Son by Lois Lowry

When an author can mirror the magnificence of their initial novel with a sequel of equal caliber, it is nothing short of magic. But to do it multiple times over is something that only the likes of Lois Lowry could do. After a sequel and third installment, Lowry does it again with her story, Son. (Please note that I will be building off of concepts already discussed in past reviews. If you are not familiar with the previous stories in The Giver quartet, please read the corresponding reviews)

Back in the good old community, there is a girl called Claire. As a birth mother, she has been artificially inseminated and will have a child, one of the three who she is fated to bear during her few short years before she is subjected to a lifetime of physical labor jobs. Much as the citizens of the community lack knowledge of numerous aspects of life, the birth mothers are oblivious to their pregnancy, and that they will have a child. It’s not like they woke up on e day and where all “What the heck? What’s this bump on my stomach?”. The understand pregnancy but don’t realize that it means they will have a child. They are told that they must carry a “product”, they are blindfolded during the birth, then it happens twice more. Despite being blindfolded, Claire can tell that something is going wrong with her delivery. It is due to this that Claire is given an early leave from her role as birthmother and condemned to work at the fish hatchery. However, she starts to gain knowledge of her child and eventually begins to volunteer at the child care center where she meets him, Gabe. Mind blown! Lowry does it again! Anyway, Claire deepens her and Gabe’s bond while she learns that he is being taken care of by Jonas’s family unit who has a deep affinity for him. BANG! Then, one night the community is all up and out of bed. All of the people are like “What could have disturbed me from my dreamless sleep in my grey Minecraft bed?” (I don’t know, that’s just what I always envisioned). Voices proclaim that Jonas has fled the community with a baby. Claire puts two and two together and goes “Oh shoot”. She runs onto a nearby shipping ship which sets out for the sea and becomes a sunken shipping ship (say that five times fast!).

Breathe, end of part one!

Claire is struggling and half hallucinating in the water because due to the emotional strain and, ‘cause she has like never swam before (reason number #2,567, 898 why the community sucks). She ends up on the shore of a rural town where she is adopted (‘cause like guys, she is still a minor at this point) by a woman called Alys. Alys is like the co-chief of the village and also the nurse and midwife. Under Alys’s guidance, Claire basically goes through preschool (she learns about colors, feelings, trigonometry, rocket science, you know, basic things that they did not have in the community). She also grapples with an immense feeling of loss and she can not understand why. It’s like that feeling when you go to school and your all “I feel like I’m forgetting something” then you sort of forget, but it resurfaces “What was it?”. Then class starts and the teacher’s like “Okay, I’ll collect all your homework” and you just go “Oh shoot”. That’s exactly how Claire felt when she had the consciousness to remember her son.

Then she starts going really mad. Before the news got out to the town, Claire was pretty hot stuff. There was this guy named Andres who was totally into Claire but after the news spreads, he’s like “Nah” ‘cause Andres is a sucky dud like that. Basically, in this little seaside village, premarital sex is a big no no and once you are no longer a virgin you sort of depreciate in value. This town is super traditional like that. Also, ‘cause they are like simple farm people living off of the Earth, they don’t get the concept of artificial insemination and that Claire did not technically hook up with anyone. All the ladies stay at home, silent in the kitchen and all the dudes do stuff like fishing or farming, stuff like that. The whole town is basically a bunch of Baby Boomers if you catch my drift. So, she is reduced to the laughing stalk of the village. The only ones to stick by her are Alys and Einar, a sheep herder.

Einar is such a sweetheart. He is so genuine and kindhearted with everyone, and the sheep which he has memorized all the names of. He is not a “macho man” like all of the other village men. He also has a depressing past. Einar’s mom died in childbirth. Therefore, his “macho man” father who was super upset about losing his wife who was like the best part of his dull “macho man” fisherman life, blamed it on his son and therefor made life sucky for Einar. This dude was a jerk, on steroids. On top of verbal and physical abuse, his father emotionally abused him in a way. Due to a, uh, lack of a female presence, Einar was subjected to fill his mother’s role in a few different ways, i’ll let you fill in the blanks. One day Einar got so fed up with his sucky life that he decided that he was going to scale the massive cliff that loomed behind the village. No one had ever gotten to the top before, some people tried but turned back, others died. Einar did it. But he might as well not have.

