Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Hobbit: Book review by Kate

Bilbo Baggins is a hobbit who enjoys a comfortable, unambitious life, rarely travelling further than the pantry of his hobbit-hole in Bag End. But his contentment is disturbed when the wizard, Gandalf, and a company of 13 dwarves arrive on his doorstep one day to whisk him away on an unexpected journey 'there and back again'. 

The Hobbit, set in Middle Earth in a time before the Lord of the Rings, is an exciting story of the adventures of Bilbo Baggins, an ordinary hobbit who finds himself setting out on a quest to win a share of treasure, guarded by the malicious dragon, Smaug.

Within the novel, J.R.R Tolkein immerses the reader in an exquisite world of magical creatures and monsters, so meticulous in its creation that it creates an enthralling basis for the novel.

The detail with which Tolkein writes, paints an intricate picture of the story, introducing new creatures and challenges with every chapter. I found myself in love with the crazy personalities of the dwarfs and the riddles of Gollum. The story was filled with never ending twists and turns, enhanced further by the diverse range of characters that fill the pages of the novel with expression and excitement.

Whilst at times I found myself struggling to make it through sections of the story, it would not take long before I would become caught up all over again in Tolkein’s writing.

I highly recommend J.R.R Tolkein’s novel to both young adult and adult readers. Any fans of fantasy novels will find themselves in love with The Hobbit.
Kate, 2016

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Monday, September 05, 2016

Degrassi: Next Class: Series Review by Caitlin

Teens all over the world have watched and loved the Canadian teen drama Degrassi. The Degrassi franchise has aired for over 35 years, and the hit series has returned with yet another generation of high school students who are smart-phone savvy, strong-willed, and socially connected.

The new series, which currently has two seasons, focuses on issues that affect teenagers but with a modern approach. Even the episode titles are named after hashtags!

Degrassi: Next Class tackles issues of online harassment, mental illness, racism, sexuality, feminism and finding your identity, amongst other issues. The characters of Degrassi Community School offer laughs and comfort as the issues they portray on-screen often hit home. Fourteen of the characters have returned from the previous Degrassi series with favourites such as Grace, Zoë, Maya and Tristan. Degrassi: Next Class has also welcomed the arrival of new characters; Vijay, Esme, Yael, and siblings Baaz and Goldi; the cast is quite culturally diverse.

I loved the previous Degrassi series, especially the 80s series - Degrassi Junior High, and I love the most recent series Degrassi: Next Class. Although Degrassi focuses on some of the same issues, they are always in a different way. This is important because as a teen today, I can really relate to the characters in Degrassi: Next Class. Despite this, everyone could like this show, especially if they are fond of the previous versions of Degrassi.

Degrassi: Next Class also features the Degrassi franchise’s 500th episode, which is a massive milestone. Previous students from Degrassi: The Next Generation are welcomed back for the exciting Degrassi Alumni event in the episode #ThrowbackThursday. My favourite storylines throughout this series include Grace’s struggle with a chronic illness and Zoë’s struggle with her sexuality and identity.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first two seasons of Degrassi: Next Class (which premiered on ABC3) and I can’t wait for the next two! 

Caitlin, 2016

Monday, August 29, 2016

One Punch Man: Series Review by James

A breath of fresh air for the increasingly unoriginal and stereotypical anime genre, One Punch Man is easily one of, if not, the best anime series i have watched so far. While most anime series follow in the footsteps of ground-breaking shows such as Dragon Ball Z and Pokémon, relying on similar plots, themes and character arcs, One Punch Man seeks to be different.

It revolves around a man named Saitama, a man who is so powerful he can literally obliterate anything with a single punch. Because he is so powerful, Saitama has become bored and uninterested, lacking motivation to do anything. Despite wanting to have long and epic battles with his opponents, he finds himself mowing them down without even breaking a sweat.

He is sarcastic and impatient, doing things that are against our regular expectations of an anime protagonist and prioritising ridiculous things. He is accompanied by his ‘apprentice’ Genos, an extremely powerful android who is desperately trying to learn the secret and origin of Saitama’s amazing power. They are also accompanied by many heroes from an organisation known as the hero association, a collection heroes like the Justice League that are ranked based on their hero activity.

