Friday, January 29, 2010

Science Fiction in the Classroom

Just finished up our science fiction unit in the nick of time for the end of the semester. The following two books were new reads for me from our genre cart- yes, I know, I'm probably the last one in the world to read Westerfeld's Uglies, but I still loved it and loved to see that the movie rights have been purchased. You Tub abounds with movie trailers done by fans. I'm not quite sold on the one that pieces together bits of the the Twilight movies and some other film that I can't quite place. Anyway, the premise of Westerfeld's Uglies (for the other person in the world who hasn't read it) is that Tally, an almost 16 year-old is an "Ugly" but will become a "Pretty" in a few weeks via an operation that everyone must go through. When she meets Shay and then David (who have run away to escape the Pretty operation), Tally changes how she feels about being changed. I loved what Westerfeld had to say about loving who you are as you are and I was awestruck at the incredible insights the students who read the book had about these issues.

The other novel I read that was surprisingly interesting was The Last Universe by William Sleator. Students were very astute about noticing some issues with the writing style of the book, but they were blown away by the quantum physics part of the plot. I had fun trying to explain it to them even though I wasn't quite sure about it myself. Great information on the internet, though! In the novel, Susan's brother Gary is sick and seems to get better when they find and enter a maze her great-uncle created in the garden. They find out they are surrounded by a quantum garden and mysterious things begin to happen to both Susan and Gary until no one knows who is who anymore. Students didn't really like the ending but I think that was because Hollywood has conditioned them for the happily ever after. Even after reading some really great YA novels, they still want it all wrapped up neatly.

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