Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flipped, Divergent, Maze Runner

In the book Flipped by Wendelin Van Draanen, Bryce and Julianna tell their stories as the book bounces back and forth between their perspectives.  It is a lesson for the reader as the stories come out from each perspective and we learn that narrators are not always the most reliable.  Bryce learns a lot of important lessons about the person that he wants to be and the assumptions that people make.  He is forced to see that his father has some narrow views and he does not like what he sees when he looks closely.  This book is a great book for a quick and fun read.  The characters are likeable and there is a good lesson in the book about judging people. 

The book Divergent by Veronica Roth was reminiscent of The Hunger Games.  In this book what seems to be a Utopia at first is revealed to be a dystopia on the verge of a big change.  Beatrice has grown up in Abnegation, one of the four factions in this future world.  The story is set in Chicago in the future after the world has gone through some sort of destruction.  Different factions thought different traits in people were responsible for the destruction of the world so they each pledged to live in certain ways to keep that evil trait from coming out.  At the age of 16 Beatrice has to choose which faction she will go to.  Then there is an initiation period which each person must pass through.  It is during this initiation period that Beatrice learns that the world may not be as figured out as she first imagined it to be.  I would highly recommend this book to fans of The Hunger Games. 

The other books that I would highly recommend for The Hunger Games fans are The Maze Runner and The Scorch Trials by James Dashner.  Thomas is thrown into a situation with all of his memories wiped.  He must help the people that are living in the maze to find a solution and escape.  Up until he comes there, they have had one new person join their community each month.  Everything changes on the day after Thomas arrives and this sends everyone into a panic. This is a gripping adventure with a big mystery that kept me turning the pages until the end and then some more as I immediately sought out the next book in the series.  Both of these books have danger, adventure, intrigue, and some kind of weird world in which people seem to be setting these teenagers up in these horrible situations.  It is the right formula for an entertaining yet thought-provoking dystopian series. 

Saturday, April 7, 2012

Spring Reading

    This Spring Break my goal is just to relax and get in some good reading time.  I have started well with 3 books done in just two days.  It is interesting to me how much fiction is out there with dystopian and end-of-the-world themes.  I think I might have to take a break and find a more cheerful book before continuing to read this type of book.  They certainly make you think!

The first book I want to talk about is The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch.  This is a post-apocalyptic book with a lot of action and adventure.  The book starts off with Steve and his dad, who are scavengers, traveling and looking for things that they might trade for supplies needed for survival.  In the world of this book there was a terrible plague (P11) which wiped out most of the population.  The people that are left are working hard to survive.  Stephan ends up in a tricky situation in which he needs to trust some strangers, but he has always been taught never to trust anyone but family.  There are battles and a lot of suspense in the book, but what really drew me in was the complexity of the characters and the questions about human nature that this world brought up.  Are we really just savages when you take our material possessions away?  Will people lose who they are and the ability to be kind if there ever is a situation like this?  I would highly recommend this book to young and old.  It will especially appeal to boys. 

      I didn't really know what to expect when I picked up the book How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff.  I knew it had won the Printz award, which is a high recommendation in my book, but I did not really have any idea what it was about.   I started reading and was immediately drawn in by the way the author wrote in the voice of a teenage protagonist.  The use of foreshadowing in the book was also interesting because it really helped me to know that something terrible was about to happen.  The setting in this book is a small town in the countryside in England.  An American girl is sent to live with her British cousins after a fight with her step-mother. 
Her personal problems are soon forgotten when the world all of a sudden is in a war.  The electricity is cut off and there are no phones and she and her cousins are stuck living as orphans because her aunt is stuck in another country and unable to get back.  There are many twists and turns and it kept me riveted to the page because I wanted to find out what was going to happen.  I am impressed with the author's imaginative not-too-distant future.  This book has a lot of action and also a survival story.  I would recommend this book especially to teenage girls who will identify with the voice of the protagonist and the way that she thinks.  There is also a subtle message about eating disorders in the book. 

     Another Spring Break book is the book Red Kayak by Priscilla Cummings.  I have had this book on my shelf for a few years.  I knew it looked good and had received high acclaim from critics, but I was hesitant to pick it up as I always am with books I know will be sad.  This one has a tragic boating accident at the center of it and a teenage boy who has a difficult time with the outcome.  Partway through the book the protagonist has to make a difficult decision and has a very hard time figuring out what to do in his moral dilemma.  This is an amazing story and I am sorry I waited so long to read it.  I would highly recommend it for everyone. 

   Last but not least is this classic little book for young adults, Daddy Long Legs by Jean Webster.  It is a charming story of an orphan who gets a benefactor that sends her to college.  One of the conditions of the money that she will get is that she has to write to this benefactor once a month to tell him about how she is doing in school.  She is not to ever know the name of the man who is paying for her education and is to call him Mr. Smith.  Jerusha, the protagonist, thinks this is boring and since she happened to see his shadow which showed he was a tall gentleman she decides to call him Daddy Long Legs.  This character is a charming young girl and the story is a fun one to read.  We read it in class in preparation for seeing the musical version at Skylight Musical Theatre.  I was so glad to have the opportunity for this trip also.  I highly recommend both the book and the musical.