Anthem by Ayn Rand
But enough buildup! You want to know what this story is about. Equality 7-2521 has no real name. He doesn't know what he looks like nor who his parents are. He can't tell you anything about the past because it's illegal to speak of the Unmentionable Times. It's not like he knows anything about that time, anyway. And oh, the word "I" doesn't exist.
You read that right, Equality tells his story without using the word "I" because he was never taught it. Instead, he learned that everything he does is for the greater good of society. He should focus his attention on the job that the Council of Vocations assigned him. Problem is, he doesn't want to be a street-sweeper. But even having personal opinions is bad. . . at least, that's what he thought before he started questioning things.
There's so much more to this story that I don't want to give away because I encourage you guys to read it. I had to do assignments and essays for this book, and I still enjoyed reading it! For this reason, I'm giving it ★ ★ ★ ★ 4 out of 5 stars! The ending was myeh, but few books have endings that really stick with me. Don't make that stop you from reading it though! It's a fab book!
The Exchange by Graham Joyce
But if you feel that way, maybe Caz and Lucy have struck again. Their shared hobby of "The Creepy Thing" consists of breaking into the houses of sleeping strangers and hovering over their faces for 15 seconds. No robbery, no physical harm, just the thrill.
It was all fun and games until Caz was looking over old Mrs. Tranter’s face. Suddenly, the lady sat up in bed, and before the two friends could escape, Caz had a silver bracelet locked around her wrist. Needless to say, the best friends didn't stay long at that house. At first the bracelet was incapable of being opened. Somehow, Caz loses the bracelet and is left with a glowing tattoo on her wrist. She eventually finds out that the bracelet, or rather what it left behind, gave her the power to look inside people’s minds. Have a memory of a past event that you never want to mention aloud? Too bad, Caz knows about it anyway. Need to tell a small white lie? Don’t even try, Caz will be able to tell. Trouble ensues, yadda yadda yadda, a bunch of stuff that doesn’t seem necessary. She basically tries to deal with her everyday problems and the new things that emerge as a result of her new power.
Now I’m gonna go ahead and say that the ending was a big miss for me. My reasoning for that involves SPOILERS, so if you’re so inclined to read about my thoughts, highlight the blank spot below and it’ll show up! Hopefully mobile users won’t be uncontrollably spoiled:
So one of these problems that Caz faces is finding the money to remove her tattoo in order to get rid of her power. The bracelet is returned to her because of ~reasons~, and she knows that if she locks it on someone else, the power will be transferred over to them. She considers giving the bracelet to Lucy, but she can't do that to her best friend. The very last part of the book has Caz and her problematic/generally crappy boyfriend in the park. And here I am, feeling in my bones that Caz is gonna do THE THING. I was waiting for that last line to be like, “And with a click, the bracelet gleamed silver on Collin’s unsuspecting wrist. Caz did nothing more but run.” But guess what happened? Absolutely nothing of importance. Because of this. . .
I rate this book ★ ★ ★ ½ 3.5 stars out of 5. So what just ensued above was me ranting about what should’ve happened. Maybe it’s unfair of me to rate something partly because of what didn’t happen, but the key word there is “partly”. The plot of this book was reminiscent of my writing as an eleven-year-old. I don't mean the grammar or even the storytelling was horrible. Basically, it almost looked like this author did that old habit of writers where you don’t know what to make happen next in the story, so you think of something, anything to happen and you just insert it into the story. It's like a lot of the events in this book were in there just to get the story going, not to actually enhance the story. Plus, it wasn't executed all too well; it felt like nothing could be explained.
There are two different effects of not disclosing all the information to readers. It could be good, where you make the reader curious and encourage them to come up with their own theories. It's fun for everyone because it's like one big secret for a whole community. Think of fantasy worlds or crimes and mysteries. Headcanon city. On the other hand, you could just frustrate your readers cuz' like, why? Why would this happen?? How can this happen???? Low key "how did this get published?" So yeah. I think it's mild on the amount of mature stuff, so middle schoolers can probably get away with reading it. Read it if your expectations aren't as high as mine.
Girl, Interrupted by Susanna Kaysen
Susanna was suicidal at 18. Because of an attempt in 1967, she was quickly brought into McLean Hospital. Inside, the patients had personalities larger than life. The conditions of the hospital were often bad by my standards. She lived there for two years. What I was picking up in the text was that Susanna didn't deserve to stay in the hospital. She has good reasoning, too. Her diagnosis of borderline personality disorder seemed to be related to traits that many regular people have. Plus, a therapist only talked to her for twenty minutes before sending her away to the hospital. I'm not a professional, but that seems like a short amount of time to judge whether or not someone has psychological problems.
For the most part, Kaysen's stories were just interesting. There weren't any big lessons to be learned, not that one should expect any. It's only the telling of part of someone's life, after all. I found her struggles with depression haunting. Though she doesn't say so directly, her story is sort of tragic.
It's important to cultivate detachment. One way to do this to practice imagining yourself dead, or in the process of dying... Actually, it was only part of myself I wanted to kill, the part that wanted to kill herself, that dragged me into the suicide debate and made every window, kitchen implement, and subway station a rehearsal for tragedy.
