Fans Of The Hunger Games Will Enjoy The Matched Series

Reached (Matched, #3)

Reached, Book 3 in the Matched series picks up with Xander and Cassia imbedded with their new roles in the Society.  Both are in the rising although neither knows for sure about each others involvement.  Cassia is trying to see Ky but their new roles make it almost impossible.  Cassia is now a known trader with the Archivists, her poems make good trades for information.  Xander witnesses the beginning of the rebellion in the form of a virus.  The pilot unleashes a virus and the plan is for them to arrive heroically with the cure.  This seems to work until the virus mutates and a new strain threatens to kill.  All three of them escape to the outer provinces before Ky falls still.  The virus makes the victim appear still.  Xander must work fast to help find a cure to save Ky.  The book brings up interesting discussion points about what is more important, safety and order or freedom.  We learn much more about what the different colored pills are supposed to do and how Cassia starts to remember things about her grandfather and the “Red Garden Day.” The most interesting aspect of this series is the idea of information overload and limited all art and study to the top 100 things.  The top 100 songs, science lessons and poems.   My favorite part of the story is when the people begin making new art and they create a gallery inside the huge white barricades that the society moved to the beach also when Cassia begins writing poetry of her own.  Again with other YA series being written, Ally Condie did not remind us of what happened in the previous book as much as I would have liked.  It has been at least a year since I read Crossed.  There were so many important details that I forgot about and keeping some of the characters straight was a little confusing at first.  I did enjoy the whole series, although my favorite book was clearly the first, Matched.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss this poem written by Cassia, “Climbing into the dark for you, Will you wait in stars for me?”

Talk about what would happen if technology failed us.

What do you have that you could trade to an archivist?  What would you want in return?

Discuss this quote by the pilot, “This rebellion is different than others throughout history.  It will begin and end with saving your blood, not spilling it.”

Discuss the moment when Cassia writes these words on the paper on the tree. “Do not go gentle into that good night.  Rage, rage against the dying of the light.”

Discuss when Lenya says to Xander. “You all called us Anomalies.  Not good enough to live among you.  Not good enough to marry you.  And now you need us to save you.”

Why do you think gravity was left out of the hundred science lessons?

What would be on your hundred song playlist?

Are there any aspects of the Society that you do like?  Discuss.

Discuss the idea of Ky’s mother painting on rocks with water, “the important thing was to create, not capture.” (page 404)

Discuss this passage from page 320. “So we’re never really safe, I (Xander) say,  “Oh no, my boy,” Okar says, almost gently.  “That might be the Society’s greatest triumph–that so many of us ever believed that we were.”

Discuss the quote, “It’s all right to wonder.”

Discuss “The Pilot. The Poet. The Physic.  They are in all of us.  I believe this.  That every person might have a way to fly, a line of poetry to put down for others to see, a hand to heal.”

The Sequel I Most Wanted To Read Is Finally Here!

Days of Blood & Starlight (Daughter of Smoke and Bone, #2)

I couldn’t wait to get my hands on Laini Taylor’s Days of Blood and StarlightDaughter of Smoke and Bone is one of my favorite books of all time.  Karou and Akiva and separated after the he murdered the chimera who raised her.  She takes on Brimstone’s role as resurrectionist for the chimera army since his death.  She is hiding away in a Kasbah where she spends her days and nights stringing teeth and building new and terrifying bodies to battle the seraphs as they hunt down the tribes in Eretz.  She chooses this location because the Kasbah is near a portal that takes the chimera between worlds.  Karou constantly second guesses herself for bringing the chimera to hide in the human world.  She relives memories of her chimera life as Madrigal, the part gazelle part human creature.  Things become more complicated when her well meaning friends from Prague track her down after a cryptic email.  We learn a lot more about the seraphs and their terrifying empire.  Akiva has special powers that could help him win the war.  Akiva and his siblings are the bastard children of the frightening emperor,  Jerom.  Their lives are worth little for the angels they are fighting for.

The language and descriptive writing is just a beautiful as Daughter of Smoke and Bone.   My favorite moment is when she resurrects one of the chimera who raised her.  That was a particularly beautiful moment.  There is a power shift after this happens.  I love the way she deals with the white wolf in the end.  The struggle between Karou’s feelings for Akiva and her hatred for what he has done is an interesting struggle.  My only criticism is that I wish Taylor would remind us of some of the events that took place in the first book.  It has been a while since I read it and felt lost a few times.  This has been an issue with several YA series I’ve read recently.  The end is very interesting and I can’t wait for the third book!

Some ideas for discussion with teens:

Talk about Karou taking on her new role.

Discuss Karou’s decision to bring chimera into the human world.

Discuss the terrifying new bodies she is building for the army.

Talk about her relationship with the white wolf.

If you were a chimera what would you want to look like?

Discuss the part where Karou brings back a loved one from the past.

Discuss who you would bring back if you could.

Talk about how her relationship changed with Akiva near the end.  What do you think will happen next for them?

Great Teen Reads About Veterans Of The Wars In Iraq and Afghanistan

I took a break from my blog in November to write a post for YALSA about books that feature characters that served in Iraq or Afghanistan.  Here is the link to my book list and reviews.  I found them all so compelling I read them all from cover to cover.  Here is the link to that post.

New Teen Reads About The Wars In Iraq and Afghanistan

Great New Mystery Read For Boys With Autistic Main Character

Colin Fischer

14-year-old Colin Fischer is on the Autism Spectrum.  He is brilliant and his ability to meticulously notice details makes him a natural detective with a Sherlock Holmes-like talent for deduction.  He is socially awkward and has trouble reading facial expressions.  He loves to jump on a trampoline and that is one of the things that keeps him calm and helps him think.  He deals with bullies.  In the first chapter we witness him getting a swirly in the boy’s restroom.  So when that bully is accused of setting off a gun at school, Colin notices the detail that makes that bully an unlikely suspect.  The police are not investigating this so Colin takes it upon himself to solve the crime.  He doesn’t care that he is doing things that would put him in danger.  He just has to solve this problem that no one else is seeing.  This is brilliant first hand look into what it is like to be on the Autism Spectrum.  Colin keeps a notebook where readers will learn interesting things about whatever Colin is thinking about at the time.  I especially liked the part about how math solves the parking problem.  People end up wasting more time trying to find a perfect parking space instead of just parking and walking.  Readers also get a little history on Hans Aspergers and how this recently new diagnosis was created out of Nazi Germany.  The relationship between Colin and his younger, typical brother Danny is interesting.  Danny feels that Colin is treated differently.  I have a child on the spectrum with a younger child that is typical.  I can see the same struggle for my typical child of why her sister gets away with some things that she can’t.  I also loved the moments with the gym teacher.  Instead of excusing Colin from gym class, he figured out a way to teach Colin basketball in a way that he could understand and be successful.  The world needs more teachers like him.  I hope this becomes a series.  I will read every one of them.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

What do you think it would be like to be Colin?  Do you know anyone like him?

Talk about detective work.  What makes Colin a natural detective?

How did people treat Melissa differently when her appearance changed?  Talk about how people are treated based on how they look?

Discuss Colin’s relationship with Melissa?

Talk about the new relationship between Colin and Wayne.

Colin sets the record straight proving a bully was innocent.  Would you go out of your way to help someone who bullied you?

Talk about what makes a person like R.T. Moore tick?  What makes him scary or not scary.

Talk about Sandy’s expulsion.  Did you think it was fair?  If you were a school administrator would you handle it differently?

Talk about Colin’s relationship with his brother.  Do you think Danny is treated fairly?

Talk about how the gym teacher taught Colin to play basketball.