Tag Archives: Hero’s Journey

This Tender Land by William Kent Krueger (Review by Alysa S. ’22)

This Tender LandThis Tender Land by William Kent Krueger
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

This book made me smile and frown and laugh at all the right times. I loved the protagonist Odie’s character development from the moment he undertook a journey of escape towards a better future to the day he returned home, and I also greatly enjoyed the incredibly strong theme of friendship present between the four main characters on the journey.

This Tender Land begins in the rural countryside of Minnesota, and I especially appreciate the author’s accurate historical representation of the Great Depression Era and its socioeconomic effects on the various demographics that we encounter throughout the journey. Although Odie is the main focus of the book, I enjoyed the visibly significant growth of each of the four characters. I think what made this book such a feel-good read was Odie’s relatability as a protagonist: he’s clearly unsure of himself and shoulders immense responsibilities at a young age, but his resilience and inherently caring nature cause me to gravitate towards his character and admire both his strengths and weaknesses.

Though This Tender Land seems occasionally juvenile in its storytelling (understandable from the young protagonist’s POV), for anyone who wants to experience an epic, cross-country adventure while learning a bit of 1930’s history through the eyes of a teenage vagabond stepping into the role of a young adult, this coming-of-age tale proves to be a satisfactory read. —Review by Alysa S. ’22

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Carry On by Rainbow Rowell (Review by Emily M. ’24)

Carry On (Simon Snow, #1)Carry On by Rainbow Rowell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Carry On by Rainbow Rowell tells the story of Simon Snow and Baz Pitch—roommates for seven years, instant enemies, and living at the Watford School of Magicks. There is a war happening in the World of Mages between the old families, the Mage, and an entity called the Humdrum. Simon and Baz must decide who to fight for. This book technically counts as a sequel. The characters are originally from the world of a fanfiction written by the main character in another Rainbow Rowell novel called Fangirl. I did not read Fangirl before reading this, but I found no issues in understanding the plot. The author develops the characters perfectly, and the plot of the story is paced well and leads up to a stunning conclusion. I was pleasantly surprised, and I absolutely loved both Baz and Simon and how their relationship plays out by the end of the novel. Carry On has a sequel out now, and it is planned to become a trilogy soon. Readers of Harry Potter will love this new magical world. —Review by Emily M. ’24

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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Bone GapBone Gap by Laura Ruby
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap, while almost effortlessly unique in its setting and characters, too often gets bogged down in the tropes of other genres—especially star-crossed romance and magical realism—to feel entirely convincing or satisfying by the last page. The rural Illinois town that protagonists Finn and Roza inhabit is summed up in consistent, symbolic motifs, which Ruby invokes whenever possible: bees, cornfields, gossip, and (most effectively) the “gaps” of the title. As successful as these images are, other aspects of the novel fall flat, ultimately distracting readers from the complexity of the setting. Classic scenes of teenage social cruelty, for instance, feel painfully out-of-sync with a rural setting that is otherwise frozen in the past, and incessant references to Craig Thompson’s graphic novel Blankets quickly grow stale—especially since Ruby seems oddly reluctant to refer to that novel by name. Perhaps most disappointing are the author’s halfhearted attempts at magical realism in certain scenes, which more frequently reek of coincidence than true enchantment. Roza and Finn’s shared story has plenty to commend it, especially to fans of less traditional YA fiction, but its restless shifting between disjunct genres rendered it difficult both to follow and to enjoy. – Andrew R. ’17

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Allegiant by Veronica Roth (review by Eddie S. ’17)

Allegiant (Divergent, #3)Allegiant by Veronica Roth
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Allegiant, the third and final installment of Veronica Roth’s critically acclaimed Divergent series, takes off immediately where the second book left off, providing readers with an effortless transition. Readers and characters alike are forced to cope and adapt to some new circumstances, however. Previously, as the factions are rendered merely a scheme, a newer, larger setting is introduced. In addition to the plot shift, alongside Tris’s love interest Tobias Eaton shares narration. Roth cleverly makes this change in order to provide further insight into their relationship and the individual development of the two protagonists. Truthfully, the genuine beauty of this book lies in the bold, visceral outcome of the story. Filled with raw, intense emotion, virtually no one is left unscathed, and the ending is bound to elicit acute feelings and startle readers. Roth alters several concepts in terms of narrative, develops the prevalent relationships and themes, and wraps up the story with a stirring ending, ultimately providing readers with a riveting finish to the trilogy that does not disappoint. – Eddie S. ‘17

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The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan (review by Nikita R. ’16)

The Sea of Monsters (Percy Jackson and the Olympians, #2)The Sea of Monsters by Rick Riordan
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Thirteen-year-old Percy Jackson is once again brought into a world full of danger and uncertainty when he undertakes a dangerous quest to rescue his best friend Grover from a vulgar, monstrous Cyclops. Traveling with his half-brother Tyson and his comrade Annabeth, the trio experiences a lifetime of adventures as they encounter the mythological foes of legends, from the cunning sorceress Circe to the fearsome monster Charybdis. Full of engrossing, distinct characters, the strongest point of Sea of Monsters is the rich, humorous dialogue that reveals a phenomenal level of characterization, while also making the reader chuckle. Riordan’s world of mythological wonder mixed with relatable personal struggle makes this novel a must-read for teenagers and adults alike. – Nikita R. ’16

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