Undivided by Neal Shusterman

This is the 4th book in the Unwind dystology. I finished this book a few days ago and it has to be my favorite in the series. It introduces new characters and also brings back old characters. It follows the 3 main characters, Risa, Connor and Lev. It now also follows other main characters, who have been introduced throughout the series.

          This book shows a real turn-around with the government and the opinions in society. The viewpoints are still switching around through different characters. You’re able to view people and get a better grasp on what their actions are and why they choose to do certain things. It also allows you to see people’s thought-processes and how they view their peers. Some of the main characters may seem very bland or dumb when viewed by another character. But when you see their actual viewpoint, you can see how intelligent these characters actually are, and how cunning they might be, while appearing uninterested on the outside.

          These various characters fit extremely well into the plot. You can see lots of character arcs being completed. You get to view these characters becoming really interesting and amazing people, who make stunning life-or-death decisions. They create public outcry and rage, turning it towards a government that has been creating inhumane practices, while also fueling darker forces, pushing their goal ever farther.

          You learn many new things from this book. Neal Shusterman is excellent at his world and society building, you can really see why society is like this, and what they have done to get to that point. You see some of these practices in action, seeing them from the minds of both the public, and characters setting these actions into motion.

          This book is full of unexpected events, along with twists and turns. I haven’t seen this many surprising things in many books, and I really enjoyed it. It shows you just how good of an author Shusterman is, along with how good his book is. The clashing of characters’ personalities, along with the mix and romance of other characters creates a unique balance of good and evil.

          This last book also gives a nice wrap-up to the events that have happened so far, giving a really pleasant ending. You can read the last page and then close the book, knowing you have got to read such a good book.

          This book is a really interesting read and I would definitely recommend reading it.

I’d rate this book 10/10.

The Tomorrow War (2021)

The movie cover for The Tomorrow War shows a white male in a military uniform with a weapon in hand.  A blond white female is behind him, with a similar outfit and weapon.  There is rubble of a city in the background.  The text "Amazon Original Movie" appears at the top.


Chriss Pratt as Dan Forester

Yvonne Strahovski as Colonel Muri Forester

J.K. Simmons as James Forester

Sam Richardson as Charlie

Edwin Hodge as Dorian

The Tomorrow War is an Amazon Prime Original Movie that came out in July of 2021. Dan Forester is watching a soccer game on his couch next to his wife and daughter during their Christmas party when soldiers pop up on the soccer field claiming to be from 30 – really only 28 – years in the future. Their leader, Lieutenant Hart (Jasmine Mathews), tells them that they’re fighting – and loosing – a war against an alien race.

The movie picks up 12 months after that. The world militaries had sent all their troops to Russia to fight the Whitespikes, but almost all of them had died. With no troops to fight, a worldwide draft – a first of its kind – began with 100,000 people time traveling every week. During Dan’s science class, he gets an alert on his phone that signals that he has been drafted. His wife, Emmy (Betty Gilpin), suggests that he escape the draft by asking Dan’s estranged, ex-military, ex-society father. Dan goes over there but decides that he doesn’t want to be a coward like his father and run, so he goes through with being drafted.

At the training facility, he meets Charlie, Norah (Mary Lynn Rajskub), and Dorian – who is on his 3rd tour from the future – who are all in R-Team with him. They were all deployed early with little to no training – unless you already had some before the draft – because their last research facility had been under siege by Whitespikes. They were supposed to land on Miami Beach, but the coordinates had been messed up so most of the people ended up dying because they were dropped in the wrong space. Dan, Charlie, Norah, Dorian, and some others were lucky to have landed in a pool on top of an apartment building, but others just fell to their deaths.

They find out that the research team that they had been tasked to recover had been killed by the Whitespikes and they lost some soldiers on the way back to being rescued. At a base, Dan finds out that the founder of R-Team and the one he had been talking to that lead him through the mission had been his daughter Muri. Muri takes him and her team to capture the female Whitespike, but they are bombarded with the return of the male Whitespikes. They successfully capture the female and take it back to their “field” office in The Bahamas. Muri and Dan start trying to create a toxin that will kill the female and males.

