Teen Read Week: The Sword of Summer by Rick Riordan

swordofsummer_rickriordanWhen I first heard about this book, my brain zeroed in on the last name Chase. Related to Annabeth Chase, perhaps? Rick Riordan doesn’t fail to disappoint. Magnus Chase is her cousin (first cousins on their human side) and she is spotted immediately in the first chapter. I got so hyped about a new series from Riordan that ignored a minor oversight: I had little to no knowledge about Norse Mythology.

Fortunately, Uncle Rick understands. There are some clues leading up to the reveal of which god Magnus is the son of. (Here’s a hint: it isn’t Thor) I just didn’t see it because I don’t speak runes. Most of the mythology stuff is explained to go with the plot and never seems like a history lesson. I’m not sure how accurate it is by saying dwarves listen to Taylor Swift, but I’m sure other ideas like the nine worlds is there.

Expect some of the great humor that you know and love. The renaming of a sword to Jack. Ancient gods or goddesses referencing pop culture. First person internal dialogue with just a bit of sass. And the chapter titles. If I wanted to explain what the book was about, I would just display the table of contents because even though they seem random and bizarre, the chapter titles accurately describe an aspect in what happens next.

I really don’t want to spoil any of it, but don’t expect another Percy. No one will ever live up to him anyway. This is a new kid, with a new personality, and a new story to tell. Is it better than Percy Jackson? No. But is it still worth the read? Absolutely.

-Nicole G., 12th Grade

Magnus Chase and the Sword of Summer is available to check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library

Teen Read Week: Seek the Unknown with Paranormal Stories

TRW_logo_Teen Read Week is from October 13th to the 19th and the theme is “Seek the Unknown.” Right in time for Halloween and the spooky season of autumn, I’m focusing specifically on the genre of the paranormal.

Paranormal is defined as anything beyond normal explanation. The genre of the paranormal involves creatures, ideas, and other horrors unexplainable by science or reason. It also addresses themes such as supernatural phenomena and superstition. Paranormal stories leave you with a sense of unease and endless questions of “what if.”

My favorite literary works from the paranormal genre are actually short stories and poems. I feel that short stories and poems capture the essence of the paranormal better than novels because they are as short lived as the paranormal experiences themselves. The poems and short stories of Edgar Allan Poe are among my favorites in the paranormal genre.


illustration by Aubrey Beardsley

“The Black Cat” by Edgar Allan Poe is my favorite paranormal story.

Edgar Allan Poe is by far one of my most beloved poets. His dark themes and imagery make for the ideal paranormal story. In my opinion, “The Black Cat” is the most frightening piece I have ever read by Poe. The short story is centered around an unnamed narrator. The narrator has been fond of animals all his life. He and his wife own several pets, including a large black cat named Pluto. The narrator and Pluto get along amicably and they are very fond of one another. Everything is going well until the narrator becomes an alcoholic, and in a fit of rage and confusion, he gouges the eyes of his beloved pet. Pluto then becomes afraid of the narrator and in another fit of rage, the narrator hangs the cat from a tree. In the middle of the night, the narrator’s house burns down and he comes back the next day to collect his belongings, only to find a depiction of Pluto in a noose on the wall. He disregards this and moves on with his life. He later finds a cat like Pluto in a tavern, they are identical in every way but one: this cat has a white patch on his black fur. The narrator soon begins to resent the animal and also begins to notice that at times the white patch on the cat resembles the gallows. The cat and the narrator’s relationship goes from unpleasant to unmatched. The cat attempts to trip the narrator so he would fall down stairs so, the narrator attempts to kill the cat and the story only progresses even more paranormally from there!

-Sarah B., 12th grade