Review: ‘Boys Don’t Cry’ by Malorie Blackman

 

Envisage this: you’ve got your entire future perfectly outlined for a career in journalism; you have an impatient yearning to discover those all-important A-Level results; and you’re additionally a tiny bit apprehensive as to what life is plotting to conjure up in your path. Just one slight issue: what if a girl you had a short-lived fling with suddenly materialises on your doorstep, produces a virtually newborn child, informs you that it’s yours and then disappears without trace.

 

This is precisely the predicament confronting nineteen-year-old Dante Bridgeman, who has spent the entire morning anticipating the delivery of his A-Level grade in a somewhat overwrought fashion, only to encounter Melanie, an old flame, who appears unannounced with a tiny tot in tow. Initially, Dante thinks she’s just coming back to visit him, and the thought that this child could have ever been fathered by him never even scrapes the surface of the depths of his brain. However, the young man is soon to be on the receiving end of one of the major shocks of his life when he is presented with his daughter’s birth certificate. Yes, his.

 

How will he ever become a good father figure to his daughter, Emma? How will he even contemplate how to tell his father and brother, soon to arrive home after a sojourn to the doctor’s clinic? How can this baby even be his? How can someone be so unlucky? Why has this girl just dumped the child with him? These are just a fraction of some of the multitude of questions which will begin to swim through Dante’s mind as he sits and stares deeply into his daughter’s eyes.

 

As this novel develops, it turns out that Dante’s baby isn’t the only strife present in his family’s existence. There’s his friends to deal with as well, and not everyone in the household is finding it all plain-sailing – what about the fortunes of his younger brother, Adam (or Uncle Adam as he is now officially) who seems to spend virtually every evening outside of the Bridgeman dwelling. Why is he disappearing all of a sudden?

 

Admittedly, this book may not necessarily be dripping with fast cars, monsters and zombies, although it certainly does begin to pose questions about important issues which affect so many. Friendship, youth, paternity, sexuality, and family are just some which crop up as the pages turn at a rate of knots. As such, if you wish to engross yourself in a piece of literature which is funny, on occasions, though also explores so many different facets of the human condition in a gripping way, then I’d strongly recommend picking up this book.

 

By Glen Foster, 9A

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The Magna Carter Exhibition @ Houston Museum of Natural Sciences

Mr Bryars writes:

During the February half term I went even further West than those who went to Alabama. I visited Houston to see some relatives. Imagine my surprise when I looked at my Twitter account (courtesy of the founder of Ipsos-Mori Bob Worcester @RobertWorcester ) on my first morning there to see that the Magna Carta was being exhibited at the Houston Museum of Natural Sciences. It was strange to go all that way and be transported back to 13th Century England. It was one of the four copies of the document – this one had been loaned from Hereford Cathedral. Magna Carta was a document signed in 1215 by King John which was the first statute law in England. It’s widely regarded as being the foundation of freedom and limited government – at least in the Anglo-Saxon world. It was certainly very influential on the American Declaration of Independence as well as the United Nations Charter. It was the first time that there had been some type of check made on the King of England. It contained up to sixty-one clauses. The most famous and important remains clause 39 which says the following:

 

“NO Freeman shall be taken or imprisoned, or be disseised of his Freehold, or Liberties, or free Customs, or be outlawed, or exiled, or any other wise destroyed; nor will We not pass upon him, nor condemn him, but by lawful judgment of his Peers, or by the Law of the Land. We will sell to no man, we will not deny or defer to any man either Justice or Right.”

 

This clause is the one that guarantees that no one can be locked up without a fair trial. It is what prevents the knock on the door in the middle of the night. There are two others that remain in force. These are clause one which guarantees the freedom of the English Church and clause 13 that guarantees the “ancient liberties” of the City of London. These liberties have been questioned http://www.theguardian.com/uk/2011/oct/31/corporation-london-institution-big-business .

 

Next year will mark the eight hundredth anniversary anniversary of the Magna Carta. This was an important and timely exhibition which I had the great good fortune to visit.

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March Madness in QM’s production of ‘Twelfth Night’

Twelfth Night is a comedy by William Shakespeare, and the QMGS production was, I felt, a huge success.

