Jump to content

Menu

Dystopian society or sci fi literature study for Middle School? Feel free to join the discussion...


Recommended Posts

Anyone have any resource suggestions?  DD and I want to do a mini lit study starting in January and she leans towards dystopian books, although science fiction in general might work o.k.  We both need a guide since I won't have much time to put into it.

 

NOTE:  Modified the header.  This thread has generated some interesting responses and discussions so I want to mention up front I am all for it.  If you want to join in, feel free.  :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may not be interested in an online course, but G3 is doing a Dystopian Literature class for teens. My ds has been taking it this fall and has absolutely loved it. They don't do formal literary analysis, but that's fine for us because it's just an elective. They seem to have great discussions and interesting writing projects. The teacher is great at finding extra resources on the web too (author videos, etc.). They are offering it again in the spring, so if you're interested, that's a different option.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You may not be interested in an online course, but G3 is doing a Dystopian Literature class for teens. My ds has been taking it this fall and has absolutely loved it. They don't do formal literary analysis, but that's fine for us because it's just an elective. They seem to have great discussions and interesting writing projects. The teacher is great at finding extra resources on the web too (author videos, etc.). They are offering it again in the spring, so if you're interested, that's a different option.

I had never heard of G3.  Really interesting!  Thanks!  :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Garlic Press (secular) and Progeny Press (Christian, but adaptable) have a lit guide for The Giver

 

Progeny also has lit guides for Fahrenheit 451, Hunger Games, Lord of the Flies

 

Other books/series that my dd has enjoyed that are good for middle grades include the Shadow Children series by Haddix and the City of Ember series by DuPrau.  I don't know of lit guides for those, but there may be things available online.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

The Girl Who Owned a City is the classic YA dystopia. The author wrote it to introduce Objectivism to kids, though in proof that you get out of it what you put into it, I came away from that book more convinced than ever that in case of epic disaster, the way to deal was to pull together like good little socialists. I don't know of any reading guide, per se, but there's bound to be one as it was really so influential.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate dystopia. DS liked The House of The Scorpion and The Lord of Opium, which I only found because of Guest Hollow's biology. I was so glad to have found them for him b/c I never would have read those on my own. 

 

 

ETA: Ds really liked the Preston books GH lists too. They're old, but w/ ebola in the news and in our country? Very timely! My favorite GH book suggestion was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. WARNING: Adult themes and language. Preview and/or use as a read-aloud. 

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Sparknotes has guides (free but they're not too bad) for:

1984

Hunger Games (all 3 I think)

Enders Games

Fahrenheit 451

Lord of the Flies

The Giver

 

Not sure where to get a guide but I would think Maze Runner would be another option. I liked the movie a lot but haven't read the book yet, it's on my list (still haven't gotten the newest Percy Jackson).

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some  books meant for kids, including the paperback copy of Divergent we got from library, have extensive discussion questions and so on at the back.   You could probably modify such questions to use for all the books you decided to use.  Better, IMO, would be to let your dc come up with their own questions based on the ideas they might get from the discussion questions included in the back material.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Okay, I had to run an errand, but I'm home now and wanted to give you a longer list of choices:

 

Dystopian works for middle school:

- City of Ember (du Prau) -- and sequels

- When the Tripods Came (Christopher) -- and sequels

 

Dystopian works for late middle school/high school

(*** = depending on your student's sensitivity, may want to do later rather than sooner)

- The Time Machine (Wells)

- Fahrenheit 451 (Bradbury)

- House of Stairs (Sleator)

- Ender's Game (Card)

- The Giver (Lowry) ***

- Feed (Anderson) ***

- The Hunger Games (Collins) ***

- The Maze Runner (Dashner) ***

- Divergent (Roth) ***

 

Dystopias that are more intense or psychological, so more frequently wait till high school level:

- 1984 (Orwell)

- Lord of the Flies (Golding)

- Brave New World (Huxley)

- Clockwork Orange (Burgess)

 

Personally, I think a lot of science fiction gets lumped into the dystopia category when it really belongs in some other sub-genre, such as apocalyptic or post-apocalyptic, or cyberpunk, etc. JMO, but a true dystopia not only has a setting of a dysfunctional / oppressive society, but also has a strong focus on the theme of "awakening" -- the main character(s) realizing the culture IS dysfunctional, and begins to try to either rebel or escape in some way -- and a large part of the work is on the character's choices, changes, evolution, etc. in light of this realization, and how that all plays out with the oppressive society.

