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Fantasy

Land of Stories: The Wishing Spell by Chris Colfer

February 3, 2021

Alex and her twin brother, Conner, fall into a strange world and take a dangerous and exciting adventure. This adventure leads them toward knowing more about their family and themselves. The Land Of Stories: The Wishing Spell, by Chris Colfer, is an exciting story of many tales from many children’s books: from Jack and the Beanstalk to Sleeping Beauty. Some of the characters in these familiar stories are not what they seem in this strange twist of a world, and the reader gets to see their true selves. Alex and Conner find lots of friends but many enemies, too. With adventures into the sea, mines, lairs and castles, the twins collect important pieces so that they can find a way home, but it is harder than it seems.

With action-packed and challenging missions, Colfer allows Conner and Alex to find their way into a lot of trouble, and they have to do some dangerous things to get out. What Colfer does to set the scene for more books in the Land of Stories series is have Alex make friends she never had before, so she changes as these new relationships form.

Alex and Conner lost their dad a few years ago to a car crash, and their mother had to sell the bookstore they owned, in order to take a full time job that meant she barely saw the twins except on break. Alex is twelve just like Conner and loves to read, so in school she knows all the answers to all the questions.  Everyone dislikes her because she acts like a teacher’s pet. Colfer shows that Alex doesn’t have any friends and is lonely, while Conner is the complete opposite. He is not as smart as Alex in school, but he plays a big part in their trip into the Land of Stories and reveals how smart he is, even when he falls asleep in class nearly every day and has many friends, unlike Alex. Readers will like how Colfer made Alex and Conner so different in some ways, yet similar at the same time.

I appreciated this book because Chris Colfer is a very descriptive and thoughtful writer. For example: 

“It was, undoubtedly, a witch, and although they had never seen a real witch to make a comparison to, she was more grotesque than they could have imagined. Her skin was wrinkled and pale with a yellowish tint. Her eyes were bloodshot and bulged out of her head. She was hunched over and had an enormous hump on her back.”

“Hello, children,” the witch said. 

I love how much description Colfer puts in, without ever dragging out the moment or slowing the pace. My rating for this book is a ten out of ten. I found this novel to be unpredictable, even though it has familiar characters with their stories retold. Readers will never know what will happen next or who will appear next. If you like adventure, fantasy, and twists, this book is just the one for you.

Taber

Little, Brown, 438 pages


The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith

February 14, 2019

Jack Whitmore lost control in the wrong place at the wrong time. One night, after stumbling away from a party, Jack is kidnapped by a man posing as a doctor, named Freddie Horvath. Freddie keeps Jack trapped in his van. The van’s windows are painted black so Jack has no idea where he is or what is happening to him, and Freddie beats him repeatedly. One day Freddie leaves for a few hours, Jack sees his opportunity, escapes, and runs home. I enjoyed how Smith continued to circle back to this reference throughout the book; it brings a sense of reality and an awareness of the past to Jacks journey.

The Marbury Lens by Andrew Smith then takes us to England. Jack and his friend Connor are leaving their home in Glenbrook, California, to visit a boarding school that Jack’s grandfather attended. Once Jack arrives in England, he decides to go to a local pub. When he is at the pub he meets a stranger named Henry. After they share a few drinks, Henry tells Jack about a mysterious pair of glasses. He then gives Jack the glasses and says they will take him to a place called Marbury.  Marbury is a world not under, above, or even next to ours – it’s another dimension. Marbury consists in a separate reality. Curious, Jack decides to use them. He looks through the glasses and discovers Marbury and sees the bloody war that is currently taking place. As the days pass, Jack starts finding it harder and harder to put the glasses down, until the point where going to Marbury becomes an addiction. I thought that the way that Jack gets strung to the lens and he has to balance them with reality added another aspect to the book to contribute the craziness of the novel and its conflict.   

Then readers are introduced to Seth, a ghost that lived and died in Marbury that Jack mysteriously sees frequently when he looks through the lens. Except something is special about Seth: unlike all the people that live in Marbury, Seth has the ability to cross from Marbury into reality. Jack finds Seth taunting him, announcing himself with the distinctive sound of roll… tap tap tap. Jack meets two boys, Ben and Griffin Goodrich, who accompany Jack and his trip through the endless void of Marbury. Marbury is tearing Jack’s thoughts apart piece by piece; it starts to interfere with Jack’s relationships outside of Marbury: his and his best friend Connor’s interaction, and his overall time outside of Marbury. Smith impressed me by intertwining the narratives of Seth, Jack, and Connor.

