Film Review: Gattaca

What if people had the ability of selecting the genes that their child would inherit? Of choosing only the best for their child, the genes that would produce the highest IQ or the longest lifespan? How would you feel if you, someone whose genes are random, were surrounded by people who are…”perfect”?

Vincent’s family didn’t program or alter his genes in any way. After testing his blood when he was first born, they knew that he would die early and had a very high risk of heart disease. Nevertheless, he pursued a career of studying space and the planets, despite his parent’s protests. He realized though, that he’d never be able to get a job with his own DNA. This is why he pretended to be Jerome: the perfect man, by “purchasing” Jerome’s DNA to use as his own.

Jerome’s parents did select his genes. He was “created” so that he’d have an exceptionally long lifespan, and so that he’d be very intelligent. But just because you choose the perfect genes for your child, it doesn’t mean they will be successful in life- it just means they have a better chance at success. In the movie, he said he’d walked in front of a car while he was sober. He must have done that purposefully- he was probably fed up with everyone and how they expected so much of him and chose, with a clear mind, to become crippled.

In the society of this movie, your success is based on your genetics- your DNA. If you don’t have what is considered the “ideal” DNA, you won’t even be considered as someone who is capable of working. On the other hand, if you possess what is considered “perfect” DNA, you wouldn’t even have to interview for a job, they’d hire you on the spot.

In my opinion, I think that this is very unjust. People should be viewed and assessed based on their talent and drive, not their DNA. DNA isn’t really something you can change- it’s what you’re born with. But people’s motivation and drive are things that they themselves control.

I’m also very skeptical on the idea of parents choosing their children’s genes. I think that however the child turns out, that’s how they were meant to be. Part of what makes us human is our mistakes, and by choosing only the most appealing genes for your child, the chance that they’ll make any mistakes will become nearly obsolete. Additionally, I think that if more and more people were to start hand-picking the genes that their children receive, people would become more and more similar. If people were to choose the genes for their children, they’d all probably choose the best possible ones, and if everyone did that, all children would be near perfect. There would be no more variety, and I think that our individuality is definitely something we should try to preserve.

Despite my uncertainty relating to some of the ethics that this movie brings up, I think that it’s very fascinating and thought-provoking, and definitely worth watching.

-Elina T.

Gattaca is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting

Have you ever thought of having a special ability to find bodies? Well, the first book in the series called The Body Finder by Kimberly Derting is an intense mystery thriller about a 16 year old named Violet Ambrose. Violet and her best friend Jay Heaton are both juniors in high school and she has fallen for him. Jay knows about Violet’s special ability to find bodies and “echoes” ever since they were little. When Violet was a little girl, she had the ability to find and sense dead animals near her and also figure out who killed them. When she senses someone who killed someone she calls them echos, which are sounds or visions that grab her attention.

During the summer, Violet and Jay went to a party at the lake and she discovered a human body for the first time. Later on, she found more missing girls and she tracks down the murder with the help of  Jay. Jay and Violet’s family are both worried about Violet meeting the man who has been killing the missing girls and it’s very shocking and suspenseful. But, you have to read the book to find out what happens next.

I think this book was a good read because it was entertaining to read with the suspense and thriller plot. It is an interesting book and I liked how the book involves solving a mystery with a character with special abilities and a bit romance included. Also, I liked how the chapters included the serial killers point of view. I recommend this book for teens who like mystery books and wants a good book that’s entertaining. The next book in this series is called Desires of the Dead and you can find out what happens next.

The Body Finder series by Kimberly Derting is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library

Film Review: Light’s Out

I saw Lights Out with some of my friends thinking it would be quite scary, and I mentally prepared myself for the worst. But, after the movie, I was quite surprised on how it was a joke to call Lights Out a ‘horror movie.’

Lights Out is based on David Sandberg’s original short story film from 2013. The story of the movie was quite like a thriller novel. Which leads me to say that I think Lights Out would have been even better, if there was a novel along with it! The film contained many moments where the characters just screams. If this where a novel, the author could show what the character was actually felt on the inside. I think that if there was a book to go along with the movie, that would be even better.

Now, to give my movie review. As I said before, I think it would be a joke to call Lights Out a horror movie, because to me, there wasn’t anything scary! After watching the movie, I happened to catch the trailer again on T.V. and realized a big fact: that all the scary scenes shown in the trailer are all that was in the movie! Another big point: to advertise their movie, if you notice the trailer close enough, the studio suggests that you shouldn’t sit with anyone who would judge you. This makes you think, “Wow! I need to go with my friends because it is so scary!” In my opinion, that is a very clever advertising scheme applied.

Overall, if the movie were a little scarier and a thrilling book to go along with it, that would have made the Lights Out experience a little more scarier to me.

-Satej B.

Tokyo Ghoul by Sui Ishida

Could you become the very object you hate, without knowing how it really feels to be this kind of person?

Kaneki Ken is a college aged book loving student, and ghouls, the ones who eat human flesh both for necessity and fun, are just stories put up by the media, and he and his friend try to guess what a ghoul really looks like, not really caring. After all, ghouls aren’t human.

That was before he fell for Rize, a ghoul who tries to eat him right before finding himself falling to a lethal accident. At the the hospital, Kaneki needs an organ replacement… and the doctors use Rize because she was near him at the scene. Thus Kaneki turns into a one-eyed ghoul. And because of this, he meets a variety of characters that he both loves and hates. Kaneki also realizes that he needs to eat human flesh because human food tastes disgusting. But at times, he wishes he died when Rize attacked him.

