The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton is about two rival groups known as the Greasers and the Socs. The Socs, a group of rich kids with everything they could dream of, commonly pick on and beat up the Greasers. Ponyboy, the main character, learns to live with the Socs always breathing down his neck.

However, one day the Socs take things too far. While Ponyboy is at the park with his friend Johnny, Socs show up and beat them per usual. However this time, they hold Ponyboy’s head under a fountain. Johnny watches helplessly as he tries to figure out what to do. Finally Johnny gets out his switchblade and stabs the Soc that was drowning Ponyboy.

Terrified, the other two Socs flee in their car, and Ponyboy and Johnny go to find someplace to hide. They hide in an abandoned church until Johnny decides to turn himself in. His reasoning for this is that he hasn’t ever gotten in trouble with the law, and it was in self defense, so his sentence couldn’t be that bad. Before they can though, the church catches on fire and Johnny is injured saving kids inside the church. Johnny is sent to the hospital and treated for bad burns on his back. He dies, leaving Ponyboy with three last words as advice, “Stay golden, Ponyboy.”

-Emilio V.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive

Alex Rider Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

The first Alex Rider book is defiantly one to remember. Stormbreaker is about a boy named Alex Rider whose uncle was supposedly a banker. But when Alex discovers his uncle didn’t die from a car crash, and his uncle actually worked for a spy agency, his life gets flipped upside down!

The Alex Rider series is consists of 12 lengthy novels plus a prequel, so Alex Rider will keep you entertained for hours every day! These books will keep you on your toes through every page. Every once in a while, I had to flip the page to check what was going to happen because the suspense was killing me! Anthony Horowitz does an amazing job creating a protagonist that we can love and crazy adventures for our hero to do. If you thought that the bad guy in Stormbreaker was scary, you will be surprised how escalated the villain’s get. Alex Rider has all of the true qualities of a hero, bravery, courage, being smart, and of course, sarcasm. If you didn’t like Stormbreaker (I doubt you won’t like it) Anthony Horowitz has written many other book series, so make sure to check those out!

-Brandon D.

Inferno by Dan Brown

You have probably read or watched the Da Vinci Code by the famous author Dan Brown, who created an extraordinary character mirroring himself. But, here comes the greatest escapist read ever! If you are chomping at the bit for some crossover action reads with amazing intellectual cliffhangers, definitely check out his Inferno!

Featuring the well-known Harvard professor Robert Langdon, an incredibly intelligent and adventurous expert in the study of symbols, Inferno sets its scenes in Florence, the city of renaissance and mystery. Lying in the local hospital, the professor was half-conscious with no recollection of the past events. A series of accidents lead him to a resourceful doctor of the hospital — maybe a little too resourceful. Sienna Brooks is the new “Sophie Neveu”, only that she is a more intelligent female with a great many secrets. Together, the two goes on a treacherous journey in order uncover the hidden messages revealed in arts, details, and hints from Dante Alighieri’s Divine Comedy. Through the adventure, the team meets various characters that makes them doubt the true purpose and direction of this mission, including the meddling of the Consortium, the World Health Organization, as well as a female assassin’s relentless pursuit. But in the end, we find out that everything is but a pre-planned “coincidence.” Protagonists become antagonists, and the antagonists are not what we think who they are…

Nobody is more skilled in plot twist and global conspiracies than Dan Brown. I am mesmerized by his usage of symbols, analogies, and innuendos. He is able to incorporate such a massive amount of historical knowledge into a science-related thriller that reflects his distinct view of current crises and schemes 

“Nothing is more creative…nor destructive…than a brilliant mind with purpose.”

-Kate L.

Inferno by Dan Brown is available for checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

Sir Gawain and the Green Knight, A Translation by Simon Armitage

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This was the required summer reading assignment for my sophomore year. No matter how unwilling I was to open this book, I had to. When I first started reading, I thought I bought the wrong book in the wrong language, because it turned out that the left side of this translation was the original Medieval English. However, as my eyes skimmed through the lines of words and rhymes, I had a quite different idea about this poem.

The story was written by an unknown author in the Middle Ages, and its only manuscript was found in the house of an early seventeenth-century Yorkshireman. As one of the most significant representation of Arthurian romance, this piece of work is beyond valuable.

Gawain was King Arthur’s niece, the perfect representation of chivalry and honor. As the most notable knight of the Round Table, Gawain’s fame was known throughout the entire country. Nevertheless, there were countless people who wanted to challenge such a fine knight, and the mysterious Green Knight was one of them. This adventurous tale of Sir Gawain was woven between love and trickery, courage and danger, as well as Christianity and paganism. It not only taught me a pragmatic lesson on morality as it did to Gawain, it also brought to me a whole new perspective on the alliterative verses of the Middle English literature.

