Recent Releases: Our Book Reviews as Student Library Board Members

As we transition into the second semester, what better way to de-stress from school work than by picking up a good book? As avid readers (and members of Lakeside’s Student Library Board), we’re here to give our brutally honest thoughts on two books that just recently hit the shelves. 


“Our Missing Hearts” by Celeste Ng

I wasn’t sure what to expect from “Our Missing Hearts,” as it’s set in a dystopian U. S., very different from Celeste Ng’s previous books. The world closely resembles our own in a way that makes it easy to see how it could actually be reality. 

Most of the story is told through the rather clueless eyes of a child, Bird, who slowly grows in his awareness of the world around him. His relationships with parents and friends hold the book together, tying different pieces of the plot together to complete the story. The plot is much slower than what I typically enjoy reading, but the world-building is interesting enough for the book to avoid being boring.

The main complaint I have about this book, though, is the style. Ng states in a recent interview that she intentionally did not use quotation marks to show the blurring between dialogue, narration, and story, but under no circumstances is this a good decision. It just makes the book annoyingly difficult to read, no matter how talented the writer is. Still, the many small parallels between American society in the book and reality, especially in regard to discrimination against Chinese Americans, make the book a worthy read. — Ria

This book was different from what I usually gravitate towards, but I’m glad I read it.

Our Missing Hearts reminded me of The Handmaid’s Tale in genre, since it’s set in a dystopian world that’s unsettlingly not that far from our own reality. I will say, however, that I preferred the style of The Handmaid’s Tale, because like Ria said, the formatting of the dialogue can be hard to follow – I had to re-read a section in confusion more than once.

I also think that some of the characters felt a bit predictable and slightly diluted. Compared to Little Fires Everywhere, an amazing book also written by Ng, this book had the same depth of detail in setting and plot development, but lacked the same multi-dimensional characters. I don’t think this detracted too much from the book overall, because its message and delivery is still very powerful. All in all, I would recommend this book because of its relevance to the America we live in today. — Mia


“Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir

Having read “The Martian” and “Artemis,” both great books by Andy Weir, I had high expectations going into “Project Hail Mary. I don’t want to spoil any of the story, but I will say that the sci-fi in this book is slightly more… fantastical than “The Martian.” 

I was definitely not disappointed. For such a long book that’s largely centered around a single character, Ryland Grace, who is separated from the rest of humanity light years away from earth, it was never boring. I’ve always been impressed by the science and technology that Weir describes in his books because they’re real enough that they’re (somewhat) believable but also fantastic enough that they allow for an exciting and futuristic story. There are points where the science can get a little dense, but I trust that we have the foundation to understand Weir’s explanations. 

At times humorous, at times sad, and at times incredibly stressful, I’d recommend this book to anyone, not just people who enjoy reading science fiction. I will say that it’s a longer read, but the quick pace and high excitement throughout make it go by fast. — Mia

I’ve never read Andy Weir’s books before, but I can now say they absolutely live up to the hype. Project Hail Mary somehow perfectly combines humor, science, and a very depressing premise into one of the best and most entertaining books I’ve ever read (and I’ve read a lot of books).

The main character, Ryland, is odd but charming with his old fashioned, not-so-explicit swearing and random science facts. His humor is a perfect complement to the serious part of the book. There’s a lot of exciting and terrifying moments I won’t unveil, but I think almost anyone would enjoy them. I don’t read that much science fiction, but this book had me eager to read and learn about the fake science that I really wish existed (except for the doomsday part). — Ria