Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Homeschooling the Teen Years - Dystopian Beginnings and Endings Matching Exercise.

Just for fun today, I spent some time (more than I'd like to admit) gathering first and last paragraphs from a random assortment of young adult, dystopian novels.

After I had a baker's dozen, I started reading first lines to my youngest two daughters (ages 12 and 14).  They recognized a couple from stories they have read, but for the most part the sentences were strange and new to them.  It was interesting to watch their reactions to the single lines, and hear their thoughts on whether the sentences might be enough to compel them to read on into the stories.

I didn't tell them which lines went with which stories, because tomorrow I want to print out, and cut apart the paragraphs to see if they can match the beginnings of each story (printed in red) with the correct endings (printed in blue) based on writing style, or clues in the paragraphs such as character names or settings.

Once they have the beginnings and endings matched, they can compare and contrast writing styles, and think about how much, or how little each author chose to reveal about their story in the opening lines.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

When I wake up, the other side of the bed is cold. My fingers stretch out, seeking Prim’s warmth but finding only the rough canvas cover of the mattress. She must have had bad dreams and climbed in with our mother. Of course, she did. This is the day of the reaping.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Peeta extend his hand. I look at him, unsure. 
"One more time? For the audience?" he says. His voice isn't angry. It's hollow which is worse. Already I see the boy with the bread slipping away from me.
I take his hand, holding on tightly, preparing for the moment when I will finally have to let go.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

“There is one mirror in my house. It is behind a sliding panel in the hallway upstairs. Our faction allows me to stand in front of it on the second day of every third month, the day my mother cuts my hair. I sit on the stool and my mother stands behind me with the scissors, trimming. The strands fall on the floor in a dull, blond ring. When she finishes, she pulls my hair away from my face and twists it into a knot. I note how calm she looks and how focused she is. She is well-practiced in the art of losing herself. I can’t say the same myself.”
Abnegation and Dauntless are both broken, their members scattered. We are like the factionless now. I do not know what life will be like, separated from a faction - it feels disengaged, like a leaf divided from the tree that gives it sustenance. We are creatures of loss: we have left everything behind. I have no home, no path, and no certainty. I am no longer Tris, the selfless, or Tris, the brave.
I suppose that now, I must become more than either.

The Giver by Lois Lowry
It was almost December, and Jonas was beginning to be frightened. No. Wrong word, Jonas thought. Frightened meant that deep, sickening feeling of something terrible about to happen. Frightened was the way he had felt a year ago when an unidentified aircraft had overflown the community twice. He had seen it both times. Squinting toward the sky, he had seen the sleek jet, almost a blur at its high speed, go past, and a second later heard the blast of sound that followed. Then one more time, a moment later, from the opposite direction, the same plane.
Downward, downward, faster and faster. Suddenly he was aware with certainty and joy that below, ahead, they were waiting for him; and that they were waiting, too for the baby. For the first time, he heard something that he knew to be music. He heard people singing.
Behind him, across vast distances of space and time, from the place he had left, he thought he heard music too. But perhaps it was only an echo.

The Maze Runner by James Dashner
He began his new life standing up, surrounded by cold darkness and stale, dusty air.
Metal ground against metal; a lurching shudder shook the floor beneath him. He fell down at the sudden movement and shuffled backward on his hands and feet, drops of sweat beading on his forehead despite the cool air. His back struck a hard metal wall; he slid along it until he hit the corner of the room. Sinking to the floor, he pulled his legs up tight against his body, hoping his eyes would soon adjust to the darkness.
Please respond with your own reactions. The subjects will be allowed one full night’s sleep before Stage 2 implementation. At this time, let’s allow ourselves to feel hopeful.
Group B’s trial results were also most extraordinary. I need time to process the data, but we can touch on it in the morning.
Until tomorrow, then.

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
The early summer sky was the color of cat vomit.
Of course, Tally thought, you’d have to feed your cat only salmon-flavored cat food for a while to get the pinks right. The scudding clouds did look a bit fishy, rippled into scales by a high-altitude wind. As the light faded, deep blue gaps of night peered through like an upside-down ocean, bottomless and cold.
Tally smiled. At least she was causing trouble to the end.
“I’m Tally Youngblood,” she said. “Make me pretty.”

Matched by Ally Condie
Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night? My wings aren’t white or feathered; they’re green, made of green silk, which shudders in the wind and bends when I move—first in a circle, then in a line, finally in a shape of my own invention. The black behind me doesn’t worry me; neither do the stars ahead.
My words never last long, I have to destroy them before anyone sees them.
But, I remember them all. For some reason, the act of writing them down makes me remember. Each word I write brings me closer to finding the right ones. And when I see Ky again, which I know will happen, I will whisper the words I have written in his ear, against his lips. And they will change from ash and nothing into flesh and blood.

The Selection by Kiera Cass
WHEN WE GOT THE LETTER in the post, my mother was ecstatic. She had already decided that all our problems were solved, gone forever. The big hitch in her brilliant plan was me. I didn’t think I was a particularly disobedient daughter, but this was where I drew the line.

