What Would They Read? X-Men: Days of Future Past Edition

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X-Men: Days of Future Past was certainly the big hit at the box office this holiday weekend, raking in $111 million dollars over four days.

This makes it the fifth biggest Memorial Day weekend opening ever, which is quite the accomplishment for my favorite band of ragtag mutants. We first heard of the premise for Days of Future Past during the credits of the last Wolverine movie. This new X-Men film brings together our old cast of characters that we were introduced to 14 years ago with the new ones from X-Men: First Class (2011), who just happen to be the younger versions of the characters from 14 years ago… Confused yet? Just wait until you get to the end of Days of Future Past. In fact, for an in-depth analysis of the ending to Days of Future Past and its timeline implications, check out this article from Entertainment Weekly.

The basic premise of the film is that the future has gone all-out genocidal on mutants and those that support mutant rights. The government started the Sentinel program as a way to specifically target the mutant gene, and thus kill mutants without collateral damage; however, the program pretty much led to the destruction of humanity as we know it. Pretty bleak future, so the X-Men send Wolverine back in time to try and alter it for the better of mankind and mutants alike. Wolverine is tasked with getting Magneto and Professor X to work together (no small feat there) to stop Raven/Mystique from killing Trask, the founder of the Sentinel program, which is apparently the catalyst for all of the future bad. As with any movie that involves time travel and the butterfly effect, the ending can make your brain hurt while you try to calculate just how much of the original X-Men timeline was impacted by this one movie. Although I have to say even with the brain freeze feeling it left me with, I was pretty satisfied with the whole shebang.

The trailer for the movie is here:

Since the X-Men films in general have never really stuck too close to their source material, I thought it would be more fun to do a “What Would They Read?” list of YA lit for my favorite band of mutants. The characters chosen for the list were the ones heavily featured in this particular film, so I apologize in advance to all of my fellow Rogue fans!

  • Magneto –The Nazi Hunters: How a Team of Spies and Survivors Captured the World’s Most Notorious Nazi by Neal The Nazi HuntersBascomb (2014 YALSA Nonfiction Award) & “The President Has Been Shot!”: The Assassination of John F. Kennedy by James L. Swanson (2014 YALSA Nonfiction FinalistWhen we first encounter Magneto in the film, he is stuck in a concrete prison underneath the Pentagon. For the simple reason that he has copious amounts of time, he gets two books on this list! The Nazi Hunters tells the story of Adolf Eichmann’s capture. Eichmann was the head of operations for the Nazi’s final solution and was finally found in Argentina 16 years later by Israeli spies. Given that Magneto’s background story is deeply entrenched in the WWII era as well as the Nazi concentration camps, this seems like the perfect read for him. Eric/Magneto dedicated his life to righting the wrongs done to him and others in those concentration camps, and it strongly shaped his distrust in governmental organizations. It seems only fitting that he would enjoy the story of how spies and survivors finally brought Eichmann to justice.The second book chosen for Magneto, “The President Has Been Shot!” has more to do with his Days of Future Past plot line and why when we first encounter Magneto he is imprisoned underneath the Pentagon. Let’s just say that he would definitely enjoy this dramatic retelling of the events surrounding the Kennedy assassination. 
  • Professor X – Charles and Emma: The Darwins’ Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman (2010 YALSA Nonfiction Award)Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman
    Given his professorial role throughout the X-Men series, it seemed necessary to pick a non-fiction title for Charles even though his school for the gifted is closed at the start of the film. Seriously, the 1970s were not a good time for Professor X. This title seemed fitting for Xavier since his academic interests most certainly align with mutations and the theory of evolution. Charles and Emma delves into the personal life of Charles Darwin, author of The Origin of Species. Darwin, an atheist scientist married his adored cousin Emma who was quite religious. It’s an interesting look into how Darwin’s personal life impacted the professional and vice versa. This idea of a struggle between two people who clearly loved one another really resonates when you think of Professor X and Magneto. They clearly have affection for each other as friends and yet they do have fundamental philosophical differences. How do you reconcile that? Maybe this book will help our Professor X answer that question for himself.
  • Wolverine – Phoenix Island by John Dixonphoenix island
    What sounds more like Wolverine then a story about an orphaned champion boxer stuck in a sadistic, militaristic boot camp?! Carl Freeman has a problem, and it’s punching people who pick on the little guys. This is the entire reason he ends up on Phoenix Island, and it’s the reason he fights so hard to get off the island. Wolverine definitely likes to pretend he doesn’t care about much, but the man does travel all the way back to the 1970s in the hopes of saving all of his friends. It seems like the perfect machismo book for him to read.
  • Beast – Shiver series by Maggie Stiefvater (2010 YALSA Quick Picks for Reluctant Readers)Shivercover Beast is a scientist whose experiments cause him to essentially hulk out into a big blue beast. He’s a gentle soul who can kick some serious butt when necessary to save his friends. This definitely makes me think of Sam and Cole in the Shiver series by Stiefvater. The Shiver trilogy is the story of the werewolves in Mercy Falls, Minnesota. Sam and Grace are the central love story although they never seem to be able to stay human at the same time for very long. Beast starts out more like the character of Sam, trying to find a way to stay human and not a werewolf so he can be with his ladylove Grace. But then there is the whole part where the science goes a little wonky and he turns full on blue mutant and is now a little bit more like the science guy Cole trying to solve problems like Professor X’s spinal injury. Although, you could say Beast shoulders a lot of responsibility, for the mutants and the Professor, which is again more like Sam.
  • Raven/Mystique – This is What Happy Looks Like by Jennifer E. Smiththis is what happy looks like
    Mystique seems so lonely and lost in this film that I felt compelled to pick a really happy book for her. It just seemed necessary! Hopefully the tale of Hollywood superstar Graham and small town girl Ellie’s meet cute romance will cheer our blue girl up. It’s just a really sweet story about two teenagers who couldn’t be farther apart finding the right person for the perfect first romance.

What about you readers, do you have any book recommendations for the  X-Men? What did you think of Days of Future Past?

-Katie Shanahan Yu, currently reading The Geography of You and Me by Jennifer E. Smith

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Katie Shanahan Yu

Katie Shanahan Yu is a Media Specialist for a middle school in Rockville, MD. Find her on Twitter: @kakakates