We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach

We All Looked Up is probably one of the books that I’ve read the most during quarantine. “we all looked up” tells the story of the entire world having two months- two months to live, two months until the asteroid would inevitably collide with Earth. We All Looked Up follows four main people, Peter, Eliza, Andy, and Anita. Peter, the stereotyped jock, wants to become a better person and make an impact. Eliza, the typical shunned rebel, finds companionship in others, one being Andy, a person who’s only passion seems to be music. Finally, Anita, who’s parents put immense pressure on her to be the best, finds peace in singing.

I enjoyed We All Looked Up because it felt real and not sugar coated. We All Looked Up covered many topics, such as suicide, but also didn’t have to have a miracle ending to be a good and entertaining read. We All Looked Up feels raw, capturing the emotions that are experienced during intermediate/high school, the fear of growing up, the drama that can happen, and the fear of the unknown. I highly recommend We All Looked Up to those who enjoy realistic fiction and young adult novels.

-Kelsie W.

We All Looked Up by Tommy Wallach is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The 100 TV Show Review

The 100 is a Sci-Fi show consisting of 7 mind-blowing seasons. The show starts off in space when the station’s resources start running low. As a solution, they decide to send 100 juvenile prisoners back to planet Earth to see if it’s survivable. As they get sent to Earth, the 100 battle all sorts of problems. At the start of the show, we get to know the characters well as they arrive on Earth. Throughout the seasons, we get to watch the characters progress and push themselves out of their comfort zone, doing the unthinkable while facing the unpredictable. To truly understand the evolution of the plot, it’s much better to watch the series since I wouldn’t want to spoil it. The battles kick in immediately in the show as it’s a violent series. Despite all the violence, there is an emotional side to the show from all the sacrifices, deaths, stories, etc. It really gets you thinking of what’s out there and shines a light on how people change to survive. I would rate this show a solid 10/10. It’s full of surprises and really got me into the Sci-Fi genre. The details in the show are unexplainable and the plot line is something I’ve never seen before. 

– Kaitlyn Y

Authors We Love: Patrick Ness

Patrick Ness at arrivals for A MONSTER CALLS Premiere at Toronto International Film Festival 2016, Roy Thomson Hall, Toronto, ON September 10, 2016. Photo By: James Atoa

Twice Carnegie Medal Winner Patrick Ness was born in the United States, currently holding dual citizenship status while living in London. He attended the University of Southern California, graduating with a degree in English Literature. While having written books for all age groups and genres, he is most known for his young adult fiction novels, most notably A Monster Calls.

After working as a corporate writer for a cable company, Ness published his first novel in 2003, titled The Crash of Hennington. He also published his pivotal short story collection Topics About Which I Know Nothing the same year. His career took off with the publishing of The Knife of Never Letting Go, the first in a young adult trilogy about a society where everyone can hear each other’s thoughts. He was awarded the Guardian Children’s Fiction Prize for this novel. He continued headstrong with the Chaos Walking trilogy, publishing the next two books and a series of short stories in the same literary universe. He is currently working on a film adaptation of the trilogy alongside screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.

A Monster Calls originates from the mind of Siobhan Dowd, and Ness was hired to write the story after her passing in 2007. With illustrations by Jim Kay, the novel’s tale of a boy struggling to come to terms with his mothers illness earned Ness the Carnegie Medal after its 2011 publication.

Patrick Ness has written numerous novels about defining the teen experience from non-stereotypical perspectives. The Rest of Us Just Live Here presents an ironic spin on the classic YA fantasy novel, instead focusing on the ordinary side characters while the powerful “protagonists” fight monsters in the background. He has also touched on science fiction with his book More Than This, showing a teenage boy’s journey through a strange world in which he somehow wakes up after drowning in the ocean. The novel is one of my favorites from the author, describing themes of life’s meaning, trauma, and the difficulties of growing up in a place where you don’t feel welcomed. Ness wonderfully defines his diverse character set, and is an expert of including representation of POC and LGBTQ characters without making those identities their defining traits. Instead, he writes diverse characters not for the sake of diversity, but for the sake of telling an important story that everyone can relate to. Other books by Ness include his adult novel The Crane Wife, and his new young adult story titled Burn. As one of my favorite authors, Patrick Ness has astounded me in the  diversity of his literary prowess. I have enjoyed reading all of his works, and would recommend them to anyone that has a love for reading. My personal favorite has been More Than This for several years, and I am currently rereading the Chaos Walking trilogy before the movie makes an appearance.

-Bailey L.

The works of Patrick Ness are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Book Vs. Movie: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner is a series consisting of 5 books and 3 of which are now movies. The protagonist Thomas wakes up to find himself in a box. Every once in a while the box will bring up a different person yet everyone always have one thing in common, their gender. Everyone in that maze is a boy. Eventually, by the end of the first book, they escape the maze and find out it is run by a company called WICKED.

Yet one question remains unanswered, what was better the books or the movies? A very common question but the simple answer is both. There is no answer the books and movies are great in their own way.