 

Previous posters have given you some great ideas for guides, discussion questions, and even a course. Enjoy! Warmest regards, Lori D.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Just remembered one of my eldest daughter's favourites.

I'm holding it off from my youngest for another year or so. She would be fine with the first of the series now but would want to race through the lot and I'd prefer her older for the later ones.

It's an Australian one so you can study a bit of our country at the same time. Depiction of Aussie rural kids is accurate.

 

Tomorrow When the War Began by John Marsden.

Here's a study guide for the DVD.. http://www.filmeducation.org/tomorrowwhenthewarbegan/pdf/Tomorrow_WTWB_study_guide.pdf

 

Here is a study guide from the author (who started up his own fantastic bush school).. 

http://www.johnmarsden.com.au/novelassignments/tomorrow_when_the_war_began.pdf

Link to post
Share on other sites

For any who wants to consider dystopian lit through a framework of Christian theology, RedeemedReader.com has posts and discussion suggestions for several of the works listed repeatedly above, esp. recent ones like Divergent and Hunger Games.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Some  books meant for kids, including the paperback copy of Divergent we got from library, have extensive discussion questions and so on at the back (Divergent also has  Bible quotes section since it has a fairly strong Christian worldview hovering in the background, btw).   You could probably modify such questions to use for all the books you decided to use.  Better, IMO, would be to let your dc come up with their own questions based on the ideas they might get from the discussion questions included in the back material.

"Some  books meant for kids,"....  :huh: .  Um, are you saying my tastes in "literature" are juvenile?  :laugh: 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd do Ender's Game. It's a long-time favorite with middleschool 2E boys.

 

https://www.stf.sk.ca/portal.jsp?Sy3uQUnbK9L2RmSZs02CjV/LfyjbyjsxsiVLkwcq/aNM=F

 

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=5&ved=0CEEQFjAE&url=http%3A%2F%2Fcbclassroom.yolasite.com%2Fresources%2FEnder%2527s%2520Game%2520Study%2520Guide%2520Answers.doc&ei=QHiCVN3DEOO1sQTYjYKQCQ&usg=AFQjCNGJSsaNJFfz2nesxPiMWu28QQoSTQ&sig2=dU7o-WtO1QmWhA7TU7c1fA&bvm=bv.80642063,d.cWc

 

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=8&ved=0CFQQFjAH&url=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.zacharyhigh.org%2Fdocuments%2FEnglishIHStudyGuide-EndersGame.doc&ei=QHiCVN3DEOO1sQTYjYKQCQ&usg=AFQjCNEo2LNIt3Vqvaayo1IIYDvSywAEPg&sig2=P7-cR6MaADxpiToPq120Lw&bvm=bv.80642063,d.cWc

 

http://www.sesdweb.net/cms/lib06/PA01000019/Centricity/Domain/246/Enders%20Game%20Chapters%201-6.pdf

 

http://literatureguides.weebly.com/enders-game-study-guide.html

 

http://pne.browardschools.com/teachers/FOV1-000B579A/downloads/FOV1-001EB9C4/Ender's%20Game%20-%20Questions%20for%20packet.pdf

 

Vocabulary  http://www.sta.cathedral.org/lowerschool/form1/Eng1JAVwww/Literature/EndersGame/

