Teen Titans

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Genre: Superhero

Aired on: Cartoon Network

Current status: Completed

Type: Cartoon

NOTE: This is for the original Teen Titans, not the recent Teen Titans Go!

Teen Titans is a children’s television show that aired in the 2000s, and was very popular in its day, and remains a positive childhood memory of many of its viewers. The show itself is generally innocent, although sometimes it contains allegories to more mature topics. First: content. The IMDB content summary for this show is very brief, and contains what you would expect from a superhero themed show (action, cartoon violence). It mentions that two characters kiss a few times: this is inaccurate (I believe there is only one kissing scene in the television show) although there is one in the animated film Teen Titans in Tokyo, which takes place after the conclusion of the series (since that is pretty much just a long episode, I have just included it in my review). There is one innuendo in one episode: one of the characters, who goes by the name of Starfire, is flying above the ground with a thick sweater on, and there is a one-eyed teenage villain with mechanical glasses on, and he mentions that he has x-ray vision and Starfire immediately covers her chest. Other than that, the only other drawback to the show in that respect is the way that the female characters dress, which I will address in their biographies.

THE PLOTLINE

The plotline of this show is very simple: there are five teen superheroes living together in a large building who fight crime and keep their city safe. Each season has its own plotline, and all of them are very engaging. There are two kinds of episodes: plot episodes and filler episodes. There are five to six plot episodes per season, and the rest are all standalones. The exception is season 5, where almost all of the episodes are tied into the plotline one way or another.

THE CAST

Teen Titans Robin

Robin. Young, brash, sometimes arrogant, the leader of the Teen Titans is a hero with surprising complexity for a children’s show. A skilled martial artist, he leads the team with the battle cry of “Teen Titans, GO!” As far as characterization goes, Robin is generally regarded as the second best hero of the squadron, with the first season centered around him in a complex plotline. He has times where he is faced with leadership decisions that are difficult, and sometimes he makes the right choices, sometimes not. However, when he makes a wrong decision, he learns from his mistake.

Teen Titans CyborgCyborg is literally a cyborg: half human, half machine. An accident (no details are provided as to its nature), left him injured beyond normal medicinal cures, and he was infused with robotic technology to keep him alive. He is now the fun-loving, cannon-firing, car-driving technology expert of the group, designing the base’s security and building contraptions. The plotline of the third season centers around him, which is easily the weakest plotline of the show. But it is by no means bad. Episodes that center around him usually are about him struggling with his humanity: is he human or machine? The episodes are sometimes good quality, sometimes not so much. His fun demeanor is something that remains through the show, as he charges into battle with the excited cry of “Booyah!”

Starfire

Starfire’s demeanor is one of innocence to the world of mankind: she is a tamaranian (an alien from another planet), who arrived on Earth somehow: we are not told the specifics of how she arrived until the fifth season. Her power is to shoot starbolts out of her hands, and, later on in the show, her eyes, that deal damage to enemies. The only problem I found with the character, as you can see by the two images posted, is that she is dressed skimpily, her stomach showing in nearly every episode. For the first episodes, it drove me crazy, because this is a KIDS show and she is dressed immodestly, inspiring her fangirls to dress the same. However, she is not nearly as bad as Ahsoka Tano from The Clone Wars, so that’s something I guess. But the show’s main drawback is definitely the modesty of the female characters: even minor ones are often not dressed adequately. An interesting thing about the character is that while she has multiple episodes centered around her, none of the season plotlines put her in a more important position than any others.

Beast_BoyBeast boy is, with Cyborg, one of the comic relief characters of the show: he cracks jokes and has an amusing, energetic character throughout the show. However, he is my personal third favorite character, because of how they take the comic relief character and make some of the more heavy episodes centered around him. He has two seasons where he is not the main character, but he is the most important of the Titans: season 2 and season 5. In season 2, he meets a girl who he obviously likes and who obviously likes him back, and they begin to develop a relationship. They hold hands, but no kissing ever occurs between the two characters. However, he teaches a good lesson: it’s okay to be funny and energetic, but there are times when you have to act your age and be mature. His power is the ability to transform into any animal he can think of.

