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  • July 2020
    M T W T F S S

Teen Review: Adam Reads The Hunger Games and Asks ‘Book or Movie?’

Hi! I’m Adam, and despite being a senior at Central Catholic I try to find time to do anything and everything. I will read any kind of book I can get my hands on and even though my reading list is currently a million books long I will finish it someday. Maybe. If it weren’t for the fact that I add something new to it literally every day…

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Once in a while a man will try to sound smarter than he really is an roll out that age old question, “which came first, the chicken or the egg?” This question is dated and useless (after all, we all know the DINOSAURS came first), especially to people of a younger disposition. We aren’t farmers- so we need something practical. So I propose the question: “which came first: the book or the movie?”

Right about now, a lot of you are probably pulling out your Captain Obvious hats and saying “but Adam! Of course the book came first, why else would they make the movie?” Then there is that small segment of you screaming about your movie novelizations and screenplays, claiming the opposite. These are, of course, valid points—if it weren’t for the fact they miss MY point altogether.

A few weeks ago I broke down to peer pressure (I’m not a good example, kids) and read the Hunger Games. Everyone had been telling me to, and I decided just to get it over with in a day or two. While I do admit it was an alright book (certainly not great, but don’t get me started), watching the movie a few days later made me realize that it was one of the few movie adaptations that I’ve ever seen that was better than the book. It made me wish I had (GASP) seen the movie before the book.

That’s where my question comes in: do you read the book first, or see the movie? That is, of course, if it even matters to you. I have a personal unwritten creed to always read the book before the movie—which is why I’m currently trudging through Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy on a long trek to seeing Benedict Cumberbatch and Gary Oldman on the same screen—but I am sure that is a foreign concept to a lot of people.

I have a friend who has watched all seven Harry Potter films without reading a single book. To me, that is absolutely absurd, but it proves that there are indeed people out there who will watch the movie adaption of something first. So, faithful reader, how about you: the movie or the book (or are you some sort of savant who reads the book while watching the movie?!?)

Teen Review: The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

Hey! I’m Goda, a high school junior who loves photography and, of course, reading. I also enjoy acoustic music, and I hope my insights help you find your next favorite book!

The Way We Fall by Megan Crewe

After skimming the back cover of this novel, I expected a good story with a predictable ending, but I ended up with an amazing page-turner that kept me up waaaay past my bedtime.

Kaelyn is a sixteen-year-old girl who lives in a small town on a small island. The Way We Fall is written as a journal of letters from Kaelyn to her best friend, Leo, who has left the island in order to go to school. Kaelyn and Leo haven’t talked for a while, and these letters are Kaelyn’s promise to reignite their friendship when he gets home.

After a few chapters of Kaelyn reminiscing through when-we-were-best-friends memories, the novel gets quite interesting. A strange virus is sweeping through the town, infecting everyone. Although it starts out small, it breaks out into an epidemic that crumbles the structure of the entire society. The government quarantines the island, and supplies are limited. Kaelyn befriends a former enemy, Gav, and together they struggle to survive. Gangs are hoarding the little supplies that are left, and the local hospital is filled way passed capacity.

Eventually, as expected, the virus infects someone close to Kaelyn (I won’t give away who), and the story becomes a real nail-biter. Throughout all of these event, Kaelyn continues to write to Leo, and this personal format makes her story seem that much more intimate.

The progression of the virus, and of Kaelyn’s panic, is easy to understand through Kaelyn’s journal entries. Like I said, I couldn’t put this book down until I had finished it. Kaelyn’s struggle is so broad: she has to worry about her little sister, herself, and her father, who is a doctor at the local hospital. This, along with the love connection she has with Gav, proves Kaelyn to be a very interesting character who doesn’t get dull. I loved this book, and was ecstatic when I realized it was the first in a trilogy. Can’t wait for the next one. Must read.

True Tales of Snowy Terror

By mid-January, you can usually count on your Facebook newsfeed to be full of complaints about snow, sleet, and freezing cold temperatures. But in the last few weeks, Pittsburgh has been having some suspiciously spring-like days. As we settle in for winter’s late arrival, you could conjure up the cold yourself by digging into some chilling true stories of snowy terror & survival.

You’ve probably heard about the Donner Party—the group of wagon-training westbound pioneers who ended up snowbound in the mountains of California in 1846. Many of them died of cold and starvation, and the rest survived by eating the flesh of the dead. Get all the gritty details by picking up one of the many books on the subject available through CLP.

In The Indifferent Stars Above: The Harrowing Saga of a Donner Party Bride, Daniel James Brown tells the true story of Sarah Graves, a twenty-one year-old girl who set out on the ill-fated voyage with her brand new husband. Brown recounts Sarah’s terrible downward spiral of a journey, from newly wedded bliss to cannibalism. Talk about a disappointing honeymoon.

If you’re into tales of struggle and survival, you could also check out the infamous story of the Uruguayan rugby team whose plane crashed in the Andes, leaving the survivors stranded in the snowy mountains to confront isolation, avalanches, and starvation.

Pick up a copy of the classic Alive: The Story of the Andes Survivors by Piers Paul Read to read all about it.

