Tag Archives: Action

Song of Achilles (Review by Hita T. ’23)

The Song of AchillesThe Song of Achilles by Madeline Miller
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Exiled from his father’s kingdom at a young age, Patroclus, the socially awkward son of Menoitius, finds himself in Phthia, where he meets Achilles, the son of King Peleus and the sea nymph Thetis. Achilles is everything Patroclus is not; he is strong, handsome, the son of a goddess, and the pride of his father. However, in an unlikely twist of fate, their paths intertwine as Achilles befriends Patroclus and forges a bond between them. As they grow into young adults trained in warfare, medicine, and the arts, their friendship grows into something more, deeply displeasing Achilles’ mother Thetis, who despises mortals. To her, Patroclus is nothing but a stain on Achilles’ glory and fame.

Later, when Helen of Sparta, the wife of Meneleus and the most beautiful woman in the world, is kidnapped by Paris, the Greeks are summoned to protect her honor and attack Troy. Achilles follows the Greeks, driven by the idea of glory and being known as the Aristos Achaion, and Patroclus is forced to choose whether to stay behind or follow his best friend into the war. Patroclus tries to protect his friend from the prophecy that predicts Achilles’ death, but little does he know that fate has its own cruel way of claiming who it wants in the end…

Madeline Miller retells Homer’s Iliad in a way that paints the bond between Patroclus and Achilles in a different and more sensitive light. From the moment Achilles’ and Patroclus’ paths intertwine in Phthia, Miller has the reader hanging on each word as she draws one through the ups and downs of the two young mens’ strong friendship and romance.

On a more personal note, I have to say that I absolutely loved this book. I’m not a very emotional reader, but The Song Of Achilles hit me right in the feels. The pace was perfect, the characters were perfect, the plot was perfect — everything was just right. I strongly recommend this book to anyone; the reader does not have to know any mythology to read The Song Of Achilles. -Hita T.

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Nemesis (review by Sofie K ’20)

Nemesis (Project Nemesis, #1)Nemesis by Brendan Reichs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Every two years, Min dies.

It’s always the same man, time and time again. He appears sometime on her birthday, kills her, then she wakes up the next day as if nothing happened. She doesn’t know why, or what Noah, subjectively the town’s most attractive (and rich) boy, has to do with it, but it happens. On top of it all, a giant asteroid called the Anvil is threatening to destroy Earth… in like a week.

I really wanted to like this book. I hadn’t seen this premise too often before in books, so it seemed that it would live up to the hype. But it just didn’t make sense. The twists came out of nowhere (they were barely hinted at), so they felt super jarring, and the storyline with the asteroid seemed really separated from the plot. When Reichs tried to tie it all together at the end, it just felt really forced. It’s overall not a terrible plot, it just seemed disappointing compared to what it could have been.

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Foundryside (review by Anya W. ’20)

Foundryside (Founders, #1)Foundryside by Robert Jackson Bennett
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Sancia Grado is quite possibly the best thief in Tevanne. Not in the least because of what exactly the metal plate in her head can do–but it’s safer not to talk about that. She’s still not quite sure how stealing a box from one merchant house turned her into the most wanted person in Tevanne, and the only one capable of communicating with the powerful artifact that has the entire city foaming at the mouth.

Gregor Dandalo is the only living son of the family controlling another one of Tevanne’s four merchant houses and trying his best to bring order and law to the commons: the only part of the city not controlled by the merchant houses. It seems like a stroke of excellent luck when he manages to find the thief who blew up half the docks stealing from a merchant-house safe. Then, he spots the assassins and well, things get complicated.

Orso Ignacio, employee of the Dandalo merchant house, might have made a mistake when he bought an artifact from an excavation site without his employer’s permission. Especially now that the key’s been stolen and he has no hope of learning from the scrivings it contains. Hopefully, the thief Gregor has ‘arrested’ can get the key back in exchange for her freedom.

Bernice is a gifted scriver, and has no idea how she got caught up in fixing her bosses stupid mistake. At least the scenery’s nice.