One day Claire tells him her story and how she needs to set out to find her son. She does not want to go back to the sea (don’t blame her) so she asks Einar to help her get over the cliff. If you have had visions of scaling Mt. Everest and their is a full camera crew waiting for you at the top and like a ton of money and food and a mansion or something (I don’t know what is in your fantasy!), I don’t think that a creepy dude was part of it. Like, I bet that you wanted anything but a creepy dude. Especially when that creepy dude wants to steal your soul. Putting two and two together, it’s Trademaster, (sarcastic yay!). So when Einar got to the top and was really for the cameras, Trademaster’s all “Hey dude, was there ever anything that you wanted real bad but you just could’nt get it?” and then Einar goes, “Nah brah, I’m good, I’m on top of the world right now, literally”. Then, Trademaster’s like “For realzies?” and Einar’s like “Yah dude, can I get you anything? Like a water or something?” After that Trademaster is like “Skrew you and your niceness!” and attacks Einar’s leg like a big fat jerk face. Then Einar’s like “Uh, I gotta bounce” and shimmy’s back down the cliff.

Now, Einar is crippled for life. When Einar tells Claire this, she agrees that she is willing to under go something of a similar category for the chance of seeing her son again. Einar agree’s to help her train to climb the cliff. After a few years Claire builds up enough endurance and strength to reach the top. Then, before she goes she and Einar kiss, ‘cause like why not and Claire gets to the top. When she gets there, she goes to sleep. You probably think that your alarm clock is a crappy thing to wake up to, waking up to Trademaster is worse. Trademaster’s all, “OMG, your hair is like totally adorbs, what conditioner are you using?”. Then Claire’s like “Oh thanks-wait a sec”. Then Trademaster’s like “What brings you to my neck of the woods?” and Claire goes, “Oh, ya know, stuff” and then Trademaster’s like “I know about the kid from all of the stalking that I’ve done of you on the intedwebs” and Claire’s all “Oh shoot”. Then Trademaster’s like, “Give me your hair, your beauty, your youth and I’ll tell you where he is”. Einar has told Claire that she should make the trade, whatever it was just to get it over with. So, she did it. He told her to go straight through the woods to which she said “It was that simple?” and she turned into an old lady. As she approached a town, she saw a group of boys and felt a connection with one of them, Gabe. She longed to see her sweet child but she realized what a fool she would look like, an old woman emerging from the wood claiming to be his mother. It was then that the full evil of Trademaster’s deal struck her.

Water break, part two!

Now that her plans of reunion with Gabe have been foiled, Claire moves into a quaint little place on the outskirts of the town. This town however, is the town in which Jonas and Gabe ended up at at the end of The Giver and the town in which Seer lived after he was blinded and the town which almost had a complete wall built around it due to the corrupt Trademaster. After Matty died in Messenger, all of Trademaster’s wrongdoing in the town where undone and he fled to the forest. That should be the end of the story, at least many of the citizens of the town thought so… duh, duh, duh. Anywho, Claire sort of stalks Gabe for a little while and begins to assimilate into the town. She starts getting sick and dying because she is now an older woman. She confides in the town leader her story and of her and Gabe’s connection. The town leader is Jonas who also plays somewhat of a father figure roll in Gabe’s life. Don’t get any ideas about him and Claire though because Jonas and Kira are married with two kids name Mathew and Annabelle. At first when Claire tells Jonas her story, he is like “Whatever old lady” but then he realizes, “Oh, shoot. Trademaster must really still be out there!”.

