Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Team Shay

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Mind-Rain

Team Shay

by Diana Peterfreund

“Team David or Team Zane?” was a popular question on Westerfansites and forums (and even an Amazon Poll) during the span of the Uglies series’s initial release. Readers enthusiastically debated whether Tally should be romantically linked with David, the self-sufficient, wild-born young man who first leads her into the Smoke, who teaches her how to survive in the wilderness, and who tells her the truth about her not-so-pretty world; or Zane, the charismatic, enigmatic leader of the New Pretty Town clique the Crims, the almost too “extreme” pretty who snaps Tally out of the empty-headed, pretty mindset, who is brave enough to share with her the experimental cure (though it costs him his brain), and who is willing to do anything, absolutely anything, to make up for chickening out and not leaving the city when he was still an ugly.

David or Zane? David or Zane? What love story in the …

Available Until Wednesday, August 28th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Why Do So Many Monsters Go Into Retail?

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Demigods and Monsters

Why Do So Many Monsters Go Into Retail?

by Cameron Dokey

It’s not easy being a young demigod.

Just ask Percy Jackson. He can tell you.

Always assuming he has time to catch his breath between pursuing a quest or being pursued by the forces of evil hot on his trail, sometimes literally breathing down his neck right behind him.

In Shakespeare, there’s a stage direction that reads: Exit, pursued by a bear. (I am not either making this up. You can look it up for yourself if you want to. It’s in The Winter’s Tale, Act III, scene 3. And you thought Shakespeare was just some stuffy dead guy.)

But my point, and I do have one, is that the character in Shakespeare had it lucky. At least he knew it was a bear behind him. Whenever Percy Jackson flees the scene, he never knows what shape the thing after him might take. That’s one of the challenges of being chased by monsters. And …

Available Until Wednesday, August 21st, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A Glossary of Ancient Greek Myth

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Demigods and Monsters

A Glossary of Ancient Greek Myth

by Nigel Rodgers

A

Achilles

Son of Peleus and the nymph Thetis. When Achilles was born, Thetis held him by one foot and dipped him into the River Styx in an attempt to make him immortal. She almost succeeded; only the spot on his heel by which she held him while he was immersed remained a point of vulnerability–the origin of the term Achilles’ heel, meaning a weakness. Aside from the spot on his heel, Achilles was completely invincible. When he was older, his father sent him to be raised by Chiron the Centaur on Mount Pelion. He is most famous for being a great warrior and for his participation in the Trojan War. He fought on the side of the Greeks under their leader, Agamemnon, after his best friend, Patroclus, was killed. He slew Prince Hector in battle before he himself was killed by an arrow Paris, the Trojan prince, shot at his heel.

(See …

Available Until Friday, August 16th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: King Edmund the Cute

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Through the Wardrobe

King Edmund the Cute

by Diana Peterfreund

Let’s get it straight: I wasn’t sitting around writing “Diana Hearts Edmund” in my Trapper Keeper, but I had an enormous crush on Edmund Pevensie when I was a kid. When I admit that to people, then and now, I invariably get a reaction that’s halfway between bemused and appalled. Edmund? they say. Isn’t he the petulant, whiny traitor responsible for Aslan’s death?

Yes, yes he is. In The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. But that’s only the start of Edmund’s adventures in Narnia. He pulls it together by the end of that book and proceeds to rock out for four more. No, Ed doesn’t leave us with the best first impression in all of literature, but he more than makes up for it in the rest of the series.

If anything, his experiences in the first book1 give him a breadth of knowledge and depth of experience and sorrow …

Available Until Thursday, August 15th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: The Inevitable Decline of Decadence

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The Girl Who Was on Fire

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 stomachs.

It isn’t as if …

Available Until Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

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

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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 Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Family Life in Panem

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The Panem Companion

Family Life in Panem

by V. Arrow

The most important things in Katniss’ life are survival and family, perhaps not in that order. The entire journey of the Hunger Games series begins because of Katniss’ devotion to Prim and her sense of duty to (and love for) family. However, as she tells the reader, “family devotion only goes so far for most people [in Panem] on reaping day.”THG31

A total of 1,776 children (73 Games — 24 tributes each, plus an additional 24 tributes in the Fiftieth Hunger Games) have been a part of the Hunger Games before Katniss volunteers in Prim’s place, and from the way Katniss tells it, very few–if any–have been spared their fate by family members before. Indeed, most of the nuclear families that we as readers encounter through the series are deeply dysfunctional and unhappy, and it’s hard to imagine them sacrificing so much for each other. What do we know about what …

Available Until Wednesday, August 7th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Freedom of Choice

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Nyx in the House of Night

Freedom of Choice

by Jeri Smith-Ready

It’s not easy being the Chosen One. Just ask Buffy Summers. Ask Harry
Potter. And ask Zoey Redbird, the latest in this list of “lucky” candidates picked
by fate to save the world from darkness–and oh yeah, find romance, keep their
friends, and maybe not flunk every class. In their spare time, of course.

You’d think the act of getting chosen would be the biggest hurdle of all.
Once you know you’re The One, every choice should be easy. Simply “do the
right thing,” and the rest will follow. After all, you were chosen for a reason,
so you must be destined to succeed, right?

Alas, destiny isn’t a straight, well-paved road. Sometimes it’s not even a
rocky, overgrown bike path. All the signs point in different directions, and
half of them aren’t even in English (they might be in another language–or

Available Until Wednesday, July 31st, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Worshipping the Female Deity

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Nyx in the House of Night

Worshipping the Female Deity

by Christine Zika

Before I was P.C. Cast’s editor on her Goddess Summoning romances, I once worked with three female mystics on a self-help book for women. During one of our conversations, the authors pointed out that a lot of church rituals–burning incense, the use of flowers, and candle-lighting–had origins in Pagan and polytheistic traditions.

Now, I’m Greek Orthodox, a branch of Christianity similar to Catholicism that is heavy on tradition, ritual, and symbolism. So while I take pride in my faith, I also take pride in my ethnic roots, which stretch back to the ancient Greeks and their beliefs in the gods and goddesses of Olympus. When I worked with P.C., I was always amused when she would call or write to me and address me as “Goddess Editor.” Each of the books in the Goddess Summoning series (Goddess of the Sea, Goddess of the Rose, Goddess of Love, etc.) revolved around an everyday woman who is transformed when …

Available Until Monday, July 29th, 2019

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

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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, July 24th, 2019

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