Passion

There was a time in my life when I talked about books as though they were sustenance, as though they were essential to my survival. I devoured stories and inhaled pages. I vividly remember checking out four, five, six books at time and somehow finishing them all before the two weeks were up. Though that experience is shared with many people, a majority of adults fail to make time for reading.

I often wonder where that passion goes.

To most people, reading is thought of as a chore, or something for the forgotten bottom end of a to-do list. Reading is a fizzling New Year’s Resolution. Reading is a Barnes & Noble credit card but dusty shelves. When people talk about getting back into reading, it is as though they are starting a new project at work, as though they are radically changing their schedules.

New units of time have to be carved out of a schedule, clearly labeled “READ” in blocky black lettering. Books fill shopping bags, along with all the obviously necessary accessories to reading – fancy bookmarks and clip on lights and slogan-laden tote bags – because now, you are a Reader.

There is something lost in this frenzy. In this sort of Oprah’s Book Club, unbroken-spine kind of reading, books are a status symbol.

I find myself in this rut occasionally. Rearranging and rearranging the same shelves with an obsessiveness, buying War and Peace and Les Miserables because they’re the sort of books a pretentious academic like myself should have.

I miss that feeling that all library-bound children have. That feeling that there were an infinite amount of words in the world, and if I only read fast enough, flipped enough pages, then I would be able to drink them all in.

So many people have a desire to read; to become that excited kid again. We want to be the one who’s not only Heard of That, but Read It. We want to know authors and quotes and have worn paperbacks to pass on to friends and family. We want to feel that love and intensity that stories used to inspire.

I truly believe that feeling is still inside every adult today. Maybe it’s buried under stress and deadlines and distraction, but it’s there.

All we have to do is find the right book.

-Zoe K.

Authors We Love: Tahereh Mafi

taherehmafiThe abstract noun “freedom” incites hope for oppressed prisoners; the matrimonial vow “I do” begets tears in the eyes of lovers; and a pastor’s statement “Amen” generates evangelical zeal in a Christian crowd. Above all other human capabilities, the power of the written word reigns as the most impactful. As an author who acknowledges the power of the written word, Tahereh Mafi ranks as one of the best authors in both children and young adult literature.

With her eloquent writing style, Tahereh Mafi crafts her words as masterfully as a blacksmith forges metal. It’s no surprise that her Shatter Me and Furthermore series rank as high as the Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children series (after all, Ransom Riggs, the author of the latter series, is her husband!).

In each of her novels, Mafi pours every ounce of her heart and soul. She even states that most of the characters in her novels reflect certain aspects of her life, generating more meaning into them. Tahereh Mafi’s plotlines simply just don’t tell stories; they reflect on modern-day society, they empower people of different backgrounds, and they become personal stories for younger generations to relate to.

The following excerpt from Shatter Me serves as one of Mafi’s most popular quotes:

“I only know now that the scientists are wrong.

The world is flat.

I know because I was tossed right off the edge and I’ve been trying to hold on for 17 years. I’ve been trying to climb back up for 17 years but it’s nearly impossible to beat gravity when no one is willing to give you a hand.”

The previous quote resonates well with many of her readers, and it has been circulated so many times that there are now altered forms of the quote. Despite these changes, many young readers empathize with the speaker of the quote, for the metaphor of hardship as a heavy force is quite accurate. Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality.

Both younger and older readers can agree that Tahereh Mafi’s rendition of life in her novels parallels to the plights of reality. In fact, her dystopian novel Shatter Me resonated so well with many readers that it is now moving on to the big screen. However, the whole novel simply cannot be portrayed in the 2-hour time frame of a movie, so it will be ad0pted as a TV show. Mafi’s eloquence in writing and her brilliant storyline can soon be seen on one’s TV screen, for she will also be one of the show’s producers. Fans all around the world cannot contain the excitement as they blog about their dream cast.

Whether it is through the medium of print or through the medium of film, Tahereh Mafi never fails to impress readers with her skills. Regardless of the time periods, situations, and characters in her novels, Mafi crafts fictional worlds with her outstanding language, leaving any onlooker in complete awe.

-Elaha N.

Books written by Tahereh Mafi are available to checkout form the Mission Viejo Library

The Selection by Kiera Cass

selection_coverHave you ever wondered what it would be like if The Bachelor and The Hunger Games were intertwined? Well look no further, because Kiera Cass’s The Selection series delves into a dystopian universe, a reality set in America’s future, with 35 young women competing to win Prince Maxon’s heart.

This story is set in the nation that used to be the United States, and is now called Illéa, which was established after China took over the country following World War IV. The nation, specifically the royal palace, is currently undergoing rebel attacks fueled by the unfair caste system placed upon the people.

To lift the nation’s spirits and to honor tradition, the royal family hosts the Selection; where the king’s son, Prince Maxon, goes through the process of choosing a wife from the 35 selected women from all over Illéa. Participants get a boost in social status and access to luxurious palatial living until the Prince chooses his princess. To have a shot at royalty is a dream shared by all young women in Illéa. All except the tenacious America Singer. America, unlike her mother, is not too thrilled at being expected to throw herself at the, no doubt snobbish, prince.

Nevertheless, being chosen for the Selection is not only an honor, but provides generous financial compensation to the woman’s family. And with America’s family being level five out of eight in the caste system, they would greatly benefit from her selection.  As level fives, America’s family is dictated to work either as musicians and artists in order to make a living, which provides an unsteady income. To complicate the issue, America would be leaving behind her secret boyfriend of two years, Aspen. Aspen is level six in the caste, therefore America’s mother would hardly condone a marriage between the two, as it would convert America herself into a six, into a life of poverty.

