Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Jane Austen’s classic novel Pride and Prejudice is regarded as one of the most romantic stories of all time. Published in 1813, the plot centers around Elizabeth Bennett, who mistakenly makes hasty judgments and must come to appreciate the difference between the superficial and the essential. Her father, Mr. Bennett, is the owner of a large estate, but it is entailed, meaning that none of his five daughters can inherit the property. Since Mrs. Bennett is not wealthy, one of the daughters must marry into wealth to financially support the family, should Mr. Bennett pass away. Eventually, the famous Mr. Darcy enters the scene, and he and Elizabeth fall into a passionate, albeit begrudging love. A story of the complexity of romance ensues, much to teenage girls’ delight.

I, personally, love this book. I find it amusing and intriguing, what with its layered characters and carefully developed plot. The novel has been famed for centuries and it is definitely easy to see why. Pride and Prejudice is one of the most critically acclaimed novels that has ever been written. I have read this novel countless times, and it never ceases to appeal to me. If you are ever looking for a beautifully written novel, make sure to give Pride and Prejudice a try. Simply put, it is truly a piece of art- Austen’s carefully crafted characters resonate within the reader, and one can’t help but become ensnared in the intricately woven story.  Pride and Prejudice is definitely a lovely read, and, as Caroline Bingley would say, “After all, there is no enjoyment like reading!”

-Arushi S. 

Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen

The Tomb by S.A. Bodeen is a science-fiction novel about fifteen year old Kiva and her discovery that her life is not what she thought it was. Kiva believed that she was being raised in Ancient Alexandria, and had spent the first twelve frolicking with her best friend, Seth. When they were twelve, Seth’s Father, who was the pharaoh in the ancient Egyptian world, caused Seth to become less involved in their friendship. However, three years later, Seth comes back to Kiva to tell her that their world is not what they think it is. This leaves Kiva confused and hurt; she finds out that Seth has died. However, this all is a sham because the world that is portrayed is actually a virtual reality. Everyone portrayed in the world is in a hibernation in a spaceship.

Kiva wakes up to learn about the Planet Earth and how it was impacted by an asteroid, making it uninhabitable. A lucky group of people were able to escape on the ships that were originally intended for escape in a natural disaster. She is on a smaller shuttle, which is on its way to a spaceship to get a spare part for another spaceship. She wakes up to find Seth, who explains everything that happened. His Father died in real life, and he was told about the artificial world soon after that. Initially, Kiva finds it difficult to connect with him, but the two of them reconcile their differences to save the ship while battling foes.

This book was a quick read, and almost felt like the beginning of a novel. A lot of it was devoted to building up the world of Alexandria, and once it shifted to the spaceship, almost half of the novel was done. Also, the characters did not have much growth and were mostly one-dimensional. There was a romance between Seth and Kiva, but it almost felt forced and done in order to move the plot forward. Even though it did that, the moving of the plot really did not go anywhere until the last few chapters of the book. Overall, the book was a quick read. If you are looking for an easy-to-follow science fiction novel, than this one for you.

The Tomb by S. A. Bodeen is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert

An outlier from the usual fairy-tale-based fiction, The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is a unique, compelling book with twenty-first century references and a search for a mysterious, magical wood. Both the title and the cover intrigued me into picking up the book. I read the synopsis, which also seemed intriguing. But when I began to read, I was pulled into a story that I hadn’t quite anticipated–though it was still quite intriguing.

I’ve found that most books based on fairy tales have the protagonist enter the fairy tale world within the first half of the book (if they aren’t there already). However, The Hazel Wood is not based mainly in the fairy tale world, but on a search to find it. The novel begins similarly to a realistic fiction novel with a main character named Alice Proserpine. She and her mother, Vanella (Ella), are constantly on the road, moving from town to town. Alice lives with an unease; her memories seem off, as if she doesn’t fully fit into the world.

Unsettling events seems to follow the mother and daughter. Alice doesn’t know why, but she does know that her mother refuses to speak about her mother–Alice’s grandmother–Althea Proserpine.

Althea Proserpine is the reclusive author of the book of fairy tales Tales from the Hinterland. It’s a difficult book to get a copy of, but its fans are extreme. Alice has never been allowed to read the book, and has only snuck in a few lines from a story called “Alice Three-Times”.

