Tag Archives: Science fiction

All Good Children by Catherine Austen

all good childrenBibliographic Information:

Austen, C. (2011). All good children. Victoria, B.C: Orca Book Publishers. (978-1-55469-824-0)

Plot Summary:

When Maxwell Connors returns home after his aunt’s funeral he notices that the kids at school are acting strange. It turns out that the students were given a treatment while he was away that has turned them into obedient, well-mannered citizens.  His sister Ally notices it first. She says that the other kids are “are fuzzy and slow. They just go along.”

Middletown is special walled community that protects the inhabitants from the terrorism and disasters that are happening throughout the world. The whole community works for the same corporation, Chemrose International. As a result, the corporation controls everything that happens in the town. When Max’s class is vaccinated he has to pretend to be a “zombie” too. It is time for the family to leave Middletown but that may prove more difficult than one would expect.

Critical Evaluation:

Catherine Austen has created a multi-dimensional wise-cracking teenager as her protagonist in the dystopian world of All Good Children. A wise choice since young adults are very interested in developing their individuality at this stage. Max’s sarcasm and “tell it like it is” attitude will resonate with readers. These characteristics also infuse some humour into an otherwise stark plot.

Max’s development from a kid who accepts the way his world operates to one who is willing to give up all the nice toys for freedom is realistic. At first, Max is pretty comfortable with his situation. He lives in a safe community that has a good standard of living and the newest technology toys. He knows that he is smart enough to be successful. So, he is okay with the security. He likes that the city is clean and secure.

The novel, told from Max’s point of view, follows his dawning awareness that the New Education Support Treatment is stripping children of their individuality and making them into good workers with no emotions who are willing to do what they are told.

Reader’s Annotation:

In a world with terrorism and disasters, what would you be willing to give up for security?

Information About the Author:

Catherine Austen is an awarding-winning author of children and young adult fiction. All Good Children was her first young adult novel.

Catherine grew up in Kingston, Ontario. She studies political science at Queen’s University and environmental studies at York University. After, she worked in the conservation movement. While a student, she wrote short stories, which she published in small literary journals. She started writing stories for children in 2003 but her first children’s book, Walking Backwards, was published in 2009.

When she became a parent, she decided to become a freelance writer so she could be home with her family.

She currently lives in Aylmer (Gatineau), Quebec. She says she lives in a little house with a big yard (About the author, 2013) with her family.

For more information please visit her website.

Genre:

  • Survival fiction
  • Science fiction
  • Dystopian fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • Social Justice
    • Behavior modification in schools
  • English program
    • Companion book to Brave New World

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

Austen is a Canadian author who wrote a great book with a theme that is very popular with young adults currently.

Reviews:

  • Wiersema, R. (Ed.). (2011, October). Book review: All good children. Retrieved
  •      May 11, 2013, from Quill & Quire website: http://The Canadian Library
  •      Association’s 2012 Young Adult Book Award Winner.

Awards:

  • Canadian Library Association Young Adult Canadian Book Award, 2012.
  • The 2012 Sunburst Award (for Excellence in Canadian Literature of the Fantastic) Young Adult Winner.
  • A YALSA Teens’ Top Ten nominee and a YALSA 2013 Best Fiction for Young Adults nominee.
  • A Forest of Reading 2013 White Pine Nominee.

References:

About the author. (2013). Retrieved 15 March 15, 2013 from http://www.catherineausten.com/contact_author.html

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Department 19 by Will Hill

department 19Bibliographic Information:

Hill, W. (2011). Department 19. London: Harper Collins Children’s. (978-0007424900)

Department 19, bk. 1

The Rising: bk. 2

Battlelines: bk. 3

Plot Summary:

Two years ago Jamie saw his father kill himself. Now, his mother has been kidnapped and he has been rescued by a giant named Frankenstein. So, Jamie finds himself with Department 19, a secret organization that is responsible to hunting the supernatural. Founded over a hundred years prior by Abraham Van Helsing, it turns out that the Carpenter family has been part of the Department since its inception. In fact, Jamie’s father was a member.

Now, Jamie has to train and hunt a vampire to rescue his mother. Unfortunately, the vampire is always just a step ahead of him.

Critical Evaluation:

In recent years the story of Dracula and vampires in general have soften and have been romantized. Department 19 does have good vampires but the focus of the novel is hunting the original evil, interestingly, by man-made monster out of the literary past, Frankenstein.

