Thursday, October 11, 2012

Olive's Ocean, by Kevin Henkes

In Olive's Ocean by Kevin Henkes, Martha Boyle is a twelve-year old girl who has a passion for writing and absolutely loves the ocean. She soon finds out that a girl that is the same age as she is, Olive, had been killed by a hit-and-run driver. Olive's mother gives her a page from Olive's journal and Martha finds out that this girl who is pretty much a stranger to her is so much like her. She learns that Olive dreamt of being a writer when she grew up and adored and wished to visit the ocean one day. The ultimate impact on Martha is that Olive wanted to be friends with her. For some odd reason, Martha can't stop thinking of Olive. When she and her family visit her grandmother, Godbee, in California, she makes an effort to get to know her grandmother even more. Because of what happened to Olive, Martha wishes that she will see Godbee the next summer because she doesn't know much about her grandmother. Before Martha and her family go back to Wisconsin, she now appreciates life and thinks of a way to acknowledge her dear friend, Olive.

It has been awhile since I've read Olive's Ocean and when I reread it again, it is as if I remembered an old memory. It is an emotional novel and it really helps readers realize how important life is and how it should not be taken for granted. I think that Olive had big goals in life unfortunately those goals were cut short, but Martha was there to continue where Olive had left off. I would recommend it to middle school students.

-Reviewed by Rocen, grade 11.

Maze Runner, by James Dashner

Maze Runner by James Dashner is an absolutely amazing book. It takes us through Thomas's journey in the Glade and the Trials. His memory is blank. He barely knows a thing about where he is. Tom must adjust to living in the Glade with several other boys trapped there, trying to solve a maze to get out. But things start to get weird, weirder than usual that is. The first ever girl arrives, but what she has to say is nothing good. What has she triggered?

I must say, this book is great! I loved all of the details we knew and discovered through simple events. I think James Dashner had a brilliant story and cannot wait for the next! I would recommend this book to teenage boys and girls because they will definitely enjoy it.

Reviewed by Kristine K., Grade 9

The Kite Runner, by Khaled Hosseini

The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini is a touching story of a boy named Amir who grows up with guilt, fear, honor, and redemption. The story begins in Afghanistan with Amir and Hassan both young boys growing up together in Amir's luxurious home. Amir is the son of the wealthy Baba and they have two servants, Ali and his son Hassan who are Hazaras, racial minorities at the time. Amir and Hassan are the best of friends and although they don't know yet, they are half brothers related from Baba. Even though Amir thinks of Hassan so dearly, he feels jealousy when he sees Baba show more affection to Hassan rather than himself. One day, while Amir and Hassan are playing, they run into three boys named Assef, Wali, and Kamal. They threaten Amir that they'll hurt him for playing around with a Hazara but Hassan throws a slingshot at Asset to stop him. The story skips to the winter time when the boys enter a kite-fighting tournament. Amir wins the tournament and Hassan runs for the losing kite but ends up cornered in an alley with Assef and his gang. Stuck in the alley alone, Hassan gets raped by the three boys and Amir just stands and watches, too scared and unable to help. When Hassan returns, Amir pretends like he didn't see anything. Amir, loaded with guilt tries to get ride of Hassan and his father, Ali, to cease his guilt. Soon after, Hassan and Ali move away. The story then forwards to present day and Amir and his father Baba are living in poverty in America. Amir gets married to Soraya and later he hears news about Hassan and his wife Farzana. He visits Kabul to bring Hassan's family to American but he received a call that Hassan and Farzana were killed and their son Sohrab was in an orphanage. The rest of the story leads us to Amir trying to redeem himself by risking his life for his long-lost brother's son, Sohrab.

I was actually surprised at myself when I finished reading this book and when I knew I really enjoyed it because I'm not really a fan of slightly historical, violent kinds of stories but this one was very powerful and unforgettable. I really liked reading about Amir's character development and how he started off as a young boy, confused of his decisions and blinded by guilt and later developed into a mature person who can learn to take responsibility of his choices. This book showed the powerful bonds between friends, family, and love. I think the intimate account of love, betrayal and redemption won the hearts of many readers of this book. I would gladly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about character development and strong ties between family and friends. Overall, I felt warmth from this book and I'd like to recommend this book to everyone out there.

-Reviewed by Deborah, grade 9.

Holes, by Louis Sachar

Holes was an exciting book written by Louis Sachar. It was a story of an innocent young teen boy, Stanley Yelnats, that gets blamed for stealing shoes. In the court, he was given the choice to serve in jail or go to a camp for bad boys. Stanley chooses to go to the camp because he had never got to go to camp due to his financial issues. But when he gets there, he is required to dig a hole, 5 feet in width and length, everyday. Then, Stanley finds out the truth behind all the hole digging. Stanley's friend, Zero, runs away from the camp into the desert. Stanley has to make a decision, to either stay in the camp, or run into the endless desert to find his friend.