Muri tells Dan that the reason he was brought to the future was that he needs to take the toxin back and mass produce it in his present. After they find the right toxin, the male Whitespikes breach command. As they where making it to the launch pad, they encountered Whitespikes. Dan makes it back, but Muri dies.

Upon returning, Dan works on a plan to stop the aliens from arriving. He knows that the first attack is in Russia in 2048, but since they couldn’t find any flight patterns that would suggest where they landed, they don’t know when they came here. Emmy suggests that the Whitespikes might have arrived earlier than 2048. After getting help from Dorian and Charlie, they discover that the Whitespikes have Chinese (Korean) volcanic ash sediments on their claws. Dan’s student, Martin (Seth Schenall), tells them about the Millennium Eruption of 946 AD in China and Korea. This means that the aliens had been in Russia since 946 AD, way before 2048. After being denied help from the US government, Dan takes it into his own hands. He asks his mercenary father to help smuggle his crew to Russia in order to kill the Whitespikes before they attack.

When they find the ship, they realize that the Whitespikes aren’t the only aliens that crash landed. The Whitespikes had been cargo for another unknown race of aliens. They find out that Muri’s cure works but before they can use it more, the other Whitespikes awake in response to hearing the distress of their brethren. The ship is infested so Dorian and the crew (sans Dan, James, and Charlie) blow up the ship killing everyone in it except for the female who escapes.

Dan and James track her down and after almost sacrificing themselves, they are able to kill her with their lives – and limbs – intact.

This movie was really good and I love how they equally highlighted the science and the fiction aspects of sci-fi. It had a lot of action as well as heartwarming father-son, father-daughter, comradery moments. I’d rate this 5 stars.

Review of Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer

The book cover for Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer is bright yellow with the title in orange. There is an ice cream van with a white teenage girl standing on its roof.  The tagline says "A novel about growing up... and blowing up."

Spontaneous by Aaron Starmer was a great book that I enjoyed reading a lot. The story is about a girl named Mara Carlyle who is just trying to survive her senior year in high school when one of her classmates literally explodes in math class. Of course everyone is confused and traumatized, but then more students begin to explode around Mara. As much as they try nobody can figure out why this is happening- and only to the senior students of Covington High School. When I first started reading the book I thought it would be a mystery novel but it mainly focuses on trying to keep life normal when everything around you is out of control. Mara keeps going with her life trying to keep things with her parents, boyfriend, and best friend as normal as possible. But eventually they do have to face what is going on around them. The author Aaron Starmer makes the book hilarious and it’s not depressing at all even though so many horrible events are occurring.

I would not recommend the book to anyone under 13 because there are a lot of adult themes and language. But anyone in high school would likely enjoy the book as much as I did. If I were to rate this book, I would definitely give it a 10/10… if it weren’t for the ending. The ending of the book is not satisfying because it leaves a lot of unanswered questions. Some people might enjoy this because it’s basically asking you, “what do you think happened?” But personally I don’t like those kinds of endings and it disappointed me a little bit that such a great and fun book ended like that. Overall don’t let the bad ending stop you from wanting to read the book because everything leading up to the ending was amazing and I loved reading it.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

The book cover for Unwind by Neal Shusterman is a black cover with a medical scan image of a body.  The body's hand is reaching forward, as if touching a panel of glass.

I found this book recommended by a friend and have had it on my reading list for a long time. I just got around to reading it and let me tell you, it’s now one of my favorite book series of all time.

          The book is a dystopian novel based in an alternate universe. This universe had a war over life and death. The two sides fought over whether or not things like abortion were morally okay. In the end, a procedure was created, teens between 13-18 years old can be ‘unwound’. You are taken apart, and your body parts can be given to other people. So say you lost your arm in a car accident, you could be given a random arm from someone. Parents can sign a form and have their children unwound. That’s the very basis.