Not bone-chilling enough? Head over to Wikipedia and read about the utterly creepy Dyatlov Pass Incident of 1959. Here’s the quick lowdown: nine hikers disappear in the snowy Russian mountains and it takes weeks before rescuers finally discover their bodies. BUT to this day, no one can figure out exactly what went down. It appears they had all settled in to sleep, only to wake in the night, rip open their tent from the inside, and take off running (barefoot!) into the subzero temperatures of the mountain wilderness. What mysterious force could have caused them to leave their sleeping bags for certain icy death? Bears…maybe? Abominable snowman?

Sadly no books on this one so far…looks like a job for some brave scholar of the future.

Stay warm!

Maggie, CLP Carrick

Teen review: Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

My name is Jenna. I go to a high school where I’m part of the marching band and the cheerleading squad. I’m pretty busy, but I always find time to read. I’m also very creative and I like doing little crafts out of random things I find.

Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan

The novel “Glow” is a book that shows us the lives of two teenagers; Waverly and Kieran. But, these aren’t just two ordinary teens. They live on a spaceship heading to a new planet. For Waverly and Kieran, their ship, the Empyrean, is all that they’ve ever known. They were born on the Empyrean and they know every single person on the ship; adult, child, everyone.

But their ordinary, familiar world is about to change. The Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon, that left Earth one year before the Empyrean, is planning an attack. The people aboard the New Horizon are all infertile. They can’t reproduce which means they won’t have a new generation to run the ship when they all die. Because of this dilemma, the New Horizon plans an attack and kidnaps all of the girls on the Empyrean.

While the girls are on the New Horizon, the people on the Empyrean are experiencing chaos. Due to freak accidents caused by the attack, almost all of the adults are either dead or kidnapped, which just leaves the boys to control and run the Empyrean.

One of the main themes of this book is how children under the age of sixteen react to tragedy and also to see if they can prevail and beat all odds. For example, it’s up to Waverly to save all the girls on the New Horizon and to save the adults that are kept there too. And it’s Kieran’s responsibility to be the leader for the boys on the Empyrean and to keep their spirits up.

This novel takes us through the tragedy, terror, anger, and love of the teenagers of the ship that are suddenly put in a leadership position they don’t necessarily want.

We Call it Post-Apocalyptic

I’m not sure whats up with me.  Lately it seems like everything I’ve read, listened to or watched has had some sort of post disaster survival element.  The abundance of disasters in my media consumption has prompted some interesting conversations. For example, I don’t think I’d be the first to bite it in an eco disaster, or  WW-III, but I doubt I’d last long.  I do just fine in my current life, but if I had to depend on my knowledge of edible plants, or my ability to make a fire without matches I think I’d be sunk.   I’m also pretty sure I’d be bad at decapitating zombies.
Its no surprise writers use disasters as the setting for movies, TV and books. Disasters bring out the best and worst in people, they’re inherently dramatic and there’s usually a battle between good an evil.  The aftermath of disaster is such a compelling setting that we have a whole genre of teen fiction dedicated to it.  We call it Post Apocalyptic.  Take a look at a few of my favorite post disaster books or ask your librarian for suggestions.

A Canticle for Leibowitz, Walter Miller
This one is an oldie but a goodie…it was old even when I read it way back in High School (yeah I know…).  Anyway, this is a true Post Apocalyptic story of civilization 600 years after a nearly world ending nuclear attack.  The story is told in three parts.  The first describes how the remains of civilization struggle through another dark age where anyone interested in learning or even able to read is considered a danger.  That’s followed by an age of  intellectual and political upheaval similar to our Renaissance.  Then finally once civilization has fully embraced education and learning again, the influences of humanity’s more sinister instincts put us back on the brink of world war.  This story is just really well written with all sorts of symbolism and reference to religion, and history.  I highly recommend this one.  It may be challenging but its worth the work
Life As We Knew It, Susan Beth Pfeffer

The setting of this Post Apocalyptic story will look much more familiar to many of you. Miranda, the narrator of this story describes day to day events in the journal entries that form Life As We Knew It.  She begins with the same concerns most of us have in High School, but her story quickly becomes a tale of survival after an asteroid hits the moon pushing it much closer to the earth.  This event sets off a series of natural disasters creating widespread famine and violence as food and clean water dwindle.  *If this story hits the mark check out Pfeffers follow up books The Dead and The Gone, and This World We Live In.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
Zombies!  Sometime in the past, generations ago a plague of the undead swept through the land.  To cope whats left of humanity set up a strict set of rules governing society.  Meanwhile the undead stalk the forest.  All the important events in our narrator Mary’s life are directed by the Sisterhood.  They decide when she’ll be married and how her life will unfold.   But when the fence that protects her society from the undead is breached she and a few friends must venture out in search of safety.  Wherever Zombies go violence and gore are sure to follow so keep an eye out for some gruesome passages in this excellent novel and its sequels The Dead Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.
If, like me, you get the feeling you could use a little brushing up on your skills after reading a few of these books check out some of the survival resources we also have at the library.
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