Monthly Archives: April 2011

The Saturday Post: Harry Potter, Twilight Saga & more

* First things first. Perhaps the most epic movie trailer to ever hit the web … the new trailer for Harry Potter & the Deathly Hallows: Part 2 is here. And it will give you chills:

* This week, Lionsgate finally confirmed this exciting Hunger Games casting news: Elizabeth Banks will be playing Effie Trinket!

It’s official! On Thursday, Lionsgate announced that it had cast actress Elizabeth Banks in the role of Effie Trinket in The Hunger Games. Long-rumored (and hinted at earlier in the day on Twitter), the news should come as no surprise to fans of the series.

Read more here!

* Awesome, amazing news from the world of The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn this week, starting with a preview of EW‘s ucpoming cover story and some amazing new still images:

Fans have waited years to see Bella (Kristen Stewart) and Edward (Robert Pattinson) tie the knot, and the wedding scene, scheduled for the end of production on The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn, proved to be equally climactic for those involved. “It was one of the coolest things that I’ve done,” says Stewart. “There was a certain point when I walked on set, and I saw everyone from the entire cast sitting there in the pews, about to do their bit. And it was just so perfect for me in that moment. It was so emotional in such a real way. I literally felt like thanking them for coming.”

Read the rest of the article on EW.com! And here are more awesome pics:

* And speaking of Breaking Dawn, some more amazing new still images from the movie have been released to People Magazine:

 

Read more about these awesome images in the Twilight Examiner!

* The Twilight Examiner also has details on recent reshoots for Breaking Dawn, along with a video slideshow of photos from the filming (including some steamy shots of Kristen Stewart as Bella & Robert Pattinson as Edward as they frolick and canoodle in the waves!)

* Speaking of books turned into movies, we are SO excited about The Perks of Being a Wallflower — which starts filming soon. (In fact, author Stephen Chbosky also wrote the screenplay AND is directing the movie!) MTV’s Hollywood Crush chatted with Vampire Diaries star Nina Dobrev this week about Perks, in which she plays Candace (the main character’s older sister).

* The amazing Vivien of Hebel Designs has unveiled her new Curse Workers Shop, with some gorgeous jewelry pieces inspired by Holly Black’s White Cat and Red Glove. Holly actually brought me the Transformation Charm when I met her earlier this month (thank you!!!!) and it’s absolutely fabulous. Also be sure to check out Vivien’s Mortal Instruments/Infernal Devices Shop for great stuff inspired by Cassie Clare’s books! (Honestly, I wish I could own one of everything from her shop — it’s all THAT gorgeous!)

* And the always fabulous Elizabeth Eulberg finally announced details about her upcoming third book:

Take a Bow will be coming out in Spring 2012 from Point/Scholastic. The inspiration came from my love of music as a child and my obsession with performing arts high schools. I blame the movie Fame – the original – for my assumption growing up that high school kids regularly broke into song during lunch. I truly believe the world would be a better place if we lived in a musical. Have an issue? Dance it out! […]

Take a Bow takes place at the (fictional) New York City School of the Creative and Performing Arts and follows four students — trusting (and a little naïve) Emme, diva-in-training Sophie, reluctant frontman Ethan, and former child star Carter — as they prepare for the Senior Showcase recital, where recruits from colleges, dance academies, etc. scope out the graduating class. With the competition heating up, there is plenty of drama and backstabbing with a little humor and romance thrown in. After all, this IS high school.

See more on her blog!

* And check out the amazing trailers for Harper Teen’s Dark Days of Summer Tour and the trailer for Die For Me by Amy Plum:

Judging a Book by its Cover: Where Things Come Back


They always say you should never judge a book by its cover. But guess what? I do. Frequently.

Now, a book must be good in and of itself to be successful — but when it comes to first impressions, its often the cover itself that draws you in; makes you pick a book up off the shelf and open up to that jacket flap copy and see what it’s all about.

