The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi

Told in third person from the perspectives of Izar, the adoptive son of a wealthy and avaricious owner of the oil company Ocean Dominion; and Coralline, a gentle mermaid who is an assistant at an apothecary, The Oyster Thief is a world of juxtapositions, of mermaids and men, water and fire.

When he is young, Izar’s adoptive father tasks him to invent underwater fire so that Ocean Dominion can scour the ocean floor for treasure while destroying the settlements of merpeople in the process. As is evident from this plan, the people at Ocean Dominion regard merpeople as lesser than humans–even monstrous. In contrast to Izar, Coralline is an apothecary whose goal is to heal and care for other merpeople.

Sonia Faruqi switches between the two characters to show how their lives run both parallel to and in contradiction with each other until their storylines meld together into one. The Oyster Thief touches on the concepts of true love and why people are not always how they seem. Coralline with her healing and Izar with his destruction seem natural enemies, yet they grow steadily closer to each other as the story progresses. I liked how Izar and Coralline’s actions are contrasted with each other by how differently each reacts in a similar situation.

The underwater world Sonia Faruqi builds is very well thought out; the merpeople’s food, customs, currency, and so forth are all considered, which makes the story more realistic. I thought the story was well-researched: for instance, species of algae and sea creatures, the physics of the underwater world, and scientific explanations for anomalies that occur (such as underwater fire) are specified. The incredibly logical explanations of the world help make the novel believable and sophisticated.

I did think that sometimes too much time was spent explicitly contemplating ironies or thematic concepts in the story that usually are interpreted by the reader, and many words are also spent giving a specific reason for a character’s actions. However, the novel’s concept is quite intriguing, and the many contrasts in the novel do lend themselves to a lot of irony that might require explanation.

I particularly enjoyed the characterization of the muses Pavonis, Altair, and Nacre (a muse is basically a merperson’s chosen companion, such as Coralline’s shark friend, Pavonis), as they are very developed and lovable characters.

In The Oyster Thief, Sonia Faruqi exemplifies how even the most contradictory matches–Izar and Coralline, poison and medicine, fire and water–can combine to form something healing and possibly incredible.

– Mia T.

The Oyster Thief by Sonia Faruqi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Film Review: To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before

This amazing rom-com movie was released through Netflix on August 17, 2018. Normally, the thought of a romantic movie makes me cringe, but when I first saw the trailer for the movie, I was immediately hooked.

This movie is based on the book series To All the Boys I’ve Loved Before written by Jenny Han. I personally have not read the books (but planning to read them later). This story has everything from romance, to comedy, to the important lessons every teenager should know not only life but love as well.

The movie is about a girl named Lara Jean Covey. She is half-American and half-Korean. Her mother passed away when she was young, so her father raises her and two other sisters (one older, one younger) by himself. Basically, the main plot of the story is that Lara Jean has these five letters. She writes them when she has a crush, “..so intense, [she] doesn’t know what else to do..” One day she finds that all the letters have been sent out… all FIVE of them!! The recipients of the letters are Peter Kavinsky, played by Noah Centineo (a dreamboat may I add), who is the hottest boy in school, John Ambrose from Model UN, Lucas from homecoming, Kenny from camp, and Josh, the boy next door (who is her older sister’s boyfriend).

The rest of the movie is just about how she handles the whole situation, and the lessons she learns along the way. I totally recommend this movie. It is an amazing movie with an Asian lead– which you don’t see very often.

Jenny Han’s novel, To All the Boys I Loved Before, is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi

I was first attracted to this book because of the cover. However, this book is definitely worth more than just the outside.

The story begins within the thoughts of Juliette, the girl who was locked up in an asylum for almost a whole year, under the tyrannical supremacy of the Reestablishment. The only object that kept her from becoming insane was a notebook.

“I spent my life folded between the pages of books. In the absence of human relationships I formed bonds with paper characters. i lived love and loss through stories threaded in history; I experienced adolescence by association. My world is one interwoven web of words, stringing limb to limb, bone to sinew, thoughts and images all together. I am a being comprised of letters, a character created by sentences, a figment of imagination formed through fiction…”

Just then, the appearance of a boy that existed in her buried memories altered everything, most importantly, it had given her hope. But she knew that nothing could be a coincidence, and it has proved to be true. Juliette is no ordinary girl. She is a walking weapon. And the Reestablishment has plans for her long long time ago.

Tahereh Mafi’s unique journal-like writing style for the main character has brought me into the book right from the start. Unlike any other book that I’ve read, the strikethroughs in Juliette’s journal gave me a closer insight into her own erratic thoughts and of the chaotic dystopian world. with endless fear.

Fear, for the world and for her own power and what she might do, Juliette lived a life full of of shadows. Just as the propagandas of the Reestablishment, the idea of her being a monster has carved deeply into her mind and the others.

Only two people thought of that differently. The two people who craved to have her, craved to want her to join their sides.

