What a unique book! I was intrigued with the whole concept from the very beginning, and I had to know what was going to happen to the characters. Mer-people have begun living on the beaches of Coney Island, and Americans, instead of trying to understand, have fought and banished them; however, as Undertow starts, we learn they are trying to integrate the schools. Lyric is our protagonist and has a secret that makes this integration dangerous for her. Her adventure through Undertow definitely held my attention! Although Buckley built an entire new mythology of merpeople within the book, the characters and plot are strong enough to make the mythology seem seamlessly part of the world Buckley has created. Lyric is quite an interesting character, but the more you learn about her, the more it makes sense. I also found the integration aspect of the novel a bit reminiscent of school integration in the 60’s and would love to know if that is what Buckley intended....more
Can't decide between 4 & 5 stars--such a great book!
This is a book that keeps you reading. I couldn’t put it down. I found myself reading whenever I could (including times when I was holding my sleeping son or when I should have been sleeping). When you find out how Marina and Em are connected, it just blew my mind! I then had to find out how everything was going to turn out. I was just so impressed with everything:
First, the plot. It is so complex and intricate. You have to pay attention to keep up with the timeline, but it isn’t so bad that you’ll get lost. It is so admirable that the author was able to craft such intense timelines and intertwine them seamlessly.
Second, the language. I loved how Cristin Terrill wrote. The imagery throughout transported you into the story.
Third, the suspense. I just HAD to know what was going to happen!
Fourth, the characters. In a way that I’ve never experience before, Cristin Terrill truly gets you into the minds and hearts of the characters. You understand their motives, who they used to be, who they’ll become, all because of the way that Terrill tells the story and crafts her characters. You feel their heartbreak with them (and one particular realization that you find out in the very end just broke my heart and blew my mind), and you are so invested in everything they do.
Finally, the themes. The discussions that would come from this novel would be so interesting. Just the idea of power and corruption that is dealt with would lead to quite a debate.
Ricki also pointed out in her review how fun it would be to have students imagine what they would change if time travel existed.
This text would be a wonderful mentor text to discuss plot and character development, theme, and style. And most importantly, it will be a text that students will be intrigued with, not want to put down, and share with everyone....more
This book is such a compelling read and a great addition to the dystopian subgenre. When I started this book, I had never heard of it but I was intrigued by the concept and right away I was glad that this book had crossed my path. This book was non-stop action and was so hard to predict because of all of the twists and turns throughout. Just as you thought that things were going to get steady for Kris and Jade, something happens. I also enjoyed the back and forth between Kris and Jade. Whenever there is a boy and girl character who are blatantly flirting yet pretend they don't like each other, it makes me want to keep reading to see if they figure it out (and you'll have to read to find out if Kris and Jade do). I was particularly enthralled with this book because it seemed to be something that could realistically happen in the near future. The idea of killing off animals who spread a disease already happens and the extreme that the book goes to could definitely happen. It actually hurt me to think of a world where people couldn't have cats- the companionship that cats provide is something no other animal can. Also, I think this is another book that is a great example of "Don't judge a book by its cover" as the cover makes it look so boring! It isn't, I promise.
Read Together: Grades 6 to 12
Read Alone: Grades 7 to 12
Read With: The Girl Who Remembered Horses by Linda Benson, Personal Effects by E.M. Kokie, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann
Snatch of Text: "There was no way she'd let me touch her at first. Trust had to be built up slowly and painfully. I talked to her softly, offered her little treats, and took care not to make any sudden or threatening movements." (p. 10)
"There was one person, however, who found me endlessly fascinating. Kris Delaney. Kris was the bane of my life. It was the entire aim of his existence to test me. I don't know why I interested him so much. It certainly bugged him that I wasn't born in the neighborhood and had lived in a greenhome and, OK, we'd had a boat if only a small one. But Kris was different, too. You'd see him with other lads, kicking a ball about, but you'd see him on his own just as much. There was always a distance between him and his mates." (p. 17)
Mentor Text for: World Building, Conflict, Characterization
Writing Prompts: Jade goes on the run from the authorities to protect Feela. Do you agree with the choice she made? Use text evidence to back up your claim. What is something or someone in your life that you would risk everything for like Jade did for Feela?
