Saturday, December 15, 2018

The Maze Runner, by James Dashner


The Maze Runner, by James Dashner
I decided to read this series quite on accident. One of my mother’s friend had given us some books. One of the books included the fourth book in the Maze Rubber series. This gave me the perfect opportunity to start reading this series. There are five books in all, the first three being the main books, and the other two being prequels. My favourite books were the first one – The Maze Runner, and the last one – The Fever Code. The main books talk about a boy named Thomas who remembers nothing except his name. He wakes up to find himself with a bunch of boys, all who are like him, stranded in a maze with nothing except their name. The boys call the place the glade and themselves Gladers. Every month, a new person is introduced into the Glade, and this time it is Thomas. After Thomas arrives, the next day, another person is put in, and it is the first girl in the whole group. There are openings in the Glade and hey close every night. This keeps monsters called Grievers out of the living residence. The doors in the Glade stop closing and that the Grievers outside can get to them. Thomas and his friends figure out that a group called WICKED have trapped them in the maze and they manage to escape, but WICKED isn’t done with them yet. They put the Gladers into many other tasks in order to obtain a cure for a disease which has taken over the population of the world and is driving people to madness. They will not stop until they find a cure, even if that means that many lives will be taken. Will Thomas and his friends escape before WICKED’s experiments claim yet more lives, and this time, perhaps theirs?

I fell in love with this series after reading the blurb. It sounded gripping, much like a thriller, a genre of books I particularly enjoy. The author, James Dashner, managed to keep up the suspense, and when you read the fifth book, you are surprised to find the whole truth, as the main books leave a lot of unanswered questions which the fifth book answers. I would recommend the series for ages 13 above, because the books have a few gruesome deaths which can be disturbing to read.




© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 8, 2018

City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments), by Cassandra Clare


City of Heavenly Fire (The Mortal Instruments), by Cassandra Clare

Mortal Instruments: In the seventh grade, I wanted to read this series, but my librarian said that I was too young for it. In the eighth grade, I started reading it (I do not know what one year of time can do to a kid which makes them suitable to do tasks which they were not allowed to do before). This series is written by Cassandra Clare. The whole series talks about a different world from the human one, where werewolves, vampires, wizards, etc. all exist, but are much different from what you imagine. They are commonly referred to as Downworlders. Topping them all are Shadowhunters, a race of warriors who have sworn to protect the humans and the Downworlders from demons. The main protagonist is a sixteen-year-old girl named Clary Fray, who is told she is a a Shadowhunter in the first book. The series has two main antagonists, one is Valentine and the other is Sebastian, both who I am not going to tell you about because they are spoilers. All I can tell you is that they are two power-hungry maniacs, one who wants to wipe out all the Downworlders and the other who wants to wipe out all shadowhunters. Clary along with her friends have to stop these two villains before they wipe out an entire species.

It was the first series which I have read, where there was some serious romance between the characters (I skipped those bits. Too soppy for my tastes). This made it different, because before reading a page, I had to skim over it, fearfully, hoping there weren’t any nasty surprises.




© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, December 1, 2018

The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon


The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, by Mark Haddon

The curious incident of the dog in the night-time: My father really wanted me to read it, saying that it was very well-written. He was right as usual. The book is one of my favorites and is so different, unique. The narrator of the book is a fifteen-year-old boy named Christopher Boone who has some behavioral issues and is an introvert. One of Christopher’s talents is his ability to excel at Math and Physics. However, due to his behavorial issues, he can’t read others’ emotions at all and that makes it hard for him to communicate with people. One day, he sees his neighbor’s dog being murdered and is determined to solve the mystery. On the way, he finds out the truth about a lot of things which had been left unexplained or lied about to him.

Mark Haddon has truly made this book stand out. One thing that catches your eye is the fact that the chapter numbers are not consecutive numbers but are prime numbers. The style of writing is very simple and allows you to explore the mind of young Christopher Boone. Every step taken by Christopher is explained and sounds sensible from his perspective. More than the solving of a mystery, it is more of Christopher’s way of solving the problems in life. It gives you a different perspective from which you can look at a problem - a somewhat simpler one.



