One Piece Episodes 1-60 Review

One Piece

The series of books/anime that I’m reviewing is a story called One Piece: a jaunty, whimsical tale of a boy named Monkey D. Luffy who gathers up a lively crew of misfits in order to reach his goal of being the Pirate King. Simple concept one might think, one that has actually stretched over two decades of writing and hundreds of chapters and episodes, and one of the most enjoyable journeys I’ve ever had the pleasure of embarking on. Here I’m reviewing the first 60 episodes or roughly the first 20 books which is but the very beginning of this grand adventure.

When I first started this series I did not expect it to shock me in the way it did, I went in thinking I would simply get enjoyment from the exciting shounen (action anime) typical fight scenes, and went out realizing that One Piece actually has an uncanny amount of intricate plot, heart-wrenching moments, and well-developed characters. Starting off at the beginning the main character and captain of the Straw Hat Pirates (named after the hat given to him by world famous pirate Shanks) Monkey D. Luffy is presented as a lighthearted, careless sort of character. These characteristics paired with his severe sense of loyalty to his friends–which he calls his own family– make him an instantly endearing character. Luffy starts off his journey alone but slowly but surely picks up comrades: first Zoro a stern samurai who wields 3 swords, then Nami a keen navigator, then Usopp a marksman, and then Sanji a womanizing cook.

Each of these characters is extremely compelling in their own regard, but together create an interesting dynamic. The special thing here is that each of them have struggled immensely in some regard and Luffy, through recruiting them onto his crew, gave this band of misfits a place where they could feel at home. Luffy’s steadfast loyalty manifests a similar loyalty in his crew mates who would readily sacrifice themselves for the benefit of the other crew members.

This theme is especially prevalent in the first, less pot-heavy episodes where the first 5 members of the Straw Hat pirates are cemented together after the remarkable events of a story arc called Arlong Park. Avoiding spoiling, this arc really lays out what the rest of the story will be like and presents the characters’ first big struggle and villain and is, honestly, what hooked me on the story. I could go on about other things like the clever character design, excellent power scaling, imaginative world building, subtle foreshadowing, and the terribly impactful backstories dedicated to the characters; but, up to the 60th episode these things haven’t made their biggest appearance

It is probably easy to tell that I adore this series, and that is very true, however, I thought it would be worth mentioning some of the negative aspects of it. First off the anime started in 1998, making the animation in the beginning kind of rough compared to modern day standards. And second, the show compared to the manga/books has both some pacing issues and some unnecessary censorship. Otherwise I would consider it pretty solid.

To wrap it up, the first 60 episodes of One Piece are a great showing of one of its most prevalent themes and also gives a taste of what is to come in this amazing series. I would highly recommend giving it a try, despite its length it is one of the best stories I’ve ever had the pleasure to watch/read.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew by: C.S. Lewis (Book One)

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician’s Nephew by: C.S. Lewis (Book One)

“Think what Another World means – you might meet anything – anything.”
– Uncle Andrew to Diggory Kirke

Diggory had many adventures with his friend Polly, but the two of them fought a lot, like siblings.
But this time, Uncle Andrew has a special “adventure” in plan for them.

Background for Uncle Andrew:
1. He thinks he’s a great magician
1A. He really isn’t. He doesn’t understand a single thing he’s doing
2. Blame everything that happens in the book on him.
2A. I’m very serious.

Now that’s settled with, let’s get on with the story.

So Uncle Andrew had been experimenting with some “magic” (it’s all a bunch of nonsense that happens to do something) and makes a yellow (outwards) ring and a green (homeward) ring. But he wanted some test subjects to make sure he was correct.

After some unfortunate event, Diggory and Polly end up in his study and Uncle Andrew decides to make these two innocent children his test subjects.
Long story short, Polly and Diggory arrive at the Other World and after a few “jumps” they end up waking a witch named Jadis, taking her back to their world, and cause havoc.

Background on Jadis:
1. She’s awoken by Diggory following the riddle by striking the bell at Charn (the idiot, but like I said, blame this on Uncle Andrew since Diggory wouldn’t have done all this in the first place if Uncle Andrew didn’t send him here)
1A. And she takes them captive to “jump” around with them
2. She’s very tall and pretty which causes Uncle Andrew to follow her orders
3. She grants no mercy to those to cross her bad side. She likes things her way
4. She comes in on later books, so remember her!

Now the big question is: how do we get Jadis out of London and into a different world?
That’s for you to find out.

I rate this book a 10/10 because, although not my favorite book in the series, it kept me turning the pages. There are some very boring parts, but I promise you everything gets better. And watch for a very important character that comes in at the very end because he’s in all the books.
That’s all for now! Until next time… keep reading!

A Tale of Magic… by: Chris Colfer

A Tale of Magic by Chris Colfer

In the Southern Kingdom, there was a set of rules that everyone had to follow.
Girls couldn’t read or go to “boy” schools; instead, they have to learn how to be the perfect wife, host, etc. in “girl” schools.
Boys have to read and learn the history of the Southern Kingdom.
The rule everyone has to follow, and is punishable by the harshest punishment ever, is that NOBODY CAN DO MAGIC.