When it came to Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley, I was in love before even opening up the book. Just LOOK AT THAT COVER. It’s all sorts of wonderful, and really, it’s a work of art in and of itself. With that in mind, it should come as no surprise that an artist is behind the cover.

Grady McFerrin is the man behind the cover for Where Things Come Back, and in my Internet stalking, I managed to get in touch with Grady to gush about my love of his work, and to talk about how he created this masterpiece. The below Q&A is paraphrased, since Grady & I chatted on the phone and I’m pretty horrible at transcribing conversations as they happen — but you’ll get the gist of what we talked about.

Novel Novice: I love the cover you created for Where Things Come Back, and I’m a big fan of the other work showcased on your website. What’s your background?

Grady McFerrin: I’m an illustrator, really. I got my start mostly through the music world, doing posters, then album artwork for bands.

NN: Anybody we’d know?

GM: Uh … all sorts, mostly indie rock bands like Modest Mouse, Wilco, The Decemberists. I have done  quite a few commemorative posters for the Fillmore in San Francisco, which is kind of where the psychedelic rock poster was born in the 60s.  I’ve always really admired the work of the Haight-Ashbury poster artists and have definitely drawn inspiration from that scene.

NN: So how did Simon & Schuster get in touch with you? How did you end up doing the cover for Where Things Come Back?

GM: Ah, you know, that’s weird. I sort of can’t remember exactly. I think he [art director, Michael McCartney] had seen my music posters somewhere, because that’s what we talked about mostly. Or maybe he saw my work in a trade magazine and contacted me. But he was really into capturing that same general tone or mood of some of my music posters. That’s what he said they wanted the cover to feel like.

NN: Did you get to read any of Where Things Come Back before working on the cover?

GM: I did, I read the manuscript. It was great. I don’t read a lot of YA, but it had this sort of timeless feel to it. A coming of age story — something like Catcher in the Rye, which can be read and enjoyed by adults, as well as teens, because they’ve already been through that experience and can relate to it.

NN: How did you create the cover for Where Things Come Back? It’s got a very mixed-media look to it.

GM: I draw everything by hand, then scan it into the computer and put it together in Photoshop. It’s digital, that’s what I tell people, but it’s also handmade. If that makes sense?

NN: Did you create a whole typeface for the lettering? It looks like S&S used the same stylized text in other promotional items for the book.

GM: I didn’t create a typeface. It’s just hand-lettered. I lettered it and integrated it into the cover. Simon & Schuster just wanted something sans serif. They might have made a typeface out of it later, but I didn’t.

NN: Where can people check out more of your artwork?

GM: Just go to my website, I have a “for sale” section. I also have a stationery line through Chronicle Books, which is online.

Grady also told me that you can see some of his art in the new Emerald Atlas books. He didn’t do all of the art, but he helped create a map/atlas that goes around the outside of the cover, as well as some of the interior page headings. He says it has a very different feel than the cover of Where Things Come Back, but it was fun to work on. Grady’s also done some cover work with Random House, especially in their YA section — which he credits his wife with for encouraging him to pursue.

Many thanks to Grady for chatting with me — and I highly recommend you head over to his website to check out more of his fantastic art!

New Contest! Enter to win Abandon by Meg Cabot


All this week, we’ve been featuring Abandon by Meg Cabot — the first book in her new paranormal trilogy. We LOVE this book, and its Greek mythology influences. And now it’s you’re chance to win your own copy, plus some other goodies. Keep reading to learn more:

The Contest:

It’s no secret that Meg got her inspiration for Abandon from the Greek myth of Persephone in the Underworld. So we want to know … what’s YOUR favorite Greek myth?

Just fill out the Novel Novice Abandon Giveaway Entry Form and tell us your favorite story from Greek mythology, and you’ll be entered for a chance to win!

The Prize:

One (1) winner will receive a copy of Abandon and a bracelet featuring a quote from the book.

The Rules:

  • U.S. only
  • one entry per person
  • use the entry form

The Deadline:

All entries are due by midnight (PT) on Friday, May 6th.

Questions? Leave ‘em in the comments & we’ll reply!

