Thursday, June 14, 2012

Own the Night Teen Summer Reading: Zombies & Monsters Week

It's been an incredibly busy week in the Teen Room: we launched our afternoon drop-in summer reading activities this week, and participation has been good. Teens have enjoyed activities such as creating zombie clothespin dolls and string dolls; zombifying themselves with face paint; and testing their knowledge of classic movie and literary monsters with our trivia quizzes.

For those teens who can't get enough of monsters and zombies, Young Adult literature will not disappoint!  The shelves are brimming with stories of all kinds of creatures: from classic monster novels such as Mary Shelley's Frankenstein; to comic book illustrations of Marvel Zombies; to graphic novel re-tellings of Dracula and Beowulf (with the man-eating Grendel).  
 We also have many recent, original novels based on the zombie and monster themes. The following four selections are all well-reviewed, recent, and extremely popular among teen readers.  Even if zombies and monsters are not your favorite subject, these novels are well-written enough engage readers and introduce this branch of teen horror fiction; and what better way to "own the night" than with a creepy story that keeps you awake?

In the Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
In a world governed by the religious Sisterhood, life follows preordained rules: to follow the Sisterhood’s guidelines, and to respect the fence that separates the village from the fearsome Forest of Hands and Teeth.  In the forest, the Unconsecrated – the undead – prey upon the flesh of those unfortunates who wander away from the village. Mary’s own mother is one of the Unconsecrated; Mary’s future includes betrothal to a man she doesn’t love, and a life under the Sisterhood’s restrictions. But when the fence is breached, Mary and her band of friends set off into the unknown of the forest, to look for a place where they can find safety, freedom, and a future. This is the first book in a creepy – yet also romantic – trilogy; the next two titles are The Dead-Tossed Waves and The Dark and Hollow Places.

Rot and Ruin, Jonathan Maberry
Another coming-of-age story set in a zombie-infested world, Maberry’s series follows the story of Benny, a 15-year-old orphaned on First Night when both his parents became zombified. Since then, he’s lived with his half-brother Tom, whom he dislikes and disrespects. However, in Benny’s community, a safe haven in the midst of Rot and Ruin, 15-year-olds must find a job, or have their food rations cut in half. Benny is basically lazy, and eventually the only job open to him is to apprentice to Tom, a zombie hunter. Benny follows Tom into the Rot and Ruin, and finds that his previous perceptions – of Tom, the zombies, and the iconic zombie-hunter Charlie – have all been dead wrong. Maberry continues his story in Dust and Decay, and Flesh and Bone (coming in September, 2012).

A Monster Calls, Patrick Ness; illustrated by Jim Kay
Ness crafted this story from a set of notes left behind by acclaimed author Siobhan Dowd, whose premature death from cancer in 2007 prevented her from writing the story herself. In this illustrated novel, we meet 13-year-old Conor, whose own mother is fighting cancer, unsuccessfully.  Conor is visited each night by a recurring nightmare – until one night, he wakes up and an actual monster is standing over him. The monster, in the form of an ancient yew tree, tells Conor three ambiguous stories, and then demands that Conor tell him a fourth – the truth.  For Conor, this is the hardest story to tell, for he has to face the fact that his mother is really dying. In the telling of this ultimately scary truth, Conor begins to let go, and to let the wise monster help him heal.

This Dark Endeavor, Kenneth Oppel
In a gothic tale full of allusions to Mary Shelley’s original work, Oppel has nonetheless managed to tell an original twist on the tale of Dr. Frankenstein and his monster. Twins Victor and Konrad Frankenstein fill their lives with imaginary adventures, until one day they stumble upon an old library filled with volumes of alchemy and ancient cures. It remains just a curiosity until Konrad falls gravely ill; determined to save his brother, Victor embarks on a search for the Elixir of Life, a remedy that will either cure Konrad, or be the final push to his death. As Victor, Konrad, and their friends search for the ingredients to make the treacherous potion, they pull themselves into ever-deepening danger. Victor, like the original Dr. Frankenstein, is not a likeable character, but the plot of the novel keeps readers wondering what will happen to him. This is the first of a planned series (The Apprenticeship of Victor Frankenstein) by a talented storyteller. 

 Enjoy one of these selections; and if you are a teen in Campbell County, don't forget to pick up your reading log for CCPL Teen Summer Reading!

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