Plague by Michael Grant

Image result for plague michael grantImagine a world in which everyday people gain supernatural abilities. A world without any adults or rules. A world where animals are starting to mutate horribly. A world surrounded by an impassable barrier, stopping anyone from entering… or getting out. Welcome to Michael Grant’s FAYZ, or Fallout Alley Youth Zone.

Every human above the age of 15 have disappeared, leaving the kids in a world that’s theirs for the taking. In this fourth installment of the Gone series, Drake has returned, bringing with him a terrifying concept of the perfect killing machine: beetles. They start off as invisible threats, but the true horror begins when you see a small pair of mandibles poking through the inside of your skin. They slowly begin to grow and emerge from your body, secreting a numbing liquid as they do so. When incubation is complete, they burst from inside you and eat your remains.

As if this and Drake weren’t bad enough, kids are coughing up a lung… literally. A plague is wiping out the population of Perdido Beach, a sickness that nothing can heal. Tensions are high as the fight for survival sweeps up some new faces and old, exposing new problems, and new solutions.

-Luke D.

Plague by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling

Harry Potter is a miserable boy living with his aunt and uncle. He is often mistreated. He sleeps in a cupboard beneath the stairs and has to wear his cousin Dudley’s hand me downs. His life gets a massive change on his 11th birthday. A giant tells Harry that he is a wizard and that so were his parents. Hagrid also tells Harry about how his parents died which made him a hero in the wizarding world. Hagrid lastly informs Harry that he’ll be attending Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Harry doesn’t know what to do or think with everything he has just been told, but it turns out to be true and Harry starts school in September. Almost instantly he becomes friends with Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger. Harry loves Hogwarts more than anything ever before. Soon he starts participating in Quidditch practices and becomes the youngest Quidditch player in the last century. As the year goes on, the three discover the mystery of the three headed dog and what it could be guarding. They soon notice a professor that seems like he’s trying to steal the object, so they take action to prevent the robbery. Once they sneak past the three headed dog, they pass several challenges to get to the professor.

When they get to where the professor should be, Harry finds his parents’ killer Voldemort. Voldemort killed Harry’s parents to get to Harry, but somehow Harry survived Voldemort’s spell. He battles Voldemort and barely saves the mystical Sorcerer’s Stone. The end of the school year arrives and Harry, Ron, and Hermione are rewarded for their acts of bravery.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.  

The Lost Hero by Rick Riordan

The Lost Hero, like the other Percy Jackson books, is a fantastic read about Greek and Roman mythology that’s impossible to put down.  It’s the first book in a trilogy called the Heroes of Olympus.

The story is about Jason, a demigod of Zeus who can’t remember his past, Leo, a child of Hephaestus who has a secret power of fire, and Piper, a demigod of Aphrodite with a way with words.

After an incident at the Grand Canyon with a satyr and a few storm spirits, the trio is brought to a demigod camp called Camp Half-Blood by Annabeth, a distraught demigod whose boyfriend Percy went missing a few months earlier.

At Camp Half-Blood, Jason, Piper, and Leo are chosen to go on a quest to find Hera, the queen of the gods, and free her with what little information they received from their camp Oracle, Rachel Dare, in form of prophecy.   Along the way, they face many monsters back from the dead and different Greek gods, including King Midas and Aeolus, the weather god.  Is Hera freed and the prophecy fulfilled? That remains to be seen by you!

The story doesn’t end with this book, so I definitely recommend reading the other two and the Percy Jackson series that is set before these books.  This series is hilarious, masterfully written, and a great way to learn about Greek mythology!

-Kaitlyn S.

Rick Riordan’s The Lost Hero is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Sword Art Online Progressive 001 by Reki Kawahara

Okay, confession time: I’m not really into Japanese anime and manga, or things like that. That is, until I read SAO, or Sword Art Online by Reki Kawahara.

To be clear, there are basically three adaptations of this book. One of them is a graphic novel, but this book, SAO Progressive 001, is a fictional chapter book that’s about 300 or so pages long.

To be honest, I probably wouldn’t have picked up this book if it hadn’t been for my friends, who are obsessed with Japanese manga and stories. The cover art is really cool, but personally, I just wasn’t that interested. One of my friends, who had read the book cover to cover about thousands of times, allowed me to borrow it. At first I was doubting it, but since the cover looked awesome (I know, don’t judge by a book by its cover! Sorry!), I decided to open it.

And then I pretty much didn’t put it down. The story is centered around the main character, a dark-haired swordsman named Kirito, shown on the cover. Next to him is a fencer, named Asuna. Sword Art Online is a a “virtual-reality” world game, where the player is transported into the gaming world, filled with monsters on each level of the hundred floors of a floating, chambered castle: Aincrad. However, there is no escape. Once you enter the game, there’s no way you can leave it. And the death toll begins to rise. 2,000 players are dead, killed by the monsters in the game.

As Asuna the fencer says, “There’s no way to beat this game. The only difference is when and where you die…”

Kirito meets Asuna in the beginning of the story, and over the events happening throughout the book, they form a sort of friendship. They’re not exactly a team, for they are both solo players, only working to strengthen themselves. But when fighting alone means certain death, will Kirito and Asuna overcome their differences and fight together to survive?

