YA Dystopia

Dystopia is defined as “an imagined world or society in which people lead wretched, dehumanized, fearful lives” (Merriam-Webster) and dystopian novels are a popular part of YA literature. The Hunger Games, in particular, is a series that has been pointed to as an example of YA dystopian literature since it was first released. And so, in honor of The Hunger Games prequel, which was released earlier this month (over 10 years since the first book was published!), here are a few of our favorite dystopian novels; most of which are a part of a series.

*All descriptions are from the publishers.

Legend by Marie Lu

What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem.

From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.

The Loop by Ben Oliver

It’s Luka Kane’s 16th birthday and he’s been inside The Loop for over two years. Every inmate is serving a death sentence with the option to push back their execution date by six months if they opt into “Delays,” scientific and medical experiments for the benefit of the elite in the outside world.

But rumors of a war on the outside are spreading amongst the inmates, and before they know it, their tortuous routine becomes disrupted. The government-issued rain stops falling. Strange things are happening to the guards. And it’s not long until the inmates are left alone inside the prison.

Were the chains that shackled Luka to his cell the only instruments left to keep him safe? In a thrilling shift, he must overcome fellow prisoners hell-bent on killing him, the warden losing her mind, the rabid rats in the train tunnels, and a population turned into murderous monsters to try and break out of The Loop, save his family, and discover who is responsible for the chaos that has been inflicted upon the world.

The 5th Wave by Rick Yancy

After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.

Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see. Who have scattered Earth’s last survivors. To stay alone is to stay alive, Cassie believes, until she meets Evan Walker. Beguiling and mysterious, Evan Walker may be Cassie’s only hope for rescuing her brother—or even saving herself. But Cassie must choose: between trust and despair, between defiance and surrender, between life and death. To give up or to get up.

Unwind by Neal Shusterman

In a society where unwanted teens are salvaged for their body parts, three runaways fight the system that would “unwind” them

Connor’s parents want to be rid of him because he’s a troublemaker. Risa has no parents and is being unwound to cut orphanage costs. Lev’s unwinding has been planned since his birth, as part of his family’s strict religion. Brought together by chance, and kept together by desperation, these three unlikely companions make a harrowing cross-country journey, knowing their lives hang in the balance. If they can survive until their eighteenth birthday, they can’t be harmed — but when every piece of them, from their hands to their hearts, are wanted by a world gone mad, eighteen seems far, far away.

The Testing by Joelle Charbonneau

It’s graduation day for sixteen-year-old Malencia Vale, and the entire Five Lakes Colony (the former Great Lakes) is celebrating. All Cia can think about—hope for—is whether she’ll be chosen for The Testing, a United Commonwealth program that selects the best and brightest new graduates to become possible leaders of the slowly revitalizing post-war civilization. When Cia is chosen, her father finally tells her about his own nightmarish half-memories of The Testing. Armed with his dire warnings (“Cia, trust no one”), she bravely heads off to Tosu City, far away from friends and family, perhaps forever.

The Testing is accessible on Overdrive and hoopla

And here is The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, the title that inspired this post!

It is the morning of the reaping that will kick off the tenth annual Hunger Games. In the Capitol, eighteen-year-old Coriolanus Snow is preparing for his one shot at glory as a mentor in the Games. The once-mighty house of Snow has fallen on hard times, its fate hanging on the slender chance that Coriolanus will be able to outcharm, outwit, and outmaneuver his fellow students to mentor the winning tribute.

The odds are against him. He’s been given the humiliating assignment of mentoring the female tribute from District 12, the lowest of the low. Their fates are now completely intertwined – every choice Coriolanus makes could lead to favor or failure, triumph or ruin. Inside the arena, it will be a fight to the death. Outside the arena, Coriolanus starts to feel for his doomed tribute . . . and must weigh his need to follow the rules against his desire to survive no matter what it takes.

Also if you like to listen to music while you read, may we suggest listening to The Hunger Games: Original Motion Picture Score or The Hunger Games: Songs from District 12 and Beyond to surround yourself with the world of The Hunger Games.

Discover Abbot Public Library’s Health Resources!

