Adventure

Book Review: This Tender Land

This Tender Land
Author: 
Krueger, William Kent
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Orphaned and alone, Odie and his brother, Albert are sent to Lincoln Indian Training School where they spend the next four years of their lives. However, the superintendent is cruel and abusive, and after committing a grave crime, Odie is forced to run away. Together with his brother, Mose his friend, and Emmy, an orphaned girl, Odie and his newfound family take a canoe down the Minnesota River with plans to go to Saint Louis and settle down with their family. During their odyssey, the friends change in different ways as each of them grapples with their heart's truest desires.

This book is an allusion to a different popular story, and I loved the different references and allusions. The main characters are all children, but each of them brought me so much insight into the world and what it means to "find what's in your heart". The novel is also full of great surprises that kept me wanting to read even more! It's mostly an adventure novel, but there is some romance and elements of fantasy and magic, so there's a bit of everything for everyone. The ending was also beautiful, and although it was a bit sad, it was fitting.

Reviewer's Name: 
Nneoma

Book Review: Artemis Fowl and the Time Paradox

Artemis Fowl. The Time Paradox
Author: 
Colfer, Eoin
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Just like Godwin’s law asserts that internet conversations eventually lead to comparisons of Hitler, the longer a book series progresses, the more likely it is to include a time travel story. For the Artemis Fowl series, I was glad that it took six books to get here. Unfortunately, this plotline completely stalled the forward momentum the series had developed from the last entry, The Lost Colony (especially with introducing a potential love triangle). Sure, The Time Paradox does set up a revival for bringing back one of the series’ best antagonists, but mostly it is used to highlight the growth of the titular character.

Of course, in comparing the old Artemis Fowl with the new one, there seemed to be a regression of the one I had come to enjoy at the end of The Lost Colony. It was almost like he saw how he used to act and thought, “You know, I should try and be that way again.” Granted, he’s still basically a teenager, and he doesn’t necessarily use logic when it comes to emotional decisions—especially emotional decisions about his family. But perhaps the weakness of this story was that he had to regain all the allies he had built through the last five volumes, thus wasting time in a nearly-solo adventure.

In the end, the fact that the Artemis Fowl series finally reached its “time travel” book signals to me that there might not be many ideas left to explore. The time travel trope is so played out that most of this book was entirely predictable. Nothing drastic ever really changes in these storylines since you know that everything will return to normal by the end in a “deus ex machina” moment. Considering only two more books are left in this series, I believe my suspicion may be correct.

A standard time travel plot every book series must have, I give The Time Paradox 3.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: Shadow and Bone

Shadow and Bone
Author: 
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo is an amazing venture into a wonderful magical universe. I don't read a lot of fantasy, and Shadow and Bone was the perfect re-introduction to the genre. The world building is some of the most beautiful and detailed I've ever read. In this universe, magical people known as Grisha have the power to manipulate matter. Etherialki summoners can manipulate air, water, or fire. Materialki Fabrikators can manipulate materials and chemicals, and Corporalki are divided into healers and heartrenders, which have the capability to slow or speed heart rates, and are essentially the most feared Grisha.

Ravka, a country inspired by tsarist Russia, is divided in two by a swath of darkness known as the Shadow Fold, which is populated by frightening creatures known as volcra that prey on humans. The Shadow Fold and volcra have made crossing from landlocked East Ravka to the ocean ports and trade routes of West Ravka nearly impossible. The only hope to destroy the centuries-old Shadow Fold is a myth of the Sun Summoner, a Grisha with the ability to summon sunlight and destroy the darkness and the monsters.

Alina Starkov is an orphan and a mapmaker in the non-Grisha army. At the beginning of the story, she and her best friend, Mal, a tracker, are chosen for a voyage across the Shadow Fold. During the crossing, Mal is attacked by volcra and Alina reveals the ability to summon sunlight. She is the Sun Summoner, and suddenly everything in her life changes.

Alina is brought to the capital of Ravka to train as a Grisha, making the acquaintance of the Darkling, the only Grisha with the ability to summon shadow and darkness; a descendent of the one who created the Shadow Fold. The Darkling believes he and Alina have the ability together to destroy the Shadow Fold, and reunite Ravka. What follows is a wild ride full of twists and turns and beautiful magic.

This book is so addictive and page-turning that I read the last 30% in one sitting. This book is the first in Leigh Bardugo's Grishaverse collection, and it does feel like a first novel. There are simple sentences and some classic YA tropes, such as a love triangle and a 'chosen one' narrative. However, despite the inclusion of YA plot staples, I have read all of those tropes boiled down to a very simple level in other books, and here I believe that Bardugo elevated them to something more. All of the characters were delightfully fascinating. There was not black-and-white, good-and-evil characters, all had some elements of good and bad in them that made them fascinating to ponder over. Alina's spunk and sarcasm added to her character wonderfully, and the Darkling's true motives and character will keep readers on their toes until the last page. In addition to Alina and the Darkling, a wonderful cast of side characters is introduced when Alina begins training with other Grisha, most notably Genya, Alina's closest Grisha friend, who is a unique Tailor who can manipulate appearances. Genya, for all her beauty she created for herself, has her own dark backstory that adds great depth to her character and the story. The logistics of Grisha power are a bit hard to understand, but as seen through Alina, who also does not really understand them either, it makes the mystery and lore around the magic system even more fascinating. Once the orders and powers of Grisha become clear in your mind, the story really takes off.