A few weeks ago, I was asked on twitter if all post-apocalyptic books are considered sci-fi. I automatically answered yes, because if a book is in the future after a disaster of some sorts, it is sci-fi. It isn't until I read this book that I understand this question. The Girl Who Remembered Horses takes place after an epidemic that devastated the world. Humans now live in clans that travel, trade and scavenge. Sahara lives alone with her sister and grandfather, but finds the most comfort in her dreams. In her dreams she finds herself tending a large, beautiful animal that she has never seen yet she knows she loves. This book is the story of Sahara finding out the answer to everything in these dreams.
Linda Benson has written a quiet yet powerful book that, although it takes place in a post-apocalyptic future, is about more than about survival. It is about finding your path which may not be the one laid out for you, it is about following your heart and it is about passion and dreams. ...more
Sean Beaudoin definitely has a unique style that you cannot confuse with anyone else. It is like when you see a movie and you know who the director is - that is how distinct Sean's writing is. And what he does so well is keep his style yet still has characters that have distinct voices that you can distinguish between. He actually reminds me of John Green in that way; however, Sean Beaudoin is more of the underground, quirky, dry twisted humor sort of way. This book also reminded me of the humor you found in Libba Bray's Beauty Queens in that it is very much a parody of qualities of pop culture and primarily emulated at zombie flicks such as Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead.
Once you get used to Beaudoin's style, the story sucks you in. An incomparable cast of characters takes us through a survival guide against those who want to eat you. You lose some you care about, you cheer when some turn and many will dream about one particular female. Between the cast of characters, the humorous plot line and Beaudoin's style, many will eat up this novel.
Mentor text: Voice, Style, Humor, Parody, Allusions, Word Play, Vocabulary
"But Petal Gazes was a whole other universe, a different orbit, a brighter sun. She was a tenth straight espresso, pure feedback, wet-toe-in-socket beautiful. At least to him. Which went directly against Nick's long-standing policy: Never Want Anything. Treeless Christmas? Eggless Easter? Toastless morning? It's hard to be disappointed when you don't give a crap. But now he really, really wanted something. Petal Gazes." (p. 8)
Also, LOVE pg. 35, 160-161, 88, 170, 227, and Ch. 22 title!...more
I really wanted to like this graphic novel more than I did. I love Christopher Moore's writing and sense of humor and the concept of the graphic novelI really wanted to like this graphic novel more than I did. I love Christopher Moore's writing and sense of humor and the concept of the graphic novel was quite interesting, but it just didn't flow for me. I agree with the authors, though- this would make an awesome movie. ...more
*Summary: Kaelyn lives on a small island off the coast of Canada. The only way to leave and return is on a ferry. Kaelyn returned to the island after living on the mainland and hasn't really seemed to fit in. So, Kaelyn has decided to turn over a new leaf. She doesn't want to be the quiet, weird girl in class anymore so she has started being more friendly to everyone in her class. And it is going really well. But then her friend Rachel's dad gets sick. Very sick. First he had a cough and was sneezing. Then it seemed like the illness took over his brain and he wanted to socialize, but had no inhibitions. Finally he is found in the yard screaming and hallucinating. Then he died. Just like that. Kaelyn's dad, a microbiologist, tells them all to stay away from anyone who has the symptoms because no one knows how to control it. This ends Kaelyn's resolution and starts an epidemic that takes over causing the government to quarantine the island. No longer is Kaelyn's life about making friends; it is about keeping her family safe, figuring out who her true friends are and surviving.
What I Think: I had trouble putting this book down. You get so caught up in the epidemic and rooting for survival that you have to know what happens to not only Kaelyn and her family and friends, but the whole community. The novel, written as an open letter to a friend of Kaelyn's who has left the island, really captured the emotions that would be feeling when an epidemic like this would take over a community. As Kaelyn's emotions change or envelop her, you feel them as well. But the truly terrifying aspect of this novel is that it could easily happen. We saw with the H1N1 pandemic of 2009 that the flu is relentless and that fear quickly takes over. In Kaelyn's story, the epidemic not only affects people who have the virus, but everyone in the community quickly showing all who are the good and the bad people in town. Fear becomes the emotion that controls too many instead of hope and kindness....more
*Wow. Marissa Meyer completely impressed with this one! I was afraid that it was going to be just another dystopian or fairy-tale retelling, but it was so unique and really was entertaining and well done. I can definitely see why Cinder was a huge hit when it came out and I am so glad that I finally got to read it. What I specifically loved about Cinder is it didn't completely rely on being a fairy tale retelling or on being a pure dystopian novel- it is a unique combo of the two.