          This story is carried out from 3 different main characters, Connor, Risa and Lev. These 3 are sent to be unwound. The plot of the story is that they escape, and are trying to fight through people looking to find them and take them to be unwound. The story takes lots of twists and turns and is super interesting.

          The switching viewpoints gives you the ability to really see into the characters minds. You see the reasoning behind their actions, and their opinions and thoughts. It gives you a better understanding of the characters, and personally makes it a much more enjoyable experience.

          This book goes into a lot of topics that are put into an easy to understand medium. You can form your own opinions of the actions of the government of the book, while also rooting for your favorite characters. Neal Shusterman created a book that gives you lots of surprises and unexpected connections. You learn things that turn your whole viewpoint around, perhaps changing your opinion on the government of the book.

          You learn about lots of things that would be considered inhumane and unrealistic in today’s world, that are nationally accepted as normal in this universe. It gives many interesting things to understand and learn about. Unwind gives you characters to fall in love with, you feel like you’re almost travelling along with them through their journey.

          This book is a really interesting read and I would definitely recommend reading it, along with the 3 books after it (Unwholly, Unsouled, Undivided), along with the companion book Unbound. If you’re interested in dystopian books and slight romances, this is definitely something that you should consider reading.

          I would rate this book 10/10.

Review of The Road by Cormac McCarthy

Image of the cover of The Road by Cormac McCarthy
The Road by Cormac McCarthy

The Road is a survivalist story about a man and his son at the end of the world. They face hordes of cannibals, harsh elements, and an utterly barren world. Death is constant, and life is the exception to the rule. Every day is a struggle to go on when suicide is deemed preferable to continued survival. But in the end, The Road is about hope.

I came across this novel as an assigned reading, and at first glance it seems like an incredibly depressing read. But looking just past the surface reveals how much more this story contains. The love between the man and the boy — unnamed, as they encapsulate humanity — is a constant force throughout the book, and they get each other through. The man’s sole purpose is to keep his son alive, and to teach him how to survive when the man can’t any more. He is a decent person, but his compassion and generosity for strangers always take the backseat to the life of his child. In contrast, the boy is the last unlikely spark of hope, light, and innocence in their dying landscape. He feels a deep compassion for every creature they pass, no matter whether helping them could compromise his own wellbeing. With the dynamic between the pair, and the emotional growth of the boy as the story goes on, a lot can be gleaned about the nature of human beings. In concert with these two main characters, other figures — only one of which is named — appear along the journey, and always reveal another facet of humanity in their brief appearances. The extremes of what utter disaster brings out within individuals become clear.

The characters are very much the center of this novel. There are endless messages to be found within The Road, but the strongest circle around the people. The best and worst of humankind is revealed. The disaster — apocalypse, if you will — that turns the world to ashes is never specified, but there’s no doubt that it’s man made. We, the human race, brought about our own destruction, and in the process decimated all other life on the planet we inhabit. In this way, the book also functions as a warning. The Road describes a future that could all too easily become our own.

This novel is violent and often graphic, providing vivid and at times almost poetic imagery. It’s both disturbing and tragic, but it’s always deeply emotional, and that’s what makes it such a gripping read. The man and boy are stuck in a cycle of survival, but the plot never truly drags, and it’s not hard at all to get through. For such a heavy topic, it makes for a surprisingly quick read.

The topic of this book alone is compelling, and will interest survivalist readers as well as those looking for something philosophical. But the greatest experience with The Road requires the reader to look past the literal and think about what lies beneath the surface. What’s left to do at the end of the world than to contemplate what brought you there, and what could possibly come next? The boy asks his father endless questions as they journey along the road, and the man answers them as well as he can. But in the end, the bigger answers are the reader’s to answer for themselves. At the end of everything, is survival worth the suffering? Is hope crucial or deadly? What makes life worth living? Do morals still matter in the apocalypse? And if everything came down to the line, what would you be willing to do to survive?