Two people who are utterly different.

Who will Juliette choose?

The details of this book and the progressive plot has overwhelmed me. I witnessed the drastic change in Juliette from a weak and powerless girl to an unforgettable heroine who stood up against authority.

But does she know that she is not alone?

Lastly, I would like to end my review of the book with these words written by Juliette in her only journal:

“Hope is hugging me, holding me in its arms, wiping away my tears and telling me that today and tomorrow and two days from now I will be just fine and I;m so delirious I actually dared to believe it…”

-Kate L.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Stealing Rose by Monica Murphy

Ohmigosh!!! That was such a good book! I loved the first one, but I adored this one.

Okay okay so let’s get started.

As you know, Rose is the baby sister. She is always the one that is undercover and hardly ever in the spotlight. She decides that she wants to get herself out there, at a party she meets a mysterious guy named Caden. She plans to have just a one night stand with him, but she doesn’t even get that far before he runs off, hurt, she goes on with her life. She goes off to London with her sister (if you remember, her sister, Violet got a job there with her fiancee, Ryder). Her sister invites her to a dinner party, which she attends just to please her sister…but mysterious Caden is there.

But thing is, he is with another woman. Rose is surprised, but not totally surprised. She figured he’d be with a a woman if she ever saw him again. But…she wasn’t exactly expecting to see him again, none the less so soon after their last encounter. Eventually she runs off to the bathroom, and Caden follows her there. They talk it out (If I tried to explain it, I wouldn’t do it any justice). But they feel passion for each other. The next day, Rose goes out shopping and finds out that Caden has been following her the entire shopping trip.

But honestly, he doesn’t follow her in a creepy way, I mean, if you want something, you need to pursue it, right? I mean, it eventually get’s the job done, they do get together, but Caden is hiding something from Rose, he has fallen in love though and fears that if her tells her his true background, she won’t want him.

I found Caden’s letter to Rose so sweet
“But I love you. I do. I fell in love with you and I didn’t even know it until today, though really I think I secretly knew It all along. You make me feel like no one else ever has, so all I can say is thank you.
Thank you for teahing me how to love.”

It was such a great book! I would recommend it for anyone, it is that good. But it does have some mature themes, so maybe don’t read it if you are under 16? No, but seriously guys, you need to read this book!

-Skylar N.

Knocked Up by Stacey Lynn

This book wasn’t really that good…It just wasn’t. I will fully say that I really enjoyed the beginning of this book. I thought it was written extremely well, not exactly the most unique story, but during it’s beginning, I enjoyed it. But then,then it started to go downhill.

The second half the book was written as if a totally different person wrote it. It sucked. We got all of this useless drama, all of this bad writing. It was horrible, truly horrible. The author just added in all of this useless bickering and issues that made no sense to add to the book. It was going down a good path until petty bickering came into the picture. This is supposed to be adult fiction, not teen pregnancy book.

-Skylar N.

Fraternize by Rachel VanDyken

Best book I’ve read so far in 2018.

So let’s see where to start…

Emerson (referred to as “Em”) was in love with her best friend Miller when they were young kids. They did everything together, and when she wasn’t allowed to play football, she became a cheerleader. When Miller left in their senior year of high school, Em kept a big secret from him.

Miller ends up being traded to the same NFL team that Em is cheerleading for. They have a really bad past at this point, so he is literally the last person she wants to see again. Then Grant Sanchez comes into the picture. He is on the NFL team as well. He is extremely cocky, and Miller starts fighting with him almost immediately.

But Sanchez see’s something in Em the first time he lays eyes on her, she doesn’t reciprocate, but he keeps trying.

Eventually, Miller and Em reform the bond that they used to share. But at that point Em likes Sanchez too. The question for her is, who will she pick?

As time goes on, the choice is obvious to Em who she will pick.
“I think…That I’ve always been yours. I just didn’t realize it.”
Yes, I know that I made this book sound like a huge cliche, but it isn’t. It is such a great, great book, and I enjoyed each and every little part of it. You will too! READ IT!

-Skylar N.

Fraternize by Rachel VanDyken is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Quest For A Popstar by Katie Hamstead

I literally could not read this book, at all. It was so darn cringey, well, I know I called The Football Girl the cringiest book I ever read but  nope, it is now this one.

So let’s see… the book was written as if by a 12 year old, which was a turn off in the beginning. But I thought to my self “Skylar, it may get better, just think of all those other great books that you hated in the beginning but then loved.” Nope, nope, nope. That didn’t happen here in the slightest. But here is the part that I stopped reading:

“I grit my teeth. There are guys in the group who look worse than me and didn’t get such severe criticism.”

And with this, I DNF’d. I do not need to read a book with a female character playing the “Oh look, the man is treated better than me, must be because I am a woman.” No thank you. If you don’t want to read a book that a Junior High school student wrote, do not read this.

-Skylar N.