Historical

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great Gatsby
Author: 
Fitzgerald, F. Scott
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

The Great Gatsby is likely the most commonly read book by students between middle and high school, an assigned reading that teaches students what some aspects of life were like in the 1920s and the over indulgent society that preceded the Great Depression. However, it is also a very simple book about an image obsessed man whose life in a summer is documented by a man who barely dares to call himself a friend. For all the hype surrounding The Great Gatsby, especially with a movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio, it is honestly a pretty underwhelming read. Never was I completely enraptured by the story or awestruck by any new information given by the author. It is a descent book with some interesting underlying meaning but overall I would say it is mediocre at best, certainly not a literary masterpiece to be held in prestige.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie

Book Review: The World to Come

The World to Come
Author: 
Horn, Dara
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

For lovers of art, WWII history, and philosophy, Dara Horn's "The World to Come" packs quite the punch with it's mixture of topic materials and introspection on family, religion, politics, and the concept of preservation. This book follows a family's history from before birth to the afterlife and it's attachment to a very famous painting. In terms of literary analysis, this story has some of the most vivid and interesting imagery and metaphors I have ever seen in a book. Also, it's interpretation of the Jewish afterlife is incredibly interesting, although maybe that is just because I am outside the faith. However, this book is a beautiful, sometimes gorey, piece of
literature that expanded my perspective on many aspects of global life and connection, especially the impact of war on families and time in general.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie

Book Review: The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane

The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane
Author: 
See, Lisa
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

As both a tea lover and someone who is interested in world cultures, The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane was an absolutely fascinating read. The story follows the path of a minority Chinese woman who grows up in the Yunnan province tea mountains and her journey back to someone she lost. With a focus on the fermented tea Pu' erh tea, the book details the many processes for making, aging, and steeping the highly sought after tea. I really enjoyed that the author went in depth on the tea making process, especially the Chinese traditions and culture surrounding the practice of drinking tea. Unlike any book I have read, this educational and inspiring piece of literature is a must read for any bibliophile.

Reviewer's Name: 
Maddie

Book Review: Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 3

Demon Slayer: Kimetsu no Yaiba, Volume 3
Author: 
Gotouge, Koyoharu
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Volume 3 is a perfect introduction to the real world of the demon slayers. After Tanjiro faces off against two powerful demons, we meet Zenitsu, the second main protagonist. The lore of the demon race really starts to unfold in this volume, and seeing it be almost as fleshed out as that of the Demon Slayer Corps is very intriguing. As the exposition starts to pick up the pace towards the main plot, the action and drawing are beautiful. Again, I would recommend this volume to those continuing the series. This graphic novel is relatively light and easy to get invested in, so anyone could get into it!

Reviewer's Name: 
Steven

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: 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

Book Review: Invisible Man

Book Review: Invisible Man
Author: 
Ellison, Ralph
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Ralph Ellison's Invisible Man is an essential American classic. Written in the late 1940s, it tells the story of a young African American man who moves north during the Harlem Renaissance and faces many trials as he attempts to find his place in society. This novel is a candid portrayal of life for Black Americans in the pre-Civil Rights era, exposing the hardships and prejudices that are often overlooked in retrospect but were all too real for Blacks during this time. It is honest, reflective, and blunt; often unsettling and disturbing. A central theme of Ellison's novel is the idea of blindness and how it affects identity. The protagonist is left confused and misguided as a result of the blindness of those he encounters, trying to fit into the expectations of others, until at last he realizes that he is, and has always been, "invisible" to society. With this revelation, the invisible man at last finds his own identity.

The novel recounts all of the events leading to the protagonist's discovery of his invisibility, beginning at his colored college in the south and taking the audience north to Harlem. The protagonist faces many different circumstances which reveal just how marginalized Blacks were in the United States in the 30s; each episode is a testament to the challenges faced by African Americans (even a reflection of the challenges faced by African Americans today) due to the blind discrimination of white people. Each incident faced by the invisible man is largely a reiteration of previous ones, merely taking place in different circumstances, which emphasizes his lack of identity--even his own blindness. Eventually, due to an unfortunate incident, the protagonist loses all sense of who he used to be, and this is what allows him to begin to make change--for better or worse. There are numerous violent and suggestive scenes in this novel, so I would recommend it to older, more mature teenagers.

Ellison takes his readers on a powerful, enlightening journey with Invisible Man. His compelling writing is intertwined with tragic humor and soulful undertones of blues and jazz, the backdrop for an incredibly raw and moving novel. The invisible man's story is very relevant to society today, and Ellison's messages should serve as reminders to us all. I believe every American would benefit from reading this novel at some point in their life; it illustrates such an important part of our nation's history, and that of African Americans. Ellison portrays the protagonist's emotions with such introspective depth, every conflict and thought explored in all its complexities. Invisible Man may not be a particularly fun read, but it is important and it is worthwhile.

Reviewer's Name: 
Alexa

Book Review: Great Expectations

Great Expectations
Author: 
Dickens, Charles
Rating: 
3 stars = Pretty Good
Review: 

Great Expectations is a story about a young boy, Pip. It starts off with Pip in his expected life, a Blacksmith with his Stepfather Joe. When he comes of age to be apprenticed, he is sent to a mansion to work, under the employ of a strange Miss Havisham. She flips his views upside down, while breaking his confidence in himself. He sees himself and his friends, the Commoners, as dirty and common. His hopes change as well, but are broken.
The story in this is intriguing, as well as long and dense. I personally didn't like this one, but you might.

Reviewer's Name: 
Ethan

Book Review: Anne of Green Gables

Anne of Green Gables
Author: 
Montgomery, L. M.
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

I've read this book many times, and it's always been one of my favorites. It tells the story of Anne Shirley (Anne spelt with an e, mind you) -- a spirited orphan who, by mistake, is sent to live with the old pair of siblings, Matthew and Marilla Cuthbert, on Green Gables farm in the small Canadian town of Avonlea. Anne is smart, friendly, talkative, and most of all, highly imaginative. She proves to be a handful for the Cuthberts, but overall, the friendships she develops, the scrapes she gets into, and just Anne herself are so lovely and heartwarming. I found her relatable on a profound level. While it may not be as thrilling as a fantasy, Anne of Green Gables is a classic that I would recommend to just about anyone.

Reviewer's Name: 
Elanor

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