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Diverted: A Bostonian dystopia

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

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, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay, Part 1 (Lionsgate Films, November 2014; PG-13) could have been just an action movie. Instead, the filmmakers’ decision to split the book into two movies allows […]

The Maze Runner movie review

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 (September 2014; PG-13) 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 ended […]

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

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 […]

Review of The Lord of Opium

The Lord of Opium by Nancy Farmer High School     Jackson/Atheneum     412 pp. 9/13     978-1-4424-8254-8     $17.99 g e-book ed. 978-1-4424-8256-2     $12.99 With the death of El Patrón at the end of The House of the Scorpion (rev. 11/02), Matt, the drug lord’s fourteen-year-old clone, has not only been reclassified as a human but has […]

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

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 […]

The Hunger Games movie review

Excitement was rampant at a March 23rd midnight showing of The Hunger Games (Lionsgate Films), director Gary Ross’s highly anticipated adaptation of Suzanne Collins’s bestselling dystopian novel. Before 11:30pm the theater was already packed, and our mostly undergrad-aged audience was impatiently waiting to see Katniss, the Capitol, and the Games brought to the big screen. […]