Voltron: Legendary Defender, Rebooted and Rewarding

voltronNetflix’s new animated series, Voltron: Legendary Defender, takes the much-beloved 80’s cartoon Voltron: Defender of the Universe and rebuilds the world of space battles, robotic lions, and strong friendships in a new take on the classic sci-fi adventure. With its second season having been recently released on Jan. 20th, fans have jumped at the chance to devour the new set of 13 episodes and now eagerly await more.

Our story centers around five humans from Earth – Shiro, Lance, Hunk, Pidge, and Keith – that discover a giant blue robotic lion that’s been sitting dormant in the desert. Once they’re inside, the lion activates and flies the five heroes into space – yes, a flying lion spaceship – where they meet two aliens named Coran and Allura. They are from the planet Altea, which was destroyed by the Galra Empire thousands of years ago. The Galra Empire has been continuing its tyrannical takeover ever since, and the universe needs Voltron to save it. What is Voltron, you ask? Coran and Allura explain to the five heroes that the blue lion they uncovered is one of five robotic lions that, when piloted, can combine into a massive, human-shaped robot of great power named Voltron. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Despite the absurdity of the idea, this show executes it so well. The action is intense, the alien civilizations wildly creative, and the animation a far leap ahead of its 80’s counterpart. The characters are developed and getting deeper as the show goes on, and the plot is fast-paced and entertaining. I saw the first season when it first released early in 2016, and the year long wait for Season 2 was worth it. The creators of the show, Joaquin Dos Santos and Lauren Montgomery, stay true enough to the original but have updated it in many, much-needed ways. They pay attention to their ever-growing fanbase and deliver quality episodes that continue to appease and surprise.

The characters are all individually enjoyable and have great dynamics together. Shiro leads the group as the paladin, or pilot, of the Black Lion and acts as the head of the group, as opposed to Keith doing so in the original series. Keith now pilots the Red Lion as its impulsive, ready-to-fight paladin. Lance is the flirtatious jokester and sharpshooter paladin of the Blue Lion. Hunk is the food-loving engineer and pilot of the Yellow Lion. Pidge, who is now a girl as opposed to her male 80’s counterpart, is a tech genius and the youngest of the group, piloting the Green Lion. Allura is the princess of Altea, and Coran is her advisor.

Not only have these characters been fully-fleshed out with backstories (although we’re still waiting on Lance’s and Hunk’s backstories) and motivations, but the new Voltron has made an effort to diversify its cast. Allura, Hunk, Shiro, and Lance are all people of color now, and Pidge’s gender change has brought a second female into the limelight. I for one am incredibly happy to see this push for diversity. The dialogue is conversational and natural, and the tone switches appropriately from light-hearted and goofy to serious and heartfelt when called for. In the newest season, the concept of prejudice is brought up and addressed exceptionally well. It’s progressive, and I love it.

Of course, the past 30 years have led to much better quality animation, leaving Netflix’s version with a style reminiscent of the popular Avatar: The Last Airbender. Voltron mixes CGI into the mainly 2D show in order to make the lions, Voltron, and fight scenes stand out. The character animation is exaggerated for comedy and detailed for intensity, switching it up depending on what the story calls for.

Voltron: Legendary Defender deserves a watch; go and see Season 1’s first episode, which is pretty plot-heavy, and you’ll have a good sense of the show’s dynamic. I applaud Netflix’s approach to this classic and anticipate next year’s season!

-Abby F., 12th grade

 

Series Review: The Delirium Trilogy by Lauren Oliver

delirium_seriesIt was bittersweet to read the last book in the Delirium trilogy by Lauren Oliver! I love the series and did not want it to come to an end. Regardless, I swept through the last book in a day because I couldn’t put it down. Oliver has a way of writing that catches the mind and causes you to lose track of time. And in my opinion, all the best authors have the ability to do so.

Let me give you a quick synopsis of the first two books. In Delirium we meet Lena, a teenage girl living in a society where love is considered a disease and eighteen year olds are “cured” from the disease, matched with someone, and left to live their lives void of emotions. Just before her eighteenth birthday, Lena meets and falls in love with a mysterious boy named Alex. Despite her family’s disgust and her society’s warnings, Lena chooses to secretly meet Alex and develop a relationship with him. Tracing the revolution, revolts and raids by the “Invalids” (those who escaped society for freedom) begin in the first book while Lena and Alex are at a forbidden party. The first book ends with Lena escaping with Alex into the Wilds. But just as Alex throws Lena across the fence, guards swarm in and cover Lena’s sight of him.