 

http://www.google.com/url?sa=t&rct=j&q=&esrc=s&source=web&cd=15&ved=0CDkQFjAEOAo&url=http%3A%2F%2Flearn.shorelineschools.org%2Fkellogg%2Ftjarvis%2Fdocuments%2Fdownload%2FEG_vocabulary_definitions.doc%3Fid%3D178905&ei=WnyCVMz0GNCJsQT2xIGACw&usg=AFQjCNFuib1RJ0IdWV0CKs89XfAgbMgdKA&sig2=TpqWwVwxQo5H7lLLLV_k8g&bvm=bv.80642063,d.cWc

 

site:www.sandi.net/cms/lib/CA01001235/Centricity/Do…

 

themes  http://www.gradesaver.com/enders-game/study-guide/themes

 

http://cfbportal.schoolwires.net/cms/lib04/TX01001392/Centricity/Domain/4162/EG%20Themes.pdf

 

http://pinkmonkey.com/booknotes/monkeynotes/pmEndersGame05.asp

 

I'm not sure what genre Animal Farm is considered, but it's read with younger students than some of the other books. Giver is often used with younger students, too.

 

 

Link to post
Share on other sites

"Some  books meant for kids,"....  :huh: .  Um, are you saying my tastes in "literature" are juvenile?  :laugh: 

 

 

I can't see if there are any emoticons, but taking this seriously, I just meant that not all books meant for kids have discussion sections in the back, but that some do. Since my ds just read all the Divergent books and I am now reading it, I know that it is one that does, and it looks to me like the questions it has would lend themselves to a child being able to make up his/her own similar questions for other books. And that would probably be enough to work as a "guide."  My guess is that the questions are at the right level more or less for OP's dc. If taking a look at a library, perhaps others that interest OP  would turn out to also have discussion sections and that might influence which books to choose earlier rather than later.

 

Another book I recently noticed with a discussion part in back was Monster, but it is not a dystopia genre book, so the one from Divergent would probably work better. My Animal Farm and 1984 do not have such sections (I also think that 1984 might not be suitable for OP's child yet). And I do not have any other dystopias lying around at the moment to check. Some Magic Tree House books we have have all sorts of stuff in the back, but it would be at too low a level for OP's dc, I think, and harder to use as a model for questions about dystopias.

 

Maybe some books meant for adults also have such discussion questions in the back. I don't know.

 

I love to read books meant for kids. So I guess I have juvenile tastes myself. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

I hate dystopia. DS liked The House of The Scorpion and The Lord of Opium, which I only found because of Guest Hollow's biology. I was so glad to have found them for him b/c I never would have read those on my own. 

 

 

ETA: Ds really liked the Preston books GH lists too. They're old, but w/ ebola in the news and in our country? Very timely! My favorite GH book suggestion was The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. WARNING: Adult themes and language. Preview and/or use as a read-aloud. 

 

The House of Scorpion and The Lord of Opium are fantastic books - they deal with some very tough issues but they don't have any scenes that I would be worried about a younger child reading.  You could get into some really interesting discussions about human cloning, whether or not a clone has a soul, whether the clone's status changes after the person he was cloned from dies, etc.  Very interesting bio-ethics.  It would make for a great discussion group book.  

 

If you're looking for specific resources to help you study books with your dd I would go with Centre for Lit resources (Teaching the Classics, and the Worldview Supplement).

Link to post
Share on other sites

These are much 'gentler' dystopias than some mentioned above: Ursula Le Guin's The Dispossessed, and Zilpha Keatley Snyder's Below the Root and the other two in that series.

 

 

Commenting on this--  Divergent has now become my ds's favorite series, beating out Percy and Harry etc.   But in light of some of its violence etc. we had a talk about how all the impacts to heads would probably result in many more comas and brain injuries than the books depict. Also it has someone shooting a muffin off someone's head with a pellet gun, which brought up discussion that such guns can be dangerous and not to try something like that even though in the book it says it could not do anything bad (it could if it hit an eye!)

