The Teen Scene: GEPL High School Blog

Oblivion by Sasha Dawn

By: Ally K., Teen Blogger

Oblivion by Sasha DawnLet me start by saying that this book was very well written. This psychological thriller was full of romance and mystery which kept me hooked after each page. As I uncovered the secrets of the main character, Callie’s, life, and her graphomania (an impulse to write), I found myself more and more invested in the story. Oblivion messed with my mind and constantly kept me on the edge of my seat.

One thing that I loved was how Dawn portrayed the relationships in the book as flawed but real. She did not glorify love, but made it messy, which drew me in as something different than most novels that I have read.  Not only were the relationships flawed, but so were the people. I loved how every character had their dark side and I especially loved going deeper into the mind of every character, darkness and all. Dawn left no character perfect but kept everyone imperfect and real, which contributed to the authenticity of each character’s personality.

Sasha Dawn’s writing style was different in the sense that it was jumpy, repetitive, and vague at times. There were points in the story where I would have to go back and re-read in order to make sense of what had just happened, and although her style takes some getting used to, I think that it matches the story very well. The writing style added to the intricacy of Callie’s damaged mind and allowed me to delve deep into her thoughts in order to better understand her character. One thing that I particularly liked about the story is how Callie’s graphomania is used to enhance and unfurl the mystery of the story. It was different and original which is one of the main draw points to the story.

All in all, I would definitely recommend this book to anyone who likes a unique mysteries and messy love triangles.  Oblivion has definitely achieved the title of one of my favorite books.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Girl Mans Up

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check out Girl Mans Up by M. E. GirardOnce again, I’ve found a great audiobook to talk about in this edition of What I Just Read. Solid contemporary, with relatable (if sometimes infuriating) characters, with my favorite elements of family, friendship, and a pretty awesome main character.

What I Just Read: Girl Mans Up by M-E Girard

What’s It About (Jacket Description): All Pen wants is to be the kind of girl she’s always been. So why does everyone have a problem with it? They think the way she looks and acts means she’s trying to be a boy—that she should quit trying to be something she’s not. If she dresses like a girl, and does what her folks want, it will show respect. If she takes orders and does what her friend Colby wants, it will show her loyalty. But respect and loyalty, Pen discovers, are empty words. Old-world parents, disintegrating friendships, and strong feelings for other girls drive Pen to see the truth–that in order to be who she truly wants to be, she’ll have to man up.

Do I Like It: Totally.

Thoughts: Girl Mans Up is somehow a perfect example of everything contemporary realistic YA books should be, and yet also something totally unique (at least in my reading experience). It has all the elements I want from my realistic fiction — a compelling main character, conflict that is real and not forced, multi-layered and well developed supporting characters, deep and complicated relationships, and some great dialogue. But I’ve also never met characters quite like Pen, her older brother Johnny, or her exceptionally hate-able best friend Colby.

At its core, Girl Mans Up is about Pen learning to exist independently of the people around her. She’s spent most of her life friends with Colby, who has very specific ideas about how friendship works and how to treat women. Her parents want her to be a traditional Portuguese daughter, which runs counter to who Pen feels she is. She leans on her older brother Johnny for companionship, acceptance, and protection from her parents. But as the book progresses, all these layers of influence and shelter are stripped away, until Pen has to learn to stand on her own feet, and make her own judgments. It’s a rocky road, but reading about it was so immersive, and Pen’s journey was so relatable to anyone of any gender who has had a rocky road to independence.

Along the way of Pen’s journey, we get a great supporting cast of character. One of things I think Girard did best was to really show why Pen is friends with Colby in the first place. As a reader, it’s easy to hate him (in fact, it’s practically mandatory to hate him) but we do get glimpses of the fun Pen and Colby have together, the times he’s come through for her, and the things they have in common. It makes it believable that Pen would stick around for so long despite his jerkiness. Pen’s older brother Johnny has his own issues, but his unwavering love and support for Pen are among the highlights of the book, and the Johnny scenes are a huge relief after the frustrations of reading about Colby. Pen’s oldest friend Tristan, new friend, Olivia, and girlfriend, Blake, are also well-developed characters who each have their own story, and their own way of relating to Pen, which makes them interesting to read about.