I would recommend this book to anyone thirteen or above due to consistent PG-13 content. There is a sequel to this book, called Passenger. I found that Passenger was slow and was not a good read. I abandoned Passenger midway through due to the lack of these elements. But that did not limit my enjoyment of the first book, and I hope that readers try The Marbury Lens.

Sam

Feiwel and Friends, 370 pages


Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

February 9, 2019

Zélie Adebola remembers when there was magic in the air, in the sea, and in the soil. Zélie Adebola remembers her mother’s magic protecting her from evil forces and helping her in any way. Zélie Adebola remembers when magic disappeared. Zélie Adebola remembers her mother’s slaughter. She will never forget, and now she can do something about it, with a newly found scroll of power that restores only a small portion of magic, she can fight King Saran and his evil ways. With the help of her brother, the king’s daughter, and a bunch of others along the way, she will fight without rest to restore magic fully: to the Maji, to her fellow Diviners, and to the world.

Adeyemi created an amazing plot in this book and used effective strategies and structure to give the reader a full experience. One of these was multiple perspectives–every chapter the point of view changes and is always in first person, so it’s like the reader is in each character’s head and knows his or her thoughts. Because of the multiple perspectives, the reader is not limited to one person, but gets to know all the important characters.

And who are those characters? They are Zélie Adebola, Amari, and Inan. Zélie, as explained before, was a girl destined to have magic, specifically over death. Then it all disappeared and her mother was slaughtered. After she gets the scroll to save magic forever, a reader would think that she would be on board with bringing magic back a hundred percent, but after meeting a group of Diviner rebels, she actually has second thoughts: Is it safe to bring magic back? Would it really make everything better?

One of the most important characters is Amari, King Saran’s daughter. She is the one who brings the scroll to Zélie and needs her help to escape. Amari is one of those characters that looks soft and vulnerable on the outside, but on the inside, she has the skills of a ninja master. She’s brave, determined, and wants to help anyone in need–in this case Zélie and the Diviners.

Then there’s Inan. He may not be the most important or destined character, but he’s a red devil with white angel wings and a halo. He’s obviously a devil, although he also has good qualities, and knows what’s right and wrong, but he’s King Saran’s son, so that adds conflict to the plot.

This title may seem like a good, classic, “Bring magic back” fantasy. But that’s not simply the case with this book; it has much deeper meanings. For one, there’s a strong racism metaphor, but instead of black skin, it’s white hair, because anyone with white hair has magic, or had magic. These white haired people are the Diviners, and they are discriminated against. Seeing the impact of this discrimination definitely changed my view of this fantasy book’s world and the real world.

 Overall, this is one of the best novels I’ve ever read, with the most intriguing characters, plot, and themes. I recommend this book to anyone who loves magic, meaning, and thrill. Adeyemi’s novel is 100% a ten out of ten title. I hope any reader will enjoy!

Jackson

Henry Holt, 532 pg.


The Princess Bride by William Goldman

March 16, 2018

When Buttercup’s true love, Westley, has his ship attacked by pirates on its way out of the country, Buttercup is distraught and determined that she will never love again. But she realizes she has bigger problems—she is promised to Prince Humperdinck as his next wife. Before she leaves for the castle, she is kidnapped by an odd group of criminals: Vizzini, the mastermind behind the whole scheme, who loves money more then anything; Inigo Montoya, a man out for revenge; and Fezzik, a caring, helpful, and flighty giant. As they travel, the man in black who saves Buttercup from the criminals, meets them.

Together the pair travels across the country of Guilder, on a mission to return to Florin, where Buttercup secretly continues her relationship with the man in black, while she delays the arranged marriage with Prince Humperdinck. But how long can she stall the wedding? What will happen if the Prince finds out? Will everyone make it out alive?