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© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, November 24, 2018

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories Kindle Edition by R J Palacio

Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories, by R J Palacio

Auggie and Me: This is the second book written by R. J. Palacio after ‘Wonder’. For those of you who haven’t read her earlier book, it talks about the difficulties in the life of a boy named Auggie Pullman who has a physically deformed face and bad health. ‘Auggie and Me’, is related to Wonder, but it doesn’t talk about Auggie. It talks about the people in Auggie’s life. These two books made me read ‘The curious incident of the dog in the night time’, as all three talk about boys who have some problems with social interaction but are extremely talented and unique when you get to know them. It is like their backstory, sharing a little bit of what it was like before they met Auggie, and their experience with him. There are three stories in it – one from Julian’s perspective (a boy who bullied Auggie), Christopher (Auggie’s earlier friend) and Charlotte (a girl who is kind to Auggie).

Sunday, November 18, 2018

The Brahmin, by Ravi Shankar Etteth

The Brahmin, by Ravi Shankar Etteth

Avishi and Abhaya are two historical fictions written by Sai Swaroopa Iyer. After reading them, I started enjoying historical fictions and was thirsting for more. That was when my father gave me The Brahmin written by Ravi Shankar Etteth. It is a murder mystery set in the time of King Ashoka.

When one of King Ashoka’s concumbines is murdered, the eponymous Brahmin, the head of the spies working under Ashoka, is sent to investigate. On reaching the murder site, he finds a red kovidara flower next to the body, which indicates that the dangerous assassin, famously known as the Red Flower is on the loose and is here to kill the king. When he informs the King about this, he is given seven days in which to find and capture the killer. The Brahmin along with his trusted lieutenant Hao decide to go to Ujjain, the residence of Queen Asandhimitra, as the war strategy plans are stored there. He stumbles upon sinister plots and his cunning is put to test when there is a chance that Queen Asandhimitra’s life is in danger too. How will he save Magadha when the enemy is always two steps ahead of him?

Wednesday, May 30, 2018

Carrie By Stephen King

Carrie
By Stephen King
Category: fiction: horor
Age: 12+
Reviewed by: Anvita
Buy from: Amazon IN, Amazon US

One of Stephen King’s earlier novels, this book explores the world of a bullied girl, Carrie, with a maniacal mother, and of the wondrous power of telekinesis which Carrie possesses, that does such horrible things. Carrie is teased at every stage of her life and is beaten up by her mother all the time. When Tommy Ross invites her to the prom ball, Chris, one of Carrie’s bullies along with her boyfriend Billy Nolan plan up a horrible night for Carrie. Forced, Carrie uses her powers that lead to terrible consequences. This was one of the first horror books that I have read, and I quiet enjoyed it because it wasn’t actually as scary as it was interesting. The reason I liked the book was how Stephen King built the plot up, and the techniques he used to make the whole story of Carrie believable, as if Carrie was a real-life character. He describes the mentality of every single character helping us understand why someone was evil and why someone was not. He has also used fake newspaper article snippets on Carrie’s problems, and has also created a fake autobiography written by Sue Snell, one of Carrie’s classmates. This makes the story very credible, as Stephen King also includes science articles that show how someone can have telekinesis.
© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Saturday, May 26, 2018

The Last Ghost: A Belladonna Johnson Adventure by Helen Stringer

The Last Ghost: A Belladonna Johnson Adventure (Belladonna Johnson Mystery)
by Helen Stringer
Category: fiction: fantasy, horror
Age: 12+
Reviewed by: Anvita
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This is one of the books in the Belladonna Johnson series, which is written by Helen Stringer. It revolves around a girl named Belladonna Johnson who has the power to talk to ghosts. One day, all the ghosts slowly start to vanish, and that includes her dead parents, whose absence she never felt because she would talk to their ghosts. With the help of Steve, her friend, Belladonna has to find where all the ghosts are disappearing. Before her father disappears, he warns her that the doors are closing, leaving Belladonna puzzled. Which doors? Where are the ghosts going to? I thought that this book was full of mystery and adventure, and a lot of humour. Helen Stringer made you wonder where the ghosts could have gone at every step, and also introduced a new plot in the book adding more excitement and making you want to read the next book to find out what happens. She introduced a whole new story once the ghosts started disappearing which is what actually drew me to the book.