Girl Mans Up is a great blend of drama, coming-of-age, romance, and family. Add in some almost uncomfortably realistic dialogue and an incredible narrative voice, Pen’s complete awesomeness (despite some flaws like her terminal hot-headedness), and Emma Galvin’s fantastic narration, and I couldn’t wait to get back in my car and keep listening. Girl Mans Up is a perfect choice for anyone looking for a good contemporary read or coming-of-age story.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Trigun

By: Kaitlyn L., Teen Blogger

Trigun Anime PosterHello, my name is Kaitlyn (buddies, and maybe future fans?, call me Kat). I’m 17 years old and I live with my mom, dad and my two year old sister. I’m not scared to say that I have autism and ADHD. Because I know that you are as sane as me. But we are here to hear my point of view, which is that of a teen. Now, teenagers have different tastes in nearly everything, so it is simple for me to understand why you may need my help. Well then, I will gladly give you a hand. Oh, and forgive me if I sound too old or formal for a normal teen, that’s just me.

Today, I am going to review an anime called Trigun. It was made in 1998, the same year I was born. The reason why you should heed my advice is because I am both a huge fan and an expert. I have watched all 26 episodes, watched the movie twice, and I’m also reading the 12th manga book of a 14 book series. Now, I also haven’t mentioned the fan art that is on my iPad.

Some people would say I’m obsessed. I would say that I am passionate over Trigun. But I should start by explaining the plot of the anime (which is different from the manga, so for the sake of time I will discuss only the anime). The story takes place in the future, with humans living on a distant desert planet called Gunsmoke. It’s like a western, only it’s in the future and has no cows or horses. Now this sandy little place is crawling with all sorts of dangers, but the most dangerous gunslinger in the whole universe lives there: The Humanoid Typhoon. The reward on his head is $60,000,000,000. I did the math and that equals to a total of $30,000,000,000 in our world.

Now, I understand why you may be thinking this guy is scary and no wonder why everybody is so gung-ho about catching him. Now here’s the kicker: his name is Vash the Stampede, or Vash for short, and he’s a die-hard pacifist who refuses to kill ANYONE. Yet here it is: this goofy, tall, skinny, fair skinned, blue-eyed, spike-haired, blonde, flirt-of-a-man is in fact the legendary outlaw that everyone is after. In fact, they are so relentless in their greed that they destroy entire cities to catch Vash. Yet Vash is blamed for the damage. So a solution for one insurance company is this: send two workers, Meryl and Milly, to follow Vash around and report any damage. Of course they quickly find out what we already know: that Vash is really a sweetheart, instead of a psycho.

That’s only the tip of the iceberg though, the rest is up to you if you want to watch. Because I’m not saying any spoilers that might ruin the story. I will, however, say this: over the course of the series, which I began to watch near the end of June, I found myself getting extremely attached to the hero of anime due to the fact that he portrayed this sense of humanity that is unmatched by anyone I have ever known. His message of love and peace is something quite special that humanity, people like you and me, strongly desire. Yet Vash sees this not as an impossibility but as a possibility that we as a whole can improve and achieve love and peace by simply talking out our problems instead of fighting. I know it may sound corny to some of you, but I’m simply saying my advice. You don’t have to take it. But if you want to watch a good anime, then I would highly recommend Trigun. I think I wrote enough for today, so goodbye.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Rebels With a Cause

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Hunger Games: Kidnap 24 children from neighboring districts and force them to kill each other - a rebellion probably won't happen.Teenage rebels – it’s a cliché almost as old as time, and personified in pop culture with books like The Catcher in the Rye or movies like Rebel Without a Cause. But nowadays, there’s more to the rebels of young adult literature than angst or aimless fury. Today’s YA is full of smart, passionate teens who stand up for something – rebels with a cause.

Everyone who’s read the Divergent or Hunger Games series knows the power of strong young women standing up for what’s right. But there are other types of rebels in fiction these days too, whether or not they’re leading a movement. Adelina Amouteru from The Young Elites rebels against a society that spurns her, while Laia from An Ember in the Ashes spies on a government that has long treated her people as second-class. There are more personal rebellions as well, whether it’s Pen in Girl Mans Up refusing to fit into the box of girlhood that she is pushed into, or Maya in This Side of Home pushing to protect her home and the people in her neighborhood.

