Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m)

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

Demigods and Monsters - Expanded Edition

Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m)

by Jenny Han

The lives of half-bloods in Greek mythology usually end in blood and guts and fire—we’re talking vengeful gods, three-headed dogs, monsters, ancient curses. It’s all very dangerous and life threaten-y. If you were the child of a really powerful god like Percy is, you’d have to stay at Camp Half-Blood all year long, for fear of attracting monsters in the real world. You could never really go back home. Your life would be forever changed. If not over. If you’re lucky.

And yet . . . the thought of having that powerful blood surging through you, of having access to a whole other kind of magical world, one that defies reason and gravity, even—it might just be worth it. I know I for one would just love a taste of ambrosia and nectar. I’d jump at the chance to learn Ancient Greek, practice archery, take swordfighting lessons, play Capture the Flag …

Available Until Wednesday, March 4th, 2015

» Continue Reading “Eeny Meeny Miney Mo(m)”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Reading the Right Books

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

Through the Wardrobe

Reading the Right Books

by Ned Vizzini

The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was always my favorite Narnia book, and the wonder of being a kid is that you don’t have to question why things are your favorites. That’s for psychoanalysis later on. If you had come along and asked me why Dawn Treader beat out The Silver Chair, which has some really creepy parts, and The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (which I always got annoyed by because, in terms of the chronological events of the book, it should have been called The Wardrobe, the Witch and the Lion), I would have said that it was because it had cool monsters and lots of amazing islands and various killer enchantments that were really awesome.

But when you grow up you start to understand why you liked these things, and it can be quite sobering. In some cases the only explanation is that you were retarded (see …

Available Until Wednesday, February 18th, 2015

» Continue Reading “Reading the Right Books”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Inevitable Decline of Decadence

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

The Girl Who Was on Fire - Movie Edition

The Inevitable Decline of Decadence

by Adrienne Kress

The goal of every culture is to decay through over-civilization; the
factors of decadence—luxury, skepticism, weariness and superstition—are constant. The civilization of one epoch becomes the manure of the
next.

—Cyril Connolly

The Hunger Games trilogy deals with many themes: war, rebellion, the manipulation of media. But it was its concern with societal decadence and its inevitable downfall that made the first book’s release timely. The bestselling YA dystopian series came onto shelves just as the world’s economy took a tumble. For years we’d been living in comfort and excess. Consumerism was rife, and shows like Sex and the City glorified consumption by extolling the virtues of shoes worth hundreds of dollars. Then, suddenly, the party was over, and the world became concerned with trying to save money rather than spend it. Today the idea of wasteful consumption turns our …

Available Until Wednesday, February 4th, 2015

» Continue Reading “The Inevitable Decline of Decadence”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Dangerous Dead

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

Nyx in the House of Night

The Dangerous Dead

by John Edgar Browning

Reading the House of Night series is very much akin to reading Zoey’s favorite book, Dracula (1897), for like Bram Stoker’s novel, one will find also in the House of Night’s pages the subtle mingling of folklore and reality with popular fiction. It will probably come as little surprise to readers out there to learn that, when it comes to its vampyres, the House of Night is steeped in all three. However, which parts are “fiction” and which are “reality” may come as a shock and, in some cases, may even seem implausible.

Folklore has almost as many variations on the vampire as there are vampire films (at least 700 of which, or more, belong to Dracula or his semblance alone), and more often than not the two are confused for one another.

The House of Night series, and the various associations it conjures up, is no exception to this. However, the series’ treatment of the vampire mythology is surprisingly faithful to the folklore, …

Available Until Friday, January 30th, 2015

» Continue Reading “The Dangerous Dead”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Ladies of the Night, Unite!

2 Comments

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Ladies of the Night, Unite!

by Jon Skovron

The Vampire Diaries is a perfect example of an age-old battle between opposites. Not Good and Evil, of course. Neither the book nor the show is so didactic as to portray any character as purely Good or purely Evil. No, I’m talking about that other age-old conflict: Boy Vampires vs. Girl Vampires. The conflict began a long time ago, in a place kind of far away . . .

The year was 1816. Many called it the “Year without a Summer” because of a series of strange weather events in northern Europe that extended the rains of spring straight into fall. The earnest young English physician John William Polidori found himself in a Gothic villa near Geneva with his good friend and frequent traveling companion, the poet Lord Byron, and guests Claire Clairmont, Percy Bysshe Shelley, and Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley. Since they were forced to stay indoors by the …

Available Until Wednesday, January 28th, 2015

» Continue Reading “Ladies of the Night, Unite!”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Romeo, Ripley, and Bella Swan

