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.
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.
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
My decision to read Monster by Walter Dean Myers was mostly driven by the intrigue of the font on the first few pages and the looming due date of a book review. This novel turned out to be so much more than “Kaushan Script” and a grade-boost as it forced me to explore the unsettling reality of the juvenile detention system.
Although fictional, the novel touches on a disturbingly real situation for many Americans and provides the reader with insight into the cyclical nature of the American judicial system and provokes empathy for the citizens caught up in it.
The novel is the captivating account of a teenage boy named Steven Harmon's frightening journey through the juvenile detention system as well as his trial. The story is presented as a screenplay and includes Steven’s journal entries and memories of life before it was thrown into the chaos of this event. Especially reading this as someone who is around the same age as Steven, Myers forces the reader to not look at Steven as some African-American boy on channel 4, but a friend, a neighbor, a family member. The strategically placed memories of his school life, his interest in film, and his love for his family add a depth to the young protagonist that make it impossible to not feel some compassion throughout the heartbreaking story, even as his innocence is constantly in question.
I recommend this book to anyone looking to better understand the realities of the justice system and the depth of the citizens who occupy it.
How do you take such a complex and deep topic and make it understandable to everyone? Just ask Ned Vizzini! Ned Vizzini, the author of It’s Kind Of A Funny Story, takes the topic of depression and writes about it in a light hearted, yet sensitive way. Vizzini takes the complex topic of depression and opens the eyes of many to what people with depression go through.
Craig Gliner, the main character of the book, is a teenage boy who lives in New York. Craig gets accepted into the prestigious high school of Manhattan, but as he starts his high school career the pressures of both school and his peers becomes overwhelming. Not shortly after, Craig can’t withstand the pressure any more and almost kills himself. After Craig’s realization of what he was about to do to himself, he checks himself in at the nearest hospital where he is prescribed to check into a mental hospital. Since the hospital is unable to send Craig to the kids mental hospital, Craig is required to stay at the adult mental hospital. Along Craig’s journey of trying to face his depression, Craig makes some unlikely friends and makes some new discoveries about the world around him and even himself.
Vizzini addresses a serious issue from a teenager’s point of view, which made me enjoy the book even more. It wasn’t a book that was serious or depressing for that matter, but rather it conveyed a message in an entertaining way. One of my favorite parts about Vizzini’s writing style is his ability to sprinkle humor throughout his book. I also was intrigued by the book because Vizzini spent five days in an adult psychiatric to obtain accurate feelings and events that happen when people are handling depression. I would recommend this book to anyone, but I would especially recommend this book to teenagers in high school and adults that deal with teenage kids. I say this because this book assures teenage kids going through depression that it’s ok to seek help and that they’re not alone. Also, this book opens the eyes of teenagers and adults that aren’t going through depression to the realization that depression is part of reality and it is not an easy thing to cope with. This book wisely shows each side of those who are affected by one of their loved ones going through depression.It’s Kind Of A Funny Story has it all: humor, seriousness, realization, wittiness and even a sense of romance...and that is why I highly recommend this book.
Reviewed by: Jessica Lypka
I’ve never liked reading, but I’ve always loved a good book. I’d like to assume that many people have this problem; there’s just something about reading that screams boredom! Unless, of course, you find that one book. The book you refuse to put down late at night, the book you read during class, the book you sneak to work. I Know Why The Caged Bird Sings, by Maya Angelou, is a true example of the saying “don’t judge a book by it’s cover.”
When I first picked it up from my local library I rolled my eyes at its dingy, almost peeled off, musty cover. When I got to reading, however, things changed. I became sucked into the world of young Angelou, a little African American girl growing up during times of segregation and poverty. The whole plot is just a telling of her life story from her successes to her losses. I did not realize, however, how deeply I would connect with the book. Her triumphs became my triumphs, and her trials became mine as well. Throughout the book, Angelou keeps a hopeful tone, with the idea that things will get better. Her simplistic word choices really connected with me, and helped me follow her life journey.
This autobiography stunningly captivates real life problems that are still issues today. I would recommend this book to anyone solely because I feel anyone can relate to it. Angelou skillfully weaved so many negative parts of her life, from domestic abuse to racism, into one book and still wrote in such a positive way. That encourages people to view their problems a bit more positively.
So what am I trying to say in short, for those of you who don’t even like reading book reviews? Go pick this book up, it’s ‘the one.’
Reading the back of this book I was overwhelmed. I did not know it was possible to take so many diverse issues and somehow tie them all together. Jesmyn Ward does just this, coherently blending Hurricane Katrina, teen pregnancy, four motherless children with an alcoholic father, racial problems, poverty, and all complications associated with a new puppy litter into a single story. And she does this magically. And though Hurricane Katrina only is occurring in two of the twelve days that make up this book, I felt the intensity of a storm on every page.
