Red Rising by Pierce Brown

Red Rising, written by Pierce Brown, was the last book that I finished before President’s Holiday. The story follows Darrow, a brave and loyal Red. Reds are the lowest “color” in the futuristic society of humans. The story follows Darrow’s adventures in becoming a Gold ( the highest ranking color) and destroying the rulers of the unfair Society form the inside.

Once a Gold, Darrow goes to an academy where all other Golds attend. There, they learn to fight, command fleets, etc. Darrow hopes to graduate, become a well known and trusted fleet leader, and eventually destroy the Society. At the academy, the students are split into houses, each named after a Greek god. Then all of the houses are put against each other in an all-out war; the winning house will then graduate. In the end, Darrow’s house wins, and one of the most powerful leaders of the Society decides to train him in becoming a fleet leader.

All in all, I thought that Red Rising was really good. There was a good mix of intense violence and strategy. The house wars reminded me of a mix of Hunger Games and Harry Potter. Currently, I am reading the sequel to Red Rising and it seems really good! Overall, I would rate the book a strong nine out of ten and would recommend the book to any middle schooler.

-Daniel C.

The Red Rising series by Pierce Brown is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expéry

The Little Prince, known as Le Petit Prince in France, is a best-selling novella by French aristocrat and writer Antoine de Saint Expéry. The narrator, a pilot who crashes in the Sahara Desert, is repairing his plane as he is approached by a young boy, the little prince. The prince claims to come from an small asteroid, where he lives with a rose that he loves dearly, and the little prince wants to explore the universe..

The prince first asks the pilot to draw him a sheep, but the pilot is not able to draw a satisfactory sheep for the prince, so he merely draws a box and tells the prince that the sheep he desires is hidden inside. Over the course of a week, while the pilot fixes his plane, the little prince recounts his interesting life story. The prince says he has visited six planets on his journey, which each housed one person: a king, narcissist, alcoholic, businessman, lamplighter, and finally, the last planet had a geographer. The prince also tames a fox, which teaches him that important things can only be seen with one’s heart, not one’s eyes. The book has quite an interesting end: the prince supposedly commits suicide by letting a snake bite him, but claims that he is returning home to his asteroid. The prince finally tells the narrator that it will look like he has died, for his body is too heavy to bring with him. However, the next day, the pilot is unable to locate the little prince’s body.

Ultimately, The Little Prince is a very interesting and touching story with deep lessons behind it. The six people the prince met on the planets each represent a different negative aspect of society, and the reader is left to conclude whether the prince returned home to his rose or died. The Little Prince can be enjoyed by all people of all ages, and it has a different meaning and interpretation for everyone.

-Josh N.

The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Expéry  is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Dragon Bones by Lisa McMann

The last book I finished before my winter break was Dragon Bones, part of the The Unwanteds Quest Series written by Lisa McMann. The story follows two young twins, Thisbe and Fifer. Thisbe has been captured by the evil Reviner and must be rescued. The story follows both girls, switching perspectives and showing the reader the struggles of both girls.

The climax of the story is when Fifer gathers a group of her friends, who try to find and rescue Thisbe. Everything is going as planned until the gang encounters the Reviner. Alex, Fifer’s brother and lead wizard, starts to fight the Reviner but is quickly overrun. Eventually, Alex is killed and because he is the lead wizard, once he is gone, all of the magic the group used no longer works. Without their magic, Fifer’s group loses all their fighting ability. They quickly lose their confidence and are forced to retreat, leaving Thisbe behind. Little do they know, Thisbe and a friend of hers that she met while captive, had already escaped and are trying to survive until help arrives.

Overall, I thought this book was very well written. I like how the author switched perspectives between the two twins, so you could see what was going on in each of their lives. The ending was cliche and expected, but that was the only problem I had with the book. I would rate this book a strong eight out of ten and would recommend the story to middle schoolers.

-Daniel C.

