Archive for the ‘YA Books’ Category

Roth, V. (2011). Divergent. New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books.

Roth, V. (2011). Divergent. New York, NY: Katherine Tegen Books.
2011 Goodreads Choice Awards
2013 Sakura Medal
Interest Level: YA
Genre: Science Fiction
Subjects: Identity, family life, courage, social classes, science fiction, dystopia
Divergent series:
1 – Divergent
2 – Insurgent
3 – Allegiant

There’s no denying that dystopian stories have grown in popularity. Such stories have captured and engaged the avid and reluctant readers alike. Novels such as Veronica Roth’s Divergent series, like others in the genre of late have birthed high interest novels that reluctant readers want to read. The reluctant reader isn’t the only audience affected by the current dystopian genre craze, but extends to individual of all ages, gender, religion, and ethnicity due to the strong characters that “diverge” from societal norms common to this genre. Rather than longing for that which is out of their reach, these dystopian characters find the means to attain or fight for what they want or believe in.

Whether a fictional dystopian society or reality, humanity in general, as it is in our nature, always longs for betterment of our circumstances. We often relabel that longing as hope or desire, and is often a combination of both intrinsic and extrinsic desires. Characters such as Tris (Beatrice Prior) in the Divergent series examples how her desire to stay safe evolves beyond just her family and faction, but to those she once considered her enemies. Realizing that selflessness is not without bravery allowed her to share the same belief as another divergent character, Four (Tobias Eaton), that all individuals possess all virtues characteristic to each and every faction… honesty (Candor), selflessness (Abnegation), intelligence (Erudite),  peace (Amity), and bravery (Dauntless).

The Divergent series is a dystopian thriller of a society shrouded in secrecy. Though the books are told from the point of view of a female protagonist, these books should appeal to all genders alike. Each reader of the series will inevitably find a character they most closely identify with, and find encouragement in the choices made and wisdom discovered as they mature and diverge regardless of aptitude testing. The characters in Veronica Roth’s Divergent series have the ability to assist the reader to confront and possibly overcome their own difficulties by combining virtues the reader already has within themselves similar to the characters in the Divergent series. For some, the Divergence series may serve as a form of bibliotherapy, especially for those that struggle with fear.

I found it interesting to discover that the divergence subject matter isn’t unique to only Tris and the Divergent series, but references to others, including those from Biblical times, can be read in the blog post Are you Divergent?  located on the Jews For Jesus website.

Rowling, J.K.  (1998).  Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone.  New York, NY: Scholastic.ALA Notable Children’s BookInterest Level: 5-8Reading Level: 5.3Genre: FantasySubjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, MagicHarry Potter:1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone2 – The Chamber of Secrets3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban4 – The Goblet of Fire5 – The Order of the Phoenix6 – The Half-Blood Prince7 – The Deathly Hallows

Rowling, J.K. (1998). Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. New York, NY: Scholastic.
ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: 5-8
Reading Level: 5.3
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Harry Potter, Hogwarts, Wizards, Witches, Schools, England, Fantasy, Friends, Death, Teachers, Magic
Harry Potter:
1 – The Sorcerer’s Stone
2 – The Chamber of Secrets
3 – The Prisoner of Azkaban
4 – The Goblet of Fire
5 – The Order of the Phoenix
6 – The Half-Blood Prince
7 – The Deathly Hallows

“Sunshine, daisies, butter mellow, Turn this stupid, fat rat yellow.” – Ron

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone is the first book in a series about an 11-year-old boy wizard named Harry Potter. His world contains people unaware about magic called Muggles and a hidden society of magic. As an infant, Harry was left with his mother’s sister and her family, Harry grows up not knowing about magic, the world of his parents, and is treated horribly by his relatives. He is teased by his cousin Dudley, called names by his Aunt Petunia, and is forced to live in a cupboard under the stairs by his Uncle Vernon. Yet, all is about to change as Harry receives an invitation on his eleventh birthday to attend Hogwarts, a famous school of magic, and the remainder of the book covers the attendance of his first year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

From the start of his journey, Harry is continually amazed by the new and unusual things he sees and learns, particularly the fact that he is a natural flying on a broom. Even more, as he continues to meet these magical people, he discovers new friends and family he never had. As part of his new world, Harry has to deal with its evil elements. There are those who hate the non-magical Muggles. One of the most notorious and recent was Lord Voldemort, the wizard who murdered Harry’s parents and tried to kill Harry as an infant. In fact, this led to Harry being famous in the magical world, where he is known as “The Boy who Lived”, and, Lord Voldemort has not been heard of since the murder of Harry’s parents.

