Booke Review: And the Mountains Echoed, by Khaled Hosseini

mountains_echoedBeing an avid reader of Khaled Hosseini, with A Thousand Splendid Suns ranking as one of my all time favorite books (reviewed here), I eagerly looked forward to reading his newest novel, And the Mountains Echoed.

The premise of it seemed interesting enough, it was said to be an intricate story of multiple tales woven together, all connected in one way or another. Like his two other novels, it is set in Afghanistan from the 1950s to the early 2000s.

It follows the love and power of siblings and family, focused mainly on the brother and sister of a poor family. The father of this family has to sell his little daughter to a wealthy childless family for much-needed money, although it breaks his heart to do so. The bond between the brother and sister, named Abdullah and Pari, is strong and unbreakable, even when they are separated. The book (somewhat) follows their lives, as well as the tales of others who supposedly bear some connection to them and the plot.

The rest of the novel is divided into the point of views of a few other people – the children’s stepmother, Parwana; her brother Nabi; his neighbors Idris and Timur; Pari herself; a boy named Adel; and finally Abdullah’s daughter.

The beginning of the story, with Abdullah and Pari was what I liked best. It was undoubtedly the most interesting and complex – it was written exceptionally well, from the fable their father told them, to their separation. The siblings’ relationship was one of my favorite elements of the novel. Ten year old Abdullah was practically like a father to  wide-eyed three year old Pari who clung to and admired her older brother. He was the epitome of the perfect brother. When they got separated, you could feel the devastating loss through Hosseini’s skilled writing abilities. The first few chapters kept me wanting to read more, compelled to know what happened next, and experiencing a special connection with the characters.

Unfortunately however, the extent of that only lasted until then. After the first few chapters, I was left sorely disappointed. The stories of Parwana and Pari were interesting enough, but the others were far from it. I was left rather bored and uncaring of Idris and Timur (they seemed to have no real connection or relevance to the story) and of Adel. In my opinion, the novel would have been far better if it had omitted the confusing switching point of views, which was often irrelevant, and simply stuck to Abdullah and Pari and their lives.

This book had so much potential and could have been another of my favorites from Hosseini but the odd dynamic of unrelated characters combined with minimal focus on the siblings made it an unfortunate disappointment.

However, if you find the plot intriguing and would like to give it a try, by all means go for it! I may not have thoroughly enjoyed it, but my taste differs from others, and you might find yourself liking it!

-Rachel L., 10th grade

Book Review: The Maze Runner, by James Dashner

maze_runner_coverIn celebration of the upcoming movie adaption of this exciting novel, I thought I would review the first book in this trilogy.

This dsytopian adventure is full of mystery and suspense, set in a chilling sort of “captivity” where young boys (and boys only) live in the middle of a dangerous maze that no one’s escaped or survived. The protagonist, Thomas arrives one day in “The Box” with no memory of anything and is immediately puzzled and disturbed by this place.

The boys live a puzzling life of trying to survive and attempting to make it out of the maze, with no idea of anything at all or who they are. The maze, which several of the boys try to brave but never make it out alive, holds terrifying creatures called Grievers.

One day, the disturbing cycle of everyday life is interrupted by the shocking arrival of- a girl. She brings a strange cryptic message before passing out. With her arrival, everything is shaken up. What happens then… you’ll have to read the book to find out.

This novel, although a bit slow at times, was a generally thrilling book that will keep you on the edge of your seat with a thousand questions running through your mind. Unfortunately, these questions are barely or not even answered in the first book, but the second and third ones do address them, and let me tell you – they will shock and excite and are not to be missed.

If you are a fan of dystopian stories like The Hunger Games or Divergent, I highly recommend this book (as well as the rest of the trilogy) for an entertaining suspense-filled read. Plus, you’ll be prepared for the upcoming movie, in theaters everywhere this September!

-Rachel L.,10th grade

Book vs. Movie: Divergent

divergent_bookvsmovieThe night Divergent was released, I was there, excited and anxious with anticipation.. I went in with high expectations, as I have been in love with the book series since it was first released in 2011.

So perhaps it was my unrealistically high expectations of a book that I am thoroughly devoted to and invested in that contributed to the fact that I thought the movie was a big disappointment. People who I have talked to that did not read the book first before watching the movie have told me that they thought it was great, and maybe if I’d never read the books before watching the movie, I would have felt the same way.

Let’s start with how startlingly different it was from the book. I know book to movie adaptions are difficult to accomplish, but in this case it was significantly different. First off, they left out very important scenes from the book- scenes that are pivotal and important for the rest of the series. They also changed scenes– and not little scenes. Major scenes that, too, would affect the whole series.

-Edward. He barely has a presence in the movie (I think his name shows up on the scoreboard for a second?) and there is no book scene where he gets stabbed in the eye by Peter.

-Will and Cristina?!! It hardly shows their relationship, they’re pretty much portrayed just as friends, which is problematic, because in the books, it affects the plot and characters (especially Tris and Christina) in major way.

-There’s no Visiting Day in the movie, and some important information is found out from that scene. In the book, Tris never meets her mom in the shipping yard.

-Rachel L., 10th grade

Book Review: A Thousand Splendid Suns, by Khaled Hosseini

thousand_splended sunsA Thousand Splendid Suns truly is, as suggested by its title, a splendid book.

It is a story, of hope and friendship despite hardship, that spins the intriguing and moving tale of two remarkable women in the midst of the tumultuous years of a war-ridden Afghanistan. It is mainly about the tribulations two very different women- Mariam and Laila- must endure and the deep friendship they forge out of their cruel mutual husband. At the same time they must deal with the death and destruction of the war and Taliban. This is a common theme of the novel- the oppression that they face both at home and in their country. That is all I can share about the story, for I don’t want to spoil anything; if you want to find out what happens to them and their fascinating stories, you’ll have to read the book.

The synopsis might not sound very interesting or appealing to some, especially teenagers (I, at first, was a bit wary of it), who may want a fun action packed or romantic story instead, but this book is definitely worth a read. It leaves a deep impact on you, changes the way you view things, your whole perspective. It is heart breaking, but moving; tragic, but real and hopeful; sad, but it is a bittersweet sort of emotion that will make you truly appreciate the book and its characters.

I can say that this is the only book that has ever made me cry. It is beautifully written, the words leaving great impact, as I grew attached to the characters and felt their emotion. The characters were all complex and interesting; the plot gripping at your attention. There was never a boring part of the book, I felt I could never put it down until I read every single word of it until the end. A Thousand Splendid Suns is a one of a kind type of novel that will make you smile and cry, maybe even at the same time, and thoroughly captivate.

-Rachel L., 10th grade