The Hunt Trilogy by Andrew Fukuda

thehunt_andrewfukudaAnother world of fantasy is combined once again with modern science-fiction. Andrew Fukuda’s three book series (The Hunt, The Prey, and The Trap) adds a little more suspense, imagination, and creativity to the bestselling genre. Just think of The Hunger Games, Divergent, Legend, The Maze Runner, and the Twilight series blended together into 960 pages of extraordinary story.

Seventeen-year-old Gene wakes up every night before going to school, frightened of his true identity being revealed. Once dawn arrives, everybody calls it a “day” to sleep, unless they want to be burned alive by the scorching sun of daylight. As you may have guessed, this is a story about a race of vampires. They are classic vampires that despise sunlight and water, have super strength and speed, fangs to bite down on the rawest meats, and most of all, a delectable craving for the blood and flesh of humans. Of course, Gene is a human out of the millions of vampires around him, and little does he know about the cat-and-mouse game he is about to take part in.

With a Hunger Games-like setting of participants being picked into joining a Heper Hunt, also known as a human hunt, Gene and a few others are chosen to hunt humans and eat as many as possible to be crowned the victor. Obviously, Gene is the only one who cannot eat someone of his own kind. During the training sessions before the hunt, Gene goes unnoticed and is able to communicate with the humans that will be eventually eaten by the vampires. He finds answers to his many questions and is even more curious about the history of the two races. Is there something missing from the evolution of humans and vampires?

The Heper Hunt is only a part of Andrew Fukuda’s trilogy, and he takes you into an amazing world of vampires, similar, yet quite the opposite to human society today. This is a plot that will keep you reading until the ultimate finale that holds all of the unanswered questions. I would recommend this book to ages 13-16 and give it an eight out of ten for its shocking conclusions and mysteries.

-Riley W.

Andrew Fukuda’s Hunt Trilogy is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

welcometothedarkhouse_lauriestolarz“In my hefty elf sack, your nightmares now keep. Better think twice before falling asleep.” -The Nightmare Elf

This chilling, nightmare-filled story takes place when seven fans of the famous horror film director, Justin Blake, enter an online contest. They are required to write about their worst nightmare, and the winners get the chance to stay at his legendary B and B, Dark House, featured in his movies. The fans also get to meet the famous man and sneak a look at his upcoming movie. Delighted to find they have won, the horror hopefuls Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Frankie, Garth, Natalie, and Taylor set out to have the scare of their life. Spending a weekend in the Dark House appeals to most of them like a vacation home, filled with effects that make the house really seem haunted and mysterious. However, their fun and games take a twisted turn when they are taken to an abandoned amusement park. Embodying the spirit of Blake’s movies, the park is like his own movie set with his wildly creepy characters running around. The seven lucky winners discover they must face their worst nightmares and survive them if they want to be set free.

This book grabbed my attention right from the start. It’s description of horror and thrill left me wondering about my own nightmares. I knew I sure wouldn’t last one night in that house, not with its scare tactics and lonely halls. Stolarz uses her characters’ different perspectives to create this nail-biting world. As a big fan of horror stories, I was really anxious to see how the ending wrapped everything up. I have to say I was a little disappointed that I was left with so many unanswered questions, but overall the plot line was very intriguing.

I encourage readers who like to be scared to give this book a try. I know some horror stories are a gamble because it doesn’t end the way the readers hope. But Welcome to the Dark House is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to read it again.

-Sabrina C, 11th Grade

Film Review: Lights Out

lightsoutIn the spirit of Halloween, I chose to write about horror; one of my favorite subjects that will always intrigue me. Most times when I see a scary movie, it’s not as scary as I expect to be or the storyline just doesn’t make sense. Maybe it was the pitch black theater or the speakers amplifying every scratch and scream, but seeing Lights Out on the big screen made the story come to life.

Before watching it, I had heard that the film wasn’t good and that its scariest scenes were already revealed in the trailer. However, this didn’t seem to be the case as I was always jumping at the least expected times. While watching the horror story, I had to keep myself from closing my eyes or looking away.

On the subject of horror, I think it’s such an interesting topic to write about because not all horror stories have to be about murders or monsters. This leaves it to the authors to interpret and brainstorm their own horror stories that leave readers on a chilling cliffhanger.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Stranger Things: A New Netflix Phenomenon

stranger_things_logo

Once a new TV show permeates every form of social media, I take it as a sign I should get around to watching it – both to join the chaotic mess of fans and to avoid the ever-growing list of spoilers. Stranger Things, Netflix’s new original TV series, has taken the world by storm, and after watching the entire first season in two nights, I have been fully swept away in its winds of success.

Stranger Things is an eight chapter story about young boy, Will Byers, who goes mysteriously missing after a game of D&D with his quirky gang of friends. The town goes on high alert trying to find the boy, while a strange and, quite frankly, disgusting monster lurks in the shadows and awaits its next victim. The only one who has any semblance of understanding as to why the monster is stalking the small town is Eleven, a girl of few words and many powers. As Sheriff Hopper traces what he believes to be Will’s tracks to the suspicious government organization in town, Eleven teams up with Mike, Dustin, and Lucas to search for Will on their own.

The show walks the line between horror and sci-fi, using the rural town of Hawkins, Indiana as a setting for a supernatural hotspot, including an alternate dimension, telekinetic powers, and the monster that’s been nicknamed “The Demagorgon.” The pacing can feel slow at times, but it gives the show lots of room for character development and raw emotion.

