Literature

Book Review: The Waves

Book Cover
Author: 
Woolf, Virginia
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

The Waves is an astounding novel by Virginia Woolf, known as her most experimental work. The novel is split into nine sections, each separated by a short passage describing the sea at a certain time of day; as the book progresses, these intercalaries move from sunrise to sunset to mirror the lives of the characters as they age in the succeeding chapters. The Waves is unique because Woolf uses a stream of consciousness writing style to capture the thoughts of her characters rather than dialogue, enhancing her characterization and creating her own take on fiction. The novel follows the lives of six friends, beginning with their childhood together. It explores the depths of human thought and as they grow older, and dives into questions of mortality and purpose. Each of the characters is starkly different from the rest, shedding light on the complexities of life through multiple perspectives.

Woolf does an amazing job of creating emotional depth in this short yet vast novel. I found everything from her descriptions of the ocean and the earth to the nuances of ordinary life to be very beautiful. Woolf's questioning of existence through her characters led me to consider my own life, and I found myself often completely immersed in her vivid imagery and rich writing style.
This novel is realistic in that the characters are all flawed in some way, and have their own fears and dreams. The illumination of their internal conflicts through stream of consciousness makes the book very personal and intimate, which is a rare experience.

I can't even begin to do justice to The Waves, so I strongly recommend that all young adults and adults read it for themselves. It has been one of of the most thought-provoking books I've ever read, and there is something in it for everyone. Virginia Woolf's The Waves is a wise commentary on humanity and a magnificent work of art; it should be read to be believed.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa H.

Book Review: Lord of the Flies

Book Cover
Author: 
Golding, William
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book begins with the crashing of a schoolboy's evacuation plane, which leaves them stranded on an island and left to fend for themselves. It is rich in figurative language, although it may be hard for some people to understand because it is written in old-style English. Symbolism is a strong component as well, considering that this book is an allegory, so paying attention to every detail and symbol is important. The author wrote the characters to display a mental change, which emphasizes how the lack of civilization transforms these young schoolboys into feral beasts. The ending of this novel sums it up perfectly and explains any actions that might've confused the readers when enjoying this book.

Reviewer's Name: 
Jaime P.

Book Review: Vera

Vera
Author: 
Edgarian, Carol
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Great story set during the chaos of the 1906 earthquake and fires of San Francisco. Vera is not a warm and fuzzy character, but you will admire her grit at keeping herself and "family" safe and fed despite the fact that she was often dismissed by them. The author does an amazing job placing you in the middle of a nightmare, the city is as strong a character of the novel as Vera herself. 4 1/2 stars, strongly recommended to historical fiction fans.

Reviewer's Name: 
Krista

Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
Author: 
Twain, Mark
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

I really enjoyed reading Huckleberry Finn. I think that Mark Twain portrayed everything very well. The only part I did not like is how often Twain used the N-word for Slave. Overall great book!

Reviewer's Name: 
Naomi K.

Book Review: Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men
Author: 
Steinbeck, John
Rating: 
2 stars = Meh
Review: 

I read this book my Freshman year of high school for English class. I know that Steinbeck is a very famous author, but I just didn’t really care for this book. I thought the story, which is about two men looking for work during the Great Depression is rather boring. I cry while reading sad parts in books all the time, but for some reason the sad ending in Mice and Men just wasn’t as sad as people made it out to be. Overall, I wouldn’t recommend this book, I didn’t like the plot or Steinbeck’s writing style.

Reviewer's Name: 
Emani

Book Review: Normal People

Normal People
Author: 
Rooney, Sally
Rating: 
1 star = Yuck!
Review: 

I really wanted to like this book. I really did. Her writing style is nice and crisp, but the content of this book was just so vapid, and at times disturbing. The book was mostly about sex, but there is no indication of that in the book’s description. I’m no prude, but the plot was only driven by the character’s sex lives. It just wasn’t for me.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ashlea J.

Book Review: Normal People

Normal People
Author: 
Rooney, Sally
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This novel about two Irish teens in an on-again-off-again love affair that deftly displays the transformative power of relationships over time through lessons learned. The decisions made by teens Connell and Marianne are ones many can remember from their own past. That makes their emotional travails realistic and their longing believable and poignant in the hands of a skilled writer like Sally Rooney. This is only her second novel following up her well-regarded debut, Conversations With Friends. In Normal People, the two grow up in the same small town with Connell lliving the life of a popular athlete while Marianne is a loner. Their situations reverse at college due to their different social classes. But despite the constant change of their formative years, these complex characters are drawn together by a shared emotional connection these intelligent kids struggle to understand. It is this journey together as lovers and friends and all the messy emotions involved that makes this coming-of-age tale resonate. This title is available as a PPLD book club set and is also the basis for an Emmy-nominated Hulu television series that is written and produced by the author.
Awards: British Book Award, Costa Book Award, An Post Irish Novel of the Year

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman
Author: 
Murata, Sayaka
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This poignant English-language debut of one of Japan best contemporary writers is the best-selling story of 36-year-old Keiko Furukura, a quirky outsider who struggled to fit in until she found peace and purpose in her life working at Smile Mart. Human interaction and social norms are difficult for her to comprehend but the store manual explains, line by line, how to act. She does her best to copy her fellow employees' mannerisms and dress to better play the part of a "normal" person and remain a "useful tool" for the store. But after 18 years at the same store, her family and coworkers pressure her to make one of two choices -- focus on a career or marry and start a family. These constraints force the self-described "convenience store animal" whose emotions are only stirred by "the store's voice telling me what it wanted, how it wanted to be" to take measures to avoid scrutiny. This deadpan love story about a quirky woman and a store sticks with you long after you've finished thanks to some beautiful writing, a memorable protagonist and the larger questions raised. The short novel (163 pages) touched a nerve in Japan, generating a sustained discussion concerning conformity, especially for women. The book's notoriety garnered Murata, who continues to work at a convenience store after 18 years, Japan Vogue Magazine's 2016 Woman of the Year honor.
Awards: Akutagawa Prize

Reviewer's Name: 
Joe P.

Book Review: Sula

Sula
Author: 
Morrison, Toni
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Sula, by Toni Morrison, was published in 1973. The book focuses on a black neighborhood and a friendship that develops between proper and traditionally raised Nelly and free spirited Sula. The two become very close; going on adventures and making huge mistakes throughout their adolescence, until they eventually grow apart. The novel, written by a Nobel Prize winner, is a star example of enriching African-American literature. Beautifully written, shocking, and yet also endearing, it takes readers on an insightful trip to Medallion, Ohio - one full of excitement and symbolism for modern themes.

Reviewer's Name: 
Malachi

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