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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this book.
Swarm offers an unusual take on teen superheroes and could lead to a discussion of how special powers always seem to come with disadvantages.
With great power comes great responsibility. Manipulating people is wrong. Individuals can have a positive effect on unruly crowds. Friends need to stick together when faced with adversity.
Positive Role Models
Each of the Zeroes wants to be able to use his or her power without hurting anyone else. Unfortunately, they learn that their actions all have unexpected consequences. Throughout Swarm, they make tough decisions about whether they should sacrifice themselves for the good of the group and innocent bystanders.
Violence & Scariness
Swarm contains scenes of violence, but its description is generally understated. A character is torn apart by a mob. Two characters are shot and killed.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Ethan has a crush on Kelsie but can't muster the courage to tell her. Two young women spend the night together and are physically intimate. A later encounter results in an orgasmic climax that sinks a container ship.
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Variants of "f--k," "bitch," "dick," and "s--t" are used infrequently (up to five or six times); "damn" and "hell," appear more frequently, up to a dozen times each.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
The underground club Dish serves beer to minors.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Swarm: Zeroes, Book 2 continues the tale of teen superheroes begun in Zeroes, written by Scott Westerfeld (Uglies, Afterworlds) in collaboration with Margo Lanagan and Deborah Biancotti. The book is more thoughtful than many about the consequences of wielding superpowers. It contains scenes of violence -- two fatal shootings and a death at the hands of a mob -- but the description of the mayhem is generally understated. Strong language include five or six uses of variants of "f--k" and "s--t"; "hell" and "damn" appear more frequently, up to a dozen times each. Alcohol is served to minors at an underground nightclub. Sexual content ranges from an unrequited crush to a love scene between two young women that leads to an orgasmic psychic climax that sinks a container ship.
Is It Any Good?
Second books in trilogies are notoriously difficult to orchestrate, but the authors of this superhero saga possess the savvy needed to keep the narrative pacing on track for more than 400 pages. Swarm raises the stakes from the first book and finds new complications to challenge the ideals and the mettle of the original six Zeroes. More than merely an X-Men knockoff, this trilogy has plenty of action, intricate character work, and a snarky sense of humor. This volume's ending will leave readers reeling but ready for more.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.