Guide to watching the full Planet of the Apes Series

A cover for the boxed set of original Planet of the Apes films shows a beige background with a red ape. The foreground is full of silhouettes of people and metal structures.

Nowadays, if you asked someone how many Planet of the Apes movies there are, they’d say 3: Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and War for the Planet of the Apes. Except what if I told you that there were more than just 3 movies, but actually 9 movies with the first one being released 52 years ago!

For those of you that don’t know, the Planet of the Apes series is about the interaction between humans and apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, orangutans). It’s a really good series and I remember when I first watched Rise of the Planet of the Apes with my dad, I was blown away.

If you are curious about which order to watch these movies then look no further as I have the guide for you. WARNING: May contain spoilers

Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)

The first film you should watch is Rise of the Planet of the Apes starring James Franco as Will Rodman who is a scientist trying to cure Alzheimer’s disease. The film starts out with Rodman as he discovers a baby chimpanzee that had been injected with an experimental drug. Rodman takes a liking to it because when the baby chimp’s mother dies, he takes it home and names it Caesar. Andy Serkis plays Caesar using a cool motion capture technology.

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes (2014)

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes picks up 10 years after Rise of the Planet of the Apes ends. Andy Serkis reprises his role as Caesar as we see him leading a civilization of apes in the Redwood forests outside of San Francisco. Their civilization has been left untouched by man since most of mankind has been wiped out from a Simian plague. But, all that changes when Dreyfus (played by Gary Oldman) encounters the apes as they enter Redwood in hopes of repairing their Hydroelectric Dam.

War of the Planet of the Apes (2017)

War of the Planet Apes picks up two years after the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes and sees that Caesar is still the leader of his ape civilization. You see him grappling with the fallout of Koba’s insurrection. Koba’s insurrection caused an elite group of soldiers led by Colonel J. Wesley McCullough (played by Woody Harrelson) to start hunting down Caesar and his apes. Caesar’s last hope is to get himself and his family across the desert. Near the film’s end, we see Caesar’s friends assure him that the society he created will be aware of valiant sacrifices.

You could stop watching as this is the last of the 2011 trilogy, but the last 6 are definitely worth checking out if you can get past tacky gorilla costumes from the past.

Planet of the Apes (1968)

This film started it all. The first 3 films on our list can serve as prequels to the original series spanning from 1968-1673. The film starts when 3 astronauts awaken from a crash landing on some mysterious island. One of the astronauts, George Taylor (played by Charlton Heston) is captured by apes that seem to be more human than primate. While captured, Taylor joins forces with one of the apes named Zira (played by Kim Hunter). When he escapes from the apes, he goes into the Forbidden Zone desert. There is where he discovers the truth about the mysterious apes that captured him.

Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970)

An astronaut named Brent (played by James Franciscus) is the only survivor of a ship that was sent to find the 3 astronauts that crashed in Planet of the Apes. Soon after landing in the Forbidden Zone, Brent meets Nova (George Taylor’s love interest from the first film). Nova is seen to still be wearing the astronauts’ dog tags and brings Brent to the ape city. There, Brent meets Zira who tell him about her time with Taylor. Brent finds an entrance to a New York subway when he goes back to the Forbidden Zone. There he sees a mutated human race worshipping a doomsday device.

Escaping from the Planet of the Apes (1971)

At the conclusion of Beneath the Planet of the Apes, the Alpha and Omega doomsday device destroys the planet. However, before that Zira and her husband Cornelius (played by Roddy McDowall) find and start repairing the original ship that George Taylor and the other astronauts used in the Planet of the Apes. Zira and Cornelius use it to travel to when the planet is destroyed. There, they become celebrities and are at the center of a government investigation about why George Taylor’s spaceship is suddenly repaired and in use of talking apes and no astronauts. Just as the government begin to really crack down on them, Zira reveals that she is pregnant and she and Cornelius must flee government capture to save their child (who they name Milo).

