Insurgent movie review

insurgent movie poster

Not having read the Divergent series, I thought myself a great choice of reviewer for the movies — I am a clean slate, after all. And Divergent was fun. It had action, sacrifice, kickassery, feminine heroism, and Rose from Titanic. It had fighting and loving and tattoos and whooping and a very attractive, brooding male. […]

Dystopian YA lit panel at MIT

mit panel

Last night MIT hosted a Communications Forum, “Coming of Age in Dystopia: The Darkness of Young Adult Fiction.” The discussion was moderated by associate professor of literature Marah Gubar, with panelists Kenneth Kidd, children’s literature scholar and author (Freud in Oz) and literature department chair at the University of Florida; and YA fantasy author Kristin […]

Diverted: A Bostonian dystopia

Diverted cover

It was dawn. It was time for the Waiting. Three hundred thousand were Waiting. Some waited for Buses, some waited for Trains that would become Buses. Some tried different routes, and some gave up hope and called Ubers. But many remained. Most remembered the days before The Big One. The days when roads had lanes […]

The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 movie review

mockingjay part 1 poster

The team behind The Hunger Games film adaptations gets it. With plenty of explosions and covert operations to draw from in Suzanne Collins’s source material, Lionsgate Films’s The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 could have been just an action movie. Instead, the filmmakers’ decision to split the book into two movies allows the characters’ emotional […]

The Maze Runner movie review

maze runner poster

I’m a sucker for a good secret. The Maze Runner is all about secrets. If you’ve read James Dashner’s novel, seeing the Twentieth Century Fox movie (released September 19, 2014) is a completely different experience than it would be if you were new to the story. Instead of wondering how a gaggle of teenaged boys […]

What’s the media Feeding us?


For the past six weeks, I have had the pleasure of teaching an English course to a group of highly motivated high school students enrolled in the summer session of an Upward Bound program. This summer’s book selection — Feed by M. T. Anderson — has spurred a campus conversation that I keep catching snippets […]

A winter’s tale


If you aren’t completely burned out on dystopian fiction, do go see* Snowpiercer, a big, violent, gorgeous, baroque movie about the end of civilization, its last remnant perpetually traveling the ice-covered globe in a nonstop great big train. There is NO love triangle, with eros limited to a couple of crypto-gay warrior-bonding types, and plenty to […]

Divergent movie review

divergent poster

In the world of Veronica Roth’s Divergent trilogy, the dystopian city of Chicago is run through a personality-based system of grouping. The five factions, to one of which every person belongs, are Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite. Abnegation, with its focus on humility and selflessness, acts as the political power; Amity, the good-natured, peaceful […]

Apres la guerre


Pursuant to an article coming up next year in the Magazine, we were having an old discussion today: how do teen readers feel about downer endings? Conventional professional wisdom has long been that teens themselves and open-minded adults applaud (where appropriate) an “uncompromising” conclusion to a book, and only conservative, rigid adults who don’t like […]

Brave new worlds

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

In her article “What Makes a Good YA Dystopian Novel?” from the May/June Horn Book Magazine, April Spisak offers thirteen recommendations for young adult dystopian books and series. We’ve also suggested some recently published Hunger Games trilogy readalikes for both YA and younger audiences here on Out of the Box. But since it’s always good […]