Real life activists abound these days as well. You can read in I Am Malala about how Malala Yousafzai stood up for women’s right to be educated at great personal cost, while John Lewis lays out his work in the civil rights movement of his youth in a three-part graphic novel, March. From the activists of the past like Carlotta Walls LaNier, whose memoir A Mighty Long Way recounts how she bravely helped lead the charge for school integration, to more modern rebels like Sungju Lee who escaped from North Korea, as written about in Every Falling Star, real life teens have accomplished amazing things. Whether they are real or fictional, leading rebellions or opposing government oversight, part of a movement or simply standing up for themselves, everyone featured in this month’s “Rebels With a Cause” display is working hard to stay true to their beliefs and make their world a better place.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

On the Topic of “Based On” Movies

By: James M., Teen Blogger

Girl reading under a tree with "I've Already READ That Movie." text.In the world of entertainment, one problem which has irked me for quite some time is the increasing number of non-original “based on” movies which reach theaters. These are movies that pride themselves on being based on a true story, or a book, or on a previous movie (i.e. sequels), or any other existing tale.

Now, I call them non-original not because they lack creativity or original elements; in fact, many sequels and book adaptations feel just as, if not more, magical than their inspirations. The Martian, for instance, was an excellent book-to-film adaptation that I would happily watch a dozen times – even if the book had never existed.

However, having read the book, the premise of the movie wasn’t new to me, and therein lays the non-originality of “based on” movies: they fail to present an entirely new story. They don’t present a new intellectual property (IP). Most of the heavy lifting for writing such movies is done before the movie is even conceived. The world, characters, and aesthetics (like the world design and tone) can simply be copied from some existing intellectual property with little to no alteration; if anything, all that remains to be changed is what they all do. However, to use an analogy, if you reprogram your friend’s robot to do something somewhat new, you have not made a new robot. You’ve taken the same robot and made it slightly more appealing.

Now, the fact that these movies exist doesn’t trouble me; as I said earlier, many of these movies provide experiences as incredible as their original counterparts. What troubles me is the sheer number of “based on” movies that are created nowadays, their ratio to entirely original movies, and their implications. To demonstrate this, think of the newest, most popular movies at the time you’re reading this article. Create a mental list of the films that you might find at the Glen Arts Theater or the Marcus Theater.

Now remove all of the true story adaptations.

Now remove all of the book adaptations.

Now remove all of the sequels. (This includes anything in the Marvel or DC universe.)

How many movies are left?

Usually, the number of remaining movies is obscenely small, hovering between two and none; the number of movies removed is usually significantly larger. This trend persists even among lists of top-grossing or highest-rated movies of the last few years, where entirely original IPs are drowned out by adaptations or are entirely absent.

However, what bothers me even more than that is the implications this carries for the current mindset of Hollywood. Rather than taking the time and energy to create interesting new worlds, most studios now take the easy way out and ride the coattails of existing works for publicity. In the case of sequels, this is more respectable, as such a hypothetical studio would be reaping the harvest of their own work; however, as studios are shifting from sequels to adaptations of books and TV shows (e.g. The Peanuts Movie), Hollywood seems to be getting lazier and lazier, retelling stories that have already been told by others (and, in the case of the latter, that have already been shown in video form). I understand that, in most cases, it appears more profitable to studios to recycle existing content than to create new content, as the risk involved is minimized, but the result is that audiences are robbed of actual new content.

I know that I’m an individual voice lost in the sea of the Internet and, as a result, my opinion carries next to no weight here. I don’t intend to change the workings of Hollywood or inspire new, original films with this blog entry. My point is to show people how saturated Hollywood has become with “based on” movies and to shine a light on a bothersome pattern that’s emerged alongside them. But, who knows. Maybe if enough people read this text and show some love for original movies, the world will change. Only time will tell, though, and time hasn’t been the most helpful with this case so far.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Happy Thanksgiving!

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! As I’ve mentioned before, this is my favorite holiday. Part of this is because it’s my mom’s favorite holiday, plus I always celebrate with my extended family at my parents’ house, and part of it is because there’s a LOT of good eating involved. But part of it is because it always reminds me of how much I have to be grateful for, and for me at least, gratitude goes a long way towards happiness. But rather than focus on the big things that I’m grateful for, like family, my work, etc., today I wanted to focus on a few of the small things that I’m feeling gratitude for this year!

