Tag Archives: Witty

The House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune (Review by James B. ’24)

The House in the Cerulean SeaThe House in the Cerulean Sea by T.J. Klune
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

T.J. Klune’s The House in the Cerulean Sea is a comforting tale of an orphanage for magical children, although it isn’t an orphanage because no one goes there to adopt. What initially appears to be a light-hearted criticism of the corporate machine becomes a bright story of found family and finding your place in a world who would very much not like you around.

Most remarkable about the book is the ease with which it builds the world around the story. From only the first few pages you already know that this is a world in which magical creatures are not uncommon, but oppressed. Magical children are abandoned in “orphanages” overseen by a corporate giant. Our protagonist is Linus Baker, a caseworker at DICOMY given a top secret case by the Extremely Upper Management. It is on this case that Linus meets Arthur Parnassus, the Headmaster of an orphanage housing the six-year-old anti-christ, Lucy. It is this boy as well as many others that, despite the fact that they aren’t human, teach Linus about humanity.

I very much enjoyed this book, although I was under the incorrect pretense that it was a Queer romance first and adventure second. The romance is there, but it is far overshadowed by the odd but lovable found-family and delve into everyday oppression. Each child earns their own heart-warming spotlight, and as V. E. Schwab’s testimony on the cover says, it is indeed like being wrapped in a big gay blanket.

I don’t have any specific complaints about the book, as I’m aware that I went into it with the wrong idea of what it would be, so keep in mind that while there are elements of romance, I would not call it a romance. Either way, it’s a very fun title to add to your shelf and the characters are extremely well-done. Even though I found it underwhelming, I will be reading more T. J. Klune in the future because I fell in love with his style. —Review by James B. ’24

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Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (review by Anya W. ’20)

Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda (Simonverse, #1)Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I’d looked at this book a few times before, and rejected it because the summary seemed a bit flat, but then the release of the film rekindled my interest, and I was thrilled to find the novel on overdrive. Once I finally got to reading it I did not regret my decision.

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda, is sweet romance shaken up with a healthy dose of teen angst and youthful irresponsibility. Abertalli tells a tale of staying in, coming out, and ultimately finding oneself. It was a great read for a sunny day. -Anya W. ’20

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Nietzsche and the ‘Burbs (review by Sophia G. ’21)

Nietzsche and the BurbsNietzsche and the Burbs by Lars Iyer
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I just finished the book Nietzsche and the ‘Burbs by Lars Iyer. Overall I enjoyed it, however, sometimes the main characters were far too edgy for me. They often lament life rather than embrace it, rejecting the concept of amor fati that the real Nietzsche held so close to heart. The book is about a suburbian band of British misfits who try and make music to escape their boring lives as well as adventuring to entertain themselves. Most of the plot points, relationships, parties, whatever, are pretty normal for the YA genre, however I find they are handled with far more poetic prose. If you enjoy long flowing sentences and sardonic humor as I do, then you probably will like this book. If you aren’t a fan of some what emo main characters, I would avoid. Overall, it’s a well written and very original look at the coming of age genre, with some lovely turns and twists. -Sophia G. ’21

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World and Town by Gish Jen (review by Andrew R. ’17)

World and TownWorld and Town by Gish Jen
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Gish Jen is a wittier Amy Tan: her novels and stories, usually told through the perspective of first- or second-generation Chinese immigrants to America, fearlessly tackle religious issues, the mystery of death, and the folly of American culture, all without forsaken the signature lightness and incisiveness of her prose. World and Town is split into five narrative sections. One follows Sophy Chung, the daughter of Cambodian immigrants, who takes refuge in fundamentalist Christianity to escape her past sins; another follows Everett, the scorned and scornful backwoods lover of a born-again evangelist. The majority of the book, though, is from the perspective of Hattie (Hăi dì) Kong, an aging immigrant whose existence in the Southern town of Riverlake is somehow more American than any of its native inhabitants. As Hattie struggles with her religion and heritage (and messes with those of her neighbors—she can’t help herself), Riverlake becomes so vivid and complex that it feels as real as life to the reader, and sometimes realer. While Sophy’s and Everett’s narrative voices were not always convincing, World and Town was as a whole engaging, even addictive. Strongly recommended for readers who enjoy having their beliefs challenged and their prejudices called out. – Andrew R. ’17

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The Return of Jeeves by P.G. Wodehouse (review by Andrew R. ’17)

The Return of Jeeves: A Jeeves and Bertie NovelThe Return of Jeeves: A Jeeves and Bertie Novel by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

These days, nearly half a century after the death of P. G. Wodehouse and twice that long since his first books were published, readers tend to remember only one subset of his canon: the Jeeves and Wooster novels, which follow bumbling young aristocrat Bertie and his suave, brilliant butler Jeeves as they dodge the salvos of undesirable jobs (and occasional death threats) hurled at them by Bertie’s overbearing aunts. Well, Wodehouse is worthy of plenty of complimentary adjectives—he’s witty, endearing, and well-paced, to start—but “versatile” isn’t one of them. In The Return of Jeeves, Bertie is off on vacation, so Jeeves has been left to take care of Bill Towcester (pronounced “Toaster”), a bumbling young aristocrat with overbearing female relatives. Sound familiar? And yet, despite the fact that nothing in the plot marks a radical departure from the Jeeves and Wooster pattern, the narrative feels uncomfortable and clunky, more like a Wodehouse impersonator than Wodehouse himself. The humorist is exceedingly good at toying with the same characters in the same situations and same settings, but, as I was disappointed to discover, he has trouble with even the slightest variations on his trademark theme. – Andrew R. ’17

