Author: Neil Schusterman
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers (November 22, 2016)
Age Range: 12 and up
In the future, we know everything. All knowledge is stored in the Thunderhead- all anyone has to do is ask. Death is nonexistent. The world no longer experiences war. To control population growth, some people are ordained as Scythes, who are charged with randomly selecting people for death. Citra and Rowan have been chosen to compete against each other to become the next junior Scythe. As they progress through the program, they quickly realize that all is not as it seems within the Scythdom. The two must decide what they believe in, and make a stand against corruption in a society where corruption supposedly doesn’t exist.
Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It is a refreshing change of pace from the typical dystopian novels available to youth today. There are so many discussion topics hidden within these pages. This novel with cause readers to THINK- which is not something that all stories can boast these days. Furthermore, the characters are extremely likable, the plot- thrilling and action packed. Events in the story were not easy to predict, making Scythe an enjoyable read even for adults. Likewise, the main plot was not overwhelmed by teen romance, which is rather refreshing. Yes, it is there, but it never becomes the main plot to the story. I could not put this book down. The teacher side of me kept thinking about what a fantastic middle grade read aloud this book would make. Young readers will not be able to get enough of this entrancing future world, and teachers will have a blast inciting moral discussion and debate in their students. I highly recommend this read.
Gr 8 Up—In a world in which humanity has conquered death (no aging, no disease, no poverty, no war), ruled by the Thunderhead, an omniscient evolution of today’s cloud, Scythes are the only ones who are allowed to take a human life. They are considered to be the best humanity has to offer, and they roam the world “gleaning” people in order to keep the population in check. Scythes are treated like royalty and feared. The last thing Citra Terranova and Rowan Damisch want is to become Scythes, but when they are chosen by Scythe Faraday to become his apprentices, they are thrown into a life in which they need to master the art of death. They prove to be apt pupils, but when Scythe Faraday mysteriously gleans himself and Citra and Rowan are apprenticed to two other fearsome Scythes, they will have to put their skills to the test against each other. Intertwined with the fascinating concept of humanity conquering death and the idea of Scythes is the prospect that perhaps this is not the ideal world in which to live. Humanity has perfected itself—so what does that leave it to accomplish? Shusterman starts off this series in dramatic fashion as he creates an engrossing world that pulls readers in and refuses to let them go. VERDICT A truly astounding, unputdownable read and a fast-paced beginning to an excellent sci-fi series. A must-have.—Tyler Hixson, School Library Journal
“Elegant and elegiac, brooding but imbued with gallows humor, Shusterman’s dark tale thrusts realistic, likeable teens into a surreal situation and raises deep philosophic questions. A thoughtful and thrilling story of life, death, and meaning.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Title: The Hate U Give
Author: Angie Thomas
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Age Range: 15 and up
Staar Carter’s life changes forever when her best friend is murdered in front of her when she is ten. Fast forward a few years, and Staar tragically witnesses the murder of her friend Kahlil by a police officer during a routine traffic stop. The media quickly gets wind of the fact that Kahlil was unarmed, and the case gains national attention. Staar struggles with her desire to hide from the spotlight, and the need to speak out for justice. Ultimately, she must decide which is more important- her life returning to normal, or fighting for equality in an age of social injustice.
I could not put this novel down. I even bought the audio book to supplement my print copy so that I could listen in the car. Staar Carter is a character that all teenagers can relate to, regardless of race. Her story compels the reader to stop and think about the world today, and the overflowing evidence of the social injustices surrounding minorities, especially African Americans, in the United States today. The plot is beyond engaging. and heartbreakingly real. Every reader (15 and up) should give this one a read. It will jump start your brain, and make you dream of a better future. Note: There is some content that may not be appropriate for all readers. Though it is all handled tastefully, there is a considerable amount of violence and gang/drug references throughout this novel. Consider reading it with your child, as there are many excellent discussion points along the way.
“Angie Thomas has written a stunning, brilliant, gut-wrenching novel that will be remembered as a classic of our time.” (John Green, bestselling author of The Fault in Our Stars)
“Though Thomas’s story is heartbreakingly topical, its greatest strength is in its authentic depiction of a teenage girl, her loving family, and her attempts to reconcile what she knows to be true about their lives with the way those lives are depicted—and completely undervalued—by society at large.” (Publishers Weekly (starred review))
“Pair this powerful debut with Jason Reynolds and Brendan Kiely’s ALL AMERICAN BOYS to start a conversation on racism, police brutality, and the Black Lives Matter movement.” (School Library Journal (starred review))