The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

hunger_games_coverThe Hunger Games contains very important characters by the names of Katniss, Peeta, Gale and Prim. Katniss in my opinion, was the most dynamic character in this novel. She transforms from a very obscure girl whose sole job is to simply take care of her mother and younger sister Prim to being a “hero” and a victor, alongside with fellow competitor Peeta. Katniss volunteers for the 74th Hunger Games in her sister Prim’s place.

The Hunger Games is focused primarily on action, but partially romance as well. The plot was very well thought out and written as it maintained suspense throughout the entire novel. There were many instances where Katniss and Peeta were almost murdered by other rivals during the games and whether or not they would survive long enough to win this horrific competition.

I really admired the fact that Collins put a ton of emotion into these characters for their willingness to survive and take care of their loved ones which would make the readers actually care about them. The ending was redemptive as Katniss and Peeta were both able to win the Hunger Games.

The style of this novel was rather easy to read. Adjectives I would use to describe Collins’ style would be distinct and understandable as this book didn’t use much complex, long words and did not use much of short, simple words as well. Overall, I would without a doubt, recommend The Hunger Games because it puts readers on the edge of their seat as the story becomes more intense and suspenseful and even makes the readers actually care about the characters.

-Matt J.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive and Hoopla.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

delirium_laurenoliverWhat would happen if love were outlawed? If it were eradicated from society, with all teenagers given a “procedure” which prevented them from feeling strong emotions?

This is the basis around the life Lena lives. Her mom committed suicide after Lena’s father died because she loved him, unlike the other couples who learned to live with one another. Lena’s older sister was also in love and had to be dragged to her procedure. Now, everywhere Lena goes, the story follows her, words of suicide and diseased.

But everyone claims the procedure is the cure. After that, people can live normal lives, go to college, get paired and married, and have the exact number of children the government requires. All the “cureds” are protected from the Invalids, those who are diseased with amor deliria nervosa, by barbed wire fences and guards. Regulators within the city keep everyone in line, at home before curfew and safe from the sympathizers who might pose a threat to their fragile society.

Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite.

All this supposed safety comes with a price. No one can be seen in public expressing any sort of strong feelings. Even parental love, such as between Lena and her mom before the suicide, had to be hidden. No loud music can be played; the only music even allowed is on the government’s list of approved songs. The same goes for books.

Lena had been living a normal life, looking forward to her cure and the chance to forget the pain associated with her mother’s death. She spends every second with her best friend, Hana. Yet at her evaluation, which rates her to be paired with a suitable future husband, something happens. It is quickly covered up with a lie from the government, but knowing the truth changes her view of her life.

And then there’s the boy who was standing on the observation deck throughout the whole thing, laughing…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. So many things which seemed predictable at first actually took me by surprise. I truly couldn’t put down this book and I finished it in less than two days, though I could have read it faster if I didn’t have an appointment. I recommend this book to anyone, though younger audiences might struggle with some of the content. Plus, like any good book, it also made me cry, but in a good way.

– Leila S., 10th grade

Delirium is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library

Solstice by P.J. Hoover

solstice_pjhooverDo you like dystopias or mythology books? What about books that are both?

Solstice combines a dystopian-end-of-the-world atmosphere with a core plot that connects to mythology. Meet Piper. She’s just your average teenage girl with an overprotective mother living in a world that hasn’t seen winter for as long as she’s been alive. The heat waves that threaten the world are getting worse, which makes Piper’s mom more protective causing Piper to rebel all the more. She gets a tattoo with her friend and plans on moving away as soon as she finishes high school.

When Piper’s mom goes out of town, Piper finds herself pulled towards freedom and romance. But will it be with Reece who breaks rules for fun or Shane who makes her heart beat faster when she sees him? As she learns more about gods and the battle for the underworld, it’s hard for Piper to know who to trust. But whoever she is with, Piper can tell everyone is keeping secrets. Will she find a way to stop the world from dying and even find out who she is?

The romance here is a bit cliche with the insta-love-triangle. It isn’t bad per say, just nothing that new or special. I think I enjoyed more of the idea of the plot, how the mythology and dystopia blended together more than the characters. If the premise seems interesting enough, give it a read because it’s an interesting take of gods dealing with the end of the world.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Solstice is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library.

Fahrenheit 451

fahrenheit451_bradburyFahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury tells the tale of fireman Guy Montag. Read by many people since 1952, it is considered as a modern classic. Taking place in the future, society is obsessed with their television sets and radios. Nobody reads books anymore because of society’s obsession with technology. Firemen are sent to the houses of people who possess books in order to burn them. Guy Montag is a thirty-year-old man who burns books for a living. He does not think too much about this until one day he meets Clarisse McClellan. A seventeen-year-old girl, Clarisse starts up a conversation with Montag, and asks if he is happy.

This simple question causes Montag to rethink his life, and the righteousness of his job. He also wonders what the books he burns actually contain. Taking a book to his home, Montag tries to reason with his wife, but it does not work out. Eventually, his boss, the fire captain, discovers Montag’s secret and comes to arrest him. On the run, Montag is considered a fugitive.