While a Google search might seem like an easy alternative for seeking medical information, especially at a time without access to library print copies, it comes with caveats. The search itself is easy; sifting through myriads of entries to look for relevant information takes eons. Most importantly, though, is the question of reliability – just how trustworthy is the source?

Instead, we suggest using services and databases that provide relevant, reliable, and up-to-date information. These are free services brought to you by the Abbot Public Library!

Please note: these resources are meant for informational purposes only. If you are experiencing symptoms and required medical attention, please speak to a doctor.

Through EBSCO, you get access to various medical and health databases, such as Medline or Clinical Pharmacology, where you can search medical dictionaries and obtain articles from medical journals and magazines.

You can set up search and language preferences, and are able to print out articles that you find useful.

You can search or browse through a list of topics in the Gale Health and Wellness database, designed for consumers. Its information comes from encyclopedias, academic journals, and magazines. Some of the other features include availability of audio-format or text highlighting.

If you need more in-depth information, you can also access the Gale Health and Medicine database created for healthcare professionals and knowledgeable health researchers, where you will find information from the medical professional’s perspective.

A recent acquisition by the Abbot Public Library, a collection of health databases by Salem Press, previously reviewed on our blog, is another medical reference resource.

hoopla has medical books, with general information on diseases, their symptoms, and suggested treatments. Click on the book cover images to go to the ebooks in hoopla.

For maintaining good health and preventing diseases, as well as alternative medicine, you might consider these recommendations:

Overdrive/Libby has quite an extensive section of medical books as well, including the following:

All these databases and digital books are free resources available through the Abbot Public Library with your library card.

Stay safe and take care!

Fictional Kid Mastermind Series

Can a twelve-year-old save the world? Maybe not, but it is a lot of fun for kids to imagine. Here are three action fantasies that feature genius kids with hyper skills and inexhaustible resources who can defeat dangerous forces.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, a fantasy/adventure for ages 10+ (also in audiobook and graphic novel format)

Artemis Fowl, criminal mastermind, techie millionaire, 12-year-old genius, decides to steal the gold of a secret, a dangerous race of fairies. Lots of trouble ensues. Essentially parentless Artemis teams up with a pixie and a dwarf, and his adult protector named Butler. There are nearly non-stop battles and peril for Artemis and his sidekicks, with the use of clever machinery on both sides. 

Disney has come out with a PG movie based on the book series.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, a fantasy/adventure for ages 9+ (also in audiobook format)

This adventure series features four precocious gifted kids who are recruited and trained by a mysterious millionaire (Mr. Benedict) for a secret mission. They are sent to infiltrate a secret boarding school run by an evil genius who wants to take over the world. Their special skills and their teamwork will be tested in various ways throughout the series. Ethical behavior and pooling talents are portrayed as important as cleverness in this series.

A TV series has been developed based on the books, available on Hulu.

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs, a spy thriller/adventure for ages 10+ 

Twelve-year-old math prodigy, thief, code-breaker. and super athlete Charlie Thorne is recruited by CIA agents for a vital mission. She needs to find and solve the final secret equation of Albert Einstein that unlocks the secret of unlimited power that can either save or destroy the world. She must use her ability to see the world in terms of calculations and probabilities to defeat a secret group out to get the equation first.

Enjoy the 2020 Marblehead High School Senior Art Show – A Virtual Exhibit!

The Marblehead High School Senior Art Show, in May, has been a highlight of the Abbot Library’s exhibits program, each year. Working with art faculty member Rachel Branham, and two or three MHS seniors, for whom presenting the exhibit serves as their senior project, the Library has enthusiastically welcomed the opportunity to bring the talent and creativity of the High School’s “art majors” to the Marblehead community. With the library and schools closed, this partnership is continuing in a new and exciting way.

This year, show your support for the Class of 2020 from your living room! For the first time, Marblehead High School’s annual Senior Art Show is being presented virtually. Available for viewing as of Monday, May 25th, the exhibit can be found on the Abbot Public Library’s website

Citrus State of Mind by Hadley Kaeyer

The show includes pieces in a variety of media, made both during the year in art class and, more recently, while schools have been closed due to COVID-19. Students were invited to produce artwork expressing the impact of the COVID-19 closure on their Senior year experience. Many pieces have accompanying text further describing this experience. This year’s show was organized as the senior project of Colette Bender and Lily Yates.

