This sci-fi thriller from Universal Pictures opens in theaters on April 19, 2013. Based on a yet-to-be-published graphic novel (Radical Publishing) by movie director/writer Joseph Kosinki, Oblivion (PG-13) is set 60 years after Earth is attacked by alien invaders. The entire human population has been relocated, and Jack Harper (Tom Cruise), a drone repairman and part of a large-scale venture to extract vital resources, is one of the few remaining individuals stationed on a planet left in ruins.
Nearing the end of a five-year-mission, Jack spends his time on the surface doing his job, exploring the relics of a bygone era, and avoiding the deadly threat of alien ambush. However, when he rescues a beautiful woman from a crash-landed spacecraft, Jack unexpectedly finds himself thrust into circumstances that place him in grave danger, causing him to question everything he knows about the past and his society—as well as himself, which may very well impact the future of mankind. The cast also includes Olga Kurylenko, Andrea Riseborough, Melissa Leo, and Morgan Freeman. Teens can access video previews, a photo gallery, and the latest news at the official website.
The Future of Earth: Great Reads for Movie Fans
Update your collections with a selection of novels that prophesize an often earth-shattering (sometimes literally), tantalizingly thought-provoking, and always page-turning future for our planet and humankind. Ranging from no-holds-barred dystopian epics to environmental disaster sagas to classic sci-fi with a modern twist, these selections are revved up with romance, suspense, and fast-paced adventure. In addition to trying these titles out on movie viewers, consider recommending them to satisfy Hunger Games fans, launching a discussion group about the role and dysfunctions of society, or assembling a display of cautionary tales for Earth Day.
It’s Tomorrow—Time for a New Pair of Genes
The year is 2051, and due to the devastating effects of global warming the majority of Americans now live in two massive government-controlled States. Though encouraged to emigrate, a handful of misfits choose to eke out an existence in the mostly deserted wasteland between. The few teenagers who remain have been gathered in a mostly deserted school, relying on their handheld Tablets to access classroom lectures transmitted from the States. Surrounded by derelict buildings and a growing sense of unease, Faith Daniels feels as though she is being watched, but focuses on her relationships with old-pal Liz, a geeky and brilliant 13-year-old named Hawk, and the hunky but dangerous Wade. The suspense builds until another classmate, the quietly cute Dylan, reveals to her that she has a Pulse (HarperCollins, 2013; Gr 9 Up), a mutation-caused ability to move objects with her mind, and helps her learn to control her power. Though she can now fly through the air unaided, a series of heart-wrenching events and revelations soon leave her reeling, and she finds herself not only in danger, but also embroiled in a war that will pit Faith and her new allies against the forces of evil (see the next volume in this new trilogy). Patrick Carman bundles X-Men-esque elements, intriguing dystopian details, burgeoning romance and lustful vengeance, and boulder-flinging battles into this absorbing thriller.
Also set on a similarly afflicted Earth where the remaining population scrapes out a living as radiation and ocean levels continue to rise, Kevin Emerson’s Lost Code (2012; Gr 8 Up) begins in a summer camp, of all places. Teenager and ordinary guy Owen Parker, a poor wastelander from the Yellowstone Hub, has won a drawing for a spot at Camp Eden, a manmade paradise nestled within one of the five biodomes that serve as home to the rich and privileged. On his second day there, Owen almost drowns, somehow surviving underwater unscathed for an astounding 10 minutes. As his body begins to change in unexpected ways (he develops gills) and he endures typical summer camp challenges (bullies and bug juice), Owen falls in with a group of also extraordinary allies (including hot lifeguard Lilly), learns that the adult staff is involved in biological experimentation, and finds out just how dire is the balance of life on Earth. And if that’s not enough, he also discovers that he is the descendant of a highly advanced ancient race, and must unlock the code in his own genes to set right long-ago wrongs and save all of humanity. Ambitious, adventure-packed, and exceedingly readable, the first book in the “Altanteans” series keeps readers rapt with well-drawn characterizations, a deftly imagined plot that reveals mystery after mystery like ripples from a skimming stone, and a likable protagonist who grows in confidence as he sticks a toe—timidly at first—into the depths of heroism and first love. Book Two, The Dark Shore (all HarperCollins) is scheduled for release in May.
