More Fallen Angel Fantasy!

fallen

After reading Eternal I was hoping for more fallen angel fantasy. Lauren Kate is writing a new series about just that. The first book is called, Fallen. All her life, Luce has been tormented by shadows that seem to follow her everywhere. It kind of reminds me of the movie, “The Sixth Sense.” She’s sent to reform school because a mysterious fire killed a boy she liked. She’s implicated in the crime even though she can’t remember what happened.

At school Luce meets Daniel. Not only is he supernaturally gorgeous, Luce feels a familiar longing, making her believe they have met before. Although Cam, another attractive boy, is clearly interested in her, Luce only wants Daniel, the boy whose interest runs both hot and cold. Daniel tries to keep Luce at a distance, telling her the truth would kill her as it has many times before. The first chapter is fantastic! But I was disappointed that it took so long in the rest of the book to get back to the supernatural. But this won’t stop teens from loving it anyway!

Unfortunately Daniel falls into that familiar theme of “boy is mean to girl” so “girl becomes obsessed with boy.” We never find out what really caused the fire that killed Luce’s friend. It also seems strange that Luce and Daniel are able to go off into the woods. I would think a reform school would have more security. The cover is fantastic! It is dark, dramatic and beautiful! Teens will love it!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

What is appealing about fallen angels vs. vampires and other characters in fantasy?

What do you think caused the fire that killed the boy?

Why do you think the “boys are mean and girls love them anyway” is so popular in teen books?

Talk about Luce’s shadows. What do you think they mean?

Scary Short Stories From Popular Teen Authors!

vacations

This is a fun collection of short stories involving popular authors of young adult fantasy.  Sarah Mlynowski of Bras and Broomsticks tells a story about two girls going on a cruise.  They are scoping out guys so one of them can lose their virginity.  The two girls befriend another girl who warns them about a string of vampire attacks on cruise ships.  Bodies are found overboard drained of blood.  When Kristin finds the guy of her dreams  and they are finally alone, we find out she has a secret of her own.  Virginity has an entirely different meaning to these girls.

Claudia Gray, the author of the Evernight series, takes on a witches vacation filled with rivelry.  Every year this coven gets together to work magic.  Her mom’s coven from college and their families meet and the men in the family really have no idea that their wives and daughters are witches.  Cicely hates Kathleen.  The two have been rivals since they were little kids.  When Kathleen brings a new boyfriend on vacation, Cecily suspects the boyfriend has been bewitched.  Now Cecily must decide whether to risk performing powerful magic beyond her years.

Maureen Johnson of 13 Little Blue Envelopes fame writes about two sisters, the French countryside and a strange curse.  When people hear a story about the French Revolution they are compelled to commite murder. 

Cassandra Clare, author of City Of Bones & City Of Ashes,  writes about a family that vacations next to an ancient witch.  The villa staff’s warnings are not enough to keep two curious teens from approaching her beach house.

The story that was truely terrifying was saved for last.  Libba Bray, author of A Great And Terrible Beauty,  scared me to death with her “Nowhere Is Safe.”  A group of teens backpack through Europe and decide to go off the beaten path near Budepest for a little adventure.  They go to small village for a festival with a dark history.  They find ghosts, a frightening history of devil worship and a terrifying evil shrouded in mist and dense forests.  I had a lot of trouble getting to sleep after reading this one!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How is reading a collection of short stories different than a full novel?  Which did you like better?

Talk about which stories were your favorites?

Did you think the students in Nowhere Is Safe were brave or stupid?

Talk about superstitions and how legends can shape the way we think.

Desperate circumstances can make people do horrible things.  Talk about what would make a village sacrifice their own children.

Powerful Read About September 11th by David Levithan

love higher law

 The first few chapters are a very realistic and emotional retelling of the events of September 11th through the eyes of three teens, Claire, Peter and Jasper. I won’t lie to you, these pages are tough to read. They brought back a lot of emotion of the day. This is a good opportunity for teens who may have been too young to remember much of the details. They can see the events through the eyes of characters their own age. Claire is in school and rushes to find her little brother while they wait for their mother to get them. Peter is waiting outside for a record store to open and bares witness to the attack. Jasper sleeps through the most of the attack. The three characters were at a party together just the night before. Jasper and Peter flirted, but a connection is not made until much later. Claire meets Jasper on a nighttime walk to ground zero where they find they are kindred spirits, searching for answers. The three become a source of hope and deep friendship as they navigate through the year after the attacks.