RavenI like to save the best for last, and it is nearly unanimously agreed that Raven is the best character in this show; the most well written, the one with the most engaging plotline, and the one with the most character development. She has two potential drawbacks to her character: the entire show, her costume is a leotard covered by a blue cloak. However, her legs are entirely exposed in almost every episode. In one episode, an event occurs that rips her costume, exposing her stomach for a few minutes. The other is that her character is portrayed as a “goth”, she dresses in dark black and blue, and has an air of darkness around her throughout the show. She likes to be alone with her books, and she gains her power through magic (a critical viewer could draw connections to witchcraft, as she gives a cry of “Azarath Mentrion Zinthos!” We learn that Azarath is the world on which Raven was born, but the other two words are never defined. You can draw your own conclusions; I tend to think that the similarity was unintentional). The only concern I would have with showing my child this show in Raven’s case is the gothic attitude; I wouldn’t want my daughter to take Raven up as a rolemodel, because she is so closed off to the other characters and just has a dark demeanor. However, Raven’s faults are overshadowed easily by how well written she is, and the fantastic plotline that centers around her in season 4. I tend to think that Raven is the writer’s voice coming out, sometimes remarking on a plot convenience, showing us that the writer’s noticed it too, or making a sarcastic joke that you can’t help but laugh at. Season 4 is the most mature season: Raven’s origins are revealed, and the plotline takes you through an epic series of events that end in a three part episode called “The End”. It is a complex, extremely engaging plotline that can be enjoyed by youngsters who don’t quite realize the gravity of the situation, and their parents or older siblings. She is the main character of all of the episodes, and, as she is the most powerful of the Teen Titans, she gets to unleash herself more than she has in any other episode, and believe me, it is EPIC.

SladeSlade is the main villain of the Teen Titans series, although comic book fans know him better by the name of Deathstroke. I won’t say much about him, but I will say this: whenever there is a mature plotline, or one that is heavy and emotional and dark, he is probably involved. A fantastic villain, he is easily my personal second favorite of the show. One of the most disturbing images of the show involves him: I won’t tell you where or when (you’ll know it when you see it). If you’re reading this to see if it is appropriate for your child, Google it: you’ll find the image easily.

CONCLUSION

For all its faults, Teen Titans is one of the best animated children’s shows out there. While there are better (most of the better ones being other DC animated cartoons), it is certainly one of the best I have ever seen. It is funny and lighthearted, with the capacity to be mature and dark in a captivating way. I highly recommend it, for college kids with nothing better to do that never watched as children, and for adults to watch with their children. Enjoy!

Age Rating: 12+

Quality Rating: 7/10

 

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Death Note

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Genre: Anime

Current status: Completed

Type: Cartoon

First non-music review! Which is not saying much because I’ve only reviewed two albums xD I’m gonna take a crack at a TV show… bare with me, it might be a rough-around-the-edges review (I’m not going to individually review all 37 episodes and waste everyone’s time xD so it won’t be as complete as my others.) First of all, this show is something that I definitely would say to use discretion on. I am not going to go into the full content summary: IMDB has already given it a pretty solid content review, which you can access here:

IMDB CONTENT RATING

That synopsis is pretty accurate, although the content rating bolds “All of the women were clothed” in referencing a scene where a character was looking at magazines that were supposed by be inappropriate, and while this is mostly true, they were BARELY clothed. So their modesty is exaggerated by the site.

THE PLOTLINE

The Death Note

This is the Death Note. The Death Note is the item the entire show is focused around, and it sets up the entire 37 episode story-arch. The Death Note falls into the hands of Light Yagami, a young high school student who sees this as a way to make the world a better place: by killing all of the criminals on the planet. What does it do? Well, all the holder has to do is write down the name of the person in the book, and in forty seconds that person will die of a heart attack. The Death Note can also be used to specify the time, place, and circumstances behind the death. There are many rules to the notebook that are described throughout the series, particularly at the beginning, when Light is first utilizing it. The plotline takes off as a detective catches Light’s trail and starts to close in on him, and it becomes a game of chess between the two that is engaging and exciting, and that builds momentum throughout the show.

THE CAST

Light

Light Yagami, the main character of the show, is a young senior in high school/college freshman during the show. He is the character the plotline is centered around. An interesting part of this show is that Light, while he seems to be the protagonist and is undoubtedly the main character, he is also the villain of the show. He obtains the notebook by complete accident, but he thinks that it could not have fallen into better hands. He desires to use it to clean the world of crime and violence, and make it a celan place. And, in the end, it is his plan to become the “God of the New World.”

