Book Review: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

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View the entire collection of 12 and Beyond’s book reviews here, and be sure to look out for more monthly reviews this Fall. 


The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is quite the read. And Mark Twain is quite the author.

Huck Finn was originally assigned to me as Summer Reading for school, and thus, I wish I had the chance to read Tom Sawyer previous to this. However, from this book alone, the relationship held by Tom and Huck can is clearly, well, peculiar. Fortunately, the novel does a beautiful job at incorporating various themes and qualities which make the novel so much more than just an adventure story.

The novel tackles so many different aspects of Finn’s life, that he as a character becomes so three-dimensional, and relatable in so many ways (although often to the extremes). For example, his paining relationship with his father, and how easily Huck became inculcated into his Father’s lifestyle, leaving all that truly mattered behind him, was difficult to read. Furthermore, Huck’s struggle with his inner morality in response to the influences of society portrays him as a person of true character.

In all, The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is a story of careless adventure at its surface, and one of friendship and humility at its depths.

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Les Misérables Book Review Volume II: Cosette

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View the entire collection of 12 and Beyond’s summer book reviews (and more) here, and be sure to read my Fantine book review too.

Three hundred pages into the [full-length] novel, Les Misérables’ second volume, Cosette, still maintains its overall grandeur and elegance, and intertwines the same elements and perspectives that truly define the novel.

In this volume, a captivating tale is told of Jean Valjean’s escape from prison after being recaptured, and further proves Valjean’s righteousness as he rescues Cosette from her abusive caretakers, the Thenardiers, all the while under the pursuit of the inspector, Javert. 

At the strongest points in the volume, the story is suspenseful and exciting to follow, and takes the reader on an incredibly detailed and elaborate adventure, with no intricacy left out. The viewpoints and relations of all characters provide the reader with an omniscient comprehension of the events, which only serves to strengthen the magnitude of the volume’s impact.

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Dead Wake Book Review

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This post is the second in a series of Summer book reviews publishing to 12 and Beyond in the coming months. The full collection can be accessed here.

Of all the variety of literature that I’d been exposed to in Freshman English (ranging from Shakespeare’s sonnets to the satire Animal Farm), I’d yet to read a true nonfiction book this year.

But naturally, I’d resent having to read through one structured like a textbook, so I sought out one that was more of, well, an experience. And I found exactly that in Erik Larson’s Dead Wake.

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Les Misérables Book Review: Fantine

Related imageThis post is the first in a series of biweekly ‘mini’ book reviews publishing this summer to 12 and Beyond. Further editions concerning Les Misérables will be published soon.

Les Miserables has taken me on an incredible journey over the past several months, involving the play, the music, the movie, and of course, the novel that inspired it all.

I began reading Les Miserables back in November after we began preparing to play in the orchestra pit for my school’s performance. Unfortunately, the copy I purchased was an abridged version- a mistake I quickly regretted. And so, while I had made it quite far through my original copy, I eventually purchased a new copy (at left)- unabridged, of course, and *just* slightly longer. Thus, making it through only the first volume of several found within the novel itself felt like reading through the entirety of the abridged version, and took just as long. Therefore, this book review is dedicated only to the first volume of the novel: Fantine. More will follow.

I would consider it all to be worth it, though- all of the “fluff” that consists of Hugo’s writing, often criticized as unnecessary. But for a novel like this, you don’t want just the facts- you want an intricate, beautifully written narrative, as it was intended. In all, Les Misérables is truly sensational.

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All the Light We Cannot See Book Review

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Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See is a novel that truly touched my heart, one comprised of endearment and compassion found in the most forbidding of times. Set in the midst of World War II, the French and Germans at endless battle, two characters, Marie-Laure and Werner, each face their own array of harsh struggles on opposite sides of the war, yet the desires of both military forces to attain (and retain) an object of myth and fortune only serve to intertwine and connect the inspiring stories of each.

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Lincoln In The Bardo Book Review

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IN BRIEF

In brief, describe the plot of Lincoln in the Bardo.

