Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

MV5BMjM2MDgxMDg0Nl5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTgwNTM2OTM5NDE@._V1_SX214_AL_Many aren’t aware of the book which inspired the movie series for Jurassic Park (see Jurassic World in theaters now!), and like most books, the original is better than the movie adaptation.

Michael Crichton’s vision of a utopian theme park gone wrong set a revolutionary example for all sci-fi novels to follow. Most of the characters in the novel are well developed and bear significance in the symbolism of their fates. However, I would have preferred a wider range of female characters as there are only two, with only one portrayed in a mature, positive light. Although most sci-fi novels are geared towards a male audience, it’s a huge bummer for female readers who do exist and do enjoy the genre. And while Dr. Strattler’s minimal role may have been a representation of the sexism faced by women in the scientific field, I think Crichton could have helped break the non-inclusive pattern within the genre.

I’m interested to know if this bothered anyone else who read the book, or if anyone agrees that there is a lack of female representation in sic-fi novels or movies?

– Sara S.

Jurassic Park, both the novel and film, can be checked out from the Mission Viejo Public Library. A downloadable version of the book is available on Overdrive

Book Review: The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass

frederick_douglass“Where justice is denied, where poverty is enforced, where ignorance prevails, and where any one class is made to feel that society is an organized conspiracy to oppress, rob and degrade them, neither persons nor property will be safe.”

When my AP Lang class was assigned to read The Narrative of the Life of Fredrick Douglass, I thought it was going to be difficult to get through, but after only reading the first chapter, I was captivated by Douglass’ writing style.

As it was an autobiographical narrative, there wasn’t any plot, but in order to engage the reader as well as to demonstrate his impressive self-taught writing skills, Douglass uses deep rhetorical language to really get to the reader. He takes the horrific atrocities of slavery which he experienced and lays them all down in order for the reader to better understand this dark time in human history. The book is a fast read, and can easily be finished in a couple of days, at most.

“In a composite nation like ours, as before the law, there should be no rich, no poor, no high, no low, no white, no black, but common country, common citizenship, equal rights and a common destiny”

-Sara S., 11th grade

Book Review: The Catcher in the Rye, by J.D. Salinger

catcher_in_the_rye_cover“The mark of an immature man is that he wants to die nobly for a cause, while the mark of the mature man is that he wants to live humbly for one.” -Wilhelm Steckel

J.D. Salinger’s novel The Catcher in the Rye, although highly controversial, is no doubt in my opinion a work of art. Most people who have read this book either love it or hate it, and if not properly read and analyzed, it’s completely understandable if you hate it. On the surface it’s a boring story about a whiny teenager moping around New York City, but really its so much more than that.

Holden Caufield tries to mask his sensitive and delicate true character with a crude and uncaring persona, and with deep reading, it’s apparent when his real character bubbles its way to the surface. He travels around New York City revealing bits and pieces of his true identity as the book progresses. While he reveals information about his character, we also learn about his past, which you are taken back to beginning in almost the first chapter. All in all, I greatly appreciate this book and I hope more people will enjoy reading it.

“Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.”

-Sara S., 11th grade

Book Review: Paper Towns, by John Green

paper_towns“At some point, you gotta stop looking up at the sky, or one of these days you’ll look back down and see that you floated away, too.”

Paper Towns is one of John Green’s lesser known novels, but I think it’s one of his best. A novel about an awkward boy who is in love with a girl far out of his league, its very similar to Looking for Alaska. Accompanied by his two best friends, the main character, “Q” embarks on a journey to find his lifelong crush, Margot Roth Speigelman after she runs away from home for the fifth time. The characters are quirky and lovable and each one has a unique personality and sense of humor to contribute to the plot.

“That’s always seemed so ridiculous to me, that people want to be around someone because they’re pretty. It’s like picking your breakfast cereals based on color instead of taste.”

Quirky and filled with light humor, Paper Towns is not only a story about love and adventure but is a fun and entertaining novel that will make you laugh with every page.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: Eat Pray Love, by Elizabeth Gilbert

“‘Most of humanity’, he said, ‘have eyes that are so caked shut with the dust of deception they will never see the truth, no matter who tries to save them'”

eat_pray_loveEat, Pray, Love is a memoir written by Elizabeth Gilbert which captures her journey across what she calls “the three I’s.” After a messy divorce with her first husband, Gilbert decided to take a journey to Italy, India, and Indonesia. In each of the three countries she made a specific goal; in Italy, to eat and learn the culture surrounding Italian food, in India, to learn about spirituality (hence the word pray), and finishes her year abroad in Indonesia, where she will experience love. I loved the book, and although it starts off slowly, you will fall in love with the book once her trip begins.

