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realistic fiction

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.

 

Bound for Disaster

REVIEW OF: Bound for Oregon,

Reviewed By: Erica

Dangerous (adj):  full of danger or risk; causing danger; perilous; risky; hazardous; unsafe. I believe that the word ‘dangerous’ perfectly fits the journey that Mary Ellen, a nine year old girl from Arkansas, is about to make with her family across the United bfoStates. In the electrifying novel Bound for Oregon by Jean Van Leeuwen, the curious child overhears her parents discussing the trip to Oregon yet again, and she knows that she may be leaving her home in Arkansas forever. All she’d ever known was a quiet life with her siblings, Louvina and Cynthia, and her mother and father. So the rushing rapids, the rockiest terrain, the fierce Indians, and the mightiest mountains seemed as if they were from a whole different world. However, reality soon struck, and she was abandoning everything she’d ever known: friends, family, her school, and her past, everything she’d once known. During the treacherous trial to the rich soil of Oregon, she indeed faces all the nightmares she imagined, plus worse horrors, including death.  Her old life seems not to matter anymore; all that matters is her future: Oregon.  Mary Ellen understands that her life could be in danger as she continues down the Oregon Trail.  Her future belongs to her, and it’s her job to protect it like a bear protects its cubs. It’s her job to carry on.

Before Bound for Oregon, I’d only read one other novel about pioneers traveling west. In this true story, I saw Mary Ellen mature as I devoured the book, page by page. I was baffled at how much a girl that young could possess the characteristics of an adult. I’ve been out west once, and while I was there, I saw many enormous mountains, rivers, and unique animals, so it was interesting to compare what Mary Ellen encountered to what I encountered. Her journey and conflicts aren’t exactly similar to the ones that we face today, but that  improves my ability to envision what life was like in the year 1852. Overall, I was pretty pleased with this twisting, exciting and perilous novel.

I recommend this factual historic tale to readers age 10 and up. I believe that if you are older, you can get more out of the book, such as character transformation. I also recommend it to people who love history, like myself.

Tremendous Mr.Tucket

Review of: Mr. Tucket

Reviewed by: Colin 

mr tucket

Have you ever been excited from a birthday present? Francis Tucket was a bit too excited with one particular birthday present. In Mr. Tucket by Gary Paulsen, Francis Tucket is heading west with his family to Oregon on a wagon train.  It is Francis’s birthday and he is surprised when he finds out his mother has made a cake for him: Francis thought there would be no presents because he thought he knew all the items in the wagon, but Francis was wrong and is amazed when his father gives him a rifle specially made for him.  Francis goes to try it out immediately.  Francis gets so engrossed in the rifle that he does not realize how far ahead the wagon train has gone, so he is very startled when Pawnee take his rifle and knock him out.  He awakes at the Pawnee camp where he is “owned” by the wife of one of the men who captured him.  He is treated like a dog, made fun of, and kicked by other boys.  Francis did things that were considered woman work such as gathering firewood.  One day Francis sees a white man with one arm waltz into the Indian camp, and soon learns  he is a man who trades with the Pawnees named Mr. Grimes. Then, that night, Francis is awakened by Mr. Grimes who tells him to take a horse and follow a path to where they would meet again. Francis sucssesfully escapes and sees Mr. Grimes the next day. Mr. Grimes asks what his name is and Francis replies with his full name. Mr. Grimes didn’t like his name so he decides to call him Mr. Tucket. Mr. Grimes also got Francis’s rifle back so he teaches Francis how to shoot it accuretly and reload it faster. Mr. Grimes also teaches Francis how to survive in the wilderness. Will Francis ever find his family? Will he survive with Mr. Grimes? You will have to read Mr. Tucket to find out.

I think Mr. Tucket is a spectacular book.  One of my favorite things in Mr. Tucket is Mr. Grimes’ character: I love his personality and his accuracy with a gun.  I also enjoyed how the story just goes along fixing problems as they arise.  It  has only  one major question, ”will Francis ever see his family again” , the rest are survival problems. I found Francis easy to relate to since he is close to my age.  I enjoyed thinking of what thoughts he could have had that were not said, or what I would have thought if I were him.  I think Mr. Tucket should be on your “to read” list.

Mr. Tucket is a must read.  I recommend this book to ages 9-12. I say this because it is easy to read, however the ending is a little gruesome. people who enjoy historical fiction and realistic adventure would enjoy this book immensely.  Mr Tucket is a wonderful story about survival and the coming of age that you should read.

