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Archive for the ‘Horror/Thriller’ Category

Hunger_gamesThe Hunger Games
By Suzanne Collins
ISBN: 9780439023528
Publisher: Scholastic Press
Date of Publication: 2008

Reader’s Annotation:
When Prim Everdeen is chosen to participate in the 74th Hunger Games, her older sister Katniss volunteers and takes her place.

Plot Summary:
Katniss Everdeen and her family live in District 12, one of the districts that make up Panem. The country is ruled by the great city of the Capitol. Because of an upraising over seventy-five years ago, the Capitol now demands that a boy and a girl from the twelve districts are to be selected for the Hunger Games, a battle in which contestants from ages twelve to eighteen fight to be the lone survivor on live television. The games were created so that all citizens would know that their lives were controlled by the Capitol and that no age is safe from punishment. When Prim, Katniss’s younger sister is selected, Katniss takes her place instead.

The boy selected from District 12 is Peeta Mellark, a baker’s son who once helped Katniss when her family was starving. As Katniss and Peeta arrive at the Capitol, they face fierce competition from the other districts, especially from District 1 and 2 who train their children to prepare for the games. Katniss is against incredible odds but Katniss was raised to survive, finding food for her family by becoming accomplished with a bow and arrow. When the games begin, Katniss uses all of her knowledge to live and must do everything in her power to see the dawn of the next day.

Critical Evaluation:
Suzanne Collins’s book on a destructive dystopian world was a compelling read. Katniss’s hatred for the Capitol and the situation that her family has been placed in, creates a different female protagonist that doesn’t rely on a romantic scenario. The elements are there for such a storyline but that’s mostly in the background. Humanity continues to be stripped away from Katniss before she even enters the game. It’s compounded by her participation. It’s not an easy concept for anyone to explore but Collins does it nicely, allowing the reader to be eased into the harsh situations.

Survival is the game, but what happens in the end? Is that struggle to survive at any cost worth what you lose; peace of mind? Collins’s examination of power and corruption lead to bigger questions of the state of our own government. What situation would we be in if our nation was threatened? What would we do just to survive in a no-win situation. There are never easy answers to these thoughts, though Collins does attempt to provide pieces for further examination.

This is the first book in a trilogy.

Information about the Author:
Suzanne Collins was born in Hartford Connecticut and is a graduate from Indiana University. Collins double majored in Drama and Telecommunication. Her writing career began with her work on children’s programming. She turned to prose and published the children’s series Underland Chronicles, starting in 2003.

Collins continues to write for television, branching into film starting with the film adaptions of The Hunger Games series. She lives with her husband and family in Connecticut.

Suzanne Collins on IMDB

Genre:
Science Fiction, Dystopia

Curriculum Ties:
Alternative History, Survival Situations

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you do for your family if it meant life or death?
What is dystopian fiction?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews lists this book for ages 11-18. Considering the nature of the material, I would recommend a higher age range of 14-18. It also depends on the maturity level of the reader.

Challenging Issues:


Suzanne Collins is listed as one of the most frequently challenged authors of the 21st Century.
The book has been challenged and banned due to its use of violence.

The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
This has been one of my favorite books since I first read it a few years ago. I thought of using a different dystopian young adult novel, but I haven’t been impressed with some of the recent genre publications. The Hunger Games holds up after repeated readings and remains engaging, especially in light of the recent film adaptation.

Reference:
IMDB. (n.d.). Suzanne Collins. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm1056741/

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). The Hunger Games. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/suzanne-collins/the-hunger-games/

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Beastly
By Alex Flinn
ISBN: 9780061998669
Publisher: HarperTeen, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
Date of Publication: 2009
Reader’s Annotation:
Kyle Kingsbury has two years to break the curse that has made him into a beast. The cure? To fall in love and to be loved in return.

