Logo Title Quebec Reading Connection

The Never Weres

Smyth, Fiona (Author/Illustrator)
Annick Press 2011. 256 pages
First published: 2011
ISBN: 9781554512843 (paperback)
9781554512850 (hardcover)
Original language: English
Book type: Graphic Text
Book genre: Dystopian

Text Elements:

multimodal, panel arrangement, setting

Reading Range

 
Cycle
Elementary
Secondary
 
1
2
3
1
2
ELA
K
1
2
3
4
5
6
1
2
3
4
5
ESL Intensive & Enriched
5
6
1
2
3
4
5

Description:

Three teenage friends—tech-savvy Xian, Mia, who volunteers with seniors, and Jesse, the science nerd—attempt to uncover what happened to a girl who went missing decades ago. Set in a futuristic Toronto during a time of imminent human extinction, where a virus has meant that no more children are being born, these three are the last of the younger generation; their quest to uncover the truth has the entire human race depending on their answers.

The story unfolds in a frank, clear style that uses the narrative framing of “Storybot Sasha” who interjects throughout, bringing the three teenage voices together into a cohesive storyline. The juggling of three points of view of the teenage friends, as each comes to terms with the mysterious details of the truth, are well and uniquely woven together. “Mia and Jesse wait for a truant Xian, and both have news to share. Their headstrong friend has led them reluctantly into a growing conspiracy.”

With just enough backstory for each character, readers are able to empathize with their humanity and particularities.

The zine style illustrations have a psychedelic bent, despite their monochromatic palette, and are filled with action and movement. Using wordless panels for flashbacks and managing several points of view on the same page, both illustrations and text juggle complex storytelling in their intricate depiction of interpersonal dynamics, futuristic settings and scientific information.

  •  

    The narrative is told from the point of view of various individuals. The first is Sasha, a storybot who acts as a type of omniscient narrator who is not involved in the action of the novel. Review some of the affordances of having various narrators.

  •  

    Mia and her friends are among the last teens on earth. In small groups, discuss how the world would change if people could no longer reproduce.

  •  

    Following reading and discussion, as part of the immersion into text, use a production process to explore relevant issues in an expository text, such as an opinion piece.

  •  After reading Storybot Sasha’s introduction on page 5, scan the rest of the book for her commentary. Discuss what you glean from it with a partner and make predictions.
  •  Describe the graphic features. Think about why and when the author chooses to use differently-styled panel borders. Is it easier to read the multi-panelled pages or the two-page spreads? Select sample pages and make comparisons.
  •  

    Write a review to be added to a reputable book review website. If you have criticism, make it constructive.

  • To exercise critical judgment
  • To use information
  • Personal and Career Planning
  • Science and Technology