 

 

 

Rambunctious Rascal

rascal

Review of:  Rascal, by Sterling North

Reviewed by:  Colin

Most young boys have a dog as their constant companion; Sterling North has a raccoon. In Rascal, Sterling North (which is also the author’s name) is an adventurous 11 year-old and is very knowledgeable about nature. Sterling lives by himself because his two sisters are married, his mother is dead, and his brother Herschell is fighting in the army in France. Sterling has mountains of pets, including  everything from dogs to skunks. He gets most of them by catching them in the Wisconsin wilderness where he lives. One day Sterling, his friend Oscar, and his Saint Bernard, Wowser, go out in the wilderness and find a den in a hollow stump. They tried to find its contents and are surprised when a furious mother raccoon explodes from her den. She also had four kits who ran off with their mother. However, Oscar was quick enough to catch one in his cap. It was their only reward for their labor, but reward enough as time would prove. Oscar let Sterling have the kit because his parents would not let him have a raccoon. Sterling names the raccoon Rascal, but surprisingly Rascal grows up fast and becomes exceptionally smart. Sterling loves Rascal, but the neighbors are not so fond of him. They want Rascal to be caged and have a leash instead of letting him wander. Sterling must make the difficult choice either to cage his beloved raccoon or take him away and let him go free.

I thought Rascal was one of the best books I have ever read. One of my favorite things about Rascal is it’s extraordinary choice of vocabulary. There are words such as tremolo, cantankerous, vociferous, and competent. I thought it was neat how the chapters titles were months.  One of the best things about Rascal is how immensely it shows the relationship between Sterling and Rascal. For example, Sterling says he would fight the toughest bullies to protect Rascal. I think it is a simple but original concept. Overall I thought Rascal was an amazingly well written book.

I recommend Rascal to ages 11-14. I say this because there are a lot of harder words and the book is written in an older fashioned way. I think people who like nature and animals would enjoy this book more than others. I thought Rascal was an incredible book.

Beautiful on the Inside

wonderREVIEW OF: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Reviewed by: Claire A

“Let’s face it,” she continued. “The universe was not kind to August Pullman.” In the novel Wonder, by R.J. Palacio, August (Auggie) Pullman, a fifth-grader with an unusual disease that makes his face slightly gruesome, is struggling to fit it at a new school. He had been home-schooled all his life and has a “limited selection” of friends. As the story continues, Auggie is faced with bullies and people who are afraid to even be near him. He makes two friends: Summer and Jack Will; they become the sole reason that August actually comes to school. Julian, a boy who has made an effort to cause Auggie to feel useless,  spreads the joke that August is part ogre. Julian starts a schoolwide war between his side and August’s side. He convinces many people to hate poor August, just like he does. August learns that people will always make fun of him, but he has to ignore them and not let their remarks get to him.  Wonder  is organized into several sections that are written from different people’s perspectives.  In this way, we learn about the story from the other characters’ point of view which is very life-like. August learns that he must overcome the fear and torture of being made fun of. 

I loved this book; R.J. Palacio created an amazing picture in my mind and made it feel as if I was right there next to August by learning other people’s opinions and making the story full of humor.  My favorite scene was the ending; it beautifully tied the story together with all the love for other people and how August changes. I wished it wouldn’t have ended, it was so amazing and R.J. Palacio made the story humorous and exciting without making it too difficult. August’s story really made me think about how prejudice people can be. All my life, I never knew how even the littlest thing you do or say can impact someone so greatly.  I loved all the lessons that were tied into the novel, such as love, perseverance, and being optimistic no matter what the circumstance is.

I recommend this book to everyone. I think this is mainly written for kids in middle school, because there are some scenes with some mature content. But other that that, it is a fairly easy read. Overall, this book is absolutely amazing and I think that everyone needs to read it and realize how prejudice and mean some people can be. I highly recommend Wonder if you are looking for a short but powerful read; I assure you, you will get that from this novel.  Books like Wonder  are very deep and touch on rather overlooked topics, but I feel that this is laid out simply enough that anyone will understand.