Still, it wasn't the most fascinating story. As a book I'll rate it ★ ★ ★ ½ 3.5 stars out of 5. I would suggest high schoolers and up to read this book if they're interested. There are curse words, mature subjects, and some pretty graphic stuff.
To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee
Let me start by saying this book was not as bad as I expected it to be. These classic oldies are usually hated by most teenagers. It's not that we're not willing to expose ourselves to mature subjects and thought-provoking discussions, the hard truth is that most of us would rather spend our time doing something easier and more interesting. Plus, look at that cover! What high schooler looks at that and thinks, "This is going to be a good one." Yeah, we all judge books by their covers, don't even lie. And just peering inside the cover and looking at all that ~southern~ spewed out onto the page, you get sort of turned off. That sort of language and grammar can get exhausting. I mean, that's how it is for me.
Anyway, this story follows little Scout Finch in a cozy neighborhood. She lives with her brother, Jem, and her father, Atticus. Racism against blacks is most definitely present during this time. The controversy in the town is all about Atticus, a white man, defending a black man in court. Tom Robinson is accused of some pretty nasty things, but no matter what evidence Atticus brings to prove him innocent, it seems this man is hopeless. Scout is naive when it comes to these topics, so most of the time she focuses on school and the time spent with Jem and her friend, Dill. A bunch of time passes in this story and it's amazing how you can see these people develop. Not to mention so much of this novel is quote-worthy. For example:
Until I feared I would lose it, I never loved to read. One does not love breathing.
Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape.
I wanted you to see what real courage is, instead of getting the idea that courage is a man with a gun in his hand. It's when you know you're licked before you begin but you begin anyway and you see it through no matter what. You rarely win, but sometimes you do.
Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston & James D. Houston
For the longest time, she wanted nothing else but to fit in and make friends. Respect from her classmates and teachers basically required the absorption of Western ideals. However, she didn't want to disappoint her parents by abandoning her heritage. I'm a girl with parents born in the Philippines, so I relate to a lot of what Jeanne has to say. My small struggles, though, are nothing compared to hers. Her feelings of frustration and sorrow are clear to see on these pages, along with the good moments. When she was older, she visited the old camp of Manzanar that she lived in years ago. It's cool how she can move past it all considering the racism she has and will most likely continue to face. I'm glad that her accounts serve as an important yet usually forgotten part of history.
Despite that, it wasn't my favorite book. Wakatsuki told her story well but it wasn't really an interest of mine from the start. A lot of historical nonfiction isn't up my alley. I'll be giving it a ★ ★ ★ 3 stars out of 5. But if history and cultural problems fascinate you, I say go for it! Anyone can read this but I would say middle schoolers and up would have the best chances of comprehending it.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
At the same time, beforehand I was just "myeh" about it. I knew it was good for obvious reasons, but I wasn't exactly excited for it. I think my main reasoning for this was that I wasn't concerned about the events of the story happening to me. No one would ever take away all the books of the world from me and I didn't care about what could happen if someone did in an alternate universe. I wasn't interested in the possible effects of taking away books for good.
Ray Bradbury (aka one of the coolest authors ever) introduced to us this corrupt society through the eyes of Guy Montag. Guy is a fireman whose job is to create fires to burn books rather than prevent and stop fires. Use of technology is encouraged and many people are violent, fast-paced, and unsociable as a result. Guy is content with his life until he meets a teenage girl named Clarisse. She shows him what it's like to take a break from their society. She's thoughtful and observant to the point that she knows more about their surroundings than ol' Montag. That's when Guy becomes curious as to what he's destroying every day for a living. He wonders if everyone else has been teaching him lies and that maybe, books really do have some importance.
The story of Fahrenheit 451 was an interesting one, let me tell you. I was super intrigued by the differing characters and everything Guy had to deal with. I wanted nothing more than for Guy to save the books and in turn, inform his society of the truth. And you can read what happened by highlighting the space below. . .
Guy is chased down after people learn that he has been stealing books and reading them for himself. He escapes the city and meets a river clan of former citizens of the society. Though there are only a few people in the clan, there are people in places far away that are a part of their group. The people of the clan share stories with one another. Each person only knows parts of books; that way, it's more difficult for entire books to be forgotten. They welcome Guy into their group. Guy finds out that people think he was caught, so society still believes that everything is in control. Afterwards, they watch the city be bombed as a result of the ongoing war. Guy and the river clan continue to travel.
Like, what is that ending??! I wish more happened, or that there was at least a sequel. I felt for a story that explosive, it required an ending with a bang! I mean, there was a bang, just not the bang I expected nor cared for. Still, I gotta give props to the great Bradbury for his wicked storytelling and great lessons. This books earns a ★ ★ ★ ★ 4 out of 5 stars! That's not bad for my high standards! I recommend it to middle schoolers and up.
Well, that's it, guys! Six books, six reviews. . . what else could you ask for? I have so many books in my collection that I have yet to read, so stay tuned for more reviews! (I may even finish the Matched series if I reaaaaally want to.) I want to read at least one book this summer other than the ones assigned to me for school. Recommend some books in the comments if you want! Small round green vegetables!