When Alice’s mother receives a letter saying that Althea has passed away, she seems to relax. However, just when she marries and they finally slow down, Ella disappears. Alice, who has been struggling with going to a school full of rich kids (her step-father lives in a rich neighborhood and was able to find her a place in the school), must take on the much larger problem of finding her mother. She and an extreme fan of her grandmother’s stories named Ellery Finch begin a search for Althea’s estate, the Hazel Wood, which is just the place where Ella ordered Alice not to go.

During their search, Ellery and Alice notice characters from Tales from the Hinterland who have somehow left their world, and Ellery tells Alice parts of Althea’s stories, which are horrific and evil and not at all happily-ending.

Sprinkled with references to our popular culture, The Hazel Wood takes place mostly in the modern world, and is understandable for a young adult audience. I liked how Melissa Albert uniquely did not embellish the story with unrealistic romance or happy endings, which made the story more realistic: Alice’s stepsister is not ugly or really unkind to her, not everyone leaves the Hazel Wood, and the protagonists of some fairy tales are evil.

The Hazel Wood is a wonderful book to read if you are searching for a non-cliché young adult novel that puts an eerie spin on fairy tales.

– Mia T.

The Hazel Wood by Melissa Albert is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Silas Marner by George Eliot

Silas Marner is a book by George Eliot about an outcast who finds redemption in a child. The story is simple yet beautiful, showing the depth of human kindness.

Silas, the protagonist, grows up in a small, church-centered town. He is a respected, virtuous citizen. However, one day, he is framed by a close friend for embezzlement and is cast out of the town. His trust in humanity bruised, he settles on the outskirts of Raveloe, a rural but prosperous village.

Years pass, and the quiet, reclusive weaver makes no effort to assimilate with the villagers. Hoarding gold, he saves up a good amount of money. Suddenly, tragedy strikes. A mysterious thief steals all of Silas’ accumulated earnings. Silas, distraught, mourns the loss of his fortune.

One day, a lost child wanders into Silas’ lonely cottage. He takes the child in and raises her as his own. Through her presence, Silas reconnects with humanity and becomes an upstanding member of society once again.

All in all, this book is a nice, quick read with a simple but entrancing plot. Hope you enjoy it!

-Joshua M, 7th grade

Silas Marner by George Eliot is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

 

The Dunwich Horror by H.P. Lovecraft

Aside from the horror classics of “The Shadow Over Innsmouth” and “The Call of Cthulhu” among one of Lovecraft’s most famous and known stories is “The Dunwich Horror”. The story is often criticized by scholars for being somewhat “formulaic” and for being the exception in Lovecraft’s ideas of an indifferent cosmos and humans being infinitely insignificant in the eyes of the universe.

Rather, the story is a classic battle between good and evil and is one of the few stories in which a hero is seen defeating the villain, although the triumph is ultimately meaningless in the grand scheme of things.

Without spoiling too much, since I heavily encourage people, especially horror fans, to read the story, the tale is of the terror that is Wilbur Whateley and his family.

Born to the deformed albino Lavinia Whateley, they lived in Dunwich. Mainly isolating themselves from the rest of the world, Wilbur was obviously something else. Reaching maturity by the age of ten and being an eight foot, misshapen being who caused dogs around him to go into frenzies, Wilbur was being groomed by his grandfather, Old Whateley, in what many townsfolk presumed to be dark magic.

Progressively, their house increases in size as Old Whateley and Wilbur add more floors and enlarge it, to accommodate for… something. They shy away from people but routinely go to the top of Sentinel Hill to chant in odd hours before hiding away. It all goes downhill when Old Whateley dies, and Lavinia mysteriously disappears.

Overall, while the story is very in line with further rounding the Cthulhu Mythos as a whole, it is quite different from Lovecraft’s typical stories. This is more focused on humans and despite how little the great cosmos thinks of them, they were able to vanquish the horrible monstrosity, although the true threat still lurks in the dark periphery that humans are not allowed to glimpse into.

It feels real, Dunwich feels real, the terror of what characters go through feels real. It is the unspeakable terror that desecrates a small town. It lurks in the night but is preceding something far, far worse.

