Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand

Every month in English, my teacher assigns the class a certain genre to read. In April, I had tor read a bibliography. I chose Unbroken because I was interested in a war story and had heard good things about the book and movie.

I quickly discovered that this was an incredibly touching story about a man and the challenges he faced during World War 2. This story tells interesting facts and stories, making the reader want to read more.

Louis Zamperini, a famous Olympian runner, enrolls in the army only to crash land in the Pacific Ocean. He was stranded at sea for 47 days before he and his two other crew mates were captured and tortured by the Japanese for three years! Louis eventually escapes when the war is over, but was never the same man again.

The book is well written, switching between gruesome and sad sections to cheerful and funny scenes. This gives the reader an idea of how much Louis was tortured, but is not overwhelming gory. My favorite part of the book is when the Japanese surrender and the war is over because you finally know that Louis is safe.

The book is interesting to read with slightly accelerated vocabulary.Exciting and stressful, Unbroken is a great book that I would recommend to middle school students or older.

-Daniel C.

Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini

Image result for a thousand splendid suns

Mariam and Laila- Two women, born years apart and having incredibly different lives. One grew up in extreme poverty as an illegitimate child, while the other went to school and dreamed of making a difference in the world. However, both are affected by the power changes in the Afghani government, including when it started to regulate women’s lives in the late 1990’s. When they finally meet each other, their world changes despite having no initial relation to each other in the first place.

I found this book to be very well written. It was easy to read, especially compared to books such as Shakespeare. Although there are some terms in another language, they are often translated or not as much importance, but still keeps the feeling that you are in a faraway land.

On top of that, Hosseini keeps the atmosphere of Kabul, the capital of Afghanistan, very well. He describes food from there, yet also references places such as the Bamiyan Buddhas in order to keep this atmosphere, which is done very well.

The characters themselves are amazing. The book is in two different points of view, which are between the women, and one can see how different they are, yet wanting the same things in life.

However, the book does get into what Afghanistan is facing now. The book takes place over forty years, so it is easy to see how Afghanistan changes under local rulers to the Soviets and to the Taliban. Especially under the Taliban, we see how women’s lives are changed for the worst. However, we also see the abuse of women by their husbands even before the Taliban, which can also be very depressing. On the other hand, without any spoilers, I can guarantee that the ending is very satisfying, so it is important to stay all the way until the end!

Overall, I highly recommend this novel, and encourage others to read it.

Megan V, 12th Grade

A Thousand Splendid Suns by Khaled Hosseini is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

This book may not be the happiest or the prettiest but I must say it is one of the deepest and most profound books I’ve ever read. Assigned to me in my English class at school, I at first did not know what to expect because how can one be the lord of a bunch of flies? Disgusting, annoying little creatures they are . . . However, as our class annotated page after page and read article after article about the human psyche and the never ending violence occurring in the world, I realized how vital this fictional allegory is to our understanding of our society.

Based off of his experiences of World War II, Golding writes this futuristic novel during a fictional World War III where a group of English schoolboys crash on an island after their escape plane is shot down. Ironically, these stereotypical private school pupils slowly turn savage, revealing the gross truth about the evil within every man and what dangers can be unleashed when man turns cruel.

Taking advantage of being stranded on an island and lacking any parental guidance, these young boys lounge in the lagoon, eat tropical fruit, and attempt to create their own government. They elect Ralph, one of the older, more attractive boys who has possession of a seemingly-magical conch. This democratic government only lasted a few chapters before their separation from civilization is clearly visualized. They become hungry for bloodshed and one of the boys in particular, Jack, desires ruthlessly killing a pig over being rescued. Death and disputes steadily increase, leaving the audience wanting to know what happens next, even if what is to come is not pleasant. Simply put, the plot can be summarized as a fight for power and survival. However, that is to say the least about this thrilling novel.

I definitely had mixed emotions while reading. In some instances, I was upset at the character’s decisions and in one chapter, tears were spilling. Golding has a beautiful writing style that touches both beauty and pain and reflects upon the world. This novel invokes one to think about what Golding is trying to reveal about human society and puts the world’s violence, hatred and connate evil into perspective.

-Jessica T.

