matt, and Thomas grow close and together, and they uncover the dark secrets of the village. 

Gathering Blue was a good book and it has some similar elements as The Giver. Both books have a type of society that does not accept those who are not up to standard and each has a place for those kinds of people. There are many similarities between The Giver and Gathering Blue, but each book is its own book. As I followed Kira, I got to understand her want to be useful or wanted and I was able to see her growth throughout the book. And along with her, I got to find out more about the village and the secrets that are kept. I found Gathering Blue to be a calmer book than The Giver. It wasn’t as exciting and was more complex in its plot. The plot itself was a little boring, but I did find the small clues to secrets to be interesting. Although the plot wasn’t amazing, I did like the characters and their relationships. 

Kira was a very shy girl in the beginning, but still wanted to be able to stick up for herself. By the end of the book, she had grown into an independent and strong character, who was confident despite not being accepted into society. Thomas was a good friend to Kira, supportive and kind, but still made his own decisions. He wasn’t involved in the plot of the story too much, but he had a nice personality. Matt was a young kid, by the way he talks and acts; it was easy to see that. He didn’t have many manners and it was like he was living on the streets. He was a funny character but wanted to make Kira happy. He disappears midway through the book to go on an adventure, but comes back after acquiring something for Kira at a new village he had discovered. His personality was loud and ambitious and stuck out. 

Overall, Gathering Blue was a good book. Although it wasn’t as good as The Giver and wasn’t as exciting, it made for a good short read. I finished it in a couple of weeks, but I found it too short, without any real buildup. The plot was too calm and it felt like there wasn’t a climax; like it didn’t contribute to anything in the series except to introduce new characters. It felt like a filler book. Some of it felt rushed and I didn’t like the transitions into new parts of the story. Once I finished the book, I found that it ends in a cliffhanger. I have the third book of The Giver Quartet, The Messenger, and I’ll get to reading that soon. 

-Nicole R.

Gathering Blue by Lois Lowery is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare

The Iron Trial by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is the first installment of the Magisterium Series. The Iron Trials story introduces the main character, Callum Hunt. Throughout his whole life, he has been told the magic is bad and to stay away from it, despite his father being a mage. So when it’s time for Call to take the Iron Trials test to see if he can get into the magic school; the Magisterium, he tries to fail the test. And even though he does his best at failing, he still gets admitted to the Magisterium. Now the Magisterium is awaiting for him and he has to find his way through it. With the two other apprentices in Call’s group, Aaron and Tamara, they go through magic lessons, tests, and many different hardships throughout their first year at the Magisterium. 

The Iron Trial was an interesting and intriguing book. The three main characters in the book all had their own sets of personalities and different lives. Call was sarcastic and liked to talk back. He was always alone but liked being with friends. Aaron was kind and always tried to be the equal ground between everyone. He was loyal to his friends and stood up for them. Tamara was the smart one who knew more about magic than Aaron and Call did. She was independent and at first, very serious. As I read, I learned more about the characters and the different lives they live in. They were all very unique and great characters. Even the side characters were important to the story and stood out. Many of the characters had character development throughout the story which I really liked. There were a couple of plot twists in the story which were very relevant to the plot and changed a lot in the story. 

The Iron Trial is a fantasy book that wasn’t super long. The chapters were a good length and the book itself was a good length as well. At first, my expectations weren’t set very high and I thought it would be a normal magic book and that it wasn’t anything special. As I read, I found myself pulled into the story, wanting to find out what happens next. I finished the book in a few days and ended up enjoying the book more than I thought I would. The Iron Trial is only the first book out of five in the Magisterium Series. I enjoyed this book and I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a good fantasy novel. 

-Nicole R. 

Iron Trials by Holly Black and Cassandra Clare is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell

Wayward Son is a great sequel to Carry On; the first book of the Simon Snow series. The events of this book happen at a time very close to when the events of Carry On happened and will most likely only make sense if you have read Carry On first. Just like Carry On, Rowell has once again, done an excellent job. I definitely enjoyed this book, but didn’t enjoy it as much as Carry On. I did feel like this book progressed a lot slower than Carry On. Carry On gave us the back story and explained everything going on quickly. The plot moved forward faster than Wayward Son

Wayward Son continues to follow the four characters, Simon, who was formerly known as, ‘The Chosen One’, Baz, who is now Simons’ boyfriend, Penelope, Simons’ best friend, and Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend who is making her life now in the states. Simon and Baz are having a tough time. Simon was the hero of the story and was supposed to live his happy-ever-after, but instead, he’s dealing with some of his trauma. Baz wants to be there for him and has a hard time figuring out how. Their relationship is slowly tearing apart so to help them all heal, Penelope brings them on a vacation to America with her. They plan to visit Agatha in California but this road trip across America turns into a rescue mission to save Agatha from vampires. 

We meet some new characters such as Shepard. Shepard was an interesting and unique character who became pretty significant in the story. He interacted with our characters and moved the plot. We also got to see a lot more of Agatha. She was no longer just the “main characters’ ex”, she instead became a real character and became very important to the rest of the story. 