In Pandemonium, Lena learns to survive in the Wilds. She is taken in almost dead by Raven and Tack and their entire family and struggles to cope with loss throughout the whole book. She becomes almost a daughter to the couple and joins in with family work. Lena also learns that the family supports the rebellion against the society and decides to join in the fight. Going undercover as a supporter of the DFA (Deliria Free America), Lena learns the group’s tactics and reports back to the Wilds. During one of the meetings, a group of Invalids known as Scavengers attack and take Lena and the leader Julian as captives. Forced into one prison cell, Lena learns about Julian’s past and falls in love with him. Julian, on the other hand, does not know love because he has not escaped like Lena has, and learns how to love Lena in return. The two make a break for freedom and succeed ending the book in a joyous reunion, or so it may seem. You’ll have to read to find out for yourself!

Requiem features Lena and Julian (with some surprise guests) in the Wilds working to break the wall into the society. This book switches between the perspectives of Lena and Hannah (Lena’s newly cured friend from Portland.) I liked how the reader was able to see what was happening in both the Wilds and society. It was especially exciting right before the final rebellion because the suspense on the Wilds side far surpassed the unknowing calm of the cureds. I don’t want to give away too much but Lena struggles between making choices based on the memories of her past and her feelings in the present. I love the ending of the book and how Lena proves that she is a trustworthy friend even in the most desperate situations. The main themes of this book are friendship, love, sacrifice, and survival.

Overall I loved this trilogy! I wish Oliver had written more books in the series but I also understand how the ending makes sense. After reading Delirium, I truly did not believe the other books could be any better, but each time they exceeded my expectations. I recommend these books for any Hunger Games, Divergent, or Matched fans out there!

-Kelsey H., 11th grade

Series Review: The Quantum Prophecy, by Michael Carroll

quantum-prophecy-thePicture being able to fly, run fast, or hear far away sounds. Now reading about all these super powers makes me want them even more than my normal daydreams do. In the series The Quantum Prophecy, all these daydreams become a reality when Colin, Danny and their superhuman friends fight super villains and save the world from their evil plans. When the super humans disappeared ten years ago, everyone mourned their loss on Mystery Day, until now.

Since Colin and Danny’s thirteenth birthday, their powers have shown more and more powerful. Danny saved a girl from getting hit by a bus when he was on the other side of the street. Turns out he can run so fast that time actually slows down around him. When Colin first heard what the family several doors down from their house were having for dinner, he began to freak out a little.

Now with their joined power and with help from Diamond and Paragon, Colin and Danny fight the bad guys. When they find out that a man named Victor Cross is making a power damper, they try everything in their power to stop it. Danny losses his right arm in the process and kills his father, Quantum. Quantum had had a vision that his son, Danny, would lead an army that will destroy the world. Danny has that vision then loses his right arm. Colin and Danny go back home and agrees that it is over. But Danny has a secret, in the vision; he has a mechanical right arm.

There are three books in this series and I am on the second one so far. If you haven’t read these books, you should. Post a comment about these books if you have read them!

-Kyle H., 7th grade

Series Review: The Divergent Series, by Veronica Roth

divergent_coverWritten by Veronica Roth, the Divergent series is an irresistible trilogy that’s full of action, suspense, and (for you girls out there) romance! The series contains three books titled Divergent, Insurgent, and Allegiant.

Set in a future world that has been destroyed by the human nature of greed, ignorance, and cowardice, society is split into five factions: Abnegation for the selfless, Candor for the honest, Amity for the peaceful, Dauntless for the brave, and Erudite for the intelligent. The series follows sixteen-year-old Beatrice (nicknamed “Tris”) Prior who learns that she has an aptitude for more than one faction. This is called “Divergent,” and is extremely dangerous. In order to reveal the secret kept from her city, Tris embarks on a dangerous journey with the help of friends. Along the way, she must protect herself from those who threaten to kill her for her Divergence, as well as discover the true meaning of sacrifice, facing your fears, and being brave, honest, and selfless.

After reading the first book in the series, I was captivated with the storyline and became attached to the characters. I especially loved the process of Dauntless initiation, as well as the many plot twists that made me keep reading and finish the book in two days. Insurgent was a little confusing and boring at times, but the cliffhanger at the end really made me eager to keep reading. After months of eagerly waiting, Allegiant finally came out in October 2013! And to be honest, I was very disappointed and angry that Veronica Roth finished the trilogy that way (you have to read it to find out). Although Allegiant clarifies all of the mysteries and unknown questions in the first two books, the mind-blowing finale had me curled up in a corner sobbing for hours! (ok, maybe not) How could the author do something so cruel to her readers? But after reading the third book over again, I was able to realize that Veronica Roth actually wanted to teach us a life important lesson.

I would rate the Divergent series a 9.5 out of 10 and would highly recommend it to anyone over the age of 13, whether you’re a boy or girl. Make sure to read it in time for the movie adaption coming out on March 21, 2014!