Nevertheless, humans prevented what would have been a global disaster, even if it may inevitably be temporary. While the story may not necessarily be about this triumph, but rather that we will never truly know the extent and power to which beings beyond us possess, and how many people are willing to give their devotion and whole life to it.

This is one of Lovecraft’s more accessible stories if you will. It is weird, yet grounded in his unconventional reality, and is an interesting mix of science fiction and horror. He gives vivid descriptions of the area and surroundings, immersing you into it, allowing you to visualize what types of horrors will befall this tiny outskirt village.

It is not like his typical stories, it has appeal for larger audiences, is weirder and almost surreal than his bone-chilling horror and is among his more popular works. He makes many exceptions to his rules and theories on this universe and mythos he has created, and although “The Dunwich Horror” bends that, it is done so to a great effect. A wonderful tale is created in the process, and his pantheon of horrors is expanded.

-Farrah M.

Th Dunwich Horror and other tales from H.P. Lovecraft are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Ready Player One by Earnest Cline

The year is 2044.  The Earth is in ruins and people are starving, all because of the energy crisis and human neglect.  Humanity’s escape from all that is the incredible virtual reality game called OASIS. It was created by the genius video game creator James Halliday who, when he died, set up a contest to find the Easter egg he’s hidden in the grand OASIS. Whoever finds it will get Halliday’s inheritance, which is an enormous sum of money.

This story follows Wade, an introverted, awkward boy who has grown up with the OASIS. His parents died while he was young, so he’s forced to live with his cruel aunt in a precarious tower of trailers.  He spends his days finishing up his last year of high school and mostly researching every 80s TV show, comic, movie, and book for clues on how to find Halliday’s egg.

When Wade begins to progress in the hunt for the egg and find the first key, he receives a lot of attention and soon becomes targeted by the IOI, another game company who wants to win the contest so they can steal the OASIS and change it. Wade must find the egg before someone else or the IOI can to save himself and possibly the world.

I really enjoyed this book!  It’s so interesting because of its futuristic, sci-fi genre and many, many references to games, books, TV shows, and movies. This is a unique, fascinating book that will have you turning its pages rapidly till the end!

-Kaitlyn S.

Ready Player One by Ernest Cline is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

‘In the forest primeval, a school for good and evil, two towers like twin heads, one for the pure, one for the wicked, try to escape you’ll always fail, the only way out is, through a fairy tale’

These are the opening words of Soman Chainani’s first book in the School for Good and Evil series, also known as SGE to many fans. The first book, which is called The School For Good and Evil, has 488 pages, and can be found in the children’s section of the library.

This is one of my favorite books, and it holds deep meaning for me. When I first met my pen pal, this was her present to me. I have cherished this book and series, because it is a reminder of her, no matter how far apart we live.

We begin our tale in a small town. We meet Sophie, the epitome of a pretty pink princess. While she goes about her daily routines, including rigorous skin care, and primping and preening, we find out that there are kidnappings in this town, every year.

The villagers of this town have come to the conclusion that there is a ‘Schoolmaster’, kidnapping two children every year. At first, it seems as though there is no pattern to this kidnapping. Some years, two girls. Others, two boys. Sometimes, one of each. But finally, the villagers make the connection. One child is pure and good. The other is wicked and ‘evil’. The adults in the town didn’t know what to make of this. But, the children did. They found their old schoolmates in the pages of their favorite stories. These kidnapped children were becoming the heroes and villains of fairytales. And they were kidnapped to go train for fairytales at the Schools of Good and Evil

We find out that Sophie is pining to be kidnapped, to go to the school of Good. We also find that Agatha, her ‘friend’, is the perfect candidate to be kidnapped alongside Sophie, and attend the school of Evil.

Well, the hopes of Sophie and the assumptions of the villagers were correct. Agatha and Sophie were kidnapped by the Schoolmaster. But, as they are dropped off at the School for Good and Evil, some things did not go according to plan.

Agatha was dropped at the School for Good, and Sophie was dropped at the School for Evil.

Well, I won’t spoil anymore. I highly suggest checking this out at the library. Happy reads!

-Sophia D.

The School of Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani is available to download for free from Overdrive.