Netflix LogoNetflix. Because honestly, being able to binge on Parks & Recreation, Master of None, Gilmore Girls, etc. whenever I want is a treasure. It makes cooking more fun, it gives me an endless supply of amazing quotes, and is a great distraction when I’m feeling exhausted or down. And that’s not even getting into the fact that I can watch Clueless, Bring It On, and Kung Fury as often as I want. Thanks, Netflix.

Picture of Hermione Granger DollHermione Granger. I recently re-read the entire Harry Potter series, and remembered all the reasons why Hermione is one of my favorite fictional characters of all time. I identify with her, I strive to be like her, I love that she has realistic flaws while still being a powerful woman (who does an awful lot of saving the day for someone who isn’t the main character). Having Hermione in my life makes that whole life better. Thanks, Hermione.

Bluetooth. As you may know, I spend a lot of time in my car. A lot. That’s what happens when you commute from Chicago to Glen Ellyn. And this year, I got a car with Bluetooth, and it opened up a whole new world of audiobooks. I now have a much wider selection of audiobooks to choose from, and I can download them any time, and just go. No waiting for CDs to come in, no changing them out while trying to merge, no finishing a book on the commute home and having to wait till the next day for a new book, just listening. Added bonus? I can also now talk on my phone safely and hands-free, and use those commutes to catch up with family and friends as well. Thanks, Bluetooth.

A long fall. Fall is my favorite season, and we got an extra-long one this year. Being able to spend November mornings and afternoons outside walking along Lake Michigan enjoying fall colors for longer than the usual two-ish weeks was a real treat, and helped me brace for a winter that, like every winter in the Midwest, will feel much longer than is comfortable. Thanks, fall.

A Dog in a TuxDogs. Especially in clothes. I am, without a doubt, a dog person. Yes, this might be because I have a slight cat allergy. But it’s also because I find dogs fun, loyal, big enough to wrestle with and give hugs to, endlessly goofy and entertaining, and much more. One of my favorite things in the world is going home to see my parents and getting to roughhouse with, be shed on by, and give big hugs to their German Shepherd. I’ve also received endless giggles and hours of entertainment from the @dog_rates Twitter, which literally just…rates dogs. Add in some goofy outfits, and I’m starting to wonder if dogs are too big for the “small things” I feel gratitude for category. Thanks, dogs.

Green Day LogoGreen Day. Okay, so for me, this another one that pushes the boundaries of “small things” to be grateful for. When a band has been your favorite as long as Green Day has been mine, they start to take up a lot of space in your life. And a new album from Green Day this fall, plus an amazing intimate concert, helped re-ignite my love of music, helped me remember the pure joy of experiencing a great live concert, and gave me lots of fantastic new songs to belt off-key in my car during the aforementioned long commutes. Thanks, Green Day.

So those are just a few of the small things I’m feeling extra grateful for this year, although there are many, many more. What are some of the small things you’re grateful for this year? What about the big things?

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Allegiant Review

By: Melissa G., Teen Blogger

*Spoiler Alert: Includes Spoilers for Allegiant – Read with Caution*

Allegiant by Veronica Roth Book CoverOctober 22, 2013. The day the world of literature went into shock after the release of Allegiant, the final book in the Divergent trilogy. Readers everywhere went into a rage, confused as to why Veronica Roth ended the book the way she did. I’ll admit, it was quite the plot twist, and I keep rereading and rereading, trying to find the exact moment she began to resent her main character enough to kill her off. Yep, she pulled the ladder out from every fan, and killed the beloved Tris Prior.

I read the first two Divergent books in the span of a week, and I connected with Tris on a level that didn’t have anything to do with the book. She didn’t know what her future had in store. She didn’t want to betray her family, but she felt that she didn’t fit in with them, and she started a major rebellion within her community. These are all things the average teenager understands. Well, maybe not the actual rebellion thing. Tris fought for her life and she fought for what she believed in, even if it meant death. In her case, it eventually did.

