Pretty much everyone here had read The Hunger Games before there was talk of a movie, and we are pretty smug about it. Books are the one thing that I am actually kind of “trendy” with, so when I get something right I need people to hear about it. When these sequels or movies come out everybody is going to be talking about these books, so why not get a head start? That way when everyone else is behind the times, reading furiously to catch up, you will be the one sitting pretty with all the information, dangling spoilers like carrots, dropping hints, and withholding important information for sexual favors.

A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness

Does this sound familiar? A woman falls in love with a moody, chiseled vampire with a great wardrobe and a quick temper. Of course it does, and comparisons between Twilight and Deborah Harkness’ extraordinarily fun debut (the first in a planned trilogy) are unavoidable. But A Discovery of Witches, a thoroughly grown-up novel packed with gorgeous historical detail, has a gutsy, brainy heroine to match: Diana Bishop, a renowned scholar of 17th century chemistry and a descendant of accomplished witches. Diana has spent most of her life resisting the magic within her. The power she’s long denied swirls to the forefront, however, when she opens a bewitched manuscript in Oxford’s famous Bodleian Library. Suddenly every vampire, witch, and daemon (yes, they walk among us; we humans are just oblivious to their presence) is up in her grill, hungry for the secrets she’s unknowingly unlocked. It’s 1,500-year-old vampire Matthew who makes the biggest impression. Diana falls madly for him, breaking every rule about inter-species dating. They’re a formidable team, which is lucky because Diana’s roiling power has unleashed all kinds of crazy.

The sequel, Shadow of Night, is coming out July 10th, with a third and final book on the horizon.

The Passage by Justin Cronin

Every so often a novel-reader’s novel comes along: an enthralling, entertaining story wedded to simple, supple prose, both informed by tremendous imagination. Summer is the perfect time for such books, and this year readers can enjoy the gift of Justin Cronin’s The Passage. Read fifteen pages and you will find yourself captivated; read thirty and you will find yourself taken prisoner and reading late into the night. It has the vividness that only epic works of fantasy and imagination can achieve. What else can I say? This: read this book and the ordinary world disappears.
-Stephen King

The second book in the trilogy, The Twelve, is due to be released on October 16th.

The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien

Peace-loving Bilbo Baggins, a hobbit (or halfling) is living in the country of the shire in Middle Earth (more on that later). He meets a strange wandering wizard talking of adventures; Bilbo invites him to afternoon tea and thinks nothing more of it. But instead of just one wizard arriving at Bilbo’s house, 13 dwarves arrive as well. So begins an adventure beyond Bilbo’s wildest imaginings. An adventure that takes him to the Grand House of Elrond, through the dangerous orc-infested Misty Mountains, past the mazes of Mirkwood and to many other places as well.
The Hobbit is a great adventure story and is a classic as well as a must-read. I have read it 15 times. You heard me, 15 times! I don’t often read a book more than once. It submerges you into another world and it captures your imagination – taking you to another realm. It paints a perfect picture in your head and it has a really good story line. And when you get that combination in a book, you can read it over and over.
The Hobbit was so successful when it was published that Tolkien was encouraged to write a sequel, which became his masterpiece: The Lord of the Rings. I love Lord of the Rings, but I haven’t read it 15 times. I think it is because there is a charm in The Hobbit that is not matched in the sequel. So if you haven’t read Lord of the Rings yet, read The Hobbit first. And if you have, read The Hobbit anyway.        -Luke (Grade 5)

Peter Jackson’s movie is due out in December.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

In 1922, F. Scott Fitzgerald announced his decision to write “something new--something extraordinary and beautiful and simple + intricately patterned.” That extraordinary, beautiful, intricately patterned, and above all, simple novel became The Great Gatsby, arguably Fitzgerald’s finest work and certainly the book for which he is best known. A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, Gatsby captured the spirit of the author’s generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald’s--and his country’s--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. “Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that’s no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--” Gatsby’s rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream.
Bonus Fun Fact: Hunter S. Thompson typed out The Great Gatsby in its entirety, just to get a sense of what it would be like to type out a great novel.

Baz Luhrman’s movie is due out in December.

World War Z by Max Brooks

“The Crisis” nearly wiped out humanity. Brooks (son of Mel Brooks and author of The Zombie Survival Guide) has taken it upon himself to document the “first hand” experiences and testimonies of those lucky to survive 10 years after the fictitious zombie war. Like a horror fan’s version of Studs Terkel’s The Good War, the “historical account” format gives Brooks room to explore the zombie plague from numerous different views and characters. In a deadpan voice, Brooks exhaustively details zombie incidents from isolated attacks to full-scale military combat: “what if the enemy can’t be shocked and awed? Not just won’t, but biologically can’t!” The “interviews” and personal accounts capture the universal fear of the collapse of society--a living nightmare in which anyone can become a mindless, insatiable predator at a moment’s notice. Horror fans won’t be disappointed: like George Romero’s Dead trilogy, World War Z is another milestone in the zombie mythos.

