Reviews Worth Reading
December 9, 2019
Staff writers Brin Pearson and Laura Renfroe provide intriguing entertainment insight.
Mary Downing Hahn Gives a Tale of Isolation and Insight to a Multitude of Worlds
“The girl is alone in the locked room. At first, she writes the day of the week, the month, and the year on the wall. She means to keep a record of her time in the room. She means to keep a record of her time in the room, but after a while she begins skipping a day or several days. Soon, days, months, and years become a meaningless jumble. She forgets her birthday. And then her name.”
The Girl in the Locked Room, published September 4, 2018 by Mary Downing Hahn, is an uneasy and immoral tale about a young girl who has been imprisoned for more than a century, how she deteriorated in said prison, and a bond that breaks the barrier between the past and the present.
The tale takes place in Virginia after the protagonist, Jules, changes homes again as a result of her father’s career. Her father, who renovates old houses, is given the job to renovate Oak Hill, a long abandoned and menacing home from the 1800’s.
The chapters alternate between a focus of the title’s ghastly girl and protagonist Jules. Jules, acclimatized to the paranormal, catches glimpses of the girl from her past life and researches former residents of the house and town to prove she had not been dreaming.
Within a few weeks of settling into her new home, Jules meets a girl by the name of Maisie in the town library who informs her of the known history of Oak Hill. Together, they venture inside the abandoned home and observe the remnants with their own eyes.
With reference to Diana Wynne Jones’s consideration of alternate worlds, Hahn gives an intriguing extensive depth to the tale, despite the conclusion being well ordered. While the tale offers an eerie and suspenseful atmosphere, it never truly crosses into the horror genre, much more like a mystery novel.
Ivonne Rovira left a five star review. “Author Mary Downing Hahn writes ghostly children’s books that will delight adults as well, and her latest, The Girl in the Locked Room proves no exception. I couldn’t put it down, if you’ll pardon the cliché!”
I quite enjoyed the novel. It had a well planned storyline and interesting characters. However, I would not give it five stars, the conflict was simple and while the story ended well, I believe it could have had a better one.
Photo credit: Laura Renfroe
Newest ‘Avengers’ SuperM Burn the Stage at Atlanta Concert
The freshest, most stylish Avengers have taken the world by storm, from topping the Billboard charts to dominating the stage on their US tour. But instead of wielding godly hammers and indestructible patriotic shields, these guys show off their strengths through powerful music, dance, and dreamy visuals, of course.
The hottest power group in the Korean music industry has risen to fame within a matter of a few weeks, hitting #1 on the Billboard 200 Albums Chart on October 13. SuperM, the band’s name, is the first Korean music act to partner with Capitol Records in LA, home to famous legends The Beatles and Queen. Industry giant SM Entertainment partnered with Capitol Records to create this “all-star” group that would soon stun the American charts and public.
The K-pop sensations combined have sold more than 14 million adjusted albums globally and amassed nearly four billion online video views worldwide. SuperM announced the October 4 release of its first EP The 1st Mini Album ‘SuperM’ and debuted on Youtube with the high-production, visually breathtaking “Jopping” music video (“jopping” is a clever combination of the dance terms “jumping” and “popping”).
The success the group has earned in only the first month or so of its LA Showcase debut is not to be ignored. The seven-piece bushy-tailed group kickstarted its first We Are The Future: Live Tour for the months of November through February, traveling to 10 major cities across America and into Canada.
The seven humble boys were called together individually from well-established, seasoned groups from within the SM Entertainment community. Producer Lee Soo-man only wanted to pull the best of the best to be in his prestigious group.
The resulting legendary combination turned out to make for an amazing soundtrack and even better live tour. The bonding between both the members and the varying fandoms is undoubtedly heart-warming and exhilarating to witness first-hand. The most talented and popular of the individual groups were offered the job as one of the “Avengers of K-pop.”
From major-league stylish boy band EXO come Baekhyun (leader of SuperM) and Kai. Taemin, a veteren of the music industry, was pulled for his artistic dance style and even more incredible vocals. Coming from the group SHINee, which debuted in 2008, Taemin is respected by all the younger members in the group.
Fresh faces to the mix are Taeyong and Mark are from NCT 127 and Ten and Lucas from NCT’s Chinese subset, WayV. NCT, an “unlimitless” 21-piece boy band, is quickly making a dent in the US market, planning to perform at the Macy’s Day Parade this Thanksgiving.
The blend of diverse musical sounds from the different groups is what makes the album so special. Hearing small details that characterize each group’s music helps develop an entirely signature sound.
“If I said I didn’t feel any pressure that would be a lie,” stated EXO’s Kai in an interview with Rolling Stone. “We all come from successful, established careers, but in a way, we are still unknowns, at least when it comes to this formation. But with that pressure comes this new level of excitement,” he continues, “because there’s so much more we can try and do, and the possibilities are endless.”
Fueled by the success, SuperM kick-started their US tour in Fort Worth, Texas on November 11, continuing on to Chicago then Atlanta. The vivid support from fans all over could be heard in the deafening screams at each concert.