The plot operates on two levels. First, there is the central plot of Jamie wanting to rescue his mother and chasing down clues. Then, there is the subplot that is told in intermittent chapters of the original hunt 100 years ago which explains how Department 19 originated. These two plots come together and create a cohesive whole by the end of the book.

This book starts quickly and continues the same way. Hill is quoted as saying that Department 19 is “a hundred-mile-an-hour supernatural thriller, full of old-school vampires who would rather tear your throat out than kiss your face off, and who can’t go in the sun because they will burst into flames. There’s no sparkling here – just an action-packed race against time” (qtd in http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.ca/search?q=department+19 ). Along the way, there are fights, death, and, of course, blood.


Reader’s Annotation:

What if Dracula was real? Then it is a good thing that Department 19 is on the job to hunt him down.

Information About the Author:

Will Hill grew up in the north-east of England. Will Hill was in publishing before he became a writer. He has also worked as a bartender and a bookseller.

In his site Hill says that he has always been fascinated with vampires.

For more information about the author, please visit his site.
For more information on the series, please visit the Department 19 website

Genre:

  • Science fiction
  • Horror fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • N/A

Booktalking Ideas:

  • Read the first couple of pages of the book where Will’s father kills himself.
  • Watch the video created by HarperCollins Children’s Books (http://youtu.be/-JvWlKT9src):


Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 14 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • Violence

Challenge plan:

  1. Listen to the critic to understand what the concerns are.
    • Ask if he/she has read the book
    • Ask if he/she has spoken to his/her child       about the concerns.
  2. Explain rationale for including the book in the collection
    • Provide CLA Position Statement on Intellectual Freedom and CLA’s Position Statement of Diversity and       Inclusion documents
    • Provide school’s selection policy
    • Provide list of reviews/lists
  3. If necessary, provide a “Request for Reconsideration form”

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

I purchased the first book in the series two years ago and read it right away because I knew that my son would want to read it since he is a big Higson fan. I bought a copy for the library as soon I finished and it flew off my shelves. So, I purchased the second book, The Rising, as soon it came out. This year, I had students reminding me when the third book was being released so I would get it that day. I have not seen it in the library since so I have not had a chance to read it yet.

Reviews:

  • Doyle, A. C. (2011). Department Nineteen. School Library Journal, 57(6), 119-120.

“There is plenty of action and gore to hook even reluctant readers despite the 500-plus pages. The author skillfully blends history, classical fiction, and teen fantasy into a unique novel.”

  • Department 19. (2011). Kirkus Reviews, 79(6), 500.

“Readers will identify the inevitable double-crosser long before Jamie does, but they probably won’t mind. They’ll be so happy these vampires don’t sparkle they’ll forgive the novel’s excesses and keep flipping the pages to the next splatter-fest–and then they’ll demand the sequel.”

  • Hutley, K. (2011). Department 19. Booklist, 107(18), 55.

“This surprising, scary genre mash-up will have enormous series appeal.”

References:

Coming up in 2011 #7: Department 19 by Will Hill. (2011). Retrieved 10 May 2013 from http://bookzone4boys.blogspot.ca/search?q=department+19

Will Hill. (2013). Retrieved 10 May 2013 from http://www.foyles.co.uk/Will-Hill

Brain Jack by Brian Falkner

brain jackBibliographic Information:

Falkner, B. (2011). Brain Jack. New York: Ember. (978-0375843662)

Plot Summary:

In a technology-driven future where immersive online gaming has become a serious addiction, Sam is a techno-nerd whose idea of fun is hacking into impenetrable computer systems. When his latest hack lands him in Reckton Hall Juvenile Detention Center, he doesn’t realize that he has just become part of a bigger game. If he can hack his way out of Reckton, the rules of the game will change and he will be one of the players.

Critical Evaluation:

Brain Jack is an excellent addition to the very strong list of technology-driven books written for teens lately. The plot is focused, the characters are well-developed, and the setting is tomorrow. Falkner has taken the real concepts of gaming addiction, brain-computer interfaces, and computer security and weaved them a great tale.

Reader’s Annotation:

Everyone wants a neuro-headset because they allow the user to control his computer with his mind. But if your mind is connected to the Internet can it be hacked? Sam is about to find out.

Information About the Author:

Brian Falkner always wanted to be an author. According to his website he dropped out of university to write. He has worked as a reporter, an advertising copywriter, and an Internet developer (The life of Brian).

He has published several books for children and teens including The Super Freak and The Tomorrow Code.

Brian was born in Auckland, Australia in 1962.