David Levithan’s description of the day’s events is very authentic both in detail and emotion. He forces us to ask difficult questions. He portrays the important politics of the time without evoking fear. He reminds us we share humanity with the entire world, and the post 9/11 events should bring us together instead of tearing us apart. I love how he portrays homosexual teens. They are just like any other teen, searching for love and acceptance. They are friends with straight teens like it is no big deal. And it shouldn’t be a big deal. I read through chapters of this book with tears in my eyes. I am so thankful David Levithan had the courage to write this important book!

 Ideas for discussing with teens:

Many teens may be too young to remember details about the September 11th attacks.  Talk about what they do remember.  As an adult facilitator, add your personal recollections.

If they do remember, talk about how their world changed that day.

Music, specifically U2’s All That You Can’t Leave Behind album, helps Peter and Claire cope.  Talk about how music helps you cope with difficult times in your life. 

Have the lyrics to U2’s song “One” on hand to discuss.  Take turns reading it out loud.    The title of the book comes from the lyrics.

How does tragedy bring people closer together?

Claire says she feels survivors must breathe in the dust of the dead, and do things the dust cannot do.  Discuss.

Talk about when Clarire says, “The hitch is you can’t find a common humanity just because you have a common enemy.  You have to find a common humanity because you believe that it’s true.”

The characters talk about the different between “drowning” & “the swim of things”.  Discuss.

Could Fallen Angels Be The Hot New Trend In YA? I Think So!

eternal

17-year-old Miranda has a guardian angel named Zachary.  He watches her night and day.  When she and a friend are lured into a cemetery by a vampire, Zachary displays his radiance to stop her from falling into a fresh grave.  Revealing yourself to humans is taboo.  Zachary is punished by losing his wings.  He is charged by God to fix his mistake if he ever wants into heaven again.  Zachary’s radiance caught the attention of an old vampire who makes Miranda into a vampire princess, treating her as his own daughter.  Miranda finds herself no longer an average teen, but a high society vampire on the cover of magazines and celebrated at lavish parties, and who feeds off humans without batting an eye.  Zachary, distraught over his fallen status, searches for her in attempts to save her and kill the old vampire Miranda calls, Father.  Zachary answers an ad to become her personal assistant.  (Many high society vampires use humans as servants.)  Miranda becomes equally frustrated and enthralled by him at the same time.  Zachary finds out in the end his mission is not what he thought, and now he must choose between what he wants, as he falls in love with Miranda, and saving her soul.

I really loved this book!  Smith’s writing is much better than what you will find in most vampire fantasy books.  That angels are making a big presence in fantasy writing is very exciting to me.  They are beautiful and immortal, like vampires with without the blood lust.  They are not your Sunday School angels.  They have flaws and forbidden romance between angels and humans are becoming a common theme. 

Smith creates a dark and violent vampire world where the vampires treat humans like cattle.  Their wealth is immense and they live in castle like structures.  Dracula is mentioned often in this book with subtle references to the classic.  In fact, Father, holds the title of The Dracula.  He is not the original, but a leader in the vampire community.  These are not your nice, vegan Twilight vampires, but blood thirsty, keep humans as slaves, vampires. 

Smith has also written Tantalize and her new book combining characters from both Tantalize and Eternal is called Blessed.  Blessed will be released in 2011.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Talk about how Miranda changed from being an average teen to a celebrity.  What did that do to her personality?  Which would you rather be?

If appropriate, you can discuss angels in biblical terms.  How do they differ from what is represented here with the archangels?  Talk about heaven and hell.  What are their thoughts on both?

Can vampires be redeemed?  Where do you think the story will go from here?

Fallen angels vs. vampires?  Which will make the better series?