In Malinda Lo’s near-future sci-fi thriller Adaptation (Little, Brown, 2012; Gr 8 Up), 17-year-old Reese and her debate-team partner, David, are on their way home from a competition when a series of plane crashes—oddly and inexplicably caused by birds—bring travel to a halt. Opting to rent a car, the two are involved in a serious accident near a covert government facility in the Nevada desert and receive top-secret medical treatment that leaves them physically recovered…but different. Reese returns home but is plagued by strange dreams, possesses a new ability to heal almost instantly and a heightened sense of perception, and is perhaps being followed by men in black suits. Meanwhile, the emotionally uptight teen, who has zero experience with dating, meets—and falls hard for—a magnetic skater-girl named Amber, while still feeling a strong attachment to David. As events unfold at a rapid pace, Lo weaves a tale that blends elements of conspiracy theory, alien encounters, and genetic experimentation with whirlwind romance, pulse-pounding action, and reader-dazzling writing. The ending is both satisfying and surprising, leaving plenty of room for a planned sequel.
Brian Falkner’s The Assault (Random House, 2012; Gr 7 Up) blasts into action as Recon Team Angel—consisting of six teenage soldiers—launches from a high-altitude F-35 stealth bomber and soars to the Australian Outback below. The year is 2030, and most of Earth has been conquered by the alien Bzadian, with only the Americas still remaining free. Physically modified to look like “Pukes,” Lieutenant Chisnall and his international squad have been inserted deep behind enemy lines to gather intel on a secret alien project. Danger-fraught and difficult from the get go, their mission becomes even more harrowing when Chisnall discovers that one of them is a traitor. Streamlined storytelling, rapid-fire dialogue, high-octane action, and seamlessly deployed military tech and protocol fuel this engrossing sci-fi adventure.
It’s eight years since Earth was conquered by a race known as the Assembly, most adults are either dead or have succumbed to the Tone (a telepathic signal broadcast across the planet the effects individuals once they reach their twenties and turns them into obedient zombies), and everyone else is just trying to survive in a world plagued by powerful gangs and roving alien patrols. A resolute loner and one of the few who are immune to the Tone, 20-year-old Holt Hawkins is a bounty hunter who also has a price on his own head. To clear his debts, he is determined to capture Mira, a Freebooter skilled in alchemying artifacts from the Strange Lands into magic-like machines, but when their paths cross—and he finds himself impressed by and attracted to her—his resolve begins to waver. He gets further tied down when he rescues eight-year-old Zoe from a crashed Assembly ship, a girl who can’t remember her past but possesses uncanny knowledge about the aliens. As they make their way to Midnight City (Thomas Dunne, 2012; Gr 8 Up) with their enemies in hot pursuit, it soon becomes clear that Zoe just might be the key to saving the human race. The first in a series, J. Barton Mitchell’s novel provides lots of meaty world building along with complex and likable characters, reader-grabbing action, and delightful touches of humor and romance. Also available in audio format from Blackstone Audio.
Up Above and Down Below
Born on the Moon, Jamey Barlowe suffers from Lunar Birth Deficiency Syndrome, a condition that leaves him crippled on Earth and dependent on his mobility unit. The teen finds himself making an unexpected return to his birthplace, when his father awakens him on the night of his 16th birthday and sends he and his sister off in a shuttle for their own safety. The President has died, and Vice President Shapar has been sworn into office and is using her power to hunt down and imprison political opponents, including Dr. Barlowe, part of the International Space Consortium that runs the lunar colony and oversees the mining of vital resources. Worried and wanting to help, Jamey discovers that given the Moon’s low gravity, he has no physical disability, and enthusiastically jumps into training as a member of the Lunar Search and Rescue squad. When Shapar’s political pressure turns to military threat, Jamey and his fellow Rangers will become vital to the survival of the colony. In Apollo’s Outcasts (Pyr, 2012; Gr 7 Up), political intrigue, a believably wrought futuristic society, and outer-space adventures are perfectly balanced with teen angst and girl woes (the President’s courageous and attractive daughter is among the refugees). Allen Steele packs the narrative with fascinating science-based details—everything from the specifics of going to the bathroom at zero gravity, to the solar reflectors used to power the outpost, to a talking moonsuit with an interface programmed to emulate Arthur C. Clarke.