During the first school year, Harry Potter is curious about an item being hidden at Hogwarts, the Sorcerer’s Stone. Along with his new best friends, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger, they discover the location of the Sorcerer’s Stone with additional hints slipped by the school’s keeper of grounds, Hagrid. It is here that Harry battles an ally of Lord Voldemort, Professor Quirrell and even has a confrontation with the evil wizard himself. Lord Voldemort as everyone anticipated was dead has actually living off of the essence of unicorn blood. And as the first book (first year of school at Hogwarts) concludes, Harry has cemented wonderful relationships with friends and mentors (the headmaster Professor Dumbledore and the head of the Gryffindor House, Professor McGonagall), and is already excited for his second term (book two: The Chamber of Secrets).

The Harry Potter series, beginning with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone contains as much magic capturing the interest of the readers as magic within Hogwarts. J.K. Rowling has created a set of characters that you want to follow on their journey, as you cheer for them, laugh along with them, share in their wonder and magical lessons, and even experience their fright. J.K Rowling created characters in which readers of any age will easily be able to identify with whether they are Muggles or magical folk, and the settings are described in fluid detail that imagining such places comes with ease. Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone also created into a film that helped popularize the series even further. Most fans of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone most likely will/have enjoyed reading Percy Jackson & The Olympians by Rick Riordan, The Spiderwick Chronicles by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black, The Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini, the newer series The Guardians of Childhood by William Joyce, His Dark Materials by Phillip Pullman, The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann, Children of the Red King by Jenny Nimmo, and Books of Beginning by John Stephens.

Collins, S.  (2008).  The hunger games.  New York, NY: Scholastic Press.2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book Interest Level: YAThe Hunger Games Trilogy:1 - The Hunger Games2 - Catching Fire3 - Mockingjay

Collins, S. (2008). The hunger games. New York, NY: Scholastic Press.
2009 ALA Notable Children’s Book
Interest Level: YA
The Hunger Games Trilogy:
1 – The Hunger Games
2 – Catching Fire
3 – Mockingjay

“May the odds be ever in your favor!”

Suzanne Collins begins The Hunger Games by introducing the reader to Panem, a dystopian society divided into 12 districts in the ruins of what was once North America. Katniss Everdeen, a 16-year-old girl, will learn that her actions alone can ignite change for a better future. She is from District 12, one of the poorer districts where food is scarce.  We learn that Katniss has had a hard life after her father died when she was 11-years-old in a mining accident and her mother was unable to cope leaving Katniss to fend for the family.  She taught herself to hunt illegally outside of the limits of District 12, how to barter her catch for food and goods with other traders at the Hob, and to inevitably keep her and her sister alive.

Each year, Panem has an event called “The Reaping” in every District. The Reaping is for The Hunger Games. Every district picks two tributes, a boy and a girl by lottery that will literally fight for their lives.  For the 74th Hunger Games, Katniss steps up and volunteers after her sister, Primrose’s name is drawn.  Peeta Mallark is also chosen, the boy that once gave her bread for her family when they were starving. The two tributes of District 12 are sent to the capital of Panem, a plush luxurious place with as much food as one could eat. There they train for the upcoming games in which they learn to hone the skills they were born with.  For Katniss it’s hunting with a crossbow in which her skill and accuracy are unmatched.  For Peeta it’s his strength and ability to camouflage himself.

Katniss’ partnership during the games with fellow tribute Rue reminds Katniss of Primrose and fuels a desire to protect her.  When Rue dies it breaks Katniss heart and Katniss tries her best to honor Rue.  That honoring of District 11’s tribute sparked anger and discontent over the games.  The connection between Katniss and Rue may have helped start the rebellion that begins later in The Hunger Games Trilogy. The star-crossed lover story was cooked up by Haymitch, but to Katniss’ surprise she finds that Peeta’s feelings are true but not mutual. And, at the end of the games, rather than killing one another, Katniss and Peeta choose to consume poisonous berries so that the Game Makers will fail, resulting in the 74th Hunger Games without a victor.  Because there must always be a victor, the two are allowed to live. Many believed their actions as an act of defiance, particularly President Snow who could foreshadow an upcoming rebellion as a result.

Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games trilogy is immensely likeable. They were hard to read at times due to the violence but the story offers highly likeable characters in which readers will find themselves able to relate to one or more characters keeping them feverishly reading the series.  Suzanne Collins successfully conveys Katniss’ sadness over her losses and her inherent strength to climb back out of her pain to cope with the next bad thing.  Katniss does not live a life of illusion. She recognizes the ugliness in her world, her desire for change, but also her acceptance that this may be all she ever knows. Readers will learn a lesson that’s not metaphorical, or even the most inspirational, but what a reader may take from The Hunger Games is that making the best of a bad situation and finding a way to cope may be life’s only choice at times. And, even if the characters lack hope, the story is so compelling that the desire for success of these characters will have most readers believing they somehow can offer their strength and courage to aid Katniss and Peeta. The Hunger Games, and the entire trilogy offers a highly suspenseful and philosophical action-adventure with elements of romance in these YA novels that tweens will be eager to read. Other books that tweens may also enjoy that are set in dystopian futures and are specified as tween literature include, Among the Betrayed (Shadow Children #3) by Margaret Peterson Haddix, The City of Ember (Book of Ember #1) by Jeanne DuPrau, and The Unwanteds (The Unwanteds #1) by Lisa McMann.

Scott, M. (2007). The alchemyst. New York, NY: Delacorte Press.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 6.4
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Nicholas Flamel, John Dee, Alchemists, Magic, Supernatural, Brothers and sisters, Twins, San Francisco (Calif.), Occult, Paranormal.
The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel:
1 – The Alchemyst
2- The Magician
3 – The Sorceress
4 – The Necromancer
5 – The Warlock
6 – The Enchantress

He holds the secret that can end the world

The story begins in The Alchemyst with an attack on a bookstore in San Francisco by Dr. John Dee and there gollums, creatures he created.  They steal the Book of Mage from the store, which was being protected by Nicolas Flamel, the alchemist.  During this battle for the book, Josh, an employee in the store, holds on to the last two pages of the book, which he tears out keeps in his procession.  These pages are critical for the intent of Dee and his employer, the Dark Guardian Morrigan.  During this, Flamel’s wife is taken hostage by Dee and his being held in ransom for those last pages.  Sophie, Josh’s twin sister, is also there when this occurs. Flamel takes the twins to see Scathach, a second generation Elder, for her assistance to rescue Perenelle. They are again attacked by Dee and his gollums, and escape once again. They go to Marin County and see Hektate, an Elder who lives in an alternate realm from the one the twins are familiar with.  Her powers are rooted in a giant tree that she lives in, that is filled with many rooms.  She takes them in, and shows Sophie her aura, the root of her powers.  In the Book of Mage, it is talked about twins, one with gold and one with a silver aura that will have great power and influence on events of the future.  Before she has time to bring Josh’s aura out, her realm is attacked, by Morrigan and her forces, including Dee.  Her tree is destroyed, and with it, she dies.  Flamel, Scathach, and the twins escape, and drive to Ojai, where they go to see the Witch of Endor.  The Witch is one of a few that can awaken Josh’s aura and teach both he and Sophie how to use their powers.  Before that can happen, Dee finds them and awakens all the dead in the area with is necromancer skills.  They go after Flamel and group, but they escape to Paris via a leygate, a means to travel immediately from one location to another.  They escape in time, and leave the Witch to destroy the dead and survive the attack.

Nicolas Flamel, is also known as Nick Fleming, a bookstore owner who, unbeknownst to the student that works for him, is an alchemist and immortal, born in France in 1330.  Flamel is the keeper of the Book of Mage.  His immortality comes from a spell in the book that needs to be done each month to maintain immortality.  Nicolas has become a master alchemist, able to turn metals to gold and other such changes. Perenelle Flamel, Nicolas’ wife, is also immortal, who is captured by the evil forces of the story and held captive.  She has the power to communicate with ghosts and other spirits.  She also has studied more of the magic of the book, and is very adept at those arts. Josh and Sophie, twins that become a part of the story as Josh works for Nick in his bookstore and Sophie works with Perenelle in the coffee shop across the street.  When the first confrontation with the evil forces begins, Josh and Sophie are swept up into the battle and later discover that they may be the twins spoken of in the Book of Mage.

