Monday, September 22, 2014

Life of Pi, by Yann Martel

Life of Pi, written by Yann Martel, details the fascinating journey of zoologist Piscine Patel as he becomes lost at sea on a life-raft. His only company is a group of threatening animals, including a massive bengal tiger named Richard Parker, whose very presence adds yet another element of danger to his already perilous adventure. Journey with Pi as you experience his most suspenseful and dramatic encounters.

I personally found this book to be very captivating. I thoroughly appreciated Martel's writing style, which fluidly described each event and made me feel as though I was experiencing Pi's voyage myself. Furthermore, the unique storytelling point of view that Martel employs adds another dimension to the reader's experience. I believe anybody who enjoys thrilling adventure novels should definitely invest their time in this book.

Reviewed by Alec S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, September 20, 2014

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey

When I first read this book, I thought it would be just a regular old science fiction book, but it isn't. There are many original aspects to this book, such as the method of attack used by the aliens. The book did an excellent job keeping me interested, and I continued reading to find out more about the aliens, the attacks, and of course about the fate of the main character, Cassie. I would definitely recommend this book to a friend, because this is a great example of a science fiction novel that does not occur in space. And anyone that enjoys books set in post-apocalyptic scenarios will be pleased as well.

The 5th Wave, by Rick Yancey, is setin a post-apocalyptic scenario, where aliens have invaded the Earth in 4 waves. The main character, Cassie, is one of the few humans left on the planet, and she is doing everything she can to survive, even though the fifth wave is going on while she is struggling to live. She learns to trust no one, because she is surrounded by her enemies. The other characters in the book, such as Evan, Ben, and Sammy, are all possible aliens, and Cassie has to learn to distinguish between aliens and humans.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 8
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Perfect, by Sara Shepard

http://catalog.gpl.internal/ipac20/ipac.jsp?session=13I595608WB48.2677&profile=gcent&uri=link=3100007~!1103982~!3100001~!3100002&aspect=browse_search_page&menu=search&ri=1&source=~!horizon&term=Perfect+%3A+a+pretty+little+liars+novel+%2F&index=PALLTI#focusDanger once again awaits the Pretty Little Liars. With Hanna struggling and doing whatever she can to keep her best friend, the girls start to drift apart. "A" threatens the girls with some of their darkest secrets yet. Emily is exploring new options with relationships, and her parents can't accept her. Spencer and her sister Melissa keep fighting to be the better, smarter, and prettier sister. Aria still can't stay away from her banned ex boyfriend. Will the Pretty Little Liars still stick together after they learn eachother's deep, dark secrets or will "A" finally take them down one by one? 

 The book Perfect, by Sara Shepard is a wonderful saga to Flawless. The characters are amazing with well-described thoughts, their own feelings, and their different actions that really allow you to understand what life is like for each girl. This series will never let you down with its continuing excitement and danger that never seem to fade away. Girls of all age groups could pick up this novel and love it. As you get closer to learning the true identity of "A" you just want to keep reading. This book will definitely get you hooked to the Pretty Little Liars series!

Reviewed by Jennifer G., grade 9
Montrose Crescenta Branch

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick

Crescendo, by Becca Fitzpatrick, is the sequel to the book Hush, Hush. With her sophomore year of high school over, Nora Grey is ready for an amazing summer with her boyfriend, Patch. After Nora mistakenly confesses her love for Patch one night and he does not respond, she begins to have her doubts about their relationship. Sure enough, they have a huge fight the next day and Nora ends the relationship. She thinks it will blow over soon enough, but when she catches Patch fraternizing with the enemy, Marcie Millar, Nora is angry. Things become complicated when Scott Parnell, an elementary school friend, moves back to town with a mysterious past. Nora will learn secrets about her family and who she should trust.                                                                                                                                 I loved this book! It was just as great as the first book in the series, which is usually not the case for most books. There were many twists and surprises that kept me on my toes throughout the story. I love all the characters, especially Patch, and I really enjoy this author's writing style. I would recommend this book to teenage girls who enjoy the fantasy genre and romance and I would rate it a 9 out of 10.

Reviewed by Rebecca S., Grade 9
Glendale Central Library

Saturday, September 13, 2014

The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey

A story of militant environmentalism, rampant mayhem, arson, and sabotage through the deserts of Utah, The Monkey Wrench Gang brings together four colorful characters and puts them through different acts of destruction. "Seldom Seen" Smith, a Mormon raftsman, meets Doc Sarvis, an eccentric doctor and wealthy surgeon, and his girlfriend Bonnie Abbzug, his young assistant from the Bronx. Oh, and there's Hayduke, the insane retired Green Beret. All four of them come together to destroy the menace to the American Southwest - industrialization and development of the desert, culminating in a plan to blow up a dam.

I think what I liked the most about The Monkey Wrench Gang, by Edward Abbey, aside from its bizarre sense of humor and its anarchist sensibilities, were the strange idiosyncrasies of its characters. Although they're environmentalists, they litter, swear, and leave the ends of their cigarettes and their beer cans on the sides of the road. They all drive huge cars, and Hayduke's vehicle of choice is a gigantic four-wheel-drive jeep. This is the type of book that would be banned at schools. None of these characters are good role models at all. Their only redeeming characteristic is their shared concern for the environment, which admittedly manifests itself in the destruction of public property.

Reviewed by Adrian G., Grade 12
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

The Twelve, by Justin Cronin

The sequel to The Passage, The Twelve takes place more than a century after the initial effects of Project NOAH. It is set in a fortified enclosure in which some of the last remnants of humanity call their home. Surrounded by floodlights and concrete walls, it nevertheless needs some people to venture outside the walls to gather supplies and maintain the giant windmills that power the place, and more importantly, keep the floodlights on. Everything starts with the arrival of a young girl, who was there a hundred years ago when the first virals/jumps/shades/vampires were unleashed upon the world.