The book has a great concept and is where the original idea came from. Although the book has no pictures or visuals like the movies, it gives you the room to use your imagination and create a scene yourself. Without the limitations of CGI, we can create little movies in our heads.

Then the book is made into a live-action film. The movies are well executed and use very good graphics. Yet the movies have limitations of their own, to say within the time limit they have to cut out many parts of the book. But with these setbacks, the movie is still made with great intricacy and still very intriguing. They also had a great selection of actors and actresses’ to play each character and brought the book to life.

Thinking better of one over the other completely depends on the person and what they enjoy, are they a bookworm or a binge-watcher?

Sanjana S.

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl

Enchantress from the Stars by Sylvia Engdahl is a science fiction novel about three groups of people from different parts of the universe.  Most of the events occur on a planet called Andrecia.  Much like Earth, Andrecia is the third planet from a yellow sun.  The native Andrecians live in a relatively primitive society.  A foreign group of colonists has invaded Andrecia, with the intent to conquer it.  These colonists are much more scientifically advanced.  A third group of people, even more advanced than the other two groups, has decided to intervene on behalf of the Andrecians.  These highly advanced people, including young Elana, attempt to empower the Andrecians to drive away the colonists.  Elana must do this without disclosing her true alien identity.  From the Andrecians’ perspective, she becomes the “Enchantress from the Stars.”

I enjoyed reading about how the three groups of people are similar in many ways, despite their differences.  They all seem to experience human emotions and a sense of morality.  However, they view science and technology differently.  To the Andrecians, technology is magic.  To the invading colonists, technology is a tool for conquering others.  To the most highly advanced people, science and technology are used for noble purposes.  This book is written in a way to help us understand these different perspectives.  The point of view alternates between the three groups of people throughout the book, making it seem like we are viewing the story from multiple angles.  For example, the language of the Andrecians seems old-fashioned and medieval, while the language of the colonists seems modern.  The most advanced people are even able to communicate by telepathy.  I found this multi-faceted writing style to be very engaging and insightful.  It was also exciting to see how these three perspectives blended together by the end of the story.

I thoroughly enjoyed this book.  I can understand why it won a Newbery Honor Award, back when it was written in 1971.  I find it interesting to think about what it would be like for people in a medieval period to interact with people from a more scientifically advanced period.  I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys science fiction.  I would also recommend this book to people who do not think they enjoy science fiction, because this book is about more than science and technology.  I think this book teaches valuable lessons about seeking to understand one another despite our differences.

-Oliver H.

Authors We Love: Ray Bradbury

Ray Bradbury (August 22, 1920 – June 5, 2012) was, and still is, a well-renowned author known for his science fiction, fantasy and horror short stories and novels.

Born in Waukegan, Illinois, Bradbury’s start as a writer began very early on at the age of 12. He had a fateful encounter with a carnival magician by the name of Mr. Electrico who proclaimed “Live forever!” to which Bradbury decided to never stop writing.

Soon after this encounter at age 14, the Bradbury family moved to Los Angeles. When the Great Depression hit, Bradbury couldn’t afford to attend college so he instead attended the local library three days a week for ten whole years to acquire his education.

Over the course of his career, Bradbury published thousands of literary works including 400 short stories and 50 novels. In addition to this, Bradbury has also earned dozens of awards including the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award, and the Pulitzer Prize Citation.

I was first introduced to Ray Bradbury in the 6th grade with one of his short stories titled All Summer in a Day. The story is about a group of students who live on the never-ending rainy planet of Venus that have never seen the sun with the exception of a young girl named Margot who only moved to Venus five years prior. As our class read through in monotone uninterested voices (as most children do), I remember sitting there in awe at his simple yet elaborate descriptions of simple things such as the sun or the rain, the fantastical world he created on Venus, and the development of the characters in only a couple of pages. I remember that being the first time a short story truly made me feel something, like a deep pit in my chest.

The second short story I ready from Ray Bradbury was A Sound of Thunder, a story about time travelers who have something in drastic in store when they arrive in the past and return to the present. It was in this short story that I was truly enamored by his descriptions of the dinosaurs which were so incredibly elaborate that I felt like I was standing right there in front of them. It was when I read this short story that I set my own goal of creating scenes of such immaculate sensory description.

Ray Bradbury was not only a spectacular author but a person with an incredibly inspiring story and a true passion for something he loved to do. If you’re looking for a good long read or a good quick read, this is an author that will give you something interesting to read for years and years on end.

-Elia T.

The works of Ray Bradbury are available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. They may also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender's Game (1996? edition) | Open Library

In the world devised by Orson Scott Card in Ender’s Game, humanity has successfully achieved interstellar travel at the speed of light, and have been forced to foil two invasions of an insectoid alien species referred to as “buggers.” Anticipating the third invasion, the military has devised the Battle School, a program in which very young children of superior intellect are trained in battle strategies and other fighting maneuvers in order to protect humanity’s future. 

At Battle School, children are sorted into “armies” and forced to devise strategies and compete against each other in a mimicry of a real alien invasion. The protagonist of the novel, Andrew “Ender” Wiggin, who was taken from his family at the age of 5, is praised for possessing an undeniably brilliant and strategic mind, perhaps the best in the entire academy. 