Brystal Evergreen lives in a family where her father and oldest brother are well respected judges. Her second oldest brother, Barrie, is her best friend, and is trying to pass his test to become a judge.

Brystal also reads books. She loves reading them. But instead of actually finding books to read, Barrie, gives them to her to read. (I know, scandalous!)

When Brystal gets a job at the library, she stumbles upon a restricted section for banned books. She finds a book that is about magic, and long story short, she found out she was magical and she got caught.

After being put on trial, she’s sent off to Bootstrap Correctional Facility. She hates her small time there, but she has made a friend, Pip.
However, Madame Weatherberry is one of the strongest fairies of all, and she sees Brystal’s power. She takes her, and a few others, to her new academy where they can learn to grow their powers.

But when a new and very dangerous threat arises, and with Madame Weatherberry absent, the new apprentices have to stop the threat before it causes more damage. But things aren’t really what they appear…

I rate this book a 100/10, or a 10/10, because it was amazing. The characters’ personalities made me fall in love with them, and the descriptions and story line went well together at a evenly matched pace. The plot twist near the end of the middle part was surprising and I think everyone will enjoy that. I would totally recommend this book, especially if you liked The Land of Stories series. It’s full of magic, adventure, and fun! Enjoy!

Rated by: Melissa Grey

On the cover of the book Rated, students in school uniforms sit in rows of desks
Rated

At Maplethorpe Academy, people are scrambling to keep their ratings high, otherwise you might drop out and get sent to who – knows – where. Plus, the higher your rating, and your parents’ and siblings ratings, are, the better value, society ranking, and luxuries you can get. The lower the points go, the harder you have to work to get them higher.

When an act (or two) of vandalism rocks the school, a chain reaction follows, leaving 6 students: Bex, Tamsin, Hana, Noah, Chase, and Javi,
At first glance, all of them have nothing in common, but as the mystery wears on, it seems like they have what they need together.

Bex, the smart one, and soon to be valedictorian, Noah, the photographer with an interesting past, Tamsin, the school witch, Hana, the Olympic skater, Chase, the baseball pitcher star, and Javi, the video gamer, all come together to solve the riddle of who is doing all this vandalism.

If they figure out who’s doing this, a bunch of secrets about Maplethorpe Academy will be spilled to them, but are they ready?

I recommend this book to everyone because it’s such a good book. I rate it a 9/10, partially because the point of view switches every chapter. It’s about an utopian society where everything is “perfect” and because I love those types of genres, I loved this book twice as much. Enjoy!

Book Review of Scythe by Neal Shusterman

Scythe is the first installment of the Arc of a Scythe trilogy, which is set in a utopian world where humankind has conquered death. Computer technology has advanced to the highest possible point, allowing the creation of the Thunderhead– an all-knowing, benevolent collection of humankind’s knowledge that watches over civilization. The Thunderhead has solved all of the earth’s problems– hunger, poverty, violence, disease, pollution, crime, misery, and even death have been eradicated. The perfect world has been created, and its inhabitants are immortal. There’s just one problem– even with the boundless knowledge of the Thunderhead on its side, the planet cannot support an infinite human population. When natural death has ended, what other option does humankind have but to resort to unnatural methods?

In answer to their perfect world’s fatal flaw, humanity creates the Scythedom– a legion of killers assigned to “glean” enough people per year to curb the earth’s population enough for continued survival. No one is allowed to “revive” the people the scythes kill, and no one is allowed to resist. Rather than allowing the Scythedom to reside under the control of the Thunderhead, humanity decides that death is a human responsibility and should remain solely under the jurisdiction of humans. Sounds fair, right? But this separation could be their undoing– the Thunderhead represents impartial law, running the world without prejudice or selfish intentions. But the matter of death remains prone to the biases and power plays of humanity’s flawed minds, culminating in a struggle between ideals that threatens to tear the Scythedom apart.

Scythe explores a truly fascinating possible world, choosing to propose the opposite scenario of what many novels are based on. Rather than discussing a dystopian world full of suffering, the book offers an entirely new scenario– what if humanity continued on the path it’s on and everything went perfectly rather than horribly wrong? And how perfect can a society really be, when humans are still in charge? The world-building in Scythe is excellent, as the author seamlessly overlays the new society over our present one. The many similarities between society as we now know it and the world that is depicted in Scythe highlight how this is a future that could very well become ours in real life someday. The effects that the creation of the Thunderhead has had on Scythe‘s fictional society are revealed to the reader as the book progresses, naturally shown through the thought processes of characters, how they react to learning of the “strange” everyday practices from our own “mortal times”, and the actions/events of the book. Scythe‘s world is hauntingly believable as it reflects so much of the likely future that we are advancing towards every day.

The book is written in third person and mostly switches between following the lives of Citra and Rowan, two teenage apprentice scythes who find themselves thrust into the fraught, suddenly transforming Scythedom. Over the course of a year, the two must decide who they will side with as their apprenticeships are taken on two very different paths. At the end of their training periods, Citra and Rowan must choose how to fight for what they believe in. Will they glean with compassion and respect, or instead learn to love the art of killing, as the radical scythes claim is the only right outcome of a perfect world?