 

Taking Down the Darkness

REVIEW OF: Piercing the Darkness by Frank Peretti

REVIEWED BY: Rachel

piercing the darknessDemons, death, and darkness are what is to be defeated by God’s warriors in Frank Peretti’s Piercing the Darkness. Sally Roe once thought of herself to be a “homeless vagabond,” until she finally found her comfort in the Lord. Sally is a thirty-eight year old woman who is and was a runner. Not the Olympic type of runner, but a runner who is constantly trying to escape something. The warriors, or angels, who look out for those of us on earth, such as Sally Roe, have one mission: to bring the lost souls to the Cross. Tom Harris, a member of the Shepard Community Church, has a problem: he is being accused of child abuse and is being sued by a woman name Lucy Brandon. Lucy Brandon has a daughter named Amber and she has a few issues. Amber has been accessing her “inner self” which just so happens to be a demon. Now, Lucy is suing Tom for trying to cast out this demon and Tom’s kids are being taken away from him. This is where the fight between the demons and angels comes in. The demons have one goal: to lead every human away from the Cross. However, the angels also have one goal: to bring everyone to the Cross. Sally Roe is on the run trying to escape people who have been chasing her for years, and while she is wayfaring she hears about Tom Harris. Sally writes to Tom to try to help him with his predicament, but Sally’s letters are intercepted by the very people who are chasing her. With a battle constantly going on between the angels and demons, as well as a fight going on between the humans, will the victims be able to reach the safety of the Cross, or will the demons succeed in their conquest and destroy their lives forever?

Piercing the Darkness is a definite Christian thriller. I personally think that it is the best Christian novel, other than the Bible, that I have ever read, and I do hope to read more of Peretti’s novels. I loved the controversy between the demons and angels as well as learning of what was happening to the humans on earth. I feel that it made the book even more exciting and interesting. I also appreciated the truthfulness of the story. It didn’t sugarcoat the trials that we may face being Christians, or just the trials in general that we will encounter living in our broken world.

I highly recommend the novel to ages twelve and up, for I feel that some content in it would be too heavy on younger readers’ minds. The concept of demons possessing humans is too much for most children to bear. Inside each jaw-dropping chapter there is anticipation and fear of what will happen next and what actions the demons will take to torment the humans; or how will the angels protect them? I would say that both boys and girls would enjoy the novel, as well as adults, because Peretti is brilliant with his figurative language and infusing a faith-based novel with an action-packed thriller. The novel has a slow start, but, believe me, once you start, you never want to stop.

1 In 4 Million

Review of: Wonder by R.J. Palacio

Reviewed by: Graham

wonderHappiness, sadness, and laughter are all emotions in the wonderful book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio. August Pullman has a facial disorder that one in four million people when they are born. All his life he was homeschooled, until middle school; he decided to attend Beecher Prep Middle School. Before school started, August, also known as Auggie, took a tour of the school; he thought it was a good fit for him. He also met some kids from school: Jack, Julian, and Charlotte. According to Auggie, they were all pretty nice, except for Julian. The first day of school for Auggie was not the best day of his life; people were whispering and staring at Auggie. At lunch, he sat at a table by himself. A girl, Summer, sat down with him. Throughout the year, they became great friends, but other kids still thought Auggie was different. Jack and Summer were Auggie’s only friends. Auggie just wanted to go to a school and be treated like a normal kid, but people still get freaked out when they see him. He must learn that you just have to be yourself. Will others ever be nice to him and be his friends?

This book was wonderful. I think this because it was written so well. I loved Auggie’s character. He was so brave to go to school after all the other kids made fun of him. He has a great attitude; he never did anything mean to the other kids, while they were horrible to him. I also liked Summer’s character. She stood up for Auggie. She thought he was just a normal boy and treated him that way, while otherthought he was different.  Another reason I thought this book was tremendous because I loved how R.J. Palacio changed perspectives in different chapters. Every once in a while, the narrator would change and the story would be told from a different character’s point of view. I liked this because it was easier to understand what the characters thought about things. 

I recommend this book to both boys and girls ages 9 to 13, because it contains a good lesson. It teaches you to be yourself, and to be thankful for who you are. Also, it is a great story; even though Auggie is teased and made fun of, he doesn’t have self-pity.

“First the Colors. Then the Humans.”

Review of: The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak

Reviewed by: Bella
The smell of smoke and mud fill the damp, miserable alleyways of Himmel Street. There is a girl; she sits innocuously reading. The girl’s name is Liesel Meminger. The Book Thief, by Markus Zusak, leads us into a house on the ever-gloomy Himmel Street in Molching, Germany. Liesel’s life has not been a piece of cake. Her brother, Werner, dies and her mother can no longer keep her, so Liesel is going to her foster home to meet her foster parents, Hans and Rosa Hubermann. Little does Liesel know, it is with the Hubermanns that she will meet her best friend Rudy, a Jewish fist fighter named Max, and she will begin her acts of thievery, which gives her the title of The Book Thief.    Liesel’s best friend is Rudy, and he is one of my favorite characters. Rudy, to me, seems like the perfect friend; he is daring, loyal, kind, witty, and many other things. Liesel will have to cope with the  hardships of war and find her inner strength. Liesel is lost and lonesome and she is just getting her place into a family and starting to feel safe, when war and Death are making their way toward her.   Liesel will learn that  there is power in words and that she can be accepted into a family. Liesel begins falling in love with books, and then she begins writing her own beautifully written book.