-Kaylie W., 9th grade

Perfect Holiday Break Reading: The Shopaholic Series, by Sophie Kinsella

shopaholicOk, can I first say what fun reads all of these books are?! I came across the film version of Confessions of a Shopaholic during an airplane flight to Europe this summer. It was one of the free movies listed and though it was extremely cheesy, I thoroughly enjoyed it! That’s when I decided to try reading the book. After I finished it and loved it, I found out there was a whole series‼ My book taste is kind of all over the place because I love The Hunger Games, for example, but then I also love what I call “fluffy” reads like this series (that means that the book is about some girly subject like shopping! and dramatizes little conflicts like addictions to shopping!) Sophie truly has a gift for portraying spoiled, rich New York girls as protagonists.

I don’t know what it is about Kinsella’s writing style that makes her books so enjoyable! Whether it’s the comical events that a grown-up woman bring upon herself like hiding her shopping bills from her boyfriend or stuffing her face with carrots to prove her little girl eats them! I laugh every page at the obscurity of Rebecca (better known as Becky) Bloomwood Brandon’s shopping addiction and her way of “dealing” with the issues she causes.

While Becky is irresponsible and constantly in denial with her obsession for shopping, her boyfriend/fiancé/husband is cool, calm, and collected. He is responsible, hardworking, and obviously very forgiving if he’s willing to live with a girl who breaks his credit card every day! I think Luke Brandon is adorable, but a little stupid. I mean, who wants to have to deal with Becky? She wastes money, hides bills from you, and ignores your wishes (such as buying giant wooden giraffes while on their honeymoon.) However, she’s just one of those people that you have to still love and read more about despite her serious lack of self control.

I love picturing the fun and crazy hubbub of the New York life, and learning about how irresponsible Becky is makes me feel like a seriously good girl‼ And honestly, how cute are Luke and Becky?! They’re perfect for each other, so I forgive them! Every girl needs a Luke in their life…someday that is!

To sum up, Kinsella transports you to both England and New York, and gives you such a fun read…especially during the holiday break! I definitely give a thumbs-up to all of her books, and I can’t wait to read more books from her! Sophie is such a young and fresh author who understands what girly girls need in their book lists‼ I recommend this series to anyone who enjoys novels about shopping, fashion, and fun! Post a comment telling me what you think about this series! Happy Holidays to all!

-Kelsey H., 10th grade

Series Review: The Lorien Legacies by Pittacus Lore

i_am_number_fourWhen most people think of aliens, they imagine a green Martian with antennae and gigantic eyes. They usually don’t imagine an alien as a normal-looking teenage human being who has amazing super powers.

Like most science fiction books, The Lorien Legacies, written by a pseudonym under Pittacus Lore, is an ongoing series that’s full of action, suspense, and (for you girls out there) a little romance. The books are titled: I am Number Four, The Power of Six, The Rise of Nine, and The Fall of Five. The fifth book in the series is expected to be published in 2014.

The series is set in a modern day world. The planet Lorien, which is similar to Earth, has been obliterated by another race of aliens called Mogadorians. The only Loric to survive are (supposedly) nine teenagers, called the Garde, and their Cepans, who are assigned to protect their chosen Loric. Seeking salvation, the nine teenagers have come to Earth to train for combat. Their goal is to be able to destroy the Mogadorians and reclaim their home planet in time. They are each named after a number and possess amazing abilities called Legacies. Protected by a unique “charm”, the Garde can only be killed off in numbered order.

The first book in the series starts off with the story of Number Four, which means Numbers One, Two, and Three have already been killed by the Mogadorians. As the series goes on, readers will be able to meet more members of the Garde. This series is one of my favorites because the main characters are often faced with very difficult decisions and have to struggle through a number of life-threatening moments. Because they are only teenagers, the Garde sometimes don’t know what the right choices are. In the beginning, they constantly argue because they each have different views and personalities. The Garde has to learn to rely and trust one another, sort of like a team.

I would rate the Lorien Legacies a 9.5 out of 10 and would highly recommend it to anyone over the age of 12 who enjoys sci-fi and action. There are many surprising moments that will surely keep you in constant suspense and on the edge of your seat!

-Kaylie W., 9th grade

Series Review: Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

delirium_seriesI wrote a blog a couple of months ago about author Lauren Oliver’s visit to the Mission Viejo Library, which was absolutely phenomenal. It was a great opportunity to meet the author of a really prestigious series. While I was there, I received a free copy of the final novel in her Delirium series, Requiem. This series was absolutely marvelous. I have read a lot of novels, but this is definitely going to remain my favorite for a long time.

This series is about a girl, Lena Haloway, who lives in a world where love, or deliria, is a disease. In this world, when you turn 18, you get cured from deliria, and you get assigned a husband and a job for the rest of your life. There is a community of “Invalids” beyond the border of Portland, Maine, that are individuals who have never been cured of deliria. However, Lena Haloway’s life takes a turn for the unwanted.

Soon, before her cure day, Lena meets a perplexing boy named Alex, who she soon develops feelings for. A budding romance flourishes, however Lena is coming closer and closer to her cure day.

In this uniquely written novel series, Lauren Oliver puts her readers through a rollercoaster of an unwanted life in a different world.

-Nirmeet B., 10th grade