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Shanghai Shamans

Adrian Lui reviews 'Abomination' by Robert Swindells
Abomination is a fiction novel written by Robert Swindells who is a carnegie medal winning author. This book is about a 12 years old girl called Martha who was born in a righteous family. Martha was bullied and being chased back home every day. Why? It is because of her parents. Martha's parents force Martha to go to school with ugly sewed clothes. After school, she has to stay home to do her homework and go to sleep after. Her parents work day and night and never take care of Martha. That's her life. But what is the most important problem. It's Abomination. The Secret that have kept from the Righteous and the world. Martha needs to feed abomination everyday. That's also the reason why Martha's parents don't let her bring friends home. Everything happens just like that until a boy came. Scott, a boy that is transferred from another school. This boy has changed Martha life. Anyway, I have enjoyed reading this book. The story is really interesting. Every English lesson that we read this book. I wish that lesson will never end. I can't stop reading on after each chapter. I enjoyed the surprising ending of the book as well. Adrian Lui 8KK
Posted on: 02 Nov 2011

Declaration by G Malley; Claudia's review
“The Declaration” -A book report In this book the year is 2140, people have created a longevity drug that allows you to live in eternal youth, prevents you from ageing and becoming sick. But because no one dies naturally, there can be no more new life created, or else there would be too many people using up Earth’s precious resources. And so, to be able to take this drug, there is a Declaration you must sign, a Declaration that states that after you sign it, any child of yours will be illegal, a surplus, and either terminated or put into a Surplus Hall, where they will be forbidden from taking the drug and will live a short life of being a slave. Of course, you can Opt Out, and choose to live a normal life, but if you want to, you must decide to not sign before your sixteenth birthday, and that is hardly enough time to decide, so almost no one Opts Out. This is a gripping tale written by Gemma Malley that really changes the way you see things, the way you think. It is told from a surpluses point of view, a girl called Anna Covey. She believes that she is a burden, that she has committed a sin just by existing. But then a boy named Peter enters her life, and she starts questioning things, starts realizing that maybe the things she was brought to believe were never true…
Posted on: 29 Oct 2011

Wikileaks by David Leigh review by Juan H
Wikileaks: Inside Julian Assange's War on Secrecy is a book written by David Leigh (the investigations editor) and Luke Harding (Moscow correspondent), both journalists working at the Guardian. The book details the joint release of the US leaked cables by five newspapers and Wikileaks. The writers are quick to establish that it is impossible to tell the story of Wikileaks without telling the story of Julian Assange himself. There is a great deal of research done into Assange's upbringing in Australia and his previous exploits that earned the legendary status in the computer underground under the name Mendax. Even better is the book's recounting of Bradley Manning's background and experiences in the US army and his connection to the hacker community. What really impressed me was the Guardian's thorough understanding of Wikileaks's own secrecy measures and the internet secrecy procedures in general. The book gives a detailed description of The Onion Router (normally called "Tor"), probably the most important tool Wikileaks uses. The writers understand the necessity for the mainstream media and traditional journalists like the Guardian needed to keep up with the new internet whistle-blowing websites. The book also recounts the first "infowar" fought on the internet. After releasing the cables Wikileaks suffered through a DDoS attack from the US hacktivist known as Jester. Anonymous came to Assange's aid and attacked Vista, Mastercard, and PayPal (since they had refused to service donations to Wikileaks, crippling their effort). The book is not entirely nonpartisan however. Before the publishing of the book, the Guardian had fallen out with Assange-- and it shows. The book adds that Julian Assange initially did not want to censor the names of informants in the US leaked cables (who were obviously in danger, since most of them lived under repressive regimes) saying that the informants "deserved it". However, Assange had his team carefully redact all of the cables, unlike the Guardian which only chose a few articles of interest and redacted those individually. Assange had actually offered the US government a chance help Wikileaks protect the informants, intending to let the US flag the articles where sensitive information was used so Wikileaks could redact it (this offer was turned down, and the US right-wing media and politicians continued to hypocritically insist that Julian had "blood on his hands".) More importantly, there are serious inaccuracies in the retelling of Julian Assange's sex allegations in Sweden. (The testimonies of Assange's witness, Donald Boström, are heavily abridged and his name is incorrectly written as "Böstrom") Overall, the book is an excellent source of information, particularly on Julian Assange's operations and Bradley Manning's motivation for leaking the cables (it even has several US Embassy Cables in the appendix). However the book is completely unreliable when it comes to Assange's real attitude and actions with his partners.
Posted on: 19 Oct 2011

