Friday, September 6, 2013

It's Kind of a Funny Story

It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

Ever felt a little crazy? Try spending a week in a psychiatric hospital.

Ned Vizzini uses his experience with anxiety and psychiatric treatment to write a charming, quirky story about teenage depression and one boy’s struggles to beat his illness. Craig Gilner, our odd hero, is a freshman at one of Manhattan’s top pre-professional high schools, who is in love with his best friend’s girlfriend and can’t sleep. When Craig’s anxiety spirals out of control, he plans to ride his bike off of the Brooklyn Bridge, but instead checks himself into the local hospital and is admitted to Six North, the psychiatric wing for teenagers and adults. What follows is a humorous account of Craig’s days in his new world and the colorful characters that keep him company in Six North. It’s Kind of a Funny Story is the perfect story for anyone who’s ever felt out of place or a little down on themselves. It’s a heart-warming tale of healing, nestled nicely in a modern-day setting with realistic characters and plot lines. Anyone who has suffered from anxiety can relate to Craig, and anybody who hasn’t been through it can appreciate the strength is takes to overcome a mental illness. This is absolutely a must-read for any high school student.  

Reviewed by Carolyn, grade 12

Angel Burn

Angel Burn by Lee Weatherly
The story Angel Burn is about a half-angel/half-human named Willow, who never even knew angels existed.  Willow has the ability to see people's futures, yet she has no idea why she has this gift or where she got it.  When she meets Alex, an angel hunter sent to kill her, she will find out who and what she is, as well as who her father is and why there are others trying to kill her.  The reason I liked this book is because there was so much mystery surrounding Willow.  She never knew why she was able to see the future.  It was also interesting that even with this gift, Willow never saw Alex coming after her.  I would recommend this book to others who love to read because it is really good.
Reviewed by Kassandra, grade 10

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close is a story about the odd, touching things we all do for love. Oskar Schell, a little boy who wants to study diseases and writes letters to all his favorite people, loves his cat Buckminster, Grandma, the color white, astronomy, and his father. When his father dies on 9/11, Oskar is left to make sense of a senseless tragedy and find out how and why his father died. His eight month journey takes him through every borough of New York City where he meets people of all different backgrounds, asking each what they know about the key in the vase in his father’s closet. With the help of his grandmother, Mr. Black upstairs, and the mysterious renter, Oskar discovers that life is never black and white or good and bad. Oskar learns that each individual has his own story and that these stories are what connect us all to each other. He also realizes just how important forgiveness can be. With a beautifully touching ending, Foer shows just how much people care for each other and are willing to help each other, even in the midst of a tragedy.
Reviewed by Carolyn, grade 11


Jane by April Lindner
There are two groups of girls in this world: there are those who dream of princes and there are those who dream of rock stars.  For the former group, there are hundreds of tales based on girls like Cinderella who overcome personal struggle, marry a prince, and end up living happily ever after.  While that's fine and dandy, there aren't very many princes out there, and the selection isn't very good.  That leads us to the latter group and a wonderfully written new novel entitled Jane by April Lindner.  This is the novel for all the girls who would rather date a rocker than a royal, and who like their classics with a twist.  Based off of Charlotte Bronte's Jane EyreJane is the story of an orphaned college student who is forced to take a job as a nanny to one of the country's most famous rock stars, Nico Rathburn.  As she grows to love his daughter, Jane Moore grows to love Nico as well.  But in classic Jane Eyre style, romance and fashion meet secrets and surprise, and their romance is on the edge.  Freak accidents, secret rooms, a future priest, and an unwelcome houseguest thicken the plot, and putting this novel down is nearly impossible.  This is not your average Cinderella story.  It's much, much better.

Reviewed by Carolyn, grade 11

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader by C.S. Lewis

Every generation has its classics. We, I am proud to say, are the Harry Potter generation- the 90s kids. However, some books are so timeless that they transcend these generation barriers and influence readers years after their time. The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis possess this magnificent quality, enchanting readers since their original publishing generations ago.

Often overshadowed by the immensely popular The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, C.S. Lewis’ piece The Voyage of the Dawn Treader is the fifth book in this timeless series and the third in order of publication. Unlike LWW, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader does not focus solely around the Pevensie children, but rather on the magic of the sea and the enchanting world that is Narnia. Following Lucy, Edmund, and their cousin Eustace on a high-seas adventure, the adventure tests their courage, changes their relationship, and brings them face to face with Aslan once again.

