Book vs. Movie: “The Shining”

I have spent the last couple weeks making my way through Stephen King’s The Shining a horror literature classic that my dad gave me for Christmas. As I was reading the book, my parents asked me about some familiar and iconic movie scenes and how I enjoyed reading them. After finishing the book and not coming across those scenes, I realized that there were some stark contrasts between the novel and Stanley Kubrick’s re-imagined classic. Thus, I decided to do research and have conversations with my dad about the differences between the two entertainment sources, and analyze their impact on their respective audiences.

Several subtle differences to the atmosphere have occurred to properly terrify audiences according to the type of media consumed. For instance, Danny’s interaction with the “wolf-man” is replaced with Wendy’s vision of a man in a bear suit in the movie. While both concepts are frightening in description and convey similar themes, the “wolf-man” is more cartoonish and sudden, showing the experience as one would expect from a terrified child’s mind. However, the movie interpretation is more unnerving than a typical jumpscare, showcased in a quick zoom shot that cannot be as successfully accomplished in a literary style. These differences in interpretation thus offer a similar effect using entirely different scare techniques, both appropriate for the interpretation and entertainment style it’s present in. Additional scenes, such as Danny turning a corner to find himself faced with the twins and the blood-filled elevator, are not present in the book due to their unnerving and sudden appearances, something that cannot be done through King’s detailed descriptive writing. The strongest and most important setting difference between the book and the movie is the animal-shaped hedges, replaced in the move by a maze. This has a profound effect on the plot, and is known as one of the most memorable features of the film’s Overlook hotel.

Concept and character differences make up an even more influential part of the contrast between the two versions. In King’s book, it is made abundantly clear that while Jack has his demons to deal with regardless of his position, the hotel is genuinely haunted and a large factor in his eventual descent into madness. This is shown through his son Danny, and the kid’s ability to sense the ghosts of the Overlook through what the cook Halloran calls “The Shine”. In the movie, however, Danny’s power is less intense, and we are forced to question if Jack is truly seeing things and going crazy due to his own guilt and violent tendencies. One of my least favorite aspects of Kubrick’s adaptation is his treatment of Wendy Torrance, the leading lady of the story. In the novel, Wendy is much more powerful and independent, able to defend herself and her son from Jack. She even goes as far as to use a tiny shaving razor to defend herself, showing her resourcefulness when faced with impossible odds.

Because a story is always most well known for its plot, it is important to take note of the plot differences between the two media forms. In the book, the story ends with Halloran trudging through the snow to rescue Danny, taking the mother and son away on a snowmobile as the Overlook explodes with Jack inside. However, the movie takes a more eerie and suspenseful approach, all while killing off Halloran once he steps inside the hotel. Jack chases Danny through the hedge maze, and he eventually escapes, leaving Jack to freeze to death in his madness. The movie closes with an image from a 1920’s scrapbook picture, Jack being seen at the center of the party, symbolizing how Jack has become one of the eternal ghosts of the Overlook. Due to plot differences, this haunting final image does not present itself in the novel. Additional plot differences such as Jack’s weapon (an axe in the movie and a mallet in the novel) and the fate of Jack’s play are changed for the sake of forwarding the plot, allowing for characters to meet certain fates or build up to truly terrifying moments.

The Shining as a whole is a brilliant story filled with terrors, dread, and undeniably interesting characters. Both materials have stood the test of time and lived up to their reputation. As a literature fan, I am impartial to King’s original story due to its fascinating writing style and descriptions of themes and slow dread building to the plot’s climax. However, I also give credit to Kubrick’s film for its ability to terrify audiences in its own way. While not exactly holding true to the source material and thus an inadequate adaptation, it carves its own path in horror media as a phenomenally crafted film with its own story to tell.

-Bailey L.