Dr. John Dee, also an immortal, desires the Book of Mage for himself and those he works for.  He can create creatures such as gollums, creatures of mud and slime, and is a practiced necromancer, one that can raise the dead.  Scathach, also known as Scatty is known in mythology as the Warrior Maid, the King Maker, the Daemon Slayer, she is a second generation Elder, a being older than man.  She is asked by Nicolas, to assist in the rescue of his wife, Perenelle. Morrigan, a first generation Dark Elder, very powerful, who has hired Dee to work for her in gaining the Book of Mage, which would allow her to control humankind.  She was once known as the Crow Goddess and the Goddess of Death and Destruction.  She is able to summon birds and flying animals to do her bidding. Hektate: Also a first generation Elder, but not from the Dark side.  She has a kingdom in an alternate realm, in the center of which is a tree that sustains her.  At the start of the day, she is a very young girl; as the day wears on, she ages, until at night, she is an old woman.  Her powers are great and she awakens the magic, the aura, in Sophie but does not have time to do so in Josh, before attacked by Morrigan and Dr. Dee. The Witch of Endor, a witch, living in Ojai, California, who the group goes to for hiding and she provides a gate for them to escape to, to Paris, Nicholas’ birthplace.

This is the first book in the Secrets of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series (The Magician, The Sorceress, The Necromancer, The Warlock, The Enchantress).  It is well written, entrancing and draws the reader in.  After finishing, most readers will immediately want to get the second book of the series due to the first intense cliffhanging conclusion.  And, as the character Perenelle states at the end of the book, “On the contrary, it is now only just beginning.” Those who have read novels by Rick Riordan (Percy Jackson & The Olympians or Kane Chronicles), Philip Kerr’s Children of the Lamp series, and J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series will most likely enjoy this slightly more mature tale as Michael Scott combines modernism with various aspects of mythology and legends throughout the span of time. This is an amazingly enthralling story, filled with mythological gods, vampires, werewolves, and even the elixir of life.  The Alchemyst is a fabulous read, as is the entire Secret of Immortal Nicholas Flamel series.

Tolkein, J.R.R. (1937). The hobbit, or, There and back again. New York, NY: Houghton Mifflin
Interest Level: YA
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Middle Earth, Magic, Creatures, Dwarves, Elves, Good and evil, adventures and adventurers, dragons,

Bilbo Baggins is going on an adventure…

This newer edition of The Hobbit offers an introduction written by Christopher Tolkien, recent text corrections, and the inclusion of all of Tolkien’s original drawings and illustrations in color, as well as enhanced maps. This is a wonderfully exciting adventure for those of all ages. Tolkien wrote this story for his own children and tween and young adults will enjoy The Hobbit as it introduces the reader to the world of the Hobbits, Middle-earth, Biblo Baggins, Gandalf the wizard, and the Ring of power.

Bilbo’s home is visited by Gandalf the wizard and thirteen dwarves, inviting Bilbo to be the burglar of the group of adventurers; one side of Bilbo’s family, the Tooks, were adventurers, so he has it in his blood, if not in his initial desire to not go.  While on the journey, the band first runs into a group of Trolls, who want to eat the entire party.  After that escape, they meet Elrond and the elves, who invite the group to stay a while, to eat and rest up for the next part of their travels.  After leaving the elves, sometime later, they take shelter in a cave, and are discovered and captured by the goblins.  It is during this time of the story that Bilbo, who had escaped capture, finds the Ring of Invisibility.  When he would slip it on to his finger, he would become invisible to those that looked where he was.  Using the ring to hide himself, he meets Gollum, deep within the bowels of the goblin kingdom.  Gollum challenges Bilbo to solving riddles; the one who loses grants the other’s wish.  Gollum only wanted his “Precious” back, the ring.  Bilbo, meanwhile, wanted to find an escape route for him and the dwarves, who were being held captive by the elves. Bilbo outsmarts Gollum and escapes with his life. After escaping the goblins, the troop comes against the Wargs, wolves that were associated with the goblins.  The band of adventurers is saved by a group of very large Eagles, which swoop down and save Bilbo and gang from the wolves.  This puts the travelers near their goal, the Lonely Mountain, home of Smaug, the dragon.  Using a map that Gandalf gave the group, they find a hidden back entrance to the mountain.  Bilbo enters and encounters Smaug sleeping, and Bilbo weakens a spot on the dragon’s armor. Eventually when Smaug leaves the cave to seek out the adventures on the outside of the mountain he killed by an arrow shot by Bard through the spot Biblo weakened. As a war is brewing between the dwarves and the humans who want a share of the gold that Thorin refuses, through some burglary and negotiation, Biblo unites the parties, and differences still not yet settled, the humans, dwarves, and elves band together to fight the horde of goblins and Wargs in which Beorn comes to their aid with the eagles which ensures their defeat. When Gandalf rejoins the party, he helps settle things, and peace ensues. As the story concludes, Biblo, along with his portion of the find, journeys back to the house under The Hill, to spend his treasure and life as he wants.