Although Wayward Son was a bit slow and not as great as Carry On, it was still fun to read. It was mostly about their road trip and fixing their relationships in the beginning, but nearing the end, the characters get more external problems they have to solve and get rid of. But throughout the book, they all have many internal problems, like their romantic relationships, familial relationships, and how to start fixing things. All the characters are going through their own list of problems both internal and external.

Wayward Son was an excellent book.  The characters found and healed themselves throughout the book and went through many new experiences. I found out more about characters and met some new and interesting ones in the process. I enjoyed this book a lot even though it ended in a cliffhanger. But thankfully I won’t have to wait a long time since the third and final installment of the Simon Snow trilogy just came out this July ninth and I can’t wait to get the whole series to completely finish it and then re-read it later.

-Nicole R.

Wayward Son by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielson is a fantasy novel, filled with thrills, twists and lies. The story is narrated from the point of view of the main character, Sage. Sage is a fourteen year-old orphan and thief. One day he is caught stealing from a butcher but is saved by a nobleman named Bevin Conner. Sage is then kidnapped by Conner to be used in his devious plan. Sage is to undergo training with three other orphans. They are forced to impersonate the long lost son of the late king; Prince Jaron. If they don’t, they will definitely be killed.

At first I saw the book as somewhat predictable, but as I continued reading, I found other twists and surprises in the story that you wouldn’t have been able to find out unless you read the whole book. I appreciated the main character; Sage. He was lighthearted, witty, clever, but sometimes rude and cheeky. He was sly but could be honest at times. I really enjoyed reading from his perspective and it really fit with the storytelling. I also enjoyed Mott. Mott was one of Conner’s assistants. He was loyal and kind, but had a tough exterior. He was smart and helpful. Many of the characters made impacts on the story, and they all had interesting personalities. The personalities of characters changed the story in different ways and I liked that they all had a sort of impact. At certain points in the story, I thought some things in the story were a bit far fetched and unrealistic but still enjoyable nonetheless.

The False Prince is a young adult and middle grade book with relatively short chapters and is a quick read. My expectations when beginning this book were low but as I continued reading, I really enjoyed the book more than I thought I would. I didn’t expect that I would want to finish the book when I had started reading, but I ended up finishing the book the same day I started it. The story captivated me and I couldn’t put it down.  After reading the book I looked into the series and found the Ascendance Trilogy. The False Prince is the first in the Ascendance Trilogy and I can’t wait to start reading the second book, The Runaway King.

-Nicole R.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Cruella: Movie Review

I ended up watching Cruella when my Mom told me to get off my phone and watch a movie instead. We ended up finding Cruella and watching it. To those who don’t know, Cruella is Cruella deVille’s backstory and there were a couple of unexpected twists that I didn’t see coming. Cruella deVille was originally just a part of Disney’s 101 Dalmations and acted as the villain for the movie. But since Cruella deVille became a pretty well known Disney villain, I can see why they made a whole movie dedicated to her. 

Cruella starts off in 1970’s London and follows a young girl called Cruella, or better known in the beginning of the movie as Estella, who has always been a bit different than the other kids. Never following rules, getting into trouble, always curious, but was definitely creative. But when the saying ‘curiosity kills the cat’ actually comes to mess up Estella’s life the repercussions leave Estella homeless, orphaned, and alone. Until she meets two boys, Jasper and Horace, and soon finds a new family among them. They turn into a band of thieves but of course, it was never the life they wanted; especially Estella. Estella had always wanted to become a fashion designer and when Jasper and Horace help make that happen, she is thrilled. But her new job ends up in twists and turns making the movie exciting. 

I enjoyed this movie and was thoroughly entertained. This movie is definitely not the best example for kids to act but it is definitely enjoyable and a movie for the whole family to watch. I’m sure everyone can enjoy a little Disney every once in a while, even more so now since it’s starring a villain instead of a princess. Movies starring villains are usually pretty different from what Disney’s usual theme is. This movie is definitely a lot darker than some other Disney movies but enjoyable nonetheless. 

For a Disney movie, I haven’t heard much talk about the movie. Cruella first came out May 28, 2021 and I haven’t heard too much about it even though it is a pretty good movie. Cruella, with 74% rating on rotten tomatoes, is a great movie that many are sure to enjoy. I would definitely recommend this movie for anyone wanting something to watch. Now streaming on Disney+, you can go watch it now. 

-Nicole R.

Book Review: Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

If you like Harry Potter, I have a feeling that you would like this book. Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is a fantasy story, love story and a mystery. The book is set in the final year of magickal school for the main character Simon Snow and other leading characters. The book switches between the perspectives of a few other characters with some being Baz, Simon’s roommate/enemy, Penelope or Penny, Simon’s best friend, and Agatha, Simon’s ex-girlfriend. Simon is known as the Chosen One who has to destroy the Humdrum, an evil being destroying the magickal world. That was the one thing Simon had to do, but when a ghost visits his room in the middle of the night, his life gets a bit more complicated. Now he and Penelope group with Baz to help solve the murder of Baz’s mother while still figuring out how to defeat the Insidious Humdrum.