Characters: I love how Marissa Meyer didn't overwhelm the story with too many characters, as I have seen in other dystopian novels, she specifically delved deep into the most important characters. It made me, as a reader, feel like I had a deeper connection with the characters who actually mattered.
Setting: Holy world building batman! I am always a huge fan of a character who can build a world that is futuristic yet completely realistic. Although the Lunar colony and the glamours are a bit of a reality stretch, Kai's Commonwealth is completely plausible.
Conflict: Wow! Levana is so evil! She is a great antagonist to go up against the hardcore Cinder and handsome Kai.
In the classroom: The parallels between Cinderella and Cinder combined with many human issues throughout Cinder will definitely make it so it can be part of a classroom read aloud or novel analysis.
Topics: War, Humanity, Mechanics, Propaganda, ID Chips, Plagues, Politics
Snatch of text: "The screw through Cinder's ankle had rusted, the engraved cross marks worn to a mangled circle. Her knuckles ached from forcing the screwdriver into the joint as she struggled to loosen the screw one gritting twist after another. By the time it was extracted far enough for her to wrench free with her prosthetic steel hand, the hairline threads had been stripped clean." (p. 1)
"The lingering moon caught Cinder's attention, and a shock of goose bumps covered her arms. The moon had always given her a sense of paranoia, like the people who lived up there could be watching her, and if she stared for too long, she might draw their attention. Superstitious nonsense, but then everything about Lunars was eerie and superstitious." (p. 43)
(Went back and forth between a 4 and a 5, so sticking with a 4.5 only because I figured out the big secret. Otherwise- Loved it!)...more
This book poses many ethical questions since our main characters are in a life or death situation: What is family? What would you do to survive? If a loved one was suffering and asked you to kill them, would you? Is there such a thing as fate? When can you let go of loved ones who have passed?
The first chapter of Ashes pulls you in right away. Alex is a mystery- you know she has a deadly brain tumor and her parents are dead, but there are so many questions. At the beginning, it is her mystery that keeps you reading, but within the first 30 pages, the story expands to so much more. Suddenly, an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) wipes out almost everything including most living things and electronics. Alex, who was camping in the woods contemplating life vs. death, falls into the middle of a cataclysmic event. Alex, along with Ellie, an 8 year old who lost her grandfather, and Tom, a young army veteran, decide to make their way to the ranger station to find help. They must survive in the woods of Michigan while not only scavenging for food, avoiding hungry wild life that survived the EMP, but also eluding cannibalistic zombies (the changed) that were somehow transformed by the EMP. The make shift family promises to protect each other and this begins a survival story straight from a horror movie. And a horror movie is just what you will feel like you are in while reading Alex’s story. Every time something happens, you just wonder how much more she can take and what else can happen to her.
One thing that makes this book stand out from others is that Isla Bick’s descriptions of some very simple things like pain and smells are so dead on that you can feel or smell what she is talking about. When the EMP first hits, Alex describes the pain and other side effects of the EMP so well, that the reader would have no problem understanding what Alex was going through. Then, after surviving “The Zap”, Alex regains her sense of smell that she lost because of the tumor, so Ms. Bick must describe the new scents that Alex smells and she is so precise in the descriptions comparing the smells to things like wet pennies and curdled milk. The precision doesn’t stop there, though. It is obvious that Ms. Bick has done her research when it comes to EMPs and other nuclear information. The physics within the book is not only detailed and specific, but understandable. It makes the possibility of the type of destruction that happens in Ashes seem reasonable which is a terrifying prospect.
Not all of my questions were answered in this book, though, but based on the cliffhanger there will definitely be a sequel which will hopefully tell us more about the EMP, the changed, and what will happen to Alex next....more
Ashes, Ashes takes place in the not too distant future after a multitude of disasters have happened. Not only did global warming cause floods, droughts and other drastic weather changes, but a small pox epidemic killed off all of the human race between the ages of 30 and 60 as well as most of everyone else too. But Lucy survived. She is the only one left in her family and is doing her best to make it on her own living off the land in central park. Everything changes, though, when she meets Aidan from a close by camp and finds out that survivors are being hunted. Though Lucy struggles with being able to communicate since she's been alone for so long, Aidan and her find a connection and Lucy finds herself trusting him. From this point on, the action really starts and Lucy's life is truly on the line as well as other survivors.
