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.
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
Generally when I read a book, I don’t have any emotional reaction to it because it lacks depth and serious content. This was not one of those books. I would not recommend this to someone strolling along to breeze through a casual read or someone who I didn’t feel was mature enough to handle the content. Just as a forewarning, this book contains a lot of mature content with some very disturbing scenes.
Warnings aside, this book was very intriguing with a unique structure. Each chapter was a different source to tell a part of the story, be it a newspaper, report, homework assignment, or a conversation. With the variety of sources, all the characters fleshed out and seemed more real. Though it was fiction, Draper did a marvelous job creating a real atmosphere with situations that are very applicable to the mindsets of teens.
Draper begins with the tragedy that causes the story. Andy, the main character, returning from a basketball game after a few drinks, gets in an accident and his best friend dies. As the plot progresses, we are introduced to his close group and how each person deals with their grief. The variety of routes to acceptance are wide and help to show how different people deal with pain.
I’ve learned a lot about depression, death, pain, relationships, consequences of actions, and the stages of grief. If you have the maturity, and want to learn about how fragile life is and the importance of thinking before you act, READ THIS BOOK! I wouldn’t say I enjoyed this book because at times it was disturbing and weighty, but I do appreciate how my perspective has changed.
Book review by Ethan Carter
Reading is just not my thing. As hard as I try to get myself to like it, I just can’t seem to understand why flipping through a 600 page novel satisfies people. So when I was told in my AP Language class that I should choose a book written by an African American Author, I automatically picked the shortest book with a somewhat interesting description on the back cover just to get it over with. Little did I know that the YA novel that I chose called Tears of a Tiger by Sharon M. Draper turned out to be a book that kept me up till 12:00 AM every night!
Andy Jackson was responsible for killing his best friend Rob Washington in a car crash one night after their basketball game. Andy, Rob and two other pals had been drinking and fooling around in the car when Andy lost control of the car and crashed. They were unable to get Rob out and they watched him die; their best friend Rob Washington was dead. Days after the accident the two other boys tried to forget about what happened to make themselves feel better but Andy however felt more and more guilty each day. He felt that he should’ve been the one to die that night. No matter how often he went to go see a therapist and no matter how many people told him it could’ve happened to anyone, Andy just couldn’t seem to let it go. As he pushed his family, friends and girlfriend away Andy was left alone to contemplate how he should handle his life ahead of him.
Although finishing a book was a challenge for me, I read through this novel in a short period of time. Draper wrote this book with the intention of showing the different perspectives of how these different characters dealt with tragedy. Because this book was written in the form of character’s conversations and thoughts in their diaries it allows the reader to understand their in-depth feelings which kept the novel an interesting read.
Everyone has thought about what kind of of superpower, or funny talent, they wished they could have. Flying, being able to breathe underwater, and time travel are usually some of the more popular choices. In the novel, “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” by Ransom Riggs all these daydreams become realities. The book is practically bursting with kids able to bring dolls to life, grow plants from nothing, levitate, or are “just” invisible. Ransom Riggs brings out the kid in all of us and makes you question if time travel and all those peculiar talents could possibly exist.
The book begins with the story of an average boy’s life, Jacob Portman. However, after witnessing his grandfather’s death he is plunged into the mystery that surrounded his grandfather and his past. The majority of the book takes place while Jacob and his Dad visit an island off the coast of Wales, where his Grandpa spent most of his childhood.
Jacob begins to discover the fascinating past, and complicated present of Miss Peregrine's home for the peculiar children. He comes to realize that he is more involved in the equation than he previously thought. Jacob is faced with making a life changing decision that will affect everyone he loves.
This book keeps you on your toes, constantly wondering what was going to happen next. It was very different from any other book I had previously read, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. I was looking for a book that would help me expand the type of genre that I most commonly read, and this book accomplished that. “Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children” would be ideal for someone who enjoys books that challenge their sense of reality, and love the thrill of a good adventure.
Book Review by Mallory Martlock
Being 16 years old is one of the few things that Steve Harmon and I have in common. At 16, while I may be stressed out about a test or a cross country meet, Steve Harmon is on trial for his life, accused of robbery and murder. While I may see an essay grade at unfair, Steve is an African American teen accused of murder who is prejudged by the jury, his defense lawyer, and even his mom as being guilty before his trial even starts.
Monster is the story of the Steve Harmon’s murder trial. At the start the reader is introduced to Steve Harmon who claims to be innocent but no other character in the story believes him. Through the rest of the book the reader learns who Steve actually is through flashbacks of his life before the trail and by his journal during the trial. At the same time, witness after witness is called to the stand.
Monster is told through a screenplay written by protagonist Steve Harmon. Author Walter Dean Myers chose to do this after he found, through research, that many prisoners tried to distance themselves from their crime. They view the crime as something committed by a character in a movie and not themselves. This style also compliments the murder trial setting by giving the reader similar information and in a similar way to what a jury would receive, creating the suspenseful and tense tone of a courtroom.
Although I had not particularly enjoyed mysteries, Monster may have changed my mind. I recommend this book for anyone looking to explore the mystery genre. Monster lacks the dragging on and boring characteristics that someone new to the genre would expect because of the style of Myers’ writing. While the reader learns the details of the case he or she is also learning Steve Harmon’s background and his feelings towards what is going on in the trial.
