The book “Things Fall Apart” by Chinua Achebe is an interesting book about a man Okonkwo and the trials that he endures. That is a gross oversimplification, but for the most part that is the general plot. I picked up this book with initial skepticism as to whether this book would be able to hold my interest or not. After reading it, I can say that the book does a good job and keeping me turning the pages. Overall, the book is interesting and the plot is certainly unique, but there are noticeable shortcomings.
As stated before the plot follows Okonkwo, a wealthy man living in Nigerian tribe, and the trails he faces as his life begins to crumble around him. He lives with his son Nwoye, who Okonkwo worries will end up as a failure like Okonkwo’s father Unoka. As the story progresses, Okonkwo receives a virgin and a boy from a neighboring tribe, and raised the boy even though he showed the child little affection. Important events happen that I will not spoil, as it is major to the story, and Okonkwo falls into a depression, and later ends up banished. While in his banishment, he meets a group of missionaries lead by a Mr. Brown. Although Brown was sent to convert the natives to Christianity, he does his best not to upset the clan. However, as Mr. Brown falls ill, James Smith, who has no problem insulting and upsetting the native people, replaces him. After provoking natives enough that they burn his church down and performing other acts of injustice, that are again crucial story elements, Okonkwo attempts to rally his clansmen to follow him against these missionaries. His clansmen refuse and Okonkwo leaves. There is more but the ending is best read and experienced without knowledge of what happens.
The characters are engaging and interesting throughout the story and it is always interesting to see them develop and act in relation to each other. Okonkwo is a character who the reader watches deteriorate, as his world crumbles around him, and the reader both pities him and understands why he may deserve some of these things. That is one of the most interesting parts of the story, but the characters do still have problems. There were times when the lines between which character was which blurred while I was reading. Maybe it was because my westernized brain had trouble processing some of the names, but the characters often mixed in my head while reading and confused me when something happened to a character I thought had left the tribe a dozen pages ago. Minor complaints aside, the characters are interesting to watch develop and engaging to see in action throughout the book and all of them feel human to the reader. Odd choice of wording I know, but oftentimes characters in books act almost mechanically, exactly how you expect them to act without variation. The characters here act organically, oftentimes taking actions that were unexpected or different, adding to the overall immersion and quality of the text.
This books is good, there is no denying that. However, it does suffer from some problems. Sometimes the pacing feels slow and there are long lapses between major plot points that do little to advance the plot. These lapses do serve a purpose though: character development. Whether to show a character’s experience and skill or to show a character’s thoughts these lapses do volumes to show the characters to the readers. That is what this book feels like it does best to me: show its characters. This is a story about a man’s life, and how no matter who you may be or how wealthy and powerful you are, everything can fall apart.
Book Review by Anthony Zhu
Humanity leaving the grasps of earth has been mankind's ambitions for millennia, it's fueled by our never ending curiosity to discover and our ingenuity. The Martian is a science fiction novel written by Andy Weir, that is written so realistically that this book can be a mere prediction of future space travel and what may happen to astronauts when they arrive to the red planet. The book combines science and math in a way that would keep you interested instead of putting it aside for being too fact orientated. The Martian is a story of an astronaut who has to overcome the odds and try to make it back to home with every step forward he just gets put back two more.
50 million miles away from home, left on a barren planet Astronaut Mark Watney finds himself in a situation after an exploratory mission goes awry, and is left for dead on the hostile surface of mars. With all the odds against him, he must fight back to survive the dangers of the red planet with no communication to the only place that can help him, NASA. He has to find a way to survive with 400 days worth of food left, he must find a way to increase that number to however long it takes for NASA to rescue him, with all the overwhelming odds, with obstacles arising in his every wake he must find a way to survive and came back home.
Why you should read it:
Its rare to find a book that has so many amazing qualities The Martian will grab your attention from the get go. Every moment that he's on the mars there's a high probability of him dying no matter what he does he could die, press a wrong button and boom Mark Watney dies. This never ending threat to his life keeps you flipping the pages late into the night. The book has complicated chemistry and physics that he solves in the book that may sound boring to you but when you're reading it's probably the most interesting part of the book, and if you think this is a dry humorless book, think again, this book will become one of your favorites and will keep you flipping pages into the night.