I lived in the world Divergent and Insurgent created and when the third book came out, I read it within a day. When I closed the cover after an eventful day of sitting on the couch and reading, I couldn’t believe that Tris was gone. She was no longer living in the futurist dystopia that had been all I could think about for the many months I had waited for the book to come out. I was devastated and I couldn’t figure out what reason Veronica Roth had to kill her. So I did what any normal person would do and I looked it up. I looked up the motive authors had that made them kill the protagonist. In my research, I found that she wasn’t the only one who was sadistic enough to break the hearts of their fans: J.K. Rowling and multiple Harry Potter characters, Suzanne Collins and several citizens of Panem. The list goes on and on.

For a very long time, authors have gotten rid of main characters to add suspense and show that not everybody gets a happy ending. It’s the harsh truth. Noble people who have pure hearts and good intentions don’t always come out on the other side. Heroes lose people they love. Innocent bystanders are swept up into a storm they didn’t create. Life isn’t always a fairytale, and that’s what authors like Veronica Roth and Suzanne Collins try to tell us. They also tell us that sacrifice and loss can result in something better. Harry Potter gets married and has children, even after the mess of a life he’s had. Katniss loses Prim, yet comes out on the other side to live a happy life with Peeta back in District 12. And Tris, despite dying, frees the people living in the futuristic Chicago and completes her goal.

Despite the bitterness towards Veronica Roth over how she ended her trilogy, she teaches the readers a good lesson. You can do everything right and fight for what you believe in, but sometimes bad things happen. And maybe, just maybe, you can come out on the other side.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Immigration Stories

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Back in a past life (as in, pre-library days) I spent a few years working in immigration law, both private practices and non-profit. Perhaps partially because of that, I’ve always found myself interested in reading books about immigration experiences, whether they are set in the U.S. or elsewhere. With Thanksgiving around the corner, a holiday that dates back to the arrival of the very first immigrants in the United States, I wanted to highlight a few books from our Young Adult collection that deal with the lives and experiences of immigrants. All descriptions are from goodreads.com.

Check Out Joyride by Anna BanksJoyride by Anna Banks – A popular guy and a shy girl with a secret become unlikely accomplices for midnight pranking, and are soon in over their heads—with the law and with each other—in this sparkling standalone from NYT-bestselling author Anna Banks.

It’s been years since Carly Vega’s parents were deported. She lives with her brother, studies hard, and works at a convenience store to contribute to getting her parents back from Mexico.

Arden Moss used to be the star quarterback at school. He dated popular blondes and had fun with his older sister, Amber. But now Amber’s dead, and Arden blames his father, the town sheriff who wouldn’t acknowledge Amber’s mental illness. Arden refuses to fulfill whatever his conservative father expects.

All Carly wants is to stay under the radar and do what her family expects. All Arden wants is to NOT do what his family expects. When their paths cross, they each realize they’ve been living according to others. Carly and Arden’s journey toward their true hearts—and one another—is funny, romantic, and sometimes harsh.

Check Out The Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. CarlesonThe Tyrant’s Daughter by J.C. Carleson – When her father is killed in a coup, 15-year-old Laila flees from the war-torn middle east to a life of exile and anonymity in the U.S. Gradually she adjusts to a new school, new friends, and a new culture, but while Laila sees opportunity in her new life, her mother is focused on the past. She’s conspiring with CIA operatives and rebel factions to regain the throne their family lost. Laila can’t bear to stand still as an international crisis takes shape around her, but how can one girl stop a conflict that spans generations?

J.C. Carleson delivers a fascinating account of a girl—and a country—on the brink, and a rare glimpse at the personal side of international politics.

Check Out Something in Between by Melissa De La CruzSomething in Between by Melissa De La Cruz – Jasmine de los Santos has always done what’s expected of her. Pretty and popular, she’s studied hard, made her Filipino immigrant parents proud and is ready to reap the rewards in the form of a full college scholarship.

And then everything shatters. A national scholar award invitation compels her parents to reveal the truth: their visas expired years ago. Her entire family is illegal. That means no scholarships, maybe no college at all and the very real threat of deportation.

For the first time, Jasmine rebels, trying all those teen things she never had time for in the past. Even as she’s trying to make sense of her new world, it’s turned upside down by Royce Blakely, the charming son of a high-ranking congressman. Jasmine no longer has any idea where—or if—she fits into the American Dream. All she knows is that she’s not giving up. Because when the rules you lived by no longer apply, the only thing to do is make up your own.