Quickly working his way up the “ladder,” Ender becomes the youngest leader of an army with a 100% success rate, but his status as the best of the best wins him as many enemies as it does allies. Eventually, Ender graduates and joins the space force to defend Earth from the third “bugger” invasion, but his strategies come at a cost not obvious at first glance. 

While it may not be as well known as some other sci-fi classics, Ender’s Game is intriguing in that it raises some interesting psychological questions regarding the morality of training and harming children for the sake of the greater good. Personally, Ender’s Game has always been one of my favorite novels, and I would definitely recommend it to all readers, especially if they are fans of the sci-fi adventure genre.

-Mahak M.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufmen and Jay Kristoff

A sci-fi romance filled with adventures, death, and societal issues, what else could you wish for? But seriously, this book/series paved the way for my entrance into young adult sci-fi and I can’t thank it enough. 

While reading this book I cried many a time, both out of anger, frustration, and despair. Needless to say, it was an emotional rollercoaster. So much so that I read every book in a day each and still somehow managed to get absolutely wrecked by them. The plot took so many twists and turns it was almost impossible to get bored. 

A summary of this complicated book is most simply put as, a boyfriend and girlfriend live on a planet, they break up, planet gets destroyed. Once planet gets destroyed they are on an evacuation ship where a plague runs rampant, an AI is trying to “save” the ship but really not, and thats only the least of it. 

Apart form its complicated plot which only explains the premise of the first book, this book is in such a unique format that it is a must read. I see that most people say the audiobook is incredible, but when you listen to it, you don’t get to experience the amount of effort and detail this book possesses through its interactive elements.

I have never seen a book quite like this. The images, the format of the words, is just impossible to describe. The next time you go to a Barnes & Noble, pick up this book and flip through it. Trust me, it is an enlightening experience. How the authors though of this format I will never know, but will forever be grateful for. 

The characters are perfect at adapting and reacting to the horrifying situations surrounding them. And as an extra bonus, they are very cute together. These characters sucked me into the world and what I believe to be the main factor of my emotional attachment to this book. 

Everyone must make space for this book on their shelves, because it is one of the best science fiction I have ever read, and there will never be a dull moment. 

-Asli B.

The Illuminae Files by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

Amazon.com: I Am Number Four (Lorien Legacies, Book 1 ...

In a universe where extraterrestrial beings battle in a high-stakes war of life or death, nine aliens gifted with special abilities from the planet Lorien have come to Earth to hide from their otherworldly attackers, the evil Mogadorians. To protect them from being assassinated by the Mogadorians, the Loric receive a charm that places them in a numerical order, ensuring that they cannot be killed unless all that come before them have already been found. 

They caught and brutally murdered Number One in Malaysia, Number Two in England, and Number Three in Kenya. Now, Number Four must escape the deadly Mogadorian assassins that are tracking his every move.

Adopting the alias of John Smith, Four must masquerade as John Smith, a normal human teenager, in order to protect himself and the future of the Loric people. However, just as John is beginning to become accustomed to life in Paradise, Ohio, his abilities manifest, drawing attention to him and his new home. If he wants to save himself and those he loves, John must master his Legacies before it’s too late, and everyone and everything John holds dear is cruelly snatched from him.

Fast-paced and thrilling, I Am Number Four fantastically kicks off Pittacus Lore’s Lorien Legacies series, making this a novel (and a series) a must read for fans of superhero-esque action and adventure scenes.

-Mahak M.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov

Amazon.com: I, Robot (The Robot Series) eBook: Asimov, Isaac: Kindle Store

I, Robot, a collection of short stories by Isaac Asimov, tell the tales of artificially intelligent robots held in check by the Three Laws of Robotics, which are:

1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm;

2. A robot must obey orders given to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law; and

3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

With these three simple directives in mind, Asimov successfully creates a world in which the behaviour of robots is governed, allowing the humans (and the reader) to watch as the robots evolve from their primitive origins to eventually reach ultimate perfection in a future where humanity is on the cusp of being rendered obsolete.

While not technically classified as a novel, the stories have been ordered in such a way as to preserve continuity. Within a frame narrative of an interview of a soon-to-be-retired division head of the U.S. Robot and Mechanical Men Corporation, “robopsychologist” Dr. Susan Calvin, stories are told depicting the key members involved in humanity’s development of a range of robots from infantile to hyper intelligent ones. An especially appealing part of the stories is that most of the characters are kept the same, and while it may seem dull to read about the same few people, the character development in each story produces well rounded characters that are interesting and realistic.

Of the 9 stories in I, Robot, my personal favorite was “Little Lost Robot,” in which Dr. Calvin and her associates lose a robot with a diminished First Law (meaning that it can harm humans), and they must find it again before it can escape to Earth and wreak havoc on the planet, resulting in a loss of support for the robot initiative. However, all the stories were definitely thought-provoking ones, and I would recommend the entire collection to all readers, sci-fi fans or otherwise.

-Mahak M.

I, Robot by Isaac Asimov is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.