Lord of the Flies by William Golding is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin

First off, I need to say that this book is a different genre than I normally read. I usually read romance but this novel is more of an adventure novel than a romance. Anyways, on with the review!
Ben and Ashley are complete strangers until they meet at the airport.  They start chatting and as they wait to board the same plane. The snowstorm becomes too strong and the flight gets canceled. Ben finds a way for them to get home on a private flight, he rushed back to get Ashley who is on her way home to get married.
Making things even more interesting between the both of them  after their plane crashes, leaving them stranded in the mountains. Ben protects her as their time in the mountains stretches into months. Along the story we get snippets into Ben’s life before any of this happened, as he talks to his wife.
All in all I thought this was a great book, it was a little lengthy though.
-Skylar N.
The Mountain Between Us by Charles Martin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

After discovering that The Hunger Games was my 7th-grade extra credit reading book and that I haven’t read it before yet ( say what?!), I decided now was a good time to pick it up and finally start on it.

Yeah, I know, how could you have not read the Hunger Games before? Face it, everyone’s probably pretty familiar with this book. You know of it, of course. It’s a famous book that almost everyone knows, just like Harry Potter and Percy Jackson. 

Anyways, once I picked up this book, I found it impossible to put down. I read for two straight days and got it finished. And then I reread it. And reread it again.

I probably would recommend this book for older children, particularly because of a few violent scenes. But other than that, I would highly recommend this book for anyone who looks forward to action and thrillers.

Starting off with the famous Katniss Everdeen, the book takes place in District 12, her hometown. There are twelve districts, although there used to have been a 13th, which was destroyed because of their rebellion against the all-ruling Capitol, Panem. Because of this, the Capitol has ordered the event called the Hunger Games, where two tributes, a boy and a girl, are selected from each district (24 tributes total). They will be placed inside of an arena whose conditions can change with directions from the inventors of the Hunger Games, the Gamemakers. The whole point of the Hunger Games is for the twenty-four tributes to kill each other as a sport; the last tribute standing wins, leaving the arena with a life of luxury.

And the purpose of all of this? To prove how everyone is at the Capitol’s mercy, how they take the people’s children to watch them fight to the death.

From District 12, Katniss and the boy tribute, Peeta Mellark, are pitted against the other twenty-two tributes. They have no idea what the arena conditions will be like; the yearly Hunger Games change every year. All they know is that it will be difficult, and definitely lethal.

I have to say, Suzanne Collins, the author, was really suspenseful. Every fight scene, every page that she wrote, was filled with action from top to bottom. That’s what kept me hooked to the very last page. But even through all that, she also manages to weave in just the right amount of romance between Katniss and Peeta.

I can’t wait to read the next book in the series, Catching Fire! I’m sure it’s as good as the first one.

But first, who will win the intense, action-packed Hunger Games? Because the tributes will either get out of there alive…or dead.

-Katherine L.

The Hunger Games series by Suzanne Collins is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Lord of the Flies is a classic novel by William Golding. It begins on an island in the middle of nowhere where a group of boys have been marooned. Nobody knows their whereabouts, and neither do they.

However, this book is not just a typical story about survival. It tells of the darkest, deepest secrets of humankind, and how those ordinary, nice boys turned into completely different people under those circumstances. Into savages.

The first two boys introduced are the main protagonists of the story: Ralph is among the oldest of the boys, handsome and confident, while Piggy, as he is derisively called, is a pudgy asthmatic boy with glasses who nevertheless possesses a keen intelligence. Ralph finds a conch shell, and when he blows it the other boys gather together. Among these boys is Jack Merridew, an aggressive boy who marches at the head of his choir. Ralph, whom the other boys choose as chief, leads Jack and another boy, Simon, on an expedition to explore the island.

There is plenty of everything on the island, including food and drink. At first, all of the boys are reluctantly to kill, as what the huge decision would mean loomed upon them. But eventually Jack is the first one to make that move, and as he keeps on doing it, he becomes more and more comfortable with it.

Jack Merridew is one of the first boys to go savage, creating himself a group of savage hunters that kill and hunt for fun. The only ones that remain goodhearted are Ralph and Piggy, who’s glasses represent knowledge and wisdom. They know that the goal is to get rescued, nothing more.

But the question is: will these group of boys survive on this island? Or will they be doomed forever?

-Katherine L.

The Lord of the Flies by William Golding is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It is also available for download from Overdrive.

Monster

What if the world suddenly obtained impossible abilities? Would you use your power for good? Bad? All of the above?

In Michael Grant’s Monster, this choice becomes a reality. If you enjoyed his Gone series, this follow-up will definitely not disappoint you. Instead of just some kids inside a small dome getting powers, people around the world are starting to change, morphing into amazing creatures with seemingly limitless power.

From napalm breath to creating “meat puppets”, Grant’s genius really shines in these vivid, fabulous characters. Each line makes you feel closer and more relatable to each one. But for fans of this trilogy’s predecessor, Gone, you will be pleasantly surprised by the characters brought back for one more round.

– Luke D.

Monster by Michael Grant is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library