Free Smart Pop YA Essay:The Modern-Day Perceval

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Secrets of the Dragon Riders

The Modern-Day Perceval

by Joshua Pantalleresco

A hero is an ordinary individual who finds the strength to persevere and endure in spite of overwhelming obstacles.

–Christopher Reeve

Heroes are the foundation of epic fantasy. I’ve enjoyed heroic tales ever since I picked up my first comic book at the age of eight. There was something larger than life about someone making a difference that stuck with me. It influenced me to read my first fantasy novel. Fantasy and comics aren’t that different at heart: Both feature great evils bent on destroying all the heroes hold dear, whether it’s something personal like their family or something larger such as their hometown or even the whole world. What fascinates me to this day is how each hero responds to crisis. There are different kinds of heroes. Some are like Superman or King Arthur and possess all the tools to become a great hero– they have the skills, the …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:The Otherworld Is Greek to Me

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Nyx in the House of Night

The Otherworld Is Greek to Me

by Trinity Faegen
From character names to story elements, P.C. and Kristin Casts’ House of Night series is a treasure trove of allusions to Greek mythology. Nyx’s origins are in Greek myth–she appears in Hesiod’s Theogony, Homer’s Illiad, and other ancient Greek texts. Aphrodite takes her name from the Greek goddess. But the references to Greek myth that fascinate me most are those related to Nyx’s Otherworld. The Casts have taken the ancient Greek’s Underworld and added their own imaginative twist, creating a colorful, intriguing new answer to the eternal question, “Where do we go after we die?” Just like the Underworld in Greek mythology, selective visits to the Otherworld by the living are allowed. Also just like the Underworld, some visitors can never leave. And while the two aren’t identical, there are enough similarities that it’s interesting to compare and contrast. The uncertainty of the afterlife is universal, a …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:The Secret's Out

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Flirtin' with the Monster

The Secret's Out

by Terri Clark

We who have a voice must speak for the voiceless.

–Archbishop Oscar Romero

Ellen Hopkins has a voice, one that speaks in rhythm and verse, with truth and grit. She speaks for the voiceless, revealing their tragedies, exposing their complex personal layers, whispering their secrets. In lyrical tones and sparse but striking words she delves into the darkness many real-life teens find themselves in. She tells the stories they hide from or hold tight to their chests. The endings of those stories aren’t always happy, but then again neither is reality. Because of this Ellen refuses to tie things up with a perfect, pretty bow. When a reader fussed about her endings on a message board, Ellen responded by saying, “Life rarely ties everything up nicely, and while often novels do, those feel-good endings are contrived. I’d rather give you honesty.” And that she does. Her books tackle tough, often taboo, topics like …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:The Thing About Elves Is...

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Secrets of the Dragon Riders

The Thing About Elves Is...

by Gail Sidonie Sobat

Well, they’re a slippery lot. Hard to pin down. The wee folk. The little people. Fairies. Or is that faeries? Or brownies? Or pixies? Pan or Puck? Sylphs or dryads or nymphs? Goblins or hobgoblins or gremlins or gnomes? Leprechauns or imps or sprites?

Enough to set the mind reeling!

So to begin at the beginning, sort of: according to the Oxford English Dictionary, elf is an Old English word (sometimes spelled ylf/ielf/aelf/alf) which denotes “a class of supernatural beings, believed to be of dwarfish form, and to possess magical powers, which they exercised either to the help or the hurt of mankind. Now a mere synonym of fairy. Sometimes distinguished from fairies a) as a subject species; b) as more malignant.”

