Exciting End To The 5th Wave Trilogy.

 

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Book Three in Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series is full of action.  The fast moving story ties up some things while leaving room for readers to speculate what happens next and fan theories to grow.  Cassi, Zombie, Ringer, Megan and Sam are trying to get Evan back.  He has been taken by the human/aliens for reprogramming.  We learn more about the silencers and who they are as the team comes in contact with them.  The book is also largely about the evolution of Ringer as a character.  She has the alien technology in her but she can how use it to help the humans instead of hurt them.  Cassi also has an important role to play in saving what is left of humanity.  The book is very fast paced and exciting. But in the mist of all the action, the characters are still able to reflect on what it means to be alive in this war zone.  The idea is interesting that the aliens might see us as bugs that need to be exterminated.  We do not usually feel bad if we wipe out a colony of ants or cockroaches.  That gave me a lot to think about.  Fans of the first two books will love this.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Cassi says she is having more cravings than a pregnant woman.  If you were a survivor during the apocalypse, what would you crave the most?

Discuss what losing your ABCs would mean.

Discuss the relationship between Cassi and Evan.  How he feeds her when she is hungry but it is very complex.

Discuss this passage, “The world used to contain two Bens, the real Ben who didn’t know I existed, and the imaginary Ben, who feds me popcorn with buttery fingers.  Now there were three.” pp. 33

Discuss this passage, “Our true selves shimmered like a desert mirage forever receding into the distance.” pp. 34.

Discuss what it would mean to destroy culture.

Discuss Ringer’s bombshell.

During the book, did you think aliens were real or are the humans behind this?

What do you think will happen next with the survivors?  Where do they go from here?

The Selection Series Keeps Going Strong With Book #4, The Heir.

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Kiera Cass’s The Heir takes place many years after The Selection. King Maxon and Queen America rule a much different Illea.  The caste system is gone but there is much unrest.  Their daughter, Eadlyn is 18 and the heir to the throne.  To create a distraction for the troubled kingdom, they hold a male selection.  Thirty-five young men from across the kingdom are vying to be prince consort to the powerful and beautiful Eadlyn.  If you are hoping for more Maxon and American romance, you may be disappointed.  This book is all about their daughter and her quest to balance power, duty and her own desires.  She has no interest in finding a mate but she reluctantly agrees to this to ease her father’s worries about the kingdom.  The selection from the different perspective is interesting.  Eadlyn is a very different character than her mother.  Cass created a great group of side characters.  The men in the selection have very different personalities and motivations.  Some, like Henri are endearing.  The twist is that Marlee’s son, Kile is one of the selected.  He grew up in the palace and Eadlyn cannot stand him.  That dynamic is very interesting as well as her relationship with her brothers.  I was thrilled that Cass extended the trilogy.  I loved being back in this world of Illea.  Even though I saw less of my favorite characters, Eadlyn grew on me.  It asks questions about what a princess should be.  Should she have to get married at all? I am looking forward to Eadlyn’s story continue in The Crown that comes out in May of 2016.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Discuss how Jack and Burke’s attacks made Eadlyn feel.

Discuss how Eadlyn’s relationship with Kile changes.

Discuss when Eadlyn thinks, “This was why love was a terrible idea:  it makes you weak.  And there was no one in the world as powerful as me.”

Discuss what a ruler should be?  Should Eadlyn have to get married?

Discuss what is appealing about Hale, Henri, Kile, Ean or any others.

Which of the selected would you pick?

Discuss how Eadlyn’s was surprised at how the subjects

What type of person would be best for Eadlyn?

Discuss how Eadlyn compares herself to Camille from France.

Discuss Eadlyn’s conversation with her maid, Neena about her fiance having a higher skill job than she does.

Discuss how America and Eadlyn are similar.  How are they different?

What do you think of Ahren’s letter?

 

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.

Fans Of The Hunger Games Will Enjoy The Matched Series

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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.”

Book Two In Hunger Games Read Alike Is Full Of Action

I absolutely loved Veronica Roth’s Divergent and eagerly awaited book 2.  After a slow start, Insurgent really takes off.  At first I was afraid this would go the way of recent second books I’ve been reading which were disappointing.  I am so glad that was not the case.  I did have to take a look at a fan site to remember all of the characters.  I had trouble keeping all of the Dauntless characters straight.  Some short recaps in the book would have been helpful.  I am noticing this in plenty of second books lately, the lack of recaps makes me feel a little lost.  Besides all that, this book was great!  Tris, her brother Caleb, Tobias (aka Four) and other Dauntless make their way to Amity where they will be safe for a short while.  It was interesting to get a closer look at that faction.  Tobias’s horrible father, Marcus, has a secret that could save or destroy the faction system.  During much of the book Tris has to decide whether to trust Marcus and risk her relationship with Tobias to learn the truth about what is beyond the fence.  Dauntless splits in two, some following Erudite while others, like Tobias, want to form an alliance with the factionless.   We learn a lot about Tobias’s family, specifically his mother which gives us plenty of insight into him as a character. We also learn more about Tris’s family, specifically her brother, Caleb.  The action really picks up for me when Tris allows herself to be captured in order for Jeanine to stop killing people.  They want to study her brain and find a way to defeat the Divergent who keep overpowering their simulations.  I love the way Tris is able to fight back against the serums. At the end of the book we get a glimpse of the big secret Marcus has been hiding throughout the story.  I can’t wait until book 3 to find out what happens!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Would you rather be Divergent or fit comfortably inside a faction?