The movie, starring Brad Pitt, is coming out next year.

The Host by Stephenie Meyer

Stephenie Meyer, creator of the phenomenal teen-vamp Twilight series, takes paranormal romance into alien territory in her first adult novel. Those wary of sci-fi or teen angst will be pleasantly surprised by this mature and imaginative thriller, propelled by equal parts action and emotion. A species of altruistic parasites has peacefully assumed control of the minds and bodies of most humans, but feisty Melanie Stryder won’t surrender her mind to the alien soul called Wanderer. Overwhelmed by Melanie’s memories of fellow resistor Jared, Wanderer yields to her body’s longing and sets off into the desert to find him. Likely the first love triangle involving just two bodies, it’s unabashedly romantic, and the characters (human and alien) genuinely endearing. Readers intrigued by this familiar-yet-alien world will gleefully note that the story’s end leaves the door open for a sequel--or another series.

The movie is coming out next year.

American Gods by Neil Gaiman

The gods of European yore, who came to North America with their immigrant believers, are squaring off for a rumble with new indigenous deities: “gods of credit card and freeway, of Internet and telephone.” They all walk around disguised as ordinary people, which causes no end of trouble for protagonist Shadow Moon, who can’t turn around without bumping into a minor divinity. Released from prison the day after his wife dies in a car accident, Shadow takes a job as emissary for Mr. Wednesday, avatar of the Norse god Grimnir, unaware that his boss’s recruiting trip across the American heartland will subject him to repeat visits from the reanimated corpse of his dead wife and brutal roughing up by the goons of Wednesday’s adversary, Mr. World. At last Shadow must reevaluate his own deeply held beliefs in order to determine his crucial role in the final showdown.

HBO is planning a 6 season mini-series.

The Devil in the White City by Erik Larson

Author Erik Larson imbues the incredible events surrounding the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair with such drama that readers may find themselves checking the book’s categorization to be sure that The Devil in the White City is not, in fact, a highly imaginative novel. Larson tells the stories of two men: Daniel H. Burnham, the architect responsible for the fair’s construction, and H.H. Holmes, a serial killer masquerading as a charming doctor. Burnham’s challenge was immense: To construct the famous “White City” around which the fair was built. His efforts to complete the project, and the fair’s incredible success, are skillfully related along with entertaining appearances by such notables as Buffalo Bill Cody, Susan B. Anthony, and Thomas Edison. The activities of the sinister Dr. Holmes, who is believed to be responsible for 20-200 murders around the time of the fair, are equally remarkable. He devised and erected the World’s Fair Hotel, complete with crematorium and gas chamber, near the fairgrounds and used the event as well as his own charismatic personality to lure victims. Combining the stories of an architect and a killer in one book, mostly in alternating chapters, seems like an odd choice but it works. The magical appeal and horrifying dark side of 19th-century Chicago are both revealed through Larson’s skillful writing.

The movie, starring Leonardo DiCaprio, is in pre-production.

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

This book is my favorite book of all time. This was THE book that introduced me to sci-fi. It had alot to do with shaping the person that I am today. Ender’s Game deals with a our future Earth. Aliens had attacked many years ago and almost destroyed Earth. Luckily, they were defeated and Earth thrived. Today, the Earth sends the best and brightest of its children into outer space to Battle School, in order to become military commanders for the alien invasion that everyone fears will one day come. And I’m talking children children, like 5 to 8 years old. The book centers around one such child, Andrew Wiggin, known by his family as Ender. He’s the youngest to ever be recruited and the book focuses on his trials and tribulations.
In my humble opinion, this is the best science fiction book ever. I guarantee that fans of The Hunger Games will enjoy this book. Ender’s Game is similar to The Hunger Games (a future Earth, young kids doing things that even adults would shudder at, adults masterminding the whole thing, etc.) only it takes place in outer space.

The movie is coming out next year.

Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell

Mitchell’s virtuosic novel presents six narratives that evoke an array of genres, from Melvillean high-seas drama to California noir and dystopian fantasy. There is a naïve clerk on a nineteenth-century Polynesian voyage; an aspiring composer who insinuates himself into the home of a syphilitic genius; a journalist investigating a nuclear plant; a publisher with a dangerous best-seller on his hands; and a cloned human being created for slave labor. These five stories are bisected and arranged around a sixth, the history of a post-apocalyptic island, which forms the heart of the novel. Only after this do the second halves of the stories fall into place, pulling the novel’s themes into focus: the ease with which one group enslaves another, and the rewriting of the past by those who control the present. Against such forces, Mitchell’s characters reveal a quiet tenacity. When the clerk is told that his life amounts to “no more than one drop in a limitless ocean,” he asks, “Yet what is any ocean but a multitude of drops?”

The movie is coming out in October.

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So, what do you think?