The Protagonist: EX-1 Game review

The Protagonist: EX-1 is a tactical turn-based RPG game. Players play as a highly trained soldier, that is tasked with infiltrating an alien spacecraft. Players are split up from their original team and need to fight their way through the ship to find them. Players can unlock new team members, weapons, perks, and more on their journeys. The Protagonist: EX-1 was overall a really fun game, and it had a lot of great ideas and factors that added to the overall gaming experience such as the animation, combat, and tactical immersion.

The first thing that came to mind when I started playing The Protagonist: EX-1 was how realistic the game was. The game starts off with a voice-over from the main character, and a cutscene. Players watch as huge spaceships fly through space, varying in size and speed. The cutscene cuts to the player’s squad, as they start to gear up for battle.  The game cuts abruptly to the main character lying down as alarms go off around them. Players are told that they have been cut off from their squad and that they need to infiltrate the ship that they are on in order to find them. This is where the gameplay actually starts, and players are able to move around freely. 

Once players are able to move around freely, they can explore the ship from a top-down perspective. The graphics and effects in The Protagonist: EX-1 were surprisingly good for being a tactile RPG, and I was shocked at how realistic the ship looked. The character models were a bit choppy and could have been refined. Besides that, I could not find any other problems with the graphics or look of the game.

The last thing that I want to talk about is the combat in The Protagonist: EX-1. How the combat works is simple and is like a lot of turn-style games. Players will face off against enemies and will take turns attacking each other. In The Protagonist: EX-1, players choose different types of attacks that they can use, creating combos that can deal more damage. For example, players can pair different types of weapons or different types of physical attacks like punches and kicks that will deal more damage. I found this game mechanic to be a great addition to the game, and added a tactical aspect to it.

Overall, I really enjoyed The Protagonist: EX-1. With the realistic look, tactile gameplay, and new combat mechanics, the game was a very fun SciFi turn game. I would rate this game a solid eight out of ten. I would recommend players that enjoy space exploration games to give The Protagonist: EX-1 a try.

-Daniel CW.

Manga Review: Erased by Kei Sanbe

Many of the popular manga we see nowadays center around action and fantasy. Such famous mangas still have amazing reads and obviously attract readers around the globe for a reason, but they fall short of meaning or depth in their plots. Yes, there’s a lengthy plot, lovable characters, and other factors that appeal to minds of all ages. But do these mangas also talk about the reality of our world? Do they bring heart-throbbing events where the main character can’t gain hope from a 30-minute monologue? I admit, Erased may not be the best book to those looking for a light-hearted novel, but it’s definitely worth reading and allows readers to see both the beauty and cruelty of our real world.

Erased is also referred to as Boku dake ga Inai Machi (僕だけがいない街), which is directly translated as “The Town Where Only I Am Missing.” Written by Kei Sanbe, the series is filled with thriller, mystery, and a bit of science fiction. The story entails of a young man named Satoru. He enables the ability to time-travel before a life-threatening event and prevent it from happening, also known as “Revival.” One night, his mother is murdered by an unknown killer; the pain-staking event sends Satoru eighteen years back into his childhood. After discovering that the murderer is tied to his past, Satoru is now given the opportunity to prevent his mother’s death by discovering who the murderer is, as well as solve the case of three missing children in his home town.

To be honest, there are moments where the plot doesn’t make sense—especially since the author never mentions why Satoru is able to time-travel. Regardless, the plot of the book series remains absolutely phenomenal; the author quickens the plot’s pace when necessary and fills it with extreme twists and events that leaves the audience filled with emotions. The characters themselves are either loved or despised, and every character reaches their fullest potential, regardless of being a hero or villain.

But I digress—what is most enjoyable about this book is its uniqueness and how meaningful the story is. Time-travel itself is quite a cheesy plot factor, but the connection between reality and fantasy is what makes the series interesting. Overall, the plot remains realistic; characters often make mistakes and feel lost, some moments seem hopeless, and a glimpse of light that every reader looks for rarely shines. Sanbe weaves the cruel reality of our world into the plot with regards to child abuse and kidnapping. Yet he still gives signs of faith and hope through time-traveling and fiction, giving Satoru another chance at making things right, and a bittersweet ending. Such factors are simply not found in any typical manga.

Overall, the Erased series is truly underrated. Although it does fit those who prefer the gory over glory, Erased does what any manga rarely does—give hope and faith to the hopelessness of our real world.

– Natisha P.

Erased by Kei Sanbe is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is the second book in the Maze Runner series. It’s another very good read like the first book in the series. This book starts the second the other book ends in the story so it feels like you are still in the hectic moment that was the end of the first book. In this book, the characters learn more about the world that is outside of the maze and they find out that life outside might be worse than life inside because there is a virus called the flare virus that is taking over the population and turning people insane and zombie-like. In the story, they call people who are infected and zombie-like Cranks.

Overall this book is a great read just like the first book. This book gives us as readers more information on the characters that we have grown to love and also gave us more insight into the even more dangerous situation that the teens have now gotten themselves in. Also, the movie version of this book is good as well but the book is better in my opinion since they change some things in the movie which differentiate it from the book.

-Howard M.