Check Out Girl in Translation by Jean KwokGirl in Translation by Jean Kwok – When Kimberly Chang and her mother emigrate from Hong Kong to Brooklyn squalor, she quickly begins a secret double life: exceptional schoolgirl during the day, Chinatown sweatshop worker in the evenings. Disguising the more difficult truths of her life like the staggering degree of her poverty, the weight of her family’s future resting on her shoulders, or her secret love for a factory boy who shares none of her talent or ambition. Kimberly learns to constantly translate not just her language but herself back and forth between the worlds she straddles.

Through Kimberly’s story, author Jean Kwok, who also emigrated from Hong Kong as a young girl, brings to the page the lives of countless immigrants who are caught between the pressure to succeed in America, their duty to their family, and their own personal desires, exposing a world that we rarely hear about.

Written in an indelible voice that dramatizes the tensions of an immigrant girl growing up between two cultures, surrounded by a language and world only half understood, Girl in Translation is an unforgettable and classic novel of an American immigrant-a moving tale of hardship and triumph, heartbreak and love, and all that gets lost in translation.

Check Out Undocumneted by Dan-El Padilla PeraltaUndocumented by Dan-El Padilla Peralta – Dan-el Padilla Peralta has lived the American dream. As a boy, he came here legally with his family. Together they left Santo Domingo behind, but life in New York City was harder than they imagined. Their visas lapsed, and Dan-el’s father returned home. But Dan-el’s courageous mother was determined to make a better life for her bright sons.

Without papers, she faced tremendous obstacles. While Dan-el was only in grade school, the family joined the ranks of the city’s homeless. Dan-el, his mother, and brother lived in a downtown shelter where Dan-el’s only refuge was the meager library. There he met Jeff, a young volunteer from a wealthy family. Jeff was immediately struck by Dan-el’s passion for books and learning. With Jeff’s help, Dan-el was accepted on scholarship to Collegiate, the oldest private school in the country.

There, Dan-el thrived. Throughout his youth, Dan-el navigated these two worlds: the rough streets of East Harlem, where he lived with his brother and his mother and tried to make friends, and the ultra-elite halls of a Manhattan private school, where he could immerse himself in a world of books and where he soon rose to the top of his class.

From Collegiate, Dan-el went to Princeton, where he thrived, and where he made the momentous decision to come out as an undocumented student in a Wall Street Journal profile a few months before he gave the salutatorian’s traditional address in Latin at his commencement.

Check Out The Arrival by Shaun TanThe Arrival by Shaun Tan – In a heartbreaking parting, a man gives his wife and daughter a last kiss and boards a steamship to cross the ocean. He’s embarking on the most painful yet important journey of his life- he’s leaving home to build a better future for his family.

Shaun Tan evokes universal aspects of an immigrant’s experience through a singular work of the imagination. He does so using brilliantly clear and mesmerizing images. Because the main character can’t communicate in words, the book forgoes them too. But while the reader experiences the main character’s isolation, he also shares his ultimate joy.

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

Has the Internet Become America’s Favorite Storytelling Medium?

By: Sean Ma., Teen Blogger

Gangnam Style from PSY Video StillAs the age of computers has come to dominate how people interact with others, it has become apparent that the Internet has become more influential than more traditional forms of storytelling in American culture, such as television, due to its increased presence in the household.

Many articles online have found that the average amount of views for Internet videos has vastly outnumbered those for weekly television episodes, which intrigued me enough to investigate further, seeking truly how much more influential the Internet has become, compared to television. When researching the most viewed Internet video, and the most viewed television broadcast in U.S. history, the difference was shocking.

The most viewed YouTube video of all time was found to be Gangnam Style, with nearly 2.6 billion views since its release in 2012. As for the most viewed television broadcast in U.S. history, the result was Super Bowl XLIX with only 115.2 million views. However, this information can be deceiving, as the Internet allows for anyone to watch any video multiple times, whereas television broadcasts such as the Super Bowl are exclusively shown once, rarely to be aired again. Due to the availability of endless streaming for Internet videos, it becomes hard to determine the true influence of Internet over television. On the other hand, this availability for audiences to view videos that are uploaded to the Internet at any time may add to the Internet’s power and influence over television.