So, because this is the super logical thing to do, Jonas decides, “Yah know what, let’s send Gabe, a little kid, out into the forest to fight this dude”. Also, as Jonas is loosing his abilities to see beyond, Gabe is only discovering his ability of feeling what other people feel, basically sympathy. All the while, Gabe has been working on building a boat. He researched boats in books which he borrows from Jonas’s extensive library. He gets all pumped up about the boat, actually. He gets all his friends to carve their names in the oar that he will use to paddle and everything. But, the boat fails. When he goes into the forest to fight Trademaster though, he brings the oar with him. He finds Trademaster who challenges him to a duel, offering him an assortment of weapons to choose from but Gabe’s all “Nah, I’m good”. Trademaster insults Gabe telling him how he has traded with people far more worth while and how insignificant he is. Gabe refuses to fight Trademaster so, he tries to make a trade with Gabe, who turns it down. Gabe uses his ability to feel on Trademaster. He gets a bunch of hungry vibes back. Gabe then realizes that Trademaster is starving. But not starving like “Bruh, I could eat this whole pizza I’m so hungry” but starving for his victims sadness. He feeds off of their misery. Then Gabe’s all, “Hey, remember Mentor?” and Trademasters like, “Yah, I ruined his life” and then Gabe’s like “No way Jose, he is happy now. He is living every day like a boss”. That was like the equivelent of Gabe punching Trademaster in the stomach. He lurches and is like “Dang, that hurt”.

Then Gabes all “Remember Einar, the one who turned you down?” and Trademaster’s all, “Uh yah, I made him miserable” and Gabe’s like “Nah man, he’s doing great. Plus, this supper hot girl is totally into him”. That was another punch. With each punch Trademaster got more hungry for some kind of crappy ending. Then Gabe was like “And you remember that girl to, that babe in the story was my mom, Claire! She was looking for her son who, by the way, is just as hot! And she found me. You took her youthfulness away but we found each other so it didn’t even matter. You will never love anyone, and I feel bad, but also, screw you, I hope you starve!”. With that, Trademaster turned into a pile of sloppy gush because he was never really human, he was evil. Gabe buried the oar to commemorate the place where evil died and went back to the town where Claire was revived as a young woman and everyone lived happily ever after (for real this time)!

-Ainsley H.

P.S. The book never says anything about this but I am totally curious about it and I think that other people are to: I just really want to assume that this happened and for the sake of putting it out there, in the Ainslican version of the text, Claire and Einar live together in the village where Jonas and Gabe and all them live. That makes the happy ending happier!

Son by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani

Just as the fairy tale in the third book of this series came to an end, a new one with unexpected twists and plots opened. Quests for Glory, the fourth book in the School for Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani, follows the fourth-year pupils of the School for Good and Evil as they journey on the quests that have been assigned to them. 

Just a quick background on the world: The School for Good and Evil is set in a fairy tale world and has two school within it: a School for Good and a School for Evil. Based on their nature, the children are separated into these two schools. When each student reaches their fourth year, they are assigned a quest, and the Storian (and enchanted pen) writes and illustrates their adventures as a new fairy tale. King Arthur of Camelot, Cinderella, and many more were students at the School for Good and Evil. The characters who were introduced in the first book of this series, Sophie and Agatha, are now in their fourth year.

The fourth-year pupils are off on their assigned quests, but the quests do not seem to be going as hoped. Tedros cannot lift Excalibur to take what he thinks is his rightful place as king, Agatha is not as happy as she’d hoped in Camelot, and from the looks of Professor Dovey’s (Dean of the School for Good) magical quest map, the other students are not doing well either. A mysterious force seems to be working against the success of the students’ quests, and its ultimate goal becomes more and more apparent with its every move: Tedros’ place in Camelot. Professor Dovey begins to realize that perhaps the quests the fourth-year pupils have been given are not their real tales. 

I had read the first three books in The School for Good and Evil series about a year ago, and I had forgotten how full of humor and artful drama Soman Chainani’s writing is. The characters he creates are so vivid, unique, and enjoyable to read about. If you have not read this series, I would suggest it if you like books based on fairy tales (many of the students at the School for Good and Evil are children of famous fairy tale heroes and villains). This book was an exciting, magical, and humorous read which I’m sure fans of the series will enjoy.

