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Book Review

School's Out Forever

SCHOOL can be a pretty scary place sometimes. This is where you become aware of social rules you hadn't known existed. The person that is your 'best friend' today might not be on your birthday invite list the following year. That obnoxious kid who always bullied you in the 5th grade, might unexpectedly morph into the one that always had your back. Moral of the story? People are rarely how they seem.

The Flock in James Patterson's Maximum Ride series didn't have the benefit of much formal schooling, but the lesson mentioned above was something they'd had to contend with. We met Max, Fang, Iggy, Nudge, Gazzy and Angel in the first book The Angel Experiment. We learned how they were part human-part avian mutants who escaped The School, the research facility where they were born, and subsequently spent much of the first book escaping the part wolf-part human Erasers who were deployed to bring them back. We also met Ari, the one Eraser that had a personal interest in the Flock, particularly Max.

School's Out Forever opens with the Flock discovering that a new breed of Erasers developed by the School can also fly. After a particularly violent aerial fight with Ari, whose appearance is a shock for more reasons than one, Fang is injured, and the Flock is forced to take him to a hospital. This is where they come into contact with the FBI, and are taken into protective custody, and sent to live with FBI Agent Anne Walker while they recuperate.

The next few chapters reads like a small break from the action, with the kids being enrolled into a high school, and the challenges of surviving all the forces that want them dead, is replaced by the challenges 'normal' youngsters their age would face: homework, making friends, first dates, and so on. This part is saved from becoming a drag like the camping scenes in the final Harry Potter novel, by the fact that the Flock is under the constant supervision of the Erasers, who have a surprise new member. At the same time, each member of the Flock is discovering a new skill, and trying to find out more about their real parents.

The break from the idyll comes when Max is kidnapped, and the others try to break into the offices of a corporation linked to the School. The climax of the story comes in the midst of a few chapters of non-stop butt-kicking action. Secrets and surprises come fast and thick, and lead to an exciting cliffhanger, with a warm, fuzzy reunion of the Flock to keep readers sated till the next book.

The story is exciting, if a little juvenile. Written from the point of view of a bunch of young teens (the narrative switches between Max, Fang, and Ari), the language has that youthful 'cowabunga' flavour of the old Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles series, but references to recent events keep it from being dated. Some of the 'twists' are rather predictable, but if it's a fast-paced page turner you want, this is definitely a book to get hold of.

By Sabrina F Ahmad

Akash Pot- ceiling of the sky

“Twinkle, twinkle little star,
How I wonder what you are!”

ALL these years if you have just stared at the stars in the sky and recited this poem, get a head start with this book published by the Bangladesh Astronomical Association written by Mr. Abdul Jabbar.

Astrology is perhaps one of the oldest arts men have practiced (except of course if you consider the old joke about the doctor, the engineer and the politician). Stars gave medieval men directions and light; sometimes gave them fright by suddenly disappearing or by shooting. But they also gave stories, stories of gods, mythical beasts and super human beings. The artistic minds of men imagined numerous images joining the most gleaming of stars. Thus we got many constellations of stars and their names. In the forgotten past the lonely men perhaps slept under the open sky and looking at the stars visualized many dreams, loves and sometimes, great stories. It can be the other way round also: men first thought of stories and saw the great ones in the night sky. All the oldest legends like Greek, Indian, and Egyptian have special places for these stories. Mr. Jabbar did an outstanding job by arranging them in one place and also systematically. There are maps for each of the nebulas. The stars are labelled and in a few places their features are included. There are also precise locations in the sky where they can be seen. The most intriguing feature of this book is the amount of artwork present. In reference to the subjects, there are numerous pictures of famous artwork from a range of well-known museums.

Mr. Jabbar gave a lot of descriptions about each of the well-known constellations. There are stories from mainly Greek and Indian folklore. Sometimes the stories are given so much emphasis that one may wonder if this is a book on stars or the stories. But enjoyment is guaranteed for sure.

In our country astronomy is a subject good books on which are very rare, let alone in Bangla. “Akash Pot” is probably the first and one of the best-written books on astronomy in Bangla. The only drag is that this book was first published in 1989 so keen readers may not find the latest updates on stars. But these stars are there since time immemorial, and 20 years is not a lot of time for them to change any of their characteristics. Still, it is a very good read for only 120 bucks.

By Jawad Mahmud



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