Great Ending For Across The Universe Trilogy

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Shades of Earth (Across the Universe, #3)The final book in Beth Revis’ Across The Universe Trilogy starts with Amy and Elder preparing to land on the planet.  There are plenty of shipborns and frozens on board.  As soon as they land the unfreezing process begins and Amy is excited to be reunited with her parents.  Her father is now in charge and this leads to a power struggle with Elder.  Very quickly we get a glimpse of the monsters that Orion warns about and they are terrifying.  When the ship shuts itself down with the supplies inside they have to figure out how to survive until they can get it back open.  Orion is also thawing while the ship is in shut down mode.  Then people start disappearing and bodies are found.  Phydus is at play,  but where is it coming from?  We learn that this landing party wasn’t the first one, and there is much more to this new Centuri-Earth.  Secrets are revealed and who the enemy is becomes unclear very quickly.  Amy wonders if she should trust her own father and if there is truth to Orion’s belief that the shipborns will be either slaves or soldiers.  It brings up interesting questions about people on the planet being used for profit and what was the real reason for the mission.  There is also an interesting Jurassic Park element.    The frozens have dark secrets of their own, including Amy’s parents.  This book is a fast and exciting read.

Ideas for discussing with teens:

Is it better to be oblivious?  Think of the people who took phydus.

Discuss the power struggle between the frozens and Elder.

Would you want to stat on the planet or go back to Earth?

What was your first impression of the “aliens?”  How did your perception change?

How do you feel about Orion after you learned what he knew?  Would you have done what he did?  What would you have done?

Powerful Ending To Lois Lowry’s The Giver Series

Son (The Giver, #4)For a long time I’ve wondered what happened to Jonas and the small boy he fled with in Lois Lowry’s brilliantly crafted, The Giver.  I was thrilled to read the conclusion to this story.  Lowry beautifully combines the stories from all three books, The Giver, Gathering Blue and The Messenger.  In Son, we are transported back to the Community during the time when Jonas gets his assignment as the Receiver of Memories.  We are introduced to Claire who gets her assignment as birthmother.  She becomes pregnant with her first “product” with very little education about what will happen during the pregnancy and birth process.  After a difficult delivery, she is given a new assignment and is left to wonder about what happens to her son.  After Jonas escapes with a child, Claire takes her own journey through the communities we are introduced to in the other two books.  Her goal, to find her son.  Both Jonas and Claire’s stories are weaved together in ways that are both familiar and surprising.   I was fully immersed back in Lowry’s disturbing dystopian world, with wonderful characters that I now miss since the book ended.  One question I have that was never answered was why the Community did not have birds or rain.  I would have liked to know more about that.  I loved this book as much as The Giver.  The ending is satisfying and the imagery of climbing up the rock face and the transformation Claire went through to accomplish this was very inspiring.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss the word, “indoctrination.”

What would it be like not to choose your future?  Pros and cons.

Why do you think they blindfold the birth mothers?

Discuss this passage, “Men’s work?  Women’s work?  Here in the community there is no difference.” (pg 88)

Discuss how the community treated the parents of Caleb, the boy who drowned in the river.

Why would the community not teach children colors?

Why do you think they took pills in the community?

Discuss Claire’s reaction to animals and music in the Village.

Talk about the differences of marriage and spouses between the Village and the Community.

Discuss Claire’s relationship with Einar.

Would you have made the trade the way Claire did?

Discuss the questions on page 290 about the villagers not wanting newcomers.

Discuss the similarities between Gabe and Einar when they turned down the Trademaster.