Saturday, October 17, 2020

BOOK REVIEW: Little Women by Louisa May Alcott; review by Saanvi Kunisetty

The classic literary work Little Women by Louisa May Alcott has remained a sensational and everlasting book throughout time, grabbing the attention of various types of readers. The story tells of four young girls during the time of the Civil War, and how they handle their daily life and challenges- whether it be an extreme amount of work, life without riches and expensive trifles, illness, and dark times. Through these challenges, we are able to see the girls morph and develop, from a young and immature state of mind to a mature one. 

The four girls are named Meg, Jo, Beth, and Amy. Meg is the oldest, and a feminine dainty woman with a special place in her heart for beauty, trifles, and such riches. As time progresses, she falls in love with the kind and sacrificing John, who previously worked in the army and is now a tutor. Jo’s demeanor is quite contrary to Meg's, as she is an exuberant tomboyish girl who is straightforward, and doesn’t give a care in the world about all “girlish things,” very similar to her best friend and prankster Laurie. Beth is the gentle and kind-hearted soul who doesn’t dare disobey and only cares for others, always doing her work. And finally Amy, the youngest, is a beautiful girl with beautiful hair and talented artistic abilities, who craves for a high social status and life. 

So what is it, what is the difference between this uniquely crafted book and others that has drawn readers for years? The ongoing pattern is evident throughout the book; The girls learn through experience. Though Mrs. March knows that what the girls are doing might not be beneficial she knows, that in the course of time, the girls themselves will learn so. This is best displayed in the chapter regarding the “experiment”, where the girls are tired of working, and decide to the motto “All work, no play.” Mrs. March allows them to try this out, and leaves them to fend for themselves with headaches, messy rooms, chaotic scenarios, and dinner disasters. At the end of the week, they realize that a balance between work and play is necessary.

This book appeals to me specifically because I love the way the author develops each of the four girls' characters throughout the story. A vivid description is always provided of the characters appearances, and a multitude of actions and thoughts to depict the character's internal trait. Throughout the story, I love visualizing how each character is growing and maturing throughout the years. It's a very different kind of book, because it doesn't have a specific plot. It is more that each chapter is like its own individual story, and I thoroughly enjoyed reading the short stories of every girl's experiences. Ultimately, the author has crafted the book in a way that I feel like I can witness the characters growing up right in front of me.

Little Women will forever remain a masterpiece, an ageless work of literature capturing the regard of readers forever, and holding a special place in their hearts.

Review for video game, Among Us, by Chandler Wang

 Among Us is the latest, massively popular game to play with friends. It didn't seem too interesting to me, but my friend group picked it up and I had a lot of fun with it. It's a game with a classic setup for lies and betrayal. There are ten people: eight are innocent crewmates and two are traitorous impostors. The crewmates run around the ship trying to complete their tasks, while the impostors try to kill off the crewmates. Impostors can sabotage the ship, and periodically gain the ability to kill a crewmate. Crewmates can report dead bodies to call a meeting where they discuss who did it, and vote to kick a suspect off the ship. The game is incredibly simple, at least mechanically, and killing can be done at the press of a button, as well as most tasks. I thought the simplicity would make the game boring, but when the game is simplified, it becomes really focused on the central idea of a whodunit mystery. The game is boiled down to being the best detective as a crewmate and the sneakiest liar as an impostor. Voting sessions are heated debates on who was where, who did what, and who the impostors are. It's very satisfying to ferret out the impostors, puzzling together the pieces from the last meeting, tracking the positions of the players on the map, and convincing your fellow crewmates to vote out the impostor that you've tracked down. As an impostor, it's a thrill to remain undetected, to pretend to be innocent, to sneak in kills behind the crewmates' backs, and to turn crewmates against each other. It's a fun, chaotic game, especially with friends, and the tactical maneuvering that you develop for each game keeps it fresh despite its simplicity.

Review of video game, Nuclear Throne, by Chandler Wang

 Nuclear Throne is a roguelike top-down shooter where you control a mutant in a futuristic wasteland. You can choose from several mutants, each with their own abilities and perks. You can play as a multi-eyed creature with telekinesis, a crystallized golem with a shield, or a venus flytrap-like plant with a vine snare to stop enemies. As you traverse through the game's levels, the enemies get more difficult as you also get stronger. By increasing in level, you gain mutations, which strengthen your character. Mutations include more health, faster fire rate as your health gets lower, and a one-time resurrection from the dead. You can also find guns in the levels, and your arsenal becomes more ridiculous along with your enemies'. As your enemies upgrade from bandits with rifles to cyborg walkers with rapid-fire laser cannons, your revolver will turn into poison crossbows, plasma snipers, and double flame shotguns. The gameplay is fast and chaotic, and bullets cover the screen as you face off against bosses and hordes of enemies. It's a challenging game, which makes it that much more rewarding to finally have a run where you make it past the third or fourth stage. The variety in weaponry and mutants allows you to change your playstyle with each playthrough, and the stages are randomly generated each time for endless variety. There are also various enemy designs, easter eggs, and other nuances to the game. Overall, it's a fun, fast-paced game with a lot of replayability and is quite unique. 8.5/10.

