Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A Very Dangerous Boy

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A New Dawn

A Very Dangerous Boy

by Susan Vaught

[NOTE: Please read entire essay before pressingon the hate-mail!]

I’m the world’s best predator, aren’t I? Everything about me invites you in–my voice, my face, even my smell.

–EDWARD CULLEN, TWILIGHT

Edward Cullen. Yes, I know, every fangirl in the Twilight universe just squealed at the mere mention of his name. And what’s not to love?

He’s powerful. He’s rich. He’s romantic. And, as he notes in the quote
above, he’s thoroughly enticing in every possible way.

He’s also a predator, just like he says.

For the first three books in the Twilight series, Edward Cullen is a dangerous, bloodthirsty predator at constant risk of murdering the girl he loves. In the fourth book, after he spends several days conspiring to kill his unborn child, he finally does take Bella’s life. More specifically, he rams a needle full of vampire venom into her heart, then uses his teeth to keep filling her with venom …

Available Until Wednesday, June 1st, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Dangerous Dead

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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 Wednesday, May 25th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: She Is Goddess

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Nyx in the House of Night

She Is Goddess

by Yasmine Galenorn

She is Goddess. She is the moon overhead, full and ripe in the sky. She is
the ground under our feet, pungent and ripe with promise. She is the huntress
in the woods, fleet of foot, and the washerwoman at the stream, washing
bloody garments predicting deaths to come. She wears a triple face: Maiden,
Mother, Crone. She is gigantic–the 24,000-year-old Venus of Willendorf,
and she is lithe–Eos, the goddess of dawn. She is Kali, she is Artemis and
Athena and the Morrigan. As Gaia, the planet, she provides the sustenance
that keeps us alive. As Hel, she walks us into the Underworld at our death.
Eternal and cyclic, she is Goddess, the primal source of life and death.

Throughout history, the divine feminine has been worshiped and loved,
reviled and vilified, adored and feared. She has been exalted, and …

Available Until Tuesday, May 24th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Greek Hero–New and Improved!

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Demigods and Monsters - Expanded Edition

The Greek Hero–New and Improved!

by Hilari Bell

Essay excerpt to come!

Available Until Wednesday, May 18th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Don't Be Fooled by that Noble Chin: Stefan Sucks

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A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

Don't Be Fooled by that Noble Chin: Stefan Sucks

by Kiersten White

Ah, Stefan Salvatore. That hair! That jaw! Those soulful green eyes that spend absurd amounts of time per episode directing agonized and/or lustful looks toward the object of his love and obsession! He keeps a journal, he broods, he sheds manly tears, he (generally) doesn’t drink human blood. He is a paragon of vampire virtue and a shining example of what a boyfriend should be.

Except, not so much. And I’m not talking about how, when force-fed human blood, he went all crazy-junkie on us for a few episodes. That I can forgive. He’s a vampire, after all, and he can’t help being drawn to blood. No, it’s the rest of the time that Stefan creeps me out. Forget lovely murderous sociopath Damon–it’s Stefan who is the true villain of Mystic Falls. He uses guilt as a tool for manipulation (of himself and others) and, more dangerously, as an excuse to …

Available Until Wednesday, May 11th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Prince to King

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Through the Wardrobe

Prince to King

by Elizabeth E. Wein

Once a king or queen in Narnia, always a king or queen.” That’s what Aslan tells the Pevensie children, Peter, Susan, Edmund, and Lucy, as they take the four thrones at Cair Paravel in their first Narnian adventure, The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. If you count pages, no king in C. S. Lewis’s Narnia books actually gets more airtime than Caspian X. He plays a starring role in two books, Prince Caspian and The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, but in fact he’s also king of Narnia throughout The Silver Chair.

From the day Caspian is forced to run away because his uncle Miraz wants to kill him, Caspian is called “king” by his tutor, the half-Dwarf Doctor Cornelius. The rest of the book describes how Caspian manages to win his kingdom back from Miraz. So why is the book called Prince Caspian instead of King Caspian?

I …

Available Until Monday, May 9th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: It's the Little Things

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Through the Wardrobe

It's the Little Things

by Susan Vaught

Permit me to remind you that a very small size has been bestowed on us Mice, and if we did not guard our dignity, some (who weigh worth by inches) would allow themselves very unsuitable pleasantries at our expense.

Reepicheep the High Mouse offers these words to Aslan in Prince Caspian.

His meaning?

Stop picking on him and his fellow soldier-mice just because they’re little guys. If you judge their worth by inches alone, you’ll pay a wicked price.

As one of the fiercest and most influential warriors of Old Nar-nia–and okay, okay, one of the tiniest–Reepicheep knows that mice and children must always guard their dignity because older, bigger creatures use age and size as an excuse to dismiss the intelligence, skill, and usefulness of smaller creatures. Villains and heroes alike make that error all through the Chronicles of Narnia, especially in Prince Caspian, and it’s–excuse the pun–a big …

Available Until Thursday, May 5th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Not So Weird Science

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The Girl Who Was on Fire

Not So Weird Science

by Cara Lockwood

I will admit right now that I am entirely too critical of most sci-fi. I’m the one sitting in the movie theater grumbling, “that could never happen.” Or, more concisely, I’ll just say: “Seriously?”

Could there be some crazy disease somewhere in a lab that would turn the entire planet into brain-eating zombies or sunlight-fearing vampires? No way. Beefing up shark brains to make them super-smart predators? I don’t think so. Crazed prehistoric- sized piranhas that will devour anybody with an inflatable floatie and a cooler? Please. They want us to believe this stuff?

Like take the insane DNA-spliced mutant monsters that make terrifying cameos throughout the Hunger Games. I’m supposed to believe that one day we could be ripped apart by mutant wolves with tribute eyes? Stung by poisonous and relentless tracker jackers? Or get devoured by giant lizard men?

Seriously?

As it turns out . . . maybe so.

Not only do muttations–“mutts” for short–already exist in our world, but the stuff real scientists are …

Available Until Wednesday, May 4th, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Introduction: Ender's World

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Ender's World

Introduction: Ender's World

by Orson Scott Card

I thought I had a pretty good story when I gave my first draft of the original novelet “Ender’s Game” to my mother to type up for submission.

My mother had been another set of eyes on all my plays and my handful of previous stories. So even though I had long been a very fast and accurate typist myself, I passed her my longhand manuscript because I wanted to see how the story would work for her. This was my first serious attempt to write a sci-fi story to sell. My theatre company was getting good attendance, but losing money even with no rent and no salaries to pay (you can lose money on hit plays). I needed “Ender’s Game” to help me launch a non-theatrical writing career. As a non-fan of sci-fi, my mother would definitely let me know if I had something that would work outside the science …

Available Until Monday, May 2nd, 2016

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Divine Cat

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Nyx in the House of Night

The Divine Cat

by Ellen Steiber

I might as well admit my prejudice up front: I’ve been crazy about cats for as long as I can remember, and I’ve been lucky enough to live with them for most of my life. So one of the things that immediately drew me into the House of Night series was the cats. Cats everywhere, roaming freely, and always welcome in the dorms, cafeteria, stables, and even the classrooms–basically my idea of the perfect school. Then I was completely charmed by Nala, the sneezey, often grumpy, little cat who chooses Zoey for her own. P.C. and Kristin Cast clearly know and love their cats, and it’s a delight to see how they use them in these books. Not only do they create very real felines–sweet, moody, comforting, and impossible to predict or control–but they make creative use of some of the mythic and mystical lore that has been …

Available Until Wednesday, April 27th, 2016

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