I confess. I love reading series. I love reading lists. I love reading the Top Ten of about anything. So when Usborne books shared with me their new series Conspiracy 365 that produces one new book every month, I couldn’t help myself. I had to begin reading.
Don’t blink. Don’t forget to breathe. On New Year’s Eve Cal is chased down the street by a staggering, sick man with a deadly warning…They killed your father. They’ll kill you. You must survive the next 365 days! Hurled into a life on the run, the 15-year-old fugitive is isolated and alone. Hunted by the law and ruthless criminals, Cal must somehow uncover the truth about his father’s mysterious death and a history-changing secret. Who can he turn to, who can he trust, when the whole world seems to want him dead? The clock is ticking. Any second could be his last.
These aren’t quality literature titles that will win any National Book Awards. Don’t expect tremendous character development. Yet they deserve to be in your middle school library. What are they? Plot-driven titles with angst and action that help hook readers. Each title ends with a cliffhanger where the main character is in terrible danger for his life so you must wait for next month’s title to see how he escapes. The first title January received reviews from most of the publishers who touted the thriller aspect. The fact is that students ask for adventure titles that are realistic. They are willing to suspend disbelief while reading these because this 15 year old boy seems realistic to them.
The international flavor Author Gabrielle Lord from Australia has created in these approximately 180 page titles appeals to my students. Each title counts down the pages from the front of the book to the end – an unusual approach – but one that enabled some of my students to celebrate how few pages they had left while they were reading. The month and time is indicated throughout the book which forces the adrenaline rush as the month quickly passes.
Conspiracy 365 has already become very popular at my school and has resulted in some detective work. Someone has taken January from my "review shelf" and not brought it back. Students are calling for a locker search to get it back. Those students who read it, talked about it so enthusiastically that other students are waiting for it. Several have gone on to read February through April, but they are steaming because they want January back. Please, students, return January soon.
If you haven’t begun purchasing these titles yet, there’s still part of the year left. Join those of us following Callum Ormond.