Conquest of the Planet of the Apes (1972)

It’s set in the year 1991 and Milo (played by Roddy McDowall) is all grown up. Milo’s name is then changed to Caesar (to pay homage to the Caesar depicted in the first 3 film on this list). Caesar was raised in hiding by Armando (played by Ricardo Montalban) who is the owner of a circus after Zira left Caesar with him in Escape from the Planet of the Apes. The films follows Caesar as he navigates a world where apes have become a common pet because dogs and cats have mysteriously gone extinct. Apes are even forced into slave labor. Caesar is the only ape that can speak though. He ends up becoming enslaved himself and must lead a rebellion in order to escape.

Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973)

Roddy McDowall reprises is role as we see an older Caesar who is leading a society where humans and apes are coexisting after a nuclear war. But militant faction of apes, led by Aldo (played by Claude Akins) tear apart the society. Aldo wants to make humans subservient. Caesar hears’ whispers about tapes his mother, Zira, had made in the Forbidden Zone about how conflict between the apes and human caused the world’s demise. While searching for the tapes, Caesar meets a group of mutated humans led by Governor Kolp (played by Severn Darden). Kolp and his group of mutants view apes as threat and are set on destroying them.

After viewing the tapes and reflecting on his past experiences up until now, Caesar understand that in order to save Earth from demise, the apes and the humans must learn to live together and accept each other as equals. In doing so, he’ll be able to fulfill the original Caesar(the 2011 Caesar)’s final wish.

Planet of the Apes (2001)

This movie is here because other than the name, it doesn’t really fit into the franchise and was a one-off film. The film is set 2029 and stars Mark Wahlberg who plays Leo Davidson. Davidson works aboard the Space Station Oberon which enters an electromagnetic storm that launches them into 5021. The world is ruled by an ape named General Thade (played by Tim Roth). Trying to find a way back to his home and time, he teams up with female ape and human rights’ activist, Ari (played by Helena Bonham Carter).

Planet of the Apes (1974 – TV Series)

This show was cancelled after one season and stars Roddy McDowall, Ron Harper, James Naughton, Mark Lenard, and Booth Colman. The series is based off the Planet of the Apes and its sequels. If you want to watch the show, I’d suggest that you watch it right after Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973) and before watching Planet of the Apes (2001).

Godzilla vs Kong (2021)

Movie poster for Godzilla vs Kong shows a city full of skyscrapers covered in a smoky fog.  Both King Kong and Godzilla tower over the city, rising above the smoke.

This is the 4th film in Legendary’s MonsterVerse and is a sequel to both Godzilla: King of the Monsters (2019) and Kong: Skull Island (2017). This is the 36th film in the Godzilla franchise and the 12th film in the King Kong franchise. It is also the 4th Hollywood Godzilla film.



Millie Bobby Brown as Madison Russell

Alexander Skarsgård as Dr. Nathan Lind

Rebecca Hall as Ilene Andrews

Bryan Tyree Henry as Bernie Hayes

Shun Oguri as Ren Serizawa

The film starts off with Kong on Skull Island going through his daily life. We see a little girl – who is later confirmed as being deaf – holding up a gorilla made from grass and twine up to him. We see that there is a barrier around Kong, holding him there when he launches a tree at it and part of it breaks off. We learn that he is there because the scientists holding him are anticipating that they’ll need him for when Godzilla attacks again.

Bernie, a janitor at Apex Cybernetics, has a podcast where he promises to expose company secrets about Titans. There, he finds out that Kong is in a mysterious Level 33 under Apex Cybernetics. Suddenly an alarm goes off that signals that the whole city of Pensacola, Florida is in panic when Godzilla is sighted coming out of the water. This time Godzilla is “no longer the Titan savior” as he is destroying the city, but a conversation between Madison Russell and her dad (who works for Monarch, a secret government organization) that insinuates that Godzilla had helped not destroyed in the past.

Walter Simmons, (played by Demian Bichir) the CEO of Apex Cybernetics, and Ren Serizawa meet Dr. Nathan Lind and recruit him on their quest to find “Hollow Earth” which is where they believe Godzilla and any other Titans came from. Simmons hopes to be able to create a device that can stop Godzilla.