Ashes, Ashes is a truly realistic post-apocalyptic novel that takes you through a young lady's story of survival against horrible odds. The book will grab readers right away with Lucy's struggles, from finding food that is not contaminated to getting away from wild dogs trying to find their own food, as well as the human instincts that come when trying to survive either alone or with a group. One surprising aspect of the novel is the twist about half way through that takes this post-apocalyptic novel and transforms it into a dystopian one. ...more
*Summary: Jaden lives in the not too distant future where tornadoes have intensified and are a constant threat. Jaden's father is the head of a corporation that studies tornadoes and that built a StormSafe neighborhood where the storms cannot get in. Jaden's father has not been too active in her life for the last couple of years, but when she is invited to visit him and attend a world-renowned science camp in a neighborhood that doesn't get tornadoes- it is a win-win situation. And everything is going really well. Jaden has been grouped into the meteorology section of the camp, she has made friends and is partnered with a really brilliant, nice boy named Alex. It is great. Except that something really weird is going on with her dad. He isn't himself- he only talks about work, is really intense, and isn't the comforting man that Jaden remembers. The tornadoes, the neighborhood and his company have become his obsession. So Jaden decides to discover the truth behind her father's obsession and the truth is horrible- worse than she could even imagine.
What I Think: Wow! This book jumps right in! Within the first couple of paragraphs you are thrown in the middle of a tornado that is barreling down on Jaden and her father. And the terror never ceases. Even when you start to get comfortable, you are on the edge of your seat because you know that something is going on.
This future in general terrifies me. Tornadoes are the thing that I probably fear the most. I lived in tornado alley until I was 14 and have been too close to tornadoes. I had reoccurring nightmares about them all of my childhood. They were an obsession and a fear. So Jaden's future is fascinating, but also my worst nightmare. And what makes Jaden's world even worse is that with the addition of the intense tornadoes, it seems like most joy was taken from her world- no more museums, ballet, poetry, Disney, pleasure reading, classroom learning. All of the things that make our world a place that I love- gone. My reaction to this aspect of the book reminded me of the same reaction I have with The Giver when I was in middle school. I cannot imagine a world where these joys are sucked away.
Oh, and I haven't even mentioned how well Kate writes. The imagery that she creates, specifically when it comes to the tornadoes, is what makes the book. The ability to visualize what she has created so you feel like you are there with Jaden moves the story to the next level.
"A wall of death-black cloud sits on the horizon. Slow-swirling charcoal fingers reach down from it. They point to the ground, hungry for dust and trees and buildings. The fingers close into thick fists, swirling, churning toward the farms." (p. 215-216)...more
3.5 stars This was my least favorite of the three books, but still good. I did find that this book was less about survival and more just a basic realis3.5 stars This was my least favorite of the three books, but still good. I did find that this book was less about survival and more just a basic realistic fiction story (you'll know what I mean if you read it) and I wish that it'd been more similar to the first two.
I did like how she combined the characters from the first 2 books, but I felt that Alex's voice had changed between #2 and this one... He was headstrong in his story but in this one he seemed not sensible at all. He was frustrating.
I saw on Susan Beth Pfeffer's website that she is thinking about writing a fourth and I could see where there is still a lot of story left to tell.
(view spoiler)[When Miranda killed Julie, I was stunned. I'm still stunned. And I really want a 4th book to find out if Alex forgives/understands. (hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
The symbolism on the cover showing that the wedding ring equals being captured in a cage is so evident and beautiful once you read this book. BecauseThe symbolism on the cover showing that the wedding ring equals being captured in a cage is so evident and beautiful once you read this book. Because to Rhine, the forced marriage that she is now in is not loving and fulfilling, but a cage that has taken away her freedom. And in Rhine's world, only so much freedom exists since all females die at age 20 and all males die at 25. Rhine is 16 and doesn't want to spend the last 4 years of her life over 1000 miles away from home and her twin brother. But how can the bird escape its cage? ...more
In my review for Susan Beth Pfeffer's apocalyptic novel, I said, "This is the first book I've ever read that made me be scared for an apocalypse... his book terrified me; however, this made me not want to put the novel down." Ashfall does what Pfeffer's book did, but Ashfall also intrigued me in a different way because of my fascination with volcanoes- I was filled with a mix of terror and fascination all through the novel. Mike Mullin took a possible future disaster that in all speculations could happen and threw us as readers into the middle of it.