1 Comment

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

A New Dawn

Romeo, Ripley, and Bella Swan

by Rosemary Clement-Moore

Romeo and Juliet nearly killed my GPA in high school. This is difficult for me to admit, being not only a literature geek, but a theater major. Shakespeare wrote some of the world’s most beautiful verse for those tragic lovers from Verona, but it took me a long time to understand why the play is a classic. What does this have to do with Stephenie Meyer’s compulsively readable, engrossingly gothic tale of Bella Swan and the vampire she loves? Well, Twilight is a little like Romeo and Juliet, except one of the pair is already dead. Meyer nods to this by opening New Moon with a quote from the play. Within the first chapter, Bella and Edward are discussing the similarities (sort of) between their relationship and that of Shakespeare’s star-crossed lovers, and I’m patting myself on the back for my masterful insight. It’s the parallels to Shakespeare’s play that …

Available Until Wednesday, January 21st, 2015

» Continue Reading “Romeo, Ripley, and Bella Swan”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Reimagining “Magic City”

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

Nyx in the House of Night

Reimagining “Magic City”

by Amy H. Sturgis

My own journey to the House of Night began with an email from my little sister, Margret. She explained that I should read—no, had to read—the novels by P.C. and Kristin Cast. While I appreciated her recommendation, I wasn’t exactly in the market for new titles to enjoy. My “to read” stack already was well out of hand.

Then Margret changed my mind with one simple sentence: “The books are set in Tulsa.”

The next thing I knew, I was reading the opening scene of the first book, in which a vampyre Tracker Marks Zoey Montgomery in the hall of her school and my alma mater, South Intermediate High School, in the Tulsa suburb of Broken Arrow. I was hooked.

Of course, familiarity has its own charm. Like Zoey, I’ve shopped at Utica Square, trusted meteorologist Travis Meyer for the day’s weather forecast, and even taken a science class from Mr. Wise, and this helped me to feel an immediate identification with the young …

Available Until Thursday, January 1st, 2015

» Continue Reading “Reimagining “Magic City””

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Not Even the Gods Are Perfect

1 Comment

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

Demigods and Monsters - Expanded Edition

Not Even the Gods Are Perfect

by Elizabeth E. Wein

Maybe your brain is hardwired to read Ancient Greek. Maybe you’re struggling to read this book. You wish it was in an alphabet you recognized. You wish the words didn’t look like brainteaser puzzles.

It’s far more likely that if you’re reading this, reading comes easy to you. Maybe you look at the kid in your class with learning disabilities and you think, “Must be stupid—he can barely read.”

Maybe you feel sorry for him. Maybe you’re interested in finding out more, but you’re shy and embarrassed and avoid making eye contact or talking to him, because he’s so different and you don’t know what it’s like and you don’t want to say the wrong thing.

Maybe you make fun of him. Maybe behind his back, so he won’t know.

Maybe to his face. “Hey, here’s a hard one for you, what’s two plus two?” It’s got nothing to do with reading, but it’ll …

Available Until Wednesday, December 31st, 2014

» Continue Reading “Not Even the Gods Are Perfect”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Bonnie Bennett: A New Kind of Best Friend

7 Comments

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Bonnie Bennett: A New Kind of Best Friend

by Bree Despain

As an author of teen fiction, there are many things I
absolutely love about my job: meeting new people,
spending all day creating fictional boys for my readers to
crush on, and developing whole new mythologies inside my
head. But I have to say that one of the absolute best parts of
my job is that watching shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer,
Gossip Girl, Veronica Mars,
and Friday Night Lights is actually
considered work. After a long day of writing and mommyhood
there’s nothing better than cuddling up with my hubby
and a bowl of popcorn and firing up the TiVo.

Some may call this vegging.
I call it research.

You see, as I’m watching, I’m also taking mental notes on
the choices the writers and directors have made concerning
plot, dialogue, pacing, and the …

Available Until Wednesday, December 24th, 2014

» Continue Reading “Bonnie Bennett: A New Kind of Best Friend”

Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Politics of Mockingjay

Read this week’s free YA essay on Smartpopbooks.com:

The Girl Who Was on Fire - Movie Edition

The Politics of Mockingjay

by Sarah Darer Littman

Maybe it’s because of my political background, but when I read Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games series the focus was never about Team Gale or Team Peeta the way it was for so many readers; the romance was a subplot. I majored in political science in college, and when I’m not writing books for teens, I’m a columnist for Hearst newspapers and a writer and blogger for various political websites, including CT News Junkie and My Left Nutmeg. To my mind, the Hunger Games trilogy was always more about “The System”—a political system that would not just allow but require children to fight to the death in televised games.

According to an interview in the School Library Journal, Collins said she drew her inspiration for the Hunger Games from imagining a cross between the war in Iraq and reality TV, after flipping through the channels one night and seeing the juxtaposition between the coverage of the war and reality TV programming. While I’ve …

Available Until Friday, December 19th, 2014

» Continue Reading “The Politics of Mockingjay

Stay Updated

Our Books

  • Latest Free Essays
  • Latest Contests
  • Latest Interviews
  • Latest Excerpts