Dr. Lind goes to Ilene Andrews, the lead scientist in charge of Kong, and convinces her to release Kong in order for Kong to lead them to Hollow Earth. They’ll use H.E.A.V., (Hollow Earth Aerial Vehicle) created by Apex, to make the journey to Hollow Earth possible.

They are going by sea and are escorted by the US Navy and Air Force. Maya Simmons (played by Eiza Gonzalez), Walter Simmons’ daughter accompanies them. On the ship, we find out that Kong and Gia, the deaf Inuit girl under Ilene’s care, have a psychic connection that they’ve been keeping from everyone.

The movie cuts to Madison and her friend, Josh Valentine (played by Julian Dennison), as they go looking for Bernie by finding out that he uses a lot of bleach from his podcast. After finding Bernie, they have a talk about Apex and even go to break in.

The movie cuts back as we see Godzilla and Kong face off for the first time in the movie. After the battle, Kong is too weak from almost drowning. Dr. Lind has the idea to kill all the engines of every ship in their fleet in a show of mock submission. Surprisingly, it works and Godzilla swims away, victorious.

After breaking into Apex, Madison and co. go down to sublevel 33 and run into a compartment to avoid being discovered just to see that Apex is harboring skull crawlers. Their compartment starts to move and they find out that they are going to Apex’s Hong Kong headquarters.

The movie cuts back to Kong and co. where they have transported him to Antarctica. After telling Kong that there might be more like him in Hollow Earth; Gia, Ilene, Maya, and Dr. Lind enter the H.E.A.V (followed by two other fleets of H.E.A.Vs) in order to follow him down there. Despite the bumpy ride, Kong and co. make it safely to Hollow Earth where they see that there are other Titans.

Madison and co. have seen that Apex MechaGodzilla in order for “humanity to be the apex species once again.” Madison comes to the conclusion that Godzilla attacked Apex because he knew that they were building MechaGodzilla to replace him.

Back in Hollow Earth, it is revealed that the reason Maya had come was to find the power source of Hollow Earth and send some to her father in order to power the MechaGodzilla. Battle ensues between Kong and a barrage of Titan pterodactyls. Maya and the whole fleet sans Dr. Lind, Gia, Ilene, and Kong are killed.

In Hong Kong, Madison and co. are caught by Apex guards.

Kong launches himself up into Hong Kong where he has another showdown with Godzilla. Kong wins round 2. Kong and Godzilla are both 1-1 at this time.

Apex powers up the MechaGodzilla with the energy from Hollow Earth except the system overloads and the MechaGodzilla gets a mind of its own and starts destroying the city. Kong and Godzilla team up in order to defeat MechaGodzilla. After the battle, Godzilla retreats to the sea. At the end of the movie, we see Kong and co. back down in Hollow Earth where they made an observatory.

This movie was really good I was both expecting and surprised at Simmons’ betrayal. 10/10 would not only recommend, but would also watch again.

Review of “Legend”

Legend by Marie Lu: 9780142422076 | PenguinRandomHouse.com: Books

Legend is a science fiction young adult novel by Marie Lu. Set in the future, it follows two fifteen-year-olds named Day and June who fall in love but are fighting on opposite sides of a conflict in their country.

Day is the Colonies’ rebel. He lived in a poor sector and failed his Trial, so now he’s on the run and trying to sabotage his country, the Colonies of America. He blows up Colonies property and steals to feed his family, who thinks he’s dead. He is legendary to the Colonies’ people.

June is the Colonies’ prodigy. She got a perfect score on her Trial, is extremely gifted, and she lives in a rich sector. She skipped many grades and will be the youngest student in the Colonies ever to graduate college.

But when Day makes a fast getaway and supposedly kills June’s brother, he’s in trouble. Agent Iparis won’t rest until Day is found and imprisoned.

But when the two enemies accidentally cross paths and fall in love, things are about to get complicated.

Lines between friend and enemy blur as June and Day choose what their roles will be in the Colonies: the bad guy, or the hero.