The Twelve, by Justin Croning, at its start at least, has a very City-of Ember-ish vibe to it. There are a couple young protagonists in a city, powered by a failing source, surrounded by inhospitable darkness. But the characters know what lies outside the walls, and what's more, they know how it can be killed. I still love The Twelve, but in a much different way than its predecessor. I like how it switches from a tale of destruction to more of an adventure through a dystopian Southern California filled with monsters. I also think the addition of the divine elements was a good idea: it provides a welcome contrast to the evil hunger of the vampires and seems to fit in well in a world filled with creatures that are described almost as supernatural.
Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Monday, September 8, 2014

The Passage, by Justin Cronin

The Passage is, quite simply, a vampire novel. But it's also a metaphysical journey across space and time, full of deep characters, the secrets of human emotion, and countless Biblical allusions. The United States military begins Project NOAH, designed to infect convicts with increasingly powerful strains of a hitherto unknown virus from South America. Agent Wolgast is responsible for bringing these people in, and he does his job extremely well - until he is assigned his last contact: a twelve-year-old girl. When they arrive at the compound, the subjects have become more powerful than anyone could imagine. And when Patient Zero entices one of the janitors into unlocking the cells, the apocalypse is unleashed upon the world.

The Passage, by Justin Cronin,  is still one of my favorite books. It's an extremely vivid tale of a vampire apocalypse. As a fan of the dystopian, apocalyptic genre, this book is a must read. The characters are deep, soulful and conflicted, and as a nice complement to the gritty pain and suffering, there are elements of the fantastical (other than vampires) and, on some occasions, the divine. I think one of the things I liked so much about The Passage is how each character responds to the apocalypse. Some literally convince themselves nothing strange has happened. Another takes to a cabin in the mountains. But you can see the human emotion present in each.
Reviewed by Adrian G., Grade 12
Grandview Library

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud

What better to explain the form of comics than in comic form? With a simple, cartoony avatar, a wildly varying, extremely appropriate artistic style, and deep insight into the psychological, artistic, and creative mechanics behind a comics, McCloud explores the world behind comic strips in an original and unique way. He begins with an introduction and definition of comics, quickly followed by the origins of juxtaposed images coming from Egypt and Mesoamerica, and then delves into the psychological basis for recognizing ourselves in a cartoony character that can be linked to our evolutionary instincts that come into play even when driving a car.

I enjoyed Understanding Comics, by Scott McCloud, immensely and learned an incredible amount from it. With a simple style, McCloud proves just how complex and expressive the world of comics can become. Even something as simple as a line can convey a wild range of emotion. For anyone with artistic aspirations, or (like me) a simple interest in the world of art in general, I can’t recommend Understanding Comics enough to not only teach you how to draw, but how to think about the vast array of mental mechanics that comes with drawing comics. And this is all presented in an easy to read and understand comic book. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Gunslinger, Stephen King

The Gunslinger is the first book in Stephen King’s Dark Tower series. It’s a bit of a departure from his usual genre of mundane and alien horror, but carries his signature writing style. It spans entire worlds, from a post-apocalyptic Wild West to different times on our own planet. Roland, the last of the gunslingers, is pursuing a sorcerer across a seemingly endless desert. Along the way, he meets Jake, a boy plucked from Earth by the sorcerer, as well as several others he meets through dimensional doors on a beach. His main quest is to find the Dark Tower, the multi-plane object that used to hold the universe together. Now it’s decaying, and Roland is trying to save it before the worlds collapse.

At its heart, The Gunslinger is more of a fantasy novel than a horror novel, although it does have some nightmarish elements. It’s the promising beginning of a series about nine books long. Personally, I found it interesting how King describes the gunslinger as less of a cowboy and more of a martial artist. He’s trained with his giant revolvers since his childhood and has shooting down to an art. In terms of the rest of the character, I liked the Eddie character a lot, but the split-personality Susannah character just seemed a little off to me. Still, I would definitely recommend The Gunslinger. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library

Monday, September 1, 2014

The Magician King, by Lev Grossman

The Magician King, the second book in Lev Grossman’s trilogy, picks up where the last left off. Quentin is ruler of Fillory, the magical Narnia-esque land from the books he read as a child. After deciding to go on an adventure, as dictated by the magical realm he inhabits, he finds himself accidentally locked out of his dimension and stuck back on Earth. As he tries to find his way back, the story of his high school crush Julia unfolds. Unlike Quentin, she failed the Brakebills entrance exam and found a glitch in the memory wiping spell, which let her know there was a magical school out there, but closed to her forever. She chases magical knowledge all across the United States and works her way up the ranks of the underground magicians, paying some heavy prices along the way, and eventually reunites with Quentin.

For a bridge between the first and last books of a trilogy, The Magician King is really quite good. It departs from the more realistic, critical attitude towards magic and fantasy present in The Magicians and becomes a full-blown fantasy book that takes place in a world perfectly suited for fantasy adventures. The concept of a fantasy, fairytale world is nothing new to me, but the story of characters from our world exploring it is. And I think Grossman pulls it off really well, especially towards the end of the book where he begins to deconstruct the very nature of magic and provide an explanation for it. It may not be the most satisfactory of explanations, but explaining the origins of the universe is a monumental task and I think it fits in well with the rest of the book. 

Reviewed by Adrian G., grade 12
Grandview Library