Bringing back old friends such as newly-crowned King Caspian and valiant Reepicheep, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader picks up right where Prince Caspian leaves off, three years after the Pevensies’ last visit to Narnia and one year since the children were told Peter and Susan could not return. Lucy, Edmund, Eustace, and Caspian face dragons, sea serpents, and a mutinous crew along the journey to the rim of the world, and the novel is filled with excitement from start to finish. Brimming with magic, it’s written in the trademark C.S. Lewis fashion, leaving the reader to feel as though he is onboard the Dawn Treader with the crew.

With the success of his series, it’s no surprise director Andrew Adamson decided to make The Chronicles of Narnia into a set of movies. Released in the same order in which they were published, two movies have already been filmed and screened- The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and Prince Caspian.  Much to my pleasure, the third movie, The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, is set to hit theaters on December 10th.  Whether you're a fan of the novels or not, the movie promises to be suspenseful and brilliantly filmed, and I would suggest it to anyone who has a love of adventure and a hint of imagination.  With that said, excuse me while I go buy my tickets.

Reviewed by Carolyn, grade 11

Ouran High School Host Club, Volume 1

Ouran High School Host Club, Vol. 1 by Bisco Hatori                                                              

Welcome to the Host Club.  Haruhi, a scholarship student, finds her way to the heart of the playground for the rich and beautiful - Ouran High School Host Club.  Haruhi is mistaken for a boy as soon as she walks into school and this leads to a course of events that sends Haruhi into an over 100,000 yen debt.  The only way this "commoner" can pay off her debt is to work for the exclusive Host Club.  This book is the perfect story for any girl who likes to hear about handsome men and one girl's adventure in the world of the rich and beautiful.  I highly recommend this book to anyone who thinks that the story will be too girly based on its cover.  Hope you enjoy reading it as much as I did.

Reviewed by Harley, grade 10

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy

The Mortal Instruments Trilogy by Cassandra Clare

Not just another vampire novel.

If the Twilight Saga had a sassy older sister, it would be the Mortal Instruments trilogy. With a cast of characters ranging from troubled half angels to temperamental vampires- and not to mention a glitter-loving warlock named Magnus- the series delivers far more excitement than any vampire-human romance could. Cassandra Clare’s trilogy begins with the novel City of Bones and follows sixteen-year-old Clary Fray as she discovers the secret world of New York City’s underground, complete with werewolves, fairies, vampires, demons, and the mysterious Shadowhunters.

With a love-sick, comic-adoring best friend named Simon and a handsome, brooding lead man, demons aren’t the only problem Clary is forced to face either. All three novels (City of Bones, City of Ashes, and City of Glass) are suspenseful and brilliant, jam packed with fierce battles and witty one-liners. Whether you like a fiery heroine with a knack for sarcastic comebacks, an estranged vengeance-seeking father, or you like cute guys on motorcycles, chances are you’ll find something that suits your taste in the Mortal Instruments series. If you need any further persuading, I’ll give you my top five reasons to read the books:

1)    With the Twilight Saga coming to an end, chances are you’re looking for more vampire-werewolf action. Two words: Hotel Dumort. That chapter should satisfy you.
2)    Ever wanted to learn a little Latin? Shadowhunters are experts at it.
3)    After reading this series, you’ll never think your family is dysfunctional again.
4)    The characters in the series are incredibly relatable and modern. They face real problems and live in the same world we do- well sort of.
5)    Jace. Sure, he has some identity problems, but this Shadowhunter can save your life, save your friends, ride a motorcycle, irritate any warlocks in a five mile radius, charm the fairy queen,  and still go home and eat Chinese like it was any other day. Now that’s a rebel.

This series is for fans of fantasy, magic, sarcasm, and well-written fight scenes. Seriously addictive, the novels keep you guessing constantly, and you’ll always want to turn the page for more. Lengthy enough for serious readers, the Mortal Instruments trilogy is a good book to curl up to and read on a snow day, helping you escape to someplace exciting while never having to leave the warmth of your room.  Cassandra Clare’s books are a must if you’re in need of a good laugh or a good distraction. Now, put down that Edward Cullen doll and go check out the Mortal Instruments series. You may just have a new favorite.

Reviewed by Carolyn, grade 11

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports

Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports by James Patterson

Max, Fang, Iggy, Gasman, Nudge, and Angel are stuck in another twisted game from Jeb that sends their heads for a wild spin that will surely make you go crazy too.  Guess who's back yet again?  You guessed it - Ari.  This book is twisted in every way possible and will make you never want to stop reading.

Reviewed by Chris, grade 10