Film Review: The Shining

The Shining is a horror movie about a man named Jack Torrance and his wife and son. Jack and his family stay at an isolated, massive hotel called the Overlook Hotel. Jack plans to spend his time at the hotel writing, attempting to cure his writer’s block. The Shining is based on a book written by Stephen King. The story slowly evolves as Stephen King’s character becomes an abusive and manipulative man towards his family. The audience realizes that Jack is mentally ill and his family is not safe with him staying at the hotel. Originally, it is perceived by the audience that Jack had been at the hotel before and he was not mentally ill. Jack’s son played an extremely important role in this movie because he was connected to the hotel through a concept called “shining.” He becomes apart of an alternate universe and communicates with a voice inside of his head. Originally, it was inferred that the son was the one that was mentally ill; however, the voice inside of his head was really trying to protect him and his mom from his father. The hotel was portrayed as a haunted building with no way out. Small clues such as the massive pantry and freezers with locks foreshadowed the scene when the mother locks Jack inside the pantry.

Throughout the movie, Jack plays mind games with his clearly oblivious wife and manipulates her into leaving him alone while he writes. One scene was particularly disturbing in which the wife finds Jack’s book that he had been writing while they were at the hotel. It is revealed that Jack was not actually writing a book and the papers were filled with the same sentence over and over again, “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” The movie the Shining transformed from a story about a family staying at a hotel by themselves to an alarming and captivating film about Jack Torrance’s disturbing mind and past at the hotel. His wife and son no longer felt safe at the hotel anymore and ran from him and hid from him until they got away. This movie displayed the disturbing effect of mental illness and how you never know who a person really is. The way Jack chased his family around the hotel and kept drifting in and out of the alternate universe kept the audience attentive.

-Sasha B.

The Shining is available for checkout at the Mission Viejo Library.

Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde by Robert Louis Stevenson

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, written by the well-known Robert Louis Stevenson, is a dark story that has a very intelligent meaning behind it. 

The story begins with a respected lawyer named Mr. Utterson, listening to his friend Enfield tell a chilling story of assault. The story describes a figure named Mr. Hyde, who tramples a young girl, and disappears into a door on the street, only to make an appearance when the onlookers call him out to pay his respects to the girl and her relatives. They agree not to discuss the situation further because they do not approve of gossip. However, it happens that one of Mr. Utterson’s clients, Dr. Jekyll, has a written will transferring all of his property to the same Mr. Hyde. Out of curiosity, Utterson does his own research by first making a visit to Dr. Lanyon. Lanyon reports that he no longer sees much of Jekyll ever since their dispute over Jekyll’s research, which Lanyon refers to as “unscientific balderdash”.

Then, Utterson encounters Mr. Hyde at the home in which he trampled the young girl, and he is amazed at how ugly and deformed the man seems. A year goes by with not much commotion over the situation until a servant girl witnesses Hyde brutally beat a member of Parliament and a client of Utterson to death. The police contact Utterson, and he immediately suspects Hyde and leads the police to Hyde’s personal address. However, upon arrival at the apartment, the murderer has vanished, and the police search proves futile. Shortly thereafter, Utterson again visits Jekyll, who now claims to have ended all relations with Hyde. He shows Utterson a note, allegedly written by Hyde, apologizing for the trouble he caused and saying goodbye. That night, however, Utterson’s clerk points out that Hyde’s handwriting bears a remarkable similarity to Jekyll’s own. Over the next few months, Jekyll acts very sociably and friendly until he abruptly cuts off ties with all people after the suspicious death of Lanyon. Then, one day, Jekyll’s butler, Poole, storms into Utterson’s house, pleading for help with his master. The two travel to Jekyll’s laboratory where they are shocked to find the body of Hyde, wearing Jekyll’s clothes and dead by suicide, and a letter from Jekyll to Utterson promising to explain everything. Jekyll opens the letter from Lanyon at home to find a chilling message that his death was caused by the shock of seeing Mr. Hyde metamorphose into Dr. Jekyll. The rest of the story dives into Jekyll’s dilemma about metamorphosis and his cry for help. As much as he tries to control it, Jekyll starts to subconsciously turn into Hyde. Jekyll understands that his other persona, Hyde, is a danger to society, and he debates committing suicide, and the novel closes with the end of Jekyll’s letter. 

This story, by Robert Louis Stevenson, can be very chilling and mysterious. Behind the complicated story that Stevenson wrote, there is actually a deeper meaning behind it. The author was trying to get into the concept of brain duality, which is why he emphasized the contrast between Jekyll and Hyde so heavily. Overall, The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde is a very entertaining and mysterious story, which has a deeper meaning behind it.

