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TPCA Media Class… Grow In Grace

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mystery

Earth’s Worst Natural Disaster

Review of: The Kill Order, by James Dashner

Reviewed by: Nicole

The world hasn’t faced a worse natural disaster than The Sun Flares since James Dashner brought them to life in The Kill Order.  Mark, a curious teen who lived in what used to be New York City, witnessed The Sun Flares as they rained down upon the U.S. After teaming up with two former soldiers to escape the natural disaster, Mark and Trina, his friend since he was little, have to live out west where the Sun Flares weren’t as severe. Mark could not imagine that his life could get any more interesting until huge, modern planes called burgs crossed the sky above his group. The burgs hopped over the tiny settlement that some survivors had made along with Mark’s team. All of the settlers were curious, but the burgs had not come there to play around. The planes started shooting out darts that littered the Earth and the people. The survivors began dropping to the ground as soon as a dart pricked their worn out body. Mark and his friends scrambled to reach safety, but not soon enough; some of Mark’s friends were hit. One of the former soldiers, Alec, and Mark tried to track down the monstrous planes, but all they managed to do was crash it. After returning to the settlement, Alec and Mark witnessed the aftermath of the darts. Everyone who was hit by a deadly dart contracted a disease that ate away at their brain and killed them.  The brave teen realized that they had to uncover why anyone would wipe out part of the population that was left.

On their journey, they met a small girl that was abandoned in a near by village, but one thing was different about her: she was hit by a dart, but wasn’t sick or going crazy.  Everything got stranger and more mysterious as they kept going on their mission. The team ran into insane villagers who believed that Deedee, the immune little girl,  was the source of The Sun Flares. After much fighting, Lana, the other former soldier, Trina, and Deedee were taken. Mark and Alec have to track the girls down and find the resolution to the mysterious disease and why someone unleash that upon the U.S. Can they do it or will they lose their sanity just like the others who caught the deadly disease and slowly die?

I could not put The Kill Order down. There was so much mystery as to what some people were plotting and what the disease was. I enjoyed the action that was in the novel. Mark and his friends were constantly running from danger which made me keep reading. James Dashner also did an incredible job describing the insane villagers, so I felt like I was transported into the book. I enjoyed reading about the bond that Mark and Alec shared. I love reading about the bond getting stronger and stronger. What I admire about this story is that almost every chapter ends with a mini cliff hanger, so it literally forces you to keep reading. I enjoyed reading this amazing book and look forward to the last one in the series.

I recommend The Kill Order for kids in middle school. This novel is a little violent at times, so it wouldn’t be good for young children to read. You will come to admire it just like I have. This novel is perfect for boys and girls because James Dashner wrote the story so that anyone can fall in love with it. There is maybe one or two bad words and a little romance, but overall it was very enjoyable. I loved this story and all kids in middle school should give The Maze Runner series a chance.

 

9 Down, 1 To Go

Review of: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie 

Reviewed by: Luke S.

9fd12-thentherewerenoneHave you ever been scared? If you haven’t, then get ready. And Then There Were None is a murder mystery book that contains exciting but frightening, scary scenes. In the beginning, ten people are invited to a mysterious island for a special reason, but they don’t know why. They were invited by a millionaire named U.N. Owen, but he’s nowhere to be found. They get a little anxious, but they don’t realize that everything is about to get deadly. They are all going to picked off one by one by a lunatic that is hiding somewhere on the island.  Soon they figure out that U.N. Owen is among them, and is the murderer, but which “guest” is he?  For each meal, there are ten plates in the middle of the dining table, but each time someone is murdered, one of the plates goes missing.  There is also a nursery rhyme about ten little Indians and how they all die; as their terrible journey carries on, they figure out that everyone is being killed in the same order and in the same manner as the Indians in the poem did. Will everyone be murdered? Or will they catch the murderer first?

I loved And Then There Were None, but it gave me the creeps. I was scared out of my skin when read this book. All the footsteps, whispers, and sudden disappearances scared me the most. Overall, however, this book was excellent, and I would like to read another book like it. Agatha Christie, the author, is amazing at making you feel lost in the mystery. She writes a lot of cliffhangers at the ends of chapters that make you want to read more. I couldn’t put the book down, even when I didn’t feel like reading.

This book would be a good fit for kids who are 11+. This book contains words that I shouldn’t probably repeat or younger kids should learn yet. It wouldn’t be fair for a kid to have curse words floating around in hid mind without knowing what the mean. This book is also scary, it wouldn’t be nice for a younger child to have mental images of people being murdered in their mind.  Overall And Then There Were None is outstandingly written and if you’re mature and like murder mysteries, then this book should be your favorite.