This book gets under your skin and stays with you. I found myself constantly thinking about the plot and the wonderful characters and setting that became familiar and comfortable. The best feeling when reading a series is wishing that the world of the book is the one you lived in, and I experienced a lot of that feeling while reading Shadow and Bone. I am a very analytical reader, but I did not care about the writing simplicity because this was such a good story. This book has it all-- romance, magic, a touch of a dystopian world, friendship, and fantasy. I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys any of those genres and someone looking for a gentle introduction into the fantasy genre-- a genre filled with so many universes and powers and creatures that it is easy to get overwhelmed finding what is really worth reading.

Shadow and Bone is a highly enjoyable book filled with great, layered characters and a delightful magical world. I look forward to reading more of Leigh Bardugo's books.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Allie

Book Review: The Maze Runner

The Maze Runner
Author: 
Dashner, James
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The young adult book genre for the most part fells boring and stale to me. However, there was one book that I found to be great, and a real page turner, it was called Maze Runner. The book took me two days to finish, because it was such a page turner. The characters are great, the mystery is intriguing, and the drama is fun to read about. This book is one of my favorites and is a must read for everyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKinley

Book Review: Eragon

Eragon
Author: 
Paolini, Christopher
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Eragon is one of the best books I have read in a long time. The story and its characters drew me into this new and existing world. The author also made me want to learn more about the world history and culture. While the story was somewhat like Star Wars, it had enough new elements to make it different. This book will leave a lasting impression on anyone who loves fantasy or for people looking for an adventurous book to read.

Reviewer's Name: 
McKinley

Book Review: Fablehaven

Fablehaven
Author: 
Mull, Brandon
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

This book has you reading it and asking, what the heck is going on? The more you read it, the more you find out and the more you want to find out. Brandon has built a fun, magical world with this book, and it is so easy to get lost in it. I read it and fell in love with the characters and all of the mystical beings. It's such a fun fantasy book, and the creatures range from cute, to beautiful, to scary, to downright murders and I love it. If you are looking for a good fantasy book definitely check this one out!

Reviewer's Name: 
Rylie

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 2

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 2
Author: 
Gotoge, Koyoharu
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

While the first volume of this wonderful series was a straightforward backstory, volume 2 presents a glimpse at what makes Demon Slayer so entertaining. The sub-plots start being developed with Tanjiro joining the Demon Slayer Corps. Much of the main cast is introduced, and the real thrill and dangers of the series are introduced. The atmosphere of the series comes out in full force during these chapters, and as just the second volume, many events are set up perfectly. Overall, I would recommend this graphic novel series to anyone continuing the series. If you are looking to get into this fantastic world, starting with the TV show or volume 1 is the way to go.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 1
Author: 
Gotoge, Koyoharu
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The first volume of Demon Slayer serves as a fantastic exposition to the main protagonist Kamado Tanjiro. It builds up his basic backstory and also sets the plot of the story. The art style and designs of the graphic novel are captivating and seeing some of the intricate foreshadowings during a reread is entertaining. As much as I love the series altogether, the introduction is rather basic and is not very innovative other than through its concept. Overall, I would recommend this volume to anyone looking for a new graphic novel or series to get invested in.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

Book Review: Six of Crows

Six of Crows
Author: 
Bardugo, Leigh
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I absolutely loved this book. The plot was amazing, and the world building was really well done. One of my favorite aspects of this book was how dynamic the characters were. While I couldn't necessarily relate to any of the struggles the characters were going through, I really appreciated the diversity and uniqueness in each of them. This book was completely unpredictable with the plot constantly taking all sorts of unexpected twists and turns. Overall, Six of Crows was one of the best books I have read all year.
Reviewer grade: 9

Reviewer's Name: 
Sage

Book Review: Robinson Crusoe

Robinson Crusoe
Author: 
Defoe, Daniel
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

Robinson Crusoe is an incredibly fun novel to read. It is a fictional autobiography about the character Robinson Crusoe and his adventures while shipwrecked on an island. While the book does use some confusing language at times, the creative results it produces are greatly entertaining. The book starts slow, however, the pacing of the book almost depicts the exact development of Crusoe through his stagnant start and then a life of adventure later on. Around a third into the book, Robinson Crusoe simply states that he would focus on only the important parts of his adventure due to his lack of ink. It is at this point where the book starts to shine, and Robinson's island survival starts to mix supernaturalism and realism. The novel does not have any super deep themes and rather opts to just tell a straightforward story, unlike many modern island survival novels that attempt to be thought-provoking. Overall, the novel was a fantastic read. I would recommend this book to any person that enjoys adventure and survival.

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

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