Saturday, February 15, 2020

Ready Player One by Naman Sodhani

Ready Player One is a novel by Ernst Cline about a contest in the future. In the year 2045,
humanity is in decline and everybody spends their day in a 3D simulation. However, when the
owner died, he left a will: a contest where you have to find an egg based on clues he gave about
his hobbies and interests. Whoever won got all his shares, all his money, and his house, worth
over 240 billion dollars. Therefore, Wade the protagonist searches for the egg along with the rest
of the Earth’s population. Using his wits, he finds the answer to the first clue and resparks the
race to find the egg. 
There are many subtle things about this book that make it a great read. For example, it has many
tidbits of information in the 1980s. It also had a genuine conflict that makes the reader wonder
if Wade can win the contest. Finally, the hopeful ending caps it off and makes the book even
better. The book has great world-building while building the vast Oasis universe. This was also
an intriguing read because of the quick pace of the novel. One moment he was in school, and
the next he got the first key to the prize.
Finally, this book also is trying to convey a message that would apply to many today: you
shouldn’t try to escape from reality into a virtual world. This applies to teens today since we
love our phones and we are on them all the time. However, if we can find happiness in the real
world, it is far better than staring at YouTube videos and games on the screen. After all, there is
a greater sense of satisfaction and friendship when you hang out in real life and play sports
instead of games like Call of Duty and Fortnite.
This book has everything you would want in a book, and it is a great read. I would give it a 10/10.

Review by Ananya Singh of Dracula by Bram Stoker

Review by Ananya Singh of Dracula by Bram Stoker

It’s no surprise at this point that I am a huge fan of anything Sherlock related so when I heard of Mark Gatiss and Steve Moffat’s new show Dracula on Netflix, I had to watch it. After three 90 minute episodes, I certainly do not regret my decision and was very pleased with this adaptation of the iconic vampire. However, approximately 1 week after watching the show I wondered how much it differed from the novel that inspired it, Dracula by Bram Stoker. Even though the novel and show were quite different, the novel brought out a whole new side to Dracula the show did not convey. 
Dracula is an 1897 gothic horror novel. The story follows Dracula’s attempts to spread his curse to England. However, a group led by Professor Abraham Van Helsing tries to stop him before he succeeds. In terms of format, the story is conveyed through log entries, letters, and diary entries. Even though the book is titled Dracula, the vampire only makes a few appearances here and there but he is almost always the center of discussion. 
One of the best aspects of the novel, in my opinion, is the format. It may seem that all the different logs and entries may make the plot confusing but it does the exact opposite. The book was easy to follow and we, as the audience, and told everything that happens. In fact, I believe this book would have been less of an enjoyable experience if it was written from one of the protagonist’s perspectives. This is because the logs and entries add dimension to the story. They make the story seem less formal and more real, almost as if we are reading the diary of someone who actually went through these horrific experiences. In the book, Dracula takes a sea journey from Transylvania to England and he takes out the members one by one. You can feel the tension and fear grow as you read each diary entry. I also enjoyed how Stoker built intimate relationships based on trust between the characters. The reader can see how much they have to depend on one another just to survive. In all honesty, there was not much for me to complain about. If anything, I wish the ending were different just so we can see another glimpse of the iconic Dracula. 
For those who are into horror and fantasy novels, give Dracula a try! This story is one you definitely won’t forget!

Wednesday, February 05, 2020

Book review by Isha Patel of The Giver by Lois Lowry

Book review of The Giver by Lois Lowry

Imagine living in an Utopian world where everyone and everything is the same! Honesty when I first heard of it, I taught that the world would be a much better place if everything was the same. But after I read it, I had to rethink that.

I read this book way back in 8th grade but still this book has remained my all time favorite book. It is a story about a teenage boy named Jonas who is selected as the Receiver of Memory for this Utopian world controlled by The Elders which is in black and white in order to keep structure, order and "Sameness." Jonas can use his power to get away from this Utopian world and be free "Elsewhere" and finally be able to see colors and feel all emotions which will make the people living in the Utopian world be able to have their memories back before "Sameness" happened.

I think the Utopian world is a metaphor for censoring and restriction.  It limits the choices of an individual until they have none left by removing joy from his or her life. This book could be read in three to four hours as it captures the reader attention very well.

The ending is especially important as it leaves the reader wondering if Jonas succeeds or fails in getting rid of the Utopian place and making it dystopian.

