Steeplejack by A.J. Hartley

steeplejack_ajhartleySteeplejack by A.J. Hartley is a fantasy novel telling the tale of 17-year-old Anglet Sutonga, who lives in the city of Bar-Selehm; the story is a loose representation of South Africa with the rich whites and the poor blacks. In her Lani family, she is the third daughter; the Lani people hold the tradition of having the third daughter being cursed. Despite that belief, Ang continues her employment as a steeplejack. After finding the boy who was supposed to be her new apprentice dead, Ang feels responsible to investigate his death-even though she had never met him.

After the Beacon, an important symbol for the city of Bar-Selehm, is stolen, tensions escalate across the city. Regarding the murder of the apprentice, the politician, Josiah Willinghouse, hires Ang as a private investigator to look into his death. While investigating, Ang discovers a complicated layer of events that are all connected to each other. Uncovering the various truths about her city, Ang is able to bring the connection to light and make sense of all that is going on.

Having a slow start, the novel picked up the story and gripped me with the mystery. Ang is good at recognizing and making connections that make sense at the end of the novel. Speaking of the main character, I felt like she had a great personality and was relatable. Also, another great aspect of her was how she persevered, despite the difficult times she had to face. I liked the ending because it was unexpected, and it was not lacking. Overall, a great read, there is a sequel coming out for those who enjoyed this first book.

-Anmol K.

Steeplejack is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Webtoon Review: Tower of God by SIU

What is it that you so desire?

Wealth?

Fame?

Power?

“Whether you are looking for: wealth, immortality, absolute power, magical abilities or mysteries, just head up. All the glory and happiness of the world are all up there. The Tower is such a place”

But The Tower is not chosen,  The Tower chooses who enters its walls. For whatever reason, to enter The Tower means hard journey to the top. There is one, the 25th Bam also called Bam, who enters the tower on his own volition.  Not because he was seeking material want, but he was chasing his friend, Rachel, who entered the tower so she could see the stars. Bam encounters the First Floor Guardian of The Tower, Headon, who introduces Bam to the world he has forced entrance to. The Headon is the first to weed out those who are worthy to advance up The Tower. Each level of The Tower is a test to find the best of the best, who are worthy enough to reach the end. Bam, determined to find Rachel, decides to enter The Tower to find her, but once he enters The Tower, Bam realizes not everything is what it seems. The Tower contains many deep and dark secret that he will soon come to find.

The Tower of God plays on the idea where the weak will not survive and the strong determine the rules. This webtoon delved deeply into the reasons people act the way they do. What causes someone to choose betrayal over friendship and what is the meaning of a relationship between people are just two of the social question the webtoon asks.

Forewarning, there are a lot of characters. The one thing that the author does well is no character, once they are deemed important, is left without proper character development. As the entire story deals with the motives of people, SIU does an fantastic job of explaining how the character’s have come to be. The artwork is not particularly fantastic but I found his play with color interesting as color as it is involved with character development. Keep in mind, the social structure and how The Tower is quite complicated, so it may take a bit to understand The Tower. The development of The Tower, though, is integral to the story. Overall, story is fantastic despite its complexity.

This can be a very violent webtoon, so I recommend it for older audiences. Of course, this is only my opinion so why don’t you read it for yourself and decide.

The Tower of God is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

incarceron_catherinefisherThe first book in a series, Incarceron by Catherine Fisher tells of a prison world ravaged by poverty and despair. It is separated; a dark world with great technology. Outside the prison, people live a life of luxury. Claudia, a girl from the outside world, and Finn, a boy from the prison, are the main characters in this story. They meet through a magical stone they find in their respective places. With it, Claudia discovers that Finn was originally from the outside world. Later, Claudia recognizes him as her previous betrothed. This motivates her to get Finn out of the prison. A complicated process, the book follows the hardships Claudia and Finn face for his escape.

This novel has a great premise and fine element of mystery. Unfortunately, there were several flaws present in the book. The characters, Claudia and Finn, did not develop over the course of the novel. Also, there were many instances in which the story lagged; the book could have been shortened a little bit. Otherwise, the story keeps you reading till the end in order to see what will happen. Even though there is a conclusion, there is a little bit of a cliff-hanger. There is a second book, called Sapphique, and I would recommend it for anybody who enjoyed the first one.

Incarceron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive

The Rithmatist by Brandon Sanderson

rithmatist_brandonsandersonMany years in the future there exists a place, so similar to the world we live in now, but also so different. For in this future world, magic exists. Not magic, exactly, but Rithmatics, the ability to bring chalk drawings and lines to life in fantastic ways. Rithmatists don’t get to decide to master this art, they are given the power at their Inception ceremony when they are young. If one is granted the power, they train for a few years before going off to fight in the Hell-ish land known as Nebrask. If one is not granted the power, they must live their life as an ordinary person, having no connection to this powerful art of Rithmatics, no matter how much they wish to. That is the case for the young Chalkmaker’s son, Joel, who wants more than anything else to master Rithmatics, but is shut out due to his lack of Rithmatic abilities. That is, until Joel finds himself in the middle of a series of strange kidnappings, seemingly committed by a Rithmatist, and he may be the only one who can solve them before it’s too late.