A perplexing tale like this one is hard to forget after finishing. Bradbury’s way of writing is beautifully crafted. The ability to integrate so many different ideas at once was very interesting. I also enjoyed how Bradbury used imagery to convey some things instead of naming them directly. Also, the complex building of Guy’s character was really fascinating. Despite being written over fifty years ago, this book still resonates after turning the last page. I would recommend this to anybody looking for an interesting view on a technologically obsessed society.

-Anmol K.

Fahrenheit 451 is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available digitally through Overdrive

The Program by Suzanne Young

theprogram_suzanneyoung“But the psychologists say that suicide is a behavioral contagion. It’s the old adage ‘If all your friends jumped off a bridge, would you, too?’ Apparently the answer is yes” (9).

In Sloane’s world, nothing is as it seems. Any sign of depression, even just crying in public, and a teenager risks being sent to The Program, a “solution” to the suicide epidemic. Here, teenagers’ minds are wiped clean so they can start their lives again. The handlers medicate them to erase all their pain and memories, leaving all the returners “empty,” as Sloane might say.

Sloane, her boyfriend James, and their friend Miller do not agree. They would prefer to die than be sent to The Program, which makes things slightly more complicated.

Overall, I found this book to be a compelling read. I would definitely recommend it, yet keep in mind that it discusses a sensitive topic. For that reason, I would recommend this book for a slightly older audience. Even at my age, I was a disturbed by the repetition of suicide in the novel.

On a brighter note, however, the narrative was sentimental. The Program is definitely one of those books where you sympathize with the characters. From the perspective of a critic, the storytelling leaves readers with questions which are left unanswered until the very end, which makes me want to read the rest of the series.

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Program is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Library

The Darkest Minds by Alexandra Bracken

thedarkestminds_alexandrabrackenHave you ever read a book that you had never seen before but upon finishing it, you wondered how it stayed out of your life? If not, you haven’t read The Darkest Minds.

In an imaginary, futuristic world, the adolescents of America and many other countries have been afflicted with IAAN, Idiopathic Adolescent Acute Neurodegeneration. Sounds scary, right? To many, yes. This disease gives the kids of the Psi generation “abilities” to see in another’s mind, to move things with a flick of their hands, to short circuit a car, the list goes on and on. The government issued a list of warning signs for parents to look for to “protect” their children, so that they can be “reformed.” So when Ruby was sent away to Thurmond, one of the government’s “rehabilitation camps” to be sorted, she was scared like any 10-year-old would be. But she had a secret to keep. One that made her more dangerous than she could imagine.

Truthfully, I was rather confused at the beginning of the novel, as I wasn’t sure where the story was going. But the mismatched events worked themselves out quickly, and now this book has made it near the top of my list of favorite books.

My favorite part was that I couldn’t put the book down. Though I had other things to be doing with my time, the book demanded my attention. I love when a book is able to make me laugh out loud one moment and make me cry the next, and this novel definitely fulfilled that requirement. I also loved that in the book, one of the characters, for more complex reasons, wrote a mini blog post, as a means of communicating with his mom. It contained a secret message only his mom could find.

But with any book, I do have a least favorite part. Little did I know, The Darkest Minds has a major spoiler for William Golding’s Lord of the Flies, which I have not finished reading for my English class! But oh well… If that’s the only complaint I have about the book, then it must be a great read! I highly recommend checking it out!

– Leila S., 10th grade

The Darkest Minds is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

testing_joellecharbonneauDo you like standardized testing filled with hours of questions you have to fill out with a number two pencil? Wouldn’t it be more interesting if wrong answers resulted in your death? Welcome to The Testing.

Set in a dystopian future, this is the life of Cia as she is chosen for the testing. She’s from a small town, but is very smart and wants to be a mechanical engineer. There are several stages of testing, the first few standard things that you’d expect: math, history, etc. A question about categorizing plants between poisonous and nonpoisonous really showcases the intensity of the testing. Everyone had to eat the plants that they categorized and nonpoisonous. If they were wrong, well, death ensued.

What I found disappointing was that this book did not feel original to me. Maybe I’ve just read too many dystopian novels at this point, or this book borrowed too many similar ideas (aside from written standardized testing as far as I know) to feel new to me. There is a mostly average girl from an underrated location who goes somewhere new to survive and prove her worth. The underestimated idea from district twelve as well as a physical aspect of wilderness survival reminded me of The Hunger Games. The idea of a test where anyone can die at any time felt like Divergent. And the ominous government hiding everything from the public can go back to almost any dystopian work.

That isn’t to say it wasn’t a good book. Cia is a strong female character who uses her brains and even weapons when the events call on her to defend herself. She has a love interest, but he’s not really the focus. I didn’t really feel that Cia was really interested in him too much either because the situation she’s in took precedence in the plot. If you aren’t sick of dystopias at this point and don’t mind a few repeated themes, go ahead and give The Testing a try.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

The Testing is available for download from Overdrive.