During the days leading up to the hurricane, fourteen-year-old, Esch, her three brothers, Skeetah, Randall, and Junior, and their father face more obstacles than most will in a lifetime. Whether it’s Esch hiding a pregnancy at fourteen or Skeetah trying to keep his pitbull and her newborn puppies alive, each character has their own complex issues, making every page lively and eventful. On top of the abundance of personal issues, I must note that they are a black family living in poverty, preparing for Hurricane Katrina. The only way they were able to survive the extremity of the storm and their adversities was by battling these hardships with the support and unconditional love for one another.
Not only is Salvage the Bones an exceptional story and written remarkably, but Ward incorporates a storyline that is generally neglected. She takes a black, rural family, most often portrayed in books and movies as just that, a black, rural family, and actually writes them an interesting, strong, beautiful story. We rarely read of poor, black communities with fully developed, and such complex characters, but Jesmyn Ward fills Esch and her family with love, strength, bravery, meaningful relationships, and gives each a unique, elaborate character.
Salvage the Bones is an incredible, original novel taking on a point of view we are hardly ever exposed to. I highly recommend anyone and everyone to get your hands on a copy of this book as soon as possible and experience the brilliance that it is.
Typically when we think of literature about the lives of African Americans, we immediately begin to associate it with the all-to-prevalent themes of distress, prejudice, slavery, and inferiority. However in this book “The Color Purple”, Alice Walker manages to warp this common misrepresentation by showing readers a life of one family outside of these parameters. Although much of the book contains bitterness and tension between the members, throughout the book, Walker weaves a unique storytelling method to show the power of forgiveness, hope, love, and happiness.
The story begins on a wretched note with the main character, Celie, pleading to God for help after multiple traumatizing accounts of her father raping her. Within the first brief chapters, Walker establishes the main plot of the novel through short letters written by Celie to God. With a bed-ridden dying mother, younger siblings, and a sexually predatory father, Celie must learn to take responsibility and protect her younger sister Nettie. But on top of the already horrific events that happen to Celie, her life takes a dive for the worst when her father marries her off to an abusive man that strips away every piece of her humanity. Without knowing the whereabouts of her sister, Celie learns to forge scraps of a life by beginning to write letters to her sister Nettie. As the years move forward, Celie is introduced to multiple strong and independent African American woman including Sophia and Shug Avery who teach Celie the importance of self acceptance and bold actions. With their help, Celie begins to build a life for herself by standing up against the brutality of her husband and pursuing personal endeavors. While these events are underway, Walker creates a parallel plot line for the events of Nettie’s life through detailed letters written by Nettie to Celie. While Celie discovers herself, Nettie explores the world by running away from home and finding herself a host family. By escaping, Nettie is able to indulge in a world very different from before filled with religion and new cultures. Nettie and her host family take an almost decade long missionary trip to an indigenous village in rural Africa. The sisters continue to write sentimental letters to one another, updating each other on the current ups and downs of their life, ambitions, and longing to see one another. This ongoing 20 year separation is brought to an end when Walker beautifully merges these two very different plot lines together when the sisters reunite for the first time at the very end.
“The Color Purple” is definitely not a “fluffy” read. The book covers extensive ground on strong sexual themes and hardships. In addition, Walker adds a flavorful twist to the book by breaking away from the norm and writing traditional chapters in the form of letters between two characters. While many readers may enjoy this style of writing, there is sharp contrast between the voices of the two main characters that many may not like; Celie’s voice is completely filled with colloquialism and slang and Nettie’s voice is very collected and formal. However for readers who are willing to endure these scenes, I definitely believe this book is worth the read.
Despite some of the intense heartbreak and sorrow, I slowly began developing an appreciation towards this book as I continued reading. I loved how Alice Walker used her writing style to create a piece in which empowered African American women. All too often, in literature, we see African Americans as oppressed and African American women of even less significance. But in this story, Walker shows African American women as the strongest characters building each other up, taking control of their lives, and following their ambitions. They are seen as leaders who are able to make independent decisions and empower one another through sisterhood. On another level, Walker teaches her audience the importance of self-acceptance and forgiveness: two topics many people have trouble dealing with today. Through her characters, Walker is vicariously able to demonstrate how we must be able to forgive others for their actions and learn to love our own securities to keep moving forward. I know that many readers will appreciate Walker’s ability to gracefully transform a character from the inside out- carving out a tenacious, self-appreciative, and independent character from one that is unstable and insecure.
After reading this book to me, the color purple is a symbol of hope for all of us.
Raisa Zahir is a junior at Novi High School who is heavily involved in public speaking such as Debate and Forensics. She enjoys volunteering and spending time with friends and family. Raisa hopes to one day work in the medical field as a doctor.