-Karis K, 9th grade

The Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde can be downloaded for free from Overdrive.

TV Review: Criminal Minds

If you enjoy crime shows like NCIS, then you will also enjoy Criminal Minds.

The show is about a group of FBI agents with the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Every episode there is a new crime to solve. Whether it is a murder on the loose or a crazy person reeking havoc. The agents try to get into the unsubs’ (unknown criminal) mind by traveling to the crime scenes and talking to witnesses as well as locals. Garcia is the girl behind the magic. She is the one to call when you need police reports, hospital records, and other important documents. With her help the agents are able to find out more about the unsubs’ criminal record as well as the back story so they know what caused the crime.

Criminal Minds does a great job of allowing you to also pick up clues, this makes you feel like you are apart of the crime scene and the FBI. You will never be bored with this show. It walks you through what the FBI does and introduces you to criminal psychology.

I am still relatively new to this show but I am now binging it when I have the time. Just a warning, I do not recommend this show if you are iffy with blood or death in general.

– Giovanna S.

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming

From Russia, with Love (novel) - Wikipedia

SMERSH, the Soviet counterintelligence agency, plans to commit a grand act of terrorism in the intelligence field, one that will completely and utterly smash any remains of respect left in that particular organization. Their chosen target – MI6 agent James Bond.

Oblivious to their coming destruction, MI6 receives word that a beautiful Russian agent, Tatiana Romanova, is willing to defect to the British intelligence along with a crucial piece of Soviet technology – a Spektor. There is, however, one catch – James Bond, the man she claims she loves, must come out to meet her at Istanbul.

However, as revealed in the first half of the book, this “love story” is a mere set up for the greatest scandal the intelligence community has ever seen – and Bond and Romanova have fallen right into the trap for their own destruction. Unless Bond can find a way to extricate himself and his organization from their impending doom, SMERSH will have free reign over all of Europe, and potentially the world.

Through a masterful use of dramatic irony and the usual Bond action scenes, Ian Fleming crafts a 007 masterpiece in From Russia With Love. Readers will be on the edge of their seats as they devour the novel, only to reach the cliffhanger conclusion. From Russia With Love is a brilliant James Bond adventure that is definitely not to be missed.

-Mahak M.

From Russia With Love by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming

Moonraker (novel) - Wikipedia

Sir Hugo Drax – war veteran, multi-millionaire, primary donor for Britain’s newest defense project, and…card cheater? When M requests the legendary 007, James Bond, to investigate this strange discrepancy, Bond thinks nothing of it but a lesson to teach an otherwise spotless man. But there is more to the ex-amnesiac turned benefactor than simply cheating at cards. 

As Bond delves deeper into the activities at the base of the praised Project Moonraker, Britain’s state-of-the-art defense system capable of targeting any European capital, scheduled to launch in less than a week, he realizes that some things are not as they seem. From the unusual German workers employed for construction to the mysterious death of the previous investigator, Bond must determine the truth behind both the Moonraker and its creator, Sir Hugo Drax…

Bond, however, is not alone in his endeavor. With the support of an undercover agent, Gala Brand, and, of course, MI6, he must race against time to discover the truth, which may be much, much darker than even 007 could have ever predicted…

Ian Fleming’s Moonraker, the third in the James Bond series, will not disappoint fans of 007. With plot twists and action sequences galore, Fleming manages to glorify every aspect of Bond’s newest case, from a brilliant game of bridge to the saving of millions of lives. Arguably the best Bond novel (definitely my favorite), Moonraker is a book that will be near impossible to put down.

-Mahak M.

Moonraker by Ian Fleming is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library.

Return to Fear Street: You May Now Kill The Bride by R. L. Stine

Return to Fear Street: You May Now Kill The Bride is the perfect balance of mystery and horror. Two sisters separated by decades, will they all come to the same terrible fate or will the curse be lifted?

I am not an avid reader when it comes to thriller/horror mystery, but this was an exceptional case. The different pockets of time threw me off from time to time, but there was always a plot twist that would grab me back in. This book oddly shows extreme forms of family problems and toxic relationships, which sadly seems to apply more now than ever in a society.
As you venture further into the story, you realize how much sorrow and anger there is in the world, and how the stories between the sisters paint an ugly picture. This story made me think about if such a horrid tale happened in my family, it gave me chills and a reality check. The tragic truth is jealous and acrimony weaved throughout this tale is what some people experience every day. The poor decisions we make based on an unjust prejudice make me gag.
Aside from that, I highly recommend this book. It was a thrilling adventure that taught me a small lesson along the way. Reading some parts of the book aloud assisted my understanding of the character’s thoughts and emotions throughout the book.
There is no true main character because the baton is passed off between two similar girls almost a hundred years apart. However, the issues and emotions they faced were extremely related, and it relates to most of us today. Even though the extremity is not on the same level, we all have had our shares of lethal relationships and moments of inflamed passion, that lead to disastrous events.
Long story short, an electrifying drama that will keep you up late reading it.
-Coralie D.
You May Now Kill The Bride by R. L. Stine is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

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.

