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Student voice 10 Jan 2020

Student book reviews

By Maitri D and Anusha S (grade 11s)
Photograph by CIS Communications

Book Review by Maitri D, "Beautiful Creatures" by Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl 

“Half-moon’s for workin’ white magic, full moon’s for workin’ black”

Ethan Lawson Wate has been having a recurring blurry dream for months, falling through mud with a girl whose fate is wrapped around his. The dream always left his head throbbing and heart racing. All Ethan has ever wanted is to leave Gatlin where nothing ever changes. Well, that’s what he wanted and thought until the arrival of a curse in the form of a girl.

Green eyes, black hair, bad omen with her ‘little chain of memories’ always around her neck.  That’s Leena Duchannes for you. The storm that arrives with her breaks all the set plots, bringing along a year full of changes and surprises.

This original fantasy with a rich gothic setting captures the reader in adventure and fate of the protagonists. The book introduces the readers with a new community of ‘casters’’ and their fascinating world. This book is difficult to put down and leaves the reader with an urge to finish the whole quadrilogy.

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Book review by Anusha S, "My Heart and Other Black Holes" by Jasmine Warga

My Heart and other Black holes, by Jasmine Warga, is a story about two sixteen-year-olds: physics-obsessed Aysel and Roman. Both of them are plotting their own death to escape the clutches of life. Aysel is trying to escape the violent criminal life her father left behind while Roman is trying to escape a life haunted by family tragedy.

A big reason I picked up this book was its similarity to a movie, where two strangers who fail at a suicide attempt meet at a bridge, and make a pact to jump from the same bridge on New Year's day and until then, cross things off their bucket list. In the course of the movie, each actor reveals why they want to die and after the girl's revelation she attempts suicide by drinking poison, but recovers.

The story of the book is similar to the movie in various aspects. Aysel wants to die because of her father's actions which haunt her present and Roman, because he blames himself for the death of a family member. They both meet online through a suicide website 'Smooth Passages' and become 'Suicide Partners'. They each reveal their story and as they spend time together fall in love. While Aysel feels that this budding romance and the sharing of her fears has changed her thoughts on attempting suicide, Roman remains undeterred. Roman gets a whiff of her changing feelings and attempts suicide by himself. However, he is saved by Aysel and they live happily ever after.

A major problem with this book was that Aysel's father's murderous act was kept in the dark for a really long time before showing its drastic aftermath. This really amplified the issue forcing the reader to think of horrible possibilities. However, once revealed, the act did not do justice to its hyped up after effects. Yes, the behaviour was brutal... but not brutal enough.

Another issue would be the ending of the book. This book ends shortly after Roman implicitly tells Aysel that he would not attempt suicide. I was expecting so much more to come from this book. Having read novels about depression I am well aware of the depths these books can go to, but this one just skimmed the surface. I was hoping to read about Roman's recovery after his failed attempt at suicide. Does he eventually stop blaming himself for the family member’s death or does he still live under the burden? 

Another mystery was Aysel's attempt to meet her father. She goes with Roman to the facility where he is supposed to be locked up only to find out that he has been transferred to a mental institution. Upon confronting her mother, Melda, she agrees to come with Aysel to the hospital.... and that's it. Nothing about the encounter with her father, about understanding why her father snapped that night. I was also hoping to read about the life of the two characters once they have decided to live...about Roman's steady recovery and what turn their relationship take.

I would recommend this book to readers who enjoy the genre of subtle romance and dark mood. People who need the reminder that there is so much more to life than stress and anxiety. Most of all for people who need the reassurance that there is ALWAYS hope.

If you have any thoughts on my review or on the book, please email me at ansi2021@cis.edu.sg

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