There are many characters in this fantasy tale of Middle Earth (although not called Middle Earth in any of this tale, but clearly so in the later books that follow by J.R.R. Tolkien).  Bilbo Baggins, a Hobbit who lives under The Hill; the main hero of the story, Bilbo journeys to the Lonely Mountain with his group of adventurers, in search of treasure and more.  Hobbits are smallish/short creatures, not much to venture away from home, with hairy toes and big appetites.  Hired on to be the burglar of the group, a task very much unlike Bilbo (or so it seems at the time).  He shows insight, bravery, and wisdom during the tale, while being described as a timid creature in the beginning of the tale. Gandalf the Wizard, is a white, or good, wizard of the realm.  It is Gandalf that comes to Bilbo to invite him to be the burglar of this fine troop of adventurers. The band of dwarves led by Thorin, heir to the realm Under the Mountain, is a fierce leader.  All of the dwarves are short in stature, but long in the beard.  The rest of the group was:  Dawlin, Balin, Kili, Fili, Dori, Nori, Ori, Oin, Gloin, Bifur, Bofur, and Bombur.   Each dwarf exhibits their own individuality in their actions, although Kili and Fili, the youngest of the dwarves, are spoken of as if they were one, with similar actions throughout the tale.

The good vs. evil characters/creatures are many in The Hobbit. Evil beings of the story include trolls, spiders, goblins, Wargs, bats, and other frightening creatures.   Each group has their own characteristics, the trolls being slow and very large; the spiders, playing on people’s fears of spiders and having them large enough to overcome a dwarf and capture them for food, the Wargs being wolves, another animal that men fear, while the goblins are described as fearsome and dark beings, the epitome of evil. As the good characters go, most were represented in the book more as individuals, such as Beorn, the man who could transform into a bear, to Elrond and the Elves, to Bard and the humans of the Dale, the lands below the Lonely Mountain, as leaders of their groups.  It appears in the story that the good has leaders that stand out individually, while the bad or evil creatures are seen more as a pack or group.  The only exceptions to this are the eagles.  A magnificent creature in real life, the eagles are very large birds, large enough to pick up a dwarf or hobbit to rescue them, or fight off the goblins during the war at the end. Smaug, the dragon, is an evil creature that is described on its own, primarily because he is one of the last dragons still alive.  He is the hoarder of mounds and mounds of gold and silver, which he obtained while wiping out villages and people/dwarves, stealing their gold and hoarding it in his cave on the Lonely Mountain.  It is Smaug that has killed the dwarves that formerly resided in the Mountain, and is now trying to kill the party of fourteen, who want to lay claim to the riches that Smaug has and return the mountain to the dwarves.  And, Gollum, because of his prominence in The Lord of the Rings trilogy, is a vital part of that story, but in The Hobbit, his part is one of many antagonists in the story.  The ring is only seen as a good thing in this story, but his bad side later comes out in the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which follows his tale.  In this book, Gollum is the keeper of the way out of the goblin’s lair, and will only assist Bilbo if the hobbit can stump Gollum with a riddle.

The Hobbit, like most fantasy stories, is a tale of good and evil, and the author, near the end of the story, shows how strong individuals can fall victim of corruption when monetary possessions/value are at stake. How the pure of heart, Biblo, and his dominating good can be a positive influence on others in their party. J.R.R. Tolkien within in his writing, beyond storytelling, his voice and opinion is at times apparent and very much welcomed. Those who have already read the Lord of the Rings trilogy will eagerly want to read the backstory found in The Hobbit in the greatest fantasy-adventure book of all time. And for those who have yet to read The Lord of the Rings trilogy (The Fellowship of the Ring, The Two Towers, The Return of the King), and want to know all the hype behind the phrase“One Right to rule them, One Ring to find them, One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them”, shouldn’t hesitate getting a copy of the J.R.R. Tolkien’s’ novels. Tolkien fans may also enjoy the work of Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle (Eragon, Eldest, Brisingr, Inheritance) with many similar fantasy characters yet still a fresh new story. The Hobbit is scheduled for a three part movie release beginning with The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey in theaters December 14, 2012.