But how did these creatures of the stuffy Oxford morph into the vibrant Arya and Islanzad­ and Oromis and those other elves who people (er . . . elfize?) Paolini’s Inheritance …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:The War between the States

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A Visitor's Guide to Mystic Falls

The War between the States

by Claudia Gray
The online protests began around the time the makers of The Vampire Diaries cast Nina Dobrev as Elena Gilbert. Were fans of the book series worried that Dobrev couldn’t carry the central role? Nope. Were they advocating for another fan-favorite candidate? No again. There was no way Dobrev could play Elena–because Dobrev is a brunette, and in the original L.J. Smith books, Elena is a blonde. It seems like a pretty small thing to get upset about, but when it comes to adapting a beloved book into film or television, fans understandably dread the inevitable changes. We’ve all been burned before by books that got “dumbed down” or turned into something unrecognizable from the story we originally loved. Even alterations as minor as a character’s hair color set off warning bells, making those of us who loved the books wonder just what else was about to get changed. But …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:To Bite, or Not to Bite; That is the Question

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A New Dawn

To Bite, or Not to Bite; That is the Question

by Janette Rallison
What’s your definition of a bad day? A fight with a friend? A speeding ticket? How about being attacked by a vampire and painfully turned into the undead, then realizing you must wander for eternity fighting off a craving to kill people? Yeah, that would pretty much be a bad day. Carlisle, the leader of the Cullen clan of vampires had this bad day and (we can assume) many other bad days that followed. Stephenie Meyer doesn’t skimp when dishing out problems for her characters. Seriously, if you were Cinderella and could choose someone to be your fairy godmother, you wouldn’t want it to be Stephenie Meyer. Sure, she could come up with the ultimate Prince Charming to take you to the ball, but he might kill you afterward. Anyway, this particular bad day of Carlisle’s, when he was attacked and transformed into a vampire, started the ball rolling for the Twilight …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:Why Kristina Can't Just Quit

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Flirtin' with the Monster

Why Kristina Can't Just Quit

by Mary Bryan

Addiction is a puzzle, difficult to understand because it is different in each person. It is a disease of the brain, but it is not just physical. It’s also psychological, social, neurological, and environmental. Addiction is not secondary to another condition like a mental health disorder. It is a primary condition; the addictive disease is what causes the drinking and/or drug use, not the other way around.

Some of the predictors of addiction include physical or sexual abuse, family history of substance abuse or alcoholism, depression, anxiety, conduct disturbances, personality disorders, poor coping skills, chaotic living environment, and heavy tobacco use, and one study even mentions previous multiple automobile accidents. But while there are high-risk predictors, many people who have all of them do not become addicts, and people who have none of the predictors do become addicts. No one can predict accurately who will become addicted and who will not.

The Addictive Process

The general pattern of addiction is one of progression. There is no …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:Why So Hungry for the Hunger Games?

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The Girl Who Was on Fire

Why So Hungry for the Hunger Games?

by Sarah Rees Brennan

As you can tell from all the atrocious puns in the title, this essay will be studying the elements in the Hunger Games trilogy that inspire its tremendous popularity. It’s fascinating to analyze the mixture of elements that has caught readers’ imaginations around the world. What is so alluring about the Hunger Games’ particular mixture of adventure, romance, and philosophy? Many of the elements present in the series are familiar, so how does Suzanne Collins make it all seem fresh and compelling?

For a long time I avoided the Hunger Games because, well, I’d seen Battle Royale, thank you very much. (Battle Royale is a Japanese movie, based on the book of the same name by Koushun Takami, about high school students who are chosen by lottery to kill each other under new legislation introduced by a futuristic government.) I finally buckled under the weight of hearing everybody’s enthusiastic recommendations for six months, and then I read the Hunger Games voraciously …

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Free Smart Pop YA Essay:Why the Prince Bites It

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Mind-Rain

Why the Prince Bites It

by Gail Sidonie Sobat

And gazing down at her, handsome Prince Charming bent to kiss her lips. Then he swooped her into his strong arms and up onto his shining white steed. They galloped toward his stalwart castle, towers gleaming in the orange rays of the sunset. And she lived happily ever after.

Puke.

As if.

Yes, it is a fairy tale. But honestly. Such endings are the wistful wish-fulfillment fantasies of erstwhile dreamy peasant girls–nowadays dreamy new-millennium girls raised on Disney pap and false promises. All that’s missing are the dancing, singing mice and teapot.

Think of the fairy tales you know. The popular gooey ones. And look at the vapid girls who inhabit these tales. Girls without much backbone. Girls who mainly sit pretty, and let the men do the saving and liberating.

Cinderella, who has no more gumption than to be sweet and dress prettily and be home on time. She is rescued by the prince.

Cindy’s …

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