I was very impressed with The Rithmatist‘s ability to not be cliché. Brandon Sanderson does an incredible job leading the reader on to believe something will happen and then creating a completely different turn of events. While this can be disappointing at times, it helps to keep the story from being predictable. Another unique aspect of this book is the fact that there are lessons on how to draw Rithmatic lines in between the chapters, detailing different defenses and attacks, which helped me to picture the story and it’s Rithmatic scenes.

Overall, I would highly recommend this book to people who love Science Fiction or Fantasy, or just books in general, because it truly is fantastic.

Evan G., 8th Grade

The Rithmatist is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

schoolofgoodandevil_somanchainaniIn the school for Good and Evil, there are two friends: Sophie, a vain young woman who believes she is good, and loner Agatha who does not like others. They live in what appears to be a perfectly normal town. Except, two kids always go missing once a year, taken to the School of Good and Evil by the school master.

That night rolls along again, with Agatha and Sophie being taken away. But something seems wrong: Sophie, the “good” girl is taken to the School of Evil. Agatha, the “evil” girl, is sent to the School of Good. The girls go through their classes, trying everything in their power to get switched to their rightful schools until they break into the Headmaster’s office who gives them a task that, if completed, will send them home. For example, what is Sophie’s task? Sophie must do something no evil student has done before: Find love.

Soman Chainani weaves a terrific story of love and fantasy and adventure. With plot twists at every turn you never know what is going to happen next. This book is perfect for one of those lazy days when you feel like picking up a long book. It takes you though many adventures and even has you thinking about your own personality. All in all, this is a very well written book.

-Ava G.

The School for Good and Evil is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available to download from Overdrive.

 

 

 

 

 

Six of Crows by Leigh Bardugo

sixofcrows_leighbardugoIn the dark, murky alleyways of the merchant town of Ketterdam, a story begins to unfold with a crazy team and a perilous heist.  And, it all starts out in one of the biggest gangs, the Dregs.  Kaz Brekker, a cripple and the head of the Barrel, the hangout of the Dregs, is back at it again.  He receives an offer from Van Eck, a powerful merchant, describing a mission to kidnap a certain scientist.  And, not being able to resist the pile of money, he starts to pick out his team.

First, there is Inej, a young woman who has been traded in trafficking but whose freedom has been purchased.  Now, she serves as The Wraith, a great climber and spy.  And, though she is the right-hand (wo)man to Kaz, there may be other reasons she is joining the mission.  Inej’s character reminds me of the song, “Selecter” from James Bond.  The whole mood and rhythm of the song matches Inej’s outlook to each task she is given.  Next, Jesper, is a trick-shooter who cannot seem resist a game of poker.  His back story is slowly revealed as the heist unfurled.  Then, Matthais and Nena, a pair with an unknown story, have to work together once again, even as memories emerge from their past.  And, last, the newest member to join the gang, and the most cultured of them all, is Wylan.

If this novel was turned into a film, a leitmotif for it could be Henry Mancini’s “Peter Gunn” for its strong espionage-like quality of music.  Due to the heist, whenever situations get tense, this theme would pop into my head.

Six of Crows was a crazy whirlwind of a book including an unforgettable heist.  The novel was entirely riveting between the obstacles they overcame and how each character grew.  I enthusiastically  give a 9.8/10 to this Leigh Bardugo story.  The only point deduction was the confusing introduction, which only proved to be a small bit useful later in the journey.  Be sure to check out this novel as well as the recently published, Crooked Kingdom (second in the sequel), as well as the Grisha trilogy!

-Maya S., 9th grade

Six of Crows is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded from Overdrive.

Book vs. Movie: Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

fantasticbeastsposterThe book Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them was originally just a textbook in the Harry Potter series and, in the series, written by Newt Scamander. So, Rowling took this textbook and wrote it up (as Newt) for all of us Muggles to read. Rowling also wrote the film adaptation’s screenplay based on the textbook

The book is almost like a encyclopedia describing many of the beasts and creatures in Harry Potter. It also has “notes” written by Ron, Harry and Hermione. It is really cool book and it teaches you a little more about the creatures in Harry Potter.

The movie, however, is a completely different script written by J.K Rowling. It is about Newt Scamander who comes to America to research the one beast he has yet to see. But, one of his creatures gets out of his suitcase which results in him using magic in front a Muggle. This act gets him summoned before the Magical Congress of the Untied States of America (MACUSA) where he meets Porpetina and Queenie, two ministry workers. These two girls, Newt, and the Muggle Jacob end up having to hunt around the city for all of Newt’s lost creatures. Their search brings them in confrontation with a mysterious magical entity that is wreaking havoc in the city. It is revealed that Credence, an orphan under the care of a vindictive, magic-fearing woman bent of rooting out magic, created an Obscurus which manifested out of his hate for his adoptive mother. Newt and his gang were able to calm Credence down and stop him from wrecking any more of the city.  Within all this havoc Percival Graves, an Auror, is revealed to be the evil wizard Gellert Grindelwald is disguise. This movie is a really great addition to the world of Harry Potter and it really gives you insight of the wizarding world in America.

The book and movie are both really wonderful and very enjoyable. The only elements they share are the named character Newt Scamander and many of the creatures mentioned in the original book. So, there really is not that much to compare because they are so different, one being an actual story while the other is more of a textbook. In fact, the script of the movie was a totally new story line written by Rowling.  I recommend reading the book and watching the movie to anyone who has the time.

-Ava G.

J.K. Rowling’s Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library