 

But also in addition to content issues, I think OP needs to keep in mind the gentleness from the point of view of the writing, lay out and so on.  Divergent is far easier to read, IMO, than The Dispossessed or many of the others mentioned in this thread, probably. It has mostly short sentences and the lay out has plenty of space between lines (I am mentioning this bec. I believe that both my ds and OP's dc have dyslexia, so this could be important--that is, it is relatively gentle on the reader as to its text difficulty).

Link to post
Share on other sites

 Divergent has a twist in one the books that really ruined the series for me.

 

 

I'm trying to guess what that might be. Do you mean it ruined it for you as an adult reader (I'm assuming you are an adult, though sometimes kids do post here too), or ruined it for your tween/teen reader, or made it something you would not want your tween/teen reader to read?

 

Maybe you could write "spoiler alert" and then scroll down a bit so anyone who doesn't want to know details in advance can skip that, but explain what was the problem?

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to guess what that might be. Do you mean it ruined it for you as an adult reader (I'm assuming you are an adult, though sometimes kids do post here too), or ruined it for your tween/teen reader, or made it something you would not want your tween/teen reader to read?

 

Maybe you could write "spoiler alert" and then scroll down a bit so anyone who doesn't want to know details in advance can skip that, but explain what was the problem?

 

I'd love to hear too - I haven't read this series, and have mixed feelings about handing it to my dd based on reading the series description.  Looking for more data.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'd love to hear too - I haven't read this series, and have mixed feelings about handing it to my dd based on reading the series description.  Looking for more data.

 

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Divergent series, but the third one was so terrible, I barely bothered to finish it. It felt like she had no idea where the series was going and made it up at the end. I was terribly bored, predicted most of it and hated the treatment of the lead character. It gets my vote for worst series finale of all time.

 

If you have any specific questions about appropriateness or how the violence and other things are handled, I read them recently and would be happy to try to address specifics.

 

There are several romances at least one that is consummated (3rd book), some mind control, and obviously, violence including deaths of lots of characters you know well. My kids were in high school before they got interested so I didn't have to question what age they were appropriate for, but for those who are cautious there are some red flags :).

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to guess what that might be. Do you mean it ruined it for you as an adult reader (I'm assuming you are an adult, though sometimes kids do post here too), or ruined it for your tween/teen reader, or made it something you would not want your tween/teen reader to read?

 

Maybe you could write "spoiler alert" and then scroll down a bit so anyone who doesn't want to know details in advance can skip that, but explain what was the problem?

 

I can't speak to the PP but I put my thoughts in this thread when the last book came out: http://forums.welltrainedmind.com/topic/492340-anybody-finish-allegiant-yet-and-want-to-chat-spoiler-alert/

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Divergent series, but the third one was so terrible, I barely bothered to finish it. It felt like she had no idea where the series was going and made it up at the end. I was terribly bored, predicted most of it and hated the treatment of the lead character. It gets my vote for worst series finale of all time.

 

If you have any specific questions about appropriateness or how the violence and other things are handled, I read them recently and would be happy to try to address specifics.

 

There are several romances at least one that is consummated (3rd book), some mind control, and obviously, violence including deaths of lots of characters you know well. My kids were in high school before they got interested so I didn't have to question what age they were appropriate for, but for those who are cautious there are some red flags :).

 

 

Hmm.   I started out very doubtful about the series, but have come to like it much more now.

 

I am only now myself reading number 1 book (slowly trying to do it in Spanish w/ the English to help), but ds has been sharing parts of 2 and 3 with me as he read them. 

 

Plus I've now heard most of it, including much of books 2 and 3, on audio.  

 

There is certainly lots of mind control. No question about that.  That seems to be a key aspect of the whole "dystopia"...what it is doing is mind control, mainly. To me that seems to be the most interesting aspect of it: both the mind control, but also the ability to get past it for some of the characters at least some of the time, as well as the change from which type of character is seen as flawed changing from the world inside the fence to the world outside--and the idea that they can get past that to some degree if they choose (like Tobias), or can be stuck in what they are to a large degree even if [deleted a part to not give unneccessary spoiler] (Peter).

