Film Review: The Secret Life of Pets 2

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I know it might sound a little bit childish for some of the people out there, but The Secret Life of Pets 2 was definitely a very good movie for me. At least, in my opinion, the addition of more characters added more flavor to the movie as a whole. Not only was it funny, but it also portrayed the theme of family, love, friendship, and loyalty

To start off, family has always been a big thing throughout the two movies. It was first the introduction of Duke, and then Liam the son of the family. By overcoming jealousy and eventually falling in love with the new members of the family, Max has demonstrated what the firstborn of many families have gone through.

And as for love, it would be the next stage of family. For one thing, Max became overprotective over Liam and was unwilling to let him cross the street, run into people and different things, and go to preschool. It was not after when Max himself was trained by Rooster to save the little lamb hanging on a branch did he know how important independence is to a person.

Friendship has always been a big thing for the movie series. From Max saving Hu to Daisy fighting off the wolves, it’s all revolving around friendship. And again, through a series of adventures and dangers, the white tiger cub was saved.

Lastly, what I really wanted to mention in this movie is something people normally don’t pay attention to—the wolves. They might look very evil, malicious, and atrocious, but at the same time, they are very loyal to Sergei no matter what he does to them. I’m pretty sure they could’ve just run away since they weren’t chained anyways. Under the threat of killing them and not giving meals, the wolves still strived to complete their missions and obey every single command Sergei the circus owner gives. This way, I think that they resemble dogs for their loyalty but not amiability.

-Coreen C.

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser

This story starts with a very poor Griffith family being Christian missionaries and singing on the streets. The oldest son in this family Clyde desperately wants to escape poverty and therefore left his family to work in Kansas city at a very luxurious hotel. While he was working there, he and his friends were in an accident that killed a little girl which prompted him to escape to Chicago. There, he met his wealthy uncle and appealed to him to ask if he can get a job in his collar company. Moved by his sincerity and svelte manner, Samuel Griffith agreed.

Thus, in New York Clyde witnessed the lives of the upper society after meeting his cousins Gilbert, Myra and Bella. Through Bella, he also met her friend Sondra Finchley whom he immediately has fallen in love with but due to his penury again, recoiled from courting her. After being switched from the shabby shrinking room to the sewing department, Clyde met a very pretty factory girl named Roberta, they quickly fell in love. However, as time passes Clyde found himself in love with Sondra Finchley, who wants to revenge Gilbert for his complacence also fell in love with Clyde later on. Avid to get rid of Roberta who was pregnant, Clyde unintentionally struck her on a boat when they were on a trip and thus let her drown while he could have saved her. Being captured, later on, Clyde was sentenced to death at last.

Personally, I didn’t enjoy reading this novel too much because of its straightforwardness. There weren’t a lot of surprises and twists in the plot. Greed and inhumanity prompted by money seeping into each character were too ostentatious as to paint a sheen of unreality on them. I wish murder plot could be more carefully planned, thus causing the police to take more time in investigating the crime and potentially create some more suspense.

-Coreen C. 

An American Tragedy by Theodore Dreiser is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron

From this book, the biggest thing which I learned is that dogs are men’s best friends. It is hard to imagine how much our dogs love us because they cannot talk like we do, through our mouths. They talk from their eyes and hearts and actions to show us just how loyal they are to us. Like the main character in the book, Bailey, he reincarnated so many times just to be back with Ethan again. They’ve gone through so much and it’s really the hardest for either of them to forget this relationship. One scene that imprints itself in me was the part where after Ethan hurts his leg he decided to go to college in another state and Bailey chases the car to a very far distance. I’ll bet he knows what’s best for Ethan to do in this case, but it’s just that he wasn’t willing to let his best friend just leave him at that.

Actually, a lot of the movies these days are about the relationship between dogs and humans. We devote attention, love, patience, and money to dogs but they return it with their whole life. Ethan and Bailey are not just inseparable when they are happy, they take on hardships together and it’s either both of them get blamed or punished or they escape together. There was never a time when one abandons the other to danger. And I really think through these types of books and movies humans can adjust the attitude they take on to other people as well. If animals can treat people they love and love them with loyalty and dedication, why can’t we?

-Coreen C. 

A Dog’s Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Tell Me How Long the Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin

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This book, like many other of Baldwin’s novels, includes many scenes of bisexuality and racism. Barbara and Leo Proudhammer stick together like a pack of gum, I can feel Barbara’s oppression of his love for Leo because one he is black, so this white woman under societal pressure backed up and could only watch Leo from a dark corner. However, it wasn’t long before Leo also steps in and the two crossed the line: and failed. Both eventually returned to their positions as friend and from that on I wouldn’t say the amorous aspect of their love for each other just vanished, but the two characters did an awesome job of suppressing it.