I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for high-action, intense combat scenes against bosses, and a story that keeps you hooked in every page. Would you wish SAO was a real-life game that we could play? Anyways, I can’t wait to read Sword Art Online Progressive 002! I’m sure Reki Kawahara won’t let me down!

-Katharine L.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Most of the books I’m required to read in school seem forced and I usually don’t end up enjoying them. However, I relished almost every word in To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. I realize that it may be one of the most widely-read classics of American —literature, but wanted others my age to learn that they can, in fact, enjoy something if they take it to heart.

The plot revolves around a fictional, Southern town called Maycomb in the 1930s. One reason this book is special is not only that it’s written in the perspective of a white person, it’s also written in the perspective of a child. Scout, a white girl living with her father, Atticus, and her brother, Jem, tells the story of her childhood.

One of the main themes that resonated with me was the innocence and compassion of children growing up. Scout is headstrong and seems to be more boy than girl. As a young girl, she spends most of her days playing with Jem and her neighbor, Dill around their town, and especially around the mysterious Radley house. However, Scout’s father, a lawyer is assigned a new case, and most of the book focuses on how it affects the prejudiced town. Scout learns not everything is black and white, even though most of the citizens of Maycomb think so.

Many may argue that the book is about racism and some argue that racism is only a theme present in the book. I think it was mostly about childhood innocence and the beautiful, innocent perspective of ethics through a child. I saw the book as cleverly written with humorous parts in addition to some beautiful, thought-provoking quotes that I have totally taken to heart.

The one thing in the book that totally changed my life was actually a character: Atticus. Atticus was consistent, compassionate, and extremely wise. More often than not, his expansive vocabulary confused Jem and Scout, but the lessons he verbalizes throughout the book are priceless, usually getting them to come up with opinions of their own. According to the rest of the town, Atticus isn’t raising his children right. But I couldn’t disagree more.

Atticus said, “‘You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view—until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.”

– Megan A.

To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee is available at the Mission Viejo Library.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Every month in English, my teacher assigns the class a certain genre to read. In April, I had tor read a bibliography. I chose Unbroken because I was interested in a war story and had heard good things about the book and movie.

I quickly discovered that this was an incredibly touching story about a man and the challenges he faced during World War 2. This story tells interesting facts and stories, making the reader want to read more.

Louis Zamperini, a famous Olympian runner, enrolls in the army only to crash land in the Pacific Ocean. He was stranded at sea for 47 days before he and his two other crew mates were captured and tortured by the Japanese for three years! Louis eventually escapes when the war is over, but was never the same man again.

The book is well written, switching between gruesome and sad sections to cheerful and funny scenes. This gives the reader an idea of how much Louis was tortured, but is not overwhelming gory. My favorite part of the book is when the Japanese surrender and the war is over because you finally know that Louis is safe.

The book is interesting to read with slightly accelerated vocabulary.Exciting and stressful, Unbroken is a great book that I would recommend to middle school students or older.

-Daniel C.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet

You’ve all heard about this book/play before, and if you haven’t read it yet, sooner or later your teacher will make you read this word-famous play. But don’t dread reading this wonderful work of art. Despite the fact that it’s written in an archaic language and set in a rather alien world, it still remains very relevant today, which is why people are still reading and discussing it to this very day.Image result for romeo and juliet

Romeo and Juliet, as you probably know, is the story of two star-crossed lovers who come from two noble families of Verona, Italy that have had a vendetta for so long that nobody remembers why anymore— and since this is 13th century Italy, and the Renaissance only just started, it’s quite a medieval world, where people often died before 40 and marriage for girls at around 13 was quite common in that part of the world. Romeo is a Montague, which means that his parents are nobles but not as rich as the Capulets, Juliet’s family. What they do have, however, is genuine love, while the Capulets have more than enough family drama to go around. Romeo is passionate and a very eligible bachelor, but also rather impulsive and melodramatic. Juliet is quite smart and beautiful, but has been taught to be passive and agree with her parents her entire life, not thinking for herself. Romeo is “recovering” from being rejected by Rosaline, who was “the love of his life” and “brighter than the sun”, before he spies Juliet at a Capulet masquerade and forgets all about Rosaline. Later that night, Juliet and Romeo confess their love for each other and vow to get married. As you can see, it really is divine love at first sight.

Unfortunately for these two, they have to keep their affair a secret from everybody but the ones they know they can trust. Romeo and Juliet get married not even a day after they first met. But an unfortunate twist of fate leads to Romeo exiled and Juliet’s father forcing her to marry the noble but extremely uninteresting Count Paris, not knowing that she is already the wife of Romeo. Juliet takes great risks to avoid having to marry Count Paris, fooling her parents into thinking that she is dead by drinking a potion, and the plan almost works out, but due to a misunderstanding and an undelivered message, Romeo believes that she is dead, and ends up killing himself. Juliet awakens from her comatose state and sees Romeo’s corpse, and then kills herself too, before the two families arrive at the scene and finally end their feud.

While this story would be more disturbing than sweet if it took place today (a 13-year old and 17-year old getting married hardly a day after they first met, then killing themselves?), it is still very much a very well-written romantic story, and not for nothing is it known to practically all of the literate world. Definitely read The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet, and watch one of the many movie adaptations also to see it played out.

-Michael Z.

The Tragedy of Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.