Comparing Series: Shatter Me Series vs. The Cruel Prince Series

The Shatter Me series by Tahereh Mafi and The Cruel Prince series by Holly Black are both amazing fiction book series. The Shatter Me series consists of 6 books and 5 novellas while The Cruel Prince series consists of 3 books.

The Shatter Me series involves the main character, Juliette, who has the ability of the touch of death. Meaning that whoever she touches dies. We follow her through her challenges of finding herself and struggling with being wanted. As a child Juliette was neglected for being they way she was. Throughout the series she finds connections with many characters and she truly finds meaningful relationships. The series has a big plot twist that no one expects in the last 3 books. Each book keeps you wanting more. The first 3 books are in Juliette’s POV while the others are in multiple POVs.

The Cruel Prince series follows a human named Jude. She wants to live in the High Court of Faerie instead of the human world. To live at the court she has to trick the cruel prince named Cardan. Cardan is the youngest prince and he and Jude hate each other. Jude throughout the series finds out she is good at defying people and causing bloodshed. Later in the series Jude becomes the brain behind all of Cardan’s decisions and finds she is a powerful political leader. She has to maintain order in Faerie and keep everything under her control.

In both series there is a powerful female character that is in charge. Jude and Juliette have to maintain order and to do so they have to face many challenges. They overcome their troubles and do what’s better for society instead of themselves. Jude and Juliette learn to sacrifice their own happiness for the better of society. Being powerful rulers, they need to be selfless and Jude and Juliette show this trait throughout the series. Both series also have major plot twists towards the end of the series.

The series have their differences as well. The Shatter Me books are more science fiction while The Cruel Prince series is more fantasy with non-human creatures. The Shatter Me series is focused around overthrowing the corrupt government controlling everyone and everything. They have laws restricting the people in the series and the main character’s main goal is to make the world return to normal. The Cruel Prince series has non-human creatures that are cut-off from the human world. They are separated and the main character, Jude, is a human trying to maintain peace in the non-human world. So, though both series are fiction, they are different types of fiction.

Both series still reflect the same messages. The main characters learn to form relationships with the people they love, showing the message of not having to be alone forever. You will find people that respect you and want to be a positive influence on your life.

Both series were a 5/5 star rating and I definitely recommend reading them!

-Kaitlyn D.

Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

The Cruel Prince by Holly Black is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Son: An Ambitious Ending, or a Massive Misstep?

Written 19 years after the first book, Son is the fourth and final book of the “Giver Quartet” by Lois Lowry and it undoubtedly had a weight to live up to. As with each book in the series, the audience is thrust into a world of questions. Only unlike its predecessors, Son has answers.

The story follows a girl named Claire as she fights to be reunited with her son (hence the book’s name). She lives in the same community as Jonas from The Giver. Because of this community, she gives birth to a son that she is banned from being with. While she originally tries to be with her child, the events that end “The Giver” drastically affect her as she winds up in a new colony, with no memories but her name. It is here that she is taken in by a village elder and nicknamed “Water Claire.” She steadily gains her memories, particularly those relating to her lost son, and gains her strength. The village is surprised that she has never seen mammals, pets, or even seasons. But she’s surprised that the village doesn’t have any knowledge of written language, electricity, or medicine. While she does enjoy her time in the village and builds connections with several characters, she eventually embarks upon a daring climb to meet with an old villain and makes a dangerous bargain to be reunited with her son. This part of this story is amazing, particularly Claire’s relationships. She’s a remarkably well done and relatable character, risking everything just being reunited with her son. Lowry is truly the best at creating mini-worlds filled with enjoyable and believable characters.

However, from this point onward the story starts to unravel. We get to see the colony her son lives in and his relationship with old characters like Jonas and even Kira. Yet unlike my previous praise, these characters don’t have that powerful relationship or believable attitude. Then we get to see her son’s battle against an old villain, but it’s just weak. Claire climbing a mountain carries more weight than a battle against an embodiment of evil. I don’t understand what happened, it was as if Lowry had a single day to write the ending of the book. It failed to be as powerful or emotional as any of the previous books when it desperately needed to, resulting in a book that is three-fourths fascinating and enjoyable and a final stretch that’s remarkably bland and an overall disappointing end to a wonderful series.

-Parker K.