 

The consummated relationship seems to have been missed here! Either maybe considered boring and skipped over that part, or it was not spelled out in so many words.  I am assuming that you mean toward the end where Tris and Tobias spend the night together.  ???  I found the amount of violence and also wild behavior in terms of jumping off trains and so on more troublesome than anything of a sexual nature, I guess we have come to sex in Shakespeare too.  I found one of the fears Tris had being fear of intimacy to be interesting, and some of the relationship aspects/discussions to be more positive than not. And certainly the relationship aspects to me seem something that can make for interesting discussion. I thought Tris thinking Tobias must be sexually experienced, but that he turns out to be still a virgin at age18 even as part of the wild Dauntless crowd, is interesting.  The apparent differences in physicality between Abnegation and Dauntless even as to things like handshakes seemed interesting to me.

 

For us this series has followed Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, Gatekeepers, and several others from which it seems to be a segue into another type of book.  So the experience for a 12 year old coming out of total fantasy world type genres, might be different than for a high school student who has read more from other genres before this series.  And possibly for a high school student who had read far more mature works it would be going backward, but for my ds it seems to be a step forward.

 

As to the last book (assuming you mean Allegiant, not Four which we have not read or listened to at all),  I rather like what I have experienced thus far. It is not an "all the bad guys die and the good guys live happily ever after ending," nor is it a sort of "time is cyclical" conclusion which has been the case for several series my ds has read. For me the ending with the survivors having to go on as best they can, was more satisfying than the "happily ever after" types of endings are.  For ds, I think even though the setting is not realistic, it brings him into a literary world of characters who are basically much more close to human realism, not magicians, not demi-Gods, not some special Gatekeeper children or magical twins who live more than once...   Although I'm still most troubled by the violence level which I think would leave real real people quadraplegic and brain injured within the first book not just at the last one, on the other hand, it is moving into more of a sense of reality than the series he had formerly read...they do not have potions or wands or ambrosia to fix nearly everything. People do get hurt, sometimes severely, sometimes in ways that can't be healed.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't see if there are any emoticons, but taking this seriously, I just meant that not all books meant for kids have discussion sections in the back, but that some do. Since my ds just read all the Divergent books and I am now reading it, I know that it is one that does, and it looks to me like the questions it has would lend themselves to a child being able to make up his/her own similar questions for other books. And that would probably be enough to work as a "guide."  My guess is that the questions are at the right level more or less for OP's dc. If taking a look at a library, perhaps others that interest OP  would turn out to also have discussion sections and that might influence which books to choose earlier rather than later.

 

Another book I recently noticed with a discussion part in back was Monster, but it is not a dystopia genre book, so the one from Divergent would probably work better. My Animal Farm and 1984 do not have such sections (I also think that 1984 might not be suitable for OP's child yet). And I do not have any other dystopias lying around at the moment to check. Some Magic Tree House books we have have all sorts of stuff in the back, but it would be at too low a level for OP's dc, I think, and harder to use as a model for questions about dystopias.

 

Maybe some books meant for adults also have such discussion questions in the back. I don't know.

 

I love to read books meant for kids. So I guess I have juvenile tastes myself. 

Sorry, yes there are emoticons, they're very funny too. I know my tastes in "literature" are juvenile, I read the same stuff as my 13 year old son and nephews do.  I was just in a silly mood and had nothing more substantial to contribute so I thought I'd "try" to be funny. :blushing: <embarrassed  followed by  :D < big smile!

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ender's Game as dystopia?  I've never heard it classified that way!!!  It's just classic excellent sci-fi. 

 

For middle school, I'd look more at the classics, which are somewhat less violent-

 

Anthem

The Giver

Lord of the Flies

 

For an above-level child, I'd add in:

Brave New World

1984

Farenheit 451 (probably the easiest of the three here)

 

If I had to choose between the Hunger Games and Divergent, it would be Hunger Games hands down.  Divergent is not only poorly written, but the plot can't hold water.  I so wanted to enjoy that series, but it was impossible. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ender's Game as dystopia?  I've never heard it classified that way!!!  It's just classic excellent sci-fi. 