The show is full of jokes and satire, digging into and mocking well-known shows such as DBZ and Full-Metal Alchemist in a dead pool-like satirical way. This series is for everyone, from someone who has never watched anime before and wants to start with something light and funny, to long-time fans of the genre who find that it has become slightly burnt out. While so far it only consists of a single, 12 episode season alongside the manga series from which it was adapted, there are plans for an English dub and a second season of both the anime and the manga.

James, 2016

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Monday, August 22, 2016

The Hedge Knight- George RR Martin: Book Review by James

The Hedge Knight- George RR Martin

“Oak and iron, guard me well, or else I'm dead, and doomed to hell.” 

George RR Martin’s spin-off of the critically acclaimed and widely loved series A Song of Ice and Fire, The Hedge Knight serves as a much milder version of its adult counterpart, taking place almost a century earlier in a time where chivalry and honour were held in much greater regard.

The first book of the trilogy known as A Knight of the Seven Kingdoms, it is set in the high-medieval fantasy realm of Westeros, a world of chivalrous knights and splendid tournaments. It follows the story of Dunk, a squire turned hedge knight after the death of his former mentor, Ser Arlan of Pennytree, during the first couple of pages of the book. - A hedge knight is basically a knight who wanders the realm in search of lords that require their services, much like mercenaries, that adhere to the chivalric code of being a knight. - After burying his mentor, the newly-made knight Dunk, or Ser Duncan the Tall as he calls himself, assumes his responsibilities and carries on his legacy, continuing on to the tournament his mentor was to participate in.

Dunk is somewhat simple-minded, not especially gifted with great intellect or cunning. However, what he lacks in brainpower he makes up for tenfold with his brawn and caring nature. He stands at almost 7 feet tall, towering above almost everyone he meets, possessing extraordinary strength and endurance.  He sticks to a strict code of honour instilled in him by his former mentor, acting like a gentlemen and sticking up for those weaker than himself. Holding somewhat of a low place in society, Dunk is often overlooked and disrespected by those superior to him. The novel revolves around the adventures of Dunk and a little boy named Egg, a witty and sarcastic child with a shaven head and deep purple eyes. Dunk finds Egg working as a stableboy at a local inn, and, after Egg demonstrates his will and intelligence, takes him in as his squire for the upcoming tournament. Dunk would soon discover, however, that there is much more to Egg
that meets the eye

Having previously read A Song of Ice and Fire, George RR Martin’s most well-known series, I came to this book with high hopes. The Hedge Knight absolutely exceeded my expectations, proving to be one of the best fantasy novels I have read so far. Its detailed and rich narrative, interesting and in-depth characters and immersive descriptions kept me on the edge of my seat, unable to put the book down until I had finished it. Fans of Game of Thrones, and the fantasy genre in general, would find this book to be highly enjoyable and a great read.
James, 2016

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Monday, August 15, 2016

A different perspective on Eleanor & Park: Book Review by Amy by the Window

Eleanor & Park by Rainbow Rowell

Eleanor sticks out like a sore and very red thumb at her new school, meanwhile Park does just about everything he can to fly under the Radar. These star-crossed sixteen-year-olds form an unlikely bond over their love for music and comic books. But with their own troubles and insecurities, will they get their happily ever after?

Within 50 pages of this story I was hooked.

Set in the Suburbs of 1980s America, Eleanor and Park gave just the right amount of cultural context for it to be a timeless story of two young adults falling in love for the first time on an immersive 80s backdrop. Rainbow Rowell’s writing is fun and engaging, and her characters complex.

I loved the representation in this story- an Asian-American boy and a chubby red-haired girl are types of people I don’t think I’ve ever read about before, which was refreshing. Where parents are often absent in young adult fiction, Eleanor and Park’s parents were very much integral to the story and character growth.
The characters really evolve well over the course of the book, especially the secondary characters, who I fell in love with. 

But towards the end things began to get messy.

I was often confused, and was left unsatisfied. If it was all about the journey, this book would get five stars from me, but I can’t ignore how it ended. I appreciate that this book reflects that in life you don’t always get the ending you want, but it did hinder my enjoyment. That being said, it was a beautiful story, so I’m giving it four out of five stars!

★★★★

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Note: I would recommend this book to older Young Adult readers, because there are sexual themes and descriptions of domestic violence.