 

The play tells the story of Viola who has been shipwrecked on the coast of Illyria and she comes ashore with the help of a captain. She loses contact with her twin brother, Sebastian, whom she believes to be dead. Disguising herself as a young man under the name Cesario, she enters the service of Duke Orsino (Duke of Illyria) through the help of the sea captain who rescues her. Orsino has convinced himself that he is in love with Olivia, whose father and brother have recently died, and who has sworn an oath not to see any suitor until seven years have passed, the Duke included. Orsino then uses ‘Cesario’ as a page to describe and explain his passionate love for and to Olivia. Olivia however, forgetting about the seven yearsin her oath, falls in love with ‘Cesario’, as she does not realise ‘he’ is Viola in disguise. In the meantime, Viola has fallen in love with the Duke.

 

In a funny side plot, several of Olivia’s servants conspire to play a trick on Malvolio, Olivia’s steward. They convince Malvolio that Olivia is secretly in love with him by planting a love letter, written by Maria in Olivia’s hand. It asks Malvolio to wear yellow stockings cross-gartered, to be rude to the rest of the servants, and to smile constantly in the presence of Olivia. Malvolio finds the letter and reacts in surprised delight. He starts acting out the contents of the letter to show Olivia his positive response. Olivia is horrified and asks her uncle, Sir Toby Belch (A Conspirator) to lock him away. He is, and the rest of the conspirators proceed to torment him.

 

Meanwhile, Sebastian (who had been rescued by a sea captain, Antonio) arrives on the scene, which adds confusion of mistaken identity. Mistaking Sebastian for ‘Cesario’, Olivia asks him to marry her, and they are secretly married in a church. Finally, when ‘Cesario’ and Sebastian appear in the presence of both Olivia and Orsino, there is more wonder and confusion at their similarity. At this point Viola reveals she is a female and that Sebastian is her twin brother. The play ends in a declaration of marriage between Duke Orsino and Viola, and it is learned that Sir Toby has married Maria (Olivia’s Chambermaid). Malvolio swears revenge on the conspirators, but is consoled by Fabian, a visiting Spanish lord.

 

The play was brilliant; the actors portraying Shakespeare’s characters as humorous and jolly as they were originally intended. Special mention must go to Kyran Kanda, 6SB, for his amazing portrayal of Malvolio, particularly with his attempts at smiling to woo Olivia! Overall I would give the play 9/10, but only because nothing is perfect.

 

Chandan Jolly, 8A

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Review: ‘The White Tiger’ by Aravind Adiga

The White Tiger is a fantastic book which is jam-packed with hard-truths and realities of the modern world. This novel is narrated by a man named Balram Halwai and his destiny to reach the top. His journey, which is loaded with dark humour and cruel hardships, first begins into Delhi, where he works as a chauffeur to a rich landlord, and then to Bangalore, the place to which he flees after killing his master and stealing his money, the novel examines issues of religion, caste, loyalty, corruption and poverty. He tells his life story in letters to the Chinese President who he found out wants to know about the truth behind Bangalore. This book was published in 2008 and in that same year won the Man Booker Prize. The only thing that deterred me slightly was the swearing. Nevertheless, this book is phenomenal and totally worth the read.

By Devraj Jheet, 7Awhite-tiger

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Review: ‘Russian Roulette’ by Anthony Horowitz

When Yassen Gregorovich receives an email from Scorpia with the words of ‘KILL ALEX RIDER’, he reflects over his younger life and how he first became a spy for Scorpia. He reads his diary and wonders if he really can kill Alex Rider, who is MI6’s fourteen year old spy and the son of his dead best friend John Rider who saved his life in the Amazon jungle, whilst on a mission to kill a man there.

 

This book is very good because of its use of description of the action scenes and the surrounding area which gives you a feeling of actually being there. This makes you feel like you are part of the book. Short, sharp sentences make your jaw drop because they tell you things that you don’t expect, or confirm your worst fears that something bad is going to happen to a character. This makes you want to carry on reading because of the suspense it makes. Pathetic fallacy is used extremely well because when Yassen is walking on his own it rains and it’s cold because he is sad and alone. When Yassen is happy, the sun is shining and it is warm because he is happy.