 © 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Friday, May 25, 2018

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer

Artemis Fowl
by Eoin Colfer
category: fantasy, Science-fiction
Age: 9-12+years
Reviewed by: Anvita
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

Most people must have heard of this series, and I have to admit I hadn’t read it until late. I went to this bookstore called ‘Blossom’ on Church Street and bought the first book of the Artemis Fowl series to see what the speciality of the book was. Believe me, this series of books are mind-blowing. Artemis Fowl, a twelve-year-old criminal mastermind, discovers the world of the People, basically the world of pixies, elves, dwarfs, goblins, centaurs and much more. He wants to steal some of the gold that the People possess. In order to do this, he first convinces an ailing sprite to lend him the copy of the Book, the only text that contained all the rules that the People would abide by. He then kidnaps Captain Holly Short, a fairy who works as a captain at LEPrecon (Lower Elements Police Recon) and asks for a huge ransom. The People decide to set off a bio bomb once they run out of all options. A bio bomb is a bomb that destroys any form of living tissue in the place where it has been set up, leaving the rest the way it was. How will Artemis escape the bio bomb, and also secure the gold he wants? This book has been able to describe the magical world effortlessly without making things too complicated or confusing.

Unlike most books about magic that I have read, these books slowly introduce facts about magic that need to be known to the reader. The plot never lags or gets boring. There is a twist at every turn, yet there aren’t too many - just enough to keep the story interesting. There is a lot of suspense and the reader can’t stop anticipating what would happen next.

© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Thursday, May 24, 2018

Time Riders - Book 1 By Alex Scarrow

Time Riders - Book 1
By Alex Scarrow
category: fantasy, crime, thriller, science-fiction
Age: 12-16 years
Reviewed by: Anvita
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN

This book is a science fiction books series written by Alex Scarrow. It talks about a group called ‘The Agency’, whose main goal is to prevent people from meddling with the past to change the future. Three people, Liam, Maddy and Sal, who should have been dead, have been given the chance to join ‘The Agency’ and get to live life in secret. Foster, an old man who recruited them helps them run the agency. They work with the help of cyborgs, robots who can imitate human emotions. Their first mission is when a man called Kramer goes back to the time of Adolf Hitler and changes the past so that Hitler wins the world war. This results in a huge time wave. They now live in a place which is rigidly structured and the whole of New York city is bleak and grey. Liam and the cyborg Bob must go back in time to prevent Kramer from changing the past. Later Maddy, Sal and Foster find out that all their engines have shut down, and they need diesel to run them again. Meanwhile, another time wave strikes that ends up killing all life on earth and mutant cannibal creatures now live on Earth. How will the three bring back Bob and Liam without their engines working?

This series is very fascinating, as the part about time travel and the machines used is explained very well. The technique using which the three handle the problems with the help of Bob, their support unit, is truly unique, and none of the stories in the books is repetitive. Each character’s personality is different, allowing the hero to have some faults, showing that not everyone is perfect. To make the story better, Alex Scarrow has added a different plot. While the three are busy correcting history, they discover dark secrets about the agency. This makes it mystifying and each secret is very important to finding out the truth about the Agency.

© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

Point Blank (Alex Rider Book 2) by Anthony Horowitz


Point Blank (Alex Rider Book 2)
 by Anthony Horowitz
category: fantasy, science fiction, horror
Age: 12+years
Reviewed by: Anvita
Buy from: Amazon US, Amazon IN
 
In the last newsletter, I talked about a series called ‘Power of Five: Raven’s Gate’. The same author has written another best-selling series named ‘Alex Rider’. Filled with the hair-rising adventures of Alex Rider, a fourteen-year-old who is forced to take the place of his deceased uncle, Ian Rider, an undercover spy for MI6. He is sent on a mission to reveal the secrets of Point Blanc, a disciplinary school where the rich send their children to help keep their toes in line. The accidental deaths of two parents whose kids were at Point Blanc, makes the MI6 suspicious and they send Alex to investigate the place. He is disguised as the son of Sir David Friend, a rich man who owns a successful chain of supermarkets and is equipped with a set of clever gadgets to assist him. The genius of the plot of any of the books in this series is that the solution is so spectacularly clever that one cannot even think of it, yet when one reviews all the facts, everything adds up. Usually in books involving spies, they mostly mention the excitement of the profession, but this book takes a new perspective. It shows the dislike that Alex feels towards the agency and his profession. None of the scenes in the books sound very repetitive, as if the plot of this book is the same as the plot in other such books.
© 2018, Anvita Agarwal. All rights reserved.