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game is a short novel by Ellen Raskin.  This book has won several awards, including the Newberry Medal.  The story is about a millionaire named Samuel W. Westing.  Sam Westing was known as an eccentric man who loved games.  He left behind a very strange will.  According to the will, his vast fortune would be inherited by the person who could win a perplexing game he had devised before his death.

The will only allowed certain people to play the Westing game.  They were not the kind of heirs typically included in a will.  The game participants seemed to have no relation to each other, but they all had some kind of connection to Sam Westing.  According to the will, he had actually been murdered by one of his heirs.

The people all seem confused that they were selected to play this game, but each of them wants to win the Westing fortune.  The game involves various clues that arouse suspicion in each other.  As the game unfolds, the heirs discover many surprises, and realize that Sam Westing’s game is more dangerous than they had supposed.

I have read this book several times, even though I have already learned the surprise ending.  I still enjoy reading this book for its suspense and humor.  I also like reading about all the different characters, and their unique personalities.  The story is very clever and full of surprises.  This book is very engaging and I think you will have a hard time putting it down once you start reading it.

The President is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson

During quarantine, many of us have been searching for ways to distract ourselves from all the issues going on in the world right now. For me, the best distraction has been reading. I have always had a list of books that I am going to read “at some point,” but never actually got around to reading until now. One of those books was a friend’s recommendation: Bill Clinton and James Pattersons’ The President is Missing.

The President is Missing tells the story of a fictional President Jonathan Duncan, and his attempts to stop a cyber-terrorist attack from fictional terrorist leader Suliman Cindoruk. Duncan had attempted to negotiate with Cindoruk in order to make peace but later faced impeachment trials because of this collusion and its implications. Duncan meets two informants from Cindoruk’s group, but one of them is assassinated during the meeting. Duncan is forced to flee with the remaining informant, Auggie, to a safe house. There, he learns that Auggie and his colleague Nina created an extremely dangerous computer virus called Dark Ages for Cindoruk, but later fled to the US to help halt its use in cyber warfare. The virus is released the next day and the Los Angeles water treatment plant is sabotaged, thus contaminating all the water in the area. This is when Duncan and his staff find out that the true function of the Dark Ages is to contaminate all food and water supply in the US and use technology to sabotage everyday society. Duncan and his colleagues at the Pentagon race to figure out the disable code for Dark Ages, and his vice president is suspected of leaking the confidential information used for the virus. At the last minute, Duncan’s chief of staff correctly guesses the code word and the country is saved from Dark Ages and the impending cyber-terror attack. The person who leaked the confidential information and helped orchestrate the terrorist attack with Cindoruk is caught (no spoilers!) and the country is saved. 

This story is an epic work of fiction and is a perfect book to read during isolation. The story is incredibly intriguing and will keep you guessing until the very final page. Stay safe and keep reading!

-Katie A. 

The President Is Missing by Bill Clinton and James Patterson is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

The Westing Game (text only) by E. Raskin: E. Raskin: Amazon.com ...

16 heirs. 8 teams. 1 fortune ripe for the winning. The Westing Game has begun, and there is no turning back…

The glittery, glassy apartment house Sunset Towers (which, oddly enough, face east!) has been leased to tenants more different than not. However, after reclusive millionaire Samuel W. Westing dies, it is revealed that the residents of Sunset Towers are connected by far more than their new apartment homes – they have all been named as potential heirs to the Westing fortune!

In order to win the money, all the heirs have to do is find the one who murdered Westing. Paired up in accordance with Westing’s will, and armed with 10 thousand dollars and a single clue, the heirs must unveil the murderer before they can strike again…

Through blizzards and burglaries, bombings and burnings, the heirs play on, but nothing is as it seems on this hunt for a killer, and as the pairs follow the clues that Westing left for them, it may be that they themselves are in danger…

Ellen Raskin’s The Westing Game is the perfect combination of mystery and adventure that allows the reader to use their wits and solve the puzzle alongside the heirs in the book. No matter what the reader’s personal preferences are, Raskin’s brilliant writing and simply complicated enigma that is Westing’s will capture their attention from the first page to the last. 

-Mahak M. 

The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin is available for checkout from the Mission Viejo Library. It can also be downloaded for free from Overdrive