RyukkThe next character is Ryuk, which, while he does not necessarily have a huge part to play in the series, is the reason the series begins. He drops the Death Note into the human world for one reason: he was bored. He is with Light throughout the show, and only people who touch a page of the Death Note can see him. While his appearance may make him look like an intimidating character, he is actually where most of the comic relief of the show originates, as his only intention in the show is to have fun watching the interesting developments centered around the Death Note. He is a “Shinigami,” or a “god of death,” which is one of the only spiritual parts of the show, besides his declaration that someone who uses the Death Note “cannot go to Heaven or Hell”.

L

“L” is the next main character on the list, introduced in the second episode and instantly making the viewer desire to watch the rest of the show, for some, in one sitting. He comes onto the scene with a brilliant and cunning attitude that leaves the viewers and the characters stunned, particularly Light. In the first episodes, we do not see his face, and know him only as a L in an old capital letter font, or part of a face shrouded in darkness. But when we do meet him in person, he provides a new, fresh character to a show that was already fantastic, increasing the engaging plotline and continuing to build momentum. The character is a fun, enjoyable character with a darkness to him that makes him all the more interesting. Alessandro Juliani, his dubbed voice actor, brings to life his quips and quirky personality that make the character so enjoyable. He goes by a code name (L), which gives him protection against the Death Note and allows him to conduct his investigation and show his face more safely, which is why the fan base knows him as L instead of giving him a proper name, although he does don aliases throughout the show. He is the favorite character of many viewers, this author included, and he also ranks as one of the most popular characters in the Anime world.

misa-misaMisa Amane is a blonde female who is introduced later in the show, and plays the unfortunate role of “dumb blonde” to the T, a complete embodiment of the concept in visual form. She is the most sexualized of the characters, often wearing skimpy clothing and sporting some dialogue that has innuendo or outright sexual implications. This dynamic in her character reduces its quality throughout the show, ruining what could otherwise have been a very engaging part of the cast. Her motive is driven by her unrelenting dedication and love for Light Yagami, giving her very little depth of character and a very shallow portrayal in the story. She does have her moments, but they are overshadowed by minimal character development, especially near the end of the show, where she is reduced to a whiny extra with very little personality and even less clothing, making her a sexual item alone instead of an engaging character. In my opinion, this character was one of the pitfalls of the show, one that could have been executed much better.

SPIRITUALITY

So how should we, as Christians, view this show’s contents? First of all, there is the existence of Shinigami, which are referred to as “gods of death”, who, while not immortal, are viewed as spiritual beings throughout the show. Also, while there is a mention of someone using the Death Note being unable to go to Heaven or Hell, there is also a frame that shows a rule from the Death Note in one episode that says that human beings go to “Mu,” which is a spiritual belief that there is nothing after death (the word literally means “nothingness”). And then there is the idea that Light desires to become the god of the “New World”. So there are definitely some warning signals for Christians throughout this show, including the question of whether a civilian killing criminals in an act of righteous judgement is an acceptable occurrence. The show does take a stance against it, but also leaves a few unanswered questions about Light’s morality lingering in the viewers’ heads. However, the show does have quite a few redeeming qualities: throughout the show justice is defended and moral stances by the protagonists generally agree with Christian morality, even though L’s methods sometimes skirt the edge of morality. The show also does raise some important questions about morality, particularly the death penalty and vigilantism, that Christians should wrestle with. And if you suspend your disbelief and allow the spiritual world of Death Note to exist within the show itself, not expanding into your own perspective on the world, the religious differences between the show and reality become obsolete, as they are just the writer’s fictional creations. Overall, I’d say the show’s redeeming qualities far outweigh the bad.