And be sure to check out the new This Is Teen Facebook page for more on Meg’s books, and other great YA reads from Scholastic!

The Best of Wither by Lauren DeStefano

It’s the day that always comes with our Book of the Month … the end of the month. Yes, today is the end of our April feature on Wither by Lauren DeStefano. So in Novel Novice tradition, we give you a look back at this month’s highlights:

The Wither Writing Contest

We are SO excited that Lauren DeStefano herself is helping to judge this month’s writing contest!

If you haven’t entered yet, you’ve got until tomorrow, Saturday, April 30th at midnight (PT) to submit your entries. For this contest, we ask you to write a Wither-inspired short story. Imagine you live in the world of Wither, where boys live until age 25 and girls live until age 20. Imagine, like Rhine, that you’re kidnapped and forced into a polygamous marriage. What do you do?

Winners will get a Wither prize pack, including a finished copy of the book. And as we said, Lauren herself will be reading the entries and helping us pick the winners!

Behind-the-Scenes of the Wither Cover

Thanks to our friends at Simon & Schuster, we were able to bring you this fantastic behind-the-scenes look at the making of the gorgeous cover for Wither!

Wither: Classroom Connections

We love finding ways to use new YA books in the classroom, and there were plenty of opportunities with Wither:

Desktop Wallpapers

Get some pretty for your computer with this exclusive desktop wallpapers created by the Novel Novice staff! We even created an extra one featuring a quote hand-selected by author Lauren DeStefano!

Hearing from Lauren DeStefano

For the comments: What was YOUR favorite part of this month’s features?

Three Ways to Use Abandon by Meg Cabot in the Classroom


All this week we’ve been featuring Abandon by Meg Cabot, the first book in her new paranormal trilogy. There are so many things we love about this book (great characters, eerie happenings, romance, intrigue, etc.) — but something we’re really keen about is the fact that Cabot draws so much influence from topics perfect for the classroom!

And that’s something we love to do here at Novel Novice — take a great new contemporary YA novel, and show you ways to use it in school. Here are just a few ways to take Abandon into the classroom:

Greek Mythology & the Story of Persephone

At the very root of Abandon is the myth of Persephone in the Underworld. Cabot told us earlier this week how much she’s loved this myth since her teen years, and frankly, we couldn’t agree more. Not only is this a fantastic story, but it’s perfect for the YA crowd.

There are various tellings of Persephone’s story, with many variations on the details. But in the most basic sense from classic Greek mythology, the story goes that Persephone is the daughter of Zeus and Demeter, the goddess of harvest. Demeter keeps her daughter well protected (even fending off suitors who are gods themselves), until one day Persephone is picking flowers and she is abducted by Hades and whisked away to the Underworld. In different versions Hades tempts Persephone, but the basic idea is that he steals her because he is in love with her. (In some versions, Zeus advices Hades to abduct her because Demeter will not allow a courtship otherwise.) Most versions of the story also include a scene in which Hades rapes Persephone.

Distraught by the loss of her daughter, Demeter refuses to let anything grow on the earth. This forces Zeus to intervene, for the sake of hungry people on earth, and forces Hades to return Persephone. But before she leaves, Hades tricks her into eating pomegranate seeds — which is considered a food of the Underworld. And according to the rules of the Fates, whoever consumes food of the Underworld must spend eternity there. Therefore, even though she is returned to her mother, Persephone must spend one third of the year in the Underworld. Thus, she becomes the Queen of the Underworld.

In most versions of the story, these months when Persephone is forced to live in the Underworld, Demeter causes a dry season in which nothing grows. Essentially, the myth is an origin story to explain the changing seasons.

Cabot also hinted in her interview with us earlier this week that more parallels from Greek mythology will come into play in the next two books in this trilogy, so there’s a good chance the rest of this series will offer even more chances to tie-in great classroom lessons!

Dante’s Inferno

Though Dante’s Inferno may often make it into your required reading list in high school, it’s one that’s definitely worth checking out. Not only has Dante’s work influenced all variety of pop culture (from books, to movies, music & more) — but it’s also a really great story.

