Messenger by Lois Lowry

By this point in The Giver series, people have given up reading for a host of reasons. First, they never even made it to Gathering Blue. Third, they read Gathering Blue and did not see the connection to The Giver so didn’t see a point in continuing. They have something against their amazing book.

First of all, it’s a series so, like, get with the program. Plus they are great reads anyway so you won’t be wasting your time. Basically, there is this world (presumably ours but in the future) where there are scattered communities that are pretty much all messed up. One is a utopia, where a boy named Jonas is selected for a special job that will lead him to see beyond the norm. Another is just really wonky and the government (which btw is all guys) pretty much enslaves children with talent. Here, Kira is commissioned as a slave for her skill in weaving.

The Giver is dedicated to Janas and his story while Gathering Blue tells of Kira and her triumphs. A lot of the time people read The Giver and are like “Wow, that was great! (The book, not the society people, don’t go thinking that) What rose can I read by my new queen, Lois Lowry?”. Then they are like, “Oh, Gathering Blue, this looks cool.”. And they go through and read it but don’t actually pay attention to it because they spend the whole time trying to figure out how it is related to The Giver (myself included). Friend, don’t make that mistake. Not if but when you read Gathering Blue, appreciate it for what it is. Don’t meet Micheal Jackson and then Janet and spend your whole conversation trying to look for things that make them look related! You’ll miss out on everything that she has to say.

The point is, before you do anything else with your life, read The Giver. Then, before you even blink start reading Gathering Blue and get your life back on track. If it is not apparent, these books are, like, sacrilegious to me. Messenger does not really connect The Giver and Gathering Blue. Now you are probably thinking, “What, I just went through all of your lamenting for that”. Hold your horses. Messenger lays the groundwork for Son, the last and longest book in the series. Messenger and Son are as related as The Giver and Gathering Blue are unrelated if you catch my drift. In Messenger, you see more of two background characters from Gathering Blue. If you would like the general summary, continue further.

WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS FOR EVERYONE WHO IS NOT TAKING THE TITLE OF THIS PARAGRAPH SERIOUSLY.

You have been warned. If you thought that I was ranting up top, you have not seen the beginning. Deep breath and…once upon a time in Gathering Blue when Kira meets her father, Seer, he says that he lives in a community that is like literally the only nice place in the world to raise your kids. They accept refugees from all of the other wackadoo cities, in fact, it was founded by them too. Kira’s friend Matty goes to life with Seer. The story takes place while Matty is coming of age (surprise surprise, Lois Lowry is a partial time that age) and is looking for a job/purpose in the world. He really likes to deliver letters and parcels for the villagers (because there aren’t and forms of digital messaging here). He is like the Hermes, going back and forth. He aspires to be the town’s mailman. In this city, it is sort of like in colonial times. Everyone is an expert at something. For example, there is one baker, one teacher, one candlestick maker. You name it, there is only one. Matty wants to be an expert delivery man. Anywhoo, he is coming of age and learning about himself when low and behold, a conflict arises! This town is basically full of first-generation refugees. These people understand the serious oppression in their world. They get that it is no bed of roses.

Not only that, these people were brave enough to escape and start new lives for themselves. They are the spinning images of chivalrous; morally strong and outwardly brave and kind. However, this super sketchy dude comes along and (almost) ruined it. In case you have not picked up on it by now, everyone’s superpowers are kind of magical. Jonas and his “seeing beyond”. Kira’s impeccable weaving. Matty’s, uh, speedy deliveries. Well, this sketchy guy, Trademaster, he’s magical too, but he has dark magic. He operates this event where he comes into the good little town and tempts people with things that they desire in refers to part of their soul. Mahhhh! I know, it’s super trippy. So, say you want the winning lottery ticket. Snap! He makes it happen. Awesome, right? No friend, most defiantly not awesome. In return for that lottery ticket you are going to have to part with part of yourself. “Great!” you think yo yourself, “I get this lottery ticket and I get to get rid of my bad temper, cool!”. FRIEND, sit down, sit down right now.

