Category Archives: BrandonW

Legend by Marie Lu, Reviewed by Brandon Wood

Legend by Marie Lu

Brandon Wood – 10/19/13 – 5th p.


What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.


From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.


Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills.


Imagine finding out that your only true friend and surviving family member has been murdered by the most wanted criminal in the Republic. This is how June, the wealthy prodigy of the country, feels in Marie Lu’s novel Legend, the first in a series that deals with revenge and secrets of a tightly ran Republic. On the other side of the city, Day, the wild fugitive and recent murderer, is running out of time to save his family. June and Day are now sworn enemies, and Day doesn’t even know it. This novel was great all around, but my favorite components had to have been the amusing setting, unique tone, and personal layout of the whole book.

The amusing setting of Legend was the first thing that piqued my interest in the novel. I haven’t read many dystopian novels, so whenever I read one, the setting always leaves me intrigued. I find it very impressive how the authors can make these societies’ ways so believable and realistic, not just something made up. For instance, when the two protagonists speak about the different sectors in the city, it seems like it’s real. The currency system (the use of notes instead of dollars) also seems like it could easily happen in our own country. Even the Trial process every ten year old living in the Republic goes through seems like it could be practiced here. Dystopian settings are very complex, and that is why I loved the setting of Legend so much.

The second thing I enjoyed about the novel was the unique tone dispersed throughout it. Legend, while very interesting and full of suspense, did have a somewhat sad tone. After all, June’ brother Metias did die and Day is the one to blame. Plus, Day’s brother is suffering from the plaque, which is also pretty depressing. With that being said, I think Marie Lu did a good job blending these two components. Even though there were several bad things that were happening throughout the novel, she was able to turn those into interesting motives for what June and Day did, like June trying to kill Day and Day killing Metias to help his family.

The personal layout of Legend was the third thing I enjoyed about the novel. The book is set up like a dual journal. It stays in the first person, but switches between June and Day’s voice. Whenever one of them start speaking, it signifies it by their name followed by the time and location. To me, when authors do this, it makes me feel a more personal connection to the novel. I feel like I am reading a journal instead of just a book. The choice to set up the book like this was very clever. I don’t think I would have liked it as well if it was from the point of view of just from one of the characters. I think these choices that the author made were smart, and it was one of the reasons why this book appealed to me so much.

To sum it all up, I enjoyed this novel very well and plan on reading the rest of the series. The amusing setting, unique tone, and personal layout in the novel were the components that made me feel this way. After the sweet ending, I really want to read more. Day and June are both inspiring characters due to their motivation and drive to meet their goals. I recommend this book to reads who enjoy a fast-paced story with a personal touch. Marie Lu has definitely created a winner with her dystopian novel Legend.


The Fault in Our Stars by John Green, Reviewed by Brandon Wood

The Fault in Our Stars by John Green

Brandon Wood – 5th Period – 10/3/13



Despite the tumor-shrinking medical miracle that has bought her a few years, Hazel has never been anything but terminal, her final chapter inscribed upon diagnosis. But when a gorgeous plot twist named Augustus Waters suddenly appears at Cancer Kid Support Group, Hazel’s story is about to be completely rewritten.


Can cancer somehow play a part in one’s love life? It did for Hazel Lancaster in John Green’s novel The Fault in Our Stars. Hazel is a teenage cancer patient who is, as most people would call her, a living miracle. A new medicine with a low success rate was given to her during an “experimental trial,” as the book called it, and surprisingly, it worked. The drug only slows the growth of her cancer cells, however, so she is practically a time bomb waiting to explode. Hazel stays depressed about this, but a charming young man whom she meets at Support Group somehow turns most of that depression into happiness. Although the entire novel pleased me, the wide vocabulary, intriguing characters, and beautiful love story were my favorite components.

