Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Challenging the Gods

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Mind-Rain

Challenging the Gods

by Rosemary Clement-Moore

I should have known the Prettiverse wouldn’t be pretty.

Any book that starts out by comparing the sky to cat vomit is probably not going to be full of unicorns and rainbows. Not unless the unicorns are surgically engineered special police and the rainbows are really the artificial light reflecting off the metaphorical fog of your nanotech-induced complacency.

Strange as it seems, I mean it as a compliment when I say that the Uglies series scared and depressed me. This type of book, which eggheads and English teachers call “dystopian fiction,” makes you think about what’s wrong with the world. It’s built on things that are messed up in our society right now, and shows very clearly where we could be headed if things don’t change. That can be a real downer.

Fortunately, the Prettiverse has two things: hoverboards (which are, let’s face it, just plain cool), and Tally Youngblood, who uses her …

Available Until Thursday, February 28th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Percy Jackson and the Lords of Death

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Demigods and Monsters - Expanded Edition

Percy Jackson and the Lords of Death

by J&P Voelkel

Once Percy Jackson has vanquished all the foes that Greek and Roman myths can throw at him, what’s next? Sure, his old adversaries could re-materialize and attack at any moment, but like a video game you’ve already beaten, the second time around would be so much ancient history. Yawn.

And what’s the point of spending all your summers at Camp Half-Blood if you have no new challenges to train for? There are only so many sword practices, mock battles, and games of Capture the Flag you can play before your hyperactive demigod brain starts itching for some real-life action.

So it seems like only a matter of time before Percy would be hounding the Oracle for a new prophecy and begging Chiron for a new mission to sink his celestial bronze sword into.

Something huge. Something different.

Something extraordinary.

Something even a battle-hardened demigod has never faced before.

No problem.

It’s a big world out there and …

Available Until Wednesday, February 27th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: Panem et Circenses

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The Girl Who Was on Fire

Panem et Circenses

by Carrie Ryan

In the Hunger Games trilogy, Suzanne Collins takes our obsession with Reality TV and extends it to the most horrifying ends: a society that views kids killing kids as entertainment. It’s easy to find this an uncomfortable premise–to turn our noses up and say that while we may enjoy Survivor or Big Brother every now and again, we’d never let society slip to such levels. However, there’s also a deeper, more difficult message in the Hunger Games series: the extent to which media can be manipulated as a means of controlling the populace and how we as viewers have abdicated any agency in the process.

This then leads to an even more troubling aspect of the trilogy: our complicity in said message. But for the viewers’ participation, the Hunger Games would not exist in the same way that, but for our tuning in, Reality TV wouldn’t exist. …

Available Until Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay: A New Eve

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Navigating the Golden Compass

A New Eve

by Dave Hodgson

Alongside the adventures, the love story, the battles and the fantasy, His Dark Materials holds a crucial prophecy: Lyra is to become the new Eve. This Eve’s purpose is not made fully clear, except that she should restore the Dust and begin to build a “Republic of Heaven.” But how will the members of this new republic behave? Like the previous regent of heaven who kept his predecessor alive in a box and those who endeavoured to destroy Dust, calling it “sin”? Clearly not. In fiction it’s easy to delineate between good and evil. At the end of The Amber Spyglass we’re left with the confidence that if Lyra succeeds she will begin a new direction for Homo sapiens: a new lifestyle that better values biodiversity, that harvests resources more sustainably and that acts unselfishly for the benefit of others.

With these optimistic thoughts we can all retire to our normal …

Available Until Wednesday, February 13th, 2019

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Divergent Thinking Book Launch + Giveaways!

By jennifer

Our Divergent anthology, Divergent Thinking: YA Authors on Veronica Roth’s Divergent Trilogy, is officially launching next week. In fact, our introductory post about the book is already up. We’re pretty excited around Smart Pop Headquarters because we’re all big fans of the books and we’re eagerly awaiting the release of the movie in a few weeks. (Seriously, a Veronica Mars movie and a Divergent movie in the same month? March 2014, you’re not too shabby.)

Not only are we excited about the movie and about the release of Divergent Thinking, we’re extra excited about the week-long event we have planned around the release in partnership with the Divergent fansite community. Next week is officially:

dt-blogpost-graphic

We hope you’ll visit each of

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A Little More Information on Divergent Thinking

By Leah

Each season we announce our new titles individually, each in their own post, to give you a little extra background behind the book. If you’ve missed any, you can check them all out here.

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Divergent Thinking“The Divergent trilogy provides a wealth of ideas for readers to respond to. Divergent Thinking collects the responses of more than a dozen of those readers, all of whom also happen to be YA writers themselves. Each came to Tris’ story with his or her own influences and experiences, and each came away with—and shares here—something different . . .

For me, reading about what this particular set of readers saw in the trilogy made my experience of

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Return to Panem with author V. Arrow

By Heather

Each season we announce our new titles individually, each in their own post, to give you a little extra background behind the book. If you’ve missed any, you can check them all out here. All of Fall 2012”²s intro posts are here.

For The Panem Companion, our latest companion book, on Suzanne Collins’ Hunger Games trilogy (from Mellark Bakery to Mockingjays), we’ve asked the book’s author, V. Arrow, to write the intro post. Read her thoughts on writing The Panem Companion below! And don’t forget, you can sign up on the book page to get a free excerpt.

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If I had known that staying up until 3 a.m. with a carton of ice cream to talk to my best friend about The Hunger

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The Panem Companion Victory Tour

By Heather

Join V. Arrow as she travels the 13 districts for The Panem Companion Victory Tour!

We didn’t have to fight to the death to publish The Panem Companion, but we still think its impending December 4 release is something to celebrate.

Over the course of the next 13 days–from November 26 to December 12–author V. Arrow will be traveling to 13 “districts” (which some of you may know better as top-notch Hunger Games fansites and book blogs) to share the excitement. Each district will be giving away a copy of The Panem Companion, and will feature an exclusive excerpt from the book! Some of them will also be interviewing V., and hosting other fun activities.

Luckily, following us

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2012 Holiday Gift Guide: Hunger Games

By Heather
We don’t know if they have a winter gift-giving occasion in Panem.

But just in case, we’ve put together a (less deadly) cornucopia of gifts for the Hunger Games fans in your life–all of which can be obtained from the safety of your own home. Because let’s face it–the closer we get to Christmas, the more the mall starts looking like a Hunger Games arena.

 

  1. The Panem Companion. Shameless self-promotion: our brand new Hunger Games companion, written by V. Arrow (the creator of this super-cool map of Panem), comes out December 4! The grad-school class of Hunger Games books, it answers the hardcore fan’s most burning questions about Panem.
  2. Rue’s Song Print.

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2012 Holiday Gift Guide: The Mortal Instruments

By Heather
Does the Clave have a position on the December holidays?

For us, they’re  a time when people are supposed to come together and put aside their differences, and that’s a sentiment with which we think our favorite Shadowhunters and Downworlders would wholeheartedly agree. So we’ve put together a set of gifts for the Mortal Instruments-loving mundane on your list. (Plus, it’s probably pretty hard to find time to shop when you’re busy, you know, saving the world.)

PLEASE NOTE: This gift guide includes official Mortal Instruments merchandise, but also a few endeavors NOT ENDORSED by Cassandra Clare. We’ve marked the official products accordingly, below.

  1. DIY Temporary Tattoos. Use this printable tattoo paper to make

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