FINAL CONCLUSION

While the violence, sexual themes, and strained morality of the show do sometimes put a dampener on it, overall it is a thrilling psychological ride that takes you on a high stakes chess game played by two of the most brilliant characters in literature and written by brilliant authors who will dazzle you, surprise you, and play with your emotions. I definitely highly recommend this show, for Christians and non-Christians alike, if only for the high-quality way in which it is presented and the enjoyable and gripping conflicts that ride the show to its conclusion. I will warn the viewer that the show was extended past when the writers wanted to include it, and the turning point is very obvious. There is much debate about whether added on “part 2”, as it were, was a good or bad addition, and I will not influence your perception by giving you my own opinion. Overall, this show is definitely worth the watch, and quite possibly a buy. It has very high re-watch value, and I thoroughly enjoyed the series myself. By the way, if you start this show, you may want to give yourself a wide time cushion, because after episode 2, it’s hard to stop watching, as the show is one long connected story that is very addictive, as each episode builds the show’s momentum and most end on cliffhangers.

Age Rating: 17+

Quality Rating: 10/10

Rhythm ‘n’ Moves by Capital Lights

Capital_Rhythm_N_Moves

Capital Lights is a small band that hopped onto the scene a few years ago. They are a band under Tooth and Nail records, and claim to be Christian. Their most recent album, Rhythm ‘n’ Moves, is a more obscure release, and falls under the radar often, in Christian and secular circles both. But the band themselves have a good songs, solid songwriting, and high quality tracks: while they may be more obscure they are by no means bad. However, any band that claims to be “Christian” has a standard that they are expected to live up to in the morality that their songs present. Capital Lights, unfortunately, sometimes does not quite live up to that standard, and this album is no exception. The band has one more album: “This Is An Outrage”, which, while I have listen to it, I have never listened to the full album under a critical lens, so I cannot give a total review of the band at this time (I may review that album later on), but I can tell you what I think of this album in particular.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD

“Rhythm ‘n’ Moves”, the title track opens the album, and it sets a rhythm (haha) that will remain for the rest of the album, establishing the theme of the album (relationships) and the mood (peppy and upbeat). The song is very atypical for the rest of the tracks: it is about a guy whose girlfriend left him, and it describes her and how he wants her back and how she’s his perfect girl and continues on like that. The song itself is fun and makes you smile and tap your foot, and, while it doesn’t have much substance, it doesn’t have anything really objectionable in it either. Overall an enjoyable, clean track.

The only word I can think of to adequately describe “Let Your Hair Down” is bipolar. The narrator is in a relationship that seems like it is ending: his lover is leaving him, and he is giving up on her but still wants her back. It’s clean and fun, and emotionally driven, but it is an “eh” track at best, just because the narrator seems kind of confused and unable to decide what he wants.

Ahhhh yes. “Caroline”. This is one of the CATCHIEST songs I have ever heard, and it gets stuck in my head ALL THE TIME. The song itself is clean, and the message is pretty good: it’s about a guy who was in love with a girl that fell victim to fame: “Caroline, wo-0-ah! Hollywood took the girl!” and he’s sick of her newfound self-love and is getting out of that one-sided relationship. Give this track a listen… at your own risk. Because it’s really peppy and will have you bobbing your head and tapping your foot for hours after it’s done.

“Coldfront Heatstroke” was their hit single, and it is one of the best tracks on their album. Again, it is a track about a one-sided relationship that he’s calling quits because he can’t take her emotional flip-flopping anymore. It’s a fun, acoustic driven track that is well written and completely clean. Plus, it’s got creative lyrics that are fun to listen to.

Controlling my anger, I will try to write a clean-headed review of the next track, which is a waste of talent and time and drops the morality of the album out from under itself. As a “Christian” band, this is a shameful track for them to put out. Called “Newport Party,” this is about a beachside party where there are a bunch of guys waiting for good-looking “Laguna beach bodies to arrive” and make them “lose their Cinderellas”. It is spit in the face of love, replacing it with a lust for good-looking girls in bikinis. I call it a waste of talent because there is some clever writing here, with the band referencing two of the songs on their previous album: “With the fellas singing This is an Outrage/Girl, you’re just a Mile Away” (This is an Outrage and Mile Away are the two). But it’s ruined by the rest of the song. I violently despise this track and recommend you steer clear from it. I wouldn’t even give it a listen.

This album is pretty darn bipolar: in between the two worst songs is a really good, inspiring one for girls going through depression. “Honey Don’t Jump” is a really touching song about a broken girl who is thinking about suicide, and it is written from the perspective of someone encouraging her with touching lyrics such as “Honey, don’t jump the gun/There’s a life worth living on/When the world comes crashing down/In God’s arms you’re safe and sound/Let the love of new life spread/In the light, you’ll walk til death/Then, arise, a forgiven soul/As Daddy says, welcome home and job well done/Oh honey don’t jump the gun!” It’s a good song, a very good song. I highly recommend it.