The wide vocabulary was the first thing to grab my attention in The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. I could definitely tell that the author has a way with words. There were numerous lines in the novel that really caught my eye, and the vocabulary in them was what made them so beautiful. For example, when Augustus first tells Hazel that she is beautiful, he uses the phrase “the simpler pleasures of existence” instead of just saying “the little things in life.” These small choices that authors make change the entire interpretation of their novels, or at least they do so for me. I acquire a certain admiration for authors such as John Green who take the time to make each sentence in their novel worth reading.

The second thing that I enjoyed about the novel were the intriguing characters. I felt a personal connection with both protagonists in The Fault in Our Stars to the point where I could picture our interactions. Hazel is very calm and quiet, like some of my friends, whereas Augustus is very outspoken and energetic, like myself. I felt this way about some of the subordinate characters as well, such as Isaac and Hazel’s mother. Isaac, to me, seemed like the average hormonal teenager. Hazel’s mother seemed to be nervous most of the time, and I definitely understand why. The choice of making even the characters of lesser importance so personal is just another way John Green made The Fault in Our Stars so amazing.

The beautiful love story in the novel was the third thing that made me love it so much. A teenage boy actually enjoying a love story is not something that’s seen very often, but this piece of the novel is merely too important to pass over. The way Hazel and Augustus loved each other was real. Augustus knew the negative effects the cancer had on Hazel. Hazel knew Augustus could and eventually would die, but she didn’t leave him. They stuck together until the end, and that is my definition of true love. This can be a lesson to readers as they read The Fault in Our Stars. No matter what a person’s flaws may be, they can still find love. Again, I applaud John Green for achieving this effect. Not only did he create a beautiful love between two individuals, but he also showed that a love story doesn’t have to contain socially acceptable people, nor does it have to have a happy ending. Love isn’t perfect, and John Green definitely shows that in The Fault in Our Stars.

This novel has to be one of the best novels that I’ve ever read. John Green made many intelligent choices as an author to make it that much more special. I especially loved how he used a wide vocabulary, intriguing characters, and a beautiful love story to make the novel the amazing work of art that it is. It was truly inspiring to read a book that presented so many wonderful life lessons. I recommend this novel to readers who enjoy love stories, but also like the small twists which make novels like this one so unique and fun to read. Join the millions of others who have fallen in love with The Fault in Our Stars by John Green just like I have.

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Reviewed by Brandon Wood

Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher

Brandon Wood – 9/15/13 – 5th p.


Clay Jensen returns home from school to find a mysterious box with his name on it lying on his porch. Inside he discovers cassette tapes recorded by Hannah Baker–his classmate and crush–who committed suicide two weeks earlier.


 On tape, Hannah explains that there are thirteen reasons why she decided to end her life. Clay is one of them. If he listens, he’ll find out how he made the list.


 Through Hannah and Clay’s dual narratives, debut author Jay Asher weaves an intricate and heartrending story of confusion and desperation that will deeply affect teen readers.


How would you feel knowing that you are partly responsible for your crush’s death? This is how Clay Jensen, a quiet high school student, feels until he finds out what really happened. In the novel Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher, Hannah Baker, the girl who everyone thought they knew, took her own life, and now the ones who caused it are finding out that they each are partly responsible. The book makes you think about how you are treating others and gives you motivation to treat everyone with respect.  Although I loved the entire novel, my favorite aspects would have to be the interesting storyline, relatable characters, and powerful theme.

The interesting storyline of Thirteen Reasons Why made it hard to put the book down. As many times as I have heard about self-harm and suicide, I have never seen it presented in such an interesting way. Usually when someone commits suicide, no one gets a full explanation as to why it happened. In this novel, Hannah states this in great detail. From easily believed rumors to inappropriate actions, she explains just what sent her over the top. The way this information was presented is what made the book so entertaining. Having someone who cared so much about Hannah be the storyteller made it much more personal. The storyline of Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher made the book one of the best I have ever read.

