Book Review


Madeline Bentzel and Ariel Cooper

“Frankenstein” by Mary Shelley 

In our frightening time of isolation and loneliness, what could be better than to scare ourselves more by exploring our own creation and craving the affection from others? Mary Shelley’s “Frankenstein” is the masterful telling of Genovese college student, Victor Frankenstein, walking the line between passion and obsession as he learns how to create life, eventually succumbing to one. In between murder, living scientific experiments and views of great mountainscapes, readers come to understand not only Victor’s process of thinking clouded by fear, but also the creation’s impression of the world as he grows up alone. Published in 1818, the novel immediately received massive success and has since become one of the fundamental pillars in Gothic literature. At a mere 200 pages in simple yet poised language and chapters averaging out to about 10 pages long, this novel is more than an affordable read. Readers may dive as deep as they choose into the text, either plunging deep into symbolism or simply enjoying a tale guaranteed to entertain. 


“The Secret History” by Donna Tartt 

TRIGGER WARNING: domestic abuse, violence, suicide 

It is my most sincere wish that none of us ever meet anyone like the characters in “The Secret History.” This elite, murderous group of friends is like a web that distracts the viewer from danger until it’s too late. This is what happens to Robert, a broke college student from Plano, California. Although unsure of what he wants to study, he knows he needs a change of scenery, and a brochure from a prestigious liberal arts college in Vermont sounds like paradise. As he stumbles into a Classics major, he finds his other classmates are a mysteriously exclusive group of five rich kids with superiority complexes and an all-consuming, burning passion for ancient Greek and Roman society. One murder leads to the next, and as Robert finds himself entranced in the beauty of madness, the more he and the rest of the group fall further into moral decreptitude. Though its 500 pages may scare some readers away, the pacing of the masterfully assembled plot creates a haunting need to discover the truth of the evil hiding in plain sight, and to see just how much each character breaks, or perhaps, how broken they were all along. 


“The False Prince” By Jennifer Nielsen

Sage is the runt of the litter in an orphanage run by a mistress who often neglects her ward, and he’ll do just about anything to stay alive, including stealing, lying, cheating and more. When he steals a pot roast from a butcher, a Lord named Bevin Conner offers him protection from the wrathful butcher. The Lord then buys Sage from the orphanage and offers him a deal — either let Conner train him to pretend he is the kingdom’s lost prince, or die. However, Sage isn’t the only boy offered this deal, and in order to walk away with his life, Sage must win the crown. If you like fantasy, faraway kingdoms and some unfriendly competition, this book is right for you.


“Graceling” by Kristin Cashore

As niece to the king of Middluns, Katsa has been raised in a world of wealth and power; however, she has been groomed and trained as the king’s thug and assassin because of her eyes — one of sea blue, and the other grass green. Katsa is a graceling, one of the rare magic-wielders of the kingdom, known for their two different colored eyes, and she had been gifted — or rather cursed — with the Grace of killing. When Prince Po of Lienid visits Katsa’s uncle, she becomes enthralled with the similar power he wields: fighting. As a threat from a faraway land challenges everything they know, Po and Katsa must rise to defeat it. This book is perfect for anyone who loves fantasy, adventure and maybe even a little romance.


“Cinder” by Marissa Meyer

Based loosely on the fairy tale story of Cinderella, this book is anything but traditional. Cinder is the orphan stepdaughter and also the part-cyborg mechanic of the family that her father married into. After  her father’s death, she is left with a spiteful stepmother, one hateful sister, a loving one and a robot as her only friend. The plague that killed her father still dominates society, killing many civilians, including someone very close to Cinder. Because Cinder is a Cyborg, her stepmother forcibly conscripts her as a test-subject for new “vaccines” that have failed for everyone, except her. This new take on an old fairy tale is one of a series, perfect for anyone who loves sci-fi and fantasy to binge-read during quarantine. Another one of Marissa Meyer’s books, “Heartless,”  is perfect for anyone who loves the tale of Alice in Wonderland.


“Bel Canto” by Ann Patchett

Mr. Hosokawa, a successful Japanese businessman, and his translator, Gen, visit a foriegn country in South America for a huge birthday party thrown in Mr. Hosokawa’s honor at the vice president’s house. The only reason Mr. Hosokawa agrees to go is the entertainment for the night, the opera-singer Roxanne Coss, but he soon regrets the choice after a group of terrorists break into the party in search of the country’s president — one who isn’t there. Unsure of how to navigate this unplanned situation, both the captives and their captors adjust to life inside the vice president’s home as they await the return of the terrorists’ demands. Reminiscent of our own quarantine, this book deals with the struggles of being separated from loved ones and made to stay inside, as well as the division between the upper and lower classes.


“Where’d you go, Bernadette?” by Maria Semple

The agoraphobic ex-architect Bernadette Fox is not excited when her daughter, Bee Branch, announces that as her prize for earning A’s all her years in school, she wants to go on a family trip to Antarctica. As the date for the trip draws closer, Bernadette worries more and more about what the trip will entail until she disappears altogether. Written as a collection of emails, receipts, memos and more, this story follows Bee as she compiles clues to figure out where, exactly, her mother went. This light read is perfect for anyone looking for a fun book to read at home. I read it last summer in a few days on the lake, and I can testify it’s perfect to spread out in the sun with. I know the beaches are closed, but your backyard will do!