Covid 19 by Bella Damon

We encourage everyone to spend time enjoying this virtual exhibit — a wonderful opportunity for this year’s graduating seniors to showcase their creations while maintaining social distancing. The seniors have worked hard this year to produce some remarkable works of art, so visit the show and give these artists the recognition and appreciation they deserve!

A Modern Great Wave by Lucy Tedford

Manga to Check Out

Manga are Japanese comic books and graphic novels, considered their own genre though they cover a wide variety of themes and settings. If you like graphic novels already, chances are you will enjoy manga as well, and they are usually a part of a larger series, so the stories have plenty of material to become immersed in. The artwork is typically black and white and read right to left, which can take some getting used to if you are not familiar with the format. But, if you are reading digitally, you can view an entire page at once without having to worry about what may be lost in the gutter of the spine, making it slightly easier to read. 

Recently, we have been adding more manga to our digital collections. So if you are already interested in manga or want to try them out, now would be a great time to. Here are a few of the manga that we have available on Overdrive/Libby.

*All descriptions are from the publisher and are for the first volume in the series.

Seven Deadly Sins by Nakaba Suzuki

When they were accused of trying to overthrow the monarchy, the feared warriors the Seven Deadly Sins were sent into exile. Princess Elizabeth discovers the truth – the Sins were framed by the king’s guard, the Holy Knights – too late to prevent them from assassinating her father and seizing the throne! Now the princess is on the run, seeking the Sins to help her reclaim the kingdom. But the first Sin she meets, Meliodas, is a little innkeeper with a talking pig. He doesn’t even have a real sword! Have the legends of the Sins’ strength been exaggerated…?

My Hero Academia by Kohei Horikoshi

Middle school student Izuku Midoriya wants to be a hero more than anything, but he hasn’t got an ounce of power in him. With no chance of ever getting into the prestigious U.A. High School for budding heroes, his life is looking more and more like a dead end. Then an encounter with All Might, the greatest hero of them all, gives him a chance to change his destiny.

Snow White with the Red Hair by Sorata Akiduki

Shirayuki is famous for her naturally bright-red hair, and the prince of Tanbarun wants her all to himself! But when she escapes into the woods of the neighboring kingdom, a young man named Zen and his two friends come to her aid. But who is Zen really…?

Demon Slayer by Koyoharu Gotouge

Learning to destroy demons won’t be easy, and Tanjiro barely knows where to start. The surprise appearance of another boy named Giyu, who seems to know what’s going on, might provide some answers—but only if Tanjiro can stop Giyu from killing his sister first!

Ouran High School Host Club by Bisco Hatori

Bisco HatoriOne day, Haruhi, a scholarship student at exclusive Ouran High School, breaks an $80,000 vase that belongs to the “Host Club,” a mysterious campus group consisting of six super-rich (and gorgeous) guys. To pay back the damages, she is forced to work for the club, and it’s there that she discovers just how wealthy the boys are and how different they are from everybody else.

And as a bonus, Kanji de Manga by Glenn Kardy and Chihiro Hattori

Learn how to read and write Japanese the fun and easy way—with Kanji de Manga!

Manga University’s award-winning series uses original comic artwork to teach readers how to identify and write the most common Japanese kanji ideographs.

Volume 1 introduces 80 of the most common kanji, including those for numbers, days of the week, directions, relatives, and sizes. Each page features its own comic strip, kanji pronunciation guide, stroke order, and English explanations.


What are some manga that you would like to see added to our collection? Let us know in a comment!

Staff Picks: Cookbooks for Quarantine

Our dining experience looks a little different these days. No longer able to dine out at our favorite restaurants or find exactly the ingredients we need at the store, we’ve become increasingly dependent upon ourselves to cook at home using what we have. For some, this has been an opportunity to perfect culinary skills and try out those hours-long cooking projects that you never usually have the time to complete. For others, this has been a crash-course in using pantry staples and becoming acquainted with their kitchens. 