Scythe isn’t your average dystopian/utopian novel. It includes plenty of action and a thrilling plot, to be sure, but it also explores a fascinating world that seems all too close to what humanity is advancing towards. Complicated questions of morality are raised, but never in a boring or “preachy” sort of way. It was a compelling read for the sake of those questions, and it achieved the purpose of a dystopian/utopian novel well– to confront the difficult questions about what society could become while maintaining a suspenseful, gripping story that has readers staying up all night to finish. I loved this book, and the entire trilogy is a great read for lovers of dystopian/utopian fiction. A solid 9/10 for Scythe!

Book Review of Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet by Rachel Caine

 

One thing I am not is appreciative of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet. So what initially drew me in about this book wasn’t the promise of their story, but the twist the author added to the tale. Prince of Shadows follows Romeo’s cousin Benvolio and is told from Benvolio’s first person point of view. Benvolio’s perspective is unique– in this retelling, he lives a double life as Verona’s most notorious sneak thief, calling himself– you guessed it– the Prince of Shadows. As the more responsible young man of the family, Benvolio is tasked with looking out for his naive cousin Romeo, the all-important heir of House Montague (as well as one of Benvolio’s best friends).

The bloody, power-driven city of Verona comes to life through Rachel Caine’s writing, enriching the world that Shakespeare described. Whatever your opinion is about Shakespeare or Romeo and Juliet, this book is sure to please. The language retains the same feel of Shakespeare’s English and the dialect of the time but is easily comprehensible, and the writing style enriches the novel. There are snippets of dialogue that have either been altered only slightly or taken directly from the original play, connecting the dots between the plot of the play and this retelling as well as reminding the reader of Shakespeare’s unique writing style.

The plot of Prince of Shadows depends relatively little on the original tale, and uses the direct storyline of Romeo and Juliet as a sort of plot device. It’s hard to explain without giving too much away, but the book essentially explains why the story of Romeo and Juliet happened while weaving the larger tale of Benvolio’s life and involvement. All the characters, events, and outcomes from the play are present, but are implemented differently. The biggest example of this is the focus of this book’s plot. Rather than following Romeo and Juliet’s love story, the novel is more about the side characters from the play. Benvolio is the main protagonist, and Rosaline Capulet– mentioned in the play as a crush of Romeo’s before he meets Juliet– is a central character as well. Also important to the story are Mercutio, Friar Lawrence, and several relatives of Benvolio that the author created for Prince of Shadows. Romeo and Juliet don’t meet until about a third of the way through this novel, and the plot continues a little ways after their deaths. Prince of Shadows provides a fascinating spin on the play’s concept, delving deeper into many characters and their individual stories. While this book has a detailed storyline that doesn’t directly depend on that of Romeo and Juliet, it does a nice job of connecting the two, tying in the main components of the play. It tells its original tale before, during, and after the events of Romeo and Juliet. This balance is impressive for a retelling.

Each character is multi-faceted and is defined well, a marked separation from reading the play as a script only goes so far. The only character who has no personality is Juliet herself– although this seems to be a purposeful decision as she never makes an appearance in Prince of Shadows except when Benvolio sees her from afar. She has only a few lines of dialogue, which are taken from the play and occur during her death scene. The most information we glean about Juliet is through Rosaline, who tells Benvolio that her young cousin is sweet and obedient. This interpretation of Juliet’s character, as well as an emphasis on the goodhearted and naive nature of Romeo, emphasize the tragedy of their deaths. Juliet was little more than a child who never had the chance to grow into something more, and both hers and Romeo’s young lives were cut short by the violence and pride that festered in their city.

Prince of Shadows: A Novel of Romeo and Juliet is entrancing, introducing new themes of love, tragedy, and human nature in its masterful retelling of Romeo and Juliet. Not for the faint of heart, the novel is full of bloody duels, clandestine romance, and intrigue, taking readers on a darkly enthralling journey from beginning to end. I recommend this book to anyone in search of a good romance or adventure read, especially if you love historical fiction and Shakespeare (and even if you don’t!).

Flying Lessons and Other Stories (Review)

Flying Lessons & Other Short Stories by multiple authors

Flying Lessons and Other Stories is a book filled with many little short stories, including new neighborhoods, family issues, bad vacations with good endings, and basketball. Flying Lessons and Other Stories really brings out the uniqueness of each and every story to a reality, in which you feel as if you’re right there next to the characters. Written by many authors, this book is great for those of you who want to read something new and different everyday.

Authors: Kwame Alexander, Kelly J. Baptist, Soman Chainani, Matt de la Peña, Tim Federle, Grace Lin, Meg Medina, Walter Dean Myers, Ellen Oh, Tim Tingle, and Jacqueline Woodson. Almost all of these award winning authors have written bestselling books for teens, and I recommend you check them out.

This review is a bit on the short side, due to schoolwork and such. I will try and find more time to write more reviews though. Until then!