Oblivion by Anthony Horowitz, but first Raven’s Gate!

Amazing, amazing, amazing conclusion to the Power of Five / Gatekeepers series. There is an author video on his website about his research for the book and this is a video of the author talking about the plot of Oblivion on the publisher’s YouTube channel.

If you haven’t read them all, I do NOT recommend that you jump to the end with this book! Start at the beginning with Raven’s Gate. I read it years ago and knew: AWESOME. You can read the first chapter of book 1 on Horowitz’s website. It’s dark and demonic and delicious.

Summaries from author’s website –

Book 1 – Raven’s Gate:

Matt has always known he has unusual powers. Raised in foster care, he is sent to Yorkshire on a rehabilitation programme, only to find himself in the midst of sinister goings-on. Matt investigates and uncovers a terrible secret – eight guardians are protecting the world from the evil ones, beings banished long ago by five children. But devil worshippers want to let the evil ones back in…

Book 2 – Evil Star:

After his experiences at Raven’s Gate, fourteen-year-old Matt Freeman thinks his days of battling evil are over. But soon he is pulled into another horrifying adventure when he discovers a second gate exists. Matt and his friend Richard travel to Peru and, assisted by a secret organization known as the Nexus, follow a series of clues to the gate’s whereabouts. But there is a traitor in the Nexus…

Book 3 – Nightrise:

Fourteen-year-old twins Scott and Jamie Tyler have never known who they are or where they came from, but they have always known that they possess extraordinary powers. When Scott is kidnapped by the sinister Nightrise Corporation and Jamie is framed for murder, they realise that they must use those powers if they are going to survive…

Book 4 – Necropolis:

The outlook for the future of mankind has never been bleaker. The sinister corporation known as Nightrise is gathering strength and the long suppressed Old Ones are poised to unleash their dark powers on an unsuspecting world. Matt and his fellow Gatekeepers have no choice but to commit themselves to a dangerous path, knowing that their course might save the planet – or spell their doom…

Book 5 – Oblivion:

We find the Five scattered in a hostile and dangerous world and struggling to re-group. The earth has almost been destroyed by the forces of darkness. Those who have survived are barely human, drifting in a world ruled by famine, terrorism and war. Any last hope now rests with five extraordinary teenagers: the Gatekeepers. The Five must find each other and make a final stand against Chaos, King of the Old Ones … but Chaos is everywhere. He calls to them from Antarctica, where he is gathering his forces, preparing for a last battle in the frozen wasteland of Oblivion. And one of the Five has turned traitor. The others know that without him they cannot win…

Personal Reaction: I have waited so long for this finale. You should read them all.

Any Cautions: This series is full of demon-worshipping murderers, monsters and zombies. It can be VERY disturbing. Book 5 tested my faith in humanity and I did cry for Matt. I do not recommend this to sensitive souls. In fact, I might not recommend to any student younger than a mature seventh grader.

Connections to other books: Similar fiction –  Super Human series by Michael Carroll; The Abhorsen Chronicles (Abhorsen Trilogy) by Garth Nix; The Demonata Series by Darren Shan; the Midnighters series from Scott Westerfeld; nonfiction choices about the places where the kids have been in this book or throughout the series – England, Brazil, Peru, Dubai, Italy, Egypt, Hong Kong, Naples, London, Nevada – or choices that investigate telekenesis, mind reading, healing, etc.

Items to display with book: Put the whole series on display. Zombie & demon figurines – or you could have an art contest for those students who have read the series to create or find online what they picture in their heads when they think of the Old Ones and Chaos.

Ship of Souls by Zetta Elliott

author’s website    No video trailer found, but this is an author’s tour of the book’s primary location – it’s really interesting!

Summary: 11/12yo “D” (no one except his mom calls him Dimitri) has had some struggles. Dad is a mysterious, non-existent figure from his past. Mom has recently passed away from breast cancer. D spends a brief time in the foster care system before being taken to live with kindly old Mrs. Martin. But then the crack-addicted baby foster girl comes to live with them and D feels a little overwhelmed. He’s just getting into his new school and is accelerating in math, has made a friend of an older boy named Keem that needs a math tutor, and there’s an awkward friendship with Keem’s crush Nyla. (Both Keem and Nyla seem older than what I guess are 8th grade in the story). Then D finds a possessed bird who wants him to be a “host” for her spirit and go down under Prospect Park in NY to find the souls from the African Burial Ground and help them move on to the next realm.

Personal Reaction: Loved the demon bird cover, but the book was kind of “meh.” There’s a LOT that’s left unexplained, and everything moves too quickly to be satisfying for my taste. I think if this story had been fleshed out more it would have been much better. I did like the brief touch on what being Muslim means for Keem. Since it’s kind of simple, I’d say it would be ok for grades 4-8, but there’s some scary points where D is attacked by inanimate objects, chased by spirits/skeletons, and both D and Nyla are hurt. So maybe just gr 6+ depending on your reader’s sensitivity. One brief mention of “freaks” at school includes those who are attracted to same sex.

