Category Archives: Opinion

Red Queen Review

 

Red Queen

Red Queen Novel  Photo by: Abbie Strobel

By: Abbie Strobel

Victoria Aveyard’s bestselling novel Red Queen has reached #1 on the New York Times, leaving behind waves of fans eager for more from the author.

Red Queen is a dystopian novel that displays the growth and journey of the main character Mare Barrow, as she learns to deal with the land’s great divide over blood color. Mare is a seventeen year old thief who spends her days on the streets, scrounging for money and avoiding the inevitable conscription to the never ending war. However, life for Mare suddenly becomes much more complicated when she gets caught in a whirlwind of lies that could only mean trouble.

Silvers act as royalty throughout the novel, containing superhuman powers that the Reds do not possess. Reds are forced into a life of poverty causing their hatred for royalty to grow ever more. Mare finds herself working as a servant for the Silvers and despite her feelings towards them, she discovers that she is different, holding a power of her own that has never been seen among the Reds before.

With Mare’s new found ability, she becomes a threat to the hierarchy and becomes betrothed to a Silver prince. She is forced to lie about herself, saying that she is the long lost princess of a famous war hero. Even though trouble can be found around every corner, Mare secretly joins the Red Guard, a group set on causing the downfall of the Silver’s reign.

Mare is pushed into tough situations, where she often finds herself questioning where her allegiance lies. She has to decide between whose lives are valuable and whose aren’t. Mare learns that you cannot trust anyone in the world she is in, and she is prepared to lose the ones she loves most.

Red Queen is intended for young adult readers and presents a seamless combination of trust, rebellion, and romance. Those who are looking for a book comparable to The Hunger Games and Divergent are sure to find enjoyment and thrill in the novel.

Readers will become attached to characters quickly and are in for an emotional ride. With being thrown into the book’s plot, they will experience the betrayal and heartbreak first hand and will be caught questioning who to trust through the entirety of the novel. Those who chose to become immersed in the book will definitely have a favorite character.

The novel displays the abuse of government forces through the ever changing monarchy and the discrimination amongst humans. With the mix of differences and superhuman powers, the book creates a world that is perfect for fans of dystopian lands.

Alongside the hero that isn’t afraid to make mistakes throughout the book. Aveyard creates a spectacular world of superhumans and their rule over the commoners.

With twists and turns around every corner, the novel is sure to please the minds of those seeking tales of ultimate betrayal, giving this book a five out of five star rating. Readers become enthralled in the world presented before them and are often found wanting more and more of the characters and their stories.

Aveyard has since published the prequel Cruel Crown, which features the two e-novellas, Queen Song and Steel Scars. The sequel Glass Sword was also published, following the release of the prequel in February of this year.

Fans are currently waiting for the third and fourth installments of the novel, which can be expected in the upcoming years. Aveyard has been sure to preview the third book on Twitter, while she is in the process of writing, boosting excitement in fans everywhere.

Drake, Pop Style and One Dance Review

By: Junior Coca

Rapper Aubrey Graham, known as Drake, released two new songs yesterday on April 5, 2016, “Pop Style” (feat.The Throne) and “One Dance” (feat. Wizkid & Kyla). Drake has surprisingly dropped both of these songs as singles, so they will probably not be on his upcoming album Views from the 6; which is expected to release this month.

“Pop Style” is a Jamaican slang term meaning “balling” or “showing off.” In this song Drake promotes his lifestyle of having lots of money and being in the popular culture. He name- checks Channing Tatum while at the same time flaunting his chains in the verse “Got so many chains they call me Chaining Tatum.”

Rappers Jay Z and Kanye West hop on this track collaborating with Drake under the title of, “The Throne.” Although Jay Z only has two lines, Kanye adds some flare to the song by bringing back the infamous “I’mma let you finish but….” line from his 2009 confrontation at the Video Music Awards with Taylor Swift.

The other single “One Dance” sums up what drake has released in the past couple of months. This song will make fans want to stand up and move with a Caribbean style beat. Undoubtedly, this song will be the “go to” for the dance floor but Drake is also proving that he can be versatile in the studio while still maintaining his old love-based lyrics.