Plot Summary:
Kyle Kingsbury has it all. He’s handsome, smart, rich, and is the most popular boy at Tuttle Private School. His father is a famous news anchor and provides Kyle with anything he needs. One day, Kyle notices a strange girl in his English class. She’s dressed in strange, dark gothic clothing and is vocal in her dislike of Kyle’s selfish behavior. On a whim, Kyle asks this girl, Kendra, to the school’s dance, plotting a way to humiliate Kendra in front of the entire school. Kendra says yes, though she remains wary of Kyle’s intentions.

As planned, Kyle ditches Kendra at the dance, mocking her in front of the attendees. Kendra’s reaction frightens Kyle in that she offers no revenge but a warning. When Kyle arrives back home after the dance, he discovers Kendra is waiting for him. She is actually a witch and curses Kyle to become a disgusting beast; a creature who matches Kyle’s ugly soul. Kyle now has two years to find love and to be loved in return, for that is his only cure for the curse. As time slowly melts away, Kyle finds himself learning what it really means to give your heart to someone, that love is how we protect and care for another, and love is not merely a feeling but an action that changes us forever.

Critical Evaluation:
Alex Flinn’s modern take on the Beauty and the Beast story is a delight. It is a quick read and slightly predictable, but still entertaining. Flinn presents Kyle as a genuinely selfish boy, but we can’t help but sympathize with his character in light of his father’s neglect. It is clear that Kyle’s behavior and opinions stem from his father’s influence. There are glimpses of hope for his behavior, but when Kyle is changed into the beast, the reader can’t help but be glad for this inevitable transformation.

The character of Beauty, Lindy, is portrayed as a strong-willed young woman who has been forced to survive on her own. While fairytale mentality often showcase young women longing for a knight in shinning armor to rescue them, Lindy is neither weak or stupid. Her intelligence is celebrated in the book and is a trait that Kyle uses in order to woo her heart.

The ending of the book, which I will not spoil, is very much on par of the original fairy tale. Lessons are learned and everyone involved become better people. But it’s an important lesson in that in shows that people CAN change and that our preconceived notions of our friends or strangers can be altered with time. While the book is not one based on the premise of bullying, it does highlight how being different should be celebrated. And that it is our differences that make us great and beautiful.

Information about the author:
From Alex (Alexandra) Flinn’s Webpage, Flinn was raised in Miami, Florida, where she lives today. After witnessing the after effects of dating violence during an internship with the State Attorney’s Office, Flinn was inspired to write her first book, Breathing Underwater. From the success of her first book, Flinn continued to write realistic fiction and has found continued success in her fairy tale adaptations.

Alex Flinn’s Webpage is a great resource for reading guide for teens and educators.

Alex Flinn on Facebook

Genre:
Fantasy, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Fairy Tales, Self-Image and Self-Worth

Booktalking Ideas:
How important is a first impression?
Who are we when no one is looking?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews provides an age range of 19-20. Flinn’s prose is geared towards a younger age range and would be ideal for ages 14 and Up.

Challenging Issues:


There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be drug abuse.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
When I was looking over my selections for this assignment, I realized that I was lacking the fantasy genre. I found this at my local library branch and decided to take a chance as the story of Beauty and the Beast is one of my favorite fairy tales. Retelling of fairy tales seems to be a trend in popular culture and this version of Beauty and the Beast was nice addition to the myth of that tale.

Reference:
Flinn, A. (n.d.). About Alex. Retrieved from http://www.alexflinn.com/html/bio.html

Kirkus Review. (2010). Beastly by Alex Flinn. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/alex-flinn/beastly/

Bonus Features!

Lindy’s Story

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Life as We Knew It
By Susan Beth Pfeffer
ISBN: 9781595141712
Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
Date of Publication: 2006

Reader’s Annotation:
After an asteroid destroys a portion of the moon, humanity must struggle to survive against the Earth’s changing catastrophic conditions.

Plot Summary:
Miranda Evans has a simple, normal life. She still has the complexities of having divorced parents, a new sibling on the way, and regularly scheduled homework. But maybe compared to some kids, Miranda’s life is a happy one.