“Say Hey” is not necessarily a BAD song. But I did not like it, enough for me to take it off of my iPod. For one thing, the song opens with the sound of a can being opened… and since it is a party song written by adults, it’s hard to imagine that it would be a soda can. But I guess that is the assumption we are supposed to make. The song itself proceeds to, while not being out-front inappropriate, kind of shady, including lyrics like “Four silhouettes getting down in the daylight”, “Me and shawty in our best clothes/getting down on a late night”, and a few others that walk a razor’s edge. Use great discretion with this track.

“Don’t Drop Dead Juliet” is narrated by a boy who’s in love with a girl, but is having trouble committing to the relationship, and is scared of what the future may hold, but is encouraging her to stay because he knows he wants to stay with her till he dies. It’s a pretty touching song, and changes the tempo of the album a bit: instead of him leaving a girl because the relationship is unhealthy, he’s encouraging a girl to stay with him because he wants to make things right between them. Not a bad track at all.

“Hey Little One” is a track that takes the album to a much slower pace, and it’s a warm, heartfelt song. It’s about a boy who lost his love, and regrets it and thinks back on it with happy memories and a desire to relive them. It is touching, and the artist puts raw emotion into the song that makes you sympathize with him and, if you have ever lost a love, brings you back to those memories. He also looks towards the future, and asks God with the strength to move on. The song has one questionable line: “What if this was just a dream?/When I awakened from this nightmare you were lying next to me?”, but if you can overlook that tiny detail the song is very good. I like the track, but it might not be for everyone.

Next is “Save the Last Dance,” another iffy song on the album (while not NEARLY as bad as “Newport Party”). While does not have any outright inappropriate content, its message is not one that, as Christians, I do not believe we should condone: the narrator is at a party, and he sees this girl who he describes as “a real life girl in a dream girl’s body”, which throws up a red flag in the first place because all he knows about this girl is that he likes her body and that she’s a good dancer. The man continues to make a plot to cut in in the last dance of the night and get the girl. That is the entire song; again being one that is pretty shallow and has very little sustenance to it, except this has enough “eh” to it to put it off some Christians’ iPods, or at least make it a less popular track. It’s worth a listen: the song is catchy and fun, but it is not necessarily worth a buy. Use discretion.

And then the album ends by making your eyebrows shoot up as you say “Wait… this was a CHRISTIAN band?” This is their only purely religious song on the album, and a good one at that. It is a great track about God’s love and its effect on the people who have it. I like this song, while it’s not as catchy as some of the others it is one of the only ones that deviates from the relationship theme; while that is not a bad theme, it can sometimes get exhausting when every album is all about it. I highly recommend this song.

CONCLUSION

This album has some ups and some downs. If you’re looking for a “Christian” band, this would not be a good place to look. However, if you’re looking for a secular band made of Christians, Capital Lights is not that bad of a pick. There are better bands, but there are much, MUCH worse ones. And their songs are catchy and enjoyable, allowing the album to be a fun experience with some emotion along the way. In today’s age when you can preview songs using services like Spotify and YouTube, and can purchase individual tracks, this is definitely a band to check out. I placed this album into my secular category, and rated it:

7/10

Hunter Hayes (Encore Edition) by Hunter Hayes

Hunter+Hayes

Hunter Hayes is a one-album-so-far country artist that recently popped on the scene. Interestingly enough, he has pronounced himself to be a conservative Christian: and while his music doesn’t often reference God, it is lacking in some of the stuff that secular music has in massive quantities: cursing, drinking, drugs, and sex. His music centers mostly around love, with a breakup song or two mixed with quite a few love songs. Some of his tracks deviate from this theme, but that is certainly the most prominent one on the album.