The Scorch Trials by James Dashner is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

This book was one of the first books that made reading more interesting for me, as it started off with some background information about how nine children, referred to as Garde, were tasked with saving Earth after their home planet, Lorien, was destroyed from the evil Mogadorians, from the planet Mogadore, that are planning to take over Earth, with mentors known as Cepan tasked with helping the Garde realize their abilities. Each of the nine were separated, however the Mogadorians have already killed three of the Garde. The story takes place in the narrative of Four, who takes on many aliases before the story but settles with the identity of John Smith, and his Cepan Brandon takes on the name Henri.

When I go back and read this book, I love how they always make it clear that John feels like an outcast compared to the rest of the high school kids in Paradise, Ohio, the city and state that he and Henri settle in, as he feels alone in this new school and doubts who he can trust to stay alive. Along with the emphasis of Four being a new student, he also deals with common high school issues that people deal with today, such as a high school bully in Mark James, a crush in Sarah Hart, and a best friend in Sam Goode. Although Four is meant to be a defender of Earth, the author does a very good job in humanizing Four and his struggles to balance his duty of survival and his personal life, relating to many teens in high school today who have to balance school, sports, and personal life.

Also, throughout the story, I found it interesting how John and Henri clash in their different viewpoints of the path moving forward. Although Henri feels endangered after his life was nearly taken while looking for answers on the Mogadorians, John wants to stay in Paradise, as he feels a strong connection and love for Sarah and a closer friendship with Sam, as Sam has little connection with his family. Since Sam finally has a friend in John and treats him like family, it is understandable why John does not to leave and argues with Henri. I found this similar to how kids often have to move schools due to their parents getting new jobs and moving houses and possibly even states, and have to leave friends behind. The tension between John and Henri over this decision is clear, but in the end, Henri supported John’s decision and fought to protect John like a father, even sacrificing his life to save John.

Overall, this book is a good read and worth taking a look into, as everything comes full circle in the story. I believe that high school students in particular would really enjoy this novel, as it highlights struggles to fit into a new school and make new friends, something that really shapes a high school experience. However, what always pushed me into reading this novel over and over again was how John perfectly fit into normal high school life and struggles, despite his difference in origin and powers. This kickstarted my interest in the Lorien Legacies and helped me find more interest in exploring all the possibilities in new books, which I believe will do the same for anyone that reads this book in the future.

-Lawrence B.

I Am Number Four by Patticus Lore is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

The Knife of Never Letting Go follows 12-year-old Todd Hewitt and his companion Viola on their journey to reach New Haven, a town at the other end of the world. The history of their planet is one of the grim desolate conditions, which Todd learns early on as he has raised in Prentisstown: a town where every man can hear each other’s thoughts and all the women died of a mysterious disease soon after Todd was born. The youngest boy in the town, he is exactly one month away from becoming a man when his guardians, Ben and Cillian, send him away into the swamp with no explanations, and only a warning that everything he knows about the history of Prentisstown and the New World is a lie. In the wilderness, he meets Viola, a young girl that survived a space shuttle wreck meant to scout the area for new settlers. Together, along with Todd’s easily distracted yet loyal dog Manchee, they run and fight to survive in a world they soon realize is nothing like they were told.

Patrick Ness, the award-winning author of A Monster Calls, depicts the story through the thoughts of Todd, his inner monologue and Noise (men’s broadcasted thoughts in the New World), and the chaotic noise of the other men around him. He displays the emotional connections Todd makes with Viola and his guardian Ben, as well as the confusion and horror when slowly realizing the secrets of Prentisstown, all while hiding a dramatic bombshell of death and despair that we only get to read and imagine towards the end of their journey. Themes of maturity, love, death, and hope scatter the novel as the characters grow, leading to a beautiful final destination that feels all but complete, as plans are derailed for us to wait in anxiety for the next installment.

Having read this book for the first time several years ago, I was excited yet worried to read it again; the book is a towering and intimidating 500 pages, but is impossible to put down. The twists and turns shocked me once again, and I thoroughly enjoyed my second read. I look forward to uncovering the secrets of the rest of the trilogy in the coming months.

-Bailey L. 

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova

Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate, written by Zoraida Cordova, is a riveting romance that takes place in the First Order era in the adventurous Star Wars galaxy far, far away.  I picked this book up at Barnes and Noble one day and could not put it down for the next few days!  

Whether or not you have visited Galaxy’s Edge at Disneyland, you will most likely enjoy stepping into the world of this Star Wars planet and following the smuggler Izzy Garsea as she seeks to find her place in the universe.  Along the way, she reunites with her childhood best friend Jules, who remained as a farmer on their home planet Batuu after she left as a child.  Their mutual feelings are rekindled as they come into conflict with the First Order, reminisce about the past, and wonder about a potential future together.  

If you’re not a Star Wars fan, you might find some details confusing, but if you’re a particular Star Wars enthusiast, you will notice all the tiny details that help immerse you in this alternate world.  So if you enjoy a well-written blend of romance and adventure set in the Star Wars universe, then A Crash of Fate is for you!

-Lauren D.

Star Wars Galaxy’s Edge: A Crash of Fate by Zoraida Cordova is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

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.