– Mia T.

Quests for Glory by Soman Chainani is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

Summer has been normal and boring for Harry Potter until right before the end. Dementors show up in his town and attack him and his cousin Dudley. Harry uses magic to fight off the creatures and, almost instantly, gets sent a letter from the Ministry that is requiring him to go to a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing it will be decided if Harry should be expelled from Hogwarts. At the hearing it is decided that Harry will not be expelled from Hogwarts. Once there, Harry notices a lot of strange things. Skeletal horses are pulling school carriages, but he is the only one that can actually see the horses. Also there is another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher named Dolores Umbridge. There are also rumors that Harry and Dumbledore are going crazy for thinking that Voldemort is returning. The only people that stand by Harry’s side are Ron and Hermione. Harry frequently gets detention with Professor Umbridge for lashing out at the people that think he’s crazy. Professor Umbridge soon becomes Hogwarts High Inquisitor which gives her the power to sack teachers whenever she feels that it’s necessary. Because of Harry’s frequent detentions, Professor Umbridge decides to take away the things Harry loves most like Quidditch, Sirius Black’s letters, and the ability to visit Hagrid at his hut. In retaliation, Harry forms a defense group which he calls Dumbledore’s Army. Professor Umbridge soon finds out, and Dumbledore takes the blame. In doing so, Dumbledore has to leave Hogwarts to avoid being arrested. Harry frequently has dreams of dark corridors and locked doors, and his scar prickles very often. Harry then finds out that Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, was killed, and Dumbledore tells Harry the ultimate prophecy: If Harry doesn’t kill Voldemort, Voldemort will eventually kill Harry.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling

Harry’s third year at Hogwarts is stressful in the beginning. He is constantly being buried under piles of homework. He also learns that Sirius Black, a mass murderer, is out to kill Harry. Mr. Weasley makes Harry promise that he won’t go looking for Sirius and Harry agrees. At Hogwarts, Dementors have been stationed around the school to prevent Sirius from getting in. The Dementors, however, have a worse effect on Harry than any other student because of Harry’s past. Mr. Lupin, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher, teaches Harry how to cast a Patronus Charm which is the only spell that works against the Dementors. Ron and Hermione are constantly arguing because Hermione’s cat keeps trying to eat Ron’s rat. Soon they altogether stop talking because Ron thinks that Hermione’s cat did eat his rat. A few days later Sirius Black breaks into Hogwarts, but is quickly captured. Then as it turns out, Ron’s rat is not only alive, but a real human that transformed himself into a rat to spy on Harry. The man’s name is Peter Pettigrew and he was spying on Harry for Voldemort. Pettigrew quickly escapes before Harry can stop him. Harry finds out that it wasn’t Sirius Black that lead Voldemort to his parents, but that it was Pettigrew. Sirius is actually Harry’s godfather. Harry hopes that he can live with Sirius instead of the Dursley’s, but Sirius has to hide from the Ministry. Professor Lupin turns out to be a werewolf, and it was Sirius that saved the kids from Lupin.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a story of the discovery of Narnia. Narnia is a fictitious land with castles and fauns. During World War II, Edmund, Peter, Susan, and Lucy move to live in the country with Professor Kirke. On a rainy day, while exploring the big house, Lucy finds a big wardrobe. Lucy steps into the wardrobe, and into Narnia. Narnia is a big snowy forest with several mythical creatures. Lucy encounters one of those creatures right away. Just as she steps into Narnia she sees a faun. A faun is a half human half goat.