This book was absolutely brilliant. The figurative language was unlike anything I have ever read and it was extremely breathtaking. In the book there are inserts of picture books drawn by Max, and Death’s thoughts, which I thought made the book even better and includes you even more in the story.  The characters are deep, and by the end of the story you feel like they are a part of your family.  I fell in love with the characters, and I was sad to finish it. Practically, everything in this novel is in depth: the characters, the writing, the setting, and everything else. I have gotten a whole new perspective on World War II, and one of the reasons is because of the narrator, Death.  Death is taking you on this journey, telling you a small story about “a girl, some words, an accordionist, some fanatical Germans, a Jewish fist fighter, and quite a lot of thievery.” Death gives you his opinions, thoughts, and tells you the story of The Book Thief, which was beautiful and unique. One of the things that I have never experienced that was replete in The Book Thief is foreshadowing. Death would give you foreshadowing of events that made you love the characters even more. Some of the events in this novel are still cloudy in my memory because they are so tragic. Everything in The Book Thief was placed there for a reason and there was so much meaning within all of the text. With the help of one of my amazing teachers, Mrs. Herr, I have gotten so many things out of The Book Thief. If you have not read this book, you are missing out.  The Book Thief was packed with lessons and moods such as friendship, loyalty, hope, inner strength, sorrow, joyfulness, and so many others.  I learned so many things from this novel. Markus Zusak is an incredible author, and his book was lovely.

You NEED to read The Book Thief.  Anyone 12 and older will fall in love with this book as much as I did. If you want a beautifully written novel, then read this. Markus Zusak does not sugar coat the events that took place during World War II, so it is not appropriate for young readers. The quotes that stood out to me in this novel ranked off the charts because Zusak’s amazing writing.  I adored this book, and and all I can say is: have the tissue ready. This is my favorite book of all time. This book has left a lasting impression on me and I hope that you will take the time to read this beautiful novel.

Between Shades of Sorrow

between shades of grayREVIEW OF: Between Shades of Gray  by Ruta Sepetys

Reviewed by: Claire A

Between Shades of Sorrow, despair, pain, suffering, hope.  In Between Shades of Gray, by Ruta Sepetys, Lina, a girl who sees the beauty in everything, and her family are taken and thrown into a crowed train car by the NKVD (a.k.a. Stalin’s Nazis). Lina, her mother, and brother now have a new title: “Thieves and Prostitutes.” Lina is put into a situation where she is forced to be the leader, along with her mother, her brother, and her friend, Andrius. The suffering is almost unbearable, with all the hard work and sickness. Along with hurt of losing friends they barely knew. The deportation seems hard for the new prisoners, but they soon realize that that was nothing compared to the hardships to come in the middle of Siberia. Although Lina, her mom, and her brother are taken to Siberia, her dad, who was not with them when they were arrested, is in another prison camp far away from Lina. Lina’s goal while she is in Stalin’s custody is to communicate with her lost daddy by sending drawings to him. She has a passion for drawing and was going to go to art school if it hadn’t been for her arrest. Her plan is to insert secret messages that only her father would understand into her drawings.  She would then give them to someone trustworthy to deliver to her father. Lina learns that the most important things about surviving in a hard time is hope, love, and keeping her family together.

This story is incredible. I could read it a million times and it would still make the same huge impact that it did the first time I read it. After I read this, I had a new found respect for anyone who was imprisoned in WWII. I loved how Ruta Sepetys made it real, as if I were right there next to Lina throughout the entire war by using descriptive words and making everything tie together perfectly. I loved the scene where Andrius and Lina first meet. It seemed so life-like. I absolutely love it when books are realistic. What is really unique about this book is that it describes the pain that Stalin put people through instead of the pain that Hitler put people through, as most WWII books do. I had always wondered about this book, and I think everyone should read it.

I recommend this book to girls only, since some scenes are clearly meant for girl’s eyes only. I suggest Between Shades of Gray to any girl in sixth grade or older as there are some very mature parts and some foul language. Remember this is a realistic fiction book based on a Lithuanian’s perspective on Stalin and the cruelties of World War II. Over all, I think you should read this book if mysterious, amazing, sad, and realistic fiction stories appeal to you.

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