Book review by Aric Landy
Two days. That’s how long it took for me to finish this book. I’ve always loved reading. Ever since a young child, I would one-by-one zip my way through numerous stories, in awe by the great imagery and detail and great emotion that poured through each syllable. And this book wasn’t completely different. A pretty easy read at that. But what laid behind those simple words captured my attention. Every sentence, every thought held so much meaning that I’m not quite sure it fits in the same category as other stories I’ve read. Two days for Thirteen tapes. That’s all it took.
We don’t really think about or look at the itsy bitsy details in life. Yet, only with little strokes and details are we able to paint the picture, the final masterpiece. That’s what this story is about. The littlest things that ultimately drove someone to suicide; this someone being Miss Hannah Baker. And how this story is illustrated? Through the appearance of thirteen mysterious tapes stashed in a box with no return label. In the perspective of Clay Jensen, we listen and hear Hannah’s thoughts through the tapes, what goes on through her mind as she begins and finishes her journey to death. Thirteen tapes for the thirteen reasons or the thirteen individuals who lie responsible for Hannah’s death. And each of those thirteen must receive the tapes because they are in someway responsible.
From start to finish: suspenseful, mesmerizing, addictive. Rather than using one person’s voice and thoughts to tell the story, Jay Asher uses an ultimately different style of writing, highlighting various perspectives and thoughts. Through Hannah’s voice in the tapes, we feel as if we’re there with Clay, listening and waiting for what happens next. We forget that she isn’t alive, though she is. We wait for the next person to be revealed, anticipating for her speech about Clay and how he is tied in with Hannah’s story. And in between her story, we hear Clay’s thoughts, his grief, his cry. And in the end, we know why she chose to die, and we mourn with Clay. We and Clay, we are one person.
Jay Asher’s novel not only draws us into the story, but pulls us into reality altogether. Hannah’s story teaches a memorable lesson, that every little thing, every little detail matters. You never know if your words are going to cheer someone up and make someone’s day or if they will strike someone in the gut, shattering their already broken heart. This novel makes you think twice about your words and how it could affect another person.
Although some may not like this style of writing or may not like suspense or mystery type novels, I would still recommend this book at least to those who do enjoy these types of stories or anyone open to book recommendations or want to step out of their comfort zone. This novel really opened my eyes to reality and allowed me to feel and experience how the little things in life changed one person’s life; how someone faced the thought of suicide and gave in because there was no one around to help. If we actively spread this message, spread this novel for others to read, we could change millions of lives. This novel could truly change the world.
Book Review by Karen Xu
From the beginning of this book I knew it was not your average murder mystery. When I heard we had to read a book written by an African American, my mind immediately went to The Color Purple. I had my heart set on reading this drama but I decided to read something I usually would never pick up. A murder mystery. After finishing Monster by Walter Dean Myers I knew I made the right decision to step out of my comfort zone because it left me with one single question. Guilty or Not Guilty?
The Plot: Myers tells the story of a sixteen year old African American boy, Steve Harmon, and his journey on trial for felony murder in Monster. Harmon treats the whole situation seriously but he also decides to tell it in a play and diary form. This book exposes what a sixteen year old feels like going through this type of situation and how one action could change your whole life.
Why you should read it:
As I said earlier this book is not your average murder mystery. This book is not average murder mystery because the story is all about Steve Harmon’s trial. Usually, a murder mystery is about detectives finding out what happened and sometimes they can be gory, but not this book. The only description of what happened at the site of the murder was exposed to the reader in his diary entries in the book. I really liked the way the book was written because to me it felt like a fresh take at a murder mystery. All the way through the book I was never able to guess what would happen next. I can usually do this in a typical murder mystery but in this book there was no way of knowing what would happen next. Also, in some murder mysteries the reader at the end of the book is able to figure out who committed the crime/murder. Again, this was not the case in this book and I think this is why I liked it so much. From the beginning to the end of this book I had no idea whether Steve Harmon was guilty or not. I usually don’t like reading a book with unfinished ends but for some reason it felt so right to be left with this question. Overall, people should read this book because it is a very well written murder mystery that leaves you wanting more. I liked it so much; I can actually see myself re-reading it down the road. If you don’t take my word on this book then you should know that this book was nominated for the National Book Award for Young People's Literature in 1999 and the Coretta Scott King Award Honor in 2000. It also won the Michael L. Printz Award in 2000. Yeah, it’s that good. If my opinion doesn’t persuade you to read this great book hopefully the fact that it is a highly recognized book does.
Darius & Twig is a light story about two high school students striving towards their dreams, despite being held back by multiple obstacles in their lives. Darius and Twig, both very talented at what they do, walk together through the pressures by their family, bullies at their school, and the different standards of the outside world. And through each obstacle Darius and Twig fly through, they come a little closer to understanding their purpose in a seemingly hopeless world.
Judging from this book alone, Walter Dean Myers is a brilliant author. His light but unfluffed wording was really surprising for such a deep book. Clear and straight to the point, the story was easily understood without taking away any emotion from it. The light language makes this book a quick, yet thought provoking, read.
Being a high school student on the verge of applying to college, I found this book very relatable. Of course I never had it hard, or faced most of the societal challenges Darius & Twig faced, but i could find the theme of purpose in my life as well. Ending your high school career and going off to college is considered one of the first steps into finding your role in the real world. And Darius’ journey in finding his purpose of life matches many other high school students.
Darius and Twig, a short but very good read. A great recommendation for getting a book project done quickly while enjoying it.
Book Review by Albert Tan