Saturday, June 9, 2018

Book Review: Down and Across

Title: Down and Across
Author: Arvin Ahmadi
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi
Rating: 4/5 Stars

Scott was running away from home to find a saving grace that he thought would change his pattern of giving up and getting tired of everything. A professor in Washington DC believed that grit was a way to succeed. His parents were going to travel to another country for two weeks, so Scott took a bus there to talk to the professor in person and decided to stay in DC for two days. On his way to DC, he befriended a girl named Fiora. She lent Scott a stolen bike that eventually led him to meeting Fiora’s friends that kept him company in a place Scott wasn’t familiar with. Scott’s first visit with the professor ended disastrously, so Fiora convinced Scott to to try again with the influence of a lesson on grit and an explanation through a crossword puzzle. After trying again two more times, Scott became involved in a project for the professor researching grit and people that used grit as a stepladder for success. Through friendship and crossword puzzles, their friendship grew. They overcame serious problems together and stood for one another until Scott had spent the whole two weeks in DC researching grit for the professor he only wanted to talk with and had made friends that he didn’t expect to have on the trip.From now-close friends and a professor that at first rejected him, he learned many great things about grit and friendship.

“Down and Across” invites its readers to connect and relate to the characters and situations they are put in. The novel also wants to learn something from Scott and the things he went through in the book, but at the same time feels as though it's a lighthearted read for only laughs and giggles.

Saturday, April 28, 2018

Book Review: Hooper

Title: Hooper
Author: Geoff Herbach
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi

Adam Reed was adopted off the streets of Poland when he was little and was brought to America where he was raised by Renata, his new mother. He grew to love basketball, and basketball became his life. Since he didn't speak good English, he stayed quiet at school, which made him unpopular. But he kept playing basketball for his high school, and he was the best player they had. He had one true friend named Barry that waited for Adam at the end of every game to buy him McDonald's. He decided to join a program that had kids like him--that were to advanced in their basketball skills. At the program, he accidentally showed off in front of the other players and caused them not to like him. But after talking, apologizing, and working together as a team, their group became tightly knitted. When one of them was in trouble, Adam would try to get them out of it. During that time, Adam lost interest in Barry and abandoned him once and went to hang out with his basketball friends instead. But in the end, he supports both his basketball friends and school friend from trouble.

You grow to like and understand the main character as you read on. I personally felt sympathetic when something bad happened to Adam, and felt comforted when Adam overcame something. The novel really carries you through a personal journey that you feel somehow involved with.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Book Review: Solo

Title: Solo
Author: Kwame Alexander
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi

Blade was born to a rich Rock Star, Rutherford Alexander. His father was an alcoholic and ruined his career for his reckless behavior. Because of this, being Rutherford’s son meant that Blade was also that bad in some people’s eyes. Only his girlfriend knew who he truly was. Even then, they were hiding their relationship from his girlfriend’s parents. Blade truly felt as though she was the only one that could support him. When his dad ruins a song that he was going to play in front of the school it leads him to fully loath and distrust his dad. He is also pressured by his sister “Storm” to respect and forgive Rutherford. Getting Storm mad for disrespecting their dad, she reveals that he was adopted. Torn apart, he stopped playing music and decided to look for his real mother. Finding that she was doing work in Africa, he books a plane ticket. Still angry, confused, and hurt he goes to his girlfriend for a shoulder to cry on but finds that she was with another guy. Now left with nothing, he leaves for Africa. There, he goes to the village where his mom is supposed to be, but finds that she is in the mountains for some time. There in the village, he meets a girl that he falls in love with. He spends time with the villagers and enjoys his time until his dad comes to the village to spread and generosity and let the public know that he’s a good person. After him promising to build a school and helping those in the village, Blade begins to trust and start loving him again. Rutherford comes with Blade to see his mother in the mountains. Apon meeting his mother, he accepts that Rutherford is his family and that music is his life.

I loved how the book is written in poems and songs but still has a good story, meaning and many surprises. You get to understand Blade’s thoughts and raw emotions because of the wonderful writing the author gave us in the form of lyric.