The Shining by Stephen King is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

Book Review: The Moonstone by William Wilkie Collins

The Moonstone eBook by Wilkie Collins - 1230001902938 | Rakuten Kobo United  States

As a writer of the British Empire at the peak of the colonial era, Collins is immersed in the influence of colonialism and orientalism thinking mode. His image of the Eastern people inevitably shows the superiority of the subjects of the metropolitan country and the obvious racist attitude towards the colonial people. However, many factors in The Moonstone, such as the selection of time setting, plot arrangement, characterization and so on, can also be interpreted completely in the opposite way: Collins raises certain doubts and challenges to the colonial mentality. Collins’s choice of India as the setting is closely related to the Indian mercenary riots of 1857. The rioting started when the British authorities used butter and lard as lubricants for bullet clips that needed to be chewed through the mouth, and the mercenaries were mostly Hindus or Muslims. To them, touching the oil on these clips meant blasphemy against religion. Angry soldiers rioted, killing not only the British boss but also the innocent. Most of the reports in the British media distorted the facts of the case, and for a time, the name “bloodthirsty Indian” was constantly heard. Collins and Dickens collaborated on an article called “The Perils of Certain English Prisoners,” which exposed the insidious, cunning, and hypocrisy of colored people and praised the qualities of British soldiers. The Moonstone was written on the tenth anniversary of the riots, and newspapers and magazines are full of memories, memorials or reflections on the events. By this time, many British people had come to understand the truth and felt that the British authorities had been wrong to disregard the Indian soldiers’ religious beliefs, and Collins’s views had changed subtly. In the novel, his view of the relationship between Britain and India is no longer a simple tribute to the British empire, but an indirect expression of his deep reflection. The plot arrangement and characterization of the novel also reveal Collins’ questioning and criticism of the so-called noble morality of the colonists.

Several of the Englishmen involved in the jewel were from the upper middle class, but the cruelty and greed of Colonel Herncastle, who first grabbed the jewel, goes without saying, and the image of Abel White, the real black hand in the jewel theft, is ironic. The final collapse of the case exposed Abel White as a hypocritical English gentleman. He is the suitor of Rachel, the heroine. He is of noble birth, well-educated and has a noble career as a lawyer. He attends church regularly and is enthusiastic in organizing and participating in various charitable activities. He was a fine young man of uncommon appearance. He had a round, bright face, a ruddy complexion, and lovely blond hair. However, when the mystery is solved, his double identity is revealed: the bright surface conceals the dark inner heart, he not only leads a dissolved life, but also embezzles the client’s funds. After the financial crisis, in order to avoid ruin, he took the risk of stealing precious stones. It is intriguing that Collins has named such a sanctimonious figure Abel White. The image of an Indian was in stark contrast to Abel White’s imposing appearance. In the eyes of several narrators, the Indians are dark skinned, obtuse, and have a manner reminiscent of snakes. However, they had a clear goal and a firm belief. In order to retrieve the stolen holy moonstone, they broke the religious rules and sacrificed their lives to trace all the way to England, and finally returned the gem to its owner by tenacious perseverance, superhuman patience and shrewd calculation. The explorer concludes the novel by describing a grand Hindu religious ceremony celebrating the return of the jewel. His reverence rose to the page as he spoke of the three men going their separate ways, with the congregation around them making way for them in silence. The moonstone becomes a yardstick to measure the good and evil of human nature and a mirror to reflect the character’s morality.

