Fantasy

Book Review: Tales of Falling and Flying

Tales of Falling and Flying
Author: 
Loory, Ben
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

This book is a compilation of short stories, which are filled with humorous tales and great short stories. I personally really liked this book because of how every story was a perfect duration. I often find it hard to commit to a book for more than a week, with this book, I was constantly entertained by the fun theme of all the stories. If you're looking for a great compilation of bed time stories, or just don't have the time to commit to a long chapter book, this book is perfect for you. If you are looking for one great story to start the adventure, my favorite was The Squid Who Fell in Love With The Sun.

Reviewer Grade: 8

Reviewer's Name: 
Kyle Y

Book Review: Lies

Lies
Author: 
Grant, Michael
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Michael Grant continues his dystopian world of the Gone Series in this epic third novel. The world of the FAYZ falls apart even further as the war between Zil's Human Crew and the Freaks continues. Adding to the mix is Caine and his crew who search the islands for food. Finally, Sam's worst fear comes back to life, Drake. Is it just a figment of his imagination, or could the demon really have returned? Lies is full of twists and turns. Grant shows us that everything is never as it seems.

Reviewer's Name: 
John B

Book Review: The Book of Three

The Book of Three
Author: 
Alexander, Lloyd
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

With assistant pig keeper, Taran looking through the forrest for Henwen, a speaking pig that can predict the future, Taran makes friends and enemies along the way of this incredible journey. Eilonwy and her sarcastic comments, Gurgi with his crunchings and munchings, Fflewdurr Fflam and his lying harp, and Doli who was forced to come along a guide, these friends fight off gangs and monsters while trying to find this special pig. When they meet the Horned King, who will come out victorious? With this book pulling you in with its funny and relatable characters, I encourage readers of all ages to dive into this wonderful journey with Taran.

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: Steelheart

Steelheart
Author: 
Sanderson, Brandon
Rating: 
5 stars = Bohemian Rhapsody Awesome!
Review: 

With this book full of action and suspense, Brandon Sanderson incorporates sci-fi with drama and it comes together like a peanut butter jelly sandwich with milk. In a world of superhuman beings called Epics, David, an orphan living in Chicago, tries to survive where Epics roam rampant. Steelheart, the tyrant, controls all Epics and every part of the city; water, light, and law enforcement. The only part that isn’t controlled is the Reckoners who try to take out every Epic while being anonymous and secret. David, inspired by the Reckoners, soon finds himself part of the battle against the Epics. With this action-packed thriller, will David and the Reckoners take back Chicago or will the Epics be victorious?

Reviewer Age: 15

Reviewer's Name: 
Aiden F

Book Review: The Sorcerer in the North

The Sorcerer in the North
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Will, now a fully trained Ranger, is embarking on an adventure with his childhood friend, Alyss. He is tasked to investigate a castle in the North when the Lord Syron is faced with an unknown and unexpected illness. As he and Alyss investigate, they find out more mysteries and sorceries. Will is then faced with trying to find out everything about everyone, whether they are traitors or supporters of Will and Araluen. His ultimate decision is to choose between the mission or to help Alyss, as she becomes a hostage.

The Sorcerer of the North takes away the obsolete story of Halt and Will.
Instead, it takes an approach to one of Will's childhood friends, bringing a new perspective to the table.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Battle for Skandia

The Battle for Skandia
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Continuing off from the Icebound Land, Will and Evanlyn were still captured by slaves. Will, addicted to a warmweed, has no personal thoughts, and the only thing he can think of is working without complaining. Working in the Skandian city, Halt discovers that the Temujain city is attacking Skandia and the Kingdom of Araluen.

The Battle for Skandia takes a different approach from the constant fight for Araluen. It brings in a variety of other characters that keeps the interest and universe of Ranger's Apprentice.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Icebound Land

The Icebound Land
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The Icebound Land is a direct continuation from The Burning Bridge. It starts as Will and his new partner, Evanlyn, do whatever they can to survive as they are captured as slaves under Lord Morgarath. Whilst this happens, Halt defies his King and the Ranger Corps to save Will. Joined by Horace, the two continue across to do whatever they can to help Will and Evanlyn to safety.