One night an asteroid hits the moon, knocking it out of its orbit, leaving the moon only two-thirds whole. In that moment, the Eastern Seaboard has been flooded and there are worldwide reports of massive tsunamis destroying ocean communities, even countries. Slowly, Miranda’s life begins to change for the worse. There’s gas rationing, electricity is scarce, and food has become the most valuable commodity in the world.

As the days go by, the situation doesn’t seem to be getting better. Friends leave or die and family members are lost or missing. It’s now every man for themselves. For Miranda and her family, it’s a fight to survive another day.

Critical Evaluation:
Susan Beth Pfeffer  initially drew inspiration for the story from a B-movie called Meteor, which starred Sean Connery and Natalie Wood. After watching the film, and dismissing it’s horrible premise, Pfeffer began to question what would happen if a teen was faced with an apocalyptic scenario. The resulting answer was Life as We Know It.

The book is a dark piece of fiction as with each day that is presented in Miranda’s diary any lingering hope of survival continues to diminish. Pfeffer is honest in the grim portrayal and presents a realistic idea of what the damage to the moon could cost the inhabitants of the Earth.

The characters of the story are portrayed as realistic in that there is a desire for the past to return as life would be easier. But handling a catastrophic transition isn’t easy for anyone and such changes don’t happen over night. Miranda’s mother is portrayed as practical, looking at the means of helping her children survive instead of just her own well-being. The young adult reactions are a mixture of selfish desire and with scared realization. Again, there is honesty in the characterizations which makes the novel hard to read at times since you know everything will not be rosy.

It is not a happy tale and those looking for a joyful ending would be better served looking else where for their entertainment. Pfeffer succeeds in this endeavor in that she writes well, which is reflected in Miranda’s observations.

Information about the author:
From Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Blog, Pfeffer is the writer of over 70 books. Her focus has been towards Young Adult and Children’s fiction starting with the publication of her book Rainbows and Fireworks in 1973. Pfeffer lives in New York with her cat and continues to write fiction, with titles outside of The Last Survivors series.

Susan Beth Pfeffer on Twitter

Genre:
Fantasy/Science Fiction, Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties:
Astronomy, Survival Skills

Booktalking Ideas:
What would you first do if the world was about to end?
What supplies would you need if you hope to survive a catastrophe?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 19-20. The book features a sixteen protagonist was written for a young adult audience. I would suggest an age range of 16 and up.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be nightmares caused by anxiety of the characters’ conditions.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
When I first picked up this book, I couldn’t finish it. The story became too depressing and it felt too tangible. When I picked up the book a few months later, I found that the story was still engaging but I could handle the apocalyptic storyline better. There are a great number of dystopian books for Young Adults on the market today. Susan Beth Pfeffer’s tale of Earthly doom gives a realistic perspective of what would happen in this type of disaster. And for that reason alone, I think it’s a great book to give to teens. It’s a great alternative to mainstream dystopia.

Reference:
Amazon. (n.d.). Books by Susan Beth Pfeffer. Retrieved from http://www.amazon.com/Susan-Beth-Pfeffer/e/B001H6QEWY/ref=la_B001H6QEWY_pg_6?rh=n%3A283155%2Cp_82%3AB001H6QEWY&page=6&ie=UTF8&qid=1354854426
Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Life as we knew it. Retrieved from Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/susan-beth-pfeffer/life-as-we-knew-it/

Pfeffer, S.B. (2010). The big idea: Susan Beth Pfeffer. Whatever.Scalzi.Com. Retrieved from http://whatever.scalzi.com/2010/04/06/the-big-idea-susan-beth-pfeffer/

Bonus Features!

Mini Review!

The Last Survivors Series

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World War Z
By Max Brooks
ISBN: 9780307346609
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Date of Publication: 2006

Reader’s Annotation:
Drawing from interviews from survivors of the Zombie War, Max Brooks presents a comprehensive history of how the war changed human civilization forever.

Plot Summary:
It has been over ten years since the outbreak. It has been over ten years since the beginning of the Zombie War or World War Z. Within this time period, the world has changed dramatically. Nations that were once ignored have become great world powers. The great powers of the past now struggle to maintain their survival.