This classic 14th century epic poem, is an allegory that tells the story of Dante as he is guided by the poet Virgil through the nine circles of Hell. (The allegory is the soul’s journey to God, in which the soul recognizes and then rejects sin.) But philosophy such as that aside, Dante also tells a pretty great story — offering some frightening versions of what fate awaits the worst sinners.

It’s not hard to spot Dante’s influence on Cabot’s work. The title of Abandon itself is pulled straight from The Inferno:

Abandon all hope, ye who enter here.

But in fact, Cabot features a different quote from Inferno at the beginning of each chapter in Abandon. For a really comprehensive study, as a reader you could study each passage from Inferno and compare its meaning and context to how it relates to Abandon.

What’s more, when you combine the content of Inferno with details of the Persephone myth, you get an interesting juxtaposition. Persephone, after all, becomes the Queen of the Underworld — and throughout Inferno, Dante is going on a journey through her realm.

Stravinsky’s Persephone

It’s not just English and Humanities classrooms that can find ways to incorporate Abandon. Get your music teacher in on the fun, too — by exploring Stravinsky’s Persephone, a beautiful orchestral & choral piece that retells the classic Greek myth.

This was actually my first exposure to the Persephone story, and what got me hooked on the tale (and reading various retellings). Growing up, my younger brother sang with a professional boys’ choir — and when I was 15, he performed this piece with the San Francisco Symphony. (And yes, it was just as cool as it sounds). Later, the recording he participated in even won multiple Grammy Awards!

It was listening to this music, and reading the translated lyrics (the song is performed in French) that exposed me to the story of Persephone. The haunting music and beautifully phrased lyrics simply drew me in.

Here’s a sample from my favorite bit of the piece’s third (& final) part:

For the comments: Share other ways you could tie Abandon into a classroom lesson. Or, tell us about your own studies on these subjects!

Wither Author Lauren DeStefano’s Short Stories


If you loved our April Book of the Month, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, then chances are you can’t wait until the second book in this trilogy comes out. Sadly, you’ve still got about another year to wait. Fortunately, we’ve found the perfect solution to tide you over until then … Lauren’s short stories!

Yes, on her website, Lauren has posted two of her original short stories for you to read — for free! At any time!

Here are the first few paragraphs of each story to get you interested. If you like what you read, be sure to hop on over to Lauren’s website to read the rest of them!

“Exit” by Lauren DeStefano:

We don’t have nights here.
The word eludes me sometimes, along with the names of those small, living things that would sing to us as we watched the sun melting over the Adirondacks. I keep the image of those faraway purple mountains, and the trees, for an instant at dusk, bursting into red and yellow fire. A trick of the eye. A flaw in our human perception.
But it takes effort to remember. It helps when I focus in on you, holding your mug with two hands and squinting at the day’s last light. For you, time is passing. And when it’s quiet enough, I think you’re listening for the sound of me in the rustling leaves. And I want to call for you, but I have no voice. I want to touch your cheek, but I’ve no limbs. I don’t even have time. After I died, it became just a series of moments that play over and over, like pages of a favorite book. The afternoon you dropped a lilac into the open grave (it hit my casket and I felt its echo), you were thinking of I-91 and I was in that thought. I was speeding by you in the left lane, and we looked at each other through our windows, holding our steering wheels, and we were rocking out to Beat It. There before us was the road, and it could have taken us anywhere. Somewhere inside of you, in a place I couldn’t see until I became a figment in your memories, you thought we couldn’t die until we’d taken all of the exits.
You saw life as all these sentences we would finish.

