School for Good and Evil by Soman Chainani

‘In the forest primeval, a school for good and evil, two towers like twin heads, one for the pure, one for the wicked, try to escape you’ll always fail, the only way out is, through a fairy tale’

These are the opening words of Soman Chainani’s first book in the School for Good and Evil series, also known as SGE to many fans. The first book, which is called The School For Good and Evil, has 488 pages, and can be found in the children’s section of the library.

This is one of my favorite books, and it holds deep meaning for me. When I first met my pen pal, this was her present to me. I have cherished this book and series, because it is a reminder of her, no matter how far apart we live.

We begin our tale in a small town. We meet Sophie, the epitome of a pretty pink princess. While she goes about her daily routines, including rigorous skin care, and primping and preening, we find out that there are kidnappings in this town, every year.

The villagers of this town have come to the conclusion that there is a ‘Schoolmaster’, kidnapping two children every year. At first, it seems as though there is no pattern to this kidnapping. Some years, two girls. Others, two boys. Sometimes, one of each. But finally, the villagers make the connection. One child is pure and good. The other is wicked and ‘evil’. The adults in the town didn’t know what to make of this. But, the children did. They found their old schoolmates in the pages of their favorite stories. These kidnapped children were becoming the heroes and villains of fairytales. And they were kidnapped to go train for fairytales at the Schools of Good and Evil

We find out that Sophie is pining to be kidnapped, to go to the school of Good. We also find that Agatha, her ‘friend’, is the perfect candidate to be kidnapped alongside Sophie, and attend the school of Evil.

Well, the hopes of Sophie and the assumptions of the villagers were correct. Agatha and Sophie were kidnapped by the Schoolmaster. But, as they are dropped off at the School for Good and Evil, some things did not go according to plan.

Agatha was dropped at the School for Good, and Sophie was dropped at the School for Evil.

Well, I won’t spoil anymore. I highly suggest checking this out at the library. Happy reads!

-Sophia D.

The School of Good and Evil series by Soman Chainani is available to download for free from Overdrive.

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty

Serafina and the Splintered Heart is the exciting third installment of the Serafina series, with Serafina and the Black Cloak and Serafina and the Twisted Staff being the first two. 

Serafina wakes up to a drastically different world from the one she remembers. An old enemy becomes a new ally, while other foes become more deadly.   If Serafina doesn’t expel the evil force that is seething with rage from past battles, all of Biltmore, (the enormous estate within the Blue Ridge Mountains) and its inhabitants, will be destroyed.  Serafina must band together with her friends, old and new, to put an end to the enemy who cannot be killed before he puts an end to everything they love.

I loved this book and I wish it wasn’t the last in this series. All the books are so unique compared to the typical books you see today. The way the author describes the setting of majestic Asheville, North Carolina, makes you feel like you’re really there. This is an amazing book topping off a great trilogy and I definitely recommend it!

-Kaitlyn S.

Serafina and the Splintered Heart by Robert Beatty is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

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

Hunger by Michael Grant

Hunger, written by Michael Grant, is the well written sequel to Gone. In the first book, everyone above the age of fifteen disappears. The other kids, fourteen and under, need to survive. But, when the kids have their birthday and turn fifteen, they have a choice. They could either step out of the FAYZ (the area where all adults have disappeared) or they could stay. In Hunger, Sam and his friends decide to stay, and now the kids are running out of food, water, and are on the brink of death.

I really enjoyed this book; especially because of how suspenseful and gruesome it is compared to the first novel. Even in the first chapter, a innocent boy dies to a swarm of mutated worms that burrow into his body. This was a thrilling start to the book and kept me on edge throughout the novel!

Beside food shortages, Sam’s evil brother Caine is back and wants revenge. In between books, Caine has been visiting a dark creature. It has been living under ground in a mine shaft waiting for someone to find it. In order to survive, the Darkness needs  radioactive substances. Caine goes to the power plant, takes it over, and then takes the Darkness its food.

In the climax of the book, Sam and his friends try to stop Caine and the Darkness. Surprisingly, Caine ends up betraying the Darkness and burying it in the mine shaft! Sam and Caine part ways and the kids discover a way to produce food by fishing and farming. I really enjoyed this book, especially with all of its surprising twists, deaths, and an all around great story line.