Drawing from interviews from surveyors across the globe, Max Brooks has created two records for future generations. The first being the official United Nations Post-War Commission Report. The second being this book of memoirs that presents the human side of this devastating conflict. Despite the cold-facts of the first report, Brooks hopes that this human history will shed light onto the zombie conflict so that future generations can prevent another outbreak.

Critical Evaluation:
Max Brooks has been successful in creating a world filled with terror and horror. Brooks was inspired by the journalistic endeavors of author Studs Terkel, who used oral accounts to create a history instead of just mere prose. The interview storytelling method is an effective means for creating this world in that the personal stories of these “survivors” feel realistic. The reader is instantly connected to the story because the interviews feel honest and real.

Brooks also uses the inspiration of George Romero’s zombie horror films. Dawn of the Dead and Romero’s non-zombie film, The Crazies, can be seen through how the plague is spread and the human reaction to the disease.  Brooks’s choice for a Romero inspiration is important in that Romero’s zombie films have always presented a humanistic view to the horror, highlighting the problem of mass consumption and commercialism. Romero’s films have become parables of human society, showcasing that terror usually starts with our own greediness and follies.

Young Adult readers will enjoy the zombie element of the book, while mature Young Adult readers will be engaged at the challenging pieces of world political dynamics.

Information about the author:
Max Brooks is the son of legendary director Mel Brooks. A former writer for Saturday Night Live, Brooks’s prose writing career has focused primarily on his love of the zombie horror sub-genre. Brooks is also a voiceover actor and has appeared in various live television programs.

Genre:
Horror/Thriller

Curriculum Ties:
History, Journalism, Alternative History

Booktalking Ideas:
How does history affect our perception of our present?
What would you do to survive the end of the world?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
World War Z is a crossover title. It’s themes of violence would warrant an older teen audience, starting at 16 and Up.

Challenging Issues:

There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would include violent situations.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
The Zombie sub-genre is currently a popular trend in television (The Walking Dead) and in literature (Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Warm Bodies). Brooks’s novel is set to be adapted into a film next year. World War Z is different from other zombie books in that its merging of journalistic storytelling techniques with fiction provides a genuinely engrossing read. It’s a great book to entice reluctant readers as the book is primarily interviews instead of just prose.

Reference:
IMDB. (n.d.). Max Brooks. Retrieved from http://www.imdb.com/name/nm0112150/

Bonus Features!

Survival Handbook!

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Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children
By Ransom Riggs
ISBN: 9781594744761
Publisher: Quirk Books
Date of Publication: 2011

Reader’s Annotation:
After witnessing the gruesome death of his grandfather, Jacob Portman travels to Wales to learn the truth about his grandfather and to discover the meaning of his grandfather’s collection of strange photographs.

Plot Summary:
Jacob has grown up on his grandfather’s bedtime stories. For years, Grandpa Abraham Portman spun tales about his childhood, with tales of adventure and excitement. Jacob’s favorite stories describe a children’s home in Wales, where children are protected from monsters by a bird, a peregrine. Grandpa Portman even has old photographs of the children who seem to defy gravity and logic with their accomplishments. Yet, as Jacob grows old, the stories begin to seem silly and Jacob begins to ignore them as mere childish fairytales.

When Jacob is fifteen, he is witness to a horrific accident that claims the life of his grandfather. In the aftermath of the tragedy, Jacob finds himself returning to those stories. As Jacob delves further into his grandfather’s past, he begins to realize that maybe his grandfather’s stories were more truth than fiction. Jacob begins to look towards the west for answers. What he discovers is more important than he could have ever imagined. And that what we see is sometimes more than what we can ever understand.


Critical Evaluation:
Ransom Riggs’s first novel reads like a beautiful dream, despite its nightmarish, horrific elements. Using photographs from ten different independent collections, Riggs is able to provide a tangible past to the Welsh children’s home in Grandpa Portman’s stories. While the photographs are an added bonus, they would mean nothing if Riggs’s writing style was unable to match the photograph’s beauty. Luckily, the reader is given a well-written story that readers of all age can enjoy.

In regards to the horrific elements of the story, Riggs succeeds in presenting a scary story for young adult readers. Riggs’s descriptions of the children actually add more to the photographic elements, balancing the story with a lovely visual prose.

Overall, the story was coherent and delightful. This book is highly recommended for those readers yearning for an old-fashioned horror story.

Information about the Author:
From Ransom Riggs’s Webpage, Riggs first studied English at Kenyon Collge, followed by film studies at the University of Southern California. Riggs currently lives in Los Angeles where he combines his passion of writing and visual arts. He is a blogger for MentalFloss.Com.

Ransom Riggs on Twitter

Ransom Riggs on Facebook

Genre:
Fantasy, Horror/Thriller, Historical Fiction

Curriculum Ties:
Magic, Alternative History, Photography

Booktalking Ideas:
What do you see when you take a picture?
How are we different from our parents? From our grandparents? Did you see any similarities?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
School Library Journal suggests a reading grade of 6 to 12. I would recommend this title as an Ages 14 and Up.

Challenging Issues:

There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential Issues would be its horrific elements and violence.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
My husband had picked this book up from the library and suggested I read it. He was willing to pay for late fees just so I would have time to finish it during our vacation. Riggs’s use of photograph, mixed with an engrossing story, provided for an entertaining read. It’s one of the first books I recommend now for readers looking for something different than the mainstream paranormal books that are currently popular amongst teens.

Reference:
Grajek, S. (2011). What horror is this?!. School Library  Journal. Retrieved from http://www.schoollibraryjournal.com/slj/newsletters/newsletterbucketsljteen/892814-444/what_horror_is_this.html.csp

Riggs, R. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from http://www.ransomriggs.com/bio/

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Anya’s Ghost
By Vera Brosgol
ISBN: 9781596435520
Publisher: First Second Books
Date of Publication: 2011
Reader’s Annotation:
When Anya meets a real ghost at the bottom of an old well, her already confusing life begins to morph into something uncertain and potentially dangerous.

Plot Summary:
Anya isn’t having the best day. Her mother doesn’t understand why Anya doesn’t want to eat all the time. She has a crush on a boy that doesn’t know she even exists. Her only friend is mad that Anya doesn’t want to share her cigarettes. And if her day wasn’t complicated enough, Anya has accidentally fallen down into an abandoned well with no chance of an immediate rescue.

But this accident proves to be interesting as at the bottom of the well lives a lonely ghost who now wants to be Anya’s friend. Eventually, Anya is rescued but she discovers that the ghost, Emily, has followed Anya out of the well. Now Anya and Emily have formed an unlikely alliance, with Emily helping Anya in her class work and gaining the attention of Anya’s crush. But Anya soon discovers that a friendship with a ghost is a different experience, especially when Anya begins to investigate how Emily became a ghost in the first place.

Critical Evaluation:
Author and artist Vera Brosgol was once herself a Russian immigrant. Using her own experiences with cultural emergence and immigrant parental confusion, Brosgol succeeds in creating a believable character in Anya. Brosgol’s art is delightful in that it is accessible to both teen and adult readers. The colors are not primarily black and white but a mixture of both with a lighter dark purple contrast. The results provides a suitable background for the horror elements of the story.

In regards to the writing, Brosgol uses a simple ghost story to highlight the trials and tribulations of the teen experience, quite similar to the analogy of terror that Writer/Director Joss Whedon used in his Buffy the Vampire Slayer television series. The high school experience is horrific in that the boundaries of childhood and adulthood are riffed with confusion and heartache. Anya wants to fit in but she knows she never will. She’s an immigrant, an outsider to a different world. This is served to highlight that it’s okay to be different and that sometimes these differences can change everything.

Brosgol succeeds in creating a relatable story while still using horror elements to enhance the story. The art is wonderful and would be a great book for anyone looking to explore the graphic novel medium.

Information about the author:
Born in Moscow, Russia, Vera Brosgol currently lives in Portland, Oregon. A graduate from Sheridan College, Brosgol’s focus was in animation, a skill she has used in her illustration work for various comic book anthologies. Brosgol began honing her animation talent early in her life.