Curriculum or discussion topics: African Burial Ground and Battle of Long Island, Hessians; bullying

Connections to other books: Breaking Ground, Breaking Silence  by Joyce Hansen, Long Island’s Military History by Glen Williford,  by The Complete Guidebook to Prospect Park and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens Berenson, maybe even Backyard Birds (Field Guides for Young Naturalists) or Math Doesn’t Suck by McKellar

Items to display with book: stuffed white dove, maps of NYC, photos of Prospect Park and boulder plaque for Battle Pass, historical info about the African Burial Ground and Battle of Long Island in the Revolutionary War, math textbook

Food items connected to story: Pizza, potato chips, hot cocoa, oatmeal with brown sugar

Living Violet (bk1 Cambion Chronicles) by Jaime Reed

 

author’s website         fan book review video

 

Summary: Main character Samara is a biracial girl who falls for a “Cambion” boy, Caleb, who works with her at a local bookstore. A Cambion is someone possessed of a spirit that feeds off the life energy of others and can kill them if the spirit takes too much. Cambion spirit is passed down through families: Men who are possessed pass down a portion of their posessor spirit to their male children (incubus); females who are possessed pass the spirit to their female children (succubus); only one gender is affected in each family line.

 

Personal Reaction: Kudos for the bookstore setting. I felt that this book was taking potshots at the Twilight series although this Cambion series could be described as no more than a copycat of Twilight with some of Meyer’s The Host book tossed in for a different angle. (Book 2 of the Cambion chronicles brings in another incubus possible soulmate – kinda New Moon Jacob? – but an enemy instead of a friend.) Neither Host nor Violet thrilled me but they’ll find an audience. Infrequent cursing and minor sexual references make this a book for high schoolers, though chastity is Sam’s defining characteristic. The book was decent, but some of the dialogue description  was just too far off to be normal. (I did enjoy the anachronistic Williamsburg setting and way Sam lapsed into Shakespearean dialogue when annoyed though. Showed intelligent wit!)

 

Classroom Use: n/a

 

Related titles: The Twilight Saga and The Host by Meyer; Macbeth by Shakespeare; Colonial Williamsburg travel book; nonfiction mythology reference on incubus/succubus; Burning Emerald (The Cambion Chronicles) book 2

 

Realia: Tae Bo video workout DVD; “Book of the Month” sign; bookstore coffee cup; jar of quarters; music CDs or DJ turntable

 

Foods for book parties: coffee, espresso; Slushee; pretty much any sweets (ice cream, cookies, brownies, candy, chocolate bars)

 

Evermore by Alyson Noel

Grade: 8th and up (YA)           author’s website          publisher’s website includes video book trailer

Summary: 16yo Ever is reeling from the shock of being the only survivor of a car accident which killed her whole family. She has gained psychic gifts (seeing auras, reading images/thoughts) since her brush with death, but she does not want to be able to hear everyone all the time – so she wears hoodie sweatshirts and pumps the volume up on her mp3 player’s headphones. In walks mysterious and perfect-in-every-way Damen who has eyes for no one but Ever. Will they ever be able to come together? Add one younger sister’s ghost, one perfect-in-every-way-but-psycho ex-girlfriend, plus one typical hs catty girl, and a bit of best friend drama, and the story is over.

Personal Reaction: I really thought I was going to like this book, it started off well and got me interested right away. But, by the end I was quite frustrated with it. (Don’t get me wrong, I am a repeated reader of the Twilight Saga by Meyer no matter what the critics have said, so I have my faults!) And since Evermore is the first in a long series, I must be one of the few that doesn’t like it.  Aunt is never around. A smattering of curses, nothing gratuitous. A little high school mention of going all the way and rolling around under a blanket together but nothing gets further – he repeatedly affirms that he can wait. Brief bout with alcohol (vodka) as an escape from hearing the noise. Way too often Damon fails to explain what Ever wants to know with a “we have forever together to figure this all out” or “it’s magic,” and that seems enough for her, but it was not enough for me. They are soul mates and that’s supposed to be enough explanation for us.

Connections to other books: I prefer Beautiful Creatures by Garcia to this one.

Discussion with kids: Immortality and reincarnation, symbolism of flowers, psychic ethics?

Display: Red tulips & white rosebuds, tarot cards, hoodie sweatshirt, mp3 player w/earbuds, red Miata convertible model, photo of Marie Antoinette, wooden bridge model or photo of the representation of “crossing over”, temporary snake tattoo

Foods connected to the story: drink bottle with thick red liquid (maybe use V-8 without the label?), frosted cupcake

The Blue Girl by Charles de Lint

I liked it. Think of this as the YA version of Changeling. Punk girl tries to start over in a new hs, but same old bullies start in. Finds a new bestie (so now labeled as homo-girls), gets stalked by a ghost who then asks the school brownies to help her believe in the Otherworld, which then causes the “darkness” to notice her and want to steal her soul.

Several references to getting laid, having sex, wear a condom… but no actual sexual situations. Grades 8+

Author’s website