Saturday, March 3, 2018

Book Review: Retribution Rails

Title: Retribution Rails
Author: Erin Bowman
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi

Synopsis: Reece Murphy was stuck in a gang ever since he was little, forced to kill and rob trains. He was called the Rose Kid among the people of the West, and had a very nasty reputation. If Reece tried to run away, he would be beaten and they would go and cut off a finger of his mom for every time he tried to run. In one unfortunate train robbing, Reece was to search a young lady for valuables, but she reacted quickly and shot Reece’s boss with a hidden pistol. They got away with all the money, but their boss was furious because of the incident with the girl. The girl, Charlotte, wanted the gang to pay for what they did, so she went to the local sheriff to handle things and to catch the gang. The sheriff caught up with the gang when they were in that town and caused havoc for the gang. During all the chaos, Reece was separated from the gang and decided that he would try to run away from them. He stole a seemingly empty carriage, but when he checked again he found Charlotte unconscious inside. Knowing that the gang would come for him, he decided that he would find who killed his boss’s brother to make up for what he did. He arrived in a city where that killer supposedly lived, but was intercepted by the gang. He met a lady that was also running away from the gang and also met with Charlotte to go into hiding. When they were in hiding, they devised a plan to kill off the gang once and for all. He killed his boss and went into hiding but kept in touch with Charlotte, who became a famous journalist and wrote of Reece’s true story.

Review: In the short summary above, there’s only a simple plot. Each character’s story and the details of the book is what make it a good read. It’s interesting to see how all the points of view of each character piece together to make a grand finale in the end.

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Magnus Chase: Ship of the Dead Book Review

Book: Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard - The Ship of the Dead
Author: Rick Riordan
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi
Rating: 3/5 Stars

Synopsis: Loki is threatening humanity by bringing by bringing his undead soldiers and giants on to the Ship of the Dead and destroying the world. So to stop this threat, Magnus Chase gathers his friends and sails off to stop Loki and the giants. On the way, Magnus finds a way to defeat Loki by challenging Loki to a contest of insulting each other until one person is defeated. By drinking Kvasir’s Mead, Magnus would be able to gain incredible knowledge to defeat Loki. So, to get info on where the Mead is, they had to defeat multiple giants and a dragon. To get the mead itself, they had to kill more giants and run away to Niflheim to finally fight Loki, with help from a friend, they survived the cold conditions for the night. Being lent skies, they quickly rushed to fight Loki and his army on the doomsday boat before he could sail out and cause the end of the world. Because of Magnus’s effort and persistence, Loki loses a close battle of insults and is returned as captive to the other Norse gods.  The gods thank Magnus and his friends and they live a happy life.

Review: The author tries to entertain the reader with outdated humor and numerous cheesy jokes. It may have worked with his earlier books, but its lost its charm. Aside from the jokes, the plot itself is the same good old story from many of Rick Riordan’s books. The main character and his/her companions are faced with numerous and large problems, and they solve it and get rewarded by the mythical gods that needed their help. The novel is good... but repetitive from all the other books the author wrote.

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Book Reviews: Long Way Down

Title: Long Way Down
Author: Jason Reynolds
Rating: 4/5 Stars
Teen Reviewer: Se Choi

Synopsis: William Holoman’s brother, Shawn, had been shot by who he knew as Riggs. Deeply inflicted by this, he was sucked in by a sadness and darkness. One of his family’s rules were to get revenge. Because of this rule, he knew he had to kill the one who shot his brother. So, with his brother’s gun, he made a plan on how to kill Riggs and how to get away with it. The next day, filled with anxiety and fear, he started to go down the elevator of his apartment to kill Riggs. As he went down each level, everyone he knew that was murdered walked in to talk about how they died and how they felt about it. They had all died because of their family’s rule, to always get revenge. That rule had caused turmoil among his family, starting a chain of unthinking spite and rage. Due to this, Will realized that he was about to murder a man who he thought killed his brother. By doing this, he would continue that chain of revenge. Finally reaching the main floor, he was left with a choice of killing or not.

Review: This novel helps realize that revenge is not always the best choice, that it only spreads hate. It also shows the main character’s emotions and thoughts well. A novel that gives a clear message and shows realistic emotions is what makes it great. The format of the book is also very interesting and intriguing.