Siva Chinthalapudi is an eleventh grader at Novi High School. His favorite classes are English and Physics, and enjoys to read in his free time. He hopes to pursue a degree in business.
After a friend recommended the novel to me, I decided to read Funny in Farsi for two main reasons: my Indian heritage and responses to terrorist attacks in recent months. I moved from India to America when I was 7 years old. Although I don’t remember much from that period of my life, I recall it being a difficult transition. Thus, I felt that I could connect with the experiences of the main characters. Additionally, an anti muslim and anti immigrant sentiment has traversed the nation after terrorist attacks by extremist organizations. By reading this novel,which is largely set in the late 20th century, I felt that I could see a historical perspective on the issue.
Funny in Farsi, a funny and thought provoking novel about an Iranian family that moves to America, explores the meaning and importance of identity. In the novel, we are introduced to Firoozeh, her quixotic father, and elegant mother. As Firoozeh shares the family's experiences relating to school, inter racial marriages, the Iranian hostage crisis, you learn about and enjoy the complexity of the family and the larger issues at hand. Of course, It doesn’t hurt that the author powders the novel with humor.
I would recommend Funny in Farsi to practically all high school students living in America. With campaigning for the 2016 Presidential election in full swing, we can expect to hear lots of emotionally charged statements about the role of immigrants( specifically muslim immigrants) in America. Before we make judgments about this issue, it’s important for us to understand both sides of the debate. Reading this book can provide students with a piece of the puzzle.
The Woman in the Dunes, written by Kobo Abe, superficially appears to be a simple description of the evolution of the lifestyle of an amateur entomologist who aspires to identify a new species of beetle; the plot is not convoluted, straightforwardly detailing how the man is trapped villagers living in the sand, is forced to endure Sisyphean tasks, and is gradually attached to his new home. In fact, it seems almost exemplary of an apathetic narrative style devoid of much value, yet this novel became the herald of Japanese literature post World War II, winning multiple awards, and even garnering a film adaptation. What exactly, then, is it that gives this seemingly bland prose such renown?
I had, after doing a quick skim through the book, initially assumed it to be a relatively fast and uninteresting read. This is most certainly not the case, and this novel is by no means meant for anyone not willing to fully mentally engage while reading. Kobo Abe's style of writing is extraordinary in that he does not truly define the characters through emotions and actions but through symbols and ideas that those actions represent. As such, the simplicity found in the novel is exceedingly devious; the writing, devoid of much description found in more traditional works, is so bare that it requires a higher level of inspection to even fully fathom the message being conveyed. For example, the main characters of the novel are not even properly named, but instead are referred to solely as 'the man' or 'the woman'; while this characterization creates a hazy outline of those involved in the story, it also forces a reader to think beyond what is simply expressed in the lines to fathom what is the idea behind the characters. The characters rarely involve in emotional introspection, but rather rely on the depiction of the external to relay what complexities are reflected in their own lives. For this reason of atypical yet addictive deceptively contemplative voice alone I would not recommend the novel The Woman in the Dunes to those who would like a lighter read; however, for those that enjoy such ploys of symbolism, it is a pleasurable book.
The novel, as mentioned, begins with an amateur entomologist who is searching the sand dunes for a new species of beetle. His name, Niki Junpei, is defined once in an official report of missing people, mentioned in the prologue, is not really mentioned for the rest of the story; he is characterized as a slightly misanthropic individual, whose burdens are almost reflections of the burdens faced by others. After being imprisoned, Junpei has a multitude of thoughts, but most notable is how quickly he accepts that no one from his normal society will truly put in effort to look for him. As Junpei's life in the sand dunes goes on, Abe continues to develop Junpei as a reflection of the values of self-worth, community, and work in society. The novel is a stellar telling of the intangible oppression faced by every individual in a community, and of the mutability of self-worth and personal dogma. It is the powerful and captivating analysis into the individuality of the person when compared to the population that makes The Woman in the Dunes stand out as a book worth reading.
Shashank Swaminathan is a junior at Novi High School. He enjoys playing music, doing karate, and reading novels in his spare time.