Reflected in this mirror, the “barbarian” in the eyes of the Europeans became the guardian of virtue, while the English gentleman had forgotten what was virtuous. So when Abel White, the “capable white man”, is murdered by an Indian, the mood conveyed by the novel is not one of indignation, but of sympathy, admiration and relief that justice has been done. The moonstone is a sacred object of Hinduism. This gem is no longer just a physical indicator, but a spiritual and cultural sustenance. The twists and turns of its fate revealed that the economy of the English country estate was closely related to the colony. Events in the colony would eventually spread to the British mainland and cause social unrest in Britain. The moonstone exposes the brutality and greed of the colonists, reflecting their moral corruption and hypocrisy under the guise of religion and civilization. Moreover, through the influence of the gem on the family of the British gentry, the author implies that colonial affairs destroy the traditional social and family hierarchy order: only when the colonial gems leave the British mainland, the British family can restore normal order. Another theme of the novel is to celebrate Rachel’s pursuit of love, even though her pursuit is full of difficulties. She falls in love with Franklin before her birthday party, but on the night of the party, after witnessing him steal the moonstone, she begins to doubt their love. But no matter how sad she was, she chose to sacrifice her reputation for secrecy to protect Franklin. In the novel, there are three Indians who follow in the footsteps of the moonstone, and their task is to keep searching for the moonstone, without fear of sacrifice, even through generations of efforts, until the stone is returned to its original place. Rachel’s sacrifice was in the name of love, and the sacrifice of the three Indians was in the name of faith. The two kinds of sacrifice echoed and supported each other.

The horror and mystery reflected in The Moonstone is one of the important features of Gothic literature. Readers are always in the process of guessing the murderer, guessing wrong, continuing to guess and guessing wrong. Only by reading the ending did we discover who the real killer was. In The Moonstone, Wilkie Collins has a remarkably precise command of time and space, one of the basic abilities that most mystery novels have. In terms of narrative structure, the novel is just like drama and film shooting, which is divided into prologue, first part, second part and epilogue. In the second part, there are six stories to tell. The time of the narrative remains the same, and the gems are stolen one by one — the truth comes out, but after the jewel is stolen, the events in the second part are told separately by the six men, as if the police were looking for clues and inquiring about relevant personnel, and the parts of the six men’s separate stories seem to be independent. The overlap of time and the intersection of space weave an impenetrable web. Narration, flashbacks and interludes in space and time make the plot messy and complex, close and scattered, and the readers’ mood is controlled by the author. There are traps in Wilkie Collins’s narrative that draw the reader’s mind in mysterious and conspiring directions, yet he is so grounded in the goodness of human nature that, just when you want to believe in it, another well-reasoned accident pulls back a plot that has gone far. Finally, you seem to know how the gem came back to India, and you seem not to know. This kind of looming narrative is extraordinarily precise in its transformation of narrative vision. In the dialogue of the characters, the defects of the previous character are written back or made up, and the whole picture is reflected afterwards where random incident causes an uncontrollable scene.

-Coreen C.

The Hound of the Baskervilles by Arthur Conan Doyle

The Hound of the Baskervilles - Kindle edition by Conan Doyle, Arthur .  Literature & Fiction Kindle eBooks @ Amazon.com.

As in Doyle’s previous work, the narrator of The Hound of the Baskervilles is Watson, who, as Holmes’s close companion, becomes an important participant in the case. Most of the novel is presented in the form of Watson’s memoirs, which also means that Watson belongs to the narrator outside the story, that is, has a higher level of authority over the story he narrates. It’s not the equivalent of an omniscient narrative, but when he tells a story, he knows the ins and outs of events. The narrator knows everything, but in telling the story he deliberately hides some of the facts until the end. Watson, for example, knew that the hound’s legend had been deliberately distorted by Stapleton, but he did not reveal this until the climax of the novel.

By setting up suspense, this design delays the satisfaction that readers get from knowing the truth and encourages them to continue reading. Watson was involved in the investigation of the whole affair. The first-person narration can increase the reader’s sense of identity and feel the development of the story from the perspective of the narrator. As the previous narration has laid the foundation for this inexplicable fear, it is easier for the reader to identify with the narrator and feel the great pressure from unknown dangers. Although the reader believes that the novel will follow the usual formula of the detective and that the danger will be relieved at the last moment, the tension caused by the text will not be lessened due to the strong emotional identity between the narrator and the reader.

On the one hand, it is convenient for the author to hide important information so as to attract readers. At the same time, it makes readers identify with emotions, and then reaches the purpose of attracting readers by setting suspense. Rather than telling the story chronologically, Doyle reshuffles the events to give the text a variety of features. For example, when Watson and his party are about to leave for Dartmoor, Holmes compares the moor to a stage where a tragedy is about to take place. He was clearly referring to something that had not yet happened, a statement that could be called a flashback. In this way, Doyle tells the reader that a play is about to begin.