“The World Over” by Lauren DeStefano:

The world ended. From way up high we watched the ashes writhe, and all those dying bodies looked like shooting stars. You said it would be coming for us, too—death, like a big black wave. We held hands. We waited.
But morning came. We woke beneath that searing sun, and there was no place to find shade (all the trees had shriveled into themselves and dissolved). So we lay on our backs and shielded our eyes and spoke in poetry, and soon we had forgotten coherent sentences. We lost the knowledge of languages, traded for the erratic, maddened cadence of artists. We painted with our fingers in the air, and the clouds began mimicking us. We drew mermaids in the sky.
You said, ‘I loved you once, but loving you was a coalmine. All those dark spaces. All those dangerous turns. I thought you’d collapse and kill us both.’
I laughed, said, ‘There should be a canary that stops singing when love is too dangerous.’
You said, ‘Then they would stop being songbirds.’

For the comments: What do you think of Lauren’s short stories? Which one is your favorite & why?

Review: Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley


You know how there’s always that one book you read as a teen that becomes the book by which you judge all others? For me, that book was Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger — and though I have loved many, many books, there has only been a small handful of titles that made me feel the way I did reading Catcher in the Rye.

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is one of those books. It’s amazing and brilliant and beautifully written, with a story that is wholly original, with much more mature characters.

Where Things Come Back tells the story of 17-year-old Cullen Witter, as he comes of age in the midst of the mysterious disappearance of his younger brother — all the while his small, Southern town is swept up with mania over an alleged siting of a previously extinct woodpecker. Cullen’s story is juxtaposed with the seemingly unconnected tale of a young missionary and where his life goes following a trip to Africa.

Though seemingly disjointed at first, the complexities of the two interwoven tales is utter perfection. Each element of the story is  stellar on its own — but it’s seeing the two halves come together, complementing and completing each other, that really makes Where Things Come Back a breathtaking piece of literature.

Likewise, Cullen is a compelling narrator for his half of the story, as he navigates the emotional ups and downs of adolescent romance, unlikely friendships, and the heartbreaking disappearance of his beloved younger brother. Cullen’s emotional turmoil isn’t just told; it’s illustrated — in his actions, in his words to other characters, and in the amusing (and sometimes disturbing) visions he imagines of angels and zombies. (Yes. Angels. And zombies. Really.)

Cullen’s story is starkly contrasted with the unsettling 3rd-person narrative of the alternating chapters, which take a strange and, at first, seemingly disconnected turn from Cullen’s world — only to have them both collide in a shocking, heartbreaking and surprisingly hopeful climax.

Whaley’s dry, humorous writing style is refreshing and delightful to read — and keeps the heavy religious imagery from becoming heavy-handed or overwhelming. It simply becomes part of the narrative — from Cullen’s brother (purposely named Gabriel), to the idea of the Lazarus woodpecker. Each element of the story has a purpose, and even those that aren’t obvious at first, are revealed by the very last page.

Where Things Come Back is a book that will keep you turning the pages and linger with you long after finishing the last page. More than anything, it will give you a renewed sense of hope even in the most unlikely of ways.

Where Things Come Back is in stores May 3rd. We’ll be featuring it all next week here at Novel Novice, so check back for some unique features and a very cool contest!

Exclusive Q&A with Abandon author Meg Cabot


All this week, we’re featuring Abandon by Meg Cabot — the first book in her brand-new paranormal trilogy. We LOVE this book (and its roots in Greek mythology & Dante), and we LOVE Meg, too. So we were delighted when our friends at Scholastic helped us set up today’s exclusive interview with the best-selling author.

You’ve said that you’ve always loved the story of Persephone. What about the story do you like so much?

I actually really started liking this story as a teen . . . I think it was the idea that there is someone out there–maybe even living beneath your feet–who adores you just as you are and wants to take you away from the crummy place in which you live (and away from your crummy school and the bullies who torture you every day).

The fact that the guy lives in the Underworld and has the power to smite those bullies is a total bonus.

Do you have a favorite “telling” or version of the Persephone story?

Well, Edith Hamilton’s Mythology was the first one I read, and that is the one that stuck. I loved the illustration that came with it of Hades coming up through a chasm in the earth and carrying Persephone off to the Underworld in his chariot.