 

For middle school, I'd look more at the classics, which are somewhat less violent-

 

Anthem

The Giver

Lord of the Flies

 

For an above-level child, I'd add in:

Brave New World

1984

Farenheit 451 (probably the easiest of the three here)

 

If I had to choose between the Hunger Games and Divergent, it would be Hunger Games hands down.  Divergent is not only poorly written, but the plot can't hold water.  I so wanted to enjoy that series, but it was impossible. 

I'd agree I didn't think Divergent was well written at all and the romance was definitely more than than some other series. I thought even the Pretties (Uglies) was a better book(series), despite the title which put me off. I love dystopian lit though, ds hasn't hardly read any though, mostly fantasy

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ender's Game as dystopia?  I've never heard it classified that way!!!  It's just classic excellent sci-fi. 

 

For middle school, I'd look more at the classics, which are somewhat less violent-

 

Anthem

The Giver

Lord of the Flies

 

For an above-level child, I'd add in:

Brave New World

1984

Farenheit 451 (probably the easiest of the three here)

 

If I had to choose between the Hunger Games and Divergent, it would be Hunger Games hands down.  Divergent is not only poorly written, but the plot can't hold water.  I so wanted to enjoy that series, but it was impossible. 

 

I think OP wrote that sci-fi would be okay too.

 

In sci-fi category, Heinlein juveniles might also be worth consideration, though I am not sure of reading level and suitability for OP's dd.

 

What would you recommend for a 14 year old girl, with, presumably 14 year old interest level--probably neither especially ahead nor behind, but probably with dyslexia and so reading at a lower level?

 

I don't know Anthem.

The Giver might be a good option as a place to start, reasonably short, and often read by as young as 10 year olds, though I cannot recall how hard the writing is.

Lord of the Flies is ... well, it is certainly a classic....so worthwhile, if not nearly imperative, in a unit on dystopias...I'm not sure it is one I'd start with though.

 

We tried LotF not that long ago and found it, well, like many classics, dull, hard to get into--we had it on audio read by its author who was not a tremendously entertaining reader, so that didn't help. It'll probably get another shot in a few years, maybe. But OP could see, maybe her dd will just love it and get pulled right into it.

 

To me, Divergent may be a good choice  precisely because the writing is much less complex than many other books in this genre, and also less complex than most of the teen series books I have been seeing.  To me it is not poorly written in the sense of incomprehensible and meandering or convoluted or full of errors, but rather has mostly short, simple, declarative present tense sentence construction, and aside from words like abnegation--which gets explained in context pretty well, much of it has relatively easy vocabulary, and the lines on the page have plenty of space between them, which for at least some dyslexics is a huge help.

 

I would not make it a choice as between it and Hunger Games. If OP's dd gets into and likes such books, she could read both series and they'd make an interesting set to compare and contrast in many ways, including the writing. As between the two, I would think Divergent would be far, far easier for a dyslexic teen to tackle first, both as to writing and also, IMO, content.

 

And I think one might then be working up to Lord of the Flies, Fahrenheit 451, and some others mentioned by others up-thread, as dystopian classics. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

Ender's Game as dystopia?  I've never heard it classified that way!!!  It's just classic excellent sci-fi. 

 

I wouldn't classify it as dystopian, but it has dystopian themes, and I think that it could definitely be approached from that perspective. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

 

 

If I had to choose between the Hunger Games 

 

 

Also, a question about Hunger Games--doesn't the last book have some torture of characters by perhaps having tongues cut out (though maybe that was already in earlier book), legs cut off, and electrocution?  One of the reviews on Commonsense had said so and that that person thought for that reason it is unsuited to younger teens.  My ds is familiar with the beginning of Hunger Games story, but I have been reluctant to go farther due to those comments.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be cautious about both 1984 and Brave New World with some middle schoolers - there's an awful lot of sex. Some middle school kids might not want to read it, and some of their parents might really not want them reading it. That's the same reason I wouldn't suggest Handmaid's Tale.