Bennett’s novel is a study in intricate world-building, and he crafts a diverse cast characters, from heroes to villains to antiheroes, with compelling backstories and motivations all the while seamlessly weaves in ethical quandaries that dissect the foundations of each character. Although sometimes his writing became unnecessarily wordy, this book is an excellent starting point to a very intriguing fictional universe. My main issue is with the side characters. While some are nicely fleshed out, the background villains seem flat and evil for the sake of evil. The romance is also lacking chemistry and feels shoehorned in for no good reason, which is a shame, considering the amazing characters involved in the relationship.
-Anya W. ’20

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Powerless (The Hero Agenda, #1) by Tera Lynn Childs (review by Anya W. ’20)

Powerless (The Hero Agenda, #1)Powerless by Tera Lynn Childs
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

A mark to determine it all: a Hero, a Villain, or nothing–like Kenna, daughter of the late head of the superhero league. Kenna is sick of living life as an extra, and as the only child of Dr. Swift, the superhero league’s most loyal scientist, she has the resources to work on her project–even if it’s not technically approved. She’s determined to make her own place in the world, come hell or high water, or (hot) Villians, or shadowy conspiracies from the Heroes she reveres, or kidnapped teenagers, or friends dating on the dark side, or missing mother, or… you get the idea.

The book is good, and has great potential as part of a series, however, as a standalone, it feels like it could use some work. While Powerless‘s exposition is folded seamlessly into the storytelling, there isn’t quite enough worldbuilding. At the end of the novel, a snippet of the next book in the series reveals some crucial details that the main character would have known (and should have thought of) during her long periods of questioning everything in the first book.

The requisite YA romance is impulsive in a way that is rather out of character for Kenna. It also suffers a bit from the “guy can ignore boundaries if it is to protect the girl, because it is romantic” trope. If the main couple’s relationship is ignored, however, Powerless is an excellent story with a realistic main character (even if the others are somewhat flat), an intriguing (if somewhat rushed) plot, and strong friendships. – Anya W. ’20

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The Odyssey by Homer (review by Sachi B. ’21)

The OdysseyThe Odyssey by Homer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Written by Homer, The Odyssey, is an epic covering the journey of the hero Odysseus to reach his home, Ithaca. Odysseus constantly faces hardships due to a multitude of reasons such as the gods being against him and the urges of women to have him as a husband. Despite being gone for twenty years due to the Trojan War, he continuously perseveres to reach his home, utilizing his trickery and strength. He is heavily assisted by divine intervention from numerous gods like Athena and Hermes, allowing him to fulfill his journey. I thoroughly enjoyed the epic as Homer painted his journey in such a detailed way, making us sympathize for our hero. The only reason I gave the epic four stars was because although Homer wants Odysseus to be our hero, there were many poor decisions that Odysseus made that seemed to challenge his hero status. Overall, I would definitely recommend this epic, which gave me a wide understanding of the ancient Greek mythology. – Sachi B. ’21

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A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor (review by Fiona W. ’21)

A Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee's Guide to Saving the WorldA Highly Unlikely Scenario, or a Neetsa Pizza Employee’s Guide to Saving the World by Rachel Cantor
My rating: 1 of 5 stars

Leonard is a man who works for the international fast-food chain Neetsa Pizza’s customer support hotline. He takes his job oddly too seriously, to almost an occultish extent. One day, Leonard gets a call from a man who claims to be from the 13th century, and soon falls deep into the rabbit hole of ancient cults and time traveling.

I really wanted to like this book. The concept felt like a parody version of 1984, and I was all for it. However, the execution was just wrong. Halfway through the book, the plot began to fall apart, and by the end of it, I was completely lost. It pained me to read it all the way through, and I felt like I was just reading a random string of words rather than a coherent story. It was as if the author woke up in the middle of the night and furiously wrote out a dream she had in one go while she was still half-asleep. I’m not sure how this book got published, but it definitely serves to show authors what they shouldn’t do. – Fiona W. ’21

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A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab (review by Angela C. ’21)

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic, #1)A Darker Shade of Magic by V.E. Schwab
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are four Londons – Grey London, Red London, White London, and Black London. Kell, a Traveler, is one of the few who can move between the cities. Unfortunately, one of his hobbies lands him into a difficult predicament and he has to jump from city to city to fix the problem. He’s joined on his adventures by Delilah Bard. “Lila” is a great thief – quick on her feet, has fast, light hands, and notorious in Grey London. All of this changes when she accidentally steals the wrong stone from the wrong man.