There are several versions floating around where Persephone clearly eats the pomegranate seeds that force her to have to stay in the Underworld for 6 months of the year on purpose (in other versions, Hades tricks her into eating them).  I could totally relate.  She went from being forbidden by her mom from going to Olympus (her mom was always a worrier) to being Queen of the Underworld!  Why would she want to leave?

There’s something very magical about the setting of Isla Huesos. How do you think ABANDON would have been different if it took place somewhere else?

Actually the book went through a number of drafts, and in several of them the book was set on an island off the coast of Maine.  I think it was just as creepy, just in a different way.  I did a ton of research on the New England setting (my mom spends ever summer on Little Deer Isle, and the book was set on a facsimile of that island.  I went there and ate a lot of lobster and crab rolls).

But when I heard a bunch of people complaining about Key West’s Coffin Night, which is a real event, I got that sinking feeling only writers get.

When the Europeans discovered it, Key West was actually covered in human bones (Cayo Huesos is the original name for Key West), which may be why Key West High has a Coffin Night–when the senior class hides a coffin somewhere on the island, and junior class has to find it. No one really knows why (I interviewed a zillion people, and everyone had a different explanation).

Naturally, this fit so well with the plot of the book I’d already written (about the Underworld), I just had to completely rewrite the whole thing.

In your mind, how are Pierce and the “original” Persephone alike? How are they different?

I feel like we really don’t know anything about Persephone.  In so many versions of the story she plays a very passive role, and the myth is really more about her mother, Demeter, and the trials she goes through rescuing her daughter after she’s kidnapped by the Lord of the Dead and taken to the Underworld.

I always wanted to know more about the journey of this very human character, who manages to tame the Lord of the Dead and then ultimately becomes empowered by ruling over the Underworld herself (at least part time.  Although that’s just what happens in the myth, I’m not telling what happens in my book series).

Besides the obvious influences of Greek mythology and Dante, it’s also pretty clear that recent events in the Gulf influence aspects of ABANDON. At what point in the writing process did that happen? What made you decide to incorporate the oil spill into the story?

Pierce’s dad was always supposed to be a Zeus-like CEO of a large Halliburton-type company, and her mom a nature-loving environmentalist.  The reasons for this actually have nothing to do with the oil spill but with something that happens in a later book in the series.

Then the oil spill happened.  It wasn’t supposed to be part of the book, but there was no way I could ignore it, since, once I moved the setting to the Florida Keys, I had to incorporate all aspects of the Keys, and so much of the Keys is the rich eco-environment in which it exists, and the people who depend on the water for their livelihood.

Later on Pierce’s dad may have a chance to redeem himself (it will not, however, be by magically cleaning up any dispersant or oil.  Mr. O is not actually Zeus).

We know you can’t give away too much, but can you tell us a little about what we can expect from books 2 & 3 in the series?

Readers will find out why Pierce’s cousin Alex is so mad at everyone, why Pierce’s Uncle Chris went to jail in the first place, how John got stuck being the lord of the Underworld beneath Isla Huesos, and why Pierce may be the only person in the world who can save him–and the entire island of Isla Huesos–from being destroyed by the forces of evil.

What interview question do you always wish someone would ask?

Vampire, werewolf, or Lord of the Dead?

Now answer that question!

Lord of the Dead, of course!

If they made a Meg Cabot candle, what would it smell like?

The ocean or the pool, because I’m an Aquarius, and I love the water.  That’s why I live on an island!

Favorite cartoon?

As a kid I loved Underdog.  But I had a Josie and the Pussycats lunch box.

Chocolate or vanilla?

Chocolate.

  Your personal theme song?

A song I always listen to in order to get pumped up is “Neutron Dance” by the Pointer Sisters.  It’s a great motivational song because it’s about how there’s no money falling from the sky, and the man is going to steal your heart and rob you blind.  But if you work hard, believe in yourself, and, obviously, burn the neutron dance, you’ll get that pot of gold in the end.  So get dancing.

You’re on a deserted island and have to read one book for the rest of your life. What is it?

Probably Cold Comfort Farm by Stella Gibbons.  It’s my favorite comfort read.  It’s funny, romantic, and profound.

