Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Teen review: Old favorite

Reviewed by Breeana, grade 9

The title of the book I am reviewing is The Outsiders, by the author S. E. Hinton. The Outsiders has 192 pages and the genre is realistic fiction. This book is not part of a series. It was actually written on behalf of the author's experience with certain events that occurred in her life as a teenager in high school. My best guess for the appropriate reading level is high school students such as myself, because I believe they would have a better grasp of the key concepts in the events that take place in the story. I am currently in the 9th grade (a freshman in high school).

The Outsiders is basically about a 14-year-old called Pony Boy, who is struggling with many difficulties in his life and tries his best to fit in with his gang to be known as a proper "greaser." Deep down inside, though, he knows that balancing out the differences between right and wrong is a challenging task that he must face. The main characters in this book are: Pony Boy, Soda-pop, Darry, Dallas Winston, and Two-Bit. All of these characters are known as the "greasers," who are mortal enemies of the "Socs" because the Socs are identified as the "West side rich kids."

Personally, my opinion of the book is that it felt as if you were living during the same time period as these teens, and you could genuinely feel some of the inner struggles that they faced within themselves. I especially enjoyed how each character had a different story to tell. If I had to choose one thing to dislike about The Outsiders, it would be that the author did not write a second book! I felt that it was necessary for S. E. Hinton to include another book that states what happened after Pony Boy finally realized his ideal purpose in life. One of the feelings that I had while reading the book was thinking about how the characters had such strong bonds with each other and had their own individual strengths. But they were also insecure and had fears about life just like most teenagers.

Overall, I would definitely rate The Outsiders a 5, because the entire book was just so inspirational and it taught a lot of valuable lessons about family and friends. It also proved that not all rivals are enemies forever. I would recommend this book to anyone who likes action and adventure, but also to those mature enough to handle some violence that falls within the story.

S. E. Hinton in 1968
Editor's note: I'm amazed by how many teens still tell me that this is their absolute favorite book. (Zoey in book club says she reads it once a week!) Not that it isn't good (it is!), but it was written in 1967, and is a bit anachronistic for today's reader. But it doesn't seem to matter! You could say that this was the very first "YA" (young adult) book, i.e., the first book written specifically for teenagers, and it's interesting that it was actually written by a teen (Hinton was either 17 or 19 when the book was published--there are conflicting stories online). Her publisher suggested she go by the initials "S. E." rather than by her full name (Susan Eloise) so that male reviewers wouldn't discount her work. That tradition lives on today, with authors such as J. K. Rowling!

While there is no specific sequel, as Breanna says, please note that you do learn the fates of some of the characters in Hinton's later works, particularly in That Was Then, This Is Now, and Tex. And all her books take place in the same approximate environment (but years apart) in Oklahoma. So those of you who are fans could move on to those and get some closure!

Monday, May 16, 2016

Teen review: Illuminae

by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
599 pages
The Illuminae Files_01
8th grade and above

Reviewed by Emma F., grade 11

Editor's note: You may have seen my review of this book a week or two ago, which was fairly enthusiastic. Emma wrote, "I wanted to review this book because I realized after reading it that my opinion was completely different than everybody else's!" So here is Emma's take on it...

Illuminae, by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff, is about Kady and Ezra, who break up the day their colony gets destroyed, and work together to escape. They later are separated, but keep in contact through emails. What interested me about the book was the fact that the whole story was told through different texts, like instant messages, emails, Kady’s personal diary, video footage, floor plans, military plans, etc. Not to mention the cover is amazing, with a see-through plastic sleeve that has different shades of oranges. Underneath the book sleeve is an example of one of the military files from the book.

Overall, I thought this book was put together in an interesting and innovative way, yet it wasn’t that good. It took forever to get to the climax, then after the climax, the authors ruined it with a lame ending. I don’t want to spoil the end, but it felt really forced. I read this book because of the cover, I knew about Amie Kaufman from These Broken Stars, which I was really excited for, but ended up disliking.

Also, there was so much happening in this book that you really have to pay attention while reading. I tried to sum up this book in three words: “apocalypse destroys world,” then I would say, “zombies in space,” then I would have to explain, “rogue evil(ish) supercomputer,” and at one point I had to stop reading and go back, because I had no idea what was happening! I recommend a notebook to keep track of what is happening!

This book gets a 2 out of 5, because I liked the cover and the way it was put together, but nothing else.

Another editor's note: While I would ordinarily encourage you to check this out as an e-book or audio book, that was before I read it. The medium is so much a part of the message for this book that I think the only way you can get the experience intended by the authors is to read it in hardcover or paperback!