Denton Little’s Death Date
2015 by Knopf Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780553496963
Genre – Science Fiction? Realistic Fiction?
Age – High School
In a world where every knows their death date from a very young age, some know they are not fortunate enough to live a full life. Meet Denton Little. He is scheduled to die tomorrow! He is only 17, and to add insult to injury, they scheduled prom on the same day of his death. Because he and everyone else knows when they will die, they throw a predeath funeral the day before. The soon to be deceased is able to speak at their own funeral, and then attend a last day of life bash. At midnight Denton and his family begin his sitting, where they wait until he dies. Well most people wait, Denton goes on adventure after adventure escaping near death experiences only to watch a purple pulsing splotch grow bigger and bigger across his body. This isn’t the only thing fishy that is going on in Denton’s last day. He is also being stalked by an elderly police man, and a man who claims to have known his mother, who died during childbirth.
Seems like a lot for one book? It is! While I like the premise, and even the murky twist in the story, it seems like maybe too much was bit off. Then with all of that, it seemed like it went on too long. Otherwise, I think Denton is a good guy, he is realistic with strengths and weaknesses. He acts just as immature as a 17 year old guy. At times his humor was funny, and at times I wanted to reach through the book and hit him! His friends and family are all supportive, and appropriately sympathetic in the odd situation. All in all, I thought it was a fairly creative way to deal with death and the future of science. I am pretty curious to see what happens in the next book, after the giant cliff hanger, but I don’t know if I am curious enough to actually read the book.
Beautiful Music for Ugly Children
2012 by Flux
ISBN – 9780738732510
Genre – Realistic Fiction, LGBTQ
Age – High School
Gabe has decided to become his true self. After living his entire life with a name (Elizabeth) and a body (female) that he does not identify with, he is finally standing up for who he is, which is not an easy thing. Although he knows who he has always been, the distinction is not so clear to his friends, family, and schoolmates. Throughout all of this Gabe has one constant, John, his next door neighbor who shares his absolute passion for music. John helps Gabe to get a volunteer DJ spot on the local radio station, and through this late night weekly hour, Gabe is able to show the world who he really is, and be embraced. Sounds easy? Not so fast. Nobody knows that the awesome DJ they listen to once a week is really the person they have always known as Elizabeth.
This book really gets at your feelers. I think just about everyone I know can identify with feeling like they are misunderstood, or don’t fit in, to whatever extent. But to feel like your insides don’t match your outsides is a whole new world. As much as it stinks, we live in a world where many people do not accept those who are different from themselves. It takes an incredible amount of courage for Gabe to be who he knows he has always been. However, all is not so dire in this book. There are some shining stars, and some stars that just took a little while to learn how to shine. John is an amazing figure in Gabe’s life, who not only shares and supports his love of music, but also teaches Gabe that people can love and appreciate the person you are no matter how you identify yourself. Although the story wasn’t completely gripping, not all of real life is that way. Beautiful Music is full of good and bad, happy and sad, but most importantly hope and love, sappy as it may sound.
Drowned City: Hurricane Katrina and New Orleans
2015 by HMH Books for Young Readers
ISBN – 9780544157774
Genre – Graphic Novel
Age – Middle School
The story of Hurricane Katrina, the massive loss of human lives, pets, property, culture, and faith in our government and leaders is depicted beautifully in this graphic novel. From the simple yet powerful words, to the illustrations that describe a situation more than words ever could, we are taken on a journey that we all hope to never have to take. The illustrations do such a fantastic job of portraying the desperation, horror, and hopelessness that was felt by many. The colors used were very muted and dark. They were almost as dreary and sad as the topic itself. Not only do we get a glimpse at the storm, but the human reaction to the storm, and the very human solutions to aid in survival. It this book doesn’t pull on your feely strings, I’m not sure anything will. Breathtaking.
Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone
Rebecca L. Johnson
2014 by Twenty-First Century Books
ISBN – 9781467711548
Genre – Nonfiction
Age – Elementary School, Middle School
After the horrible nuclear disaster at Chernobyl, most of the people were evacuated. Some died, and many other have felt the lasting effects of the radiation exposure caused by the explosion. The effects are not only physical, but mental and emotional as well. What we don’t often hear about is the lingering wildlife in the fallout zone of Chernobyl. Scientists have witnessed thriving wildlife population of many different species, despite the fact that they are “glowing” with radiation. This book answers some interesting questions about how the animals are surviving, and what effects the lethal doses of radiation are having on them as generations pass. Great care was taken to address many curiosities, and the text was complimented fantastically by pictures and diagrams. I liked that the author gave a decent background on what exactly happened at the plant as well as the political and social plunders surrounding the entire situation. Johnson did a wonderful job delving into such a fascinating topic!