Saturday, December 19, 2015

Teen Review: Sci Fi Classic

Reviewed by Mher Arutyunyan, grade 9

Fahrenheit 451, written by acclaimed author Ray Bradbury, is a stand-alone, science fiction novel depicting a dystopian society in the near future where firemen start fires instead of putting them out. In this society, books have been outlawed. They have been replaced with meaningless forms of entertainment like “Fun Parks” and vapid television programs. The protagonist of the story, Guy Montag, is a taciturn fireman whose job revolves around finding households that contain books, and burning them to the ground. Montag loves his job, at times being unable to suppress the sick smile on his face. However, everything changes when he meets Clarisse, a teenaged neighbor who teaches him that life is more than television and work. Eventually, Montag decides to take home a book from one of the houses he is tasked with burning, and his life changes forever.

Fahrenheit 451 is considered to be an incredibly influential sci-fi classic, and for good reason. Montag is an interesting character, and so is the antagonist of the story, Captain Beatty, the cryptic and stone-faced employer of Montag. Bradbury manages to pack in loads of social commentary, which perfectly complements the subject matter of the tale. It really is hard to believe that Bradbury wrote this novel in the 1950s, as the messages and themes presented in Fahrenheit 451 are more relevant now than ever with the growing trend of political correctness and censorship. The story is thrilling and action-packed, especially in the second half where Montag faces the most difficult challenge in his life. Fahrenheit 451 is a cautionary tale, warning readers of the dangers of oversimplification and the negative effects of a totalitarian government. Some of the themes in Fahrenheit 451 may be hard for young readers to grasp. For this reason, I would recommend this novel to high school students. It is also a relatively short read, coming in at 159 pages. Fahrenheit 451 is an important novel, one that will be read and loved for many years to come. It earns a perfect 5/5.

Editor's note: Here are some of the covers within which this book has appeared over its history!

As befits a classic such as this one, the library offers it as a book, an audio book, an e-book, an e-audio book, in large print, in Spanish, and we also carry the authorized graphic novel version! And for those of you reading it for school (rather than for fun, as Mher did), we also have several books of commentary about the author, the book, and the theme of censorship. Look in our catalog!

Friday, December 18, 2015

Photography Contest

You teen photographers who want to enter the 2016 PHOTOGRAPHY CONTEST at the library, listen up! The contest is EARLIER this year, and the turn-in period only lasts for TWO WEEKS, so start thinking NOW about what you want to photograph, because you need to do so during your HOLIDAY BREAK!

Due dates are Saturday, January 2 through Saturday January 16!

HERE is the ENTRY FORM with the RULES and CATEGORIES. Read this carefully so you get everything right! No time for do-overs!
Burbank Public Library Teen Page's photo.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Karaoke is tonight!

Central Library
6:30 p.m.
TEENS ONLY (grades 6-12)

Time to SING!

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Teen review: Dystopian science fiction

Reviewed by Mher Arutyunyan, grade 9

Ready Player One, written by Ernest Cline, is a stand-alone science fiction novel taking place in the near future (2044) where citizens rarely go outside and instead opt for a virtual reality called OASIS. Overpopulation has made the world an ugly place, so most people plug into OASIS and live their lives there. The users of OASIS are sent into a frenzy after the death of its creator, the mysterious James Halliday. Halliday is a man obsessed with the 1980s, and has created a challenge for the users of OASIS: Find his "Easter egg" in the game and you will inherit his fortune. The people involved in the ensuing race are called "gunters." One of these "gunters" is Wade Watts, a teenager who spends most of his time in OASIS. He and his friends are trying to beat the other gunters to the egg and hopefully inherit Halliday's fortune.

Ready Player One has garnered much attention since its 2011 release date. Much of this attention and praise has come from gamers and fans of the '80s. A film adaptation is also currently in development with Jurassic Park and Jaws director Steven Spielberg attached. The novel is filled with references to '80s culture, including John Hughes films, video games, and other icons of the time period.