William Goldman writes as if he is abridging the work of a fictional author, S. Morgenstern. Goldman often breaks into the story by including first-person personal paragraphs that “explain” a section of S. Morgenstern’s tale because it was too boring, or it was just conveying useless information. Goldman writes with a light comedic tone, which makes it easy for readers to connect with not just the characters but Goldman himself. So when he breaks in, it seems as if he is a character in his own story, causing the entire book to flow smoothly.

I loved how Goldman developed every character in the novel, even if they weren’t present throughout the whole story. For example, Fezzik is part of the plot, but he is not as important as Buttercup, or Westley. However, Goldman develops him just as much as any other character, so that by the end of the story readers feel that they have been best friends with him for their entire lives.

Other than Goldman’s commentary, he writes the story in third person, switching between Westley and Buttercup. This feature is effective because it gives the book a quick pace and keeps readers interested throughout the story— he will often end chapters that followed either Westley or Buttercup on life-or-death cliffhangers, making a reader want to keep reading to find out what happens. This is one of the many aspects that led me to rate this book a solid ten out of ten.

The Princess Bride is a classic tale of friendship, love, and near-death experiences that captivate, and intrigue readers of any age. I hope that you will join Buttercup, Westley, and their unique accomplices on their journey—and their fight for love.

Katie

Harcourt, 512 pages


The Monstrumologist by Rick Yancey

February 2, 2018

First off, a warning: if you don’t like gore in your books then don’t bother to read this review.

Wilson’s screams abruptly ended in a gurgling report and a veritable geyser of blood, most of which cascaded from a robust stream into the monster’s waiting mouth. His head fell forward with a sickening thud onto the metal bars. A final paroxysmal spasm of his legs and Wilson lay still.

Will Henry is a sixteen-year-old orphan who works for a man with an unusual practice: monstrumology, or the study of monsters. His master, Doctor Warthrop, is obsessed with this and brings Will Henry on a gory, painful, and also violent adventure to hunt down and examine a type of monster called the Anthropophagi, thought to be extinct, which has recently begun to come out of hibernation and started to eat humans. This book is set in a world just like ours; the one crucial difference being that there is a chance that monsters are lurking around every corner. Soon a simple examination mission becomes a fight for the survival of millions of others.

I loved the way Yancey developed Will as a character. When the book starts Will shies away from everything, but by the end he is an exuberant character who readers can still relate to—aside from the fact that he hunts monsters. It was a good choice by Yancey to change Will as a character because readers focus more on the problem rather than trying to understand what the character was thinking.

Yancey also did a good job of developing the secondary character: Doctor Warthrop. Even though his personality didn’t change throughout the book, at the beginning his personality completely offsets Will’s, which is an effective choice. I also liked Doctor Warthrop as a character because his personality contrasts with Will’s, in multiple ways, one of them being his professionalism in monstrumology. He is very good at monstrumology because he has done it his whole life, whereas Will is new to it. I appreciated Yancey’s choice to make this contrast. It made the book more effective for me.

I thought that the secondary problem of Will trying to gain Doctor Worthrop’s respect was an effective addition by Yancey. It was nice to sometimes not be immersed in the violent world of monstrumology and get a chance to learn more about the character’s personalities. I thought that it was a good choice by Yancey to have one problem be action-packed, gory adventure and one problem be a little less heavy and a little bit slow-moving. Whenever I would consider stopping, Yancey would draw me back into the book with another action scene. I appreciated the balance of action and character development.

This book was an 11 out of 10 for me and many others. Yancey brought me out of my house and into a new world where anything is possible, good or bad. I encourage anyone and everyone to at least give this book a shot and enter a different world.

Henry

Simon & Schuster, 434 pages


The Curse of the Wendigo by Rick Yancey

Will Henry doesn’t have an ordinary life; he has a career of monstrumology all planed out for him. He’s battled against the anthropophagi, in Yancey’s first book, but he and readers wonder if he has what it takes to defeat the elusive Wendigo, which the ancient story describes as, “he who eats all mankind.” The Wendigo is said to be up to twelve feet tall, and it is so slender that it can’t be seen from the side. The more it eats human flesh the hungrier it becomes, and once it catches a person’s scent it will hunt for days until it finds the perfect moment to strike.

The main characters in The Curse of the Wendigo are Will Henry, Dr. Pellinore Wathrop, and John Chanler. The doctor’s best friend has gone missing in the woods of Canada. looking for the myth of the Wendigo. So Henry and the doctor are heading to the woods to find him or it – whichever they discover first.

The genre of Rick Yancey’s book is horror and paranormal, and if you don’t like gore and horror this is not the book you should be reading. I loved this novel because it was a real page-turner, and throughout the story Yancey keeps a steady pace. Readers should make sure to read the first book or they won’t really get this one. The Monstrumologist won a Michael Printz Honor Award, and I liked it better because it was more fast-paced and creepier than this book. This book is gorier and just straight out strange, which does make it enjoyable.

I loved this novel because I had never read a book quite like this one. This series is like a young adult version of the Goosebumps novels, so it’s a lot scarier, gorier, and includes everything that has to do with nightmares. I recommend this to anyone that can look past the gore and frightening parts of the novel and see how well-developed Yancey’s story is because the shock factors are not the only features that makes this book good. Rick Yancey also wrote the 5th wave series and, if you haven’t read that trilogy I highly recommend it.

There are four books in this series: the first one is the best and the quality falls off as they go on, as I have heard from a number of readers. Later the books are slower with not as much detail. It’s possible that Yancey ran out of material because he already included so much in the first two books, and he didn’t want to repeat plot lines he had already written.

This series is meant to be read, and I hope you accept the challenge.

Ashton

Simon & Shuster BFYR, 424 Pages


Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

January 27, 2018

Gwyneth is a normal teenager in a family where a select few females inherit a time travel gene. Her cousin, Charlotte, is believed to possess it, as she was born on the day Sir Isaac Newton predicted for her. She’s spent her whole life learning to fence, dance, gain proper manners, speak foreign languages, and generally, how to fit in in the past, while she misses out on sports, friends, and sleepovers. But that all goes to waste when, one day, Gwen gets dizzy, and travels into the past. She discovers she was born on the same day as Charlotte, but her mother lied about her birthday in an attempt to give Gwen a normal life. She soon finds herself transported via chronograph—a machine that sends people with the gene back to a specific year for a few hours—with Gideon (her counterpart male time traveler from the de Villiers family; the males in that family received the gene). The two of them try to collect the blood of other travelers to fill the Circle of the Twelve on the second chronograph, because the previous pair had stolen the first one.

Gideon interested me as a secondary character because, when we first meet him, he dates Charlotte, but soon after, he kisses Gwen. And not only that, but half the time he’s a complete jerk: he ignores Gwen and doesn’t help with the blindfold they make her wear on the way down to the chronograph room. But at other times he kisses her, hugs her, stands up for her and helps let her go home early. His unpredictability brought that element into the rest of the book, because readers never knew what mood he’d be in with Gwen.

A more fun secondary character was Lesley, Gwyneth’s best friend, because while Gwen wasn’t supposed to tell anyone about the gene in the family, she told what little she knew to Lesley. Every time Gwen went into the past to meet someone, she would recount every detail back to her friend, who would then spend most of the night on the Internet, to try to help answer some of the questions the men refused to answer.

I was impressed at how Gier managed to keep the time travel aspect of the novel clear and simple. I never once questioned how it worked, because I could tell she put effort into the explanation and kept the concept easy to understand. Part of what made that stick out were that there were a lot of secrets that the secret society of men kept from her, which confused me in the parts when Gwen was confused, but kept the others crystal clear.

When the novel begins, Gwen travels back uncontrolled, and doesn’t know which years she ends up in. She finds herself on a sidewalk, in her house (where its former occupants chase her around), and in a classroom where she witnesses something that confuses both her and the reader, and adds an element of mystery, which pushes the reader to keep reading, and makes the book very fast-paced.

This book is a quick masterpiece that will take you two days in which you’ll read nonstop—then you’ll wish the book were longer. This was a book I rated thirteen out of ten. Good luck putting it down.

Calla

Henry and Holt Co., 322 pages


Passenger by Alexandra Bracken

March 21, 2017

Etta started to pull herself up, not caring that she was crying, just looking for fresh air and a path out of this nightmare. Instead, she climbed into the mouth of another one.

Etta is an extraordinary violinist with a mysterious mother and a loving music teacher. Nicholas is a legal pirate and daring sailor, whose mother was a slave. They have one thing in common: they can time travel. Yes, they can visit any place, any time period, as long as there is a passage. Etta’s mother keeps this gift secret from her, until Sophia—another traveler—pushes her into a nearby passage, after shots ring out in the present. Etta wakes up several days later to find herself aboard an unfamiliar ship and that her clothes and beloved earrings are missing. For Nicholas, however, his gift is more of a curse. It placed him in indentured servitude working for a family he despises. It is not until he meets Etta, that he begin to question the hearts of his “family”, and what their ambitions truly are. Together they go on an impossible journey through time to recover (and hopefully destroy) an astrolabe with the capability to create passages—Although they know that Cyrus Ironwood, their grandfather, wants it for darker reasons.

Bracken crafts the narrative well: the perspectives switch back and forth between Etta and Nicholas, while remaining in the third person. For example, Bracken leaves cliffhangers, and then the narrative will cut to the other character and whatever he or she is doing in that chapter. I thought that this was effective because it kept the plot moving and the readers on their toes, making them want to continue. She also cues time transitions effectively so readers can easily tell where and when they are. For instance, when there is a new chapter, she tells readers what time period the characters are in and what the year is.

I loved how Bracken develops not only the protagonists but also the secondary characters and antagonists. For example, Sophia is well-developed so that the readers can feel pity for her but also hate her for being rude and annoying to both Etta and Nicholas. Readers can also picture her well: her long dark hair, black eyes, and milky complexion. I also liked how Cyrus Ironwood was portrayed and described, because he seems like a mysterious and creepy man. The way he talks and takes control of even the air around him is disturbing.

Bracken transported me to unimaginable times, and indescribable places. I hope you will join me as a Passenger on this time traveling journey, because this is a book beyond rating.

Emma

Disney-Hyperion, 486 pages


Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas

February 15, 2017

Celaena Sardothien is a fearless assassin in the city of Adarlan and is one year into her life sentence in the salt mines of Endovier. But after a long day in the dark endless  mines she is greeted by six guards and a strange man in black.They bring her to the prince (the king’s son) to be looked over before she is invited to the glass castle to compete in the king’s competition for the title of king’s champion—basically his hitman. One of the king’s many different challenges reveals how the lack of training in the salt mines affected Celaena, who she would normally be at the top of the group. Because of her lack of strength she goes to the king as a different person with a different name so she won’t look bad.

Maas effectively balances out the amount of action and adventure with the drama and romance so readers never get bored with the plot. Maas did an excellent job developing all the characters. For example, when she was developing Celaena Sardothien she made her a brutal, emotionless assassin with a soft side for the people closest to her, like her friends and masters at the assassin’s guild. I think that the author could have added more detail about Celaena’s past, like how long was she an assassin before she got captured and sent to Endovire, but that is why audiences should also read The Assassin’s Blade, which is the prequel to Throne of Glass.

I think that anyone would love this book whether they like fantasy, action- adventure, or drama because this novel has all of those elements rolled into one amazing, must-read story. Celaena grows from being some heartless assassin who got locked in the mines after years of killing for money, to a nicer more trustworthy character who will surprise readers throughout the entire book— and the rest of the series if they choose to read it. A good example this transformation from the start of the book is seeing how her relationship grows with the captain of the royal guard and the prince of Auterland.

Zephaniah

Bloomsbury Publishing, Inc., 404 pages


Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

January 31, 2017

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher

Finn is not your average boy, growing up in a not- so- average place, surrounded by an unusual group of people. Finn is captive in the living prison called Incarceron that can kill and breed people at will. No one except the inmate’s legend, Sapphique, has escaped the dreaded world. No one has come in or out since the prison was built, although Finn believes he came from the outside. In fact, no one believes there is anywhere else. He embarks on a dangerous quest with his oath-brother Kerio to escape Incarceron using a mysterious crystal key and visions of Sapphique, before Incarceron finds them.

Claudia is the daughter of the warden of Incarceron. She lives in a kingdom where she is forced to marry the second son of the royal family and become the queen of the kingdom. She is trying to find Incarceron’s location with the help of her tutor, Jared. Searching through her father’s belongings, she finds a crystal key she believes will unlock the door to Incarceron. A mysterious artifact brings Claudia and Finn together to uncover a secret plot that has to do with the missing prince of the kingdom and the creation of Incarceron.

Catherine Fisher’s imagination has brought to life this blend of science fiction, action adventure, high technology, kings and queens, and lots of deception, conspiracies, and heart. Readers follow Finn and Claudia through their quest to uncover the truth. Fisher switches between third- person perspectives of Finn and Claudia. When I got to an exciting part, the novel would change perspectives so I was always wanting to read on to find out what happened to the characters. Both characters have to overcome many extra problems they run into, in order to accomplish their main goal.

Fisher leads this book into its follow up, Sapphique. She has written another amazing novel called Circle of Stones. I rate this book a ten because I never stopped being interested in the plot. I also liked how Fisher made Incarceron alive. She used personification to give a prison human qualities, and throughout the book  characters talk about a certain emotion Incarceron is feeling at the time— for example, a rumble or a creak would be how Incarceron shows its emotions. I recommend this book to any one who likes action-adventure, science fiction, corruption, fantasy, and rebellion.

Fisher leads you on two adventures that collide into a story that will change everything for both characters. Meanwhile the reader asks so many questions: Who should they trust? What can they do? Who’s bad and who’s good? What is Incarceron?

Dial books, 442 pages

Marcus


Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly

February 13, 2016

Rev_paperback_US“Yeah. Sure. My brother’s dead. My mother’s insane. Hey, let’s have a crêpe.”

Andi Alpers is just a seventeen-year-old girl living in the heights of Brooklyn. She plays guitar; and has a talented French artist for a mother and a brilliant scientist for a father. Sounds perfect, “ja?” — as her teacher Nathan would say. Not so much. Andi’s younger brother, Truman, was killed in a car accident, her father lives with his new young wife, and most of the time Andi’s mother catatonically paints pictures of Truman, which leaves Andi on her own. But after Andi attempts suicide at a party, she finds her father at her house trying to make sense of her mother who sits dazed at her easel, and wondering why Andi wasn’t there. Abruptly, he suggests that he and Andi go to Paris, so that Andi can work on her college essay and try to move on from Truman’s death.

When Andi arrives in Paris she finds an artifact she never expected to spark her curiosity: a diary. It belonged to a poor girl Andi’s age named Alex, living in the time of the French Revolution. As Andi continues to read the diary, the world of eighteenth-century Paris captures her in a way more real than she could ever imagine.

I loved how Donnelly incorporated so many different personalities in both Andi and Alex’s stories. Even the characters in Alex’s diary entries Donnelly made both Andi and the reader feel like the people described were real. The three characters that I loved the most in Revolution were Amadé Malherbeau, Virgil, and Prince Louis-Charles. I loved those characters because they all helped Andi discover who she was —I know it sounds cheesy, but trust me— in different powerful ways: Louis-Charles shows Andi the innocence of the monarchy in the French Revolution, Amadé shows her how the revolution affected the people and how not everyone is as good as they seem, and Virgil teaches her that she needs to open up and let people into her life. I think all of these lessons are important in anyone’s life, regardless of the French Revolution setting.

I thought it was interesting and effective how Donnelly constructed the novel using specific entries from Alex’s diary to describe her life, so that both Andi and the reader can get know her and deeply understand the struggles of her life. I also thought Donnelly’s use of an epilogue to end the book was effective and satisfying.

I think all readers will absolutely love this book—I definitely did. I rated it a definite eleven out of ten. It’s the perfect size for this type of novel—about 470 pages— but I promise you, it will go by fast. PLEASE: do not be swayed from reading this spectacular book by the cover image of a key. I think it distracts from the theme and plot of the book, which is about people and things changing, and only a bit about Andi and Alex’s connection to Truman’s key.

Be prepared with some tissues; this book is an emotional ride.

Hope
Random House, Inc. 473 pages.


I Am Number Four by Pittacus Lore

I_Am_Number_Four_CoverNine Loriens escape from their planet after being attacked by dozens of Mogadoriens. The Lorien Alien nine go to Earth, but the Mogadoriens follow them a few months later on a quest to finally destroy all Loriens that are still alive. The nine survivors all have powers that develop over time. They all split up to different states and countries and with mentors that act as parents and teachers to them and help them live grow their powers, in order to someday to be ready to defend themselves.

The main problem in this novel by Pittacus Lore is that the nine need to grow and master their powers so they can fight back and kill the Mogadoriens, which is the main problem in the book. I think that the Lore crafted that conflict well. He was able to bring the characters to life, and draw the reader in to make it seem like he or she is in the book along with the characters.

During the novel the nine develop more powers, have fights with the Mogs, who are always looking and hunting the Nine down, especially the main character named John Smith who is Number Four. The Loriens have to be killed in order by the Mogs. If they go out of order it will have a reverse effect and make the person die who-is trying to kill them. When the book begins One, Two, and Three have been killed-now they are after Number Four.

John’s life is fun: he enjoys himself, he goes to school, and there is even a romance between him and Saharh, but as a Lorien in hiding he has a big secret to keep from his friends and his girlfriend, which is another main problem.

Number Four’s mentor is named Henri, and I think the author Lore has crafted every character to add new meaning to the book. He gives each one powers, and their character development is all based around them growing their powers to fight back.

Lore crafted the theme and plot with details about what the Nine are there for, how they will survive, and how to fend for themselves while also helping others in danger. I would rate this book a ten because the author makes the plot and theme build so much and has great character development. This novel kicks off a compelling series of books, all of which readers will want to devour as soon as they finish I Am Number Four.

Sam

Harper, 440 pages


If I Stay, by Gayle Forman

January 21, 2015

81aTBRY7dxLWhen Mia Haul and her family decide to take a drive on a day school is canceled because of a few inches of snow, they don’t notice a truck charging by a corner until it’s too late. After a disastrous crash, Mia notices that she is out of her own body and able to see herself in a coma. She needs to figure out how she can re-enter her body and decide if she wants to stay: to keep living without her parents, or to leave her boyfriend and other family members.

When I picked up the book, I already had questions circling my mind, because the front cover asks: “What would you do if you had to choose?” That question made me feel that Forman wanted readers to see if they would do the same as Mia or make a different choice. I felt like a ghost right by Mia’s side and wished I could to tell her what I thought she should do. I love that Forman made it a visual story, with touches that allow her readers to see the story. For example, when they crash, Forman made me see the glass shatter and feel the impact of the other vehicle as it pushed the car off the road.

I would rate this book a 9.5 because I love the genre—realistic fiction for teens that will suck readers in with conflict that connects to the big problem. If I Stay has a lot of flashbacks that can help explain the relationships between characters so readers can see who is a friend or an enemy. Forman makes it easy to tell what is or isn’t a flashback, so it’s never confusing.

I recommend this book to ages thirteen and up, because it has some harsh scenes that I don’t think will be the best for a younger audience— from romantic relationships to losing loved ones. Forman has written great books like the sequel to this one, Where She Went, which talks about what happened after the big crash from Mia’s boyfriend’s perspective. I also recommend this novel to people who love If I Stay. Forman has made this book as perfect as it can get, and I hope many people will be as pleased as I was with this amazing read.

Carissa

Penguin Group, 237 pages


A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin

February 8, 2012

A Game of Thrones is set in a medieval world. There are eight main characters: Eddard Stark, Catelyn Stark, Bran Stark, Sansa Stark, Arya Stark, Jon Snow, Tyrion Lanister, and Daenerys Targaryen. Eddard and Catelyn are Bran, Arya, and Sansa’s parents. The second in command to the Kingdom, the King’s Hand Jon Arryn, dies and the king, Robert Baratheon, asks Eddard to be the new King’s Hand. He accepts and he, Arya, and Sansa move to King’s Landing, which is the capital city. Jon, Eddard’s son from a different mother, goes north to join the Night’s Watch, a border patrol. Bran is injured and stays at Winterfell, the land where Eddard is the lord. Tyrion is the brother of the queen, and he is a dwarf. He lives at King’s Landing. Daenarys is the rightful heir to the throne, in her opinion, because the current king, Robert, took over the throne by force from her ancestors, so she’s trying to get an army and ships so she can sail back across the ocean to her homeland and recover her throne. Then something happens to upset the kingdom, but that would be giving too much away. The plot is pretty complicated, but that’s one of the things that I liked about the book.