Deadly Desert

Review of: The Scorch Trials, by James Dashner

Reviewed by: Claire

After the cliff hanger ending of The Maze Runner by James Dashner, you will want to read The Scorch Trials. It is way more mysterious than the first book. It starts in a building that the rebels of Wicked took the group of teenage boys who used to live in the glade somehow. Thomas, who is the “leader” of the gladers, is even struggling in this new sandy environment; it is hard to survive in a land that you have never seen before. The group of teens is then transported to a desert that had been hit by a sun flare. This deadly desert is home to a town of cranks, people who are slowly going mad from a contagious disease that was formed after a worldwide sun flare. The group, led by Thomas, has been given direct orders to go through the town and continue on a hundred miles to get to the safe heaven where they were told that there was a cure to the terrible disease that has killed over half over humanity, but they are taken as prisoners. Worst of all, Teresa, who was one of the head gladers when they were still in the glade, is taken to be with another group that seems to have gone through the same things that they did, except with girls. Thomas and the other gladers must survive in rough rocky terrain as they learn about leadership, hope, and bravery. It is very thrilling reading about how much the gladers learn to become more tight knit, so that they can complete their goal as a group. 

I was so captivated  by how the story plays out. I really enjoyed the story line and plot,  and how every scene had action and mystery.  It was perfectly done on James Dashner’s part, with all the amazing word play and story line.  My favorite scene is when Teresa was going insane and the people around her were so confused, and when Thomas was going a little crazy over a girl. Although they were different scenes, they really tied the character’s relationship together. The only bad thing about this book is the cliffhanger ending because then are left longing for more like a man in the desert longing for water, but I cannot complain about that trivial detail because the rest of the whole book is done beautifully.

I would recommend this book to anyone over the age of 11. There are some mature scenes and the story line is sometimes a little hard to follow, but if you like adventure, mystery, and an over all amazing book, then you will love The Scorch Trials as much or maybe even more than I did.

Murder?

the westing gameReview of: The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Reviewed by: Jackson

BOOM! BANG! SCREAM!  In The Westing Game  by Ellen Raskin, there is a shin-kicking girl named Turtle Wexler who goes into the Westing house for a dare.  Twelve minutes later, she comes out screaming because Mr. Westing is dead.  The next day, residents from Sunset Towers receive letters from Barney Northrup to meet at the Westing house for the reading of the will.  They soon find out they are potential heirs and they must play a game to figure out who murdered Mr. Westing.  All of the heirs are paired together and have two clues.  If you winyou get all of Mr. Westing’s money.   Turtle is determined to win and get the money, but someone is bombing Sunset Towers and worrying all of the heirs.  One of the heirs, Sandy McSouthers, gets poisoned by the murderer!  Everybody saw Crow fill Sandy’s flask so now all of the heirs think Crow did IT.  Who will win and get all the money?

I thought the novel was wonderful.  One reason I liked it was that it is sort of complicated.  But then you put the pieces together and  it makes sense.  For example, there is a plot twist after you think know who the murderer is.  Another reason  is that each character is very unique.  For instance, Sydelle Pulaski paints her crutches and Turtle kicks peoples’ shins.  What I am really trying to say is I think you should read  The Westing Game!

I highly recommend this novel to others.  I would recommend this book for ages 8-12 and people who like a mystery because there is a murder and there are a lot of characters; and younger readers would get confused with the large number of characters. Overall, this book was a really good fit for me and I hope it is for you too.

Alcatraz at its Worst

al capone homewordREVIEW OF:  Al Capone Does My Homework, by Gennifer Choldenko

Reviewed by:  Erica

In this thrilling book, Al Capone Does My Homework, written by Gennifer Choldenko,  Moose Flanagan is just getting used to his new life on Alcatraz. It isn’t easy, with his father’s new promotion to associate warden and a sister, Natalie, who is strange in her own way. Nothing becomes easier for him when his apartment is set on fire with he and Natalie in it. After a narrow escape, Natalie is blamed. Now, he must worry about proving his sister innocent, and also protecting his father because, as a new associate warden, he is a big target to the convicts. But a jealous guard who wants the associate warden job will do just about anything to prove that Natalie set the fire. On top of all that, a knife goes missing in the convicts’ kitchen, so Moose must watch his father’s back more than ever. In order to get his sister out of trouble and keep his father safe, he must use his head and the clues to crack the mystery. He must learn to use love and sacrifice in order to save the day.

I really enjoyed this book. I liked how the author is always creating new plots throughout the story. When it seemed like the problem was solved, a new one was created. I couldn’t stop reading!  I also liked  how much mystery was in this novel, as well as the history. This book is filled with many secrets. The history comes in because it takes place on Alcatraz. The author refers to real convicts  from the 1900’s that actually were sent to Alcatraz. I was really excited while reading; I couldn’t wait to see the mystery cracked and the problem solved. This book is definitely one of my favorites.

I recommend Al Capone Does My Homework to kids around nine years old and older. I also recommend it to people who enjoy reading mystery and realistic fiction  as well as historical fiction. Readers who like action might like this book, but it’s more about people than adventure. I will be re-reading this book a lot because I loved it so much!