Growing up, going to the circus was something I looked forward to every year. The acts, and the mystery of it all was so intriguing to me. When I heard about The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, I knew I was in for a magical treat. This circus is unlike any that I’ve ever seen or heard of before.
The story begins with a very alluring description of this circus that comes into town with no warning. It is nothing like a traditional circus with lots of color and excitement surrounding it. Everything was in black and white and didn’t open until after sunset. As the crowds grew to see this circus, no one was there to greet them with warm smiles at the entrance. Just when the people are about to lose hope and go home, the lights of the circus come alive and the name of it is revealed, Le Cirque des Rêves or the Circus of Dreams.
As the real story begins, we get to take a closer look inside the circus as we meet Celia Bowen whose mother committed suicide when she was five-years-old. She must now be raised by her father, Hector Bowen, who popularly known as Prospero the Entertainer. Hector is not to fond of the idea of raising Celia until he witnesses her display inbred magical talent. Hector then contacts his old friend, Alexander, who is more widely known by his stage name, Mr. AH, to arrange the terms of a duel that will test the old ways of magic versus the new. This duel will occur at an unspecified time in the future between Celia and a pupil Mr. AH trains. Mr. AH then goes on to adopt Marco Alisdiar from an orphanage and immediately begins teaching him the old ways of magic.
When Marco reaches the age of eighteen, he is sent off to work for Chandresh Christophe Lefevre, an eccentric millionaire who founded the Night Circus. By orchestration of her father, Celia is also hired by Chandresh to work as an illusionist. Mind you, Marco and Celia do not know why they are truly there. As the story progresses, Marco and Celia finally begin to suspect that they are opponents of one another and attempt to outdo the other, using the Night Circus as their stage. As they compete, their grueling competition evolves into love, which becomes dangerous to those around.- Follow Celia, Marco, and the rest of the Night Circus characters to see if Marco and Celia’s love ends as a tragedy or a magical fairytale.
Why You Should Read This Book
The Night Circus is a great book for all ages from teens to the elderly. It takes every memory or thought you’ve ever had of a circus and turns it into something magical yet intriguing. Morgenstern elegantly combines a teenage love story and theatrical enchantment all into one book. The complexity and dimension of the circus itself made the story that much more interesting. Adding in the characters and the actual plot of the story had my heart racing with anticipation and joy as I stayed up many of nights to finish the book. If you’re looking for a dark, mysterious, yet romantic fantasy, The Night Circus is definitely your book.
9/11 in 2001 was America’s first encounter with Islamic terrorism. Since then, our country has lived in fear of terrorist attacks occurring in American cities. Little did we know of the horrific crisis unfolding in the Middle East, specifically in Pakistan, the heart of the Islamic terrorism phenomena. In the book I am Malala, 11 year old Malala Yousafzai tells the story of her first hand experiences of life changed forever by Islamic extremism, and the extremists’ attempt to deny girls the right to an education. Malala shares the unforgettable story of her young life filled with insurmountable odds, her fight with extremism, and how she overcame those odds to become a beacon for the right of all girls to an education.
Malala’s life began in the peaceful Swat Valley in Pakistan. Malala idolized her valley and loved everything about it! It was the place where she went to school, where all her friends lived: it was her home! She played happily with her brothers, went to school, and did her homework. The first few years of her life were just like any other small child’s. Malala’s describes the Swat Valley as very scenic, green and simply beautiful. The vivid imagery makes you feel as though you are in the Swat Valley yourself. She was born into a Muslim family that valued women’s rights more than most other Muslim families did. From the second she was born, Malala was seen as the lucky child; she was seen as the girl that could change the world. Her father, an educator, saw great potential in her. From an early age, Malala was passionate about going to school and learning. With the help and support of her father, Malala began to speak at various conferences about women’s right to an education. Slowly as she grew up, she began to face some of the harsh realities of being a Muslim girl, and how some did not view girls as equal to boys.
The idyll was broken when the Taliban, an extremist Islamic organization invaded their valley and the regions around it. Basic rights such as the freedom of speech and the freedom to practice religion that we take for granted in the West, were under attack. Malala and her father’s school for girls, and their promotion of education for girls in society attracted the Taliban’s attention.
