Reviewing required reading


Miles Bennett

Graphic by: Miles Bennett

Here’s a few short reviews of some of the books we read in AP English for those going into it next year or for those who like to read other people’s opinions on things. I didn’t review all of them, because I have a life, but I did review the books that I feel made the most lasting impression on me. Feel free to yell at me if you think I’m wrong, and I may or may not yell back.

Here is all of my reviews in six words for those who have an attention span akin to my own. Graphic by: Miles Bennett

“The Crucible” by Arthur Miller- 6/10

PLOT: The simplicity of the plot totally works, since it’s a very character driven narrative.

CHARACTERS: Most of the characters are interesting, and there’s definitely a few stand out monologues. But Abigail steals the entire show by being one of the most entertaining villains to ever grace the stage.

WRITING: The play is very competently written. The dialogue isn’t exactly written in ‘colonial speak,’ but I think that makes the narrative more effective and believable for a modern audience. The situation and conflict feel very real, since Miller knows when to keep dialogue simple and when to give his characters more elaborate monologues and such. As well, there’s just enough campiness to balance out the more serious bits.

HIGH POINTS: Any of Abigail’s monologues and most scenes that involve a confrontation.

LOW POINTS: Reading a play and watching a play are two very different experiences…

VERDICT: I really like, “The Crucible” as a performing arts piece, but a script doesn’t read as well as a traditional novel. Unless you have a mind for staging and theatrics, I feel like you have to see the play performed or watch the movie to understand how good it is.

“The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne- 2/10

PLOT: What plot? The book seems to be a compilation of garbage poetry that Hawthorne wrote in middle school for 300 pages.

CHARACTERS: I’m pretty sure there weren’t any of those either.

WRITING: This book hurts to read. You couldn’t be more pretentious and annoying if you read, “On Civil Disobedience” out loud while stabbing me in the neck repeatedly. Hawthorne just goes on and on about symbolism and imagery with colors and such, which would normally be great, except I couldn’t care less about the flimsy characters, their flimsy motivations and the flimsy world building. He’s just artificially extending a cliched and boring narrative that I already hated in the first place.

HIGH POINTS: I can appreciate some of Hawthorne’s stylistic choices at times.

LOW POINTS: All of it.

VERDICT: “The Scarlet Letter” is the equivalent of finding a hair in my salad.

“The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn” by Mark Twain- 7.5/10

PLOT: Very wacky, very wild, very funky fresh.

CHARACTERS: Most of the characters are fleshed out pretty well and add to the narrative by being either wacky™ or the worst™

WRITING: For the most part, Marky Mark’s wit is very charming and enjoyable. The book was written in like 1880-whatever, so sometimes the humor feels a bit dated, but never so much so that it brings that whole book down. And when it’s time to get serious, Twain really knows how to tug at the ol’ heart strings.

HIGH POINTS: The funnies that function.

LOW POINTS: Unlike the overall cleverness of the book, the humor is kind of hit or miss.

VERDICT: Pretty clever, pretty funny, pretty good.