Origin by Jessica Khoury

Amazon.com: Origin (9781595145963): Khoury, Jessica: Books

Origin is a wonderful read for any fan of science fiction and romance. Based in the depths of the Amazon jungle, you will get immediately swept into the world of labs and scientists. The main character Pia, is considered perfect, because she is invincible, one of a kind, and extremely smart. At 16 years old, the only people she knows are her family, a team of scientists, and the non-scientist residents on the secret facility called Little Cam. With five generations and a magical flower found deep in the Amazon jungle, called Elysia. But Pia has to be kept on complete lockdown and doesn’t get most types of entertainment, like books magazines, or movies, unless they are science textbooks, with blackened out paragraphs. She hasn’t even met anyone under the age of thirty. But this all changes when she’s able to escape Little Cam, and meets Eio from a local village. They start to fall in love, but the risk of deadly consequences grows more.

I own this book, and I’m really glad that I do. It’s one of my personal favorites to read over and over again. It’s such an amazing secret world to fall in love with. The first time you read this book, you’re constantly wondering what happens next, and if Pia will ever be free from all the restrictions.  I highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a new read.

-Rebecca V., 11th Grade

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte

The reason why I began reading this novel was because of school requirements. Contrary to what I imagined as a typical romance genre, Jane Eyre incorporates elements of horror, fantasy, and even gothic. Jane Eyre actually has a similar background as Cinderella. Her parents died. Their marriage was not supported by her mother’s family because her father’s social status did not match her mother’s. However, even after being disowned by her family and friends, Jane Eyre’s mother did not give up on her family. Jane Eyre was actually raised by her aunt along with her cousins. But because everybody except for a governess treated her so horribly, Jane Eyre decided to leave for a boarding school built just for orphaned girls.

After years of learning and eventually becoming a teacher there, Jane Eyre was bored with her repeating life. Hence, after much effort, she received a recruitment letter from an old mistress at a mansion to be the governess of Adele, an 8-year-old French girl who barely speaks English. And it was from here that Jane Eyre met Mr. Rochester, a very serious and reticent man. Nonetheless, they fell in love shortly and were at the point to be married when Jane Eyre found that Mr. Rochester was married to a crazy woman. She ran away from him and eventually was taken in by a preacher’s family in a faraway village. Jane Eyre was eventually able to unite with Mr. Rochester even after he has gone blind due to a fire. She not only denied the pastor’s wish to marry her and make her a missionary’s wife in India, but she gave birth to a boy with Mr. Rochester.

Although this book has a happy ending, the plot and characters are fickle and unpredictable. I recommend this book to readers who like romance but are tired of the traditional plot and setting.

-Coreen C. 

Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby, in all of it’s blue and gold shimmering splendor, is regarded as one of the greatest American novels of twentieth-century literature. Focusing on the story of Nick Carraway and his involvement with notoriously wealthy Jay Gatsby (followed by his legacy of the American dream and bitter love pursuit), The Great Gatsby dives into 1920’s American society in which the ideal life is painted as an extravagant party, born out of wealth and materialistic grandeur.

Hidden within the folds of Fitzgerald’s florid language — words of “yellow cocktail music,” a “universe of ineffable gaudiness,” “roaring noon” — the novel captivates the audience until it’s profound and raw close. The seamless flow of one thing to the next, the vivid images of a fast-paced and rich life, the timeless theory of long-lasting love and ambition: Fitzgerald renders a chaotic and recklessly beautiful portrait of the roaring 20’s Jazz Age and the world that buzzed within its history.

The incorporation of reoccurring symbols, such as the green light at the end of the dock or the constant juxtaposition of the colors yellow on blue, deepens the horizons to which The Great Gatsby stretches. Across the novel’s pages, Fitzgerald repetitively uses the colors yellow and blue to convey the ideas of truth versus wealth and false wealth in an abstract manner. Likewise, the green light brings the audience closer to Gatsby’s personal ambitions, his true substance over his outward actions.

Fitzgerald’s gradual characterization of each character increases the mysterious aura that revolves around Gatsby and those associated with him, wrapping the entire story into an enigmatic piece of literature rooted deeply in American history.

—Keira D.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

At Fault by Kate Chopin

Image result for at fault kate chopin

This is definitely a novel which I couldn’t stop reading from the moment I picked it up. Its intriguing characters and twisting plot but eventually a happy ending reserves this art piece for one of the top-rated ones.

I personally really liked Gregor, who is Therese, the owner of the farm’s nephew. Although he was often controlled by rash actions and speaks savagely to black servants, still he was a man of authenticity. Despite the fact that he killed Jocint, who set the mill on fire. But when Melicint, his lover accused him of this murder and left him one can tell how faithful and loyal his can be to his true love.

My other favorite character is David Hosmer. Only because Therese told him that to remarry his impudent wife Fanny would be an excellent choice and one that would conform with her moral principles, his didn’t even hesitate to do that. This shows how much he cares about her opinions, even if it meant to torture himself. Moreover, when the cabin that Fanny was staying in was washed away by the rain, he didn’t falter a bit but to risk his life saving a person who never cares genuinely about him. It was that she died at last from the flood, or else Fanny could have been possibly a hindrance to the splice of David Hosmer and Therese Lafirme.

-Coreen C. 

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

The young adult novel, Eleanor & Park written by Rainbow Rowell, is a heartwarming, but the soul-wrenching story about two sixteen-year-olds in Omaha, Nebraska from 1986 to 1987. The unique red-haired girl catches the heart of Park by merely sitting beside him on the bus. Their slow love sparked when she secretly reads his comic books, believing that she was sly enough to not get caught. Over time, Park noticed and decided to allow her to borrow his comic books.

However, at home, the young girl finds herself dealing with family issues revolving around poverty, so she ends up keeping to herself. She is terrified by her abusive stepfather and fears for her future to end up like her mother’s. Her thoughts are mostly clouded with judgment about her weight, which affects the way she thinks about her relationship with Park.

On the other hand, Park is trying to get through high school by being popular enough to not get teased but also finds it hard to fit in. He becomes an outsider, like Eleanor, but within his own house. His father and brother both have a liking towards sports and trucks, however, Park feels himself attracted to music and books.

The book duals between the narrative of Eleanor and Park, thus allowing the reader to connect with both of the characters. Teens can deeply connect to both characters, from the way they think to the way they act. The duo rides an emotional rollercoaster, taking the reader with them every step of the way.

Rowell does an exquisite job in taking in the attention of the reader and leaving them wanting more with this romantic, light read.

-Anyssa P.

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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.