Trademaster would not want your bad temper, no one does. He collects juicy things like “kindness”, “morality”, “intelligence”, “bravery”, things to put on your resume. So you get the lottery ticket and you win and you are loaded but your partner breaks up with you and you and says your breath stinks and you are losing hair and getting fat and wrinkly and old. Then you are sitting all alone one-night scooping ice cream out of a carton watching soap operas and wondering what happened to your life. Your rich, but lonely. Snap! Trademaster took your “romanticness”. Not worth it, huh. But now it’s too late. You are stuck being lonely and single forever. So basically, Trademaster rolls into town and everyone is like Oh, ah! Matty quickly learns from the wisdom of Seer that Trademaster is sketchy and tries to convince everyone else of this. Meanwhile, Trademaster is corrupting the town. This empire of refugees is building a wall to block out people seeking freedom and a new life. Also, if the wall is closed up Seer will never see Kira again! Matty has to go on the most important delivery mission of his career, to bring Kira to see her father. I am going to leave you on a cliff hanger. But hopefully, my summary has intrigued you enough to keep reading the series.

Once upon a time there was a rural, simple little town built of refugees from maniacal communities. There is a boy who is coming of age and wants to discover his calling and has a passion for mail delivery. He and his adopted father are the only ones who see through Trademaster an evil magician who’s ambition is to turn all of the noble-minded people against one another and all other refugees. I can never give it the justice that it deserves.

This book is not as exciting as the other three, that’s true. However, it connects Gathering Blue to the last book and lays the foundation for Son which is really, really phenomenal. Thank you for listening to my ranting, hopefully, it has done you some good and Good Night!

-Ainsley H. 

Messenger by Lois Lowry is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

Ender’s Game is a science fiction novel set in the distant future when humans have accomplished interstellar travel and faster than light communications. In this age, humans are threatened by the existence of the Formics, commonly known as the Buggers, an alien race that nearly wiped out humanity in two previous invasions. Ender’s Game is a science fiction classic with lots of physiological themes.

The protagonist of Ender’s Game is Ender, a child prodigy with exception intelligence. Ender is recruited for Battle School, a space station where exceptional children like Ender are trained to become commanders and leaders to combat a future Formic invasion. At Battle School, students are sorted into “armies,” which are their groups for a game similar to laser tag, but in a zero gravity situation. These armies are extremely competitive, and Ender soon finds himself many allies and enemies as he emerges as the best of the best.

Ender’s Game also has many psychological aspects, as Ender is constantly forced to outsmart and outplay his enemies. For example, Ender states that he constantly beat one of his bullies at the beginning of the novels to win the current fight and all future fights. There’s lots of psychology in the book since the novel is about geniuses.

Ultimately, Ender’s Game can be considered a masterpiece. It is a must-read for science-fiction novel fans and is simply a very enjoyable book.

-Josh N.

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

Golden Son by Pierce Brown

Recently, I read Golden Son written by Pierce Brown. I really enjoyed this book and I am currently reading the third book in the series. The story is set in the future, when mankind has evolved. Now, humans are split into different levels, based off of the color of their skin. The story takes place right after Red Rising and still follows Darrow. He is getting closer and closer to his goal. In this novel, Darrow is having trouble getting the golds to start a civil war.

I chose this excellent book for many reasons. Overall, the book is well written. It has a good mix of action and suspense. One thing I liked about Golden Son was the relationship between Darrow and the Belonna family. Going off of the first book, Darrow and Cassius still have a vendetta.  One of my favorite parts of the book was when Cassius and Darrow finally meet after two years. Darrow challenges Cassius to a duel, and of course Cassius accepts. Cassius is known for being good at dueling, so he is over confident. At first, Darrow acts very bad at dueling, building up Cassius’s confidence. Then, Darrow pulls out all of his tricks. He tells Cassius that he has been training everyday for this moment. He easily beats Cassius, cutting off his arm, and starting a civil war, starting his goal. Overall, I would rate this book nine out of ten, and would recommend this to any middle-schoolers and up.