I thoroughly disliked this novel. Though it was a thriller that kept me turning the pages, I found myself irritated. Does there always have to be romance in every novel?

It was exasperating. What kind of book follows two fifteen-year-olds who won’t stop kissing? That kind of thing hardly happens, and June and Day were far too young for romance.

Also, the foul language. Must we always curse? There are many other words that can be used in place of the vulgar ones.

The violence was a bit angering, but understandable. The military and police were very involved in the Colonies.

Rating: 1/5 stars.

Ages: 15 +

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world of peculiars, a secret group of individuals born with strange abilities and attributes that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Hunted by bloodthirsty creatures called hollowgast, peculiars are protected by women known as ymbrynes who can transform into birds and manipulate time. Ymbrynes– like the titular Miss Peregrine– watch over their wards inside loops, portals of safety where the same day is repeated over and over again. For hundreds of years, peculiars have lived inside these loops, never aging and sheltered from the threats of the outside world. But sinister forces threaten to destroy the world of peculiardom, and its inhabitants have no idea what’s to come…

Jacob Portman, the narrator of the story, grew up listening to his grandfather’s tales of the children’s home on a tiny island off the coast of Wales where magical children lived in paradise, watched over by their benevolent headmistress. As a child, he would hang onto his grandfather’s every word, relishing the tales of his grandfather’s brave adventures and extraordinary friends. But as Jacob grew older and his grandfather began to sink into dementia’s grip, he stopped believing the man’s fantastical tales– until a traumatizing night leads him to travel to that tiny island and see for himself– and suddenly, the stories don’t seem so implausible.

As Jacob is thrust into the mind-bending world of the peculiars, he discovers more about his grandfather and himself than he ever thought possible. With an intriguing narrative style and hauntingly fascinating vintage photography, Ransom Riggs takes the reader along for Jacob’s incredible ride, creating a vivid new world that’s unlike anything I’ve read before. Truly unique, this book (and the rest in its series) is hard to put down and is a must-read for anyone looking for a new YA fantastical adventure that’s different from the norm. There’s action, romance, mystery, and even some humor mixed in with an awesome cast of characters that will win you over from the start.

The narrative voice, in the first-person view of Jacob, is descriptive and articulate without forsaking the heart of his character. The author’s style is expressive and vivid, assisted by the distinctive addition of the vintage photographs interspersed throughout the book. The pictures are what truly make this series unique, and add a touch of stirring realism to the plotline. The book’s plot was written partially around the photographs that the author had found and included, and the rest of the photos were chosen because they fit what the author had in mind. I love this addition to the books, and they’re a big part of what makes the series unforgettable.

The world of peculiardom is a fascinating and multi-faceted one, and the farther you read into the series, the more wide and diverse it grows. Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children introduces the world well, but with each new book in the series, Ransom Riggs finds a new way to expand its borders. Its inhabitants are equally as diverse and fascinating as the world they live in, and I fell in love with all of them almost immediately. It’s interesting to read how their peculiarities can align with their personalities– for example; Emma, one of the main protagonists, sparks flames from her hands and is the fiery, determined leader of the group. Bronwyn, a girl with extraordinary strength, is the mother hen of the children and a natural protector. Each of Miss Peregrine’s peculiar wards has a distinctive personality, as does every new character they meet during their journeys. The variety of peculiar abilities and attributes of these characters is astounding as well.

One thing I love about this book and its series is the nature of the peculiarities. Rather than give his characters differing versions of “superpowers”, the author has created a group of people (and occasionally, animals) who simply possess attributes and abilities that place them (far) outside the realm of normal. Some of the peculiars can do things that seem familiar to us in the realm of science fiction, like Bronwyn’s strength or Emma’s fire. But more often, peculiars are born with other traits– like the mouth in the back of Claire’s head, the way Olive is simply lighter than air, or the bees that live inside of Hugh– that you won’t find between the pages of comic book. Their peculiarness is delightfully strange in a way that enhances the dark and supernatural feel of the story, which sets it apart from your average science fiction novel about kids with superpowers.

Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children is a darkly fascinating book that sets off an intriguing and endlessly riveting series. You won’t be able to get enough of this book and its peculiar world once you’ve fallen under its captivating spell, and I would highly recommend it to anyone looking for a series with a distinctive and enthralling concept.

Jurassic Park (the novel) – A Review

Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton

Overview: If you know the movie, then you know the basic overview of the book, too. A rich man named John Hammond decides to open up an amusement park. But not just any amusement park. An amusement park with dinosaurs. Living, breathing dinosaurs. He decides to set his park on Isla Nublar, an island off the coast of Costa Rica. Hammond believes that his park is perfect, something that will be loved by generations, and that nothing could possibly go wrong. As a “test audience”, he brings more people to the island (see character list below). On the tour, something goes wrong. The power goes out, and the dinosaurs escape. Including the fearsome Tyrannosaurus Rex. After that it’s a matter of life and death, and it takes everyone to get the park’s power and security back on line. And not everyone gets a happy ending…


John Hammond- the man who owns Jurassic Park

Alan Grant- paleontologist brought to the island

Ellie Sattler- paleobotanist brought to the island

Ian Malcolm- mathematician (who specializes in chaos theory) brought to the island

Henry Wu- the head geneticist for Jurassic Park

Dennis Nedry- designed the code for all the systems in Jurassic Park

Alexis (Lex) and Timothy (Tim) Murphy- Hammond’s grandkids, brought to island to review park through a kid’s perspective

*There are a lot more characters than I’ve listed here, but the ones I’ve mentioned here are the main ones that are pretty crucial (even though Lex is just a whiny seven year old)

Rating, Review, and Recommendation:

Jurassic Park is shelved as an adult novel, and I fully comprehend why. It was not an easy read, I must admit, and there were many cases of profanity. Also, there are many topics discussed that young readers, slow readers, and/or readers who cannot comprehend elaborate subjects would not understand. The novel has many references to science, specifically genetics, and those paragraphs can be very hard to understand if read through quickly. Malcolm, the mathematician, explains chaos theory very thoroughly, and he has some very deep monologues as well (you’ll know what I mean if you read the book). It gets very gory at times, given the fact that a T-Rex escapes and causes death and destruction, along with some Velociraptors. For those of you who have seen the movie and then read the novel, as I did, you may notice many differences between the two. For example, Lex is the younger sibling instead of Tim, and Tim is the computer nerd while Lex prefers sports. Now, I don’t want to give out too many differences, but I found this one interesting so I had to point it out: In the movie version of The Lost World, the opening scene is of a British family on vacation, who happened to dock their boat on Isla Sorna (the other island with dinosaurs), and the little girl meets some compys (the nickname for small, lizard like dinosaurs named procompsognathus). The opening chapters of the book portray a scene very close to this- a family on a beach in Costa Rica, and the little girl meets compys, feeds them a sandwhich, and gets bitten; the difference here is that in the book, the scene takes place in Costa Rica and is in the first novel, while in the second movie it takes place on Isla Sorna. I would recommend this book only for strong readers who can handle profanity, gore, and strong science-y topics. It is not quickly read, and certainly cannot be comprehended by just skim-reading. However, if you think you are a strong enough reader, then I also recommend this for fans of the movies, people who like dinosaurs, people who like realistic fiction, and anyone interested in genetics or paleontology. There are some great concepts in this novel, so if you feel up to the challenge, then I would say “go for it!” It truly is an interesting, involving, and informing novel that is a pleasure for anyone who reads it. (Let me also point out that the details are incredible and the dinosaurs and scenes feel almost life-like). For overall rating, I’d give it an eight point five out of ten (8.5/10) because even though the writing and the story is amazing, there are some parts that were a bit slow to me.

So, if you think you’re ready for Jurassic Park, there’s nothing that should stop you from reading it. Just make sure to check that rearview mirror of yours…