Add in a charming prince, a towering castle, a handful of kings and queens, an Enthusiast named Neil, and several royal guards and there’s a perfect story for almost anyone!

I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about magic and needs some entertainment during the school year! – Angela C. ’21

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11/22/63 by Stephen King (review by Simar B. ’20)

11/22/6311/22/63 by Stephen King
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

11/22/63 by Stephen King is a novel about Jake Epping, a high school English teacher, who travels back in time to try to save President John F. Kennedy’s life. He meets his friend Al Templeton who tells him that he has discovered a way to go back in time. However, Al is dying, and he entrusts Jake to fulfill his life mission to save President Kennedy, thinking that the world would be much better off had Kennedy survived. Jake is apprehensive but takes on Al’s mission and travels back into 1958. Jake bides his time for three years, slowly making his way to Dallas to stop the assassination. Unfortunately, time also moves on sluggishly for the reader, and it is quite difficult to not put the book aside because it drags on and on. The gist of 1000 pages is Jake bets a lot of money to sustain himself, stalks Oswald for a year, and falls in love with Sadie, a librarian in the school he teaches. It does not feel like a novel, but it feels like a biography of the fictional Jake Epping. Despite all this, the book picks up towards the end. Overall, I enjoyed this book only because of how it ended, but the casual reader might not enjoy it.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer (review by Prameela K. ’19)

HeartlessHeartless by Marissa Meyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

As a fan of Marissa Meyer and her science fiction fantasy Lunar Chronicles series, I was eager to read her standalone debut. Once I learned that Heartless was a fairy tale origin story with a Victorian setting, my anticipation only heightened. A fantasy period novel based on Alice in Wonderland? Count me in.

Heartless draws upon many aspects of Lewis Carroll’s whimsical world in Meyer’s re-imagination of the Kingdom of Hearts, where Wonderlandesque oddities and the social constructs of Victorian-era England intermingle to create a setting equally strange and captivating.

At the center is Catherine, a teenage girl with big dreams and an even bigger heart. Unlike many young adult protagonists, she is not overbearing or infuriating, and her kindness is admirable. She is a lover of all things sweet, and her aspiration in life is to open up a bakery–but her parents have different plans for her and aim to consolidate her marriage to the foolish, and incredibly annoying, King of Hearts.

Oh, but of course, there is a love interest: Jest, the roguish and devilishly handsome court jester. He has a mysteriously magical past and the obscurity of his identity may be frustrating at times, but he makes up for it with his humor and charm. He and Cath have instant chemistry and their interactions are chock-full of witty repartee. Oh, and do not forget Jest’s equally mysterious raven, who is reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe’s famous poem and only speaks in, well, poetry. Jest is also a friend of the famed Hatter, who was really quite a hunk back in the day — before he went mad and all.

Because Cath starts out as a well-rounded character with a strong sense of right and wrong, there is little room for moral development. Instead, Meyer focuses on her progression from being an aspiring young baker to being the Queen of Hearts. The plot is filled with twists and turns as Catherine embarks on a journey to fulfill her goals and discover who she truly is. While the novel has its fair share of romance, the action is what truly captivated me–Cath’s bravery shines through when it matters the most.

At points, the plot progresses slowly, but as the page count dwindled I found myself more and more enthralled in the characters’ fates. Whopping revelations, nail-biting action sequences, and heart-wrenching plot twists combine to form a stress-inducing final 100 pages that culminate in an ending that is, at first, shocking. But after a few days of deep thinking, I realized that the plot had really been going in that direction all along, and one of the main reasons why Heartless made such a strong impression. – Prameela K. ’19

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The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater (review by Emily C. ’18)

The Scorpio RacesThe Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

At the beginning of each November, riders on the tiny island of Thisby attempt to capture and gain control of spirited water horses in a deadly contest: the Scorpio Races. From this fierce battle of horsemanship and grudges two particular individuals emerge–Sean Kendrick and Puck Connolly. Though they ride for different reasons, when their paths cross an unlikely bond is formed. However, the issues Sean and Puck face are not limited to survival in this perilous competition; Stiefvater weaves a web of emotional and practical intricacies that range from sexism to finance to hostile and dangerous schemes. Maggie Stiefvater outdoes herself once again with a singular legend-inspired plot, well-developed characters, and touches of heartwarming loyalty and devotion.

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