Sunday, March 15, 2015

Hawaiian Islands Travel Series: Central Maui: Paia and Makawao

Day 3: Central Maui: Paia and Makawao

YOU’LL KNOW you’re almost to the Hana Highway when you drive through Paia, a chic and lively town that is definitely worth a stroll. There is a free parking lot on the west side of town. From there, walk down the main street and try not to find a place to eat here. Wonderful eating experiences abound, such as the Flatbread Company. A fun place for family—or for hungry hikers who have just come down from Haleakalā National Park. The kitchen is in the back of the dining area, so you can watch the action as hot, woodfire-baked pizzas are whisked from the oven and brought straight to your table.


Paia is also known for being kinda, semi-close to legendary surf spot Jaws. However, Jaws is in a pretty remote location; be prepared for a hike. If you’re really itching to look at the waves, then you will want to look for this street: ‘O‘ili Road. Walk down until you see the Cattle Guard. This is as far as we went, but Jaws is beyond here down a cliff.

Quite a ways above Paia nestled in the foothills of Haleakalā is Makawao. It has the reputation for being a "cowboy town." This is in reference to the paniolo, who trace their heritage back to Mexican vaqueros/cowboys hired by John Palmer Parker in the 1800s to help herd cattle. I'm not sure how much of this tradition remains; we mainly traveled through Makawao on our way up to Haleakalā Summit. I suppose the town square looks kind of like that old saloon style. There were many art studios, sculptures, and carvings on display. 

We were staying at Waianapanapa State Park by Hana, so we had quite the drive to Haleakalā Summit. Start early so you can stay off the Hana Highway at night if at all possible. Cut up Highway 365 if heading to Haleakalā from the east side. This will lead you up a few windy back roads before you'll come to Makawao. Make sure you fill up on gas here, because there will be little to no options once you head up Highway 377-378.

 Upcoming: Day 4: The Hana Highway

*Disclaimer: This article is presented as fiction, not fact. Names have been changed for the sake of privacy.

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

January 2015 Book Review: The Young Elites


Marie Lu

~Book Review~

 Warning! Spoilers!
I WENT INTO THIS HAVING NO IDEA it was a story starring a villain. I assumed The Young Elites was about your standard secret society with powers that rises up against the tyrannical government. And originally, it would have been. Lu talks in the afterward about how the story followed a generic heroic rebel guy in the first drafts. However, that story wasn’t working. Her agent remarked upon a dark and aloof secondary character named Adelina, who seemed to have more of a story to tell. And just like that, Lu made the smart decision to throw fantasy conventionality out of the window. This book was going to be about a tragic and abused heroine’s descent into infamy, it was going to be full of twists, it was going to be dark.

There have been too many times where I’ve read about a character who has an awesome superpower, but they are too noble or too nice to use it. Adelina uses her power, the ability to create illusions, and it is devilishly fun to read about. I also enjoyed how Lu created the sense of isolation Adelina feels within the superpower secret society: the Young Elites. She feels held at a distance or treated mistrustfully because of her powers and the results of her test, which foretell she is prone to violence.

Another plus was the romance, which Lu does another twist with. Again, I was bracing myself for angst and sappiness that would destroy the plot, but Lu avoids this with a horrific choice made in the climax. Loved it, and I personally hope what happened can’t be undone (such is the way of life muahahaha).

Okay to stop being so dramatic: loved the atmosphere, enjoyed Adelina’s descent and her relationship with her sister, but I really take issue with the name of their rebel group: The Young Elites. Does that convey people of all classes and social backgrounds who developed special abilities because of a plague to you? Does it enhance the book’s dark atmosphere? No. In fact, the title was the reason I was hesitant to read in the first place, because it seemed light and generic. This rebel group who works against the monarchy is often referred to as “Daggers,” which is better, but still pretty bland. The world-building suffered for me because I was pretty confused about what “The Young Elites,” the principal name of the starring secret society, was supposed to mean. A more unique group name would have made this series really stand out from others going forward.

My overall recommendation? Ignore the lack of creative names and pick up the book. The storyline is interesting, it puts twists on traditional fantasy conventions, and it has a diverse range of characters in social standing, race, and sexual orientation. The number one reason I want to continue this series is because Lu gave her characters awesome, dangerous powers and then had them use them. This makes me believe that in future installments, she won’t shy away from the tough moral choices. She’ll go there.

Recommended for fans of: Julie Kagawa, Susan Ee, Zoraida Córdova
Upcoming Book Review: Silvern by Christina Farley