Is Prince Maxon a self-absorbed snob like America believes he is? Will America end up a princess or marry Aspen despite the hardships they will face? Are all of America’s dresses at the palace as beautiful as the one on the cover? Well, I cant spoil everything! I can say, however, that although this series might seem like a cliché Young Adult novel, it has great characterization, a relatable flawed protagonist, and is an overall exciting read. So pick up a copy and you can get lost in the palace drama like I did!

-Ava K.

The Selection series by Kiera Cass is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download free from Overdrive and Hoopla.

A Series of Unfortunate Events Netflix Show?

seriesofunfortunateevents_netflixIf you have never read A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket, you are missing out on an incredibly unique and amazing book series. This series is what made me fascinated in books as a child because it has such an alluring plot and intriguing narration. The story follows three bright young children named Violet, Klaus, and Sunny, who have recently been orphaned due to a fire in their mansion.Violet, the oldest Baudelaire, is fourteen at the start of the series and is known for the signature black ribbon in her hair and scrappiness in inventing. Klaus, her younger brother is twelve and has read more non fiction books than all of us combined, and therefore is knowledgeable in many topics. And last but not least, we have Sunny, a mere baby who has an insane talent of biting. Because of the children’s large inheritance, a sinister man named Count Olaf hunts these children down throughout the series and continuously conjures up plots to steal their fortune. These poor siblings are left to constantly move from one home to another, forced to always look over their shoulder.

Although this is a children’s series, it is evident from the summary that interwoven are themes of survival, tragedy, and woe, which allows it to be a series that can be enjoyed by all generations. Don’t be alarmed however, because this series does not leave you depressed and solemn, but rather fascinated by the twisting plot, and heart-warmed by the Baudelaire children. There are thirteen books, but most of them are thin enough to easily be finished in a day or two, so do yourself a favor and pick up A Bad Beginning, which is the first book, and you will not be disappointed.

In 2004 there was a movie made about this series, encompassing the first three books, however it did not continue on. Excitingly, Netflix has announced a TV show of A Series of Unfortunate Events, in cooperation with Paramount Pictures. This show is said to have a slightly darker atmosphere than the series, due to the fact that the book series’ original fans are not children anymore. I have linked the newly released trailer to the TV show, which stars Neil Patrick Harris as Count Olaf, Malina Weissman as Violet Baudelaire, Louis Hynes as Klaus Baudelaire, Aasif Mandvi as Uncle Monty, and many more.What I love about this cast is that the actors who play the Baudelaire orphans are around the same age their characters are, rather than being an 18 year old playing a 14 year old, which many book to screen adaptations do. The first season drops on Netflix THIS January, Friday the 13th. For fans like me who have been waiting for more than a decade, this is pretty monumental.

I would love to hear who else is excited about the Netflix reboot, so comment away!

To My Fellow Readers,

Don’t you hate it when you have an infinite reading list because you know you will never finish it? No matter how much you read, how many books you cross off, more are always added. Your love for books keeps growing and there is no way to make it stop. So you add book after book of everything you want to read, hoping someday you will get to read them all. Even those books that you never really got around to, the ones you may have lost interest in. They are still there, on your list, waiting to be read by you. And those old books still sitting in your shelves, the ones piled in high stacks on your floor. No matter how many books you own or how many times you say you will read them, you always find a new one that draws your attention. But we do still try to make it back to the ones that were forgotten. We always try to read as much as we can, whenever we can.

Reading can be a pastime or an obsession. For me, I obsess over books. I always read one right after the other, trying to finish that long lasting list of mine. I may never finish it but I love to try. Because reading is knowledge. It’s emotional. It’s calming or disturbing, but a good book always makes you feel something. Whether it’s joy or despair or heartbreak or liberation. In the end it’s just words on a page, and it can change everything.

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Artemis Fowl Series by Eoin Colfer

artemisfowl_eoincolferArtemis Fowl is the pinnacle series of the author Eoin Colfer. The books detail the adventures of Artemis Fowl, a genius child who already runs his late father’s criminal empire. He spends his days inventing new technologies and running illegal enterprises around the world with his trusty bodyguard, Butler. Until one day, he discovers the world of faeries hidden beneath them. Being the person he is, Artemis soon goes head to head with the Faeries’ elite LEPrecon police force as his money-making scheme involves kidnapping the Faerie officer Holly Short. Eventually, they join forces to stop a multitude of other evil forces out in both worlds.

This series is one of my favorites to read because it’s filled with action from beginning to end. Whenever there’s expositional dialogue, we can always expect it to be filled with witticisms and funny personality clashes. Also, the scenes are always fresh with new ideas, rather than repetitively showing the same fight scenes like other books. Artemis always finds solutions with ingenuity, while his friends employ bravery and combat training. The friendship and camaraderie between Artemis and Holly creates a lifetime team, which involves both life-threatening situations and everyday banter.

Over the course of the series, Artemis Fowl develops a lot as a character. Although he is introduced as a cold and ruthless genius, we learn he isn’t without some good inside. He learns to respect his closest friends, and is even willing to give his life for them. The main reason for this is that he never had any friends before that have earned his respect.
The setting for this book is also very notable. While most books are either sci-fi or fantasy, Artemis Fowl includes both. While the Faerie Folk have ancient magic, they have also developed extremely advanced technologies over the thousands of years. Their inventors have created flight suits, contact lenses with built in cameras, and other creations from our wildest imaginations. It was very creative and daring for Colfer to mesh these two genres together, and the result is a literary masterpiece.

When you have a chance, you should definitely give this series a read. Although Eoin Colfer has written many notable books, the Artemis Fowl series will always be one of his best. The fun storylines will have you burning through the books.

-Phillip X., 10th grade

The Artemis Fowl series is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.