Saturday, January 12, 2013

Teen Review: The Hobbit

The Hobbit
by J. R. R. Tolkien
305 pages
Fantasy Fiction
Prequel to the
Lord of the Rings trilogy
6th grade and up
Reviewed by
Oleg Alexandrovich Tretiak,
7th grade


Thorin Oakenshield, the prince of the dwarves, and his band of twelve are hoping to take back their lost kingdom of Erebor from the dragon Smaug and help Thorin retrieve his throne as King under the Mountain. With the help of Gandalf the Grey, they search for a burglar to help them on their quest. Bilbo Baggins is the unlikely one chosen for the job, and is pulled from his comfortable Hobbit hole into a world of dangers. During their adventures, the company sees the wonders of Rivendell (where elves live), the lodgings of Beorn, and the terrors of Mirkwood. They also face many creatures, including trolls, armies of goblins, giant wolves, giant spiders (things keep getting bigger and bigger!) and the mythical dragon Smaug. Along the way, though, Bilbo finds the wicked, twisted creature named Gollum, who guards a magic golden ring that will decide the fate of Hobbiton, Erebor, Rivendell, and all of Middle Earth.


This book was amazing. The description of scenery is very lifelike and drags you into the book. The characters are well described--both their physical descriptions and the characters' personalities and emotions. Major scenes like the encounter with trolls and in the goblin mines make the story flow in an interesting way. The writing makes you feel as if you were in the shoes of the dwarves travelling across the misty mountains. One issue that I had with the book was that some scenes went by too quickly and decisions were too hastily made by the dwarves, and also some scenes went by dreadfully slowly, even though you still enjoy it because of the way Tolkien lays them out. In conclusion, if you like fantasy fiction, are a new member of the Lord of the Rings fan base, or you are just bored with bad books, I would definitely suggest this book to you!

My rating: 5 / 5

Editor's note: We already had one review of The Hobbit on this blog, but it's always interesting to see what different people think of the same book, so here's another! The cover at the top is, of course, the movie tie-in image; but it's hard to beat the original (first edition) dust jacket cover, which was actually drawn by J. R. R. Tolkien (below)! Do you see the dragon? and the lettering around the edges?

Friday, January 11, 2013

Teen Review: Steampunk / Sci Fi / Dystopia?

Mortal Engines
by Phillip Reeve
296 pages
Science Fiction
Book 1 of 4 in the
Predator Cities quartet
7th grade and up
Reviewed by:
Oleg Alexandrovich Tretiak,
7th grade


In the future, after the great nuclear disaster known as the Sixty Minute War, many cities of the new world have become Traction Cities, huge moving metal monsters always in search of other cities to pick apart and eat. The captured city is ripped apart, tier by tier, until nothing is left. Smaller cities must either run away from bigger cities or be eaten.

The protagonist of the story, Tom Natsworthy, is an orphan who has been taken in by the Guild of Historians after his parents died. He is sent down to the Gut, the place where a newly captured city is ripped apart, after London has caught a small mining city named Salthook. There he meets Thaddeus Valentine, the head of the Guild of Historians and his favorite celebrity, as well as his daughter Katherine. While they are speaking to the residents of the town as well as scavengers from the city, one of them tries to stab Valentine, but she is unsuccessful as Tom pushes her out of the way. He then chases her to the edge of a garbage chute, where she takes off the cowl she is wearing, to show a distorted, scarred face. She tells him to “… ask him what he did to Hester Shaw!” before jumping down the chute, and Tom follows after her shortly when Valentine pushes him down the pipe! After that, they both wander the wasteland trying to get back to London, while a ‘Stalker,’ one of the robotic soldiers that were used in the Sixty Minute War, chases them as ordered by the mayor of London, who has a much greater plan for London…


This book is one of the best I have ever read. I enjoy science fiction very much, and this book gave me exactly what I was expecting. The characters were well thought out, and the description of the scenery is very lifelike. The story is fascinating, and the whole idea of the book with the moving cities is original and appealing. The book drags you into the story and holds you in the moment! That is, until you finish the book. But there are three more, which I am now reading.

My rating: 4.8 / 5

Editor's note: We read this first book in the series for 6+7 Book Club. I went to Philip Reeve's blog, where I found some interesting fan art, including this video on YouTube. It was made by Julia Zhuravleva, a student at the Russian State Institute of Cinematography, and is her first effort at animation--pretty cool! She also did a lot of storyboards, including this picture below.

Monday, January 7, 2013

Book tour might come here!

But only if you VOTE!

Ever wish a big YA book tour would come to YOUR neighborhood? That's exactly what some YA authors want to do! Enter their contest to bring FIVE awesome, best-selling, award-winning authors to YOUR home town. The home town with the most votes will win a tour stop from all five at one time for an unforgettable event.

The authors are:

Marie Lu (Legend, Prodigy)
Marissa Meyer (Cinder, Scarlet)
Beth Revis (Across the Universe, A Million Suns, Shades of Earth)
Victoria Schwab (The Archived, The Near Witch)
Megan Shepherd (The Madman's Daughter)

All at once! Whoa, as Keanu would say.

But there's more! You can also win their books! Here are the details. When you fill out the entry form, be sure you put Burbank, California (don't forget the state, since there are Burbanks elsewhere), and then put "Burbank Public Library" in the "specific location" box!

Let's win this! Spread the word!