Divergent by Veronica Roth

Here’s the author’s website (which includes a link about half way down on the right if you’d like to read the first 100 pages of the book) The book video trailer is posted by the publisher and there are several fan-made videos and an author interview online as well.

Summary: (from Goodreads.com) In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are–and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

Personal Reaction: My 12yo nephew and I had great discussions trying to decide which faction we would want to join and why! These conversations took place after I had finished the book, but it could also have been fun to compare choices made at the same time as the day of choosing in the book and then if you would change your mind when the book is over.

Any Cautions: explicit violence in the Dauntless faction (similar to The Hunger Games by Collins)

Curriculum or discussion topics: utopia/dystopia scenarios; character traits – esp. courage/bravery versus recklessness

Connections to other books: Highly reminiscent of The Giver by Lowry and Matched by Condie, dystopias where a certain day of the year brings such change and things are never what they seem. Have a book on display that would appeal to someone in each faction along with the realia below: (BASIC EXAMPLES) Dauntless – Striking, Grappling, and Ground Fighting, Erudite – How Things Work Encyclopedia, Abnegation – Conflict Resolution Smarts: How to Communicate, Negotiate, Compromise, and More, Candor – The First Honest Book about Lies, Amity – Meditation

Items to display with book: (something to represent each faction) Dauntless – rubber knife, Abnegation – grey robe or mirror with grey cloth over it, Erudite – brain model, Candor – lie detector or test, Amity – pastoral scene (gardening, painting, etc.)

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Fat Vampire: A Never Coming of Age Story by Adam Rex

Here’s the author’s website  which includes three videos (2 “Vampire Hunters” shorts and one infomercial for “Re-Vamp”). I did not find any book trailers online, but this video is a Skype interview with the author about writing the book.

Summary: Doug is turned into a vampire by another newbie vampire crazed with bloodlust. That vampire is hot, Doug is not and is now worried about spending all eternity as a dweeb. While trying to find a balance to his new life without hurting anyone, his best friend Jay tries to help him sift through the myths. Meanwhile, Sejal is a new guest student from India who is trying to forget an incident from her previous addiction to the Internet and make a new, “good” life for herself in the States. Doug becomes obsessed with Sejal. Doug is tracked by the production crew of a reality tv show “Vampire Hunters.” Things go wrong.

Personal Reaction: The good – I had no idea that the “Rocky Horror Picture Show” was still captivating the teen set after all these years. There’s typical adolescent obsession with who-likes-whom and it is not much of an issue whether the couples are hetero- or homosexual. There are dead and undead with various orientations. The bad – I thought maybe I might be able to like Doug’s character… but then I never really did, so it’s hard for me to praise the story. I was practically wanting to reach into the book and beat him with a stick for being so slow in the bloodmobile. He has constant foot-in-mouth disease when it comes to treating Jay with true friendship. I actually liked Sejal’s storyline more than Doug’s.

Any Cautions: The f-word is used (not often, but enough), a few instances of underage drinking.

Curriculum or discussion topics: online & offline bullying, LGBT lit, internet addiction

Items to display with book: vampire fangs, Rocky Horror poster, vlog/blog example, civil war soldier photo, stuffed bat or wolf, fake tv commercial or print ad for “Vampire Hunters,” and theater bulletin for “West Side Story”

Food items connected to story: pizza, any red liquid beverage will do (V-8, dark punch, etc.)

Daughter Moon by @hg47 Harv Griffin

Here’s the author’s blog but I could not find any video book trailer online.

Description: (from Goodreads.com) DAUGHTER MOON is Old School hard Science Fiction at 122,840 words, with Matriarchy as the twist. All the Usual Suspects: Alien Invasion, teleportation, space battles, nanotechnology, virtual reality; a nobody suddenly given incredible powers; a struggle for the survival of our race and the future of the Universe; a Love more powerful and decisive than any technology.

Personal Reaction: Some of the discussion of the science in this science fiction was a little too detailed for me, so I skipped over it. In general, the book was a lot of fun with tongue-in-cheek humor. Inflating and deflating body parts on a whim depending on your technical proficiencies seems like an interesting future. I enjoyed Aero and Kronos discussing religions and space-time travel in a locked room while Aero makes everyone else thinks she’s a “victim of horizontal violence.” Changing every since instance of the word man to woman and boy to girl was a little over the top at first, but I got used to it. The black royal class was why I took on this book for review, but unfortunately they were not the main players in the story.

Summary: Jack’s future self snaps some bracelets on him and sends him off in time to save the universe! As he struggles to master the art of time travel, a few pit stops along the way cause enough sensation to have a religion spring up around his appearances. After a new technology called eNet “kills” the inhabitants of Earth, only a colony of women on the Moon are around to populate the galaxy. Jack has become goddess Kronos to them through the millenia, and techno-hacker Kali and her astronaut team are sent out to try to intercept “her” at the next possible appearance. But what will they do when they find out she is a he? What will everyone want to do with him??

Any Cautions: This book is for adults, not children. The one man available is having a great time, though same-sex relationships are the norm for this society of all women.

Connections to other books: I’m a fan of the Foundation series by Asimov and the Dune series by Herbert.

Feathers by Jacqueline Woodson

Here’s the author’s website  which includes a professional book trailer.

Here’s an additional link to the “Meet the Author” video on TeachingBooks.net

Summary: Frannie is a worrier. When her teacher presents a poem with the line “Hope is the thing with feathers,” the line sticks with her. Her mom and brother seem to know exactly what it means. As she puzzles out the process of growing up within a community divided by a highway into black neighborhoods & schools and white neighborhoods & schools, a new white boy arrives in her class. His long brown hair sparks the nickname “Jesus Boy” and Frannie and her best friend Samantha discuss what it would mean if he really was Jesus and why Jesus would want to come to their neighborhood anyway. Jesus Boy becomes a bully’s target but Frannie is hesitant to intervene.

Personal Reaction: Audiobook narrator, Sisi Aisha Johnson, was excellent. I just love Woodson, this book doesn’t disappoint.

Curriculum or discussion topics: Music – “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkel is featured in the story with discussion of bridging the gap between the black and white worlds on either side of the highway; bullying; poetry – “Hope is the thing with…” have students select an ending to that thought and describe why or write a poem on a theme of hope

Connections to other books: Books on The 1970s era, Black Panthers, music, etc.; books on Sign Language; poetry by Emily Dickinson and a selection of black poets or teen poets would be good too, like Quiet Storm: Voices of Young Black Poets; other books by JWoodson, especially the Maizon series. Go through your library and pull any book with hope in the title and spread them around!

Items to display with book: Large feather, baby diapers or stork delivery figurine, afro pick with black power fist

Food items connected to story: Rice, Hamburgers, Fried chicken, goulash

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.