Top Reads of 2016

Top Reads of 2016

Legend by Marie Lu

It was a book that had been on my reading list since it came out. However, I only just got around to reading it and couldn’t believe the adventure I’d missed. Lu tells an amazingly detailed story about a government soldier tracking down the most wanted criminal in the Republic. You can imagine what happens as the novice, June, and poor robber, Day, cross paths during her hunt. She falls for him on the street, unaware of his true identity, her target. She has to decide if avenging her brother’s death is more important than staying with this stranger she’s grown to love. Lu’s writing intrigues me because she focuses on small details that lead to the end of the story which most readers would find insignificant. This engages the reader to pay attention to the words they’re reading. I loved it so much, I just had to get the second book.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer

Like Legend, this book has remained on my list but I didn’t put it on priority. So when I found it at the Mission Viejo Library’s bookstore, I knew it was finally my time to discover the story. Hundreds of years into the future, this spinoff of the Cinderella takes place in a New Beijing in a world where androids are normal to help people with daily chores and sometimes cyborgs roam among the crowd. However, it isn’t easy when you’re not considered human and work as lowly mechanic. Especially when your stepmother and stepsister want nothing to do with you to begin with. When the letumosis disease, plaguing the city issues a cyborg draft, Cinder’s stepmother doesn’t miss her chance to sign up her daughter for an experiment no one comes back from. Not long after Cinder’s admission, the doctor finds there is much more to her than just a few missing parts. Meyer tells this dystopian story while still adding elements of the original fairytale, just like the rest of the books in her series.

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Paria Stolarz

I’ve done a review on this novel already, but I couldn’t help from mentioning it as it was a very memorable read for me. It was very different from most horror stories and took the word “nightmare” to a whole new level. Of course, this book ended with a cliffhanger and many unanswered questions, so I was ecstatic to find there was a sequel.

Exposed by Kimberly Marcus

A high schooler, Liz, tells the story from her point of view behind a camera lens, a perspective of the world as she sees it. Her life takes an unexpected turn when her best friend, Kate, decides to shut her out without warning or reason, and everyone whispers rumors and accusations behind her back. Suddenly, her world is out of focus and she tries to make sense of it all while still holding onto her friendship. This realistic story is told through a series of poems, which makes the events even more enticing and easy to follow along. I had to finish this book in one sitting because I couldn’t tear my eyes away from the pages without reading what came next. I would definitely read this book again.

Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Legend by Marie Lu

legend_marieluAs we all know, traveling into the future is not easy. However, Marie Lu’s book, Legend, goes against this theory, by letting us interpret her version of a dystopian Los Angeles. Told in the perspective of two characters, this book introduces two different sides of society and how changes made in the present affect the future.

Day, from the poor areas of Los Angeles, is the government’s most wanted criminal. With cunning skill and determination, he steals medicine to treat his brother from a miserable plague that is killing civilians. June, on the other hand, is the government’s prodigy, whose brother appeared to have died at the hands of Day. To avenge his death, June goes out on a mission to hunt down this criminal and bring him to justice. However, the two enemies unexpectedly join together as allies through a little romance and shared curiosity of the government’s secrets. Together they realize that the government has been corrupting all of its people, and June and Day are only pawns in the entire plot.

Similar to that of The Hunger Games and Divergent series, Legend is set in a futuristic vision of the United States of America. Marie Lu really emphasizes her understanding of the book’s setting by describing the whole scene of the dystopian world and offers a little background to describe what happened between our present time and book’s future setting. In addition, the Legend series is much more intriguing to read than other dystopian series because the novella itself is easier to relate to and is as action-packed as The Hunger Games. Even better, the action occurs in the busy streets of LA rather than an enclosed arena. On a scale of one through ten, this book is a nine and a half because its description is wonderful. There are some cliffhangers, especially leading into the next books of the series (Prodigy and Champion). I would recommend this book to those who have read The Hunger Games or Divergent and would love to compare the stories and share what you think in the comments below!

-Riley W.

Legend is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

6 Young Adult Books That Would Make Awesome Movies

1. Every Day by David Levithan follows A, a teenager who wakes up each morning to find himself in the body and sharing the mind of another. A common concept throughout this novel is how love has the capacity to “reach beyond” things such as appearance and gender. I love this book and I feel it is one that should be shared outside of the standard YA reader audience.

let_it_snow_cover2. Let It Snow by Maureen Johnson, John Green, and Lauren Myracle is a unique literary compilation written by three accomplished YA authors with similar writing styles and a common sense of humor. It tells the overlapping stories of three different pairs/groups of friends who are brought together by fate on Christmas Day. It’s funny, heartfelt, and really capitalizes on the magic and meaning of the holiday season.

