Roberts, Jeyn. Dark Inside
1 November 2011, Simon and Schuster
Copy loaned to me by Andrew
Mason's mother is in a bad car accident, so he is pulled out of school... right before it is bombed and nearly everyone is killed. Aries is on the bus on her way to play practice when an earthquake flips the bus, killing her friend, and plunging the area into chaos. Clementine is at a town meeting with her parents when her mother tells her to flee as armed men enter... and later kill her parents and everyone else. Michael notices the chaos around him after apparently global disasters have occurred, and tries to find a group of people (Baggers) who aren't taken over by an insane urge to kill people prompted by voices in their heads and black veined, blood shot eyes. In alternating chapters, all of these teens have to deal with death and destruction everywhere they look. Even if they aren't being followed by Baggers, there is still the issue of finding food, shelter, and clothing. They all have a vague idea about where they might be going (finding a brother, having a location in mind), but there is no good place to be when the world is this crazy. At the end of the book, the various characters meet up, and Rage Within came out 24 September.
Strengths: This was a quick, compelling read. Not a zombie book, exactly, but read like one. There is such a call for this, but I hate to pander to the students' love of violence.
Weaknesses: Very violent, very gory, but also rather introspective and a little slow, in the way that young adult books are and middle grade books aren't. Debating purchase.
My theory is that if students will read a short book every single day or two, they are still reading. Especially with Accelerated Reader point goals, I encourage reluctant readers to pick up several smaller books rather than one long book. There are many students at my school who read below grade level, and I firmly believe that the only way they will get to be better readers is to READ. I have one 8th grader who claims he "doesn't read", but is always thrilled when I get a new order of books in... as long as they are short ones, like these:
Lorimer, Janet. Scavenger Hunt
1 September 2009, Saddleback
Susan is raising her 15-year-old brother after their parents' death. She's busy with part time work and college, as well as her boyfriend Roger. When Roger introduces Jay to dumpster diving, Jay breaks in to the dumpster at HyperPlay and gets a computer game that is infected and crashes his computer. Something is fishy, and the three work together to find out what is going on.
Strengths: Super short, easy to read, and interesting. Updated covers help.
Weaknesses: Some clunky prose and a quick resolution.
Scraff, Anne. Planet Doom.
1 January 2001, Saddleback Publishers
Reggie and Joanna break into the closed amusement park, Planet Doom. The park burned right before it was supposed to open, and it ruined the hopes of Eddie Scott, a baseball players whose career foundered after an injury. They find that there is still electricity, a baseball museum, and a creepy guy who threatens them when they make fun of Scott. Can they survive?
Strengths: This took me 20 minutes to read, and I got a 100% on the Accelerated Reader test. It was scary at parts, and had a nice twist at the end.
Weaknesses: The cover can make all the difference. I'm glad I got the updated one! (Former cover is below.)
Do you have any plans for Read Across America Day? This ALWAYS catches me short, but I'm trying to get ahead.