 

And Then There Was No Happiness

Review of: And Then There Were None by Agatha Christie

Reviewed by: Claire

The title of this book fits perfectly. And then there were no people, no happiness, no struggles, no life.  And There Were None  by Agatha Christie is probably the creepiest book I have read in a long time. Picture this – you’re on an island with nine other people, one of which is an undercover genius/murderer. This murderer is slowly killing one person at a time. Not only this, but you are hopeless and pretty much living in a dreary type of way. There is no hope for anyone on the island because the boat that was supposed to come mysteriously didn’t. Ten people randomly were hired to work at this island, Indian Island, for this millionaire named U. N. Owen. When Owen is not on the island when they all arrive, they start to get worried. What if something goes wrong? Who would they talk to? It isn’t till they have been on the island for a couple days that they realize that U. N. Owen actually stands for Unknown. So, they are on a island without supervision with an unknown murderer and they have no ways of getting off the island. Wouldn’t you be freaking out? I sure would. I have to give this author some credit for how she kept me hooked and how much I wanted to know who did it and I will totally give her that, but I know that I am not the only person who thinks this book is a little freaky!

Over all, I don’t like this book. I tend to not like dreary books and this fits that description perfectly. One scene I especially hated was the ending; I don’t want to spoil the book for you, but don’t have very high expectations. Throughout this book, my initial reaction was to either be disgusted or to want to scream and tear this book into a million tiny pieces. I feel this way whenever I read about deaths or about creepy images that the author creates in my mind. At least then I would have something happy – confetti!

The question I am supposed to answer in this paragraph is: Would you recommend this book to others? I have two answers. If you are already thinking against it, and you don’t like moody/creepy/scary stories then go with your instinct and go think about something happy.  I suggest unicorns or puppies. Hopefully, you will forget all about this book. My second answer is to read it.  I’m only saying this if, and only if, you are looking for something challenging and mysterious – and for those people who LOVE a mystery that keeps them guessing. The age category that I would put this into would be 11+, because the author occasionally uses words that I am not allowed to repeat. So, if you need a happy book, find a different story to read. But, if you love mysteries, thrillers, and shock, then this book will be great for you.

No ordinary will

REVIEW OF:  The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Reviewed by:  Colin

In The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin, a heap of families are invited to Sunset Towers, a beautiful lake-side apartment home.  They are living just fine, but then 16 of them got a letter that instructed them to go to Sam Westing’s mansion for the reading of his will.  They were all excited because Sam Westing was a very rich man; little did they know the surprise that awaited them.  The will was not your average will, you see.  Instead it was a game.  The will said  that Sam Westing did not die from natural causes, but that he was murdered by one of them!  The will also said whoever found out who murdered Sam Westing would get his inheritance.  The 16 potential heirs would be put into groups of two and given a check for $10,000 and a handful of clues.  Will the heirs find out who murdered Sam Westing or will they die trying to find out?

I think The Westing Game was an fantastic book.  One reason I liked it was because of the fun slew of characters.  They each had intricate personalities.  I also was fascinated by the plot of the book.  It was mysterious and you never knew what would happen next.  Overall I think the Westing Game is a must-read.

I recommend The Westing Game to ages 10 and up.  There are a couple of gruesome scenes and the ending is very confusing.  I also recommend this to slightly older kids because the older you are, the more you will get out of it. The Westing Game is not a book you forget; it is a book you remember.

The Dead Truth

I wish I could interrogate Turtle from the Westing Game like a police officer. I would ask her three questions.

1. Why did you destroy your relationship with your sister at a young age? I would ask Turtle this because she bombed her own sister, the bomb was just fireworks in a glass jar. Turtle made Angelina go to the hospital.

2. How did you and Flora Bambach become incredible friends. The reason I would ask Turtle this is because she is rotten, rude, snotty, and nosy, so why would she be kind to Flora?  I also wonder why Turtle would allow Flora to be a second mother.

3.  One last question I would ask is how she felt about Sandy at the beginning of the story. The reason I would ask this question is because at the end they are great and loyal friends and Sandy surprises her in a huge way.

Heirs to Murder

REVIEW OF:  The Westing Game, by Ellen Raskin

Reviewed by:  Jalen

Solve the mystery and become a millionaire!  If one of the 16 heirs of Sam Westing solves his murder, they get $200,000,000.   Mr. Westing is dead, dead as a door nail.  He sent a letter to 16 different people in the Sunset Apartment Building. The letter said, “as a named beneficiary in the estate Samuel W. Westing, your attendance is required in the south library tomorrow at 4 P. M. for the reading of the will.”  Mr. Westing’s will is very odd.  The will is a game!  The will said each of the 16 people in the room are heirs of Samuel Westing.  One of the main characters and heirs is Turtle Wexler, a 13-year old girl who is very smart, but also rude and annoying. Turtle is like the investigator of the whole story.  All  16 heirs try to share their clues, but some are as stubborn as a boulder that won’t budge.  Canyou figure out who wins $200,000,000?

I thought this novel was marvelous. I loved how at the end, the unexpected happens. I also loved that Turtle always is getting herself in trouble. You never know if Mr. Westing is alive, and I thought it was suspenseful.  One part that irritated me is at the end it throws a huge twist that did not make sense to me.

I would highly recommend this book.  I would say this reading level is about 11 to 14 because the main character is 13, so you can relate how Turtle is feeling.  The humor is also about 11 to 14 and there are comments and jokes that would not make sense to younger children.  You will learn in this book how important it is to have patience.  As a  reader learn, you will learn patience, and your parents are not kidding when they say you will be rewarded for patience!

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