So, my dear readers, the next time your English teachers assigned you a reading assignment, don’t be a hater like I was. We all read differently and think differently, and that is the beauty of literature. Try to appreciate the joy and excitement that it gives us!

-Kate L.

Simon Armitage’s translation of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, the boy who could fly and never grew up. But do you know how Peter Pan came to be?

Peter and the Starcatchers is the prequel and background of Peter Pan.  It begins one morning in England where two ships are being loaded on the same dock with very different cargo to journey to the remote island of Rundoon. The first ship, a top-of-the-line frigate called the Wasp, is to be loaded with the most precious and powerful treasure on Earth, by orders of Lord Leonard Aster on the authority of the Queen. Then there’s the other ship, the Neverland, a slow, busted-up old ship that will hold an identical trunk full of sand, Molly Aster (Leonard Aster’s thirteen-year old-daughter), and a bunch of orphans that are going to be sold to King Zarboff.  But, at the last second, Captain Slank, captain of the Neverland, switches the trunks so his ship has the treasure.

That treasure is starstuff, and the Asters are Starcatchers, people who try to keep starstuff away from evil people who would use it to do wrong. Peter is one of the orphans on that ship, and when he finds out about the starstuff that shouldn’t be on the Neverland but is, he and Molly become friends and work together to protect the starstuff.  But after a violent storm that shipwrecks everyone on an island occupied by the Mollusk people, will they be able to keep away the starstuff from sailors, pirates, and the Mollusks, and get back home to England in the end?

I decided to read this book because it’s the play I’m a part of at my high school and I thought it would be fun to read again.  This book gives so much depth and background to Peter Pan’s story and it’s a great fantasy adventure book. I’d recommend this to those who love the story of Peter Pan and want to know more!

-Kaitlyn S.

The Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Willow Chance—a gardener, a once-orphan, an intellectual—is no ordinary twelve-year-old. Some would call her a genius. Willow’s great curiosity and knowledge help her understand aspects of the world, but sometimes keep others from understanding her. Her highly analytical and sharp mind alienate her from the majority of her peers, and Willow’s adoptive parents worry for her social life. When a tragic accident snatches away the two people who loved Willow the most, Willow is forced to adapt to a new life in which she doesn’t understand everything the way she used to.

On her path to find her new place in the world, Willow, once more an orphan, unintentionally brings together a Vietnamese family, an unmotivated counselor, and a taxi driver. She fills in the missing areas in the lives of these people, and they wish to return the favor. Counting by Sevens is a beautiful story of persistence, strength, metamorphosis, and the meaning of a family.

I read Counting by Sevens a few years ago, and recently read it again. This time around, I was able to appreciate and understand the story and its themes on a deeper level. The characters are all so unique and well-developed, and their metamorphoses catalyzed by the arrival of Willow Chance into their world are truly inspiring. Holly Goldberg Sloan exhibits a beautiful, flowing, and poetic narration which captures an incredible gamut of emotions. Her ability to convey such emotions through the complex characters she creates is amazing, and it contributes greatly to the essence of the story.

One thing I enjoyed most about this book were the intriguing metaphors that are sprinkled throughout the story. These perspectives and ideas of life are so clever and pretty, and they augmented the impact of the novel for me. The beautiful narration of Counting by Sevens combined with the strong, funny, unique characters build a touching novel of acceptance and the importance of both individuality and connections.

-Mia T.

Counting by Sevens by Holly Goldberg Sloan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

How We Roll by Natasha Friend

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is a coming of age story of a young teenager named Quinn who must deal with something very few have to: she is bald. As an eighth grader, she was diagnosed with alopecia, and lost all of her hair. Unfortunately, the kids at school made constant fun of her, and she slowly lost her closest friends. She got a fresh start when her family decided to move in order to have her brother Julius, who has autism, attend a special school. In a new school now, Quinn decides to wear her wig permanently in the hopes that she will be treated nicely. Fortunately, she finds a group of girls who quickly adopt her into their friend group.

In addition to these friends, Quinn meets a boy named Nick. Once the star football player, he lost both of his legs in a car accident. In the grueling recovery process, Nick has become silent and recluse. However, Quinn and him make an unlikely bond that is strong enough for Quinn to reveal her secret and for Quinn to keep pushing Nick to the road to recovery. With a beautiful ending, I would say that this book is for anyone looking for a touching story.

Personally, I enjoy novels with either fantasy or adventure, but this one was a great contrast to my typical repertoire. Quinn’s personality was real; one could feel her happiness, anger, success, and fear. Her character was like any other teenager trying to fit in among her peers, and her ability to forgive her previous tormentors took a great deal of maturity. The friendship between her and Nick also showed how she grew as a person. In the novel, Quinn’s family was the backdrop for the story, and it was beautiful to see her interacting with her parents and little brother. Overall, I would recommend this book for anyone looking for a feel-good read.

-Anmol K.

How We Roll by Natasha Friend is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.