Located deep beneath the ruins of New York, a city ravaged by sickness and war, the Enclave (2011; Gr 8 Up) is the only home that 15-year-old Deuce has ever known. Years of hard work and training have paid off, and she has left her “brat”-hood behind to assume the role of Huntress, a warrior who ventures out into the midnight tunnels to bring back meat and stave off the violent and cannibalistic Freaks that threaten her people. Paired with Fade, a mysterious boy from the outside who has never been truly accepted, she begins to see that the ways of her strictly controlled society—ruled by coldhearted elders—might not only be wrong, but may also be placing the entire community in danger. Infused with gritty realism and no-nonsense attitude, Deuce’s first-person narration completely embroils readers in the confines of her world, making the unforeseen dangers and amazing revelations that she discovers when she ventures above ground all the more astounding. Dark yet brimming with hope, gripping and thought-provoking, and painted with a rich emotional palette, Ann Aguirre’s novel is riveting; have the sequel, Outpost (2012, both Feiwel and Friends), ready to go. Also available in audio format.
Love and Armageddon
Aria has lived her entire life nestled within the domed city of Reverie, adventuring only in a virtual world and living in fear of the outer wastelands and the deadly Aether storms that flash across the skies. Living on the outside, Peregrine and his tribe have learned to survive harsh environmental conditions, leading a hand-to-mouth existence and showing the signs of genetic mutation with unusually heightened senses. Raised in startlingly different worlds and taught to hate one another, “Dweller” and “Savage” are thrown together when Aria is cast out of the dome and Perry’s nephew is seized by its inhabitants. As they form an uneasy alliance to survive the hazards and horrors of the surface, they gradually forge a bond of friendship that evolves into something more. A well-plotted and skillfully crafted dystopic adventure, Veronica Rossi’s Under the Never Sky (2012; Gr 7 Up) is also imbued with lovely and lyrical writing, unforgettable characters, and a life-affirming message about the power of love. The story continues in Through the Ever Night (2013, both HarperCollins).
Marie Lu’s Legend (2011; Gr 8 Up) features another pair of equally star-crossed lovers. The United States has split into two warring nations and in the Republic, day-to-day life differs greatly for the privileged elite and the government-oppressed poor. Wealthy, accomplished, and dutiful, 15-year-old June is the top student at her university and headed for a high-ranking position. Day, also 15, born in the slums of Los Angeles, is the country’s most-wanted criminal and has become a hero of the people for his acts of disobedience and ability evade capture. Believing that he is responsible for the murder of her brother, June is sent out to apprehend Day, going under cover to root him out, while Day is determined to use any means possible to get his hands on the medicine that will save his family from the plague. As events unfold and secrets are revealed—and distrust and hatred transform into admiration and affection—the two eventually learn that they are not in fact enemies, and band together to face a greater foe. Told in alternating voices, this impossible-to-put-down book is packed with genuine emotion, gripping suspense, and breathless adventure. Teens will fly through the pages, and then return to the library to demand the sequel, Prodigy (2013, both Putnam).
CARMAN, Patrick. Pulse. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2013. Tr $17.99. 9780062085764; ebook $10.99. ISBN 9780062085788.
EMERSON, Kevin. Lost Code. “Atlantians” Series: Bk. 1. HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen Bks. 2012. Tr $17.99. 9780062062796; pap. $9.99. 9780062062802 (available Apr. 2013); ebook $10.99. 9780062062819.
LO, Malinda. Adaptation. Little, Brown. 2012. Tr $17.99. 9780316197960; ebook $9.99. 9780316214469.
FALKNER, Brian. The Assault. Random House. 2012. Tr $17.99. 978037586946-4; PLB $20.99. 9780375969461; ebook $10.99. 9780375983511.
MITCHELL, J. Barton. Midnight City. “Conquered Earth” series. Thomas Dunne/St. Martin’s Griffin. 2012. Tr $17.99. 9781250009074.
STEELE, Allen. Apollo’s Outcasts. Pyr/Prometheus Bks. 2012. Tr $16.95. 9781616146863.
AGUIRRE, Ann. Outpost. Feiwel and Friends/Macmillan. 2011. Tr $16.99. 9780312650087; pap. $9.99. 9780312551377; ebook. $9.99. 9781429950367; Unabridged CD. $29.99. 9781427211200.
ROSSI, Veronica. Under the Never Sky. HarperCollins. 2012. Tr $17.99. 9780062072030; pap. $9.99. 9780062072047; ebook $2.99. 9780062072054.
LU, Marie. Legend. Putnam. 2011. Tr $17.99. 9780399256752; ebook $10.99. 9781101545959; Unabridged CD. $25.95. 9781611760088; pap. $9.99. (Apr. 2012). 9780142422076.
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