THE GOOD AND THE BAD
The album kicks off with a catchy track that opens with a classic acoustic country guitar that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to listen to the rest. “Storm Warning” is a song about a good-looking girl that the narrator sees, and it’s love at first sight, but he knows that the relationship is going to end in disaster: “[she’s] one part angel, one part perfect, one part brick”. The song itself is a catchy tune that could be interpreted as a warning to us guys in pursuing a girl based completely on looks, which is defiantly a positive message. Its two drawback are that in his description of the woman he describes her as “hotter than the heat in July”, which I find disrespectful to anyone, remarking them in that kind of a shallow, worldly manner. Also, the song says “I have a feeling when the night meets the morning/I’m gonna wish I had a storm warning”. The song never states what happened overnight, and it doesn’t necessarily imply anything either, but this lyric throws up a red flag anyway. Overall, I’d recommend using discretion on this song.

“Wanted” is a deep, sweet, clean loves song that never once mentions the girl’s body or a desire to have a relationship past a kiss on the lips and a tight hug. As love songs go, this one is one of the best ones I have ever listened to.

“If You Told Me To” is a soft ballad giving his love a list of all of the things he would do for her. Overall, it is a nice, smooth song that has no objectionable content at all.

And then we get to “Love Makes Me”, which introduces a small negative penetrating theme on the album: that love is an excuse to do crazy things. The song is one of the most objectionable on the album, as he sings about sneaking out late and driving to his girlfriend’s house to spend the night with her. Overall, not worth the listen or the buy. Avoid this track.

The next track makes a total turnaround, though. “Faith To Fall Back On” talks about how he treated his girl badly when she was with him, and then when he left he realized his mistakes and turned to God. You can tell he doesn’t quite have his faith entirely together: “These days I’m not sure if I know what I’m doing here or where I’ll go”, but the rest could easily have been written by a contemporary Christian artist.

“Somebody’s Heartbreak” is a very interesting track that takes the lesson that it seemed like “Storm Warning” was trying to teach and turns it on his head. The girl he’s singing to sounds a bit like the poem “O, Think Not That I Am Faithful To A Vow”. She seems to flit back and forth, not knowing what she wants. The narrator, however, is saying that if she’s going to break somebody’s heart, then he’d like it to be his. While the content of this song is not entirely objectionable, the theme seems to be centered around recklessly falling in love with someone who isn’t going to stick around. The message is not a positive one, so I wouldn’t recommend this track either.

“Rainy Season” is a slow, depressing ballad that worms its way onto the album, contrasting with the peppy, lovey-dovey rest of the album. The song centers around a couple (it’s not stated whether or not they are married, but it does mention sharing a house, though whether it is a metaphorical house or a physical house is not clear) breaking off their relationship and parting ways. This is another song with no objectionable content, but it seems to play into the feelings of denial after a lost relationship. It’s not a bad song, but it’s not necessarily a good one either.

As seems to be a theme on this album, the next song is a great one with a great message. “Cry With You” is a fantastic melody again centered around a couple, except this time it is a strong about building a strong love. Something is bothering the girl emotionally, and she is feeling down. The song is about the narrator’s desire to listen to what’s troubling her and to cry with her while she’s telling him. He constantly tells her that she’s not alone, and that he’s there for her and will always be there. It is a great song and I highly recommend it.

The next song is fun and peppy and makes you smile even though the topic is about the aftermath of a breakup. “Everybody’s Got Somebody But Me” has the narrator looking around wherever he is and seeing all of the couples around him and lamenting about his lost love. The lines “seems like everyone around me’s on they’re honeymoon” and “lovers being lovers in the corner booth” could be interpreted as objectionable, but overall the song is pretty lighthearted and innocent.

“What You Gonna Do” is a lot softer, and is another song with no objectionable content. The narrator is talking to a girl who is planning on leaving him, or a girl that he’s leaving (it is not clear which), asking her what she’s gonna do when he’s gone. This song also features the additional vocals of Ashley Monroe, which set it apart from the rest: it is a well-written duet and the voices are very well matched. Overall a very good track.

“More Than I Should” resumes the negativity of the album, giving us a situation in which the narrator proclaims that he “loved [the girl] more than [he] should[‘ve].” The song continues to strongly insinuate that the couple slept together, and that she left him afterwards. The song could be interpreted as a warning to stay away from bad relationships, but the objectionable content overrides any positive message the song could hold. I recommend avoiding this track.

