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Desert Dark
by Sonja Stone

Trade Binding | 336 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/4 | US$ 17.95
ISBN: 9780823435623 | 01-31-2016

Also available as an ebook.

Grade: EIGHTH | Age: 12 up

Themes: Mystery & Suspense, Adventure, Survival, Love & Romance, Coming of Age, Good vs. Evil
Recommendations: A, K, PW

CCSS Codes:
L.9-10.1, 3, 4, 4a, 5, 5a, 5b, 6
SL.9-10.1, 1c, 1d, 6
W.9-10.4, 6, 7, 9, 10
RL.9-10.1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 10

About the Book

With a setting that is Hogwarts meets The Bourne Identity this debut YA thriller will make readers mad with suspense.

Sixteen-year-old Nadia Riley is delighted to earn a spot at an elite, government-funded boarding school. Nothing sounds better than leaving behind her fraught relationship with her ex-boyfriend and moving to faraway Arizona for a spot at Desert Mountain Academy. But the Academy is more than Nadia bargained for: it's a covert CIA program training high-achieving students for the Black-Ops. Nadia struggles to keep up in her new classes while gaining the trust of her assigned teammates for campus-wide competitions known as "survival courses." Things get worse when news leaks that there is a double agent on campus, and someone is framing Nadia!


"A mix of all-too-real war games, teenage love conundrums, and a tenacious heroine makes this an engaging first outing."—Publishers Weekly

"With secrets around every corner and an exciting premise, this thriller will keep readers guessing right to the very last page."—Kirkus Reviews

"Readers who enjoyed Marie Lu’s Legend series or James Dashner’s Maze Runner trilogy will appreciate this fast-paced action novel."—Booklist

Classroom Discussion Questions with CCSS:

1. Analyze the impact of author Sonja Stone’s choices regarding how to develop and relate elements of a story, including where the story is set, how the action is ordered and how the characters are introduced and developed. RL.9-12.3

2. Determine two or more themes or central ideas of Desert Dark and analyze their development over the course of the text, including how they interact and build on one another to produce a complex account. RL.9-12.2

3. How does the author use the existence of conflict to enhance the reader’s understanding of a character as well as create the suspense and interest that make you want to continue reading? Discuss the various types of conflict in the story: man vs. man, man vs. self, man vs. fate, man vs. nature, man vs. society. RL.9-12.1, 3

4. Summarize the “resolution” of Desert Dark. W.9-12.4, 9

Readers' Guide
Reading Group Guide featuring Instructional Standards, Questions for Discussion and Classroom Activities.