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Food & Wine

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients

Chocolaty character of stout beers blends spicy, sweet ingredients


photo Courtesy of Derek Wolfgram
Aged coffee beans join beer in Modern Times’ bourbon barrel stout.

Dark beers like stout highlight flavors reminiscent of coffee and chocolate, resulting in a great canvas for brewers to blend nontraditional in...

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Your Health

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options

El Camino Hospital expands mental health treatment options


Asher Kohn/Town Crier
Shovels in hand, Dr. Peter Fung, from left, El Camino Healthcare District board chairman; Russ Satake, El Camino Hospital Foundation board chairman; donors Donna and John Shoemaker; State Sen. Jerry Hill; and Assemblyman Rich ...

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Your Home

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides  seasonal decorating service

Holidays by design: Los Altos company provides seasonal decorating service


Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Amy Fischer of Spectrum Interior Design decorated Los Altos resident Katie Beers’ living room for the holidays last week.

Don’t worry if you have no time to shop for unique holiday decor, decorate Christma...

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On The Road

Matt goes full throttle to fix BMW

In November 2015, one of my newer customers brought in his 2011 BMW Z4 35i because the service-engine-soon light went on.

He explained that the car did not idle well and was low on power. We connected the car to the Integrated Service Technical Appl...

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Senior Lifestyles

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages

Making beautiful music together: Foothill Symphonic Winds inspires members of all ages


Photos by Megan V. Winslow/ Town Crier
Members of the ensemble rehearse at Blach Intermediate School.

Something special happens Wednesday nights at Blach Intermediate School. Seventy or so people ranging in age from 18 to 85, of varied backgroun...

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Wedding To Remember

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night

Got a wedding singer? Musicians and engaged couples work in tandem to orchestrate perfect night


Courtesy of Dick Bright
Dick Bright, a veteran Bay Area musician, manages local bands such as the Dick Bright Orchestra, Club 90 and Encore. His bands ramp up the energy at weddings.

A wedding soundtrack draws nearly everyone to the dance floor....

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Your Kids

Back to School

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?

Is Early Decision the right choice for your student?


Courtesy of Hollis Bischoff
This chart compares the rate of Early Decision acceptances with the overall acceptance rate at various colleges.

As students apply to an ever-increasing list of schools, colleges are challenged to predict accuratel...

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Desperate for dystopia: Book recommendations for local teens

In “The Maze Runner” (Delacorte, 2009), James Dashner introduces readers to Thomas. And that’s all we know about him – his first name. Thomas proceeds to meet several other children, who insist that they know him. They also tell Thomas that they are inside a giant maze, and they don’t know how to escape. Dashner’s pace and style make this book impossible to put down, as you never know what might happen next.

Michael Grant’s dystopian science-fiction series “Gone” (Katherine Tegen Books, 2009) features plenty of action but is very dark as well. It follows the adventures of Sam Temple in the eerie town of Perdido Beach, Calif. On a completely normal day, everyone in the town older than 15 vanishes. Not only that, but the city and the surrounding areas are engulfed in an impenetrable bubble. Sam subsequently discovers that he and his peers have developed a unique supernatural ability. The six-part series will conclude with “Light,” which Grant plans to release next year.

Dystopia has been around for a long time, and with any long-standing genre, there are many classics. One of the best is “The Giver” by Lois Lowry (Laurel Leaf, 1994). This classic revolutionized the genre, because Lowry wrote it as if it weren’t a dystopia. She attempts to deceive the reader by writing from a utopian perspective. However, it doesn’t take long for the reader to discover the true nature of the tale.

The story revolves around a 12-year-old boy named Jonas who lives in a society that attempts to eliminate arguments, pain and other challenges by converting to “Sameness,” which also limits the amount of emotion felt by people in this society. When a youth turns 12, a ceremony takes place in which each child is assigned his or her profession. But on the day of his ceremony, Jonas’ name is skipped. The novel follows what happens after, as Jonas learns things that he doesn’t want to know and his perspective on “Sameness” changes.

Another old dystopic tale that claims its place among the classics is “Fahrenheit 451” by Ray Bradbury, originally published in 1953 but reproduced in many editions over the years. The story centers on Montag, who lives in a future United States where books are banned. Montag is a fireman, but his job isn’t to extinguish fires – his job is to make fire. Montag’s profession involves burning the houses of those who have committed the crime of owning books. All his life, Montag has performed his job without questioning authority. But after meeting a mysterious girl, his perspective on society changes and he finds himself in the middle of a self-inflicted conflict.

Other classics like George Orwell’s “1984,” written in 1948, and Aldous Huxley’s “Brave New World” from 1931 line library shelves. Newer titles – Scott Westerfeld’s “Uglies” series begun in 2005 and Veronica Roth’s “Divergent” series, the first of which was published last year – carry the dystopian torch.

Dystopias have been around for a long time, and all these new titles may even include a name that will eventually be heralded among the classics.

All titles are available at the Los Altos Library.

Nathan Desai is a sophomore at Monta Vista High School.

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