Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi

Korean-American author Mary H.K. Choi humbly states that her debut novel Emergency Contact is a book in which “high-key nothing happens,” but if one were being honest, the story deals with nuances that transcend the somewhat pedestrian nature of falling in love.

Here is a novel featuring a protagonist of color who has dealt with sexual assault and her counterpart, someone who suffers from anxiety. Because the new wave of literature in light of recent revolutions is becoming increasingly diverse, Choi falls into line by bringing in seldom-talked-about issues into acknowledgment. The novel itself, though, is relatively mundane: college, falling in love, texting, no buildup nor climax, only a couple hundred pages of fluff – but the underlying ideas make up for it.

The premise of the book, however, is sweet: the idea of having someone as your safeguard and home(hence the title Emergency Contact) is something that reinforces the idea of clear communication and healthy relationships, especially in the digital age. Additionally, Penny and Sam, our two starring characters, will become more relatable the further you read. They’re charming, bittersweet, and show a lot of the author’s heart inside each of their personalities.

Ultimately, the coffee-shop cliche and cutesie scenes make for your average YA novel, spanning across pages of sentiment. You’ll laugh, ache, and feel for the characters you’re reading for and the experiences they go through. There will be a tough time spent trying to detach yourself from Penny and Sam, and the essential message is this: if you’re looking for your next sappy(yet barrier-breaking) YA, here it is.

— Esther H.

Emergency Contact by Mary H.K. Choi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

And Then There Were None is a great book written by Agatha Christie. She was known as one of the greatest writers of her time. She is also called the Queen of Mystery.

The book is about ten people who have done bad things in there life and are killed one by one because of the bad deeds. The murderer is following a nursery rhyme that explains how he or she will kill all the victims.

The author adds a big element of suspense into the book. It even adds the best setting for this all to happen: a creepy old mansion on a island. This read is differently then any murder mystery you have ever read.

Just at the end of every Agatha Christie book the murderer is a big shocker. She always adds the person that had nothing to do with it actually kill the victim. In this novel especially there are many red herrings. Sometimes they are meant to throw you off but either way it is awesome that they are in murder mystery novels.

My favorite part of the book is the whole nursery rhyme scheme. It is a great way for the author to incorporate the suspense in the book. I mean how creepy is it that your killing people based on a nursery rhyme? There is also a mini series based off this book. I haven’t watched it yet but I while and I hope it is really good.

Another thing about murder mysterious is that people who seem one way may die in a way that is surprising because the is the opposite of how he or she is behaving. For example if someone died from suicide and that person is having the time of your life.

That is just one of the thought turning things that Agatha Christie does in her novels. It’s like you think one thing and then he or she dies then it just goes on and on until the murderer is found.

Max U.

And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross

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The Fog Diver, written by Joel Ross, is a great book full of suspense and twists. It has a wonderful plot and intriguing characters.

What if the whole earth was engulfed in deadly fog? What if a great treasure was said to be hidden beneath the clouds? And what if you were the only one who could survive in that fog?  The main character, Chess, finds himself in such a dilemma. An orphan with special power, he is part of a ragtag scrapper crew. They hunt for items from old Earth to sell on the mountaintops while avoiding sky pirates and monsters.

Meanwhile, a tyrant named Kodoc hunts for Chess so he can use him to find the Compass, an ancient artifact said to  control the Fog. The team thinks that Port Oro, a legendary mountaintop, will be a safe haven for them, and attempt a journey. Along the way, they team up with pirates and gang kids. This book is full of friendship and action. I would strongly recommend it to anyone looking for a summer read.

-Joshua M, 6th grade

The Fog Diver by Joel Ross is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

The Great Gatsby is one of those rare novels that remains enduring long after publication and lives immortally within the minds of its readers. Crafted with frothy and beautiful prose, Fitzgerald proves himself to be one of the greatest American authors of all time.

Set in the lost empire of the Jazz Age, Fitzgerald weaves a tale with poetic and fluid words about the longings and desires of humankind. It’s slathered in lavish parties and flamboyant characters but maintains a darkly whimsical nature, one that is utterly timeless. And, unexpectedly rising from its seemingly superficial exterior, The Great Gatsby teaches us about the intrinsic nature of humanity.

We are brought to the stage by Nick Carraway, whose ever-observing eye captures the details of our story with unrelenting vividness. Jay Gatsby, whose five-year purgatory awaiting redemption with silver-voiced Daisy Buchanan, possesses unfathomable charisma that jumps out at you from the page. By the end of the novel, the reader is stunned by the burning revelation that all people are exactly the same as Gatsby—reluctant to let go of the past and stagnant between ghosts and the present.

If you’ve already watched the movie, it’ll be hard to disassociate Leonardo DiCaprio’s disarming smiles from Gatsby’s arresting charm – but DiCaprio and the partygoer seem to diverge once pulled into the mystery that is Jay Gatsby. Upon climax, Gatsby ventures darker than did ever the reputation of sunshiney Leo, but that is a debate for another article.