The faun’s name is Faun Tumnus and invites Lucy to tea and Lucy accepts. While having their tea, the faun explains that Narnia has been enchanted by the White Witch so that it is always winter. Lucy then leaves Narnia to tell her siblings, but none of them believe her and continually tease her. Then one day Edmund sees Lucy go into Narnia and decides to follow her. When he gets into Narnia he doesn’t see Lucy anywhere, but instead meets the White Witch. The Witch tells Edmund that she is the Queen of Narnia. The Witch then proceeds to get Edmund on her side by feeding him Turkish Delight. The Witch also convinces Edmund to bring back the rest of his siblings. While heading back to the wardrobe, Edmund runs into Lucy. Lucy tells Edmund of the White Witch, but Edmund denies knowing anything of her. Even after this Edmund claims that Narnia is a silly lie. One day, while hiding in the wardrobe from housekeeping, all four children find themselves in Narnia. Faun Tumnus has been captured for treason, so the children must get help to defeat the White Witch from a lion named Aslan. They find Aslan and defeat the White Witch. The four children then become the rulers of Narnia for many years.

-Emilio V.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Keeper of the Lost Cities by Shannon Messenger

If you enjoyed reading books like Harry Potter, Percy Jackson and the Lightning Thief, and many more, then you’ll probably enjoy this book series. The first book, Keeper of the Lost Cities, is about a young girl named Sophie Foster. But, the twist on this story is that she can read minds.

Sophie first received her powers from an accident when she was five years old. After the accident, her life was changed forever. Now she had the ability to read minds and have a photographic memory. Because of her amazing memory, she was able to be a senior in high school at only age 12! She always knew something was special about her

At a field trip to the museum, Sophie runs into Fitz, who is an elf. He had a mission, which was to find the girl with blonde hair and brown eyes. Fate must’ve been on his side because he was able to find Sophie. He took her to the “Elvin World” where she got to see fascinating creatures and animals that are extinct in the “human world”.

This book series is action-packed and great for kids who just want an easy but entertaining book to read.

-Phoebe.L

The Keeper of the Lost Cities series by Shannon Messenger is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive and Hoopla. 

A Court of Thorns and Roses series by Sarah J Maas

Image result for acotar series

I only do a series if the whole series is good or if the other books of the series are better than the first of the series. In this case, its the later.

In the first book, Feyre, strong and unbending, kills a wolf knowing that it’s a fae. She needed the food, and so did her family during a harsh winter. In return, Tamlin of the fae kidnaps her and brings her on the fae side of the wall that divided fae and human. Of course, she falls for Tamlin, and there are mysterious cute boys and sadistic evil queens in the distance.

In the second book, Feyre, without putting in too many spoilers, is having nightmares and depression after facing the evil queen in the first book, and cannot be happy even though she’s marrying Tamlin. She then gets kidnapped by this mysterious cute boy from the first book, named Rhysand, at her wedding and he takes her to his house and she helps fight the even eviler fae king, which continues into the third book.

Of course, this is myself trying not to do spoilers. Now, I have to show what I think about the series. For those who like evil fairies and magic will love this series.

For the first book, I felt that it was okay. I felt that Feyre was being treated like a princess, as she was told by everyone that she should stay behind and not move or else she would get hurt. She does get hurt by the end of the book, and it is quite nasty, but I feel that she grows from it. I would guess that readers should be at least fourteen to read it, which is typical.

Then we reach the second book, where Feyre is treated like a queen. There were a lot of events that led up to this, such as a book character that every girl wants for their husband, but this was the development of Feyre that I would want in any protagonist, and it has only been the second book. However, I would warn readers that the book is rated very older teen. Feyre going into depression is nasty, with her having bulimia and no one being there to help her, which is very depressing in itself, and there are other mature and…. er…. questionable scenes.

Finally, the third book. Not only is Feyre being treated like a queen, but she also has to bear the responsibilities of the crown and has to face her own nightmares. The rating is older teen, with the scenes not as numerous as the second book but still quite as questionable.

There are also many splendid and enjoyable characters besides Feyre: a member of one of the LGBT groups, a woman that makes everyone scared (to make you scared, she drinks blood from a bowl!), two goofy males that are supposedly the strongest of their kingdom, a man who is trying to choose between the duty to his lord and what he thinks is right, and a man that is trying to support everything and everyone, but needs an equal to support.

To sum up, I found this series to be the best I have read in quite a while, and I hope that more people could read it.

-Megan V., 12th grade

Sarah J. Maas’s books are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.