Wooding, C. (2012). Pandemonium. New York, NY: Graphix.
Interest Level: YA
Reading Level: 5.1
Genre: Fantasy, Graphic Novel
Subjects: Impersonation, princes, court and courtiers, fantasy, comic book, royalty, magic, humor

I’ll personally see to it that you get turned inside out and covered in salt and lemon juice before being thrown into a barrel of rusty razors and rolled down a hill”- Lumbago

In Chris Wooding’s graphic novel debut, Pandemonium, he offers a devilishly entertaining, fun fantasy adventure, combined with slapstick humor, and unexpected plot twists. Teenage Seifer Tombchewer, a Skullball captain and heartthrob off most girls is kidnapped from his peasant mountain village, brought to the castle of the Darkling Realm kingdom, to impersonate the missing Prince Talon of the clan Pandemonium. While Seifer struggles to impersonate the missing prince, his actions and the reactions of those around him offer much comic relief to the reader.  Inevitability, he proves to the royal family and royal advisors that his simple village ways and strong caring nature would make him a better candidate for the throne than the current Prince. Seifer mends broken relations with Talon’s younger sisters, Sarcoma and Min-Min and forges a close bond even after they learn his true identity. He also falls for the attractive fast flying and stunt performing Carcassa, who has come to ask her clan’s land back. Carcassa is the daughter of Baron Canasta Malefica, a gambling addict who won her in a card game. Siefer worries if anyone will remember him, his temporary fiancé Lady Asphyxia and her upcoming arrival that may ruin this entire ruse and result in him being fed to the “psycho carnage beasts” while also trying to avert a war with the Illuma, those who devised the kidnapping of Prince Talon and are working with Baron Crucifus who they have promised to give the throne to the Darkling Kingdom.

Basically, this is a modernized fantasy filled version of The Prince & The Pauper but still is absolutely entertaining. As Pandemonium ends with the words “The end…for now”, readers can assume that it’s likely to see a sequel sometime in the near future. Other graphic novels that may interest those that enjoyed Pandemonium with bizarre creatures, mistaken identities, self-sacrifice, all while trying to discovers one’s identity may also enjoy Ben Hatke’s Legends of Zita the Spacegirl, Akira Watanabe’s Fullmetal Alchemist manga series, or even Kazu Kibuishi’s Explorer: The Mystery Boxes.

Excerpt from PANDEMONIUM
by Chris Wooding
illustrated by Cassandra Diaz

Cunningham, D.L. (Director), Siegel, A. (Producer), LeBoff, J. (Producer), Platt, M. (Producer), Schmidt, R. (Producer). (2007). The seeker: The dark is rising [Motion picture]. United States: 20th Century Fox.
Interest Level: 5-8
Genre: Fantasy
Subjects: Good and evil, time travel, signs and symbols, book adaptation
Language: English
Subtitles: English, French, Spanish
Rated: PG
Running Time: 99 minutes

“This warrior is a boy.”

The Seeker: The Dark is Rising is based on the young adult novel The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper and stars Alexander Ludwig most recently known for his roles as Cato in The Hunger Games and Seth in Race to Witch Mountain. The story follows Will Staton, the seventh son of a seventh son immediately after his fourteenth birthday in which he learns he is the most important person in the fight between the light and the dark as the Old Ones introduce him to his destiny with only five days to search for six signs hidden in space and time by one of his ancestors. These six signs will give either the Rider of the Dark the power to rule the world, or the Light the power to vanquish the Dark, and it is entirely up to Will to find the power to believe in himself so he can save the world.

Will Staton (Alexander Ludwig) the protagonist is assisted in his search for the signs by the Old Ones. The Old Ones that protect and guide him include Merriman Lyon (Ian McShane), Miss Greythorne (Frances Conroy), Dawson (James Cosmo), Old George (Jim Piddock), and Will’s girl crush from his school, Maggie Barnes (Amelia Warner). And the Rider (Christopher Eccleston) of the Dark, the antagonist is disguised as the village doctor.

Though the film was not as popular with many fans of The Dark is Rising Sequence from the 1970’s due to significant differences in characters and plot, the movie is undoubtedly enjoyable due to the suspense, action, popular cast, and visual effects. Those who enjoyed the films Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone and Inkheart both based of the books with the same title, or the television series Legend of the Seeker based off of the adult fantasy series, The Sword of Truth by Terry Goodkind should easily find The Seeker: The Dark is Rising highly entertaining.