Friday, July 26, 2013

Teen review: Adult books read by teens

A review by M.G. Lewis, ninth grade

Recently I came across a book entitled A Game of Thrones, by George R.R. Martin. It is the first in a saga of five books entitled "A Song of Ice and Fire." A Game of Thrones is a fantasy of approximately 600 pages; although I myself am in the ninth grade and read it, it is not a book I would recommend to younger audiences. There are several sexually and violently graphic scenes that may be disturbing to anyone under my own grade level. But when referring to level of difficulty, I would say it is between seventh and ninth grade.

Editor's note: As a librarian, I would definitely consider this a book (and series) written for adults. However, many teens are seeking it out, due to the popularity of the television show or simply because they like sagas and fantasy books, so we are publishing Mary Grace's review here; but her disclaimer about the sexually and violently graphic scenes should be noted!

Despite its plethora of pages, A Game of Thrones will seem like it passed by in an instant. Its smack-in-the-face plot twists will keep you on the edge of your seat; and all characters (even, in some cases, the villains) seem realistic, human, and relatable. Although the entire book is written in third-person-narrative, each chapter switches perspective. Instead of a chapter being headed with "Chapter X," its title will be the name of the character whose perspective you are reading from. Wherein other books this may be confusing and unnecessary, Martin pulls this technique off nicely. The switching from character to character not only keeps you interested, it keeps you on the edge of your seat. For example, a chapter may end with a cliffhanger; and unlike another book where the cliffhanger is resolved in the next chapter, you may have to wait anywhere from two to six chapters to get back to the character who was "hanging on their cliff."

Although it is difficult to sum up all the characters’ stories, as some take place right next to each other, while others take place thousands of leagues apart, the book is essentially about a fantasy universe where kings and queens still reign. There are several sub-plots, but the main conflict in the story involves Eddard Stark, the right hand to the king, trying to find out why the previous right hand to the king was killed. The main family the reader encounters are called the Starks, who are the readers’ cliché "good guys." When reading the book, one gets inside the head of two of the Stark daughters, the Stark mother and father, and one of the Stark sons. The reader also gets inside the heads of characters that aren’t exactly the cliché "good guys." And example would be Tyrion Lannister, the member of a noble family, and brother to the Queen. One would think him a highly regarded individual; but on the contrary, he is born a dwarf, and is looked down on (no pun intended) by noble and common man alike. Tyrion is a controversial character in the sense that one does not know if he is a "good guy" or a "bad guy." He has several traits pointing to either cliché.

Overall, what makes the story most compelling is not knowing who will reign victorious in the end. There is no set hero or protagonist, and with perspectives changing every chapter, you never know if your favorite character will make it to the next book. I would give this book a 5/5 rating; when you combine this book with the rest in its series (all of which I have taken pleasure in reading) it puts other fantasy series to shame.

Another editor's note: I completely agree with Mary Grace about the enthralling nature of this series--I have read the whole thing and am waiting impatiently for the next book!

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