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Throw a convention-style party in honour of The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak, by none other than Brian Katcher! (Y'all may have heard of him?)


Welcome back to Totally Lit Parties, a feature in which Corrie shows you how to throw YA-themed parties!

The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak reminded me of GenCon, my first convention. It was exciting, crazy, and absolutely overwhelming. If you’ve never been to a convention, you should absolutely go. In the meantime, you can celebrate Ana and Zak’s crazy night without having to pull the fire alarm.


Does your group have a mascot? I guarantee that if you Google “steampunk _____”, an image will come up. The Washingcon brochure has steampunk George Washington fighting a robot army, so get creative with a steampunk invite of your own. Need some inspiration? Check out this Google Image Search.

What to Wear

Washingcon is a science fiction convention, so everyone is dressed in their geeky best. However, any costume is a good costume, so break out something wild from your closet because your clothing mantra should be “go big or go home.”

A Ghostbuster, Miss Frizzle, and the Swedish Chef walk into GenCon...

If you’re stuck for ideas, you can find some from the book:

•  Ana - a longbow and quiver with a long black cloak for hiding from security.

•  Zak - a red tuxedo t-shirt for when your own shirt has been completely ruined.

•  Warren - a beaten-up alien mask paired with otherwise nice clothing.

•  Clayton - a trench coat and a voice modulator.

•  Strawberry - a crimson wig in braided pigtails, gingham print dress, and white-and-green striped tights.

•  Any of the supporting cast - Elwood from The Blues Brothers, a Viking with hairy legs, or a girl with an unstrung bow and a bleeding nose.


A progressive dinner is one way to format your party. Just like Ana and Zak move through the convention, your party can move around rooms in a house, to different house, or to different locations.

Dealers Room

Have a favorite things exchange. Set a price limit (e.g., $5) and a number (about a third to a half of the party size). Each person brings that number of the same item, and they draw the names of party guests to give them to. As an example, I brought five copies of my favorite movie (hello, bargain bin!) and drew five winners. Everyone’s name was in the draw five times, and everyone went home with five new favorite things.

Monsters and Mazes

Tabletop gaming offers vastly different options, so you’re certain to find one that’s right for your group. 1000 Blank White Cards is a game that only requires index cards and imagination. There are no official rules because the objective is to make them up as you go. Everyone creates cards with titles, pictures, and instructions. Players are each dealt a hand, and everyone takes turns playing a card by following the instruction. Blank cards are mixed into the draw pile so that new cards can be created during gameplay. The game ends when the players decide it does.

(Click image to enlarge)

For tabletop games that can be purchased, some of my favorites are Dixit (an Apples to Apples-like game that uses images instead of words), Ticket to Ride (a railroad building strategy game), Dominion (a deck building game) and The Resistance (a group sabotage game). Check out the YouTube series TableTop to see games explained and played by some familiar personalities.

Vampire Ball

Donate blood. The entire party could be just one big vampire-themed dance, but the coolest thing about the Vampire Ball was that it was connected to a blood drive. Get a group together and donate blood. You’re not only saving lives, you’re also giving yourself an excuse for all sorts of post-donation snacks. Internet bonus points if you organize a YA-themed donation with your local library.


Sing karaoke! Even if it doesn’t actually fit the definition of filk music, you can still have a great time. Throw at least one parody song in there for Zak. Want to level up? Play Karaoke Roulette. Everyone puts song titles into a bowl, then takes turns singing whatever dastardly song they drew. Karaoke Roulette, I’m never gonna give you up.

Movie Room

Watch a movie. Zak mentions numerous sci-fi and fantasy movies, many of which are cult favorites. Enjoy one of the many movies he references, or select your own cult classic to enjoy. (Any movie with jorts definitely counts here.)


Break restraints. Ana and Zak find themselves in a precarious situation near the end of the novel. Don’t get stuck like they did; learn to break out of zip ties or duct tape bindings. Check out this video to learn how.


Take an archery class. Ana’s skill at archery came long before Katniss was on the scene, but that could be an added bonus to taking an archery class. Check to see if there's a range in your area that provides a beginner’s class. For first timers, many ranges include equipment rental in the course fee.

Quiz Bowl

Try your hand at trivia. All of the craziness Ana and Zak get into is possible because of the Quiz Bowl tournament. Test your intellectual prowess with Jeopardy! practice questions, pub trivia, or Trivial Pursuit.

Tasty Business and Boozy Beverages

The centerpiece to your party should absolutely be a wedding cake, preferably for a couple named John and Mark. If the cake has a sci-fi reference, even better! But wedding cake alone is not enough to feed your guests, so ply them with pizza and any other con or fair style food.

A red slushy is dumped on Zak, but it would be a much better drink, virgin or otherwise. Coffee and energy drinks will help you through a long night of gaming, and cheap beer will help you save your money for the dealer room. Jungle juice is also a great choice for a convention hotel room party; mix it up in a plastic tub lined with a garbage bag for added ambiance.

Do you have any other The Improbable Theory of Ana and Zak-themed party ideas? Let us know in the comments!

Corrie Golando lives in Winslow, Arizona, with her husband and two greyhounds.  She spent 10 years as a middle school/high school English teacher, and her students gave her a love for all things YA.  When she's not working at the high school library, she is writing fanfiction and doing something crafty.  She has a love of all things coated in glitter, much to her husband's horror.