-Daniel C.

Golden Son by Pierce Brown is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey is the second book from the 5th Wave series. This book focuses on everything that happens after the explosion of Camp Haven. Cassie, Ben, Dumbo, Ringer, Poundcake, Nugget, and Teacup are all holed up in an old hotel. They have nowhere to go and are running dangerously low on supplies. Ringer refuses to believe Cassie about Evan Walker and how he survived the explosion at Camp Haven.

Tired of staying in the hotel, Ringer and Teacup set off to explore and look for caverns to hide in. After they have been gone for an unusually long time, Ben starts to worry.  Then Evan appears and sends everybody into a panic not knowing whether they can trust him. Then they hear the sounds of a helicopter over the hotel, which makes their worries worse. As the helicopter goes farther and farther away, a child appears in the hallway. She repeats over and over saying her throat hurts. She is taken into a hotel room to get rest and once inside, they see that her throat is extremely swollen. They look inside her throat and find what has caused it to swell. The Others had inserted a bomb into her throat which would detonate when it detected carbon dioxide. They quickly take the bomb out of her throat and leave the hotel. Meanwhile, Ringer had been captured by Vosch and was being implanted with the 12th system. She kills the nurse who is taking care of her and escapes with Teacup.

-E. Vargas

The Infinite Sea by Rick Yancey is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Titanfall 2 by Respawn Entertainment

Titanfall was a great game, winning over 60 rewards at its 2013 reveal, but Titanfall 2 was definitely was a step up. Titanfall 2 was nominated  for multiple year-end accolades including Game of the Year and Best Shooter awards, by several gaming publications. Just talking about Respawn’s success with Titanfall makes it sound like a good game! Trust me, it gets better.

Titanfall 2’s high success was due to its captivating campaign mode and its various online multiplayer modes. Titanfall 2’s many online modes put it above its first game. You can play Free for all, capture the flag, and attrition just to name a few. You play as a pilot, being a pilot gives you a massive variety of guns and abilities. You have sniper rifles, shotguns, and automatic guns. You can also grapple buildings, run on walls, and turn invisible!

Running and jumping around as a pilot is only half of the game, the other half you play in a titan. Titans are giant mecha-style exoskeletions that will crush the battlefield.  If you played the original Titanfall, you would know that there was only one titan you could play as. In Titanfall 2, you have seven different titans to chose from! But I’ll say no more, so I don’t spoil the game for you.

One final thing that separated Titanfall 2 from Titanfall was its single player campaign mode. In campaign, you play as rifleman Jack Cooper. He hopes to one day become a pilot of a titan. And he becomes a pilot of titan BT-7274, but in a way he did not expect. Together you switch between Jack Cooper and BT-7274 as you try to stop the IMC. I enjoyed the campaign adventure a lot. It has great a great back round and has great storytelling. Plus you get to do things that you would never be able to do in multiplayer.(E.g. traveling in time!) But I’ll let you play the game to find out on your own. This is definitely an FPS you should consider getting. Five star game.

-Brandon D.

Avengers 4: Endgame Trailer

Recently, fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe were hit by two trailers for upcoming films within the same month. Disney’s Marvel released the trailers for their upcoming films Captain Marvel (2019) and Avengers 4: Endgame (2019). Endgame, being the final addition to the multi-million dollar project that is Marvel’s The Avengers, is the slightly more anticipated film.

The first trailer for Avengers: Endgame was released on December 7, 2018, and as of today (December 25, 2018) has acquired 75,832,393 views on YouTube alone. The first frame is the iconic helmet donned by Iron Man, which would have a happy and excited connotation if it were not for the condition of the helmet. As Tony Stark reaches out to the disembodied helmet of his prized Mark 50, the viewer notices that both the piece of technology and Stark himself appear battered and bruised.