My favorite character in this book would actually be Caleb, Leo’s brother who is a World War II vet. He was falsely imprisoned when he was a young man, but through his faith in Christianity, he was able to release his grudge for white people. Now, in most books religion occupy a huge chunk of Baldwin’s plot, but usually in a negative way as he always seems to question or deny the positive influence of religion and denounce it. But in this book perhaps Caleb is the first character who actually was able to eradicate his sense of racial discrimination through the divine guidance of God. Nonetheless, though, Christianity also Caleb very orthodox and traditional. He didn’t like Leo being an actor and constantly rebukes him for being an atheist. This implies a theme of maturity because before Caleb was arrested he was a very promiscuous and frivolous person.

The reason I love Caleb is not because of his devoutness in Christianity but that his love for Leo, his little brother. It may not be conveyed in the best way, but he tries his best to create an atmosphere of family for Leo which is very heart-warming.

-Coreen C. 

Tell Me How Long The Train’s Been Gone by James Baldwin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian follows almost-16-year-old, Daria. Proudly Iranian-American, she is not ashamed of her heritage, which is different from the clique she and her friends have dubbed as the “Nose Jobs,” whose leader used to be Daria’s best friend. Daria and her friends nicknamed themselves  “the authentics” because they see themselves as real and honest. They have a great vibe in their group, and feed off each other very well. Daria’s family is another major part of this novel, and they also love and support Daria. Despite having normal, familial disputes, she values her parents. One day, she is researching her ancestry for a school project and this leads her on a journey that will forever change her life.

This novel had many different aspects, and these all came together in a beautiful way. Family was an important subject in this book, and was depicted realistically by Nazemian. He not only showed the celebrations and happy times of the family, but he included the hardships and troubled times the family faced as well. The way the family changes and grows throughout the course of the novel is done well. More than the family, Daria grew and matured into a young, intelligent lady. Facing hardship, I admired how she did not allow for anything to get to her on her self-discovery. In addition to depicting the coming of age of Daria, the author also includes commentary about Iran that enhances the novel. Overall, this is a great novel and provides the reader with an interesting outlook of life.  

-Anmol K.

The Authentics by Abdi Nazemian is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be download for free from Overdrive

The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton

“Stay gold, Ponyboy.”

The first time I heard about this book was a recommendation from my English teacher. I haven’t been reading in while and I asked my teacher for some book recommendations in YA fiction. It took me almost a year until I finally picked up and I’m glad I read it.

The story sets in time around the 1950’s about a 14-year-old boy named Ponyboy Curtis and his life as a Greaser in East side. Ponyboy is part of a gang called the Greasers, the poor working class that causes trouble with the law. They are strong enemies against the Socs (Socials), who are the West side rich kids that cause trouble with the law, and they bully and fight the Greasers for fun.

Ponyboy’s gang includes his two older brothers, Darry and Sodapop, Dallas Winston, Johnny Cade, Two-Bit “Keith” Matthews, and Steve Randle. Even though do drugs, curse, commit crimes, the gang is loyal to each other and treat each other like family.

At the beginning of the book, Ponyboy admits that he doesn’t get along with his older brother Darry or Darrel. When Ponyboy comes home later than usual, Darry, his guardian since when, becomes furious with him and leads to drastic consequences to Ponyboy’s “normal” life.

Although there is violence, illegal activities, and mature themes, I loved seeing the characters develop and grow. The friendships and close bonds in this story were fantastic to read.

Overall, I found this book an enjoyable read and I recommend it for teens and up. So far my favorite book I read in 2017.

-Ash A.

The Outsiders by S. E. Hinton is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

 

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

delirium_laurenoliverWhat would happen if love were outlawed? If it were eradicated from society, with all teenagers given a “procedure” which prevented them from feeling strong emotions?

This is the basis around the life Lena lives. Her mom committed suicide after Lena’s father died because she loved him, unlike the other couples who learned to live with one another. Lena’s older sister was also in love and had to be dragged to her procedure. Now, everywhere Lena goes, the story follows her, words of suicide and diseased.

But everyone claims the procedure is the cure. After that, people can live normal lives, go to college, get paired and married, and have the exact number of children the government requires. All the “cureds” are protected from the Invalids, those who are diseased with amor deliria nervosa, by barbed wire fences and guards. Regulators within the city keep everyone in line, at home before curfew and safe from the sympathizers who might pose a threat to their fragile society.

Sounds perfect, right?

Not quite.

All this supposed safety comes with a price. No one can be seen in public expressing any sort of strong feelings. Even parental love, such as between Lena and her mom before the suicide, had to be hidden. No loud music can be played; the only music even allowed is on the government’s list of approved songs. The same goes for books.

Lena had been living a normal life, looking forward to her cure and the chance to forget the pain associated with her mother’s death. She spends every second with her best friend, Hana. Yet at her evaluation, which rates her to be paired with a suitable future husband, something happens. It is quickly covered up with a lie from the government, but knowing the truth changes her view of her life.

And then there’s the boy who was standing on the observation deck throughout the whole thing, laughing…

I thoroughly enjoyed this novel. So many things which seemed predictable at first actually took me by surprise. I truly couldn’t put down this book and I finished it in less than two days, though I could have read it faster if I didn’t have an appointment. I recommend this book to anyone, though younger audiences might struggle with some of the content. Plus, like any good book, it also made me cry, but in a good way.

– Leila S., 10th grade

Delirium is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Library