Under the Taliban’s radical interpretation of Islamic, women and girls were not treated as equal to boys and men. Muslim women and girls were not allowed to sing or dance,watch television, leave the house unaccompanied by a man who was a relative or even go to school. They were required to cover themselves from head to toe. Malala and her father refused to give in to these harsh rules, and spoke at hundreds of conferences to inform and influence the public on the importance of female education and equality. By just 10 years old, Malala’s name was known all across Pakistan. At the age of 11, Malala had even written her own journal, published under a screen name to keep her safe from the Taliban. This young girl was strongly supported by the public. Although there were threats from the Taliban, no one believed that the Taliban would attack a sweet, innocent 11 year old girl. But boy was everyone wrong!
The Taliban demanded that Malala’s father stop educating girls and speaking up for girls’ right to an education. When Malala’s father and Malala did not give in to the Taliban’s demands, the Taliban shot Malala. 11 year Malala Yousafzai was shot in the head on October 9, 2012 by the Taliban on the backseat of a school bus. Unexpectedly, the whole country of Pakistan and the whole world rose to support Malala as a result of her shooting. In America, President Obama gave speeches about how wrong and inhumane these actions of the Taliban were. The Pakistani people and the people of Malala’s homeland prayed and spoke in support of Malala. Children and families from all around the world sent letters of praise and admiration to “Malala: the girl who was attacked by the Taliban”. Malala was flown to a hospital in the United Kingdom, where she underwent life saving surgeries. After a long fight for her life, she survived and got better. On getting better, Malala continued to speak out against extremism, and for the right of girls everywhere to an education. Her courage and efforts resulted in her being named the youngest winner of the Nobel Peace Prize in 2014.Malala became an icon for equal rights for girls, an advocate for girls’ rights and education, and an opponent of fundamentalist terrorism.
“I am Malala” is a book written with a very authentic voice. It’s language is clear, simple and yet effective.She creates a vivid contrast between the life before the Taliban, and how her world changed with the rise of islamic terrorism and the Taliban. Malala’s writing provides an unique insider’s perspective of the impact of Islamic terrorism on the lives of ordinary people, especially children. Malala writes very passionately about her determination and courage to keep speaking out on the issues that are near to her, even though she was just a child when she wrote the book
I am Malala is a story about strength, perseverance, courage and conviction. I would strongly recommend this book to people of all ages; everyone has something to learn from Malala. Malala’s story is truly inspirational.
Review by Ria Joshi
I first picked up Airborn in fifth grade. The book looked a little intimidating at 544 pages. I attempted to push myself through but after suffering from mass confusion a 100 pages in, I felt a bit overwhelmed. I put the book down assuming I wouldn’t pick it back up. 6 years laters, as I was browsing Mrs. Maguires book collecting, I saw the book. I decided it was time to finish it. As I read, I noticed that Oppel wrote with one purpose, to entertain. The book contained everything you could possibly want in a young adult science fiction book: an underdog protagonist, pirates, flying, exotic creatures, new elements and a subtle romance. This book appeals to almost every aspect of the young adult spectrum. This book definitely will not challenge you as a reader nor will it increase your contextual pool; however, if you ever need a light read to get away from the humdrum of everyday life or the screens available every few feet in your house, this is the book to read.
Oppel sets his story in an alternative universe where airships remained prevalent. Oppel also sets it in the past where many of the social norms are conservative. He begins the story introducing the main character Matt Cruse, a low ranking cabin boy who lost his father. Oppel uses to first few chapters of the book to create Matt’s character as a polite, modest boy with a passion for airships. Matt encounters a strange situation at the beginning of the book after finding a man close to death in a hot hair balloon while flying. This characterisation of Matt is key as it gives the reader insight on why and how Matt makes certain decisions throughout the book and it shows how Matt evolves throughout the book. A few months later, Matt encounters an animated girl named Kate De Vries. Matt almost immediately takes interest in her, but knows that a cabin boy and the daughter of a multi millionaire are in no way compatible. Kate immediately establishes herself as a troublemaker and an adventurer. Kate then discovers the man that Matt rescued was no other than her grandfather who had discovered a new species that had never been recorded before. Matt and Kate meet up in secret on multiple occasions, as it is not socially acceptable for two teens to meet alone. Kate and Matt subsequently face all perils that are usually expected in a YA science fiction novel. In the book Matt and Kate encounter Pirates, a crash landing, a new species and too many close calls with death, giving the plots of any other YA science fiction books a run for its money. Although Airborn may not be thought provoking, it is quite the page turner, and it always places the reader in the middle of the action.