Lincoln in the Bardo tells two separate stories: the story of young Willie Lincoln and his father, Abraham; and the story of a community of ghosts bound to live inside a Washington cemetery, and both cross paths throughout the entire book, which takes place over a single day. 

Lincoln in the Bardo is a fascinating story that winds its way through death, life, love, and freedom. It also winds it’s way through characters- the story is narrated by three main characters who bounce thoughts off of each other, while others interject thoughts along the way. 

In George Saunder’s version of life (and death, for that matter), a community of ghosts co-exists with humans, though restricted to the cemetery and forced to hide during the daylight. You might think these ghosts have superpowers, though- apart from the usual pass through objects, fly through air fanfare, these ghosts can insert themselves into humans (a very particular one, in this case), listen to their thoughts, and even convince them of acting a certain way by influencing their thoughts. 

But no, this isn’t a science fiction novel (not the way I see it). Lincoln in the Bardo takes place during the Civil War, and even interjects pieces of writing from the actual time period (from real life).

All the while struggling with commanding the Union Army, Abraham Lincoln must suffer through the premature death of his son, Willie. Passing away from fever at the age of 12, Willie’s death breaks the heart of Abe- and brings thoughts of doubt and self- regret. There was no hope anymore for Lincoln.

*By the way- in this review, I’m referring to Willie Lincoln as Willie and Abraham Lincoln as Lincoln.

As Willie is laid to rest at the cemetery, his new form (as a ghost) rises from his human body and is greeted by other ghosts, whom I’ll name later. This is nothing but usual. Well, that is, until Willie doesn’t, er, move on. His soul remains in the cemetery- and that shouldn’t be happening. 

In Lincoln in the Bardo, you’ll read about why this happened, how (and why) other ghosts also suffered similar fates, all the while being sucked into a constantly developing plot. As Lincoln struggles with the loss of his son, he revisits the cemetery late at night to visit Willie one last time. From there, a heartwarming story begins.

You’ll love reading about the unbreakable connection between Lincoln and Willie, and how they stayed with each other (if not physically) until the very last moment. Though Willie is constantly bombarded with hoards of ghosts so curious about the miracle that had occurred, three ghosts (the main characters) step through and work to help Willie accept this unfortunate turn of events and reconnect him with his father for a few last ‘words’, so that Willie would move on as he was supposed to (for one can only consume to the matterlightbooming phenomenon when one is mentally prepared, in most cases). 

These ghosts, who had never seen so much excitement in their (after)lives, are willing to team up together to convince Lincoln to revisit the cemetery, while allowing for Willie to re-enter his sick-form (you’ll understand what that means once you read the book) and hear his fathers last words to him. 

By doing this, they not only help Willie reconnect with his father, but they allow for the ghost community to begin to see the beauty in each other that was left behind, recognize the lives they once had, accept their fate and have hope in themselves, and realize, for once in their lives, that they. are. actually. dead.

I’ll leave you with that. But there’s so much more to it- you’ll want to read Lincoln in the Bardo, a novel by George Saunders.

Read on for more of my review, where I cover the characters, issues, my thoughts, and more on one of my favorite reads so far.

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A List Of Cages | Book Review

Image result for a list of cages“Hate ricochets, but kindness does too.”

In A List of Cages by Robin Roe, a compelling story is told of a boy named Julian who lost his parents at an early age and was taken in by the family of a boy named Adam. Several years later, Adam a Senior and Julian a Junior, they meet again only for Adam to realize the true reasons of what has held Julian back his whole life- thoughts of his dead parents, his uncle (I’ll get to him later), his friends, feeling left out, feeling trapped. 

The two create an unbreakable bond of friendship, and thank goodness they did. As Adam becomes suspicious of Julian’s home life, he begins piecing together information. And when one tragic event occurs after another, Adam is able to save Julian in several ways through this bond, as difficult as times might be. A List of Cages is the type of novel that centers around a generic lesson (friendship) but then turns it into so much more.

DISCLAIMER: My book reviews encompass the entire book, therefore the contents that follow will likely spoil major parts of the story. If you are interested in purchasing the book, please do so before reading further. To read more of this post, please click Continue Reading.

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