-Daniel C

Hunger by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Gone by Michael Grant

Imagine a world with everyone fifteen and older completely gone. Kids are fighting each other, food is running low, and some animals and children are mutating and growing powers. Gone by Michael Grant follows Sam, a regular teenager who lives in the FAYZ or the Fallout Alley Youth Zone.

The story follows Sam’s challenges of keeping everyone in control while at the same time, trying to hide his secret mutation. Surprising and shocking, Sam discovers that he can shoot light lasers out of his hands! Sam later finds out he has a brother that also has powers. But Caine, his brother, turns out to be evil! So, Sam and his group of friends have to fight Caine in order to keep their home town safe.

I really enjoyed this book because it emphasized how crazy the world would be if adults were gone. My favorite character by far was Sam because he was nice and had really cool powers! If I could choose one superpower, it would be super speed, like The Flash. Gone is a perfect book for middle schoolers and up. With a mix of mystery, thriller, and all around excitement, Gone is a book I would definitely recommend.

-Daniel C.

The Gone series by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling

Summer has been normal and boring for Harry Potter until right before the end. Dementors show up in his town and attack him and his cousin Dudley. Harry uses magic to fight off the creatures and, almost instantly, gets sent a letter from the Ministry that is requiring him to go to a disciplinary hearing. At the hearing it will be decided if Harry should be expelled from Hogwarts. At the hearing it is decided that Harry will not be expelled from Hogwarts. Once there, Harry notices a lot of strange things. Skeletal horses are pulling school carriages, but he is the only one that can actually see the horses. Also there is another new Defense Against the Dark Arts teacher named Dolores Umbridge. There are also rumors that Harry and Dumbledore are going crazy for thinking that Voldemort is returning. The only people that stand by Harry’s side are Ron and Hermione. Harry frequently gets detention with Professor Umbridge for lashing out at the people that think he’s crazy. Professor Umbridge soon becomes Hogwarts High Inquisitor which gives her the power to sack teachers whenever she feels that it’s necessary. Because of Harry’s frequent detentions, Professor Umbridge decides to take away the things Harry loves most like Quidditch, Sirius Black’s letters, and the ability to visit Hagrid at his hut. In retaliation, Harry forms a defense group which he calls Dumbledore’s Army. Professor Umbridge soon finds out, and Dumbledore takes the blame. In doing so, Dumbledore has to leave Hogwarts to avoid being arrested. Harry frequently has dreams of dark corridors and locked doors, and his scar prickles very often. Harry then finds out that Sirius Black, Harry’s godfather, was killed, and Dumbledore tells Harry the ultimate prophecy: If Harry doesn’t kill Voldemort, Voldemort will eventually kill Harry.

-Emilio V.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix by J. K. Rowling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a story of the discovery of Narnia. Narnia is a fictitious land with castles and fauns. During World War II, Edmund, Peter, Susan, and Lucy move to live in the country with Professor Kirke. On a rainy day, while exploring the big house, Lucy finds a big wardrobe. Lucy steps into the wardrobe, and into Narnia. Narnia is a big snowy forest with several mythical creatures. Lucy encounters one of those creatures right away. Just as she steps into Narnia she sees a faun. A faun is a half human half goat.

The faun’s name is Faun Tumnus and invites Lucy to tea and Lucy accepts. While having their tea, the faun explains that Narnia has been enchanted by the White Witch so that it is always winter. Lucy then leaves Narnia to tell her siblings, but none of them believe her and continually tease her. Then one day Edmund sees Lucy go into Narnia and decides to follow her. When he gets into Narnia he doesn’t see Lucy anywhere, but instead meets the White Witch. The Witch tells Edmund that she is the Queen of Narnia. The Witch then proceeds to get Edmund on her side by feeding him Turkish Delight. The Witch also convinces Edmund to bring back the rest of his siblings. While heading back to the wardrobe, Edmund runs into Lucy. Lucy tells Edmund of the White Witch, but Edmund denies knowing anything of her. Even after this Edmund claims that Narnia is a silly lie. One day, while hiding in the wardrobe from housekeeping, all four children find themselves in Narnia. Faun Tumnus has been captured for treason, so the children must get help to defeat the White Witch from a lion named Aslan. They find Aslan and defeat the White Witch. The four children then become the rulers of Narnia for many years.

-Emilio V.

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C. S. Lewis is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive