Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Heavier than Heaven, by Charles R. Cross

Heavier than Heaven, by Charles R Cross, is the uncensored, unfiltered biography of Kurt Cobain, the lead singer of Nirvana, and the leader of a generation. It begins from his days as an average American child, to his parent's divorce, a monumental emotional landmark for him. The book recalls his teen years living in no place particular as he was shuffled around between friends and family. It was then that he began his journey into music and drug abuse. It then talks about Nirvana's slow rise in the music world, the pressure of the band's popularity, Kurt's intense, often heroin-filled relationship with Courtney Love and finally Kurt's suicide. Heavier than Heaven is the kind of book that changes the view of a person, in this case changing my personal view of Kurt Cobain from just a musician, to a true artist. While definitely a mature book intended for older audiences, Heavier than Heaven provides a mature, uncensored view Kurt Cobain as he really was, and makes him seem an even bigger icon, while showing the sad, tragic tale of his life that led to his suicide. Heavier than Heaven is beautifully written, while remaining raw, one of the most inspiring works I have ever experienced, showing the story of a man who came from tragedy to change a generation.

-Reviewed by MT, grade 9.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

The Princess Diaries, by Meg Cabot

Ever feel like you don’t fit in? Ever feel like you’re invisible? That’s exactly how Mia Thermopolis feels everyday until the day her father tells her that she is a princess, in The Princess Diaries by Meg Cabot! Everything changes after that. Her only wishes were to be a shorter, prettier, curvier and being… nothing more. From a “freak”, she becomes a princess and is forced to take princess lessons with her grandmere (grandmother), which she totally hates. Furthermore, her mother goes out with her Algebra teacher. In other words, her life is not the best. This book is really funny. Even though every girl’s dream is to become a princess, she totally hates it. There are a total of 13 volumes of this series. I don’t recommend this book to boys, but to teenager girls that like drama stories. I like this book also because it tells a story of a princess from a rich European country whom is displayed as an average girl with a lot of problems in her life.

-Reviewed by AD, grade 9.

Hacking Harvard, by Robin Wasserman

Hacking Harvard, by Robin Wasserman, is a story about four high school seniors who pull of "hacks," pranks meant to prove a point or send a political message. They decide to pull a hack on Harvard to prove how admissions systems for colleges are bogus and that brains aren't the number one requirement for colleges anymore...by getting an underachieving slacker admitted into Harvard, while dealing with sabotage, romance, friendship, parents, and college. Hacking Harvard is, while remaining a classic young adult novel, a satirical commentary on the workings of the modern college admissions system, and the pressures on students surround it. Showing examples of seemingly insane seniors doing anything and everything just to get into "the best" schools, Hacking Harvard is written in a way anyone who went to high school recently can imagine almost all of the examples occurring. Hacking Harvard is a lot like two stories at once, in the foreground the story of the "hackers," but constantly in the background is the ideals of the progatanist regarding college. Their ideas hit home to anyone in the modern school system who feel the pressures of college who wants to "be the best." Brilliantly written as a realistic commentary on modern education, Hacking Harvard is a great smart, political, and satirical read for anyone experiencing the effects of the modern college admision system, which is almost everyone in the modern education world.

Reviewed by Anonymous, grade 9.


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The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillippa Gregory

The Other Boleyn Girl, by Phillippa Gregory, is about Mary, a thirteen year old Howard girl living in the vivid court of Henry VIII. Mary has no idea about her families shocking ambition, until she grabs the attention of the famous king. As someone who has never truly fallen in love Mary is at first unsteady about her new position as the king's mistress, second highest woman in England next to the Queen. Unfortunately when she finally accepts her role she finds that the king's eye has wavered to her all too famous sister Lady Anne Boleyn. Unlike Mary, Anne has her own ambition that she puts before her families. In the end one sister followed the rules while the other defied them. The Other Boleyn Girl is a story of lust, intrigue, ambition and rivalry.

This is a book that I would recommend for any one who has a calling for history such as me. This story, although containing of very mature content, is interesting and informative. Also if someone reading this book I strongly suggest that they get some background knowledge on King Henry VII pre reading. If the reader finds a personal desire to read more into the inner depths of historical figures than I strongly recommend this book to be among the first ones read.


-Reviewed by T.A., grade 10.

Rurouni Kenshin, by Nobuhiro Watsuki

Rurouni Kenshin by Nobuhiro Watsuki is one of the oldest manga series that is still popular today, having 255 chapters in 28 volumes. Rurouni Kenshin is all about a rogue samurai named Himura Kenshin who is a survivor from the Bakumatsu wars, now wandering the land during the Meiji Era, wielding nothing but a reverse-blade sword. In one of his travels, he meets a woman named Kaoru Kamiya, who accuses him of being a legendary killer called Hitokiri Battosai (translation: Battosai the Man Slayer). However he denies any relation to that title and is later attacked by a man claiming to be the real battosai. After he threatens to kill Kaoru, Himura rushes in to save the day and exposes his identity as the real battosai. From there, he meets many friends and enemies and goes through many battles that tie him back down to the past. As he continues to fight, he begins to go back to his original killer instincts, and has many moments where he almost broke his oath to never kill again. Himura Kenshin will have to use all his skills to protect his friends, and to stay alive in this new era of runaway ronins (ex-samurai) and modern weapons. This was the very first anime and manga series I ever saw. It is a series filled with action, suspense, comedy, and romance. If you like old style manga with fighting, epic “super-saiyan” like moments, and comedy, this is the manga for you. Although it is very long, each chapter will leave you hanging and wanting more, so reading the whole series will seem like a breeze. There aren’t too many mangas with good anime but this is one of the few exceptions, so if you want to hear everything but get a more in-depth view, read both the manga and watch the anime series. As the story progressed, many situations will make you feel a rainbow of emotions. You might ask, “Who is he,” or yell something outrageous like, “WHY DID ******* DIE?!” In this time of confusion and restoration, many people will not be so happy about the change. Will Himura live through the battles? Will he be able to land the girl and move on towards the present? Learn this and more by reading Rurouni Kenshin.


-Reviewed by TK, grade 9