Son by Lois Lowry is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells

The War of the Worlds is a highly-influential science fiction novel by H. G. Wells.  The story seems to be set around the late 1800s.  When a supposed meteorite crashes near the narrator’s home, little to no suspicion is aroused.  However, on closer inspection, the object appears to be a huge, artificial cylinder.  Ugly, grotesque aliens emerge from the cylinder, only to retreat back inside.  A group of people attempt to greet the Martian visitors, only to be shot down with a heat-ray.  More and more aliens arrive, and it becomes apparent that Mars has plotted an invasion of Earth.

This book is one of the first science fiction stories of its kind.  It seems almost cliche now for a science fiction story to include an alien invasion, but this was one of the first novels to explore that concept.  The story uses many creative elements that seem ahead of its time, such as tripod-like alien fighter machines that shoot heat-rays.  In a strange way, I enjoyed reading about the humans’ pitiful attempts to defend themselves against the Martians.  The Martians possessed highly-advanced technology, which made it extremely difficult for humans to defeat them with traditional weapons.

I would consider this book a must-read for science fiction fans.  It may be one of the most popular and influential books of its kind.  It is written in a way that makes it seem like an actual historical event, which makes it even more thrilling to read.  Like many of H. G. Wells’ novels, the tone of this book feels dark but engrossing at the same time.  Some people may find the book a bit hair-raising and even frightening, but I enjoyed it thoroughly and would highly recommend it.

-Oliver H.

The War of the Worlds by H.G. Wells is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick

Following a devastating global war called World War Terminus, the radioactive fallout in the Earth’s atmosphere has left the planet near inhospitable, driving entire species of animals into extinction. Most of mankind has fled from their homeworld, preferring to live in off-world colonies. The humans who remain desire any living creature, and for those who cannot afford one, incredibly realistic copies of any creature can be made to order, from sheep to ostriches to anything in between – including humans.

While the androids were originally designed to assist the immigrants to Mars, their frightening indistinguishability from actual humans caused them to be banned from Earth. Some rogue androids, or “andys,” however, escaped, and now live among human beings undetected. Because of this, official bounty hunters are commissioned to find these androids and “retire” them.

Rick Deckard, a bounty hunter living in what was once San Francisco, is tasked with finding a special group of andys, designated Nexus-6, a highly intelligent model made of organic material so similar to that of humans that only an invasive posthumous procedure can determine the difference. While Deckard begins his commission believing it to be ultimately no different from his other missions, he quickly realizes that this is far from the case. The advanced androids are so indiscernible from regular humans that Deckard begins to empathize with them, finding it harder to complete his mission as it goes along. However, the andys are not human, and when faced with certain death, they are completely willing to fight for their survival by any means necessary.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is simultaneously an intriguing science fiction novel and an analysis of the psychological impact of loneliness and what it means to be human. The action-filled plot takes the reader on a rollercoaster of emotions with a twist ending. This book is definitely recommended to fans of the sci-fi or dystopian genres.

-Mahak M.

Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

What You May Want To Know Before Watching Dune

The movie adaptation of Dune by Frank Herbert, which is directed by Denis Villeneuve, will be released in theaters on October 22 this year. The first movie is the first of a trilogy that will cover the first two dune books, Dune and Dune messiah. The book having 22 chapters and 412 pages. Dune the movie will cover around the first half of the book so around 11 chapters in 2 hours and 35 minutes.

Dune written in 1965, was in part inspired by The Sabres of Paradise by Lesley Blanch published in 1960. Dune is one of the most popular and influential sci-fi books of all time has changed sci-fi and set the standard for a great sci-fi book. Dune has been adapted into a movie before in 1985, where they tried to cover the whole book leading to the movie being a failure. This time with the movie only covers the first half might portray the complex story better.

*There may be spoilers ahead*The story focuses on the character Paul Atreides a thoughtful and quiet boy and son of Duke Leto Atreides. Duke Leto is the Duke of Arrakis. Arrakis is the planet most of the story takes place on. The nickname or other name for the planet of Arrakis is Dune. Arrakis is called Dune because the planet is almost completely covered in deserts.

The villain is Baron Vladimir Harkonnen, the Duke’s political rival and former owner of Arrakis. A power-hungry person he becomes the main villain trying to take control of Arrakis from the Duke.

Dune is expected to be a success, and from the looks of the trailer has great CGI effects. Do you think Dune will be a success or a failure?

-Luke G.

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.