Origin X Library Book Reviews: No Time, We’re Booked

Designed by: Jo Yeoul (19-A2)



Mistborn: The Final Empire

Author: Brandon Sanderson


Written by Members of the Media Resource Library Club

Edited by Lee Keng Yan (19-U1)


What if the ‘Chosen One’ fails to defeat the evil overlord? The answer can be found in the Final Empire – the first in a saga of surprises and suspense. 


The story centres on Vin, a street urchin trying to survive in the capital city Luthadel. She (somewhat reluctantly) joins a crew that eventually kindles the flames of rebellion. They appear determined to take down and topple the thousand-year empire, ending the Lord Ruler’s oppressive rule. Although it might look like your typical fantasy dystopian universe featuring a teenage hero, trust me, nothing is as it seems with Mistborn.  


One of the main reasons why Sanderson is such an incredible writer is his worldbuilding. Unlike ‘soft magic’ systems (think Harry Potter-style spellcasting), the Mistborn magic system of allomancy is crafted in his signature ‘hard magic’ style – specific rules and limitations of the magic, why certain characters are more powerful than others, how the system fits into the world as a whole, etc. It’s written as less magic and more science. 


There are also fantastic developments of in-world religions, social systems, and geography. 


However, there are some noticeable areas for improvement. Vin is one of the very few female characters we encounter. There isn’t as much diversity as would be ideal. But don’t lose hope – this was one of Sanderson’s first few books, and he’s improved these areas with each subsequent ones. (For more women, racially diverse characters, and protagonists with mental illnesses check out his other series The Stormlight Archive.)


My favourite character is almost certainly Vin, but her mentor-slash-father-figure Kelsier comes a close second. Kelsier sees the world in black and white, but his morality is unquestionably grey. In any other novel, he would be a villain. It just so happens that the Final Empire needs a hero like him. 


TL;DR: Fantastic worldbuilding, likeable characters, and a great plot. Oh, and the humour is decent as well. Enjoy Mistborn – and remember, there’s always another secret. 


A Series of Unfortunate Events

Written by Members of the Media Resource Library Club

Edited by Lee En Tong (19-U2)


A Series of Unfortunate Events(ASOUE) is a well-known series of children’s classic books written by Daniel Handler under the pseudonym of Lemony Snicket. It follows the calamitous lives of the three extremely unfortunate Baudelaire orphans, Violet, who is a remarkable inventor, Klaus, an intelligent bibliophile, and Sunny, who has a knack for biting. 


Following the grisly deaths of their parents who perished in a horrible fire, they are placed under the care of Count Olaf, their (supposed) third cousin, four times removed. However, the Baudelaire orphans soon find themselves running for their lives from the scheming ways of Count Olaf, who plots wicked schemes to inherit the Baudelaires’ enormous fortune for himself. Besides fleeing from Count Olaf, the Baudelaires would also need to use their wits to escape from the misfortunes that befall them as they traverse the almost dystopian world that they live in.


While it is categorised as a ‘children’s book series’, ASOUE dives into much more mature themes. It alludes to many disturbing concepts throughout the adventures of the Baudelaire siblings. As the author warns us in every book of the series, the story of the Baudelaires is not a happy one. It does not have a happy beginning or a happy ending, and the number of happy moments within its pages are scarce. Being an unorthodox contemporary children’s literary series, dark themes are not divorced from ASOUE as abuse, torture, death and even murder form the backbone of the series, thus contributing to an incredibly bleak and hopeless atmosphere in the books. 


The strong narrative voice that accompanies the reader in every flip of a page serves to reinforce the hopelessness and tragedy of the Baudelaires’ misfortunes. The sarcastic, mocking, and cynical manner in which the narrator comments on the events in the book makes it a thought-provoking read even for teenagers and young adults. Its desolate tone constantly impresses upon readers the unhappy and unfortunate trajectory of the story, as if encouraging a defiant optimism in readers as the Baudelaires continue to defy death and overcome the many misfortunes life throws at them time after time. 


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