Altogether, I’d have a grand total of two words to say in conclusion: read it. Read it and marvel at the literary artisan that is Fitzgerald, then wonder what ever did happen to his wayward characters.

– Esther H.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available at Mission Viejo Library.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser

Sarah Tolcser’s first novel, Song of the Current, was much different from what I expected when first picking up the book—though not in a bad way. This exciting story gives a taste of everything: action, adventure, romance, magic, and sacrifice—all centered around one girl who sails with her father on a wherry in the Riverlands.

When she was a child, Caroline “Caro” Oresteia was told her destiny: Like the many Oresteias who came before her, she would be favored by the god in the river. The river god speaks to sailors indirectly and keeps them safe on their journeys. Caro awaits the day when he will begin speak to her, just as he speaks to her father.

When she is seventeen, Caro still has not heard from the river god, and instead finds herself the captain of her father’s beloved wherry, Cormorant, transporting a strange package in order to free her father from imprisonment. When she agrees to carry the strange cargo, Caro has no idea of what her involvement is going to entail. However, it does not take her long to realize that the contents of the strange crate she is carrying is a danger to her and her wherry.

With the Black Dogs (a group of merciless pirates who are searching for the strange crate) looming threateningly in Caro’s wake, the unexpected arrival of a bothersome boy who seems to have something to hide, and someone attempting to force their way into the seat of the Emparch of Akhaia, a whirlpool of dangers, betrayals, and secrecy forms, pulling Caro in.

Through all of this, the god of the river remains silent in Caro’s ears. She begins to wonder if her true destiny is not what she had been told so many years ago.

Although this story is set in a fictional world, I liked how Sarah Tolcser used just enough factual elements such as sailing terms to maintain the believability of the world, and I also liked her use of strong characterization. Caro is a bold, determined character, and it is inspiring how she does not care about someone’s title—she bases her view of them on what she sees them do.

As a reader, I love big fantasy series, but I also like finding new ones that I have not heard much about. The Song of the Current would be a great read for anyone looking for another fictional world to explore. From shadowmen and sword fights to politics and philosophy, this book covers an amazing spectrum. If you ever read this book, I hope your journey through the Riverlands is just as exciting and full of adventure as Caro’s was. Though, of course, much, much safer.

– Mia T.

Song of the Current by Sarah Tolcser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini

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If  A Thousand Splendid Suns shows how the situation of Afghanistan affects women and Kite Runner shows how the situation of Afghanistan affects children, then the more recent book by Khaled Hosseini shows how the situation of Afghanistan affects families. The story moves from a boy who gets separated from his sister and moves from person to person as the story of the boy and his sister continues until the sister is able to meet him again around fifty or sixty years later. However, the stories do not  focus on just this narrative, but also others that show how life affects ourselves- a man who meets another man in love with him, the daughter who does not realize how “good” her life is, a man who meets and becomes friends with a girl whose life was ruined. As we travel from not only Afghanistan and the United States, but also Paris and Greece, we see how lives around the world affect each other.

I usually love novels by Khaled Hosseini; after all, I really did love A Thousand Splendid Suns. However, I will admit that this was not his best novel. Does this mean that it was a terrible novel? No way! Jumping narratives may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if it wasn’t for the fact that the characters knew each other, most of the chapters seem like stand alone ones. However, I do not like the fact that most of the chapters are stand alone, as some of them do not seem to have any kind of resolution. However, they do teach very important lessons that anyone can learn, such as being considerate of others, as everyone has a story.

Despite not being as good – in my opinion- as his other two novels, I would definitely recommend reading this book.

-Megan V

And the Mountains Echoed by Khaled Hosseini is available at the Mission Viejo Library.

 

The Hate U Give By Angie Thomas

Movie lovers and book fanatics reunite again as Angie Thomas’ best selling book hits the theater on October 19th. The Hate U Give portrays the trials of a black teenage girl living in the ghetto, and how her race is treated. The protagonist, Starr, lives a double life between commuting to a predominately white private school in a privileged area to living in Garden Heights, an economically deprived community rich in black culture. Thomas attempts and succeeds at educating her readers on the mistreatment towards African Americans, and how to rise against it.

For me, I thoroughly enjoyed the read due to how different each character is and how it can potentially relate to almost every one of the readers by the meaningful characters throughout the story and their reactions when Starr becomes an activist. Thomas wastes no time and  starts her book off with the reason Starr raises her voice and stands up. Her long time friend Khalil is shot and killed by a white officer. There was no immediate justice for Khalil, he was quickly becoming forgotten until Starr realizes how this won’t stop unless someone fights for it.

A struggle for Starr was the fact that her double life was beginning to merge into one. This led to drama with her friends, growing family issues, and struggles with her boyfriend. Thomas perfectly describes the average American teenager- except they don’t usually have to fight for justice.

With all the trials and tribulations Starr goes through, she is strong. I am excited for the movie and to watch peoples reactions to not-so-uncommon-things even in this day and age and i look forward to the acknowledgment black individuals deserve.

-Mikayla O.

The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive