Why Harry Potter is Completely Overrated

Okay, I’m not saying that you shouldn’t read Harry Potter, because some people might appreciate it, but I’m very opinionated and I want to point out two of the most glaring problems with the series. If you stay until the end, I’ll also point out a much better alternative to Harry Potter, where things actually make sense.

Why is the Weasley family poor?

The Weasley family, regardless of their magical powers, are poor. This doesn’t make sense, because why don’t they just use their powers to spawn some gold? Or clothing, books, and food? There might be a wizard law against using magic like that, but Muggles wouldn’t know the difference between real money and magic money! The Weasleys could just magic up some gold, then trade it with a Muggle for whatever they need. Or, if magic gold isn’t convincing enough, they could magic some clothing and sell it to the Muggles for cash. So why are they still poor?

Why do wizard families send their kids to Hogwarts?

Hogwarts might turn out some of the most brilliant wizards in the realm of Harry Potter, but at Hogwarts, students are surrounded by incompetent and occasionally murderous teachers, dangerous classes, and multiple deaths each semester. In addition to this, Lord Voldemort and his minions are continuously attacking the school. This is definitely not safe, and if I was a parent I wouldn’t even consider sending my child to Hogwarts. Also, what kind of name is Hogwarts? You might as well call your school Pig Pimples.

Now, My Suggestion

Again, I’m not saying you shouldn’t read Harry Potter. Just because I think it’s badly written and poorly thought out doesn’t mean other people can’t enjoy it. But, if you agree with me and want a fantasy book with superior logic, then try reading The Scholomance, by Noami Novik. It has an explanation for everything I think is wrong with the Harry Potter series, and it’s just an overall good book.

If you know how to explain any of the two major faults I found in Harry Potter, please explain it to me in the comments. Thanks again for putting up with my criticism, and goodbye.

A Deadly Education (Lesson One of The Scholomance) by Naomi Novik is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

Rated, by Melissa Grey

I just finished reading the book Rated by Melissa Grey, and I really liked it! I always like stories when the point of view changes every chapter, and Melissa Grey definitely did it right! 

The main plot of Rated is that there is a Rating System, where everyone has a rating based on their schoolwork and social lives. This might sound okay, but in reality it’s very problematic. For example, if you’re smart but unpopular, then your low social ratings might cancel out your positive schoolwork ratings. If you have a low rating, then you won’t have access to good hospitals, good schools, or good jobs.

There are 6 main characters: 

Bex, who’s a workaholic. Bex has to keep her rating high for the approval of her parents, so she signs up for any activity that could boost her rating. She barely has any time to breathe! 

Noah, who’s a quiet photographer. His sister has been in and out of hospitals since she was very young, and when Noah’s parents’ ratings fall, they can’t afford to keep her in a good hospital.

Tamsin, whose rating is falling due to her rule-breaking. She knows that the ratings are superficial, and pretends to be a witch to scam her classmates out of their money. 

Hana, who’s an ice skater. She believes that the only way to stardom (and high ratings) is to be thin, which leads to a serious eating disorder. 

Chase, who’s a jock. Chase’s mom left and his dad is an alcoholic with low ratings. Chase’s only hope for a good future is to improve his ratings and get into college through a scholarship. 

Javi is a gamer. His parents died when he was young and his grandmother’s rating isn’t high enough to get a good job, so he has to support his large family on his own. He makes money by posting gaming videos online. 

The stories for each character were very impressive, and everyone had their own reason to hate the Rating System. Rated is a very creative story, and I would definitely recommend it! 

Fire Emblem: Three Houses

I started playing the video game Fire Emblem: Three Houses on the Nintendo Switch about a month ago, and I haven’t played another game since! For those who haven’t heard of it, Fire Emblem: Three Houses is a strategy game where you recruit characters to join your class, then use them to fight in battles.

In the game, you play a mercenary with strange origins who takes a job as a teacher at the Garreg Mach Monastery. The first major choice you make is which house to join; Edelgard, Dimitri, or Claude’s. You can then recruit characters from the other houses for their help in battles, and teach them to level them up.

My favorite aspect of the game is that there are four major paths you can choose. You can join Claude, Prince Dimitri, Lady Edelgard, or Archbishop Rhea.

Every character has a different personality and an interesting background. You can learn more about characters by having personal interactions with them, or observing interactions between them and another character. My favorite characters are Petra, Bernadetta (nicknamed Bernie), Felix, Alois, Shamir, Lysithea, Edelgard, Mercedes, and Marianne.

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is an incredibly fun game and I would definitely rate it 5 / 5 stars! I love the unique stories of each character and the strategic game play; I highly recommend playing it!

Fire Emblem: Three Houses is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Phantom Tollbooth, by Norton Juster

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster tells the story of young Milo, who thought that learning was useless and never stopped to smell the roses. Milo only focused on getting from Point A to Point B as quickly as possible. And when he did reach Point B, all he would do was lie around and complain that he was bored.

Until one day, Milo finds a mysterious package in his room addressed to ‘Milo, who has plenty of time’ Milo, having nothing better to do, opens the strange gift. Inside, is a tollbooth, instructions, rules, coins, cautionary signs, and a map. Milo pays the tollbooth and drives his toy car to a very strange and confusing place.

After traveling past the city of Expectations (where everyone starts out but few go beyond), he meets Officer Short Shrift, who thinks everyone is guilty and won’t believe otherwise; the Whether Man, who never comes to a decision; the Which, who was sentenced to jail for abusing words; and many more. Milo realizes that the only only way to bring peace and order to the Kingdoms of Wisdom is to rescue the Princess of Sweet Rhyme and the Princess of Pure Reason.To accomplish this, Milo and his loyal friends Tock (a watchdog who goes tick) and the Humbug (a boastful beetle who doesn’t like to learn) have to travel up the Mountains of Ignorance and rescue the princesses from the Castle in the Air.

During Milo’s journey he’ll learn decisiveness, the importance of hard work, the value of time, that things aren’t always as they seem, and that it’s worth the effort to gain some new knowledge. Every character and setting in The Phantom Tollbooth has a clever meaning, and people like Alec Bings and Canby have very insightful wisdom to share. The Phantom Tollbooth is a very creative book, and I would highly recommend it.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster is available to checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Galactic Starcruiser Hotel

I recently got back from a family vacation, where we visited the Disney parks in Orlando, Florida. As a grand finale for our trip, we stayed at the Galactic Starcruiser.

For those who don’t know, the Galactic Starcruiser is a Star Wars themed hotel where you can role play as either a rebel, a scoundrel, a First Order supporter, or a Jedi Knight. The more you interact with the characters in the hotel, the more plot is revealed to you. The main plot that everyone knows is that you are all on a space vacation ship called the Halcyon. Everything seems normal onboard, but a First Order lieutenant is commanded to join the passenger on the Halcyon to monitor it for rebel activity.

From there you can either choose to join the side of the Resistance or the side of the First Order. You can also play both sides and be a double agent, leaking information to the other side. In addition to your initial choice, you can train with the Saja to become a Jedi, join Raithe Cole’s gang of scoundrels, join Sandro’s musical group, or help two mystery characters make a love connection.

While I loved this experience very much, there are a few things that I would change about it.

First of all, the plot is too centered around the Rebellion. What I mean by this is that most of the activities onboard are for the rebels; like secret meetings, a heist, and defending the ship from the First Order. There are also two surprise rebel guests that come about, who you won’t want to miss.

Secondly, it’s too hard to join the First Order. There are only three First Order characters you can interact with; Lieutenant Croy and two Stormtroopers. Only Lieutenant Croy is able to give you missions, and he is incredibly hard to contact. Over the course of a full day where I was actively looking for him, I only saw him roaming the hotel about three or four times.

Finally, I think that there should be less big plot lines and more small ones. By this, I mean that there should be more side quests to fill time. On the Starcruiser, there was one main plot that moved very quickly and was really hard to keep up with, so I think it would be better if there were small chunks of plot that intersected towards the end.

Though I would have changed a little bit about the Starcruiser, it was definitely an unforgettable experience. The characters were all great and friendly, the decorations were amazing, the food was very creative, and it had really impressive modern technology. If I have the chance, I’ll definitely go back again to try another path, but in the meantime I’d highly recommend it for you all!

This Is Where It Ends, by Marieke Nijkamp

Cover image for This is where it ends / Marieke Nijkamp.

Sylvia and Autumn were in the auditorium with most of the school. Claire was running with her track team; they were excused from the assembly to practice. Tomás and his best friend (other than his twin sister Sylvia) sneaked into the principal’s office to look at a file.

Then someone pulled out a gun.

Although his attack only lasted fifty-four minutes, the boy with the gun would haunt them forever… This is Where It Ends is the terrifying tale of Autumn, Sylvia, Tomás, and Claire’s desperate attempts to survive a former student’s revenge on those who wronged him.

I would highly recommend This Is Where It Ends to anyone who loves suspense or thrillers. It’s told from four points of view, and all four had a reason to be afraid. It had a very satisfying ending, and while it didn’t end with everyone living happily, it was very believable and heartwarming. Marieke Nijkamp did an amazing job describing the relationships between family, friends, and more-than-friends. The fear people felt for their loved ones and the sacrifices they made were fantastic. And when each chapter only covers the span of a few of the fifty-four minutes, it’s incredibly hard to stop reading!

Overall, This Is Where It Ends was a very good book, and I would not hesitate to give it 10 out of 10 stars!

-Caitlyn O.

This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download for free from Libby.

The Saga of Darren Shan, My Favorite Series!

Calling The Saga of Darren Shan a page turner is an understatement. It’s an incredibly dramatic, quick paced thriller, with more brilliant plot twists than you can count on your hands! Just reading one chapter is impossible. Each page leaves you excited for more, until soon enough you’ll realize that you’ve spent nine hours reading on your couch!

When the series starts, we learn that young Darren Shan has always loved spiders. So when he and his best friend Steve Leonard, nicknamed Steve Leopard for his wild and unpredictable nature, saw a beautiful spider at a freak show they were forbidden to go to, it piques his interest. And of course, there’s a plot twist. We find out that Larten Crepsley, the beautiful spider’s caretaker, isn’t who he seems to be. This begins the thrilling destiny that both Darren and Steve are tied to. 

Throughout the series you’ll meet good and bad vampires, a whole lot of spiders and toads, some freak show performers, a couple of dragons, a blob monster, a family of snake people, a passionate vegan, and even a pirate. There’ll be heartbreak, tragedy, mystery, suspense, and so many incredible plot twists that you’ll wish you had amnesia so you could enjoy them again!

Now, are you interested in reading The Saga of Darren Shan? Here’s what to do. First, get all twelve books. Don’t torture yourself by having to wait in between books. Second, clear a day to read. When you start, you will NOT want to stop until you’ve finished the series. Third, find a comfy space to read where you won’t be interrupted. Maybe grab a bottle of water or some snacks; you’ll be there for a while. 

-Caitlyn O.

The works of Darren Shan are available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. They can also be downloaded for free from Libby.