With his first album of 2016 right around the corner, Drake looks to top the music industry, with the release of these two singles, he has put himself in a good position. “Pop Style” deserves four and a half out of five stars while “One Dance” deserves five out of five stars. Check these songs out on Apple Music.

 

Opinion: Reading the Students

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Cover of the original novel: The Phantom of the Opera(Photo By: Jackson Burt)

By Jackson Burt

The rise of machines is affecting the world and causing hard cover books to become obsolete. It’s easier for many people to read on a screen because it is close at hand. For students today, the idea of reading has become less important to their learning and development and they ignore the decline of reading.

At Attleboro High School (AHS) there is a 20 minute reading time to take out a book and read; this time is called Silent Sustained Reading (SSR). Unfortunately for the true lovers of reading, it’s sad to see some students complain about this time of diving into a new book to learn something. During class, there may be one student who just reads a dictionary or a magazine, and this may affect learning.

During the summer, students read specifically assigned books because it “increases brain development.” Although some students read outside of school, in school they want to just move on and forget about SSR.

In the essay called the “Effects of Silent Reading on Intermediate Students Reading Growth,” by Alison Rosseau, the author shows the process of students reinforcing their reading abilities. She states how the “amount of time spent reading correlates with reading ability.” Given 20 minutes to read, students have the perfect amount of time to increase their reading ability.

In the same essay, she states, “Under the Constructivist Learning Theory, learning is viewed as an active process and different for each learner.” The Constructivist theory was developed by Jean Piaget, a clinical psychologist, and it explains how people “learn from their experiences.” Any student is able to become better at reading in their own way when given the chance.

AHS senior Noah Barfield said that SSR “takes up time from the block,” and some students use it for, “a time to work on stuff.” So, according to Barfield, who sees the conundrum of non-readers, he said students tend to work on things and not even read. To some students, there’s nothing that they can learn from reading a book, although as Barfield said, “If you read a nonfiction book then you learn something that’s real.”

Senior Rachel Shuman, a lover of “fantasy [books] and sometimes teen life drama,” said she prefers to “have a time to work on stuff.”

Senior Lindsey Decker prefers realistic fiction for her choice of reading and prefers to read at home when “she has the time.” She said that reading “helps build memory, a way of remembering things from a book.”

Senior Abby McGrath said that if students read, they are “able to think imaginatively and cognitively in the future.”

All three students agreed that, instead of time to read, they need time to work on class work and prefer to read “on their own time.”

AHS senior Lexis Costa said she “does homework during SSR.” When given a chance to enhance their reading ability, most students try to work on other school assignments even though, as Lexis said, “[SSR] definitely helps vocabulary,” which is similar to the research Rosseau found.

There are millions of books in the world, and every person can choose a book they are connected to, instead of being forced into. Rather than using the reading time for class work, students could read a book, whether it is on a Smartphone or the old fashioned way.

10 Disappointment Lane

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“Film” Poster (Screenshot by: Keegan Douglass)

 

By: Keegan Douglass

10 Cloverfield Lane is a horror film about a man named Howard (John Goodman) who kidnaps a woman named Michelle (Mary Elizabeth Winstead) and holds her in his basement, claiming that if she leaves, she will die because the air outside is contaminated.

The film’s original title was The Cellar, but was changed by producer J.J. Abrams in order to increase ticket sales by linking it to his original film Cloverfield (2008). This title change serves no purpose, other than to gain a larger audience – in other words, the film has nothing to do with Cloverfield at all, which is the first among many disappointments.

The film has a promising opening, establishing tension by repeated cuts to black and a lack of any sounds beside background music. This is, unfortunately, the only truly creative aspect of the entire film, the rest is filled with an array of poor excuses.

When Goodman appears in the beginning of the film, audiences will notice that he is attempting to alter his voice and sound like a tired drunkard, but the voice alteration comes off as completely goofy. His voice is unrealistic and audiences will hear that he is overacting.

Winstead, on the other hand, is a completely competent actress who embodies her character perfectly. She is one of the few good aspects in this film, and it is a shame that she had to waste her time on it.