Review of video game, Luftrausers, by Chandler Wang

 Luftrausers is a simple arcade shooter where you pilot a fighter jet over the ocean, destroying enemy planes, boats, battleships, submarines, and more. It's a fun, fast-paced game that doesn't get old easily despite its simplicity. Your plane is incredibly satisfying to pilot, and weaving through bullets is challenging but fun. Over the course of the game, you unlock many customizations for your plane, including basics such as a body that will increase durability but decrease speed or an engine that will increase speed but decrease control. However, there are also many creative customizations that the game offers, such as an engine that spits bullets as propulsion, an anti-gravity engine, a body that explodes when you die, and a naval body that allows your plane to enter the water without taking damage. You also unlock customizations for your plane's weapon, allowing you to change the default machine gun into a laser beam, missiles, a giant cannon shot, or a shotgun. With countless combinations, you can customize your plane to suit your playstyle, or hit randomize and see what happens. The game has an arcade-like score, and you can increase it by having a combo. This encourages fast-paced, but likely risky, gameplay, and you'll need to scramble to destroy another plane or boat to keep your combo. As your score increases, so does the difficulty, and soon it'll be difficult to find your plane amidst the hail of bullets. You'll need to fly fast and well to progress to the later stages of the game. Luftrausers is a fun, simple, action-packed game that puts you in the seat of an ace pilot. 8/10.

Review of video game Brawlhalla, by Chandler Wang

 Brawlhalla is a platform brawler that is very similar to Super Smash Bros. The characters try to knock each other off the screen from the top, left, right, or bottom, and as characters become more damaged, they are launched farther. Although I prefer Smash Bros., Brawlhalla is also a fun game, and there are enough differences that they are pretty distinct from each other. Brawlhalla has a weapon system, where items will spawn into the stage, which will transform into one of a character's two signature weapons when picked up. This allows a character to play very differently depending on which weapon they have, or if they are unarmed. Brawlhalla also has much less defensive options, and instead of shielding like in Smash Bros., characters can only dodge. Finally, the combos in Brawlhalla are much faster paced, and overall it becomes a game that is played quite differently from Smash Bros. Sequences of hits in Brawlhalla can be very quick, and kills can be incredibly explosive, happening in the blink of an eye. A samurai with a sword or a reaper with a scythe can carry you across a stage, slicing and slashing your life away in an instant. Brawlhalla can be played incredibly aggressively, which makes it both fun and fast-paced. The game also has various characters, although there is a lot of overlap, since the attacks each character uses with a specific weapon are largely the same. Nevertheless, there are many weapons, and each character has a unique combination of weapons, as well as a few moves unique to them. This makes each character distinct, if not completely unique, and you can find the one that suits your playstyle the most. Brawlhalla is similar to Smash Bros., but has many distinctions, and is an enjoyable, fast-paced platform fighter that is both a free-to-play alternative to Smash Bros. and a fun game by itself. 8.5/10.

Wednesday, September 30, 2020

The Shining by Stephen King Review by Aditi Patel


The Shining by Stephen King Review by Aditi Patel

            The Shining is a horror book, obviously, by Stephen King. It’s relatively short compared to his other books, which makes a little easier to read. It has a gripping plot and is really interesting to read. The novel takes place in a hotel, which is apparently haunted. There have been deaths in the hotels and murders. The main character, Jack, his wife, and his little child go to the hotel. He is a caretaker who starts working at the hotel. He also wants to become a writer, but is an alcoholic. Furthermore, he has anger issues which caused him to break his son’s arm once and was fired as a teacher. He came to the hotel hoping that this new job would be able to bring about some sort of change in him. Jack’s son eventually starts seeing visions of ghosts which brings about the main plot of the novel. He does not tell his parents, but continues seeing visions all around the hotel. The story then continues on with what Jack does next and what the visions actually are and what they mean. I would recommend this book to any Stephen King fan, as this was one of the first books to make him so successful. There is also a sequel to this novel, and the story is very entertaining.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner Review by Aditi Patel


The Maze Runner by James Dashner Review by Aditi Patel

            The Maze Runner is actually a really popular book by James Dashner, for those who know. When it was released it became quite popular quickly, and was even turned into a movie. The novel starts off with a boy who wakes up, forgetting everything except the fact that his name is Thomas. There are other boys with him too, and a leader who welcomes Thomas. There is a wall where all of these boys are, and behind it is the maze which is like a labyrinth. The boys try to go through the labyrinth to find an exit each day. Usually, only boys show up in the area, but one day a girl does. The girl tells Thomas there is a code to exit the labyrinth. The boys have to figure out what the code is, and how to exit the maze before it’s too late. The story has a very gripping plot, and is full of action and thrill. I would recommend this book to anyone, because it has so many different aspects that I feel would fit in with anyone’s likes. I also watched the movie, which really goes through with how the novel was, but I would recommend watching the movie after reading this book.