Dragon Bones and the rest of the Unwateds Quests series is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Siren Song by Anne Ursu

The “Siren Song” in the Cronus Chronicles Series is a very enticing book. It does have an unusual main character that still worries about things like popularity and looks and friends still has a legal of uniqueness to herself. The supporting character has a bit of a smaller part in this book than in the first book. The difference in the “development” of the main character is that she has a crush in this new book.

The book is mostly based on the Greek mythology but puts the gods in a negative light of being indifferent to the human race, and are the main obstacle standing in the way of the main character. In relation to the book before it I would say they hold the same weight in being entertaining but perhaps the first one has a stronger plot. Some books might want if you enjoy this book is Percy Jackson, The Oracles Of The Delphi Keep and Keeper of the Lost Cities. The book also had some very funny instances or scenes, so this made the book funny and gave it a comical ring to it all. Through every page that you turn this book becomes more enjoyable and excited, I for sure recommend the Sirens Song.

-Tonantzin L.

Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson

Everyone knows the story of Peter Pan, the boy who could fly and never grew up. But do you know how Peter Pan came to be?

Peter and the Starcatchers is the prequel and background of Peter Pan.  It begins one morning in England where two ships are being loaded on the same dock with very different cargo to journey to the remote island of Rundoon. The first ship, a top-of-the-line frigate called the Wasp, is to be loaded with the most precious and powerful treasure on Earth, by orders of Lord Leonard Aster on the authority of the Queen. Then there’s the other ship, the Neverland, a slow, busted-up old ship that will hold an identical trunk full of sand, Molly Aster (Leonard Aster’s thirteen-year old-daughter), and a bunch of orphans that are going to be sold to King Zarboff.  But, at the last second, Captain Slank, captain of the Neverland, switches the trunks so his ship has the treasure.

That treasure is starstuff, and the Asters are Starcatchers, people who try to keep starstuff away from evil people who would use it to do wrong. Peter is one of the orphans on that ship, and when he finds out about the starstuff that shouldn’t be on the Neverland but is, he and Molly become friends and work together to protect the starstuff.  But after a violent storm that shipwrecks everyone on an island occupied by the Mollusk people, will they be able to keep away the starstuff from sailors, pirates, and the Mollusks, and get back home to England in the end?

I decided to read this book because it’s the play I’m a part of at my high school and I thought it would be fun to read again.  This book gives so much depth and background to Peter Pan’s story and it’s a great fantasy adventure book. I’d recommend this to those who love the story of Peter Pan and want to know more!

-Kaitlyn S.

The Peter and the Starcatchers series by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

Magnus Chase didn’t plan on dying while fighting an evil fire giant on the morning of his sixteenth birthday, but unfortunately that’s what happened.

Magnus has been homeless in the city of Boston after the strange, awful death of his mother. When his Uncle Randolph seeks him out and tells him all about his Norse father and a sword only Magnus can retrieve, Magnus doesn’t know what to think. Before he can even process what’s happened, Magnus dies trying to take out Surt, the fire giant, so he doesn’t kill all the people of Boston.

Samirah Al-Abbas, a Valkyrie, was watching Magnus as he perished, and because he died an honorable death, she brought him to Valhalla, an alternative afterlife for those who bravely died doing something righteous.

At Valhalla, the Norns themselves come to determine Magnus’s fate, which isn’t a good sign. They give Magnus a prophecy that says he must find the Sword of Summer, which he was separated from when he died, so he can stop Surt from hastening Ragnarok, the Doomsday where he will burn the Nine Worlds.  If Magnus succeeds, Ragnorok could be postponed for a considerable amount of time. If he fails, Doomsday could happen the following week. Will Magnus prevail? You must read on to find out!

This was another great book from Rick Riordan that I really enjoyed reading. I didn’t know much about Norse mythology before I read this book, so it was cool and fun learning about all the new gods and myths. This book is funny, interesting, and I definitely recommend it!

-Kaitlyn S.

The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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