This novel deals with the concept of Utopian but what makes it dystopian is the fact that this novel proves that having a world where everything is the same and everyone acts the same does not mean perfect. Being imperfect and unique is actually better as it gives people change and teaches people to accept others. Equality does not necessary mean happiness or that all is well. This is the reason this book has being by favorite for a long time.

Tuesday, February 04, 2020

Review by Ananya Singh of It by Stephen King

Book : It by Stephen King

It is a classic novel that everyone has at least heard of if not read. This piece of literature is one of Stephen King's most notable works and for good reason. Spanning 1,138 pages, this book follows the journey of seven young kids in Derry, Maine. The town has been terrorized by a clown named Pennywise who comes out of the sewer every 27 years. Together, the kids will have to face their greatest fear to get rid of Pennywise once and for all. The book follows the kids from their youth up until their adulthood.
I am a great fan of King’s other novels like The Shining so I knew this one wouldn’t disappoint. Not to my surprise, I thoroughly enjoyed the book. One of my favorite aspects was the character development. As a reader, I got to understand each character and their backstories. They all had their own distinct characteristics, like Bill’s stuttering, that made them wildly different from the others. I got the opportunity to meet each of them as if I met them in real life. In addition, the writing style and certain events made the story more believable even though it is about a murderous clown living in the sewers. However, the most memorable aspect is the element of friendship that is seamlessly woven into the plot. King’s perfect use of words captures what it is like to be a kid, from the awkwardness to the excitement. The strong bond he creates between the group of kids in Derry is amazing.
In my opinion, there are not many negatives about this book. At points, King seemed to stretch out some scenes. Also, I will say that the end did disappoint me a bit but it did not hinder the entire experience. Why did I have this reaction, well, you can read the ending and judge it for yourself.
Not to mention, this book is not all about horror. It is also a coming of age story that all of us can relate to on some level. If this seems like your type of book, give it a try!

Thursday, January 30, 2020

Book review by Isha Patel of Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

Book review of Namesake by Jhumpa Lahiri

The storyline in this book is quite predictable. The book starts with Gogol's, the main character', mom in the kitchen making Chana Chor, a Indian street dish. As an Indian, the starting of the book takes me back to fond memories in India.

It is a romance filled book with the urge to find one's identify. The book revolves around the name Gogol and the deepest secret that his father hid from him as well as finding his place in the world as an Indian living in American. 

This book reminds me of a book named "American Born Confused Desi." It is also about Indians losing their identify and balancing both cultures  I recommend giving this book a shot too.

A lot of people can relate to "Namesake" book, especially in South Brunswick because there are a lot of Indian here. There is this common pharse called "Asians Lost". Asians are lost as to where they belong or fit in. The questions that makes one have an identity crisis are like "are you Indian enough?" or "are you American enough?" Gogol definitely finds himself among this conflict of cultural identity. 

This book also has a lot of surprising twist and unexpected turns when it comes to Gogol's family living back in India. The concept of names is the central focus of the novel hence the name of the novel. Gogol changes his name from Gogol to Nikhil to Nick and back to Gogol while he goes through adolescence into adulthood.

I recommend this book to everyone because I really enjoyed reading this book as the language is easy to read and comprehend. It is a fast read with an unexpected plot twist at the end. The end is quite fulfilling. 

I also recommend that you read "The Overcoat" by Nikolai Gogol because it plays a significant role in Gogol's father's secret that he has hold on to for decades. The incident that caused his father to name his Gogol, which is not an American or Indian name but rather Russian, happened on a train while his father was reading "The Overcoat." Train also plays a good motif of life and death.

Book Review by Isha Patel of In the Valley of Mist : Kashmir : One Family in a Changing World by Justine Hardy

Book Review of In the valley of mist : Kashmir : one family in a changing world by Justine Hardy

I read this book for Global Studies' book essay. I wanted to learn more about the political side of the conflict in Kashmir even though I believe it is honestly a religious conflict.

The author of the book does a good job of staying unbiased by not telling the story from the perspective of a Muslim or a Hindu. Instead, it tells it from the perspective of the Kashmiri people. I support that because those are the people that are forgotten about in this longlasting conflict. 

The story follows the Dar family as they navigate their everyday life amist the conflict that is tearing everyone apart. It is a memoir and a first hand documentation. It is the author's real life experiences form 1997 to 2008 that she had while visiting Kashmir during this ongoing conflict.

Kishmir is commonly refered to as 'heaven on earth' due to its breathtaking landscape, mesmerizing valleys and surreal snow. Unfortunately, an area that was once peaceful and beautiful is now full of fear and destruction. Hopefully, India and Pakistan realize that they need to put aside their religions and give make Kashmir an independent nation so the Kashmiri people who did not ask to be in this conflict can be free from pain and death.