Favorite book as a child?

It was The Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett.

Secret talent?

I’m psychic but no one believes it–basically like my character in my adult paranormal books, Insatiable and Overbite. And it only works sporadically.  But I did convince my friend not to go to Morocco this one time, so he cancelled his trip and then the hotel where he was going to stay blew up. That is my most successful prediction to date (besides the fact that I was going to get published someday).

Thanks once again to Meg for answering all our questions, and to Charisse at Scholastic for setting this interview up for us!

Book Review: Chasing AllieCat by Rebecca Fielland Davis

Synopsis:

Dumped with relatives in a small Minnesota town for the summer, Sadie Lester is relying on her mountain bike to save her from total boredom. Then she meets Allie, a spiky-haired off-road mountain biker who’s training for a major race. Allie leads Sadie and Joe, a cute fellow cyclist, up and down Mount Kato, and the three become close friends. But the exhilarating rush comes to a halt when they find a priest in the woods, badly beaten and near death. After calling for help, Allie disappears from their lives.

As they search for Allie and try to find out why she left so suddenly, Sadie and Joe discover more about Allie’s past, including her connection to the priest. Only on the day of the big race does Sadie finally learn the complete, startling truth about Allie—and the terrible secret that forced her into hiding.

Review: Never judge a book by its cover. While combing through my ever-growing stack or ARCS, I tended to pass over Davis’ novel thinking it wouldn’t be my thing…I’d get to it eventually. Turns out, I was depriving myself of quite a read.

Filled with adventure, a slew of authentic side characters, and a setting that comes alive, Chasing AllieCat is a quick, enjoyable read. I really couldn’t put it down. I’m not really an outdoor person, so the prospect of reading about a cyclist didn’t sound appealing. This book  is so much more.

Davis does a wonderful job of building tension.  While I didn’t have a particularly hard time guessing the mystery, Davis kept me enthralled. Her descriptions of the town are so artfully constructed they add a whole other level to the intrigue and suspense of this novel.

While I didn’t completely fall for the love story of the novel, I found the characters to each be interesting on their own. AND I want to know what happens next. Sure, Davis weaves a satisfying ending, but I want to know more. I’m not ready to end my time with this story or town. If that’s not a sign of a good book, I don’t know what is.

Classroom Connections: Wither & The Hollow Men


We continue our look at “Classroom Connections” for Wither by Lauren DeStefano today, with T.S. Eliot’s poem The Hollow Men — which is quoted at the opening of the book:

This is the way the world ends
Not with a bang but a whimper

The poem, written in 1925, is considered to be largely a reflection on life in Europe after World War I, though literary critics tend to think that those final lines of the poem (above) are actually in reference to the historical figure Guy Fawkes. (Whose part in the failed Gunpowder Plot of 1605 to blow up England’s House of Lords ended with his own torture and execution).

But taken in the context of Wither, what other meaning can you interpret from those lines?

Furthermore, if you read the entire text of The Hollow Men, what other correlations can you make between Eliot’s poem and Wither?

Besides addressing life after WWI, many literary critics agree that The Hollow Men is also about the challenges of hope and religion, as well as Eliot’s own failed marriage. How do these additional themes in the poem relate to Wither? DeStefano’s book deals with many ideas of hope, in a world that sees its youngest generations dying at age 25 and 20. Marriage, too, is a pervading theme in Wither, with Rhine’s forced polygamous marriage to Linden being a commonality in the book’s society.

The Hollow Men also features references to Joseph Conrad’s novel The Heart of Darkness (with the poem’s epigraph, “Mistah Kurtz – he dead.“) and to Guy Fawkes (with the poem’s second epigraph, “A penny for the Old Guy.“). Other references in the poem include the Lord’s Prayer, Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar, Dante’s Inferno, and another Conrad novel, An Outcast of the Islands. Can you think of any way these references within The Hollow Men might also relate to Wither?

This, of course, is one of many examples in which The Hollow Men is used in popular culture. Can you think of other examples?