“As for comics, I started drawing comics for fun when I was in high school. I’d actually been drawing them even earlier as a little kid, but I didn’t know to put the drawings into boxes so they were just sequential drawings floating on a page.  I guess that’s how my brain works” (Brosgol, 2011)

Anya’s Ghost is her first graphic novel. Brosgol has also worked on the recent animated film, Paranorman.

Vera Brosgol on Twitter
Vera Brosgol on Flickr

Genre:
Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Family Relationships, Ghost Stories, Second Generation Immigrants

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever had an imaginary friend?
Have you ever felt self-conscious about your family?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests a reading age of 12-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Potential issues would include violence and horror elements.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I had read this book for a course on Graphic Novels and Comic Books. I found the art to be enjoyable and the story engrossing. As the protagonist deals with ghosts and alienation, I thought this would be a great choice for those looking for an alternative to the mainstream paranormal titles.

Reference page:
Brosgol, V. (2011). Frequently Asked Questions. Verabee.com. Retrieved from verabee.com/2011/12/frequently-asked-questions/

Kirkus Reviews. (2011). Anya’s Ghost. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/vera-brosgol/anyas-ghost/

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Bad Girls Don’t Die
By Katie Alender
ISBN: 978-1423108771
Publisher: Hyperion
Date of Publication: 2010

Reader’s Annotation:
Alexis Warren discovers that her sister might be working with something supernatural, something that wants revenge.

Plot Summary:
Alexis Warren isn’t known for fitting in at her high school. Alexis would rather be behind her camera than be part of school activities, such as decorating the gym for the Homecoming Banquet. But Alexis is used to being the outcast. When her best friend, Beth, was publicly humiliated, thanks to some mean-spirited cheerleaders, Alexis struck back with the intention of protecting Beth and her reputation. Beth eventually moved away, leaving Alexis to fend for herself.

Nowadays, Alexis reluctantly spends more time with her younger sister, Kasey. Lately, Kasey has been acting strange. First there’s the “accident” where Kasey’s friend breaks her arm. Then there’s the voices that seem to linger in the middle of the night and the strange lights in the attic. Alexis wakes up in the middle of the night to find her arms are scattered with little cuts.

Alexis fears that something is controlling Kasey. It’s up to Alexis to find the truth and save her family from the danger inside the house.

Critical Evaluation:
While it’s obvious from the book’s title this novel is about something undead, the mystery behind the supernatural encounter is still gripping and terrifying. Alender succeeds in creating characters that showcase both positive and negative qualities. Alexis is not perfect and is willing to admit she’s made mistakes in the past. The supporting cast of characters that help Alexis in this mystery are well-written additions to the story and don’t detract from Alexis’s search for answers.

There are some cliches scattered through the book that will induce some eye rolls, especially from hardcore horror fans. An example of this would be with Alexis and Kasey’s parents, who never seem to listen or be around when they are needed.

Alender has created a very scary book, despite those little cliches. As the bigger mystery begins to emerge, Alender succeeds in building great tension towards the climax of the book. Readers will find the story moves fast and is well paced. A great suggestion for those looking for stories outside of the paranormal romance genre.

Information about the author:
From Katie Alender’s Webpage, Alender is a graduate of Florida State Univeristy Film School. She currently lives with her husband in Los Angeles. Alender has worked in televisions, specifically with the Animal Planet channel. She is now a full-time writer.

Katie Alender on Twitter

Katie Alender on Facebook

Genre:
Horror/Thriller, Mystery/Crime

Curriculum Ties:
Ghost Stories

Booktalking Ideas:
Have you ever heard voices in your home that don’t sound familiar?
How can the past affect future generations?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
Kirkus Reviews suggests an age range of 13-18.

Challenging Issues:
There are no current challenges for this book. The American Library Association’s Guide to Library Materials Challenges is a great resource if the book is challenged in the future.