Leviathan review by Jay T
Levianthan review I had high hopes for this book as I have previously read the Uglies series by the same author (I highly recommend this book series by the way) but the book was not up to the author's standard. Levianthan is a dystopian novel set during World War 1 wherein the Central Powers are characterized by their use of mechanized war machines while the Entente Powers are characterized by their use of living creatures evolved specifically for war. The novel is full of non- stopped action and a unique and enthralling plot line but what I found lacking was the characters. Compared to the author's previous novels, the two protagonists (Deryn and Aleksander)seem lackluster for lack of a better word. At the start of the novel, Deryn (who is a girl) is pretending to be a boy which I found incredibly over - done. Her character is also remarkably alike to the character of Holly Short in the Artemis Fowl series (another great series by the way). Aleksander is the prince of Hapsburg who is spoilt and spends the first half of the novel under the delusion that his parents are still alive and coming to rescue him and repeatedly fleeing from his guardians. I found him annoying and unlikeable and his reform in the later part of the novel is also a little unbelievable. All in all, Levianthan is a fantastic book with an amazing plot but not so amazing characters. If you're planning to read it, I would recommend that you read the Uglies Saga which is also by Scott Westerfeld - a far superior read.
Posted on: 28 Sep 2011

Review of The Girl who Fell... by Juan H
On the surface, Heidi W. Durrow's The Girl Who Fell From the Sky is the story of a biracial girl growing up in 1980's America as she deals with the her identity and her complicated family history. After her mother and two siblings plunge to their deaths from a Chicago rooftop (this family tragedy was inspired by true events), young Rachel Morse is sent to Portland, Oregon to live with her paternal grandmother. Rachel's father was an African-American serviceman who was posted overseas (who never wanted his family to live in the USA) who met Rachel's white Danish mother. In Oregon Rachel understands that the question of her race will define her. Rachel is intelligent, beautiful, and athletic. But she is essentially an orphan. When she asks herself, “What are you?” she means what race, and she can’t come up with any adequate reply. Durrow moves between Rachel’s perspective and several others as she gradually reveals what happened to the girl’s mother and brothers on that ­Chicago rooftop. But although there’s a plot twist at the end, the novel isn’t driven by suspense. Instead, its energy comes from its vividly realized characters, from how they perceive one another. Durrow has a terrific ear for dialogue, an ability to summon a wealth of hopes and fears in a single line. “How you gonna catch a lizard with your backside loading you down?” asks Grandma as she watches Rachel’s unmarried aunt eat a pancake. “How to learn all these things that might hurt them?” Rachel’s mother writes in her painfully broken English. Even Rachel’s confusion is registered best by her conversation with a young man called Brick, who also has light skin. “What are you? Like black, or — like me?” Rachel asks. “Oh, I’m black. Regular,” is his answer. He says “regular” as if the issue weren’t as fraught and urgent as it is for her — “like he was describing coffee without milk,” Rachel thinks. She is even more unnerved, though, when he turns the question back on her: “Do you think people would ask you that if you didn’t have your mother’s eyes?” Sometimes we see ourselves best as others see us.
Posted on: 28 Sep 2011

The beginning ...
Hello world! We are the reading group at Dulwich College Shanghai. Last week we researched our school library and found that there were 15 out of 60 books from last year's longlist (25%). They were not all on the shelves at that moment, but all of the students borrowed one. We are looking forward to the publication of the new longlist in November. In the meantime, we will be familiarising ourselves with last year's lists and winners.
Posted on: 07 Sep 2011