Books in the Middle: Reading for Middle School

Our focus is on books middle school students might like to read and topics pertaining to books for these students, and we are giving recommendations. Teachers, librarians and middle school students are the contributors to this blog. If you would like to listen to booktalks of some of these books, please check out this site and enjoy!

Across the Universe May 3, 2017

In the future, colonization of other planets is possible. Amy, a normal high school girl with friends, a boyfriend, and a spot on the cross country team, is not into space travel. But, her mother is a leading genetic scientist, and is chosen to be part of a special mission called “Project Ark Ship”. This mission seeks to colonize a brand new planet called CentauriEarth– a planet that is not very hospitable. The best of Earth’s scientists, engineers, mathematicians, artists, and writers are all gathered to travel to this new world, and essentially will recreate Earth. Amy, her mother, her father, and 2,312 other chosen passengers are cryogenically frozen and placed on board a space craft that will travel three hundred years into the future. When they land on CentauriEarth, they will be unfrozen by the chosen “Eldest” and won’t have aged at all. But, strange things start happening almost immediately. As Amy is being frozen, she overhears lab techs talking about how the project is going to be delayed a year or more—but none of the passengers were made aware of that. They will all be frozen and stored in a facility going nowhere for a whole year. Then, Amy horrifically realizes that she hasn’t lost consciousness like she was supposed to. Worst of all, Amy is woken early, while her family and all of the other passengers still sleep. Someone tried to kill her! But who else is even awake on the ship? This intriguing blend of science fiction, dysoptian, mystery-thriller will alternately intrigue and terrify readers.



Lost in Space? February 11, 2013

I must admit. I love earth. I really have no desire to seek out extraterrestrial life, or meander through the cosmos. Never dreamed of becoming an astronaut, or bumping into an alien, or well, any of that stuff. However, reading about it is a whole other ball game. I just finished Glow by Amy Kathleen Ryan and the idea imgresof being out in space, with no way of rescue is a frightening and sometimes disturbing one. In Glow, the main characters aren’t out in the universe alone, but rather there is a sister ship that left Earth a year before their own ship, the Empyrean. However, now for reasons that aren’t being shared with the crew or passengers, that sister ship, the New Horizon, appears in the darkness of space and wants to make contact. Quickly, Waverly, a fifteen year old girl and her boyfriend, sixteen year old Kieran realize all they thought about the crew and those in charge are not what they seem. Waverly and all the girl children from the ship are taken to The New Horizon and Kieran is left to try to manage life on The Empyrean after a catastrophic explosion. Even if they are able to get back together, they might both be so changed it will be hard for them to move forward.

As I was reading Glow, I was reminded of another space travel book I read last year called Across the Universe by Beth Revis. As in Glow, the members on board Godspeed, are heading to a planet they hope will be a new Earth, since the old one is dying under human mismanagement. However, Godspeed is the one and only ship that has been sent into space, at least as far as the passengers and crew know. They lost contact with Earth many years before. Godspeed has a whole society that is run with specific rules and everyone, including Elder imgres-2(who will someday take over command of the ship), must obey the dictates of that society or it is feared chaos will rule. When Elder discovers a level in Godspeed he didn’t even know existed, he begins to question what he once believed to be fact. Especially when he discovers frozen people on that unknown level and one turns out to be a girl his age. Suddenly the bodies of people who aren’t supposed to wake up until they land on the new planet start being unfrozen, and the spaceship has never seemed so dangerous.Elder has to save the life of Amy, the teen girl who was frozen, when someone pulls her out and tries to kill her. The reason why and what is really happening on Godspeed will keep you turning the pages.

Of course, both books are just the beginning of what will either be trilogies or series. Enjoy your trek through space with these two spellbinding adventures.

Recommended for grades 8 and up.