Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Anthem, by Ayn Rand

In the novel Anthem  by Ayn Rand we are placed in a society that only focuses on thewhole. In fact, it is illegal to say "I" and the sacred word is "ego". Our character is equality and from birth he has been different from his brothers. Secretly, he conducts scientific research and upon his attempt to show his discovers to his people, he is threatened to be killed. He runs away from the only place he has ever known and takes along with him his secret lover, for men and women can not have contact. In the woods, he discovers buildings from the past and realizes what an ego is. Equality reveals that he will create a new society in which it is every man for himself.

At first, Anthem seemed very confusing and I could not understand why such a book was written. Then I realized it was written to critize society and show that we must always be at a median, never extremes. It was a very good book and It made me think deeply of how we embrase some factors from this book but disregard others. It was very well written being told from Equality's point of view.

- Christina,  Grade 10

Night, by Elie Wiesel

Night is a book written by Elie Wiesel about his personal life experiences with his father at Nazi German concentration camps during the Holocaust at the end of World War II. Wiesel was taken out of his home by Nazis when he was only a teenager. He was once a strong, faithful Jew whose life took a dramatic turn during the time spent at the concentration camps. The endless difficult times spent with his father also make up a significant part of the story.

This story based on a true, firsthand account of life in the Holocaust is extremely touching, emotional, and even depressing. One can definitely feel very close and connected to Elie Wiesel and his father and all that they go through together at the concentration camps. In addition, the way Wiesel writes is clear and understandable, despite the harsh, difficult subject matter of the Holocaust. I give this book a 10/10 rating and would recommend it to all readers who want to study and learn about personal encounters and hardships during the Holocaust.

- Emily K., grade 12

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis

The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe is a part of a series "The Chronicles of Narnia" by C.S. Lewis.  It is the novel that introduces the four Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. The four children are sent off to live with professor named Digory Kirke. In this professor's house there is a magical wardrobe first discovered by the youngest of the siblings, Lucy Pevensie. Since Lucy is the youngest she is continually looked down upon by her siblings. Edmund, the second youngest sibling enters the wardrobe next but encounters the evil witch who claims to the Queen of Narnia. However, truly she is not but a lion named Aslan is the ruler of all Narnia. Edmund doesn't know this and is persuaded by the witch to become greedy. All four siblings eventually enter Narnia and are on an adventure to find Alan to help stop the witch. New problems arise as they enter this strange new world and find out that Edmund has somehow betrayed them. The Witch and Aslan's army go to war, but who will win in the end?

I would give this book a 5 out of 5 because it is one of the greatest works of C.S. Lewis.  The book's themes and morals can be so deep that even and adult had to analyze, yet it is a book even a child can understand. The imagination and effort put into this book truly shows and if one is a C.S. Lewis fan, he or she must read this.

Micah, grade 9

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

The Rescue, by Nicholas Sparks

The Rescue by Nicholas Sparks

Taylor McAden the protagonist of this novel is a man who feels compelled to take risks . He is a volunteer fireman who is well known in his own town for saving other people's  lives and is willing to sacifice his own. However, one risk he won't take is falling in love. Taylor has fallen in love with many who have had a crisis but once that crisis is resolved he leaves, afraid of commitment. One stormy day, Dennis Holton, a young single mother is driving with a 4 year old son Kyle and they get into a car accident. Taylor finds Denise unconscious and bleeding, but when Denise wakes she is frantically looking for someone. Her son, Kyle. Taylor attempts to calm her down and tries to look for  Kyle as well. Denise is sent to the hospital still worried while the other firemen are still looking for her son. They learn that Kyle is a mentally disabled child and Denise continues to fret. After hours of looking Taylor finds Kyle and surprisingly, Kyle goes with him. The mother and her child are reunited and happy once again. Denise is grateful to Taylor and their relationship starts to bloom. At first Denise is hesitant because of her responsibilities to her son, but soon falls in love. However, Taylor and Denise's relationship still have to overcome. Will they be able to withstand everything that come their way?
The Rescue was a well written novel because of the amount of imagery that Sparks used. However, it wasn't personally one of my favorite stories. The plot was fair but, not overly exciting . I'd give this book a 3 out of 5 because I personally believe it wasn't one of Sparks's best books. It's a good book that raises awareness of the struggles of a single parent of a disabled child, but I recommend to only read it if one has free time.
- Micah, grade 9

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, by Ann Brashares,
 is about the adventures of four best friends—Lena Kaligaris, Tibby Rollins, Bridget Vreeland, and Carmen Lowell—during their first summer apart. These girls are now in high school and have been best friends since they were born. Before splitting apart that summer, Carmen finds an old pair of jeans that somehow seems to fit each of the girls perfectly despite their actual different sizes. When this happens, the girls come to think that the pants are magical and decide to share the pants that summer while separated.

