Thursday, July 12, 2018

Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin

Symptoms of Being Human, by Jeff Garvin, tells the story of a gender fluid teenager named Riley Cavanaugh. He/she is like most teenagers except in the way she expresses herself. The way he/she acts and a dress doesn’t conform to everyone else's standards. This leads to many problems as people immediately question his/her gender. In addition, moving to a new school and being the only child to a politician doesn't help Riley blend in one bit. To cope with his/her social anxiety, he/she starts an anonymous blog to expose how she really feels inside. Unexpectedly, the blog blows up and only causes more trouble including the risk of being "outed" to her parents.

Wow...just wow. This book opened my eyes because I had no idea what it feels like to be in Riley's shoes. Most of us feel comfortable with our assigned gender, but there are also many who feel isolated from the idea of gender. It's hard for me to wrap my head around there being more than two genders, but at the least, I realized that it doesn't matter what you identify as. Down to the flesh and bone, we are all human beings. Furthermore, the story of Riley Cavanaugh isn't really fiction. It's sad that many transgender teenagers are being victims of assault every day. It's not fair that other ignorant people don't see the "human qualities" in them. Jeff Garvin beautifully crafted this Riley in the way that he/she is not defined by his/her gender but instead his/her lovable sense of humor, his/her way for words, and his/her selfless personality. I would recommend this book 10/10.

Reviewed by AH, Grade 10
Downtown Central Library

Wednesday, July 11, 2018

Artemis, by Andy Weir

Artemis, by Andy Weiris a science fiction novel revolving around the first lunar colony, specifically the main smuggler in the colony. Jasmine Bashara (Jazz) has lived in Artemis since she was six, with her father, Ammar Bashara. Jasmine has plans to become rich one day, thus the smuggling, with the help of her pen pal from Earth, Kelvin. But as of now, she works a low paying job as a porter, trying to work her way up to an EVA master so she can give tours as another source of income. One of the richest men in town, Trond Landvik, calls upon her to act as a saboteur, she is quite skeptical. It's quite out of her skill set, but then Trond offers her 1,000,000 slugs (Artemisian currency). Quite enough to retire. Jazz accepts to help Trond, and, if she succeeds, she'll be rich, Trond will gain control of an important contract that will help him wrest control over the oxygen manufacturing industry, and everyone will be happy. But then the plan goes wrong: Jazz is on the run from the Brazilian Mafia, O Palácio, her smuggling gig falls apart, Trond and his bodyguard have been murdered, and nobody quite knows what Jin Chu, a businessman from Hong Kong is doing with a secret project labled ZAFO.

I think that this book was very well written, involving a good mix of the science fiction and criminal genres, and Weir's use of sciences (physics and chemistry) added to the authenticity. The plot takes an interesting path and the characters are very well developed. Artemis is very detailed and thought provoking, and it has a creative setting. I would highly recommend the book to anyone who enjoys books involving a criminal protagonist or science fiction. I enjoyed the cunning and intelligence found in the protagonists (and the antagonists) and the only part I even remotely disliked was the over explanation of how certain processes work.

Reviewed by Eubank C., Grade 9
Montrose Library

Monday, July 9, 2018

A Spell for Chameleon, by Piers Anthony

A Spell for Chameleon, by Piers Anthony,
 follows a twisting and moving plot throughout the magical land of Xanth. It chronicles the adventures of Bink, a person of good heart, but no magic, which is grounds for banishment. He quests across Xanth, meeting a deceptive sorceress named Iris, gaining knowledge from an old magician, Humphrey, outsmarting a dragon, meeting a girl who changes appearance gradually each day, following a cycle, and eventually getting banished. He meets an old supervillain who had been exiled before Bink's time, and they (reluctantly) work together to reenter Xanth. Once there, they discover an old castle that's been masking secrets for centuries. Once there, they discover that the castle won't let them leave, and they realize that they could be trapped indefinitely.

I liked this book for a variety of reasons, including the unexpected twists in the plot, which always kept me guessing over what would happen next. The characters were also really hilarious, and evolved and changed throughout the book. The world itself was spectacularly creative, involving thoughts, concepts, and plays on words that were both clever and funny. Overall, I would say it is a pretty good book, and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys jokes and fantasy books. My only complaint is that there are just a tad too many puns.

Reviewed by Anonymous, Grade 9
Montrose Library