On Jan. 9, author James Patterson tweeted "There's no such thing as a kid who hates reading. There are kids who love reading, and kids who are reading the wrong books." If that's really true, it is more important than ever for kids to have adults in their lives who can help them find the right books.
If you have a hard-to-please middle school reader in your life, you might want to suggest the action-packed "Legend" series by Marie Lu. Even though the first book was published a few years ago, I hadn't discovered it until just a few weeks ago.
The story is set in the future, after the collapse of the United States as we know it. The western coast area, now known as the Republic, is constantly at war with its neighbors, the Colonies. The Republic is divided into very wealthy and very poor areas.
Fifteen-year-old Day, from the slums, is one of the country's most wanted criminals. He has become a force to be reckoned with as part of the rebellion effort. Fifteen-year-old June has led a privileged life in the elite class, but has found it difficult, at times, to follow the rules. Unusual circumstances cause these two gifted young adults to cross paths.
After her contact with Day, June begins to question everything she has previously believed about the government of the Republic. What is the cause of the outbreak of plagues in the poorer sections of the Republic? How are medical professionals able to develop vaccines each year that are 100 percent effective? How is the vaccine tested? Is something evil going on?
The story contains a fair amount of violence, but most is important to the plot and theme of the book. There is a bit of romance, too, that will appeal to many middle school readers. I liked "Legend" so much that I will recommend it to my students.