Tris must choose whether to find the truth or help her friends carry out an attack.  Which would you chose and why?

Discuss whether it is better to withhold the truth from people to keep them safe or is knowledge more important?

Talk about which faction you would want to be in.

Which is better, a society with factions and order or a chaotic society?

Talk about Tris’s guilt over killing Will.

Discuss Caleb’s betrayal.  Why do you think he did what he did?

Talk about the Amity discusses problems.  Why do you think this would work or not work?

Discuss when Tris opts for a stunner instead of a gun during the invasion.

How do you feel about keeping secrets that could keep others safe?  Or is it better to always tell the truth no matter what?

We Find Out What Is Outside of “The Society” in Ally Condie’s Crossed.

Ally Condie’s Crossed is written in two voices. The chapters flip back and forth between Ky and Cassia doing the talking. Ky has been banished to the Outer Provinces to act as a decoy. His main purpose is to act as a target for the faceless enemy. Cassia is also outside of Central doing a series of trainings before she beings her final post. In a moment where the Society kidnaps Abberations from Cassia’s work camp, she makes her escape, pretending to be one of the Abberations. Her only thought is of finding Ky. They hide from the society in a series of canyons known as The Carving. Ky knows them well because his father used to trade with the farmers who lived in the canyons. We learn much more about Ky’s past, his family and the community where he lived. We also learn that Xander has a secret that could change the way Cassia feels about him. There are many more questions that arise in this book. Who are the farmers and what happened to them? Why does The Society have a hidden chamber in the canyon? Who is this enemy that keeps firing on the Outer Provinces? But mostly, who is the real bad guy? I found this book a little harder to follow. The back and forth of the characters could be a little confusing and you have to pay close attention to the details while you are reading. The love triangle is still going strong. Cassia still loves them both and is no closer to choosing between them. I am looking forward to seeing this story wrapped up in the third book and hope it will be a satisfying ending.

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

How does Cassia’s talent for sorting help her survive?

Talk about her relationship with Xander. Why do you think he is helping her to escape to find Ky?

Talk about how her feelings differ about Ky and Xander.

Which would you choose? To go across the plains, stay in the Carving, or join the Rising?

Who do you think is the real enemy?

Discuss “the pilot.” Who out of the group would make a great pilot? Share the story of Sisyphus.

Discuss this passage. “People run deep and complicated like rivers, hold their shape and are carved upon like stone.”

What do you think will happen in book 3?

Across The Universe Lives Up To First Chapter Hype!

When the publishers made the first chapter of Across the Universe available as a teaser, I was drawn in.  When they said it was the best first chapter you’ll ever read, they were not kidding!  I waited impatiently for the book to come out.  I actually grabbed it off the shelf and shrieked, “Mine!” before I could stop myself.  The rest of the chapters have not disappointed!

Amy’s parents are important people who will be frozen for a 300 year journey to a new planet.  Amy wants to be with them, but is having second thoughts.  She has a boyfriend and a life and is not sure she wants to give that up.  She watches her parents go through the freezing process before she steps into the box herself.  The writing of the freezing process is terrifying and intense.  It reminded me about Neal Shusterman’s Unwind, where he writes the horrifying chapter where he explains the unwinding process.  Amy is awakened, prematurely by an unknown person who wants some of the frozen passengers dead.  Her red hair and pale skin stand out against the olive skinned, dark haired passengers who after generations of inbreeding look alike.  She navigates this strange space, dystopia with the help of Elder, the ship’s future leader.  There is something very wrong with the passengers of the ship, Godspeed.  It is almost like they are drugged.  Amy and Elder must try and learn the ship’s secrets before more people, like her parents, are unplugged and killed.

Beth Revis kept the mystery going throughout the story.  I wanted to know the ship’s secrets.  The ending made it seem like a sequel was coming, but it could stand on its own.  I thought the pacing was good.  It was bleak and creepy.  Dystopian fans will enjoy it!

Some ideas for discussing with teens:

Would you choose to stay on Earth or join your parents?

Would you be willing to be frozen?

What are you initial thoughts of Elder and Eldest?

Why would they keep the frozen passengers a secret from the rest of the people on the ship.

Discuss the three causes of discord.

Are lies necessary to save people from themselves?

What do you think will happen next as the passengers become more aware?

Was Orion right to do what he did?

Talk about Harley and his art.