 

I just remembered reading Parable of the Sower at that age. It really, and I mean *really* stuck with me. Octavia Butler is an excellent author. It's just as classic a book as the other classics mentioned, of course. It's a pity she never was able to finish the trilogy.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I can't remember all the details in the last book, I don't specifically remember torture, although it wouldn't surprise me.  I just remember it being thoroughly depressing and miserable, as the crack team that goes in to try and assasinate Snow get brutally massacred one by one in gross ways.  Also a main character gets killed.  I just found the whole series got darker and darker as it went on, to the point of diminishing returns, for me at least.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I would be cautious about both 1984 and Brave New World with some middle schoolers - there's an awful lot of sex. Some middle school kids might not want to read it, and some of their parents might really not want them reading it. That's the same reason I wouldn't suggest Handmaid's Tale.

 

I just remembered reading Parable of the Sower at that age. It really, and I mean *really* stuck with me. Octavia Butler is an excellent author. It's just as classic a book as the other classics mentioned, of course. It's a pity she never was able to finish the trilogy.

 

Not to mention the torture scene with the rats in 1984 - that has stuck with me for years.  My 12 yo is not ready to have that image in her head.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm going to suggest one I just read that was enjoyable, not gory, just a little scary and had likable characters. It's a bit heavy on commentary about educational practices, but I actually enjoyed it, and I'm not a dystopia fan. It is at a sixth grade reading level, illustrated, 200+ pages. I think it would make a good middle school dystopia introduction, has sort of a Farenheit feel to it, to me.

The Wikkeling, Steven Arntson. I'd class it as fantasy with a dystopia theme.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I'm trying to guess what that might be. Do you mean it ruined it for you as an adult reader (I'm assuming you are an adult, though sometimes kids do post here too), or ruined it for your tween/teen reader, or made it something you would not want your tween/teen reader to read?

 

Maybe you could write "spoiler alert" and then scroll down a bit so anyone who doesn't want to know details in advance can skip that, but explain what was the problem?

Yes, I am an adult reader. It did not spoil it in terms of I would not let my kids read the series. If you are really curious and want to know what happens-read the reviews on Amazon for the last book. You'll have your answer and I won't have to give it away for anyone who does not want to know.

Link to post
Share on other sites

I really enjoyed the first two books in the Divergent series, but the third one was so terrible, I barely bothered to finish it. It felt like she had no idea where the series was going and made it up at the end. I was terribly bored, predicted most of it and hated the treatment of the lead character. It gets my vote for worst series finale of all time.

 

If you have any specific questions about appropriateness or how the violence and other things are handled, I read them recently and would be happy to try to address specifics.

 

There are several romances at least one that is consummated (3rd book), some mind control, and obviously, violence including deaths of lots of characters you know well. My kids were in high school before they got interested so I didn't have to question what age they were appropriate for, but for those who are cautious there are some red flags :).

Yeah-all this. Definitely agreeing that it was the worst book in the series and worst series finale of all time. My son stopped reading midway through the second book because he saw how upset I was and figured out what was going to happen.

Link to post
Share on other sites

You all are giving me a ton to think about.  Thank you so much for the recs and feedback!  

 

For a bit of background, DD is in some ways young for her age but can be very wise and intuitive.  She makes connections quickly.   She is dyslexic and she and I work nearly daily on remediation for that.  I read to her for anything too dense but she DID read Divergent mostly on her own.  She has not read the other two books in the series.  She and I find sci fi and dystopian genres interesting so we were hoping to do a study this Spring and Summer to help build her analysis skills using books more to her taste before tackling more traditional fair in 9th next year.