3. Legend by Marie Lu would make an awesome dystopian action film due to its fascinating world building and interesting use of two very different narrators in two very different situations.

4. Encouraged by a friend, I read Wings (the first book in the Wings series) by Aprilynne Pike a few summers ago hoping for a quick read. The book hugely exceeded my expectations and I ended up getting the rest of the series the next day. Wings follows Laurel, a seemingly normal teenage girl, as she discovers the truth of her past, her ancestry, and herself. She soon finds herself in a world of faeries, human-like beings that couldn’t be less human. They are, ultimately, plants instead of animals. I think that it would be awesome to be able to see this supernatural world in a more visual way.

will_grayson_cover5. Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan is an captivating and inspiring story about two very different teenagers with the same name that are brought together by fate. This book contains everything–from humor; to support of the LGBT community; to friendship; to love; to a Tiny Cooper musical. This is a truly amazing book and I believe it would make a great movie.

6. I’m not exactly sure of the status of the film rights for I’d Tell You I Love You But Then I’d Have To Kill You (the first book in the Gallagher Girls Series) by Ally Carter. I have heard that they were purchased and sold and bought and expired. I have seen conflicting information, but last I heard, Tonik Productions had undertaken the project. If this is true, I am excited to see their final project. If it’s not, I am disappointed that they overlooked such an amazing opportunity. This series is a compilation of the journal entries of Cammie Morgan, a student at a clandestine spy-training academy disguised as an pristigious prep school for “exceptional young women”. If you haven’t read it, I encourage you to do so, but don’t judge the series by its first book. 😉

What books do you wish to see on the big screen?

-Danielle K., 9th grade

Book Review: The Young Elites by Marie Lu

young_elitesThis story is The Young Elites, by author Marie Lu. She is one of my favorite authors ever. I loved her Legend series. So when I saw this book at the store I had to read it.

The Young Elites takes place in a different world during a Renaissance-ish time. A plague ran through this world, called blood-fever. Those who survived this fever are a usually marked with a extremely strange feature. Such as, odd hair color, odd marks on their skin, and other weird scars that were left behind by the fever. These people were called malfettos. Some melfettos though were not only left behind with markings but some were also left with powers. Those who were left with powers were called Young Elites.

The story alternates between the narration of three characters: Adelina, Enzo, and Teren. All are malfettos with powers. The three’s lives collide in this story and create quite the adventure. The book was mostly based around the female character, Adelina. During the story I was actually very confused on who was the “good” guy and who was the “bad” guy. Adelina has the power of illusion. She can create images, emotions, sounds, and pains that seem very real, but it is created from the fear and pain of the others around her. She was abused by her father because she was a malfetto. She often has very gruesome thoughts, such as killing another character in a very violent manner.

Teren is also a malfetto that has powers similar to the wolverine. He heals automatically. He is the head of the Inquistion Axis and it is his job to hunt out Young Elites and malfettos and kill them. Teren believes malfettos are the work of the devil and he and the others should not exist. He does it all for the Queen who he is “in love with.” The Queen uses Teren to carry out tasks for her so that she can be the ultimate ruler. Teren is always very scary when he is brought into a scene.

The last narrator is Enzo. Enzo is the malfetto prince. He is the rightful heir to the throne. But was unable to take the throne because of his sister, the Queen, and Teren. Teren and Enzo used to be close friends. Enzo is able to wield fire. Enzo formed the Dagger Society where they gather Elites  with powers and train them to help Enzo take back the throne. But in the story it hints that Enzo seems to be only using these powerful Elites.  They rescue Elites with useful powers but leaves none powerful Elites and malfettos to Teren’s will.

So this novel was really intriguing but I’m still unsure who the “bad” guy is.  There might not be a protagonist and an antagonist. Adelina seems wicked, Teren does evil things, and Enzo seems greedy. You guys should definitely go check this book out especially if you read Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy and figure out for yourself who the protagonist or antagonist is– or if there is a protagonist or antagonist. I heard there is going to be a second book called The Rose Society which is Adelina’s new group. So if you liked this make sure to look out for it!

-Erika T., 8th grade

Genre Introduction: Dystopia

Dystopian stories have become pretty popular recently. There are, of course, the well-known Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies, but there are plenty of other messed-up futuristic worlds to explore. Dystopia worlds usually have the government trying to create a “perfect place,” that results in something far worse than today’s standards. Within different social/political structures, heroes face odds to change their world. There’s often some side romance as well. If you haven’t already started into this genre, here are some different types:

legend_coverLegend by Marie Lu focuses on class struggle.