Prenarration is rarely seen in western narrative texts, but Doyle is adept at it and draws the reader’s attention to the upcoming story. In addition to a few previews, the novel also contains long flashback. One function of flashbacks is to provide context for current events, such as when Dr. Mortimer talks to Dr. Watson about a woman whose initials are L. L., and Mortimer tells him the woman’s identity and recounts her harrowing experience. This background can give the reader a clue to the truth. However, due to the disordered timing of narration, it is also a challenge for the reader to piece together the information scattered throughout the text. But it is this non-linear narrative that makes the story confusing and adds to the sense of suspense.

Flashbacks also delay the revelation of the truth, allowing the reader to keep curiosity to the last minute. In this case, although the criminal has been punished, the motive of the crime remains unknown. It is not until the last chapter that Holmes reveals Stapleton’s plot in his Baker Street flat. Such flashbacks fill in the information gap in the previous text and maintain the tension of the text to the maximum extent. It can be said that the use of foretelling and flashbacks makes the novel more attractive.

-Coreen C.

Alex Rider Stormbreaker by Anthony Horowitz

The first Alex Rider book is defiantly one to remember. Stormbreaker is about a boy named Alex Rider whose uncle was supposedly a banker. But when Alex discovers his uncle didn’t die from a car crash, and his uncle actually worked for a spy agency, his life gets flipped upside down!

The Alex Rider series is consists of 12 lengthy novels plus a prequel, so Alex Rider will keep you entertained for hours every day! These books will keep you on your toes through every page. Every once in a while, I had to flip the page to check what was going to happen because the suspense was killing me! Anthony Horowitz does an amazing job creating a protagonist that we can love and crazy adventures for our hero to do. If you thought that the bad guy in Stormbreaker was scary, you will be surprised how escalated the villain’s get. Alex Rider has all of the true qualities of a hero, bravery, courage, being smart, and of course, sarcasm. If you didn’t like Stormbreaker (I doubt you won’t like it) Anthony Horowitz has written many other book series, so make sure to check those out!

-Brandon D.

Everything For Her by Alexa Riley

I can say that I enjoyed this book very much!

To me, the awesome thing about this book is that though it was meant to be a romance, it was also a suspense book as well! Don’t believe me? Then let’s see what it’s about!

Mallory was an orphan as a child in lived in an orphanage. Despite all of that, she got a full scholorship to the college of her dreams, and right as she was set to graduate, she got an internship at one of the most prestigious office’s in the world. To say she is happy in an understatement, she is absolutely enthralled.

“From the beginning, I knew that she would be my greatest achievement, so the day I let her go, I set down a path for her.
A path to me. No one knows it’s been me behind the curtain, pulling the strings. I’ve constructed everything in our lives so that at the perfect moment, I could have her. The time has come.”

Now onto Miles part of the story (or, as he is known at the beginning of the book as the secretive “Oz”). The quote pretty much explains it all. He is very obsessive of Mallory and she hasn’t even met him. He met her when she was about to graduate high school and he was about the graduate college. He has watched her since then and has (as stated above) set down a path for her that will lead her to him. Now that she works in his office, that time has come.

As you can foresee, Mallory eventually meets Miles and they bond instantly (well…I guess she does, he already knows her, ya know?). As his secrets come out (no, nothing earth shattering), she isn’t sure she wants to be with Miles.

“I sit in front of her door all night. And all day Sunday. And all night Sunday.”

But guys, as creepy as all of that must have just sounded, when you read the book it really isn’t. Just believe me, when you read the book you will fall in love with Miles because he honestly says/does the sweetest things. I mean, the man loves his mother to pieces and treats her like a queen, what more can we ask for? Plus, he does mean well, he just doesn’t want to lose someone that means alot to him (love at first sight is what we’ll call this).