 

Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback and discussion.  I am intrigued by all the options and reviews.... :)

Link to post
Share on other sites

Not to mention the torture scene with the rats in 1984 - that has stuck with me for years.  My 12 yo is not ready to have that image in her head.

 

That is what I mainly also remember and also why I will not have my 12 yo read it any time soon.

 

Similarly I remember the cut off horse head in Godfather movie--and that is about all I remember of it.

 

And so too, I was wary about the comments on Hunger Games about torture. 

Link to post
Share on other sites

You all are giving me a ton to think about.  Thank you so much for the recs and feedback!  

 

For a bit of background, DD is in some ways young for her age but can be very wise and intuitive.  She makes connections quickly.   She is dyslexic and she and I work nearly daily on remediation for that.  I read to her for anything too dense but she DID read Divergent mostly on her own.  She has not read the other two books in the series.  She and I find sci fi and dystopian genres interesting so we were hoping to do a study this Spring and Summer to help build her analysis skills using books more to her taste before tackling more traditional fair in 9th next year.

 

Thanks so much for all the wonderful feedback and discussion.  I am intrigued by all the options and reviews.... :)

 

 

If she liked Divergent, (did she?) I personally don't think you need to worry over much about what is in the 3rd book.  My guess would be that it would be really good reading practice, even if she is only doing part of the reading. Also, btw, our library has it on audio discs which are not my favorite as to the reader doing the Tris voice, but not bad. On the last book, it alternates between a male and female reader and I like the male better. Anyway the available audio, could help with an immersion reading if you/she wanted.

 

In case you are trying to decide if it would be okay or not, I've put some specifics below that I note, though your family or dd may have different things that would be issues than I would have or would notice.

 

 

****warning spoilers below****  I also converted to small font size so that those who do not want spoilers can more easily avoid it. Enlarge for easier reading.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tris is shot and dies, is, I think, at least part of what some people find to be a problem. Was it a heroic act? Probably. Or was it needless as Tobias thought? Maybe. Maybe both. That could be an area to discuss.

For ds this was okay. He was already aware, because we had talked about the dangers of what all the characters were doing, about foreshadowing in books, and about the use of first person narrator in present tense that this might happen, so for him it was not a shock that it happened, and did not hurt the book for him...he came running to tell me when it did happen that it had. For one of the adults above, it sounded like an ending that she could see coming was a problem, but for ds that seems more to have a sense of resolution.

 

As she is dying Tris has a vision of her already dead mother, and her mother reassuring her and telling her that those she leaves behind such as Tobias will take care of each other. This could be a problem in terms of religious beliefs for some people, I suppose. 

 

Another problem some kids seem to have is that the last book switches back and forth between Tris and Tobias (Four) as narrators, but so did Red Pyramid, and I think also some other books ds had read. I think if it were new to a child, it could just be explained that the narrators are switching back and forth, giving two different perspectives. This also allows the book to move on with events beyond Tris's death and to get other characters' reactions to that. 

 

I reviewed the possible sexual "consummation" and the only thing clear to me is that they kiss, and have spent the night together (not the only time in the book, but some of the times it is clear that all they do is sleep)--whatever happens in that last night together is not explicit. And, whatever does happen, it was also the case that they clearly loved each other sounded like they both wanted to be together permanently, and that by the rules of their society they were no longer children...so I am not personally particularly disturbed by that for ds. At this stage it is not what interests him about the story, and when he gets to that point, I think it would make good food for thought in any case.  Because it is not explicit, my guess would be that if your dd is not ready for such things she'll just go right on by it to the next action sequence like my ds did.

 

Other things that happen of significance include that Uriah ends up in a coma, and then, near end, plug is pulled and he dies.  

 

One of the girl characters is shot and ends up paraplegic apparently. That might be in book 2.

 

A child review on Commonsense did not understand how factionless were able to take over toward end, but I think it was actually pretty clear in the book. There were more of them, and when they got the weapons away from Dauntless, they got the power.

Link to post
Share on other sites

Archived

This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

×
×
  • Create New...