This book has been one of my favorites. It is filled with exciting moments. Some teens may also be able to connect with the main character, Stanley Yelnats. I had very much fun reading this book, and I recommend this book to everyone.

-Reviewed by Josh, grade 9.

Frankenstein, by Mary Shelley

Mary Shelley wrote one of modern literature's most popular novels, Frankenstein, a science-fiction thriller exploring the human quest for technological advancement and innovation. Victor Frankenstein, a young college student, attempts to build his own live person by putting together bits and pieces of corpses and whatever other material he could find. After successfully creating a living being, Victor is horrified with the montrosity of a creature he has brought to life, and struggles with his sanity as he tries to escape the reality of the monster. The monster, who possesses nothing but good intentions, soon is faced with the truth of his character. Outcast from society due to his beastly appearance, the creature turns vengeful and soon starts to take the lives of many innocent victims, including the loved ones in Voctor's life. A reluctant Victor is faced with the responsibility of the monster he has created and must accept the situation for what it truly is. Read Mary Shelley's thriller to discover the fate of Victor Frankenstein and his infamous monster.

I really admired this novel by Mary Shelley. Even though it was written almost two centuries ago, in 1818, it has a lot of relevance to the modern world, especially with its significant warning on the dangers of experimentation with science in the natural world. I thought the plot was also really interesting, and it kept me turning the pages. The novel definitely holds a different perspective of the famous 'Frankenstein' monster that pop culture has made so popular, and it is really fascinating to read the actual root of the green-skinned monster we so often see today. Frankenstein was a great novel to read and is definitely worth a shot by anyone looking for a science-fiction classic!

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.

A Girl Like Moi, by Lisa Barham

In A Girl Like Moi: The Fashion-Forward Adventures of Imogene, by Lisa Barham, Imogene is a young seventeen year-old who dreams of leaving her life at home in Greenwich, Connecticut to experience the luxurious life of fashion and fortune. Eager for a trip to the fashion capital of the world, Paris, France, Imogene is faced with sudden disappointment as her dreams are shattered. Now, the ambitious fashionista must find an alternate, but just as fabulous, plan for her summer vacation. She lands herself a small position at a fashion forecasting agency in New York, and suddely, she is thrown into the demanding world of high fashion and all its accessories. Attempting to handle the new business, Imogene must face competition from every angle in order to reach new heights in one of the most cut-throat industries in the entire world. Read the novel to explore how Imogene discovers her true identity in the pursuit of her goals and aspirations in the world of fashion and fabulosity.

I definitely enjoyed reading A Girl Like Moi by Lisa Barham. I liked the multiple references to pop culture and real fashion icons, and any fashion-conscious readers would surely appreciate the humor in Barham's analogies tied in to the plot of the story. Also, Imogene's awkward, yet cute character gains the sympathy of the reader, as she is pretty relatable to any young woman hoping to make an impact on the world around her. A simple, yet entertaining book to read, I would honestly recommend this book and all of the following books in the series to readers!

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.

The Illustrated Man, by Ray Bradbury

The Illustrated Man is one of acclaimed author Ray Bradbury's many literary accomplishments. It is a complilation of eighteen short stories set in dystopian plots that serve to dig deeper in human elements such as power, authority, psychology, and much more. These stories are all connected as being the tattoos on an illustrated man's body, who apparently possesses multiple pieces of body art that symbolize tales and stories with different lessons and values. In "The Highway", Bradbury explores how people react to a nuclear war allegedly ending the world. "Marionettes, Inc." puts a wicked twist on a sticky situation in a married couple in which one spouse tries to escape the other spouse, but this time meets a detrimental surprise. "The Man" delves into the human tendency to find religious purpose and comfort in life. All in all, each and every short story in The Illustrated Man explores a new topic in humanity in the most creative, unexpected manner. Undoubtedly, this book is entertaining, eery, and sure to make you think!

As a fan of Ray Bradbury's literature, I definitely enjoyed The Illustrated Man. His short stories are written in such a simple manner but convey so much food for thought that they truly require some consideration and reflection. I love the creativity behind each and every story in this compilation of works, as they are all so different but similar in the fact that they wake you up and lead you to realize certain aspects of human nature. My favorite short story would have to be "The Man", as well as "The City". The best part of this book is that it is written as multiple short stories, the pages fly by fast and before you know it, you have finished explored the tales of The Illustrated Man!

-Reviewed by P.P., grade 11.