The end of this book is hoenstly one of the sweetest/best things I have read. I just made me so happy for them!

“The first time I saw you, I thought I’d woken up in the land of Oz, It was like seeing color for the first time.

That all seems like alot to take in I know, and I don’t want to spoil it for you, so I’ll leave out all of the important plot twists that will literally blow your mind. Just read.this.book.

-Skylar N.

Everything for Her by Alexa Riley is available for download from Overdrive

Writing Prompts

Prompt: A fair has come to town with a strange funhouse. Inside is a mirror that shows the viewer that last thing they will see before they die.

“Come on, Cam!” He shouted. “It’ll be fun.” I should’ve known he wanted to come here. The annual fair was his favorite place to go. I just didn’t think he’d drag me here on our 7 month anniversary.

“Why don’t I just wait out here while you go in?” I laughed, trying not to ruin his mood. I really didn’t want to spend ten minutes in a mirror maze that’ll leave me with a headache as soon as I come out.

He used his infamous puppy dog eyes on me. “Please…You know it’s no fun if I go alone.”

I sighed. I really didn’t want to be the kill of his excitement. I smiled and followed Jay through the doors, preparing myself for the vertigo. The space behind the door opened up into a hallway of mirrors with dark lighting and a door at the end. I started to walk towards it when I realized it was only a reflection of the original one, bouncing off the other mirrors. Other than that, there wasn’t much excitement in here. About to ask if we could go, I was interrupted by a sigh.

“Shoot. I think my hat fell off outside.”

I turned back to him and laughed. Relieved that I had an excuse to leave, I replied, “Let’s get it then.”

“No, you stay here and enjoy it. I’ll be right back.” Before I could answer, Jay was already out the door. I rolled my eyes and made my way to the exit. No way I was staying here by myself.

I reached for the handle on the door and was met with a hard surface. I tried again and the door handle wasn’t there. I looked up at the reflection I had thought was real. Unbelievable. I turned around and walked down the hallway, seeing my figure follow me with my peripheral vision. When I got to end, the door did the same thing. No handle. Just a reflection. I groaned in frustration. How did I get so turned around?

I looked at my surroundings, trying to find the way I had come in. All I could see was my own confused face staring back at me. It filled the room, ceiling to floor. Then suddenly the lights went out. Just great.

“Hello?” I called out. “There’s someone in here. Could you turn the lights back on please?”

The hallway immediately filled with light once again, but the reflections were gone. In fact all that was around me was the wood of the walls, except for the screen at the end of the hallway. Walking to it, a movie starting playing. It didn’t seem like a movie that I had seen before.

The screen went into focus and I saw the funhouse. The same one I was in with it’s wooden door, leading into this hallway. I saw the carousel across from it and even Jay walking towards the entrance just like before when he beckoned me inside.

What the hell was going on here?

The image flashed forward to night. Jay was driving his beat up truck on the freeway towards home. Our favorite band was playing on the radio, and we both sang along. We screamed the lyrics with the windows rolled down and the wind whipping my hair. I smiled at how happy we looked.

But then the camera zoomed in on the speedometer the pin moved from 70 to 75…85…100…

“Stop!” I screamed at the video. But we just kept on singing. As the car moved faster, our voices got louder, louder than the cars around us, louder than the revving engine, louder than the honk of the upcoming truck as we crashed into it.

“No!” Tears filled my eyes, and I pounded on the screen. I wanted out of this hallway. I threw myself at the wall and felt the jab as the doorknob poked my side. The door! I twisted it and was met with the sun and the carousel and most importantly Jay, who was waiting just outside the door. Alive.

I flung myself into his arms. “You’re okay!” I hugged him tight so he couldn’t move away. Thankfully, he wrapped his arms around me, reassuring me that he was real.

“Of course I’m okay.” He laughed. “What’re you so worried about?”

I looked up at him through the water in my eyes. “You died. I died.”

He wiped at my face to clear it. “What are you talking about, sweetie? Everything’s fine.” He smiled and I couldn’t help but smile back.