Stark begins recording a message for his girlfriend, Pepper Potts, who also runs Stark Industries. He asks tells her not to feel guilty about his impending death: Tony is stuck in the Benetar, the ship used by the Guardians of the Galaxy in Infinity War. Stark explains that he ran out of food and water four days ago and that oxygen will run out in a day. He gives a heartfelt message to his love back on Earth, telling Pepper that he will dream of her as he drifts off. As he ends the recording, the frame transitions into the classic logo for Marvel Studios, but with a gut-wrenching twist: it fades into dust, imitating the results of Thanos’ snap.

The scene transitions to the suit worn by Thanos in Infinity War. Thanos appears in the frame, but only partially: the viewer can observe his right hand, with the gauntlet melted to it due to the raw power released by his snap, brushing against the plant life on Titan 2, which is where Thanos retired to after the battle. The frame cuts to the Avengers headquarters in upstate New York, inside of which are Natasha Romanov and Steve Rogers, the latter with tears running down his face. As Natasha does a voice-over explaining that Thanos achieved his goal of wiping out half the universe, the viewer can see Bruce Banner scrolling through pictures of the heroes who are missing, including Scott Lang, Princess Shuri of Wakanda, and Peter Parker.

The frame cuts to another shot of the Avengers compound, then to broken-looking Thor. As Steve Rogers does a voice-over explaining what everyone has lost due to Thanos’ malevolent mission, the video exhibits Nebula running a comforting hand over Tony Stark’s shoulder. The trailer cuts to Clint Barton; however, he’s in Japan, wearing a leather suit, with a katana, which shocks Natasha as she watches him pull off his mask.

The trailer cuts swiftly to Steve Rogers and Natasha Romanov once more, but this time they’re in an airplane; Steve is back in his old suit, and his rugged beard is gone as he opens his old compass with a picture of Peggy Carter inside. Natasha assures Steve that their mysterious plan will work, and he agrees. The frame cuts to the iconic Avengers logo in purple hues, with the word “Endgame” under it. The logo is made up of the metaphorical rubble left behind by Infinity War.

All of a sudden, the screen goes black, and Scott Lang’s voice can be heard, asking is anyone is home. The footage that matches it appears, and Scott Lang seems to be asking someone to let him in as Steve Rogers comes into the frame and asks if the footage is recent. Natasha Romanov appears beside him, saying quietly that this footage appears to be from the front door of the compound. The image of the Black Widow’s face fades out as the screen goes black except for one word: April, which is when the highly anticipated movie will be released.

-Arushi S. 

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

Image result for the hitchhiker's guide to the galaxyThe Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy starts off on a normal Thursday – until, of course, a repulsive alien race arrives with the intention of destroying the entire Earth in order to construct a new galactic bypass.

Seconds before Arthur Dent is vaporized along with the entirety of his planet, he is lucky (or unlucky) enough to be saved by his friend Ford Prefect, who is actually a researcher for The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (which is exactly what it sounds like), and who has been stranded on Earth for the past fifteen years.

As Arthur and Ford travel throughout the galaxy, they team up with Zaphod Beeblebrox, the two-headed, three-armed, slightly insane president of the galaxy; Trillian (Zaphod’s girlfriend), the only other human being left in the galaxy; and Marvin the Paranoid Android, an extremely intelligent but extremely depressed robot.

Together, this unorthodox crew will travel across the galaxy in search of the universal question of life as well as the answer to the question no one cares about. They will face indescribable horrors in the form of Vogon poetry and two white mice; they will almost die, then improbably survive, then almost die again; but above all, they will remember the mantra of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy: DON’T PANIC!

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is an extremely entertaining novel that truly combines humor and science-fiction into one unforgettable book. Adams makes up for a lack of plot with an overabundance of satire and hilarity that will leave the reader racing from cover to cover faster than they can say ‘Magrathea.’ Fans of science fiction, humor, or reading in general will immediately fall in love with this prime example of imaginative fiction.  

-Mahak M.

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library. It is also free to download from Overdrive