“Right,” I said, remembering my new label.
I was born into a family of Fives—artists and musicians who were generally poorly paid—and though I hated the caste system in general, I liked what I did for a living. It was strange to think of myself as a Three, to consider embracing teaching or writing as a profession.
“Stop stressing,” Marlee said, reading my face. “you don’t have anything to worry about yet.”

Legend by Marie Lu
Obviously I’m not dead, but it’s safer for her to think so.
At least twice a month, I see my Wanted poster flashed on the JumboTrons scattered throughout downtown Los Angeles. It looks out of place up there. Most of the pictures on the screens are of happy things: smiling children standing under a bright blue sky, tourists posing before the Golden Gate Ruins, Republic commercials in neon colors. There’s also anti-Colonies propaganda. “The Colonies want our land,” the ads declare. “They want what they don’t have. Don’t let them conquer your homes! Support the cause!”

I close my eyes and think of Metias, of all my favorite memories and even the ones I’d rather forget, and I picture him bathed in light. In my mind, I turn to him and give him a final farewell. Someday I’ll see him again, and we’ll tell our stories to each other…but for now I lock him safely away, in a place where I can draw on his strength. When I open my eyes, Day is watching me. He doesn’t know what I’m thinking, but I know he recognizes the emotion on my face.
We lie there together, watching the lightning and listening to the thunder, and waiting for the beginning of a rainy dawn.

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness
The first thing you find out when yer dog learns to talk is that dogs don’t got nothing much to say. About anything.
But I notice the only way I can tell this is from the sound of his voice, a voice sharper and smarter than any old Prentisstown voice he might once have had, and that the nothing I heard coming from him when I ran into Haven is still a big nothing in whatever room this is and it’s matched by a big nothing from Mr. Collins.
They ain’t got Noise.
Neither of ‘em.

City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau
In the city of Ember, the sky was always dark. The only light came from great flood lamps mounted on the buildings and at the tops of poles in middle of the larger squares.  When the lights were on, they cast a yellowish glow over the streets; people walking by threw long shadows that shortened and then stretched out again. When the lights were off, as they were between nine at night and six in the morning, the city was so dark that people might as well have been wearing blindfolds.
Mrs. Murdo, walking even more briskly than usual to keep her spirits up, was crossing Harken Square when something fell to the pavement just in front of her with a terrific thump.  How extraordinary, she thought, bending to pick it up. It was a sort of bundle. She began to untie it.

Mortal Engines by Philip Reeve

It was a dark, blustery afternoon in spring, and the city of London was chasing a small mining town across the dried-out bed of the old North Sea.  In happier times, London would never have bothered with such feeble prey. The great Traction City had once spent its days hunting far bigger towns than this, ranging north as far as the edge of the Ice Wastes and south to the shores of the Mediterranean. But lately prey of any kind had started to grow scarce, and some of the larger cities had begun to look hungrily at London.

She knelt beside him, resting her arms on his knees and her head on her arms, and Tom found that he was smiling in spite of himself at her crooked smile. “You aren’t a hero, and I’m not beautiful, and we probably won’t live happily ever after,” she said. “But we’re alive, and together, and we’re going to be alright.”

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

"I've watched through his eyes, I've listened through his ears, and tell you he's the one. Or at least as close as we're going to get." 
"That's what you said about the brother." 
"The brother tested out impossible. For other reasons. Nothing to do with his ability." 
"Same with the sister. And there are doubts about him. He's too malleable.  Too willing to submerge himself in someone else's will." 
"Not if the other person is his enemy." 
"So what do we do? Surround him with enemies all the time?" 
"If we have to." 
"I thought you said you liked this kid." 
"If the buggers get him, they'll make me look like his favorite uncle." 
"All right. We're saving the world, after all. Take him."

So they boarded a starship and went from world to world. Wherever they stopped, he was always Andrew Wiggin, itinerant speaker for the dead, and she was always Valentine, historian errant, writing down the stories of the living while Ender spoke the stories of the dead. And always Ender carried with him a dry white cocoon, looking for the world where the hive-queen could awaken and thrive in peace. He looked a long time.

The Chrysalids by John Wyndham

When I was quite small I would sometimes dream of a city – which was strange because is began before I even knew what a city was. But this city, clustered on the curve of a big blue bay, would come into my mind. I could see the streets, and the buildings that lined them, the waterfront, even the boats in the harbor; yet, waking, I had never seen the sea, or a boat…

‘I’m beginning to believe it’s real and true at last,’ I told Rosalind. ‘You were never with me those other times.’

She turned her head. The under-Rosalind was in her face, smiling, shiny-eyed. The armor was gone. She let me look beneath it. It was like a flower opening…

‘This time, David –’ she began. Then she was blotted out. 

We staggered, and put our hands to our heads. Even the floor under our feet jerked a little. Anguished protests came from all directions.
' Oh, sorry,' Petra apologized to the ship's crew, and to the city in general, 'but it is awfully exciting.' '

This time, darling, we'll forgive you,' Rosalind told her. ' It is. '


Natalie PlanetSmarty said...

Love it! A read at least some of these books, and I want to give it to her to try and match beginnings and endings. And maybe it will also encourage her to read the stories she has not read yet.

Ticia said...

This is a really interesting idea, and one I'd be curious how my kids would do with it.