Want by Cindy Pon

Vividly conjured from bestselling author Cindy Pon’s colorful imagination comes an alluringly dark society set in near-future Taipei, where sickness and pollution plague its inhabitants. A thriller spun into sci-fi, the book depicts a story about a group of teens who try their hand at changing their society for the better by toppling the empire of the rich minority.

With stunning prose dripping with imagery so powerful it induces incredibly lifelike images, Pon does a brilliant job highlighting the stark contrast between the privilege of the rich and the scraps the poor pick up behind them, illuminated by its futuristic setting. It’s a story about division, unity, and vigilante justice, highlighted with an ever-so-sweet touch of friendship and romance. The novel does a brilliant job of conveying a message that today in society we like to turn a blind eye to: the manipulating and unorthodox methods used in business to make money. Creating a problem to sell a solution. Eradicating those who try to stand in the way. It’s the harsh truth we always knew existed.

There are so many reasons this novel stands distinctly apart from others for me. For one, it hits close to home: the Taiwanese heritage runs in my veins as potently as it does in the novel, with its allusions to language and culture exposing the often overlooked traditions of the Taiwanese. And then, of course, the characters, so different from one another and yet sharing both a powerful bond and a common goal, become comrades on the way along the journey.

Finally, Zhou, the main character, has a voice that stays with you long after the turn of the last page. “I was going to become what I wanted to destroy,” he says bitterly, of trading his street-rat identity for esteemed upper-class socialite.

Ultimately, Want reflects, in its intrinsic essence, humanity’s inevitable tendency to divide itself, whether by wealth, race, gender, religion, sexuality, or pure hate. It’s a powerful message to recognize those who cannot speak for themselves because we do not listen.

Here’s to hoping that that message is amplified throughout the world, throughout time, and proclaimed as a lasting testament to human nature, so that we ourselves can be bettered.

-Esther H.

Want by Cindy Pon is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free for download 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.

Teen Read Week: Surviving Antarctica, Reality TV 2083

survivingantartica_andreawhiteSurviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 by Andrea White is an adventure novel about a group of five fourteen-year-olds with different backgrounds selected for surviving together in Antarctica. In the year of 2083, society has changed. The government still exists, but the way the country is being run is different. Television is a major part of everyday life. The government has added a Department of Entertainment because most things, including education, are learnt through television. Schooling beyond high school is only possible by a process called The Toss. Otherwise, you are on your own for schooling.

The Department of Entertainment makes a series of programs called Historical Survival. This series takes important historical events and does reenactments with people (contestants). This time, the Department plans on an Antarctica Historical Survivor, but instead of adults being contestants, kids will be. Without the possibility of an education beyond the eighth grade, Andrew, Robert, Billy, Polly, and Grace are selected as the contestants for the Antarctica Historical Survivor. Surviving the bitter cold, these fourteen-year-olds must muster up courage to survive.

Picking up this book, I was intrigued by the plot line. The premise of the book was appealing to me. I am a fan of the genre of survival/adventure and this book is right up my alley. Generally, the book was okay. I liked the beginning and how each of the characters was introduced in their unique ways. As the story continued, I started losing interest. For me, at least, the book was written in very basic language, making it slightly boring to get through. As I continued, the book picked up when the kids reached Antarctica. I admired how they were brave and how they bore the cold. Overall, Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083 is a good book for anyone looking for an adventure novel.

-Anmol K.