Buried in the basement, there is another character, Emmett (John Gallagher Jr.), who gives a decent performance, but is shrouded by a cloud of poor writing and infantile direction. His character’s only purpose is to be Winstead’s love interest, making him – and the forced romance – completely one-dimensional. At one point, Gallagher performs a monologue about his life experiences, but much like his character in general, it comes off as pointless and forced, making this character simply a device to advance the “plot.”

Throughout the film, Goodman has temper tantrums, which are supposed to scare the audience, but, by the third outburst, it ceases to work. Goodman’s character is the only way the film attempts to create tension, making it completely formulaic and boring. It is easy to lose interest in the film early on because there is nothing interesting going on.

The ending is the film’s most laughable aspect, as it depicts Winstead’s character escaping from Goodman’s cellar and discovering that the world had been under attack by aliens. The second the aliens appear on screen, an entirely new film practically starts, as the tone established in the preceding two hours is completely abolished. It is like the first writer of the film died and someone else jumped in to take over.

In order to explain the film’s title, an excuse by the producer is thrown in by having Winstead hit a mailbox with her car. The camera then zooms in revealing the cellar’s address as 10 Cloverfield. This, along with the rest of the film is completely laughable.

After all the film’s faults, it deserves only one out of five stars, with that star due to Winstead’s performance. Avoid watching this film, as it is a complete waste of time and money.

The Last Good Day of the Year Review

the last good day edit

By: Lydia Robinette

The Last Good Day of the Year by Jessica Warman is a mystery and thriller novel is about the abduction of a little girl and the way it affects her family and friends after she’s gone.

Four year old child Tabitha “Turtle” Myers was taken from her family’s home on New Year’s Eve while all the adults were partying. Her sister, Sam, and Sam’s best-friend at the time, Remy, saw, as they were trying to sleep, a man dressed up as Santa Claus enter through the unlocked sliding glass door and take Turtle away.

Warman sets the novel up so that the chapters switch between past and present, all in Sam’s point of view. By switching between the past and present, it gives the reader a broader perspective of the crime and offers them more possibilities as to what may have happened. Due to this writing style, the book successfully holds the suspense and captures the reader’s attention.

Within the novel Warman discusses the differences between the affection Sam feels for Remy, and the affection she feels for Noah, a boy she met at a support group for families who had an abduction happen in their own families. Sam’s relationship with Remy was strained after she moved back to the home that Turtle had been taken from, but they slowly open up to each other and try and move pass the guilt they feel from the night of Turtle’s disappearance.

With Noah, the relationship isn’t nearly as strained, but Sam has trouble sorting through her feelings to find out if she really wants to be with Noah or if she is only attracted to the understanding he provides because he went through something similar. Both of the relationships are creative ways for the author to provide insight into what Sam’s feelings are about the tragedy.

The novel’s main theme centers on the question, “If you tell a lie for long enough that you start to believe it, than does it become the truth?” according to Warman in an interview with reporter Patrick Parr for The Writer. As the mystery surrounding that night and the family involved unravels, it reveals a major plot twist.

Besides The Last Good Day Warman has written five other novels including Breathless and Where The Truth Lies. Both novels are young adult and center around teenagers with modern problems with a unique twist.

Overall, the book deserves five out of five stars for its brilliant and completely unexpected plot twist and the startling reality it reveals about the families of most abduction victims.

OPINION: The Metamorphosis — Philosophy

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Kafka’s The Metamorphosis (Screenshot by: Keegan Douglass)

By: Keegan Douglass

In 1915, German author Franz Kafka wrote the Absurdist novel The Metamorphosis, which depicts the story of a man named Gregor Samsa – who unexpectedly turns into a human-sized cockroach – and the life of his family after his transformation. While, on the surface, the initial concept of the novel may be disturbing, it actually has a deeper meaning, discussing both religion and the life of a disabled individual.

In the early twentieth century, those who suffered from any disability, such as Down syndrome or autism spectrum disorder, were ostracized by their families and friends, and were often put into asylums in order to keep them far away from “normal” civilization and to protect them. In the novel, Kafka attempts to tackle this issue by the use of metaphors comparing Samsa’s transformation into an insect to the life of someone with a disability.