Welcome to a world filled with plague. A plague, for some reason, only affects the poor people. When Day, the Republic’s most wanted criminal, finds his family has been infected, he’ll do whatever it takes to find a cure. After a break-in at the hospital, Day is the in the prime suspect for the murder of  a commanding officer, June’s brother.

June is the Republic’s prodigy, with perfect academic scores, but is constantly in trouble, for things like scaling a building when she wasn’t supposed to. June swears revenge on her brother’s killer, only to find that the Republic has been lying to everyone the entire time.

maze_runner_coverThe Maze Runner by James Dashner targets post-apocalyptic aftermath methods of recovery.

Thomas arrives in an elevator. Everything is dark, and the only thing he can remember is his name. His destination is the Glade, consisting of only teenage boys, surrounded by an impossible constantly changing maze. Every month a new boy arrives and everyone goes along with life, as they have done for the last couple years. But everything changes when, just one day after Thomas, a girl arrives with a mysterious message. The Glade is no longer a safe place. And if they want to escape, Thomas had better start running.

unwindUnwind by Neal Shusterman asks what it means to be alive.

There are too many teenagers in the future. The solution is not to kill them; instead, the rebellious generation simply lives in a “divided state” with every part of their body still alive, but not making up them anymore. Connor is turned in by his parents rebellious behavior. Risa is an orphan the state can no longer afford, since she has reached her musical potential. Lev is a sacrifice, knowing since birth he was going to be unwound for religious reasons. Fate brings these unlikely teenagers together and keeps them on the run because what will happen if they are caught might be even worse than death.

There are plenty other types of dystopias, not to mention the ones I’ve named have multiple meanings and interpretations. That’s the cool thing about dystopias– you can see, from an author’s perspective, how the world might change for the worst. It just makes me that much more grateful it’s only a story.

-Nicole G., 11th grade

Short Stories And What They Could Be

Short stories are somewhat out of style. Who cares about a short book when there is a full length novel to read? Recently, however hard they are to find, I have discovered their appeal. They encompass a moment of a character’s life, a scene that can be taken out of context of the overall story that gives a glimpse at an author’s style, the situation the characters are in, and who those characters are.

life_before_legendWhat that short story is can vary. There are the prequel stories that give background to the full story. Life before Legend by Marie Lu shows June and Day back when they were twelve, giving insight on the great characters they would grow to be. This kind of short story could be read before to discover the series or read after when you just never want it to end. Or in the middle, like I did.

grim_short_storiesSometimes short stores are collected together into a book, linked together by an underlying common thread. Grim, written by way too many authors (this is by no means a bad thing), contains all sorts of twists on fairy-tales, some darker, using the bare minimum from the source, while others are an inventive retelling, staying true to the fairy-tale it came from. The best part of a collection of short stories is the variety. Even if you don’t like one author or story, a few pages later, there’s a new one. There is the flip side, of course, when it ends too soon, but I think that’s kind of the point. They aren’t supposed to have a satisfying ending; the taste of potential always makes you want more.

free_fourAnother possibility short stories present is insight into another character’s mind, especially from first person point-of-view novels. Free Four: Tobias Tells the Story takes, obviously, the perspective of Four (or Tobais, but I’m going with Four) from Veronica Roth’s Divergent in the knife throwing scene. I don’t want to ruin anything by saying anything else about it. These types of short stories give other characters a chance for the reader to see their thoughts and mindset for a change. It’s nice to know how other character think and perceive the same situation differently.

Just like full length novels, some short stories are better than others. Find something that interests you and give short stories a chance. They won’t take long to read.

-Nicole G., 10th grade

Must-Read Books of Fall 2013

Between new school schedules and a ton of homework, is there time to seek out new books? Of course! Here is a list of books I am planning to read this fall. I have been waiting months for all of them, so they’d better be amazing. Hope you enjoy them, too.

dream_thieves_cover1. The Dream Thieves, by Maggie Stiefvater
Release Date: September 17th

This is the second book of The Raven Cycle where the ley lines have woken and ensure the lives Blue and her raven boys- Ronan, Gansey, and Adam- will never be the same. For Ronan, dreams are merging with reality. Meanwhile, the Cabeswater puzzle Gansey is trying to solve has taken the interest of some sinister people.

house_of_hades_cover2. House of Hades, by Rick Riordan
Release Date: October 8th

With a cliffhanger in the previous book, the continuation of The Heroes of Olympus continues the adventure of seven half-bloods with no time for failure as they travel to seal the Doors of Death. If they succeed, how will Percy and Annabeth ever escape the depths of Tartarus?