This manga, as readers find out in chapter one, is a tragedy. There is no happy ending–so far. The characters one roots for either die, get tortured, or both. On a happier note, there is a lot of unexpected humor throughout the peaceful times. Also, it is interesting on how the author shows the sides of both the ghouls and the human investigators who want to hunt them down. Finally, Tokyo Ghoul has an excellent plot with twists and turns that one won’t expect. Any reader who likes a good plot and cares for gruesome tragedies would like this manga.

-Megan V., 10th Grade

All Fall Down by Ally Carter

allfalldown_allycarterThe mystery novel, All Fall Down by Ally Carter, tells the story of sixteen-year-old Grace Blakely. Unfortunately, Grace’s mother died three years ago in an disastrous accident when her antique shop caught on fire. Grace was with her mother that night and she believes that a man with a scar shot her mother. Nobody wants to believe Grace, which makes Grace even more determined to find him.

Grace doesn’t see much of her older brother or father because they both are in the military and move around a lot. Before her mother’s death, Grace would spend her summers with her grandfather. Her grandfather is the American ambassador and he lives in Adria with other ambassadors from all over the world in Embassy Row.

Back at Embassy Row, Grace is haunted by the recurring nightmare of her Mother being murdered. Her grandfather and her brother’s friend, Alexei, try to convince her, but she refuses to believe them. Haunted and determined, she befriends Noah, Megan and Rosie, who are all children of ambassadors, in hopes to track down the man with the scar. Join Grace to see what actually happened that night.

Although Grace was emotionally troubled, she was a great character. Liking her determination and refusal to believe other people that her mother died in a fire, I also I found the concept of the different embassies very intriguing. The idea of having characters from all over the world made it very interesting. Personally, I would recommend it to anybody who is a fan of a good mystery novel. With a cliff-hanger ending, I am sure to read the sequel coming next year!

-Anmol K.

All Fall Down is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library and Overdrive.

The Cemetery Boys by Heather Brewer

cemeteryboys_heatherbrewerStephen’s life is already bad enough, with his mom in the hospital and his dad going broke from paying the bills. It gets worse when his dad tells Stephen that the two of them are moving to the small town his dad grew up in. No one wants to live in Spencer, let alone move there, so to Stephen is very bad news. They are forced to live with Stephen’s grandmother who despises the very idea of them both. As much as they hate to live there, his dad promises it is just temporary, saying that he just needs enough time to get a job and get back on his feet. Then, they can leave Spencer for good. But as weeks drag into months, it’s clear the two won’t be going anywhere for a while.

However, things begin to get better when Stephen meets punk girl, Cara, who he may or may not have a huge crush on and her interesting and protective twin brother, Devon. As nights hanging out in the harmless “Playground”, also known as the town’s cemetery, Stephen starts to realize there is much more going on here than just a few drinks with some friends and he begins to suspect Devon may not just be a regular friend but a leader, leading them all to a fatal end. Stephen wants more than anything to get his life back to normal, or as normal as it will ever be. But what he doesn’t know is that nothing normal can come out of his move to Spencer, Michigan and that he may never know normal again….

I could not put this book down no matter how hard I tried. This amazing thriller will have you on the edge of your seats with every word. And the ending was something I never expected! Everything in this book was just so fascinating, that I couldn’t wait to find out what happens. Because of some mature content, I would recommend this to readers 13 and up. Be sure to look out for this book at the library. The town legends and beliefs will make you wonder that if you were there, would you believe them too?

– Sabrina C., 9th Grade

The Cemetery Boys is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

unwind_nealshustermanWhat if you lived in a world where illness or disabilities weren’t the problem? An old war veteran could get a new hand, a paralyzed person could replace their spine, a blind man could get new eyes. But all these parts have to come from somewhere, right? What if your parents didn’t know what to do with you, didn’t want you…could unwind you? Your body parts could be useful to another person, if it felt like you weren’t making adequate use of them. When kids prove to be too troublesome or just useless to their parents, their parents sign a form to have them unwound. This way they can be made useful. And if you don’t prove your worth, it’s off to the harvest camps.

Connor, Risa, and Lev are brought together by chance and kept together by desperation. Connor is too much of a troublemaker and Risa is an orphan. The costs are too high to keep housing all of them. Lev has been an unwind, or tithe, since birth as part of his family’s strict religion. These three unlikely companions make a life-threatening journey to save their fates. If they survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed. But when every piece of them is wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems very far away.

This book is a real page turner. It had me on the edge of my seat, anxious to see what was going to happen. The reader has to have a good memory of things that happen in the beginning of the book, because although they don’t seem important when they are mentioned at first, they tend to play a big part towards the end. I love the way Shusterman writes, making sure the reader is paying attention throughout the story and adding twists in the story that you never see coming. My friend recommended this book to me and was so happy when I told her I was reading it. Thanks to her, I have a new favorite series. The next book in the series is UnWholly, but you might also want to check out the short story between the first and the second book called UnStrung. This book is definitely in the top ten for best dystopian series.

-Sabrina C., 9th Grade

Unwind is available for check out from the Mission Viejo Public Library.