On Thursday I took my son to our local botanical garden, which recently added a beautiful children’s section. As my son splashed around in the water feature, and I sat in the shade on a gorgeous day, it occurred to me that I may be wrapping up one of the last truly free summers of my son’s life. He is starting kindergarten, and youth sports, or youth arts programs will probably start to creep in, eventually comprising part of summer. Part of my thoughts may have been a result of the admittedly dark texts I read for most of the week, but as my personal summer draws to a close, I found myself reading the books I had brought home from school but had not read yet. That resulted in a rather eclectic, mostly dark, reading program for this last week.
First up on the docket was Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson. This was clearly the first in a dystopian future series. To be honest, while I love mysteries, I have to work myself up to read the dystopian books. That resulted in a rather bleak week of reading. The premise of Steelheart is that an event called The Calamity created people with superhuman powers. The result is a group called Epics, who desire to rule human. The desire leads to chaos and destruction for regular people. David is one of those regular people, now living in a mostly steel version of Chicago called Newcago. He wants revenge, and who joins a group trying to take out the Epics. The novel is action packed, and has numerous gun battles and chase scenes. I thought the premise was interesting, but it also gave me nightmares, so this was not my favorite read of the summer.
The next book I read was a non-fiction account of the building, initial voyage, shipwreck, and aftermath. The recount is straightforward and clear, with several recollections of witnesses rolled together. The notes in this discussion of the Titanic are very thorough, and comprise nearly a third of the book. This is a great one for anyone interested in the Titanic, and for anyone that wants a great example of nonfiction text features to look for. One quotation that really stuck with me was, “The events of the Titanic disaster can be seen as a symbol of what happens through overconfidence in technology, complacence, and a mindset of profits over people’s safety” (217). Quite honestly, this made me realize that part of why people remain fascinated by the Titanic involves what they can project on the disaster, and that there are lessons that people can draw from the situation in every generation. The danger in that is that the humanity of the people lost can become dulled over time, but Hopkinson did a great job focusing on the actual people on the ship that fateful night.
I finally got around to reading The Maze Runner, by James Dasher. It has been recommended to me by students, and also the Tech coordinator at school, and my dentist. I never wanted to take it from a student, as it had holds on it all year, so I took it home for the summer. I thought it was an interesting dystopian novel, and I admit that my conceptions about what the maze would be turned out to be incorrect, which I always enjoy in a story. I think my biggest complaint was the near lack of female characters – I am not arguing that all stories must have all views represented, but the ending of the story left me with a few questions regarding group composition.
This last graphic novel was my treat for a week filled with rather gloomy reading fare. This was a fun story, about Babymouse realizing how great her life is, and why she enjoys it. I know that my elementary students like these graphic novels, and I enjoyed it as well. It was a quick read, with a story of acceptance.
I started back to work yesterday, so this is my last true summer reading post. Happy reading everyone!