The character of Wade is a bit underdeveloped, and therein lies the problem with Ready Player One. Its characters and plot don't feel deep. Sometimes I even felt carelessness about the fate of Wade's friends. I wish that more time had been spent developing the characters and the story. That said, the book is a joy to read. The 372 pages flew by. Some parts of the book may seem underdeveloped, but it's fun to read. The '80s references never seem forced, and they perfectly complement the story and OASIS. OASIS also feels like something that could exist, thanks to Cline's understanding of video games. Many teens have flocked to the book, especially after the announcement of the upcoming film. I would highly recommend Ready Player One, especially to high schoolers who are fans of video games and the time period of the '80s. Its characters may seem underdeveloped and the plot isn't too deep, but it's an entertaining and amusing book to read, and you'll be hooked as soon as Wade jacks into OASIS. It earns a 4/5 from me.

Editor's note: This book was also popular with our high school book club, which read it in 2013. Here is my own review of the book, which appeared on the library's main blog. The library offers this as a book, an audio book, and an e-book. (And I imagine we will have the movie, too, if it ever comes out!)

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Karaoke is coming!

Your FINALS will be done...your HOLIDAYS will be starting...what better way to CELEBRATE than coming to the library with your friends for some KARAOKE?

Sing Out Loud Karaoke will be spinning the tunes again (they have laser lights too!), we will have refreshments, and it's at the Central Library this time, so we even have a stage! And if your first thought is "I can't sing" or "No way am I singing anywhere except in the shower!" then come to support your brave friends who are even now thinking about who they will get to sing "Put A Ring On It" with them after the sugar rush kicks in!

6:30 to 8:45 p.m.
Central Library
TEENS ONLY (grades 6-12)

See you there?!

Monday, December 14, 2015

Teen review: Paranormal abilities

The Girl Who Could Fly
by Victoria Forester

Reviewed by M.S., grade 10

The novel The Girl Who Could Fly was written by Victoria Forester and has a sequel which recently came out. This novel is 328 pages long and is fantasy fiction. I think that anyone ages 9+ can enjoy this book and understand its content.

Piper McCloud is a five-year-old girl living in Lowland Country with her parents on a farm. Ever since she was young, she had been able to hover a few feet off the ground. Her parents tried to keep her power a secret, but one day Piper exposes her ability, and word gets out. Piper is found by the government and sent to I.N.S.A.N.E., a school for children with extraordinary abilities like super strength, weather control, and telekinesis. Piper has the time of her life there, making friends and playing games...but she soon realizes things there are too good to be true and that she has been trapped in the most dangerous place she has ever been.

When first seeing this novel, I was intrigued by the cover illustration, which depicts an amazing chapter that blew my mind. While reading this, I realized that I closely related to the minor character, Daisy, who was an incredibly sweet girl who tried to help her friends in whatever way possible. This novel made me feel like I could pursue anything I wanted to and be able to help others. I laughed, cried, celebrated, and grieved while reading this book because it put me in the position of the characters.

Victoria created an amazing atmosphere, putting me in the story and taking me on a fantastic adventure. I have not read the sequel, The Boy Who Knew Everything, but I do plan to in the near future.

I would rate this novel a 5 for its incredible content and for the brilliance of Victoria’s imagination.

Editor's note: We have book one, but we don't yet have the sequel. However, after this review, it is on order!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Help for your finals!

For all of you with FINALS this week...or PAPERS that are due...don't forget about HELPNOW.

On our website ( under "RESEARCH," just click on the HELPNOW button. You can get help from a LIVE TUTOR (it's like instant messaging with someone who will help you with your homework!), or you can UPLOAD A PAPER to the WRITING LAB to get expert critique to improve your writing! (Allow 24 hours for this one to go and get back to you. So in other words, do NOT wait until the last minute, procrastinators!)

All of this is FREE, with your library card! Tutors from 1:00-10:00 p.m. daily, Writing Lab accessible 24/7!