A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this book.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that Joelle Charbonneau's Graduation Day is a dystopian science-fiction adventure in the mold of The Hunger Games. It resolves the story begun in The Testing and continued in Independent Study, in which high-achieving students are pitted against one another in an exam that has life-or-death consequences. The violence is less intense in this installment than in the first, but there are shootouts and explosions that have tragic consequences. The language is tame, with only a few instances of "pissed" and "damn." There's little sexual content, with Cia and Thomas expressing their love for each other through gentle hugs and soulful kisses.
What's the story?
GRADUATION DAY picks up where the previous installment, Independent Study, left off, with the United Commonwealth on the brink of civil war and Cia Vale determined to end The Testing once and for all. Cia seems to have the support of President Callindar, but the allegiances of her fellow classmates are less clear. She trusts her boyfriend, Tomas, but nearly everyone else has to be regarded with suspicion. When President Callindar gives her a list of people she must assassinate, Cia is unsure whether she can fulfill the mission.
Is it any good?
After what felt like an unneeded middle volume, Graduation Day regains some of the momentum the series had lost. Cia still doesn't know whom to trust, and her endless ruminations about the loyalties of her fellow candidates grow wearisome, but the pace picks up as the narrative approaches its climax.
Author Joelle Charbonneau choreographs some effective action scenes, and there are a couple of neat reversals before the central conflict is resolved. This series doesn't reach the heights achieved by some other dystopian science-fiction adventures, but it has its moments.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about why dystopian science fiction is currently so popular with teen readers. What does the sub-genre offer that more realistic fiction might not?
How do you decide to trust someone? What behaviors might he or she exhibit to be considered trustworthy?
What makes a good leader? Can you ever be sure how someone will act under intense pressure?
- Author: Joelle Charbonneau
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Friendship, Misfits and Underdogs
- Book type: Fiction
- Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
- Publication date: June 17, 2014
- Publisher's recommended age(s): 12 - 17
- Number of pages: 304
- Available on: Nook, Audiobook (unabridged), Hardback, iBooks, Kindle
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