“All You Ever Wanted” moves to another slow ballad about a man’s regret for his previous relationship, giving a very positive message of regret and acceptance of mistakes in love. The thing that he left out of the relationship was, it seems, showing real emotion. It is a song that teaches about communication in relationships from the narrator’s personal experience: without it, they crumble. A very good, inspirational track filled with heartfelt regret that teaches a valuable lesson to the listener.

Encore Edition Bonus Tracks:

The next song, “In A Song”, is another good lesson-teacher: the song takes another stance on a broken relationship, it’s about a man using music to recover from a broken relationship. It’s a song that talks about dealing with regret and coming out of heartbreak stronger, a good song for anyone going through the same things. The realtionship, as the song describes it, was an unhealthy one, and the escape was what the narrator needed. The song has one possibly-objectionable lyric: “Now I’m not saying that there won’t be too many lonely nights,” but it is certainly worth a listen and a buy.

“I Want Crazy” brings us back to the emotions described in “Love Makes Me”, saying that love is an excuse to do things that you wouldn’t do normally. In this one, it encourages crossing all of the lines and breaking all the boundaries, physically and mentally, but more physically. “Yeah, look at us baby, tonight the midnight rules are breaking, there’s no such thing as wild enough, and maybe we just think too much. Who needs to play it safe in love? Let’s be crazy!” So yeah. Avoid.

“A Thing About You” is like Bruno Mars’s “Just the Way You Are” without the unnecessary and offensive use of the word “sexy”. This song is all about a boy looking at a girl and seeing her as perfect. It is a wonderful song that leaves you with a warmth in your heart and a smile on your face. It has one alcohol reference: “an Italian tower leaning like it’s had to much to drink”, but in context it’s amusing and innocent so I wouldn’t call it objectionable. Definitely a keeper.

“Better Than This” is written from the perspective of a guy who lives his life for the journey, and keeps moving through with excitement and marvel at the mystery around him. It’s a fun, peppy song about enjoying life, and it has few drawbacks. It might not give the best advice: “getting by on little sleep and coffee cups” is not a very good way to survive, but the song itself is innocent and enjoyable. It even references God, without using His name in vain: “I kinda like it when I walk out the door/Not knowing what the good Lord’s got in store.” So it’s a great song, and I highly recommend it.

“Light Me Up” is a fun, electric guitar-driven piece about a guy who was in the depths of heartbreak and was pulled out by a new love. It’s fun, upbeat, and has no objectionable content. I personally enjoyed it greatly.

CONCLUSION

This album was an interesting mix of some of the best secular songs I’ve heard and some songs that I would not want to keep on my iPod. With only 3/17 songs having objectionable content, it’s a great album to purchase individual tracks or the entire thing. The songs that are clean are all fantastic, and this is easily one of, if not my favorite secular album I have ever heard. While those three songs stick out like sore thumbs, the rest of the tracks are filled with high quality country music that has a large amount of re-listen potential. The songs are sure to put a smile on your face and warm your heart, and if any of them relate to you on a personal level (and Hunter Hayes covers a large amount of ground as far as relationships are concerned) the songs will really hit you, and will twist your emotions towards the subject that Hunter is presenting, making you smile or laugh or cry. I highly, highly recommend this album: if it weren’t for the three objectionable tracks, I would easily rate this a ten out of ten. But, all things considered, my final rating is, as secular albums go:

Secular Album: 9/10

Death Troopers by Joe Schreiber

“He was still screaming when he slammed face-first into the bars of their cell, spraying a glut of blood through. It hit Trig’s face, shockingly warm and wet on his cheeks.”

                Thus writes Joe Schreiber, the author of the new book Death Troopers that took the world by storm on December 28, 2010. With the publishing of the Book of the Dead in 1990, zombie literature has become very popular throughout the world. Since then, hundreds of novels featuring the beloved undead have been published and become drastically popular. Even the novel Pride and Prejudice, a popular novel by Jane Austin that is a popular choice for English teachers to read with their students across America, has been rewritten to include rotting flesh and reanimated corpses, in a novel entitled Pride and Prejudice and Zombies. So, naturally, with the zombie enterprise coming to a height, the directors at Lucas Arts decided to jump on the bandwagon. They contracted an already popular author of three big-selling zombie novels to write a book that encompasses both the worlds of Star Wars and zombie literature. Thus, Death Troopers was born.