“How long was I in there?” I asked, hoping for an answer.

“Only a second. I was coming right back in when you came out.”

I noticed the hat on his head. “But that’s impossible.”

“Are you okay?” He asked, brushing the hair from my eyes.

I shook my head. “It was so real,” I whispered.

He kissed my head. “It’s okay now, Cam. The sun’s setting already. How about I just take you home?” I nodded and let him lead me to the fair’s exit. “And don’t worry, it’ll be faster if I take the freeway.” He winked.

Prompt: An extra hour occurs at midnight but only a handful of people can experience it. It is called the Dark Hour.

When the minute hand landed on the daunting 12, the chimes were cut short as the second hand stopped. Silence rang through the still house. No one was moving, no one was breathing, for time was frozen. It was a time when the unknown could venture undetected. Alone in the world, they could roam with no humans in their way. That is except for the chosen.

These few people were able to experience the extra hour given to them. Some viewed it as a blessing, others a curse. When the creatures came out for leisure, they didn’t take kindly to the ones who disturbed them. If someone was awake, they’d know.

So when Brian opened his eyes that night for his first Hour, he had no idea the things he would never be able to unsee. The abrupt stop of the clock awoke him, and his eyes snapped open to the chill of lifelessness. He could feel it in his bones; immediately he knew what it was.

Slowly, he shuffled his feet to the floor and was surprised at his silent steps when the floor didn’t creak. All there was was quiet. Nothing moved out of place. His discreet footsteps took him to the screen at back door where he expected to find the trees rustled by wind but there was none. Life was like a picture, a completely unmoving portrait.

Until the first monster ripped through the illusion and made its presence known with a roar.

-Sabrina C., 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz

“In my hefty elf sack, your nightmares now keep. Better think twice before falling asleep.”
-The Nightmare Elf

welcometothedarkhouse_lauriestolarzThis chilling, nightmare-filled story takes place when seven fans of the famous horror film director, Justin Blake, enter an online contest. They are required to write about their worst nightmare, and the winners get the chance to stay at his legendary B&B, Dark House, featured in his movies. The fans also get to meet the famous man and sneak a look at his upcoming movie. Delighted to find they have won, the horror hopefuls, Ivy, Parker, Shayla, Frankie, Garth, Natalie, and Taylor, set out to have the scare of their life. Spending a weekend in the Dark House appeals to most of them like a vacation home, filled with effects that make the house really seem haunted and mysterious. However, their fun and games take a twisted turn when they are taken to an abandoned amusement park. Embodying the spirit of Blake’s movies, the park is like his own movie set with his wildly creepy characters running around. The seven lucky winners discover they must face their worst nightmares and survive them if they want to be set free.

This book grabbed my attention right from the start. It’s description of horror and thrill left me wondering about my own nightmares. I knew I sure wouldn’t last one night in that house, not with its scare tactics and lonely halls. Stolarz uses her characters’ different perspectives to create this nail-biting world. As a big fan of horror stories, I was really anxious to see how the ending wrapped everything up. I have to say I was a little disappointed that I was left with so many unanswered questions, but overall the plot line was very intriguing.

I encourage readers who like to be scared to give this book a try. I know some horror stories are a gamble because it doesn’t end the way the readers hope. But Welcome to the Dark House is definitely one of my favorites and I would love to read it again.

-Sabrina C, 11th Grade

Welcome to the Dark House by Laurie Faria Stolarz is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Gone Series Review

gone_coverOn a seemingly normal day, the town of San Perdido is suddenly hit with a phenomenon that results in everyone over the age of fifteen disappearing…all adults are just simply gone! To the confusion of the remaining children, a giant force-field now surrounds the entire area of Perdido Beach, preventing anyone from entering or leaving.