I remember hearing about this book from videos on Harry Potter. They all hyped this book up so much saying how much they enjoyed it which made me excited to borrow it. I was not disappointed. I smiled so much while I was reading this book. There were many different twists in the book and in some of them I could already predict what it would be, but when I got my prediction right, it gave me a kind of satisfaction from getting it right. Whenever I put down this book, I would always want to pick it back up again and continue reading. And when I finished the book, I was filled with a kind of bitter-sweet feeling. I didn’t want the book to end but felt happy finishing it anyways. I loved the enemies-to-lovers trope depicted with the characters and I loved how the story developed. There were so many diverse characters that were fun to read. The main characters had  their own personality that I will never forget. The chemistry between all the characters was wonderful and they worked together. 

This story includes mature language and talks about different types of relationships. This book had everything I was hoping for and more. It had mystery, an angsty past, romance, magick, and even some comedy. The spells they cast were so clever and it had many references to modern things. The story was exciting and addicting. I enjoyed it so much I finished it in only a few days. Though I was sad that this book was over, I am very happy to say that Carry On is only the first book of the Simon Snow trilogy and I already have the second book, Wayward Son, on hold right now. 

-Nicole R.

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Game Review – Detroit: Become Human

Detroit: Become Human is an exhilarating action-choice game with many different results and different scenarios. The plot of the game follows three different stories each following three different characters. The game is set in the futuristic world where androids, robots who look, talk and act human are created and are able to do different things that humans can also do. 

We are first introduced to Connor. He is the android sent by Cyberlife. Connor was designed to investigate and deal with deviant androids. Deviant androids are androids that have deviated from their programming and programmed behavior. Then we meet Kara. Kara is a household android who is to take care of her buyer’s daughter, Alice. Her story goes through many troubles to keep her and Alice safe after she escapes Alice’s father, Todd’s, grasp. And then, we are finally introduced to Markus. He is a caretaker of Carl Manfred, a famous painter. But after a certain set of events, he must learn to survive himself and help the android race.

I had been wanting to play Detroit: Become Human for a while now, after watching many play-throughs on YouTube. Then I finally got it and I played it for the first time. I was so excited and my excitement never faded throughout playing the game. There are so many choices you can make in Detroit: Become Human and so many endings you can get from the choices you make. All the choices you make in the game can have an impact in the future of the game. I personally got an ending I didn’t exactly want but that’s what makes it fun. You get to play the game over and over and make different choices and different results.

I have seen some haters of the game, but I think they aren’t seeing the bigger picture. I will say that it is a bit unrealistic in some parts. For example, changing people’s opinions about a huge issue in the world in just three days is unrealistic and improbable. But some say that Kara’s story is completely useless and can be taken out of the game completely; but I disagree. Kara’s story is important because it is a perspective of an android who doesn’t exactly play a huge role like Conner and is a leader like Markus. Kara just wants to survive like other normal deviant androids. So we get to play and see through the perspective of a normal deviant android and what can happen to them. 

This game does have very mature language and some mature scenes so just keep that in mind if you ever want to play this game. I’m only currently on my second play-through of the game and am hoping to get a better ending this time around and will probably play it over and over again until I complete the story entirely. I don’t play games very often, other than Lego games and Kingdom Hearts, but I really enjoy this game and love playing it. 

-Nicole R.

Book Review: Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson

Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Paterson follows a young boy named Jess Aarons who aspires to be the best and fastest runner in the whole fifth grade. One day, a new family is moving into the old Perkins home and Jess meets the young girl, around his age, who is moving in with her family to the country. Leslie Burke is a city girl. She is strange to others, they say she dresses weird and she isn’t like all the other girls. Leslie and Jess then become friends over time during school. They talk about things and enjoy each others’ company. They spend their days together hanging out and they even create their own secret and special place just for themselves. A place where they can just be themselves and have fun together called Terabithia.

Together they ruled Terabithia, letting their imaginations roam free in their kingdom. On one morning, an upsetting and horrible accident strikes for the two kids. But because of this event, Jess gains the courage and strength to move forward. It shows Jess that he could be more than he thought he could be and it gives him a new goal and reason for living.

This story was beautifully written. The characters had great chemistry with each other and worked well. All characters, including the side characters, were well written and enjoyable even if we didn’t get to interact with them as much. The ending was unexpected and abrupt which I thought brought more impact on the story; especially since the accident can easily happen just like that in real life. Warning! This book is better for more mature readers because of the topics it will go over. Overall, I enjoyed this story very much even though it was a quick read. Even in such a short story, it got me attached to the characters and impacted me hard. I really enjoyed it and would recommend to those who would be interested.

-Nicole R.

The Bridge to Terebithia by Katherine Paterson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library