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Cabbages and Kings by O. Henry (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Cabbages and KingsCabbages and Kings by O. Henry
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

You’ve probably heard of O. Henry, the early twentieth-century American author of countless humorous short stories. And the phrase “cabbages and kings” will ring a bell to anyone who’s familiar with Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poems. (One of his most famous, “The Walrus and the Carpenter,” promises to tell the story of “shoes and ships and sealing-wax / And cabbages and kings.”) But you’ve almost certainly never heard them in combination, since Henry’s collection of closely interrelated short stories has not had nearly as much staying power since its 1904 publication as, for instance, “The Ransom of Red Chief” or “The Gift of the Magi” From barbers and tintypists (a hopelessly outdated profession) to diplomats and politicians, ninety percent of the characters populating the stories’ setting, a fictional South American village called Coralio, are American; Henry seeks to satirize supposedly autonomous twentieth-century Caribbean states, whose kings, in reality, had about as much power as cabbages. Cabbages and Kings, like the nonsensical poem that inspired it, doesn’t have much to offer beyond the mildly amusing nonsense of its stories, but any O. Henry fans are still welcome to seek it out on the Harker Library’s Overdrive page in the Project Gutenberg section. – Andrew R. ’17

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Aunts Aren’t Gentleman b P.G. Wodehouse (review by Andrew R. ’17)

Aunts Aren't Gentlemen (Jeeves, #15)Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen by P.G. Wodehouse
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen, Bertie Wooster and his butler Jeeves, the heroes of fourteen preceding Jeeves and Wooster novels, find themselves embroiled (as usual) in several ridiculous conflicts, all thanks to the meddling of Bertie’s overbearing Aunt Dahlia (also as usual). Not only does Aunt Dahlia want Bertie to sabotage a horse-race so she can beat her rivals in a bet, she also wants him to kidnap a cad from under the nose of one of his many ex-fiancées, Vanessa Cook—who, incidentally, is currently engaged to a brawny Communist with a violent temper who is all too eager to turn Bertie inside out if he catches him in the same room as his lover. Anyone who’s enjoyed more than one or two Wodehouse novels will have noticed that they all follow the same formula; the author discovered early on that mixing one aunt, one fumbling narrator, two to three marriage proposals, and at least five aggressive, beefy rivals will always result in comedy. But even though Aunts Aren’t Gentlemen is nothing new, it showcases Wodehouse’s signature wit and cheekiness—and, in the end, isn’t that all that really matters in a Jeeves and Wooster novel? – Andrew R. ‘17

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The Trials of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell (review by Monica K. ’14)

The Trials of Renegade X (Renegade X, #2)The Trials of Renegade X by Chelsea M. Campbell
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

The Trials of Renegade X by Chelsea Campbell continues soon after the first novel left off, as Damien tries to become a full hero. Obstacles include his snarky personality, a girlfriend at Vilmore, and an emerging villainous superpower. Having the same themes as the first book, the sequel emphasizes family relationships and the letterism of Golden City society. The narration also retains Damien’s witty voice and many elements from the first. Towards the end some plot points were a bit too familiar, but overall the story was clever, fun, and heartwarming. Fans of The Rise of Renegade X would definitely enjoy the sequel. – Monica K. ‘14

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I am the Messenger by Markus Zusak (review by Elisabeth S. 17)

I Am the MessengerI Am the Messenger by Markus Zusak
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I Am the Messenger is an idiosyncratic, heartwarming novel that is, in most stores, marketed wrongly in the young adult section–this is a novel that should be read and cherished by adolescents and adults alike for its brilliance and quiet, universal lessons. Ed Kennedy is a young cabdriver with no real aspirations and a muted existence in his apartment with his loyal, omnivorous dog The Doorman and his few friends he plays cards with every now and then. After managing to stall a bank robbery by chance, he is sent the first card in the mail, an ace of diamonds, from an unknown benefactor. The card contains three addresses, three messages that he has to send. And thus, he becomes “the messenger,” and the reader is taken for a thrill ride through the Australian suburbs. Full of love, laughter, and ironic life lessons, I I Am the Messenger refuses to be put down after being picked up. Ed Kennedy’s wry voice serves as an excellently readable narrator for the story, and the reader also gets to see Ed develop as he experiences each message that he delivers in his own way. This book is highly recommended for readers of all genres and all ages teen and up. – Elisabeth S. ‘16

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The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde (review by Mr. Silk, Harker teacher)

The Eyre Affair (Thursday Next #1)The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Have you ever wondered if what’s happening in a book is real, or just going on in your mind? Jasper Fforde answers that question with the first in a continuing series of books that effortlessly blend together science fiction, mystery, and comedy. Set in an alternate reality (our world with subtle changes) the story follows Thursday Next as she moves into and out of fiction – specifically the novel Jane Eyre. If you are a Jane Eyre fan you need to read this book immediately! But if you are a fan of clever dialogue and intriguing plot twists, you will find The Eyre Affair, and the rest of the series, extremely enjoyable. Mr. Silk, Harker teacher

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