The characters in the novel were the second element that made the book so wonderful. Jay Asher described them in a way that made me feel as if I knew them personally. The way they related to some of the students who go to Logan High was almost creepy. I know and see students on a daily basis who are just like Hannah. They are portrayed as the bad girls, but once one gets to know them, really aren’t that way at all. There are also students who act like Clay. They are smart, quiet, and have never been known to do anything bad. Since there are people like Hannah, Clay, and the others who caused Hannah to commit suicide at Logan High, these things could be happening right in front of our faces. The relatable characters in Thirteen Reasons Why really opened my eyes to what is happening around me.

The third element that I loved about Thirteen Reasons Why was the powerful theme. To me, the book stressed to be more cautious of how you treat others, because you never know what they’re going through. After I read the novel, I started to question myself and the way I treated others. Could I possibly be partly responsible for a fellow classmate’s suicide? I hope not. We all need to take into consideration how we are treating others. After all, one small action could either save someone or send someone away.

To sum it all up, this novel has to be the best novel I have ever read. It opened my eyes and taught me to be more observant of my surroundings. The storyline, characters, and theme were the main things that helped the book achieve this effect. I recommend this book to readers who enjoy stories about real issues that are presented in an exceptionally entertaining way. Jay Asher hit it out of the park with his debut novel Thirteen Reasons Why.

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson, Reviewed by Brandon Wood

Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson

Brandon Wood – 5th p. – 9/5/13


Melinda Sordino busted an end-of-summer party by calling the cops. Now her old friends won’t talk to her, and people she doesn’t even know hate her from a distance. The safest place to be is alone, inside her own head. But even that’s not safe. Because there’s something she’s trying not to think about, something about the night of the party that, if she let it in, would blow her carefully constructed disguise to smithereens. And then she would have to speak the truth. This extraordinary first novel has captured the imaginations of teenagers and adults across the country.

Imagine being afraid to tell what really happened; afraid of the person who made it happen. This is how Melinda Sordino feels in Laurie Halse Anderson’s novel Speak. As an incoming freshman, Melinda makes a mistake that completely changes the course of her first year of high school. The book talks about the importance of speaking up and letting the right people know what is going on. Although the novel sends a strong message, I wasn’t crazy about it. The main problems for me were the grammar and mechanics of the book, the slow and somewhat boring climax, and the overall depressing storyline of Speak.

The rules of grammar and mechanics were not obeyed in this book. Even though the grammar mistakes were purposeful in the tone of Speak, it sometimes made the book confusing and difficult to read. With that being said, in the scene where Melinda is sexually assaulted, the use of repetition does make sense and helps the reader understand what is happening without the author actually stating it. Also, in some sentences, the word “and” is repeated many times. I think this shows the nervousness in Melinda when she remembers the bad that has happened. Overall, even though the improper grammar plays well with the tone, I personally didn’t enjoy it.

The next thing that troubled me about Speak was the slow and somewhat boring climax. The whole book seems like the diary of Melinda’s freshman year of high school. In my opinion, diaries and journals are boring. This may be the reason why I thought Speak was boring. Whenever Melinda came in contact with Andy, I thought something was going to happen. Except for the last interaction, nothing did. The only parts that were interesting to me were the explanation of the end-of-summer party and the scene where Andy attacked Melinda in the closet. Other than that, it was basically an explanation of how miserable Melinda’s life was, which brings me to the next element of the story that I didn’t like.

The overall depressing storyline of Speak was the third thing that I didn’t like about the book. It seemed to me as though Melinda was never happy. Everything good and genuine was depressing and stupid to her. I am an overall cheerful person, so having to see things through a depressed teen’s eyes made the book difficult to read. Some parts, like when Melinda cut herself with a paperclip, made me feel very uncomfortable. I couldn’t wrap my head around the reason why she didn’t speak. I pulled through, though, and I was happy to see that Melinda did also.

Even though Speak contained an important message about speaking up, I think it could’ve been presented in a more entertaining and interesting way. There has been talk about a sequel, and I can honestly say that I don’t think I would read it. I didn’t like Melinda’s character enough to be left wanting more. If you are a cheerful person like me, I wouldn’t recommend reading this book. It will bring you down, or at least it did me. If the grammar, climax, and storyline had been different in the novel, I think I would have enjoyed Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson much more.