Why did I include this book in the title selections?
I was looking to expand my genre knowledge and picked this book up on a whim. Beyond paranormal romance books, I’ve noticed that there aren’t too many modern ghost stories. At least since I’ve been a teen myself. I enjoyed the story and thought this would be a fun recommendation.

Reference:
Alender, K. (n.d.). Bio. Retrieved from  http://katiealender.com/?page_id=378

Kirkus Reviews. (2010). Bad Girls Don’t Die. Retrieved from https://www.kirkusreviews.com/book-reviews/katie-alender/bad-girls-dont-die/

Bonus Features!

Mini Review!

Bad Girls Don’t Die Series

(more…)

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Teen Wolf
Developed by Jeff Davis
Produced by MGM Television and Music Television (MTV)
Original Release: 2011
Number of Seasons: 2

Annotation:
After teenager Scott McCall is bitten by a mysterious wolf creature, Scott discovers he had become a werewolf.

Summary:
Scott McCall exists on the fringes of his high school in Beacon Hills. Together with his sarcastic best fried. “Stiles” Stalinski, the pair hopes that this will be the year that they actually get to participate on the school’s lacrosse team instead of spending another season on the bench.

One night Scott and Stiles decide to quietly  follow Stiles’s father, the town sheriff, on an interesting case. A young woman is missing and the boys hope to find the girl first. As the boys roam in the forest, they are attacked by a mysterious wolf creature. Scott is bitten but survives the attack. The boys escape and make it home, scared but alive.

Overnight, Scott begins to feel changes in his body; his senses are heightened, his asthma has disappeared, and he now posses super-strength. In the midst of these changes, Scott meets Allison Argent, the new transfer student whose family has a unique history.As Scott and Stiles begin to discover the reasons behind Scott’s transformation, another figure enters their lives; the mysterious Derek Hale. Scott and Derek share a common trait. Both are actual werewolves and they are not alone.

Critical Evaluation:
From Teen Wolf’s Wikipedia page, loosely based on the 1985 Michael J. Fox comedy film of the same name, the show rarely resembles the original outside of the name and werewolf premise. Teen Wolf’s creator, Jeff Davis, was more inspired by the films The Lost Boys and Stand by Me, using the visual style and the story-lines as inspiration. Davis succeeds in that the show isn’t like any other current teen drama. The character feel like real teenagers and are rightly punished by parents who don’t exist in the sidelines, like many other teen shows often do. The parents are often part of the teens life and rarely are used when the plot calls for a humane lesson.

The horror aspect of the show is surprising in that it really is scary. The show avoids major horror film cliches by reminded the audience that while the main characters are teens, they are now idiots and they do have the common sense to run away from danger if needed. The best part of the program comes during Dylan O’Brien’s performance of Stiles Stilinski. Playing second fiddle to Tyler Posey’s Scott McCall, the character provides great comic relief but is never just the humorous character. Like many characters of the show, there is more depth that what is perceived and that makes for compelling drama.

Information about the Creator:
From Jeff Davis’s Wikipedia page, born in Milford, Connecticut and a graduate of Vassar College, Davis studied film and later received a master’s in screenwriting from the University of Southern California. Davis found success when he helped created the program Criminal Minds. His greatest success has been Teen Wolf. He serves as executive producer, head writer and show creator.

Genre:
Fantasy, Urban/Modern Fantasy, Horror/Thriller, Romance

Curriculum Ties:
Horror Stories, Modern Mythology

Booktalking Ideas:
Why would you refuse to have a power?
How do our surroundings change who we are?

Reading Level/Interest Age:
15 and up

Challenging Issues:
Potential Issues include sexual situations, violence, horrific situations, and child disobedience.

Why did I include this series in the title selection?
I started to watch the program as it kept popping up in discussions with my younger friends. I watched one episode to try it out. Five hours later, I had watched half of season one. The show’s true portrayal of teens is a great choice for teen audiences.

References:
Wikipedia. (n.d.). Jeff Davis (writer). Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jeff_Davis_%28writer%29

Wikipedia. (n.d.). Teen Wolf. Retrieved from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Teen_Wolf_(2011_TV_series)

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