The actors give stunning performances that truly convey their characters’ internal struggles, whether it be a desperate mother grasping at supernatural straws to find her son or a lab experiment runaway hiding from her manipulative “Papa.” The show’s comedic relief, which is mainly circumstantial and dialogue-related, is found mostly among the group of middle schoolers Mike, Dustin, and Lucas as they search for Will and coax Eleven into helping. They’re nerds, scientists, and adventurers-in-the-making, and I fell in love with them immediately. Eleven’s reactions to everyday phenomena always got me to crack a smile, too.

However, the show’s comedic moments are few and far between. A large portion of the show is suspenseful and emotional. Stranger Things‘ main theme would have to be trust and faith. The boys must earn Eleven’s trust in order to gain her help, and Eleven must earn their trust so that they won’t suspect her of being the “Lando” in their story, as Dustin would say. Joyce Byers, Will’s mother, needs someone to trust her as she tries not to lose faith in the supernatural signs her son sends her. The show relies heavily on its characters and their relationships with one another, whether it be family, friends, or even lovers. Fear and desperation can bring together the unlikeliest of people, and Stranger Things has more than enough fear and desperation to provide these opportunities.

The directors, the Duffer Brothers, have brought about a new pop culture sensation that is steadily increasing in popularity. If horror, sci-fi, and supernatural are your buzz words for a good show, Stranger Things is right up your alley. I enjoyed every minute of this series, and I eagerly anticipate Season 2 (coming next year).

-Abby F.

Film Review: Light’s Out

I saw Lights Out with some of my friends thinking it would be quite scary, and I mentally prepared myself for the worst. But, after the movie, I was quite surprised on how it was a joke to call Lights Out a ‘horror movie.’

Lights Out is based on David Sandberg’s original short story film from 2013. The story of the movie was quite like a thriller novel. Which leads me to say that I think Lights Out would have been even better, if there was a novel along with it! The film contained many moments where the characters just screams. If this where a novel, the author could show what the character was actually felt on the inside. I think that if there was a book to go along with the movie, that would be even better.

Now, to give my movie review. As I said before, I think it would be a joke to call Lights Out a horror movie, because to me, there wasn’t anything scary! After watching the movie, I happened to catch the trailer again on T.V. and realized a big fact: that all the scary scenes shown in the trailer are all that was in the movie! Another big point: to advertise their movie, if you notice the trailer close enough, the studio suggests that you shouldn’t sit with anyone who would judge you. This makes you think, “Wow! I need to go with my friends because it is so scary!” In my opinion, that is a very clever advertising scheme applied.

Overall, if the movie were a little scarier and a thrilling book to go along with it, that would have made the Lights Out experience a little more scarier to me.

-Satej B.

Harmony House by Nic Sheff

harmonyhouse_nicsheffThis horror story takes place in a old manor in New Jersey. Jen Noonan and her father move to a quiet town to enjoy a fresh start after an unfortunate incident with Jen’s mother. At first, the move didn’t seem so terrible. Jen meets new friends and finds her place among the people. But as her stay at Harmony House continued, it becomes clear that anyone that stepped foot in the house was no longer safe.

The house holds dark secrets which are slowly revealed to Jen in visions and dreams beyond her control. These flashes into the past help her put together the history of the manor and discover how she is connected to it. Towards the beginning, Jen’s father is introduced as a believer of God, and as the story continues he acts in a way that even the main character fights against because it is absolutely ridiculous.

As annoying and extreme as his personality may be, it is crucial to the development of the story, so I painfully endured the character because I was interested to see where it would lead. The book was very well thought out and is a captivating read. I, personally, would not choose to read it again because when I pick up a horror story I expect to be scared and Harmony House didn’t do that for me. However, I would still recommend this story to a mature audience that enjoys this genre.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Harmony House is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Conjuring

the_conjuringThe Conjuring, supposedly a true story, is about a family in the 1960’s that move into a new house and start to experience supernatural occurrences. The plot of the movie focuses on the strange and frightening things happening to the family and the couple who tries to help them because they “hunt” ghosts and demons. The movie starts off with a peek into another horror film, Annabelle, which led me to believe I was watching the wrong movie at first. After the clip ends, the scene shifts to a classroom where the couple teach people about the beings they hunt to stop them from haunting and killing people. Here, they meet the mother of the family and learn about the things living in her house. It’s interesting because there isn’t just one ghost but many spirits haunting the land. After the team of hunters settle into the house, more supernatural action happens which is scary to see at first just because this movie isn’t very predictable, which is one of the things I like about it.

An interesting addition to the characters is that the wife in the couple has a sort of sixth sense which allows her to sense the entities around her, only making her more fun to watch. With most scary movies, you can tell when the scary thing will pop out and what it’s going to be, but this story made it more exciting and thrilling for me. I liked the element of surprise, especially because only certain members of the family seemed able to see the entities at first so you never knew when they would show a scary ghost or not. Lastly, with the ending of the movie, I thought it wrapped up well and left me, not only satisfied with the story, but able to go to bed and not worry about what could be hiding in my closet. I would recommend this movie to anyone who can handle scary scenes in the dark. It’s one of the best horror movies I have seen so far, not too scary but good enough so you’re not bored or expecting what’s to come.

-Sabrina C., 10th Grade