When you start the book, you know that a horrible event is going to happen. Alex, our narrator, tells us how different everything is now, but this slight preface cannot prepare you for all of the destruction, criminal activity, devastation and loss that happens throughout this novel.
Some favorite parts: *Loved that Alex described history books and si-fi books as past & future history. *The analogies throughout the novel to help readers understand what Alex is going through are superb. My favorite was describing explosions as Zeus machine-gunning thunder. *Liked that Mike never felt he needed to explain about the gay couple who lived across the street from Alex, it was just normal.
Now I just have to wait for the sequel :)
(view spoiler)[Questions I have (and Mike Mullin has been kind enough to answer my wonderings!): *Why did Joe wait so long to tell Darren and Alex that it was a volcanic eruption? Mike Mullin's answer: I saw Joe, Darren, and Alex as being shell-shocked and not really in much condition to talk about anything when the noise starts. And they have no idea how long it's going to go on, so Joe is waiting/thinking it's going to end. And they all prefer the relative safety of the tub. It's too loud to talk about it and be heard, of course. By the next morning it's obvious it isn't going to get better quickly, so they leave the shelter of the tub, find a candle and go to the trouble of writing out the information about the volcano. *Is that really how a FEMA camp is run? Or is that speculation about what would happen in this situation? It was at this point that I felt that the novel went from apocalyptic to dystopian. Mike Mullin's answer: FEMA camps are NOT run the way I depict in ASHFALL. That said, FEMA has never had to deal with a situation like this. 55,000 people responded to Katrina, which totally overwhelmed FEMA's organizational capacity. In the far worse disaster portrayed in ASHFALL, FEMA presses subcontractors with little disaster relief training or experience into place, and the priority becomes protecting unaffected states from the hordes of refugees fleeing the ash, rather than taking good care of those refugees. I think panic and a desire to protect one's own is a real possibility in a disaster like that.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>...more
*This is one of the few books that I just cannot figure out the genre. The book starts off as most dystopian novels do- introducing you to a dreary civilization with a tyrant controlling the citizens. In The Unwanteds, you get introduced to the Stowe boys who are in the middle of the Purge- a ceremony that separates the wanted and necessaries from the unwanted. The unwanteds are sentences to death. Alex already knows he is an unwanted and has tried to prepare himself to be separated from his twin brother Aaron, who is a wanted. After the purge, Alex, along with the other unwanteds get taken to the death camp at the edge of the city. And this is where everything changes. The unwanteds enter the death camp to find that there is a magical world that is hidden (through magic) from the dystopic world on the other side of the locked iron gate. Here, Alex and his friends Meghan and Lani meet Mr. Today, the magician who runs Artime, as well as Jim, a magical flying turtle, and other amazing things. This, obviously, causes everyone's life to change drastically- and the adventure begins.
And what I truly loved about this book- The unwanteds were any child who showed any creative talent, so Artime was a place filled with art, theater, music, writing, reading, etc. and the Artimians fought with their art (and magic)! How cool is it that the band-nerds and book worms and weirdo artists get to kick butt with what they love the most! Amazing shout out to creativity and art.
Such a unique book and the blurb, "Hunger Games meets Harry Potter" really makes sense when you finish. A fun book for middle grade and a definite purchase for any teacher. ...more
*1. What amazing world building! Moira Young did an amazing job with not only the setting, but the "government" in her debut novel.
2. The cover of this book truly sets the tone for the story. Even when the story isn't taking place in the desert, the setting plays a major role in the story.
3. Sada. Wow. She is a strong woman protagonist. Though I found her hard to like at points, I knew it was from her passion boiling inside that she acted the way she did.
4. The best pet in a book every! Nero, the crow, is the secret star of the book.
5. The relationships in this book are things of beauty. The details in characterization that Young meticulously added to the story made it so that you are emotionally connected to all of the characters although there are many of them.
6. Girl. Cage. Fighting. Wow- it is brutal!
Originally read: April 22, 2012 Reread: July 15, 2012...more