 

Unfortunately, the book had some bad points as well. One of them was because it was a prequel, the book didn’t go anywhere with the Alex Rider series so it was a bit of a disappointment as I didn’t realise it was a prequel. The book ended up with me thinking that Anthony Horowitz had just used the book to get some extra money. I was very disappointed with the book as I expected a half-mystery, half-adventure with Alex Rider as the main character.

 

Personally, I think overall it was a quite a good book and I would recommend it to people between eleven and fifteen. Will Yassen Gregorovich ever kill Alex Rider? Read this book of adventure to find out!

My Rating:6.5/10-A bit of a disappointment.

 

By Kai Tolley, 7A

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Review: ‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins

‘The Hunger Games’ by Suzanne Collins is about the sixteen year old Katniss Everdeen of district twelve who steps forward to take her little sisters place in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games is a live TV show where twenty-four tributes are thrown in an arena whereupon they have to fight to the death. The book is set in the future America, known as Panem. Thirteen districts surrounded the Capitol until the districts united and rebelled against the Capitol. The Capitol crushed the rebellion and destroyed district thirteen. The Hunger Games is the Capitol’s way of showing the districts are powerless over them. Katniss has to win as losing is certain death, but she has been near death before so survival is her second nature.

This book is very gripping with vivid descriptions and action throughout the book. All the sections of the book intertwine and make the book flow. There is lots of suspense throughout the book such as ‘Suddenly the birds fall silent. Then one gives a high-pitched warning call. A single note.’ On the other hand the book can be quite hard to understand as even though the book is set in the future quite a lot of the elements of it have an old-fashioned sense about them. Also some of the scenes are gory and they some of the ideas of suspense. I would recommend this book for 11-16 year olds as some of the death scenes may frighten younger children. I’d give this book four stars ; it has great  descriptions and suspense, however it has some scenes which spoil the build-up of suspense. I would definitely recommend this book to you.

 

By Robert Davidson, 7A

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Review: ‘A Christmas Carol’ by Charles Dickens

When Charles Dickens wrote this story, he set it into five sections called staves, like in music, to create an ongoing theme relevant to the title. He did this in other books rather than just calling each section a chapter. I read the unabridged original version of the story and will therefore only comment on that book.

This story is about a business man called Ebenezer Scrooge who is always miserable because of his greed for money and wealth – wealth that he already has. He is a cruel and selfish man who thinks Christmas is humbug and a “poor excuse for picking a man’s pocket every 25th of December” On Christmas Eve, exactly 7 years after his business partner and friend Jacob Marley died, Scrooge met with a supernatural experience. The ghost of Marley appears and warns him about his ways. He tells Scrooge of a curse he has been given for his greed; he lifts heavy metal chains in his afterlife. He then explains to his living partner that he will be visited by three ghosts to try and change his outlook on life and other people. As Marley said, three ghosts appear in turn showing Ebenezer the past, present and future of Christmastimes. In the past, he revisits the time when he left a woman heartbroken to get more money. In the present, he sees his clerk called Bob Cratchit and his son Tiny Tim who, despite having a disability and serious illness, is always cheerful. In the future, Scrooge sees his end and the ultimate climax of all his wrongdoing.

This book has great description that really creates a picture in your mind (e.g. “The cold within him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled his cheek, stiffened his gait, made his eyes red, his thin lips blue; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice.”) Dickens gives a strange and spooky twist to a normal Christmas story in this old classic. It was written in the 1830’s-40’s which explains some of the words and items that we don’t use today. The story does seem a bit slow at some points and then speeds up again. These are things that made it difficult to read sometimes.

Overall, this is a good book that to this day, over 150 years after its original publishing, impresses many people who want to read something new at Christmas time. It also carries a heavy moral that tells the reader that greed can turn people into despised, miserable monsters. I would definitely recommend this to people over my age because I think that this book can be appreciated more by older people. I also think that younger people would either maybe find it scary or depressing or would be too bored by the sometimes very long descriptions to read on. They may also not understand things like the jobs and places because they have never heard of them. It was definitely a different book compared to what I normally read and it is certainly worth a try.

 

By Tim Williams, 7A

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