for CI546 wide reading
grade level: middle school - high school
genre: Science fiction
themes: Family, friendship, survival, apocalypse, corporate greed, poverty
cultures: set in the not-too-distant future on the mostly deserted Gulf Coast (after New Orleans is entirely underwater due to many "city killer" storms)
awards: Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature by the ALA
Finalist for the National Book Award
school use: Rooting this in a possible U.S. history/future is something I could see using as an example to help kids be imaginative about their future / our future. To think about consequences: what kind of world will we be leaving behind. To judge whether corporations should rule the world. Also nice tie to Katrina, something kids that age would be really aware of (probably the biggest disaster of their "time").
Really probably the only thing I didn't like about this book was that you could really feel most of the way through that it was a Book 1 of a series -- there were some issues that were too clearly left "to be explained later" (the mystery of one of the half-men [Tool] being able to survive without a master, for example). And as you noticed that you had fewer and fewer pages left, you knew that not all the plot points could possibly be resolved. It still worked for me because I love series books and I always hope every book will be one...but I also like those books to be a bit more rounded / to really stand on their own.
I liked that it was set in a world that feels like something that could actually happen. I liked the geographical details of things like The Teeth. I felt like the author really made things tangible -- I could feel Nailor's hunger. I liked that there were consequences and hierarchies even within the ship breakers themselves -- I think students could explore the idea of class within society here more comfortably than perhaps with a book like Ninth Ward where it might be too close to home.
I liked that none of the romance became explicit yet (although I expect the Nailer/Nita relationship to become moreso in later books); I liked that this sense of liking someone was also tied into other things. When Nailer explains how Nita is now "family" to him / a good way for kids to explore ideas around loyalty and what family/friendship/"crew" mean (we create our own families idea).
The stuff with the dad was a bit scary...but he's portrayed so beyond the ordinary and it's not the main story. I had to read "The Bone People" over the summer for student teaching, and the abuse here was definitely tamer than in that book!