Endgame: The Calling by James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton

endgame_jamesfreyAs a prominent novel of thriller and fiction, Endgame: The Calling brings a simple treasure hunt to a whole new and different level. With teens fighting teens, the entire world has no chance but to rely on the victor.

In a modern day setting, twelve teenagers carry on with their normal lives until each of them are by a meteor, a warning sign to these twelve “players” for the beginning of what may be the world’s end. Representing the twelve so-called original lines of humanity, these teenagers must play in Endgame, a hunt for three significant artifacts (this book is on the first one) that will save their lines from chaos and disaster while condemning the other eleven.

Through the eyes of each of the twelve players, authors James Frey and Nils Johnson-Shelton incorporate adventure, action, romance, and much more all into just a three book series. Characters like Sarah Alopay, Jago Tlaloc, and Christopher Vanderkamp share their perspectives on their journeys throughout the continents and how they must survive when problems and troubles arise. As clues are hidden inside the novel itself, readers are recommended to try and solve the mystery themselves, being part as one of the players on a mission to save all of humanity.

Endgame: The Calling is a suitable read for young adults ages 13-16, and with my rating of 8.5 out of 10, this may be one of the very best plot lines that I have read.

“Will exuberance beat strength? Stupidity top kindness? Laziness thwart beauty? Will the winner be good or evil?”

…I guess you will have to read and find out.

-Riley W.

Endgame: The Calling is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Raven Cycle by Maggie Stiefvater

ravencycle_maggiestiefvaterThe Raven Cycle series, by Maggie Stiefvater, finally came to a close this spring with the release of her fourth installment, The Raven King. After finishing the first book, titled The Raven Boys, this series quickly jumped high onto the list of my favorite books. The more I read, the higher it climbed. Stiefvater’s characterization and descriptive language is enthralling, bringing me to actually set down the book and relish over a line or two of pure perfection multiple times.

This series deals with magic, mystery, romance, but above all- friendship. The main cast of characters are deeply developed and intricate, and the story gives us a thorough look into their pasts, presents, and heck, even their looming futures.

Blue Sargent, the main female lead, is the only non-psychic in a family of seers, but she has the ability to amplify their clairvoyant powers. For this reason, Blue accompanies her Aunt Neeve on St. Mark’s Eve to go to an abandoned churchyard; St. Mark’s Eve is the day of the year when psychics can see the ghosts of the people who are going to die in the following year walk along the Corpse Road. Blue has never been able to see these ghosts- until tonight.

She asks this sole visible ghost his name- Gansey- and her Aunt explains that the only reason that Blue, a nonseer, would see a ghost is if he’s her true love- or if she’s the one who kills him. Gansey, very much alive, has spent the past couple of years researching the legend of the dead Welsh King Glendower. Legend says he was buried on a magical ley line, and whoever wakes him gets a favor. He and his best friends Adam, Ronan, and Noah devote their time to finding this sleeping king and recruit Blue into their questing court.

The series offers many twists and turns, oftentimes surprising me with a suspenseful showdown or a magical revelation. The more I learned about the characters, the more I loved them and feared for them as their stories grew darker and darker. The characterization stands out as the highlight of the series. Stiefvater chips away at the inner beings of each character until we have a roadmap of each one, pointing out their fears and flaws and tracing their dreams and desires. Out of the main five characters, Blue is the only female, but her family- who we spend lots of time getting to know- is overflowing with a cast of unique, quirky, and psychic women, giving us a wide array of female side characters. Gansey, Adam, and Ronan are my personal favorites; their dynamics are very complicated and interesting, and I anticipated the chapters written from their points-of-view most of all. Stiefvater’s imagination is abundant, and it is evident as she builds her world in the small town of Henrietta.

I have and will continue to recommend this series to any avid readers I come across, for it was a wild ride that I will never forget. The four books- The Raven Boys, The Dream Thieves, Blue Lily Lily Blue, and The Raven King– have secured their positions as some of my favorite books, and I hope they will continue to be recognized in the future as the truly captivating novels they are.

-Abby F.

The Raven Boys and the rest of the Raven Cycle novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. 

Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker

Image result for ashes to ashes by melissa walkerCallie McPhee is prepared to have a great summer. She has her boyfriend Nick, her best friend Carson, and a new BMW. Even though her best friend is still obsessed with ghosts, and Nick seems a little bit off lately, Callie knows that she is going to have a great summer before her junior year. Except when tragedy strikes while Callie is speeding and distracted by a phone call from Nick. This isn’t the summer she imagined.

Callie wakes up in something called the Prism, where she finds out she’s dead and is assigned a Guide named Thatcher. Callie isn’t a “normal” ghost, and develops a rebellious streak. She wants to live a little by hanging out with the “bad” group of ghosts and haunt on her own. But when the poltergeists, the bad group, starts turning more dangerous, Callie must figure what’s right. She has to watch her father, friend, and boyfriend go through different types of grief, and sort out her new feelings for Thatcher. When the poltergeists go past a boundary that Callie didn’t know was possible and Thatcher feared, they must do the impossible. Will the poltergeists stop? Read the book to find out.

I thought Ashes to Ashes was a great paranormal romance novel. Once you read this book, you have to know what happens next in the sequel, Dust to Dust. Ashes to Ashes makes you think a lot about ghosts. I will recommend this book to anyone who wants a good paranormal romance book.

-Rebecca V.

Ashes to Ashes is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Reeling Through the Roaring Twenties: A Bright Young Things Series Review

brightyoungthings_annagodbersenFLAPPERS, FRINGE DRESSES, JAZZ, AND DECADENCE!

The year is 1929. Eleven years have passed since the First World War. No longer is there any grief or sorrow among the former disillusioned youth. Instead, there is an air of decadence and desire among them.

New York, the cultural capital of the era, is ruled by the Bright Young Things. This new generation of young women chase their dreams, defying the traditional patriarchal society that once stifled their passions.

Cordelia Grey and Letty Larkspur, inspired by the culture of New York, escape their Midwestern town for the lights and ardour of New York City. However, the two girls leave much more behind than just their old homes. Ms. Grey, raised as an orphan by her authoritarian aunt, escapes from an untimely arranged marriage to find her infamously wealthy father, Dorian Grey. Ms. Larkspur, on the other hand, escapes her extremely religious family to become the next Broadway Babe.

All Cordelia wants is to be part of a wealthy, loving family, and all Letty wants is to see her name in flashing lights. However, the two girls soon find out that their positions are ones that many girls fight for-and will even kill for. The girls find themselves in a city much more glamorous, yet equally dangerous than they have ever dreamed of. Only with the help of the young flapper Astrid Donal do these girls finally assimilate into the rich culture of the metropolis. Raised differently than the other two girls, Ms. Donal seems to epitomize perfection–she is wealthy, beautiful, and her lover is Cordelia’s greedily rich brother, Charlie. Despite Astrid’s perfect life, she faces her own plights in New York. Together, the Bright Young Things endure through the harsh circumstances of the city.

Love, drama, illegal ventures, and decadent thrills soon become an everyday part of the girls’ lives.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Personal Notes from Reading The Bright Young Things Series by Anna Godberson:

  • The book is FULL of words to expand your vocabulary. A majority of the words are SAT-level words! (For reference, the SRI reading level of the books range from 1070-1250, which is a very high lexile range)
  • The book covers are to DIE FOR! Each book comes with a visual photograph of the character. Their style of clothing and their beauty astonishes me to this day. I never pass the Young Adult section of the library without picking one up and gazing at it
  • It saddens me that these books are so underrated! Everytime I check their availability statuses at the library, none of them are ever checked out. It’s not that they are unpopular books, it is just that they are overshadowed by Godberson’s more popular series, The Luxe. 
  • I encourage all teenagers and young adults to read these books. Not only do you get to expand your vocabulary, but you also get to learn about the Roaring Twenties. It goes well with The Great Gatsby (a novel that most high school honors and AP students are required to read!)

-Elaha N.

The Bright Young Things series of novels are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Webtoon Review: For the Sake of Sita by Haga

A short but heartwarming tale of a medical student who falls love with a fallen goddess in Nepal.

He meets Sita in a sidestreet alleyway where she sells herself to earn enough money to survive day to day. He quickly falls in love and marries Sita. He returns with her to his home, but she unfortunately dies within a year. Desperate, he asks the gods to save Sita. A goddess answers him and asks him what will he give in exchange. He agrees to anything and for an unknown price is give the chance to save Sita, but in a unexpected way.