In the opening third of the novel, Samsa attempts to call out to his family, who worries about him, as he had not woken up at his regular time. His family, however, is unable to understand his calls, since he had been transformed into a cockroach, yet he still clings to the idea of being “in the circle of humanity” (Kafka 21).

The use of the word “humanity” is meant to show the dehumanization of both Samsa, and those with disabilities. Essentially, the novel shows that individuals who suffer from some sort of physical or mental deficiency are often shunned by loved ones.

Samsa spends the majority of the novel in complete isolation, with his family and friends refusing to speak to him, as they believe it is pointless and that he wouldn’t understand them anyway. Despite them knowing who the giant cockroach actually is, they still ignore him, and treat him like a threat, or a disgusting animal. This depiction of Samsa’s life is meant to show the life of a disabled person, from that disabled person’s perspective – something that had not been done previously.

Mary Shelley attempted to express many of the same ideas through her novel Frankenstein, by showing the life of a monster abandoned by his creator. Kafka expressed most of the same sentiments, but through Absurdist writing styles.

Kafka tackles the idea of a Christ figure – someone who gives up his/her life in order to benefit loved ones, or the human race in general – by having Samsa starve himself to death by the end of the novel.

Samsa witnesses his family deteriorate because of his presence, and so he ends his own life in order to allow his family to continue living happily, despite their cruel mistreatment.  This heroic suicide makes Samsa a Christ figure, much like the character Sydney Carton from A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens, who gave up his life in order to save a family from death by the French rebels.

Kafka reflects both the life of a disabled individual, and the noble death of a selfless individual. This novel expresses a life that was not understood by the majority of the public and thus hidden away. Not only is it a statement about disabled individuals, but it could stand for any group of discriminated people.

The novel could be overlooked because of its unsettling nature, but should be further studied, as it expresses a progressive stance on life that has been silenced in the past. The Metamorphosis is one of the great philosophical novels of the twentieth century and is a literary masterpiece of both absurdism and individualism.

Waiting for Godot Review

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Waiting for Godot Cover Art (Screenshot by: Keegan Douglass)

By: Keegan Douglass

Samuel Beckett’s tragicomedy Waiting for Godot is one of the best plays ever written. It depicts the absurd story of two seemingly homeless men – Vladimir and Estragon – waiting by a tree for a man named Godot, who never actually comes.

The character’s respective back stories, the reason for their waiting and the overall setting is vaguely implied and, thus, allows for the audience’s imagination to fill in the gaps.

When read, the play does not make any sense. It appears boring and dull, as if much of it is written as back-and-forth dialogue with very little action. When performed, however, the audience is more likely to be entertained because the actors bring a charmingly absurd life to the characters.

One scene in particular involved Vladimir and Estragon swapping hats over and over. When the scene is read, it is confusing and the humor can be lost because it is simply a raw description of minimal action. However, when seen in person, the absurdity mixed with comedic timing allows for a genuinely amusing interaction.

Eventually, two other characters named Pozzo and Lucky make their way down the road, and are able to add comedic wit through their absurd actions. The two act almost like caricatures, rather than actual people, allowing for some hilarious interactions.

This play was one of the major links in the Absurdist movement, which gained prominence after World War II. This movement, essentially, describes the utter pointlessness of the universe, making every action and every thought completely absurd. The characters in this play are meant to express that ideology.

Through use of completely nonsensical dialogue and inhuman actions – such as falling down and forgetting how to get back up – Beckett is able to illuminate the idea that the universe is, inherently, absurd. The characters are not meant to mimic the actions of real people, they are meant to reflect this ideology.

The beauty of the play lies in its lack-of action. The humor and message all arise from the complete lack of sense from the characters, teaching the audience that there is more to life.

Overall, the play was an ingenious way of creating an absurd reality and reflecting the ideologies presented by the Absurdist movement, earning five out of five stars. If the play is presented in a local theater, make sure to go see it and enjoy a true work of art.