New from Simon & Schuster

Downsiders

Downsiders

For Ages: 12 and up
  • reading group guide
  • customer reviews
Beneath the sewer grates and manholes of the city lies a strange and secret world called the Downside. Every Downsider knows that it's forbidden to go Topside, and most fear a collision of the two worlds. But fourteen-year-old Talon is curious about what goes on above ground, and one day he ventures out in search of medicine for his ailing sister. There he meets Lindsay, who is as curious about Talon's world as he is about hers. When Lindsay visits the Downside for the first time, she marvels at the spirit of the Downsiders, and the way they create works of art from topside "trash," like old subway tokens and forgotten earrings. As awed as she is by the Downside, however, she also questions its origins, and when she finds out that this fantastic world is not all it appears to be, she is determined to tell Talon the truth. Then a construction accident threatens to crush Talon's world, and his loyalty is put to the test. Can the truth save the Downside, or will it destroy an entire civilization? Neal Shusterman takes readers on an amazing journey into a place that's only a few steps away, yet beyond their wildest dreams.
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  • Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781416997474 | 
  • November 2009 | 
  • Grades 7 and up | 
  • Lexile 1110
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Read an Excerpt


Talon


High above the windblown city, a drop of falling rain was caught by an icy blast and puffed into a feathery flake of snow. No longer did it plunge through the city, but instead drifted slowly toward the magnificent lights of a New York night.

It sailed past the tip of the Empire State Building, whose upper floors were lit a Christmas green and red. Then, caught in a crosswind, the flake sailed further uptown, spinning around the icicle spire of the Chrysler Building and drifting down toward the late-night traffic of Forty-second Street. At 11:00, from high above, one might think the streets of the city truly... see more

Reading Group Guide

A Reading Group Guide for:

Downsiders
by Neal Shusterman

About the Book
Below the city, in secret tunnels and cavernous spaces unknown to all but those who live there, is a place called the Downside — a tight-knit society several thousand strong. Talon Angler, a boy who lives in this underground world, has learned from his elders to shun the Topside — the world aboveground that we all know — yet Talon is somehow drawn to this world of light. When he accidentally meets Lindsay Matthias, a girl from a broken home, unhappy with the trajectory of her own life, it changes both of their worlds in ways neither of them could predict.

Discussion Topics
• Talon and his friends Gutta and Railborn all catch glimpses of the Topside. Why do you think Talon is the only one so entranced by the Topside world he sees?

• The legend and lore of the Downsiders (for example, “if you see the sun, you’ll go blind”) is really designed to keep the young people in line. Can you think of any myths we have that regulate the behavior of young people?

• The Downsiders’ prejudices and misinformation about us help us see our own prejudices about others more clearly. What are some of the prejudices we carry around that we normally wouldn’t question? What myths do we believe about other peoples and cultures?

• Talon has three main sources of infor see more

More Books from this Author

Author Revealed

Q. how did you come to write Downsiders?

A. I wanted to write a story about a primitive civilization fighting for its own survival. The idea of putting that society in an unlikely place (under New York) really excited me, because it was a challenge to make something so absurd believable.

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