ALL ABOUT MIA – Review by Krish, Queen Elizabeth’s School

miaAll About Mia is a book about three sisters: Grace, who is the oldest, Audrey, the youngest, and Mia, stuck in the middle. Grace is the ‘perfect’ one, set for life, in Mia’s opinion, and the same with Audrey, the ‘future Olympic swimming champion.’ Hence it seems peculiar that the title of the book is ‘All About Mia,’ when it seems as though she doesn’t have a ‘thing’ like her sisters.

Not only this, but Mia seems to think it’s never about her, either, having described her ‘It’s All About Mia’ t-shirt as ‘ironic’. To her, it always seems as if Grace and Audrey are getting all the praise, and she’s the one who isn’t as highly looked upon by her parents. She thinks this might change when Grace returns home from Greece, pregnant. At first, her parents are disappointed in Grace, and Mia is happy thinking that her sister is in the trouble she deserves. But things cool down soon and it’s back to square one for Mia.

I find the sudden plot changes quite dramatic and engaging on the whole, which made me want to read this book more – such that I’d find myself reading it for hours without noticing. However, what I found most interesting was Audrey running away from home and what was in her note. I find it ironic that Audrey firstly thinks that nothing is about her – it’s all about Mia and Grace fighting; especially since Mia thinks it’s never about her, and secondly, I find it interesting that Audrey thought herself to be stuck in the ‘middle’ of her sisters’ arguments, when Mia is often referred to as being stuck in the middle.

Overall, I found this book extremely enthralling – I think Mia is my favourite character, because you never know what you’re going to get with her. Sometimes she’s helpful, such as in the end when she helped Grace but other times she can act despicable and not be a pleasant person to be with. I had high expectations of this book after reading ‘The Art of Being Normal,’ and to be honest, it fulfilled them.

Rating: 9/10

MALADAPTED – Review by Ivin, Queen Elizabeth’s School

maladaptedIn the book Maladapted, Richard Kurti has created a brilliant and ingenious juxtaposition between science and religion. Mr Kurti effectively narrates this action packed tale through the perfectly engineered eyes of Cillian, a gifted maths student who has an unusual, almost obsessive, skill of finding patterns all around him. However, right from the beginning Kurti plunges the main protagonist into a world of confusion, vulnerability and pain through the death of Cillian’s father in a calculated deadly terrorist attack carried out by an extremist organisation called Revelation. With the death of his father, Cillian embarks on a journey of self-discovered chasing the only lead he has: his father’s dying word ‘Gilgamesh’.

His desperate search for answers brings him closer and closer to the extremist organisation that started all his problems, the organisation that had killed his father and regards him as an abomination, not a person – not a child, not even human. Through his journey he meets Tess, an orphan who has been adopted by Revelation and who now works as their ‘assassin of peace’. It was Tess who placed the bomb who killed his father – but despite all the reasons Cillian has to hate Tess and all she stands for, they instantly become friends who heavily depend on each other to escape from the torments of their dystopian world.

Overall I really liked Mr Kurti’s book and found his fast-paced story line refreshing and compulsive. I particularly appreciate his bravery in writing about a truly fascinating conflict between the developments in science and how they react and impact on religion. Furthermore the possibility of perfectly engineered humans is excellently portrayed and the ethical and moral questions raised are, I think, vividly encompassed within Cillian’s determined yet compassionate personality, which really shows how humanity is more accurately described through the emotions and feelings that we as humans experience. I also love the strength of Tess’s and Cillian’s friendship that runs throughout the storyline, which is particularly moving because of the fact that Tess is the one responsible for Cillian’s father’s death. Finally, taking the tragic terrorist attacks that have occurred recently throughout the world but mainly in London, it makes the story more impactful on its audience, but also more relatable – particularly to older teenagers who will be able to understand and appreciate how terrorism can be solved by perseverance, friendship and love.

However, there are a few things that I think Mr Kurti could have improved on to make his novel even more captivating. Firstly I think he could have developed his characters in more depth and made their personalities more complex to make the relationship between the two characters stronger as well as creating more empathy between the characters and the reader. Secondly, I think the end of each chapter was too abrupt and detached from the overall story; each chapter lacked the flow and continuity that is vital in an action-packed novel. Kurti could have achieved this by maybe describing the setting in more detail, in particular the futuristic setting of the city. Lastly, although his use of the contrasting ideas of science and religion is genius, I think he fails to bring the two extremes to a conclusion or middle ground, as the reader is still left unclear on which character is more morally correct.

In conclusion, Maladapted is a very enjoyable, gripping read that is a must for Divergent and Jurassic Park fans. I would also recommend this book to teenagers between 11-15 who enjoy enthralling science-fiction books. Kurti’s original concept of the conflict between science and faith earns him a fantastic four out of five stars.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Manas, Queen Elizabeth’s School

boy-mountainThe Boy at the Top of the Mountain by John Boyne is a novel set in the period of WW2. It focuses on a boy named Pierrot later known as Pieter and how his life entangled and was affected by the Fuhrer of Germany.

The author beautifully uses moving to different places to provide the structure to the storyline, ending with a full circle. The book starts out with the Pierrot, aged seven, living with his mother in Paris and also ends with him returning to his hometown, now a young man.