allegiant_cover3. Allegiant, by Veronica Roth
Release Date: October 22nd

The ending to the Divergent series. When everything Tris knew is shattered, she goes beyond the fence and what awaits her may be worse than what she left behind. This book is told from dual perspectives (which I’m hoping includes Four’s point of view).

champion.indd4. Champion, by Marie Lu

Release Date: November 5th

The Legend trilogy comes to a close. The Republic is improving, but with a new plague and possible war, the cost to save thousands of lives might mean the one June loves to give up everything.

horizon_cover5. Horizon, by Alyson Noël
Release Date: November 19th

This is the fourth and final book of the Soul Seekers series. Daire must face her archenemy, the Richters. Is there a worse foe out on the horizon that could end the world? Will Daire survive? Can love conquer all?

All these books are far along in a series, so I suggest reading the previous books before getting to this list. Which book are you most looking forward to? I honestly can’t choose. Happy reading!

-Nicole G., 10th grade

Book Review: Legend, by Marie Lu

legend_coverLegend by Marie Lu is a young adult fiction novel about two fifteen year olds who inadvertently uncover military and government secrets in their dystopian society.

For me, there is nothing better than a book with a little bit of romance, a drop of mystery, and a whole lot of adventure. The author fulfills all of these expectations to the utmost and provides a great escape into a different world. With fantastic, realistic characters and a constant pace that keeps you on your toes, this book is filled with plot twists and unexpected revelations that ensure a reader’s enjoyment.

One thing that makes this book different from your average teen novel is the way Lu marvelously crafts the two main characters. Though they come from opposite sides of the “food chain,” they are not all that different when it comes down to wits and street smarts. In addition, this book is an excellent stepping stone between Young Adult and Adult books. This is due to the mature writing style of the author and the way it deals with government issues in a fictional society.

Legend is set in a city that used to be known as Los Angeles. It is now part of the Republic, one of the two warring nations in North America. This young adult dystopian novel is narrated by the two main characters June and Day. June was born into the upper class society and becomes the Republic’s prodigy after she receives a perfect score on her trial. Every twelve year old in the Republic is required to take this trial, a test that determines their future depending on their score. Children like June, who score high in their trials, are usually groomed for the military, one of the highest honors in the Republic. Day was raised on the other side of the tracks, in the poor sectors of the Republic, and scored poorly on his trial.  Now known as one of the most wanted criminals in the Republic, Day’s motives may be misunderstood.

Due to their social ranks, the two main characters are unlikely to ever meet. However, their paths cross when Day is accused of killing June’s brother, the only family she has left in the world. June, under the military’s guidance, promises that she’ll hunt him down and won’t stop until he is brought to justice. She goes undercover in the poor sectors of the Republic to find him. When she does, she uncovers a lot more about the government and her life than she ever would have imagined.

I highly recommend this book for teen through adult readers.

-Kaelyn L., 10th grade

Book Review: Legend, by Marie Lu

legend_coverAre you a Hunger Games or Divergent fan? Do you seek suspense and romance? If yes, Legend is just the book for you!

In this action-packed novel, the author takes you to a time when the Western Coast of the United States is now the Republic, and they are at war with their neighbors, the Colonies.

Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year old June is a military prodigy. She is an intelligent, smart, quick-witted, and stealthy girl, scoring a 1500/1500 on the Trial that every ten-year old must face on his/her birthday. Passionate and committed to her country, she is groomed to be a success in her Republic’s highest circles.

Born into the slums of the Republic’s Lake Sector, fifteen-year old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. With his long, blonde hair, piercing blue-eyes, and striking features, Day is definitely the most handsome criminal ever heard of. But his criminal-like motives may not be as malicious as they seem…

One day, June’s brother, Metias, is murdered, and instantly, Day is the prime suspect. From two very different worlds, one never would have thought their paths would cross. But now, caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June struggles to take vengeance on her brother’s death.

But will June and Day come to discover the biggest secret that their country has gone to sinister lengths to cover? In this exhilarating novel, the reader will come to find that the truth itself can save and also kill.

My P.O.V: Legend is an incredible story of two lives coming together, but for a terrible reason. I am a huge fan of the Hunger Games and Divergent series, and Legend definitely fits in with these types of novels, due to their similarity in dystopian society and a sudden romance. This book is definitely recommended for kids ages 12+ due to the mature language and violence. I totally recommend this book to any of you thrill-seekers, adventure-lovers, and of course, you hopeless romantics! 😉

-Michaela B., 12th grade