Independent Novel Study English 2201 The Maze Runner by James Dashner • Thomas wakes up to find himself in a box. When he reaches the top, he is pulled out by a group of boys who pull him out into their surroundings. The only thing he remembers is his name, nothing else. • The Maze Runner is an exciting book and very difficult to put down. This is probably due to the unusual circumstances and situations that constitute the Maze Runner world. James Dashner, and this is the first of his books I've had the pleasure to read, has designed a simple yet mind-numbing world for his story. Also it's a science fiction story in a sub-genre heavily populated with talking cats and Vampire lovers. Hamlet & Ophelia: a novel • Coping with the death of his father and reeling from the marriage of his mother to his uncle, Hamlet has an encounter with his father's ghost, who reveals the truth: he was murdered--by his brother! Urged by his father to seek revenge, Hamlet is wracked with indecision and spirals into depression. It seems that not even his best friend, Horatio, nor his love interest, Ophelia, can help him. A visiting acting troupe inspires Hamlet to form a plan, but he cannot foresee the devastation that will occur. Hamlet and Ophelia is a compelling read for teens and adults alike-sexy, sultry, spellbinding. In following the contours of Shakespeare's play, John Marsden has created a stunning tale that brings new life to a timeless classic. Divergent • In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. Shaken • A novel from one of the country's most prolific and popular YA authors, this book, set in Port-au-Prince, Haiti during the January 2009 earthquake, follows the struggle of Joshua, a Canadian boy at the centre of the tragedy. Fifteen-year-old Joshua has travelled from Toronto to Port-au-Prince, Haiti in order to help with a charity mission. In confronting the poverty and injustice that surrounds him, Joshua struggles to find meaning in the cruelty of the world. And then devastation hits — and Joshua finds himself at the very centre of a catastrophic earthquake. Will he be able to save himself? And, if he does, how will he find the faith and hope he needs to go on? The Book Thief • In this dark and powerfully absorbing novel, brilliantly executed by Australian author, Markus Zusak, Death narrates “just a small story, really.” It turns out to be the story of “the book thief,” Liesel Meminger, her foster family, neighbourhood friends, a Jewish amateur prizefighter in hiding, and a world gone mad with a global war and the horrors of the Holocaust. The Grim Reaper’s riveting tale goes far beyond “just a small story”, and every page deserves to be read. For openers Death describes the shock of his first, but not his last, visit to “nine years old, soon to be ten” Liesel and her family. It is 1939 when he arrives to claim Liesel’s six-year-old brother on the train the youngsters and their mother are taking to Molching, just outside of Munich. With their father imprisoned as a Communist, and their mother unable to care for them, the children are to be left at 33 Himmel Street with foster parents, Rosa and Hans Hubermann. But Death intervenes, and when the boy is buried, Liesel steals a copy of “The Gravedigger’s Handbook: A Twelve-Step Guide to Grave-Digging Success”, the first of the several books Death describes her pilfering during her illustrious book-thieving career. Fishtailing • • • • High School. Four lives caught up in a game. The problem with games is that there are always winners. And losers. Teen violence, bullying and the burning quest to fit in are presented in the poems of four unforgettable high school students: Natalie, Kyle, Tricia, Miguel. Their stories unfold in this explosive new book, told in free verse. A story of teen angst like no other, it is based on fictional characters but is rooted in the realities of the teen experience. When Natalie moves to a new high school she befriends three unwitting victims into her spiderweb of manipulations, lies and deceit. Through the poetry and assignments of an English class we glimpse the world of the four teens. Natalie, whose alcoholic parents, years of neglect and ultimate rape by her father’s friend has shaped her into a cruel and manipulative teen; Tricia, dealing with her blended family is drawn into Natalies’ forbidden world of partying and rebellion; Kyle, a would-be musician is in love with Tricia and Miguel who lusts for Natalie while hiding the secrets of his family. The story weaves us through their poetry, their lives and culminates at a party where the four lives fishtail out of control. English class will never be the same. Her glance Across the crowded classroom Speaks louder Than the droning recital Of paragraph structure I know you It says You are mine Something inside Shifts. The Rescue • When confronted by raging fires or deadly accidents, volunteer fireman Taylor McAden feels compelled to take terrifying risks to save lives. But there is one leap of faith Taylor can't bring himself to make: he can't fall in love. For all his adult years, Taylor has sought out women who need to be rescued, women he leaves as soon as their crisis is over and the relationship starts to become truly intimate. When a raging storm hits his small Southern town, single mother Denise Holton’s car skids off the road. The young mom is with her fouryear-old son Kyle, a boy with severe learning disabilities and for whom she has sacrificed everything. Taylor McAden finds her unconscious and bleeding, but does not find Kyle. When Denise wakes, the chilling truth becomes clear to both of them: Kyle is gone. During the search for Kyle, the connection between Taylor and Denise takes root. Taylor doesn't know that this rescue will be different from all the others, demanding far more than raw physical courage. It will lead him to the possibility of his own rescue from a life lived without love and will require him to open doors to his past that were slammed shut by pain. This rescue will dare him to live life to the fullest by daring to love. The curious incident of the dog in the night • • Mark Haddon's bitterly funny first novel, The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time, is a murder mystery of sorts--one told by autistic Christopher John Francis Boone, a 15-year-old boy, mathematically gifted and socially hopeless, raised in a working-class home by parents who can barely cope with their child's quirks. He takes everything that he sees (or is told) at face value, and is unable to sort out the strange behaviour of his elders and peers. Late one night, Christopher comes across his neighbour's poodle, Wellington, impaled on a garden fork. Wellington's owner finds him cradling her dead dog in his arms, and has him arrested. After spending a night in jail, Christopher resolves--against the objection of his father and neighbours--to discover just who has murdered Wellington. He is encouraged by Siobhan, a social worker at his school, to write a book about his investigations, and the result--quirkily illustrated, with each chapter given its own prime number--is The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-time. The Kite Runner • • In his debut novel, The Kite Runner, Khaled Hosseini accomplishes what very few contemporary novelists are able to do. He manages to provide an educational and eye-opening account of a country's political turmoil--in this case, Afghanistan--while also developing characters whose heartbreaking struggles and emotional triumphs resonate with readers long after the last page has been turned over. And he does this on his first try. The Kite Runner follows the story of Amir, the privileged son of a wealthy businessman in Kabul, and Hassan, the son of Amir's father's servant. As children in the relatively stable Afghanistan of the early 1970s, the boys are inseparable. They spend idyllic days running kites and telling stories of mystical places and powerful warriors until an unspeakable event changes the nature of their relationship forever, and eventually cements their bond in ways neither boy could have ever predicted. Even after Amir and his father flee to America, Amir remains haunted by his cowardly actions and disloyalty. In part, it is these demons and the sometimes impossible quest for forgiveness that bring him back to his war-torn native land after it comes under Taliban rule. Come Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant • A delightfully offbeat story that features an opinionated tortoise and an IQ-challenged narrator who find themselves in the middle of a lifechanging mystery. Audrey (a.k.a. Oddly) Flowers is living quietly in Oregon with Winnifred, her tortoise, when she finds out her dear father has been knocked into a coma back in Newfoundland. Despite her fear of flying, she goes to him, but not before she reluctantly dumps Winnifred with her unreliable friends. Poor Winnifred. It's all a little bit Alice in Newfoundland.