But no matter your skill level or appetite, we’ve got your cookbook needs covered to add some flavor and spice to your home-cooking journey, all free with your Abbot Public Library card. There are over 1,000 titles available in our digital collections, from regional cuisine (Tex-Mex, Korean, French, Palestinian, Oaxacan), to diet-specific (Paleo, Keto, Vegan, Gluten-Free, Whole30), to pop culture-inspired (Anne of Green Gables? Literary wizards? Questlove?), and everything in between! If hundreds of cookbooks seems like a little much to swallow, these five highly-recommended cookbooks are a great place to start:

Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat: Mastering the Elements of Good Cooking by Samin Nosrat & Wendy MacNaughton

If you take only one title away from this list, let this be the one. Part textbook, part cookbook, and highly enjoyable (think on-the-nightstand, bedtime-read enjoyable) Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat is like getting a cooking lesson from your very kind, very knowledgeable best friend who only wants you to succeed at cooking and life. Certified Good Human™ Samin Nosrat doesn’t just want you to cook her recipes — she wants you to have enough confidence in the kitchen to go off-book and use its namesake elements to make great food every time. Complete with Wendy MacNaughton’s delightfully informative illustrations — no staged food photography here — this is a guide you’ll turn to time and time again.

Small Victories: Recipes, Advice + Hundreds of Ideas for Home Cooking Triumphs by Julia Turshen

Julia Turshen wants you to relax. And if cooking isn’t your idea of relaxing, well then, she wants to change that for you, too. In the same philosophical vein of Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat, Turshen posits that, in having the necessary know-how to create the daily ritual we call mealtime, we can feel grounded and find joy. She urges us to celebrate our cooking triumphs, and gives you all of the tools and tricks to make simple substitutions with unpretentious ingredients for wholesome, tasty meals. For anyone in need of a small victory (see what we did there?), this one’s for you.

Plenty by Yotam Ottolenghi

Never have vegetables looked better than between the pages of London-based Ottolenghi’s stunning vegetarian classic. Never fear carnivores: Ottolenghi infuses his vegetable recipes with such vibrant and bold Eastern Mediterranean flavors, you won’t even miss the meat. A great source for homecooks looking to toss a little more tasty veggie power into their meals, and for vegetarian experts to up their plant-based game. 

The Food Lab: Better Home Cooking Through Science by J. Kenji López-Alt

The Food Lab, based on López-Alt’s popular Serious Eats column of the same name, is for the Good Eats-style food science types out there. From mac and cheese to turkey, Lopéz-Alt gives you foolproof recipes for all of your favorite American classics, and the solid science behind making them perfectly. This is an awesome resource for people who don’t just love to cook and eat, but are curious about hows and whys of what’s on their plate, too.

Pastry Love: A Baker’s Journal of Favorite Recipes by Joanne Chang

You didn’t think we’d leave out dessert, did you? Joanne Chang, James Beard award-winning baker and owner of Boston’s famed Flour bakeries, presents 125 of her favorite pastries and desserts in this comprehensive guide. From lemon sugar cookies to passion fruit crepe cake, there is a recipe to suit every sweet craving and skill level. Replete with pro tips, tricks, and techniques, this will quickly become a staple of your baking book collection. 

For more cooking guidance, you can also stream video lectures through Abbot Public Library’s Indieflix service, which has a section on Food & Wine.

Your Digital Sunday Newspaper Is Here!

Spend your Sunday reading The New York Times paper online for free! 

The Abbot Public Library now has a subscription to The New York Times Digital. Enjoy easy access to The New York Times daily news from any device and the ability to share articles across social media platforms. You can research historical articles published between 1851 and the current day. Find full access to the international edition.

There are updated, time-stamped articles from the Times sections, including World, Politics, New York, Opinion, Business, Technology, Science, Sports, Arts, Fashion & Style, and Video, as well as searchable access to articles, blogs, features, interviews, obituaries, and columns. You can sign up for weekly newsletter emails. Also included are mini crossword puzzles and The New York Times Magazine.

The New York Times Digital will be available from computers in the library and in your own home with off-site access.

When you access The New York Times Digital from home, click the “redeem” button (the code will be pre-populated). If you are already registered, enter your email and password, or for new users, create an account to get started!