Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Tolog Review: The Outsiders

The Outsiders
by S.E. Hinton
reviewed by Margaret Gervais

The Outsiders is a novel that takes place in a matter of 14 days. The Outsiders is about a 14 year-old young greaser, a young man of the east side, named Ponyboy Curtis. His life starts off with both of his parent’s dead and his two older brothers trying to keep a steady family going. They live on the poor side of town and their rivals the socs or the socials that are the rich kids. Pony is the main character of this book and he is a very thoughtful child. He loves to go to the movies and be on his own, although that’s not always a good thing. The socs brawl with Pony and he gets a little freaked. This is what we hear for the rest of the book into great detail. The rivalries of these two groups need no prevention. The senseless violent goes on and we see greasers getting deeper long lasting injuries. Pony deals with the traumatizing matter and deals with some frustration. He is important to a lot of lives in the town that he lives in and it hurt many peoples’ lives when he got badly injured for the last time. Pony is like a mirror of the author S.E Hinton. I think that it was hard for the author to write for all the older brothers who are tough, hard and not as caring for their younger siblings. Without Dally, Pony’s eldest brother I think Pony wouldn’t get as hurt mentally and physically.   

Tolog Review: Looking for Alaska

Looking for Alaska
by John Green
reviewed by Jacqueline Gevorgian

After the going-away party his mother threw him and seeing the small, hot room he had to dorm in, Miles Halter was already dreading the school year. This must-read takes you through Miles’s experience at his new boarding school. The-completely-fascinated-by-last-words, Miles Halter finds some new friends, Colonel, Takumi, and Alaska. In his book Looking for Alaska John Green writes about an extremely unique high school experience for these three friends. 

From the moment he met her, Miles, now nicknamed “Pudge” begins to fall for Alaska, to him she was the prettiest girl he had ever seen. Pudge absolutely loved everything about her, how she smelled of cigarettes and vanilla, her mysteriousness and her desire to live in the moment. Alaska teaches Pudge everything she knows. Pudge learns about everything from smoking to sex from her. These three new friends stick together through everything. During their years at The Culver Creek Boarding School they drink together, prank together and fail together. While the year slowly goes by, Pudge meets Lara, who begins to fall for him. While Pudge is in love with Alaska, he knows that Alaska has a boyfriend and begins to fall for Lara. Unexpectedly, after a night of drinking, everything seems to be going great until the next day when Alaska is missing.

John Green completely illustrates the bare truth of teenage life, relationships and disobedience. In this book everything is exposed, he writes the truth as it is showcasing mystery, truth and love. In my opinion Looking for Alaska is one of the most touching books I have ever read, I highly recommend it.

Monday, March 30, 2015

Tolog Review: The Book of Life

The Book of Life
by Deborah Harkness
reviewed by Morgan Claire Close

Have you read a book about vampires? Have you read a book about wizards and witches? Well if you have put all you think you know about them away, because this story isn’t like those stories. The witches and vampires aren’t anything like you might read in the young adult novels. The witches and wizards aren’t like the ones you might read in Harry Potter. The vampires don’t sparkle like they do in the Twilight Sage, and they aren’t anything like Dracula. The Book of Life, the third book in the Discovery of Witches series, by Deborah Harkness is a thrilling love story between to unexpected lovers. 

The two main characters in this story are Diana Bishop, a powerful witch, and Matthew de Clermont, a fifteen hundred year old vampire. They have been on a long journey together since the first book, Discovery of Witches, when they first met. Then their journey took an unexpected turn into the past in the second book, Shadow of Night, but you will have to read those to find out what I mean. But in this part of their journey together so many unexpected turns happen, and when something bad can happen, it usually does. 

This book starts out with Matthew and Diana coming back to the present. They are recently married, which is a problem in itself because creatures aren’t supposed to mix and get married, and Diana just found out she is pregnant with twins, which isn’t supposed to happen. Vampires and witches can’t have children, but Diana and Matthew both have things about them that are different than the other species of creature they are apart of. Matthew has blood rage, which is a vampire disease that affects emotions and their thirst for blood, and Diana is a weaver, a creator of spells. This combination of creators, specific type of creators, is the only ones who can have children together. 

Matthew and Diana face many obstacles in their first year of marriage. The leaders of the creators, the Congregation, are mad and put different challenges in Matthew and Diana’s way. Also one of Matthew’s vampire sons, Benjamin, wants to impregnate a witch to build an army of vampire-witch children. Matthew leaves twice to fight off family and the Congregation. Another reasons that Matthew leaves is to go fight his brother to create a new scion, a new vampire family, but this one will have vampires and witches. 

Tolog Review: To Kill a Mockingbird

To Kill a Mockingbird
by Harper Lee
reviewed by Elena Melehani

In the novel, To Kill a Mockingbird, Harper Lee tells the story of a young girl named Scout and the trouble her family goes through to break down the boundaries of assumptions. To Kill a Mockingbird follows the daily life of six-year-old Scout Finch, her brother Jem, and her hardworking father, Atticus. Scout and Jem are like any other children, and are naturally curious; especially towards their reclusive neighbor Boo Radley. With Scout and Jem running amok trying to discover the truth about Boo, Atticus is juggling his own responsibilities of being a renowned lawyer. His most recent case involves that of Tom Robinson, who is a black man being accused of raping a white woman. When taking this case, Atticus already knows its predetermined fate of losing, due to the racial inequality Tom is destined to be faced with. In the end, things don’t work out as the Finch family had hoped they would, but Jem and Scout learn an important lesson from surprising source.