This book teaches many lessons but one of the most prominent lesson I learned is that patriotism can be dangerous if kept unchecked. 

I would recommend this book to anyone who wants to know this conflict from the perspective of the innocent citizens of Kashmir. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2020

Book Review of Hidden Figures; review by Isha Patel

Book Review of Hidden Figures : The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Who Helped Win the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly

I heard a lot about Hidden Figures in general so when I started to watch the movie in Algebra ll, I needed to get my hand on the book. I did and I read it for my US History book study.

I really wanted to like this book. I love space and anything to do with space. But honestly the movie was much better then the book. The book really did not give me the rhythm and the vibe that I was looking for. But I would say this, that the movie did have an unfair advantage as it is easier to visualize some concepts then actually describe them in words. It is easier to see Katherine, only African American women in NASA, to go to the colored bathroom in a different building in the rain. It is also easier to see the complex math problems being solved rather then describing them in writing.

I loved that it was centered around raising awareness about the struggle that African American women and women in general faced in the past. As a result, we have many opportunities today. They opened the door of opportunities. This is the reason that there are so my women in NASA today.

I would recommend this book but would say this, that everyone who reads this book needs to watch the movie as well.

Sunday, January 05, 2020

Book Review of the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See written by Isha Patel

Book Review of the Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See

I read this book when I was a child in 9th grade for the first time in my life. I loved the cover and the title. But what gave me the last little push I needed to give this book a go was the inside cover that I read. I loved it so much that I read it again in 11 grade for my Global Studies' book essay.

I was drawn by the true love of friendship between two girls named Lily and Snow Flower. They were paired with each other as laotong or  old same at the tender age of seven. They send each other letters in nu shu, a secret Chinese women's writing that was created to prevented the influence of men. But soon a misunderstanding arises that turns this friendships into the verge of breaking. 

The author does tackle some social issue like role of women, superstitions and cultural traditions.

Foot binding is a key tradition for women in China. Foot binding is such a painful process. I do not like the fact that young girls in China were obligated to do this to look beautiful. It is just ridiculous.

Women are worthless is mentioned multiple times in the book. Sons were seen more important than daughters. Sons would bring prosperity and happiness while daughters are a burden and only worth of getting married and giving birth to a son. I highly do not like this concept but I did help us know how some were seen in the past.

The letters that they send in nu shu were embroidered on a handkerchief when makes it so much special. This made me want to learn embroidery. It is just so beautiful. The quotes that they embroidered on the handkerchief in nu shu were so meaningful and unique. One quote that I love is "the classics tell us that, in relationships, the one between teacher and student comes second only to the one between parent and child."

The way this book started and ended was so thoughtful. It started with eighty - three year old Lily reflecting on her past life and ended with the same old aged Lily. I think this is a great way to compose a book.

Friday, December 27, 2019

Book Review from Isha Patel of The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Book Review of The Bodies We Wear by Jeyn Roberts

Are you looking for a book that gives you goosebumps? Are you looking to be spooked and scared. Are you looking for some romance and drama. Are you looking to have an out of this world experience. If you said yes to any if these question then look no further. You have found the book.

I was drawn to The Bodies We Wear by its beautiful cover and interesting title. It is a story of streetwise punk hunting down dealers to get revenge for her best friend's murder. The author shown light on teen drug use/abuse, the stigma associated, and how revenge and the street life affect someone as a person. 
 
The Bodies We Wear is about a seventeen year old teenage girl, Faye who gets a deadly addiction to a new powerful drug at eleven against her will and comes back to Earth after seeing hell. Her best friend, Christian, did not make it back to Earth. Later, she reunites with her best friend who returns to life, years later, in someone else's body. Faye trains to take revenge on those who took her future and murdered the boy she loved accidentally in the process. She takes her life and goes to afterlife with Christian. Christian takes her out of her misery by showing her the path to a meaningful life without revenge and brings her back to Earth.

There is one thing to look out for before reading this book. You cannot put this book down once you start reading. You will definitely be hooked.

Personally, I love this book because I do like to read books that have dark vibes. It is now my new personal favorite. It was an easy and fast read. It filled me with all sorts of emotions and I love me sum emotion filled read. 

Ready Player One by Naman Sodhani

Ready Player One is a novel by Ernst Cline about a contest in the future. In the year 2045, humanity is in decline and everybody spends th...