    The genre of A Game of Thrones is fantasy, because there are dire wolves, which are just really big wolves; dragon eggs that haven’t shown any signs of life; and the Others, who exist only north of the Wall, a huge wall of ice. That’s it for fantasy elements. Other than those things the setting is a realistic medieval world.

    I think that Martin does a great job of creating a real world in which everything seems like it actually could happen. The characters act like humans and don’t do anything that would be impossible in reality. Martin also does a good job of keeping the reader informed about all the parts of the world and all the main characters, so there aren’t big time spaces between hearing about a particular person, unless there is nothing happening from that character’s perspective. Martin also doesn’t repeat events from multiple characters’ perspectives.

    I would recommend A Game of Thrones to anyone who likes to read long books. There are over eight hundred pages in this one, and at least that many in the next four in the series. There are two that aren’t out yet, so it will take a reader a while to finish all of them; it took me two and a half months to finish the first five. It’s still a great series, and I would recommend it to people who like fantasy. I rated it a ten out of ten.
    
Brian

Bantam Books, 835 pages

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Chosen, by Ted Dekker

May 22, 2009

chosenChosen is the first book of a series called The Lost Books where Johnis, a young boy, is one of the four chosen to lead the Forest Guard, an army that protects the forest from the Horde, led ultimately by Tomas Hunter.  In the “Other World” of Dekker’s Chosen, you must bathe in Elyon’s water (given to the Forest Dwellers to ward off evil) every day or you get the disease called Teeleh’s teeth. With the disease, you transform into a Scab, which is a Horde member that was once human. A Scab’s skin peels and turns against the Forest and to the Dark One.

The four who are chosen don’t realize that they need to find six books before the Dark One does in order to save the world from darkness.  Now, Johnis, Billos, Darsal, and Silvie embark on a journey full of loyalty and betrayal, truth and lies, and good and evil to save Elyon and both Worlds and destroy evil.

Readers who enjoy adventure or fantasy books will enjoy this one. This book cannot be compared with any other title because it mixes in tons of genres, topics, and ideas into one book, making it quick and unpredictable. To name some, there is a mix of Harry Potter with some Lord of the Rings and Avi’s Wolf Rider suspense, Anthony Horowitz’s Alex Rider action, and even some Garth Nix’s futuristic dystopia from Shade’s Children.  It is a feat seen in very few books and only from the most talented authors. I have only read two other books like this: Airborn by Kenneth Opel, and Unwind by Neal Shusterman.  I highly recommend this book. It is a must read!

Graydon

Publisher:  Thomas Nelson, 288 pages

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Orcs, by Stan Nicholls

May 19, 2009

orcsOrcs is a fantasy about a war band of creatures who are originally the creation of J.R.R. Tolkien. This band is called the Wolverines.  A sorceress who is looking for an ancient relic hires them, and the Wolverines embark on a mission to find it. But as they learn more about the power of this relic, which they call a “star,” they start to doubt whether their employer should possess it.

I would recommend Orcs to anyone looking for an action–packed adventure, along with some gory battles.  The fight scenes are very detailed.  Nicholls describes specific fight styles and how an opponent reacts to each. The orcs seem pretty heartless at battle, but when there is time to think, Stark, the main character, reveals more and more about the orc race and why everyone thinks they are just mindless killing machines. The novel is also a great new perspective on Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy, in which the orcs are the main force of evil.  Here they are portrayed as the saviors of their own middle earth.

Although Orcs is a total page turner, it took me a while to read.  It is actually three books in one:  Bodyguard of Lightning, Legion of Thunder, and Warriors of Tempest.  So I wouldn’t recommend this to someone who can’t stay committed to a long book. If you can read something like Harry Potter, you’ll be fine.

I also like how there is a little tension within the war band. There is one orc who always fights with their dwarf companion and often challenges Stark’s decisions. This bit of tension between warriors makes the book all the more dramatic, when every choice matters and the Wolverines find themselves in some very tight spots.

To sum up, I would say Orcs is one of the best books I have ever read. I rate it a 10 of 10.  By the way, if you enjoy Stan Nicholls, some of his other titles include Strange Invaders, Fade to Black, The Nightshade Chronicles trilogy, and Wordsmiths of Wonder: Fifty Interviews with Writers of the Fantastic.

John

Publisher:  Orbit,  730 pages

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