This is a remarkably touching story about true friendship. One can definitely find themselves connecting to the girls’ experiences throughout their first summer apart while still trying to share the pair of pants with one another. I would recommend this book to teenage girls in particular because they can probably relate most to the story and the girls’ adventures
- Reviewed Emily K. , Grade 12

Monday, June 11, 2012

You Against Me, by Jenny Downham

In Jenny Downham's British novel " You Against Me," the ultimate mystery unravels. Told in both Mikey's and Ellie's point of views, the teens struggle to make sense of what actually happened the night Mikey's sister claims Ellie's brother raped her. Because of Mikey's family's "less fortunate'' way of living in a small apartment and their single mother's lack of authority, it would be easy for Ellie's parents to assume the young girl lied about what happened and is targeting their family out of jealously of their lavish lives. Here's the ultimate plot twist- Ellie was there the night it happened but has blocked out the memory of what she saw so much that she's drowning in doubt of her brother's innocence. It's not easy being the key witness to rape case against your brother, especially when you're falling in love with the victim's brother. 
The tension between Mikey and Ellie and even Ellie and her own family was almost unbearable in this story and I highly recommend everyone to read it, as it's not just a mystery, or even a romantic teen novel, but a true test of loyalty as well.

 - Rita , grade 12

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

What Happened to Goodbye, by Dessen Sarah

Sarah Dessen's "What Happened to Goodbye" is a story about a teenage girl named McLean who has spent the last two years moving around different towns with her father after her parnets' divorce. At each town, sher creates a different name as well as a different persona because she knows she won't be staying long. Her father's business ventures keep him taveling and as her mother has started a new family and basically forgotten all about her, all she could do is go along with him, create a new person, and present it to her temporary peers. However, she's sick of pretending to be everything she's not at this last town they come to and when she meets Dave- the boy next door who offers to show her around the town while managing parental problems of his own- she decides it's finally time to be herself. Even if she doesn't quite know who that is anymore.

 This book is an amazing coming of age novel and I highly recommend it to all teens as they'll find it's easy to relate to McLean and her struggle to find herself.

- Rita , grade 12

Chain Reaction, by Simone Elkeles

In the third and final installment of the trilogy "Perfect Chemistry," Simone Elkeles switches things around. In Chain Reaction  the youngest Fuentes brother- Luis has definitely got the same adventure seeking gene Carlos and Alex had before him. But there's a catch - Luis is determined to obtain his goal in becoming an astronaut. However, things start whirling out of control for the "well - behaved" Fuentes brother when he meets Nikki Cruz. She's a strong Latina with attitude who has promised herself to never trust boys again, as well as never date a boy from the south side of Fairfield. As soon as these two meet at Alex and Brittany 's wedding, it's a whirlwind of passion and excitement as the same gang that almost took his brothers' lives is determined to make their way into Luis's.

Simone Elkeles has done it again and I highly recommend reading this book, especially if you loved the first two and are just aching to find out what happens next with the irresistible and entertaining Fuentes brothers.

- Rita, grade 12.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Rules of Attraction, by Simone Ekleles

Rules of Attraction, by Simone Elkeles, picks up right where Perfect Chemistry left off, but this time it's with different Fuentes brother! If you thought Alex Fuentes was a bad boy , you have yet to meet Carlos.  It's been a year since Alex was jumped out of the gang and he's attending college and still going strong with Brittany. However, his younger brother isn't pleased. After having to leave his girlfriend Destiny and live in Mexico with his mother and younger brother for the past year, Carlos has gone off the rails and his behavior has gotten so bad that his mother is forced to send him to be set straight by Alex- in Colorado of all places. Here, he meets Kiara- a tomboy who loves hiking and working on cars on her spare time. She surprises him and he automatically doesn't like her because he assumes she thinks she's too good for him. However, Kiara teaches Carlos a thing or two about himself as he struggles to deal with the temptations of the gang his brother had face before him. There's no escape from what you're born into, right?

  Simone Elkeles has done it again with the second installment of the Perfect Chemistry series. If you loved the first one, you'll adore the second as it has the same amount of drama, romance, and action - if not more-than Perfect Chemistry did itself. I highly recommend reading this book after you've read Perfect Chemistry as it is the sequel. You'll be at the edge of your seat , turning pages, trying to figure out what happens next in the lives of the Fuentes brothers.

 - Rita , grade 12.

In Perfect Chemistry, by Simone Elkeles

In Perfect Chemistry , by Simone Elkeles writes the story of two teenagers - Alejandro (Alex) Fuentes and Brittany Ellis who live on opposite ends of the same town and attend the same high school. The book is written in alternating points of view so one chapter will be told by Brittany as the other is told by Alex. Brittany is a typical all- American , popluar cheerleader with a football player boyfriend and perfect life at first glance whereas Alex struggles to balance a job at his uncle's body shop, maintain decent grades so he'll be the first of his family to graduate high school, and look after his motherand two younger brothers. However, there's a catch- Alex is also a gang member and him and Brittany have just been assigned as Chemistry partners for the year and they can't stand each other. They are absolute polar opposites and can barely stand being in the same room together, so having to put together a project that determines their grade in the class without killing each other first is a difficult task.

 As the story progresses, we see that Brittany is anything but  the spoiled, selfish rich girl Alex thinks she is and that there's way more to Alex than his sterotypical "Mexicano " roots and ties to the gang as he begins to dig into the truth behind his father's murder. Simone Elkeles does a great job in making sure both Alex's and Brittany's voices are heard and lets the reader decide for themself what they think of each teen as an individual. It's the type of book you can barely put down to go use the bathroom for and I highly recommended it to both teenage girls and boys seeing as how there's everything from romance to gang violence and every second is action packed.

- Rita , grade 12.