In summation,If you are looking for an easy read with a little bit of everything, Airborn is your book. It is an easy read and is long to the point where you are thoroughly satisfied at the end. Oppel, however, captivates your interest and really gets you to relate to both Kate and Matt.
To fulfil my resolution I set back in December, I began to read realistic fiction novel, Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk. This was the perfect find for me because I was recently interested with all the drama going on in the middle east with our troops and such, that I wanted to see it from a hero perspective. I was never really able to connect with others on this touchy subject as I was never interested in politics myself. I wanted to try something knew and broaden my viewpoints by seeing it from other people’s perspectives. While reading this book, I made many connections to the real world that I never knew existed. By successfully understanding how people lived in these settings and the problems they faced; I will now be able to apply this knowledge to my daily life.
Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk is a serious, but breathtaking novel in my opinion, which tells a story about main character, Billy Lynn, and his unit “Bravo Squad”, fighting in Iraq. They are fighting in a world-wide known fight called "the Battle of Al-Ansakar Canal". Billy Lynn and his squad come up victorious and are called back to the United States to be honored. Here, they are viewed as war heroes and are sent by the government on a trip called “Victory Tour” to spread awareness and attention for the war going on all the way across the world. One of the stops on this tour is a Dallas Cowboy’s game where they are to make star appearance with the one and only, Destiny’s Child. Not too long afterwards, they are informed that the government hasn’t relieved Lynn and his men from their duties in Iraq yet even though their major achievements. With this statement, they are to return back to Iraq. This causes problems for the men as they have family and friends waiting out in the crowd because of their arrival and thought to be end of duty in Iraq. Here Billy Lynn and his squad must find a way to full through and stay in the United States instead of getting sent back to Iraq.
I would recommend Billy Lynn's Long Halftime Walk to all teenagers who feel like they don’t know what's going on behind-the-scenes in the Middle East. With the knowledge you will gain from reading this novel, you will be able to make connections with political news that is being discussed everyday. This book opened my eyes and got me interested in a new genre of books that I never thought I would like. I will now be able to understand both sides of the conversation regarding military usage in this upcoming election.
Book Review by Raj Bramhane
Anyone that has recently gone to school in the United States knows a thing or two about slavery and it's history in America. We've all heard about the Jim Crow laws, and the sit-ins, and the cotton plantations. However there isn't really too many pieces of literature from the perspectives of slaves that went on to be successful in the rest of their lives after they had conquered slavery. That's the main reason for why I chose to read a first hand account from one of the most famous slaves turned abolitionists, Frederick Douglass. Douglass wrote the piece from his point of view, and didn’t really hold back when it came to describing the truth and horror of what it was like to be a slave. However the piece is also about his journey with education and the various situations hat he comes upon with slave masters.
There is no doubt that Douglass wanted his book to be remembered, and for people to respond to the various situations described by Douglass. He even talks about how, at 5-7 years old, he saw a girl get beaten over and over and over just because she was unable to use her hands. He talks about the various murders that went uninvestigated, almost as if they weren’t crimes. Douglass vividly describes the savagery displayed by his various masters, and how his response to one in particular completely changed his broken attitude and motivated him. Perhaps one of the most key features of the book is Douglas’ desire for knowledge, It all starts because of an initially kind master in Baltimore, but progresses as Douglass’ desire to read and write grows and grows.
Although this may be a graphic and raw piece, it is certainly one of great importance and I highly recommend that anyone interested in the subject read the book, as it is quite short but packed with truth and information.
Gustav Rossner is a long-haired student at Novi High School that is involved clubs like Deca and Hosa is a lover of film, and fences on his own time.