This journey is what develops Pierrot’s character and the people he meets along the way some staying with him longer than others. This depicts the ever changing nature of life and how we can never truly know for certain what awaits us in the future.

Boyne cleverly intertwines characters and facts from history into his fictional plot placing the boy at the centre. He accurately uses show don’t tell techniques using Pierrot’s experiences to depict the happenings of the past quite accurately.

The book brings in a variety of emotions both joy and sadness, again through the character of Pierrot but also leaving some to the readers’ interpretation, playing on the idea of morals, of what is right and wrong. It also includes the ideas of family, betrayal, power and corruption, perspective, love, justice and death. Boyne depicts the darkness in the light of the world, vividly, throughout the novel.

Overall, this is a great short novel to read whether you’re interested in history or not. Thus, I recommend this book for all older readers, as it does have some mature content.

 

MALADAPTED – Review by Mark, Queen Elizabeth’s School

maladaptedMaladapted by Richard Kurti is a sci-fi set in a futuristic world with its main character Cillian, a 16-year-old maths prodigy believing he’s just an ordinary enough person. But he’s not. Caught in a horrible crash on the Metro with his father, he is the only passenger left untouched, something that should have been impossible. He wants answers but what he finds out changes everything he knew about himself.

Maladapted was a fast-paced, action packed book that at first seems strange and slow but turns into a uniquely interesting read, especially with the topics of technological adaptation and religious extremism being shown throughout. The only negative was that the ending left off with a cliffhanger and so my only question would be whether or not there will be a sequel.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Saifullah, Queen Elizabeth’s School

John Boyne is known for another book. Most, if not all, people have heard of the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas, a classic tale of the horrors of war perceived through the mind of a innocent child, too young to understand the brutal world around him. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain is similar in this regard, as it focuses on the Nazi regime through the eyes of a young child. However, the story takes a darker twist than its predecessor and brings with it some harrowing lessons. Do I think that the book is better than The Boy in the Striped Pajamas? Has John Boyne exceeded all expectation?

Yes, I would argue. Yes he has.

The story follows the journey of French child Pierrot through his childhood growing up in France and later, Germany. The setting is dominated by the Berghof, Hitler’s personal residence in Germany and thus one understands the context of Pierrot’s cruel and indoctrinated upbringing at the hands of the Fuhrer himself. The plot is gripped by Pierrot’s transformation and touches on several key themes. As the plot progresses, Hitler takes him under his wing and raises him to become the perfect German boy in his eyes…

I view the story as a sinister variant of the classic coming of age genre. Though the story’s character can be distinctly seen to change before the reader’s very eyes, the transformation closely resembles decay rather than growth. The young boy Pierrot we encounter at the beginning of the novel is soon replaced by the loyal Nazi Pieter by the end, a product of Nazi indoctrination and radicalisation throughout his childhood.

How does this differ from the Boy in the Striped Pyjamas? This book was a heart wrenching story of an innocent child caught in a war he could not understand. Whereas the reader felt the pain and sorrow of those around him, Bruno kept his innocence throughout the novel until his harrowing death. The Boy at the Top of the Mountain strikes a different tone. One, in my opinion, far more relevant to the children of war both back then and today. Instead of referring to loss of innocence, Boyne refers to its corruption. It is a chilling tale of a boy taken from his family stripped of the morals and ideals he grew up with. It has a powerful and profound message to its readers: Innocence is a fragile thing, and children caught up in war without people to trust can have it stripped away from them and replaced with something far more sinister.

I watched Bruno’s journey with sorrow, Pierrot’s with horror. Two boys in the same war, two sides of the same coin. I know which side of the coin readers should be concerned over. Children who have lost everything and who are raised to hate and loathe those who are around them. I think Pierrot’s story is the more powerful of the two and I would recommend the Boy at the Top of the Mountain to all readers capable of following such a dark and tragic tale.

Pierrot may not have been real, but his story is.

ALL ABOUT MIA – Review by Purav, Queen Elizabeth’s School

mia
Grace, the oldest, broke all the test records at her school and is studying at Cambridge University. Audrey, the youngest, is a star swimmer set to be an Olympian in a few years. And Mia is in the middle. All Mia wants is for people to stop feeling like she’s a failure. And when Grace comes home with some surprising news Mia thinks she has her chance. But when Mia’s efforts to make it all about her put her and her family’s lives in danger, Mia must do all she can to make it all about Mia. This book is realistic and shocking. A perfect read for fans of Lisa Williamson’s first book.

THE BOY AT THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN – Review by Charan, Queen Elizabeth’s School

boy-mountainPierrot, after having lost his parents, becomes an orphan in Paris, and therefore has to live with his, aunt who works in a rich house at the peak of some mountains located in Germany; this “Berghof” (the home) is occupied by none other than Adolf Hitler himself. Pierrot finds himsef in a completely new world which is far more dangerous than he has ever imagined of, but the question is… will he ever escape this abomination? This book had me hooked, especially due to the increase of tension and this story makes me think that I am Pierrot and feel whatever difficulty he faces.
I would certainly recommend this book if you are not just interested with the fate of this poor boy, but also if you are interested in what life was like for people like Pierrot during World War Two.