To Kill a Mockingbird is one of the best classic novels I have ever read, and offers a refreshing new perspective of the South in the 1930s. Scout, who is still young, does not know how segregated the black and white population is, and is confused as to why the town members look down upon her father. Even though Scout is still only six years old, she demonstrates a strong will and the courage to never give up. While the novel itself is focused on racial segregation, it also highlights the fact that presumptions about someone cannot be made based on their age, race, or even social standing. With a resolute child who fights for her family, an innocent black man who is the victim of racial profiling, and an ostracized man who silently observes rather than partakes in life, all help break down the boundaries that assumptions have enclosed them in. This is why everyone should read To Kill a Mockingbird, because no one in this novel lets assumptions stop him or her from being who they are. 

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Tolog Review: The Time Keeper

The Time Keeper
by Mitch Albom
reviewed by Morgan Sarno

Try to imagine a time in history when there was no time. That very word, “time”, did not exist during Dor’s childhood. The concept of time was an unknown variable. There was no logical understanding of how long something took or why the day turned to night. People of Dor’s time accepted the fact that the gods controlled the light and dark. Dor, however, did not succumb so easily to this idea. He was the first person to measure time, and by doing so, Dor created a domino effect that eventually lead up to our world now: a world where everything is measured exactly to the millisecond and people either want time to pass more quickly or do not have enough time. 

When Dor’s wife, Alli, who contracted a horrible disease, is in her final hour, Dor becomes outraged with the gods for taking Alli away before her time. He climbs what we know now as the Tower of Babble to reach the gods so that they could give him his wife back. As he climbs into the clouds, Dor is blinded by a light. When he awakes, he finds himself in a cave with a man in a white robe. The man castigates Dor for measuring time and condemns him to an eternity in the cave with the curse of hearing everybody’s pleas for time. The only way for Dor to escape his cacophonous cave and reach the end of his life to be with Alli is to find two people, one who wants more time and one who wants less, and convert them to value their one precious lifetime and respect the time when they must leave earth. 

Mitch Albom’s The Time Keeper makes the reader examine the way that humans treat time and deeply ponder the idea of wanting what is out of human control. Furthermore, it brings to attention the concept of appreciating the gifts that we are given and accepting death at its appropriate time. Albom is the author of the number one New York Times bestseller Tuesdays with Morrie. His other novels include The First Phone Call from Heaven, The Five People You Meet in Heaven, For One More Day, Have a Little Faith, and more.

Tolog Review: Thirteen Reasons Why

Thirteen Reasons Why
by Jay Asher
reviewed by Lauren Risha

Suicide; it’s a word that people are often afraid of. It’s a word that can cause extreme chaos or silence a room. Often we tend to shy away from acknowledging the truth of this so-called ugly word and ignore its meaning. But in his compelling novel, Thirteen Reasons Why, Jay Asher steps out of society’s comfort zone by exploring this very human tragedy and its causes. 

Asher’s story follows the metaphysical journey of Clay Jensen as he uncovers more about the suicide of his friend and long time crush, Hannah Baker. After strangely discovering a box of mixed tapes with Hannah’s voice recordings on them, Clay commences on a journey all over town to discover the real reason why Hannah took her own life. As his adventure unfolds, Clay realizes that it only takes a few small occurrences to add up to a devastating result.

The author does a great job of explaining suicide in a non-creepy way, which I thought was really valuable. The duality of perspective shown through the alternating of points of view really reveals what Hannah was feeling and why, along with how Clay reacted to each line Hannah said. The complication of Clay being Hannah’s unrequited lover pulled on my heart strings and kept me reading on; almost hoping that this hauntingly dead character would miraculously come back to life. I loved how Asher used the motif of old tapes and old tape players to demonstrate the senescence of Hannah’s feelings. 

Reading this book truly changed the way I see suicide and suicidal people. As each seemingly irrelevant event in Hannah’s life was revealed, I began to see how tiny acts of hate could snowball into a ball of hopelessness. My understanding of this thought process grew and I realized that any kind gesture, no matter how small, can stop tragedy from occurring. This novel inspired me to always keep my mind open to what people can be going through in their personal lives, and to act in a way that could only diminish suicidal thoughts. I will never forget the lessons this book has taught me, and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who loves a thought provoking read. 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Tolog Review: Uglies

by Scott Westerfeld
reviewed by Nancy Zhao 

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld, would be those books that is set in the future and is divided into different societies. However, it is not those kinds of books that you forces you into a organization because as long as you follow the process everyone ends up the same. In the novel, the book is divided into two civilizations, the ‘uglies’ and the ‘pretties’. Most of the people are born ugly because ‘anyone normal is ugly’. Thus, on your sixteenth birthday, you can get an operation, which can make you pretty and for the rest of your life is just to have fun.

Tally Youngblood, the main character, is an Ugly. She loves playing the ‘Ugly’ tricks and having fun in the Uglyville. Her best friend, Peris is older than her, which means he gets the operation before her. She promised him that before her birthday, she wouldn’t do anything silly and get the operation just like the others. During that time, she met someone new, Shay. She was a totally different Ugly, she didn’t want to get the operation like all the other ones that are dying for their 16th birthday. She believed that it is not what on the outside that’s important but the inside. In fact, because Shay ran away to Smoke a few days before her birthday, it got Tally in trouble. The people who are in authority gave her two cruelest choices, to find Shay and turn her in to them, or never get the operation and be ugly forever.

I think that the author created this society in his book because he wanted us to understand that the appearance does not matter. At the same time, I think this is a great book for teenagers to read because the characters in the book are really close to our age so we can relate to it. While I was reading the book, I could hardly put the book down because is it a really fast-paced book and it is filled with romance, adventure and friendship.

I would recommend this book to anyone because I think this book is really relatable and has many different sides to it. This book really makes you think and while reading it, it was just like a movie going on in my head because the scenes were really descriptive and a really fun book to read.