Review: Anna on Ruta Sepetys’ Between Shades of Gray

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The author’s grandmother was a Lithuanian refugee. It makes me wonder how much she took from her grandmother’s life.

Between Shades of Gray uses the perfect amount of detail. It doesn’t drone on in a long paragraph about how the prison camp looks. A lot of dialogue and a lot of violence, but it tells a story that is grittily realistic:

An NKVD officer dragged a barefoot woman in a bloodied hospital gown down the steps. ‘My baby! Please don’t hurt my baby!’ she screamed. Another officer walked out, carrying a swaddled bundle. A doctor came running, grabbing at the officer.
“Please, you cannot take the newborn. It won’t survive!” yelled the doctor. “Sir, I beg you. Please!” The officer turned to the doctor and kicked the heel of his boot into the doctor’s kneecap.

You will grow attached to a lot of the characters, but a lot of them die really quickly. Right when you get to know them well – BAM! – that lady got shot – BAM! – that guy died from scurvy. However, it is effective at providing that feeling when you lose someone. You just have to move on.

Homages to Charlie Chaplin

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After thoroughly enjoying Chaplin’s Modern Times and The Kid, the 8s set out to write homages to these films by writing scenes of physical comedy that comment on the world of 2014. They’re pretty wonderful – funny, satirical, and clearly influenced by their close attention to The Tramp:

Tom’s scene: Hipsters, Headphones, and Armed Robbery

Luke’s scene: A New Yorker dreams of the West

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Sarah’s scene: Holiday Shopping Madness

Alex’s scene: iTheft

Wyatt’s scene: At the Box Factory

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Roby’s scene: Texting Trouble

Walker’s scene: Fake French

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Vanessa’s scene: Dinner & Devices

Lee’s Scene: Desert for Breakfast

Tom on The Walking Dead

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This still running series of comics has gone from a city to a prison, from refugees to a small community, and from one leader to democratic vote. Think of it as a timeline with certain events taking up parts in the history. This is The Walking Dead’s story and why it can change so drastically: one part in the time line will change the rest of the story forever along with the characters. When it first started, they were normal people. Now, they’re survivors.

Read the rest of Tom’s review here

Review: Sarah on Rainbow Rowell’s Eleanor & Park

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Every fairytale ending is the guy marrying the girl. In Romeo and Juliet, they die for each other and in every Disney movie, the prince and the princess live happily ever after. But to end the gut wrenching novel Eleanor and Park, Eleanor is stuck in a situation forcing her to make the most important decision of her life. Will she run away from her abusive father in Omaha to live with her uncle in Minnesota or risk the consequences to be with the love of her life?

Read more of Sarah’s review here

Review: Roby on Charles Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities

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It was the best of books. It wasn’t the worst of books. It had many pairs of opposing ideas and images. The book wasn’t one sided and simple. The book was satisfying because the way that the book ended and the way the book led up to that ending was neither a cliché fairy tale where everything works out for the main character, nor, a tragedy where nothing goes right for the main character. The book wasn’t disappointing. The book had great figurative language that helped express ideas and images. The book didn’t state everything boringly and literally.

Read the rest of Roby’s review here

Review: Luke on F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby

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A book that inspired T.S. Elliot, a famous poet, to say: “It seems to me to be the first step that American fiction has taken since Henry James”. Chances are it is in theaters near you. Created in 1925 and still popular today, some may think F. Scott Fitzgerald’s The Great Gatsby has it all. But if I had a chance to rip out page 113 to the second to last sentence without paying library fees, the book would be better for it.

Read more of Luke’s review here

Review: Wyatt on Dan Simmon’s Hyperion

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This book, written in 1989, is not your typical Odyssey-style story, where characters have to go from point A to point B and we hear all of what happens in-between. What this book does instead is tell both the story of the characters’ journey to the Time Tombs but also the stories of how the characters became who they are and what brought them to Hyperion … This book is not so much about the conclusion of these pilgrims’ journey but instead the journey itself. As with most things in life, the experience of getting to the destination can be worth more than the destination itself.

Read the rest of Wyatt’s review here