This book has both good and bad points. The author’s writing was lively and engaging, the book took me two days to finish because it was so vivid and interesting. If I just wanted to evaluate how good the book was, I would say something like this “I enjoyed the book, and I would read it again. I recommend it to anyone who likes horrific scenes and gory description.” But I’m not here to tell everyone to go and buy the book, I’m here to discuss whether the fusion between the two genres was successful or not. This topic has been widely debated throughout Star Wars forums and book reviews across the net, and the reviews are very mixed. From what I have seen, the reader either loved the book or hated it. Here’s what one customer had to say: “If you truly want to read this book then I would advise you to just be patient. You’ll find it in a bargain bin for a dollar somewhere or someone will just throw their copy away in disgust.” But another one said this: “If you like Star Wars you’ll love this book. If you like Zombies you’ll love this book. If you like both you’ll die of a heart attack because of its awesomeness!” So you see, this book had very mixed reviews. I tend to vie for the second opinion.

First, I’m going to examine the zombie side of it. Now, I don’t have much experience with zombie novels, because, as per my religious views, I do not believe in reading a book with excess cursing and suggestive scenes. Most novels from the zombie genre are horribly immoral and full of distracting language. But Death Troopers never uses a word worse than “Dang.” It is not for younger readers, as the gore and horror side of it is disturbing, but it can be read by anyone (who isn’t squeamish) older than fourteen without filling their heads with words that they shouldn’t be saying. As zombie novels go, it is very clean and a good read. Besides that, I honestly can’t say whether it was as good as other zombie novels or not because I am not well rehearsed in that genre. But I can say that, as a person who doesn’t read this type of stuff, I really enjoyed this book.

But Star Wars… well, let’s just say that I know about these books. A lot. I have, in my long 16 years, read 72 adult Star Wars novels and 10-20 young adult novels. This I can make an accurate judgment on. Now, Star Wars novels are not for everyone. There are all sorts of different aliens in the novels, different species that you get to know well. It’s a big galaxy, and there’s over 140 novels that take place within it. What do you think of when you hear the words ‘Star Wars?’ The answer is probably this: lightsabers, Jedi, Sith, dudes in white armor, blasters, and the all-powerful Force. Now, that stuff isn’t for everyone. One thing that makes people hesitant about the Star Wars books is that you have to suspend your disbelief, and admit to yourself that there actually IS a power that surrounds us that allows you to lift rocks with the flick of a wrist. However, in Death Troopers, the Force rarely mentioned. And forget blasters. Those laser shooting weapons won’t help the main characters against the type of evil they’re going up again. And you know that white armor stereotype of a Star Wars villain? Well take that and cover it with blood, and there’s your villain here. But it was still enough Star Wars for me to accept it as one of the best books in that giant series.

But the author made one huge mistake that I think killed the novel for me. It was still a good book, but this error destroyed a lot of the suspense and made the novel less believable in the accepted Star Wars canon. Unfortunately, the author wanted to make the zombie novel more accepted by Star Wars fans across the globe by including two huge characters. Han Solo and Chewbacca both make an appearance in this novel, and that was a horrible error on the author’s part. Beforehand, no character was safe. All characters had the possibility of being killed or turned into a zombie until this point. Now, we know that Han and Chewie would live, because they will be appearing in A New Hope which takes place two years afterwards. Suddenly, the suspense decreased to a bare minimum. Han isn’t going to die! That means that at least two characters are going to survive, and one of the most fun things about this type of book is that you don’t know how many main characters are going to die. Now, two characters are, for all intents and purposes, invincible for the duration of the novel. And they appear two years later perfectly fine and unchanged from their experience aboard the Purge. How are they supposed to recover from an experience this life changing and horrific? I feel like, if I survived this, I would end up in an asylum because of the terrible memories I had of the experience.

Overall, it is a well written novel that is fast-paced and enjoyable. It is a beautifully disturbing fusion of the worlds of zombie and Star Wars and readers from both genres would enjoy it. It is clean; all religions can read it without taking offense to the language. And, despite the mistake that I mentioned above, it fits very well into the Star Wars canon. I enjoyed this novel, despite the inclusion of Han Solo and Chewbacca, and I believe that whoever reads this novel will come away with hands shaking but a smile on their faces. I give it a:

6/10