For more information please visit Brian Falkner’s site: http://www.brianfalkner.co.nz/index.asp

Genre:

  • Science fiction
  • Adventure fiction
  • Computer hackers
  • Terrorism

Curriculum Ties:

  • Computers

Booktalking Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up
  • Reading level: 6.3

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this resource in the titles you selected?:

I read this book for the first time a couple of years ago. I was reminder of it lately after reading Little Brother.

Awards:

  • Storylines Notable Books List 2010 Young Adult Fiction list.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2010 Young Adult Finalist.
  • New Zealand Post Children’s Book Awards 2010 Young Adult Children’s Choice category winner.
  • 2011 YASLA Popular Paperbacks for Young Adults list

Reviews:

  • Anderson, K. (2010). Brain Jack. School Library Journal, 56(12), 112.

“the nicely paced plot and well-crafted story arc make this a title worth recommending, particularly to boys who like technology or science fiction.”

  • BRAIN JACK. (2010). Kirkus Reviews, 78(15), 726.

“But most will blast through to the epilogue, simultaneously satisfying and deeply unsettling, and eye their keyboards with more respect and a little nervousness. Geektastic.”

  • Chipman, I. (2010). Brain Jack. Booklist, 107(3), 82.

“Think of this as the high-octane, adrenalized sibling of Cory Doctorow’s more lesson-laden Little Brother”

References:

Falkner, Brian. (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2013 from http://www.bookcouncil.org.nz/Writers/Profiles/Falkner,%20Brian

The life of Brian. (n.d.). Retrieved May 9, 2013, from
http://www.brianfalkner.co.nz/About.asp

The Nobody by Jeff Lemire

nobodyBibliographic Information:

Lemire, J., & Wells, H. G. (2009). The nobody. New York: Vertigo. (978-1-4012-2081-5)

Plot Summary:

John Griffen comes to Large Mouth looking for a place to hide while he tries to reverse the side effects of an experiment that led to the death of his wife. His attempts to disappear from his old life and blend into his new are complicated by a teenage girl who is also feeling lost and the suspicious townspeople who have decided that he must be hiding something more sinister than some scars.

Critical Evaluation:

Lemire has successfully blended the graphic elements with the sparse text to create a moody and tragic tale. Loosely based on the H.G. Well’s classic of the same name, Lermire has taken the elements of the original and has woven in a theme of losing one’s identity; how does a person become invisible?

The bleak theme is represented in the black and white panels. Blue and white are used with the scenes depicting Griffen’s flashbacks with softer lines and shading to give these scenes a dream-like quality. Otherwise, the use of blue makes the images colder and more distant.
Reader’s Annotation:

When a mysterious man moves into the small town of Large Mouth, Vickie’s life changed forever when she decides to learn his secrets.

jeff%20lemireInformation About the Author:

Jeff Lemire is a Canadian cartoonist who has won a number of awards. In 2008 he won the Schuster Award for Best Canadian Cartoonist and The Dough Wright Award for Best Emerging Talent. He also won ALA’s Alex Award in 2008 for Essex’s County and has been nominated for an Eisner Award. In 2010 Essex County was named as one of the five Essential Canadian Novels on the Decade.

Lemire is the creator of the monthly comic book series, Sweet Tooth (see the official Sweet Tooth blog).

Jeff Lemire was born in Woodslee Ontario on March 21, 1976. Although he took art classes in high school, he really is a self-taught graphic artist.

http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/jeff-lemire

Genre:

  • Graphic novels
  • Science fiction

Curriculum Ties:

  • English
    • Themes of prejudice or self-awareness
    • Adaptations H.G. Wells or accumulative nature of literature
    • Visual impact in graphic novels

Booktalk Ideas:

Reading Level/Interest Age:

  • Ages 12 and up

Challenge Issues:

  • N/A

Why did you include this book?:

Reviews:

  • The Nobody. (2009). Kirkus Reviews, 77(10), 28.
  • Abbott, A. (2009). The Nobody. School Library Journal, 55(11), 139.
  • Olson, R. (2009). The Nobody. Booklist, 105(17), 71.

References:

Jeff Lemire. (n.d.). Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B001JP1PJ0

Jeff Lemire. (2013) Retrieved from http://www.bookreporter.com/authors/jeff-lemire

Jeff Lemire’s blog (2013). Retrieved from http://jefflemire.blogspot.ca/

Moran, R. J. (2012). Jeff Lemire. In Canadian Encyclopedia. Retrieved from

http://www.thecanadianencyclopedia.com/articles/jeff-lemire