The Icebound Land is an extremely enjoyable story, bringing a different perspective on the characters. It has a development arc for Halt, as he is seemed to be attached to Will as a father figure. Will is demonstrated to not be a perfect hero/protagonist, as he is still undergoing his training.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Burning Bridge

The Burning Bridge
Author: 
Flanagan, John
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

The second installment of Ranger's Apprentice, The Burning Bridge continues the story of the young Ranger, Will and his master, Halt. In the everlasting Kingdom of Araluen, the people are safe from the enemies of Morgarath.
However, Will, Halt, and their companion, Horace, is sent to the neighboring city of Celtica to uncover disturbing truths that have passed by, and ongoing to the Kingdom of Araluen.

The Burning Bridge is a step-up from the previous book, The Ruins of Gorlan.
The Burning Bridge offers more to the story, with a deeper dive into the characters and their reactions. The story continues to move on, allowing for the characters to have a relative and in-depth behavior.

Reviewer Grade: 11

Reviewer's Name: 
Nam T

Book Review: The Fifth Season

The Fifth Season
Author: 
Jemisin, N. K.
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

It’s been a while since I’ve read a fantasy book with such a unique magic system in place. I truly enjoyed the amount of thought that went into a world where the main source of power was that of the earth itself. From magma to solid obelisks, the ability to control the vibrations of the planet (either to amplify or dampen) had an interesting and logical follow-through in its characters and storyline. I’m honestly looking forward to eventually starting the next book in the series since the world was built so well. It’s no wonder that it ended up winning the Hugo Award for that year.

While I suppose The Fifth Season is also partly a pseudo-post-apocalypse story, it was only shown in small snippets and references here and there. Consequently, this would make this story almost “modern fantasy” in comparison to some of the classics. Additionally, this would explain some of the character elements added with little to no explanation or relevance to the plot. It sometimes seems like the sexual encounters and fluid genders of these characters are included o merely hit a checkbox of “inclusivity.” Sure, people who relate to these characters feel like their represented, but if these traits don’t affect the plot, then it doesn’t matter about their sexuality at all.

I also found the bold choice of second-person POV to be a bit jarring when it spliced in the more traditional third-person narrative. Initially, I thought these segments were striking in the way that it pulled me into the story. That was until I was given a name and a purpose and any number of other traits that made the “you” in the story into a character that was basically repeated throughout. I get how these different characters interacted to tell a much broader story (which is again, part of the book’s strength) I just didn’t care for the reader’s identity to be given to them via the second person POV.

A uniquely written and crafted fantasy with one or two minor flaws, I give The Fifth Season 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

Book Review: The Waste Lands

The Waste Lands
Author: 
King, Stephen
Rating: 
4 stars = Really Good
Review: 

Before I got into reading the Dark Tower series, I saw the movie adaptation. It’s honestly what inspired me to get into the books. While I was a little disappointed with The Gunslinger , The Drawing of the Three showed me the series’ true potential. Moving on from my favorite book in the series, we have The Waste Lands. It's sort of a mash-up of the two earlier books in terms of characters and plot points. However, it's ultimately less than the sum of their parts (and that’s mostly due to the ending). What strikes me with The Waste Lands is how it could have been better than it was.

Those who have seen the movie version of The Dark Tower will recognize a lot of scenes, if not a huge chunk of them. I can see why they cut the two most interesting characters from the film, especially since everyone ends up splitting off to go on their own journeys almost as soon as everyone finally comes together. And while I did appreciate the weird “robot animals” and the riddle motif, I was ultimately frustrated that this core group of four characters didn’t have more time to show what their inter-personal dynamic would evolve into.

At the very least, the strength of the overall series and the thorough and vivid descriptions of this fantasy world were enough to overcome my misgivings about this book. It’s still well done on a technical level, even if some of its better moments are likely to be explored in future volumes. The cliffhanger ending was a bit of a bummer, though, especially since it might be a while before I can get the next book in the series from my library any time soon. I’ll still read it eventually, though, if for no other reason than to see how these characters fare in their travels.

A great book with some wasted potential, I give The Waste Lands 4.0 stars out of 5.

Reviewer's Name: 
Benjamin W.

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