This story is based of the tradition of Kumari in Nepal, India.

In a sense, it could be called the story of a real love. It is hard to say much without giving away the whole story. It is short, which is a plus as it length allowed for just enough development that it was complete and satisfying without loose ends. The characters are rounded and can make you laugh and cry. The artwork is simply fantastic. It pays homage to the beautiful art and colors of the Indian society. I am not a huge fan of pure romance stories, but this is one of the few which I would recommend. Of course this is only my opinion, try reading it for yourself and decide.

This webtoon is licensed by Line Webtoon and is free to read online.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

Manga Introduction: Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Haruhi Fujioka, a middle-class student, hopes to finish high school in the prestigious Ouran Academy as quietly as possible, but that is not going to happen in a school full of rich kids. She stumbles upon the Third Music Room where Ouran High School Host Club resides. The first encounter is not what would be called the most fortunate as Haruhi accidentally breaks a vase worth $80,000. To repay back this debt, she agrees to work for the host club, but to add to her misfortune the members of the host club mistake her as a boy. With this misunderstanding, she becomes the club’s errand boy.  Her story unfolds with the odd collection of high school hosts: President Tamaki Suoh, Vice-president Kyoya Ootori, Identical twins Hikaru and Kaoru Hitachiin, Mitsukuni “Honey” Haninozuka and his cousin Takashi “Mori” Morinozuka. This is the story of her adventures with these characters and how she survives in the crazy world of the rich and eccentrics. From daily costume parties to romantic adventures on a island, her life is definitely not going to be as quiet as she hoped.

First off some basic facts:

  • The manga began in September 2002 and ended 8 years later in November of 2010
  • There are 18 tankobon volumes (manga books)
  • A 26-episode anime television series aired between April 5 and September 26, 2006 (Note: The anime does not cover the entire manga series, to completely finish it you will have to read the manga. Same applies the the live action)
  • There was a live action drama and film released in 2011

This is personally one of my favorites. I can admit I’m not crazy about romance and ridiculous scenarios but this manga I would read again and again. It has a female character who has her feets more or less set on the ground. A nice contrast to the rest of the host club who has a much more eccentric lifestyle. This is the only shojo manga which most of my friends have enjoyed. This most likely because the importance the manga places in friends and family. Also in how each character is properly developed and not left without a compelling backstory.

This is one manga I would recommend to everyone, even if they are not a fan of shojo manga. It will give a unexpected surprise. Of course I can say this for everyone. So discover it for yourself.

-Sarah J., 11th Grade

 

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

greatgatsby_fscottfitzgeraldPublished in 1925, Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby is one of the staples of American literature, and a favorite for high school English teachers. The novel takes place during the  early 1920s, called The Jazz Age by Fitzgerald. The narrator, Nick Carraway, just moved into the area, and is invited to his cousin Daisy’s home, who is married to Tom Buchanan. What follows is a drama-filled narrative revolving around a peculiar, mysterious man named Jay Gatsby.

I’ll admit at first I wasn’t the biggest fan of this book, especially due to, in my opinion, a slow first act that doesn’t engage me till a few chapters in. Despite the poor pacing of the opening chapters, I find the rest of the events of the book to be spread out well. The first person perspective of Nick is also used well, as it upholds the mysterious tone and uncertainty surrounding many of the characters. The characters themselves are also all well developed throughout the book and fairly different from each other, providing a unique story that blended many themes together.

Fitzgerald is known for his excellent symbolism and imagery, as many seemingly small events contain messages that foreshadow future events or provide commentary on society. I appreciated these as I went back and noticed them, or as my teacher explained them to me. Another element I enjoyed was the humor, as Fitzgerald poked fun at society and at the ignorance of characters, parodying the Roaring 20s’ American lifestyle.

Overall, I was very impressed with The Great Gatsby’s storytelling, characterization, symbolism, and social commentary, while somewhat disappointed by its less than thrilling first act. I would recommend The Great Gatsby to readers who like grounded dramas.

-Ahmed H., grade 12

The Great Gatsby is available, in all its versions and adaptations, for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.