Abandoned and frightened, the children are exposed to the threat of conflict, danger and death, and life with no adults or form of authority. With no electricity and phones and televisions no longer working, the town becomes a prison for the “surviving” children who must find a way to maintain order amidst the chaos. To top it off, the children start developing strange powers, some even deadly, that causes extreme manipulation and sides to be chosen. The ensuing fight becomes a catastrophic battle for survival, while the thought of time running out looms over everyone—because the day you turn fifteen is the fateful day you disappear, just like everyone else.

Written by Michael Grant, the Gone series is breathtaking young-adult series that’s packed to the brim with mystery, action, suspense, and (of course) romance! The books are titled: Gone, Hunger, Lies, Plague, Fear, and Light. In my opinion, the series is fast-paced and frighteningly gripping, for Grant is able to successfully write a dark, brutal account of a world of children with no authority that describes the death and moral dilemmas they must face.

The characters are all complex yet relatable, because they are all kids, just like you and I, who are struggling with the reality of the world they are thrown into. Even though there is some mature content, especially in the last three books of the series, I would certainly recommend the Gone series, which can be considered a modern-day Lord of the Flies, to those over thirteen years who are fans of The Hunger Games and hard-core dystopian-science fiction admirers!

-Kayle W., 10th grade

Book Review: The 9th Judgment by James Patterson

9th_judgmentThis is the ninth book in the Lindsay Boxer series so I recommend reading the previous novels before reading this one. However, if you don’t want to read the first eight books, you can jump right into this one.

Unsuspecting of being stalked by a murderer, a mother and her infant head towards their parked car. Upon reaching their car the man trailing them approaches the mother and asks to use her cellphone. As she turns to hand him her phone she finds him holding a gun. Panicking, she offers him money but to no avail. Without any mercy the unknown killer guns the woman and her child down.

Around the same time, a burglar sneaks into a million dollar home. Quietly she sneaks into the master bedroom and skillfully removes dozens of sparkling jewels from an open safe. Without making a mistake the burglar is about to leave when she accidentally tips over a table. Startling the sleeping movie stars, she has to find a quick way to escape.

Startled awake by the loud crash or her table, Casey Dowling jumps out of bed, only to be shot down. The next day her death is all over the news, and her husband claims that the burglar shot her while leaving.

How is Lindsay supposed to solve a crime where the only evidence is a cryptic message scribbled across a windshield in lipstick? The killer is quick, stealthy, and skilled. In addition, Boxer is suspicious of Casey’s death.

Can the burglar be somehow linked to the ruthless killer? And who killed Casey Dowling?

I got a kick out of this book. Along with being a suspenseful thriller, it was one of my favorites out of the entire series. I highly recommend this book for a fast-paced, easy read.

-Marilyn J., 9th grade

Book Review: The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline B. Cooney

face_milk_cartonHow would you react if you found out that you were kidnapped because there is a picture of you as a toddler on an ordinary, everyday milk carton? 15-year-old Janie Johnson recognizes her photograph on the “Missing Child” side of a milk carton in the young-adult novel, The Face on the Milk Carton by Caroline Cooney.

After identifying her picture on a milk carton at lunch, Janie is consumed by the notions of her kidnapping. As the story unravels, Janie discovers that “her parents” are actually her grandparents and her Mother was part of a cult when Janie was born. Temporarily relieved, Janie is still curious as to why her name on the milk carton said “Jennie Spring.”

Slowly unraveling the mystery of her past, Janie discovers that she was kidnapped by her “Mother” as a young girl and finds out that her real parents are in New Jersey. The end of the book leaves you with Janie talking to her real Mother. Does Janie leave her “adoptive” parents? Does she actually meet her biological parents? Does she ever find the women who abducted her? To find the answers to all these questions, one must read this book and the entire Janie Johnson series.

Reading this book for English, I was interested that it wasn’t mainstream like some other classical works. The storyline of the book is great, in my opinion. The execution could have been slightly improved. I liked how the first book ended in a cliffhanger and then you would have to read the next one and then the next one to find out what becomes of Janie. The last book did not have a very conclusive ending, but it was satisfactory enough. If you are interested in the mystery genre, then the Janie Johnson series is for you.

-Anmol K.,