Author of the bestselling Frindle and the new Benjamin Pratt and the Keepers of the School Series, Andrew Clement generally writes upbeat titles for middle-grade readers. Still, he remembers the moment as a young reader that darker themes began to appeal to him. His solution was Jack London’s Call of the Wild, along with an appetite for Edgar Allan Poe's tales of horror and Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes mysteries. Clement suggests that dystopian themes appeal to readers, not because the world has gotten worse, but because we are more aware of things happening around the globe. “Perhaps the dystopian stories of today are darker because all of us, writers and readers alike, have become more aware of the many awful things that happen in our world,” he writes. “A study of world history shows that truly awful things have always happened. In our current media-saturated lives, however, every single awful thing that happens anywhere is pressed upon us in full-color, live-action images, both instantaneously and repetitively. In order for a book to seem scary today, it has to be very scary indeed.”
Sarah A. Wood, a reviewer for Teenreads.com and Kidsreads.com since 2003, is a lifetime reader and writer. She refuses to accept that there are people who don't like to read and stubbornly believes this is only because they have not met the right book yet.