“People think a soul mate is your perfect fit, and that’s what everyone wants. But a true soul mate is a mirror, the person who shows you everything that is holding you back, the person who brings you to your own attention so you can change your life”

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: It’s Kind of a Funny Story, by Ned Vizzini

kind_of_a_funny_story_coverNed Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story is a novel about a teenage boy, Craig, who suffers from depression, and about his experiences in the mental hospital. Unlike most books about psychological issues, this story has a light, humorous vibe all throughout and gives the reader a positive view of life and their own experiences in general. Not once did I want to put this book down, and I even ended up finishing all up it in one sitting.

The book was based on the author’s own experiences in the mental hospital and his own hospitalization a couple years before the book was published. What I personally loved most about the book was how each character had their own interesting backstory and how much it was evident that the author put a lot of time into making each character truly special and unique.

For those of you who are interested, there is also a movie made after the book starring actors like Emma Roberts and Zach Galifinakis (although I highly recommend reading the book first). I recommend this book for anyone who is a fan of books like Girl InterruptedGo Ask Alice, or Eat, Pray, Love.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: Go Ask Alice

go_ask_aliceGo Ask Alice, an anonymously written “journal” has recently been receiving a lot of attention from teenagers looking for a fun, easy read.

The book is about a girl growing up in the late 1960s, struggling through her first year of high school in a brand new city. On a short trip back to her old town, she tries LSD for the first time at a party. After she’s introduced to her new world of drugs and parties, this new life follows her when she returns home. Months pass and as her life is spiraling out of control, the reader takes an adventure through the life of a typical sixties teen.

I would definitely recommend this book to anyone looking for a story with an interesting plot, and a creative writing style. This book is impossible to put down and I couldn’t help myself from finishing it in one sitting. The reader never learns the character’s name, which adds a lot of mystery to the plot and makes it even more interesting. Of all the books in the “Anonymous” series (including Jay’s Journal, Lucy in the Sky, and Letting Ana Go), I believe that Go Ask Alice is the most well written and most interesting of the four.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: Divergent, by Veronica Roth

divergent_coverThe thrilling novel Divergent by Veronica Roth is both spectacular and engrossing and I found it almost impossible to put down.

I chose to read it for my literature circle in my English class, and nobody in my group could stick to the assigned reading because we all kept reading ahead! The story starts off slowly, letting the reader understand the futuristic “utopian” society in which the setting takes place. In the book, the government has sectioned off its citizens into five factions that are best fitting to the individual’s personality and traits. There are the Dauntless, who are the brave, Abnegation, who are the selfless, Candor, for honesty, Amity, for peace and kindness, and last but not least there’s Erudite, who are the most intelligent in the society. The main character of the book is Beatrice Prior, who is originally Abnegation but is struck with the life-changing decision of staying with her family in a faction where she feels an outsider, or going with her heart and never seeing her family again.

Through government secrets and sparks of rebellion, Divergent is a perfect fit for anyone who is a fan of The Hunger Games or the Mortal Instruments series.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Book Review: Looking for Alaska, by John Green

looking_for_alaskaLooking for Alaska is a realistic fiction novel by the recently famous author John Green about an awkward teenage boy who finds love for the first time. Although the plot may sound cliché, Green adds relatable elements to the book that most authors don’t.

The book begins with a 16 year old named Miles Halter spending his last day at his home in Florida before he leaves for a prestigious boarding school located in Alabama. Upon arriving to Culver Creek Boarding School, Miles is introduced to plenty of his soon-to-be friends. But on that day Miles falls in love with the outgoing and crazy Alaska Young. Throughout the school year, Alaska and Miles share countless adventures when suddenly one day changes his life forever.

I thought the story had everything it needed to be overall an amazing book. It lets the reader connect with the characters and allows us to feel and experience the troubles the characters are going through. This book proves to be funny, emotional, and captivating as the reader takes a journey to Miles’ version of a “Great Perhaps.”

I would recommend this book to any teen looking for an engrossing yet simple read and hope to see it someday made into a movie.

-Sara S., 10th grade

Looking Forward to The Fault In our Stars Movie

fault_in_our_stars_coverWe’ve all read and fallen in love with the book, but will the movie live up to our expectations? John Green’s bestselling novel The Fault In Our Stars is finally being made into a movie, set to hit theaters on June 6, 2014.

Award-winning actress Shailene Woodley has been cast to play the main character, Hazel Grace, and Augustus Waters is being portrayed by the actor Ansel Elgort, and although he isn’t as famous or well known as Shailene, he seems to fit the role just as well. And of course, many of us remember him from the Nickelodeon TV show “The Naked Brothers Band,” Nat Wolff is going to be playing Augustus’ best friend, Isaac. With this cast performing as the main characters, it’s sure to be a hit.

Not to mention author John Green has been tweeting his anticipation for the movie since it began filming. Updating us with pictures, videos, and tweets on set, it’s clear he is as excited as the rest of us.


I think The Fault in Our Stars will be quite similar to the Perks of Being a Wallflower movie. Although the two books are completely different, they both reached a wide audience and perfected the cast and movie and gave the fans of the book something to be happy with (which is usually very rare). All in all, the movie will no doubt be a success, and I am very much looking forward to seeing it.

-Sara S., 10th grade