Personally, I have begun to spend more time viewing media via the Internet rather than looking up shows on TV. The freedom of choice that the Internet gives to viewers may seem more intriguing than television’s scheduled broadcasts that are aired and gone within an hour. As the future of television becomes weaker and weaker with new ways to stream media via the Internet, only time will tell whether the Internet has truly become America’s main storytelling medium.

 

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School

What I Just Read – Labyrinth Lost

By: Hannah Rapp, Young Adult Librarian

Check Out Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida CordovaIt’s not every day you find a book you devour most of in a day and have a chance to meet the author. Having done both, I think it’s safe to say I’m a little obsessed with today’s What I Just Read book.

What I Just Read: Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Córdova

What’s It About (Jacket Description): Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires.

Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

Do I Like It: SO. MUCH.

Thoughts: Oh my goodness. This book, y’all. THIS BOOK. I’d been hearing about Labyrinth Lost for a few months, so when I finally got it checked out right before I left for a conference, I was thrilled. Even better? The author, Zoraida Córdova was at the conference. So I’ll admit, with all the buzz and starting the book literally within hours of meeting the author, I was predisposed to like Labyrinth Lost.

But I was also a little worried about it not living up to the hype. Nothing kills a good reading high like going from something you love to something disappointing. Luckily for me, Labyrinth Lost was all I hoped and then some. Magic, family, adventure, friendship, romance – this book has basically everything I want from my fantasy novels. Add in some dragons and it would be perfect.

At its heart, Labyrinth Lost is a classic “hero’s journey,” but with a few fun twists. Our heroine, Alex, gets a call like any other hero – but also not. Her call is the awakening of her powers, powers she’s known about her whole life, powers her mother and sisters embrace. But although the call is not unique to her, Alex, like many other heroes, rejects it. Unfortunately, rejecting the call is precisely what sets her on the path for her quest, because, as it turns out, banishing her powers means banishing her family. And Alex loves her family more than anything.

I loved that Labyrinth Lost was a familiar quest story, but also that it plays with some of the tropes. Alex is not learning about powers she never knew she had, she’s simply learning to accept a part of her she’s known about all along. And while she screws up plenty on her journey, the story isn’t about Alex getting drawn into an adventure by someone else, Baggins-style, but instead about her taking responsibility for her own mistake and dragging herself off on an adventure.

Like most books I love, Labyrinth Lost excels at portraying complicated, intense relationships, particularly when it comes to Alex’s family. Her father’s gone, she feels distant from her mother, fights with her older sister, and doesn’t quite understand her powerful younger sister. She prefers focusing on school and athletics rather than communing with dead spirits and looking through the Book of Cantos, the heart of her family’s spell-casting. But never, even at the beginning when she resents them, does Alex question her love for her family. She puts them above everything, and even her fear and dislike of her own power is born largely from her love of her family, and her fear on their behalf.

Alex’s interactions with her best friend, Rishi, and her guide in Los Lagos, Nova, are also really well-done. Nova is something of a mystery, and Alex (and the reader) are unsure of his motivations or how much to trust him. But he’s also charismatic and likable, and puts himself in great danger for Alex, and watching her try to balance how much she likes him and is drawn to him with how much she distrusts him is fascinating. As for Rishi, the best friend who accepts Alex fully no matter what, she’s kind and magnetic, and it’s easy to see why Alex falls for her. But the romantic element of their friendship never overpowers the fact that it is also a friendship, and a great one. I love that Córdova doesn’t make the romance and friendship mutually exclusive; after all, are any of our relationships just one thing?

On top of all this great characterization and relationships, there is a page-turning adventure with some immersive world-building. Elements of Los Lagos and bruja magic reminded me of this mythology or that, this trope or that, but without ever being clearly based on just one thing. That gives the world of Labyrinth Lost both the comfort of familiarity, and the excitement of a whole new world and magical system.

If it wasn’t already abundantly clear, I loved Labyrinth Lost, and I can’t wait for the sequel. If you like magic, otherworldly adventures, quests, or great relationships, I highly recommend this book!

Posted in The Teen Scene: GEPL High School