Having the opportunity to attend the Atlanta concert at Infinite Energy Arena was an experience quite like none other. Sensations were heightened, screams were louder, adrenaline was racing. Some 13,000 fans bonded as one, waving their brightly lit SuperM lightsticks as the lights dimmed and the seven boys began their opening performance.
The concert seemed like a blur of color and resounding music. Flashing lights flaunting kaleidoscopes of colors and mega-screens showcased the perfectionist production value of SM Entertainment. The pulsing passion and love among the fans and members was indescribable and touching.
Though the boys come from different groups within SM, the bonding between them on stage made it seem like they had known each other for ages. United by one goal, it’s easy to forget that these seven friends are world-class performers.
The members, blooming with energy, commenced the night with “I Can’t Stand the Rain,” a smooth and passionate song featuring traditional Asian elements and strong vocals. The group then broke off to perform solo stages, starting with Taemin’s “Danger” and “Goodbye.”
With a gleaming red sea of lightsticks to accompany him, Taemin seemed almost ethereal onstage as he performed. Retro-based song “Danger” included elements of SHINee’s “Sherlock” while “Goodbye” was beautifully mesmerizing for fans, accompanied with a vivid flowery backdrop and staged smoke.
NCT’s Taeyong continued the splendor with his unreleased solo “GTA” which unmasked his unique icy rapping style and incredible dancing. The much-loved hype song side-track “Super Car” was performed next, followed by the members’ opening speeches.
As the members wiped sweat from their brows and caught a breather, they seemed shocked by the energy and enthusiasm Atlanta had to offer them.
Mark, the fluent English speaker from Canada in the group, went on to say, “You guys’ energy charges us a lot.”
After all members had introduced themselves, Ten performed center stage two solo hits: “Dream in a Dream” and “New Heroes.”
Ten, dressed in flowy white, told the crowd, “You guys are on fire tonight!” The enthusiastic 23 year old then performed to a sea of purple and blue, dancing in his entirely unique artistic style and thus absolutely entrancing the crowd.
Second WayV member Lucas hyped up the crowd with his unreleased solo “Bass Go Boom.” The stage featured bright, abstract video clips that seemed to define Lucas’s even brighter personality and stage presence.
The remaining songs on the setlist included Baekhyun’s slow-paced, sensual hits “Betcha” and “UN Village,” group unreleased song “Dangerous Woman,” side-track “2 Fast,” NCT U release featuring Taeyong and Ten “Baby Don’t Stop,” Mark’s solo “Talk About,” and EXO Kai’s red-hot stage “Confession.”
After a quick intermission, the boys returned center-stage with “No Manners” and finally the upbeat unreleased song “With You.”
The synergy and support from the fans obviously left an emotional impact on the boys. At the ending speeches Mark said Atlanta (“also known as ‘hotlanta,’” as he joked) really “defined energy.” He thanked the crowd for their energy and for showing up to support them.
“This is my second time to visit Atlanta and you guys always leave a great impression of Atlanta to me,” he stated. “I hope you guys keep looking out for SuperM.”
Blue-haired and shy Kai continued on to say, “I think Atlanta is the hottest, not just in this country, but in the whole world. So I think I will be remembering it much more.”
“Actually I’m trying my best to get closer to you guys,” he continued, beaming brightly. “But I think through tonight we got ten steps closer.”
SHINee’s Taemin emphasized Mark’s previous statement by saying, “I just want to thank you because I’m receiving so much good energies from you guys tonight. Just like you got closer to us, we really want to become an artist who can just give you back all the things we have received.”
The remaining members concluded their speeches by stressing how they would be back to Atlanta soon and even “hitting the woah” for the American fans.
“Atlanta is my new source of energy,” Ten smiled.
The boys concluded the night with the album’s high energy, heavy choreography-based and intense vocal super-song “Jopping.” The rich performance and booming energy left a precious memory for all the fans and the members as well. This was bound to be an unforgettable night.
These boys are helping break up some of the stereotypes Americans have about K-pop by slowly assimilating themselves into the American industry, charts, and culture. While they are still competing with other Korean industry giants in America such as BTS, the members see the competition as motivation to work harder.
“There are a lot of groups out there and a lot of competition,” NCT Taeyong admitted to Rolling Stone, “but our goal is to make K-pop shine even brighter. The spirit of competition is not necessarily bad, because it pushes us to want to put out better things.”
The latest news from SuperM is their partnership with Korean Airlines in which they starred in the company’s airplane safety videos. The group will continue on from Atlanta to several other US cities before breaking off to hopefully take a much needed rest with their individual groups.
For now, the boys are sure to continue enjoying their tour and making a lasting, life-changing impact on the starry-eyed fans. It will be hard for the audiences to return to reality every morning, and when they do, they will be sure to want to relive the breath-taking night over and over.
My experience at the SuperM concert was like a breath of fresh air from the everyday negativity and day-to-day mundane activities. Seeing the down-to-earth members and feeling the love the people in the audience had for one another, free of judgement, was empowering. Music does truly unite people and creates this sense of euphoria no words can describe.
After all, as Plato once wisely stated, “Music gives a soul to the universe, wings to the mind, flight to the imagination, and life to everything.”