Tag Archives: dystopian society

Thursday Tidbits 3/22/2012

Just a couple Thursday tidbits:

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Wither by Lauren DeStefano

NOTE: I am changing the name of my “Fast Five” that I use to catch up on my backlog. I think it could be argued that on a good day, what I write about books does not qualify as a true review. When I post five fast thoughts, that really isn’t a review. So these will now be titled “Fast Five View.”

Wither by Lauren DeStefano. Published by Simon and Schuster. Read in March, 2011. ARC provided by publisher at ALA Midwinter.

A Fast Five View:

1. I thought this was a unique take on a dystopian novel. Really hooked on the scientific mystery of their life span!

2. With several other recent YA books that dealt with polygamy in a contemporary setting, I thought Ms. DeStefano addressed polygamy in a new, interesting, yet relevant way.

3. The setting is sooooooooo creepy. The house, the grounds, the weather – well done!

4. I think the cover is gorgeous and so eye-catching. I do think, though, that it will prohibit boys from picking it up, and I think that the book could have some appeal to boy readers because of the book’s setting.

5. I can’t wait to read the rest of the series, and I have so many characters I want to know about beyond just Rhine, the main character!

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Across the Universe by Beth Revis

Across the Universe by Beth Revis. Published by Razorbill/Penguin. Read in January, 2011. ARC provided by publisher.

A Fast Five review:

1. Across the Universe is set in a space ship that has been built to house a community headed towards a new world. The book jacket includes a map of the ship. This is a nice luxury but not a necessity. Ms. Revis clearly describes this world and my mental image was only confirmed by the map. The Across the Universe site has an interactive version of the map.

2. There is a lot going on in this novel: dystopian sci-fi, mystery, attraction, loss, but it all fits together fairly well to make it a page-turner. For me, it was not a book to be gobbled in one sitting, but I did want to learn what was next. I knew the answer to one mystery early in the book, but there were other mysteries that kept me engaged.

3. I find the cover a bit misleading; it looks like it will center around an all-consuming angsty romance, but romance is not really part of the story. There is attraction, and the building of a potential relationship, but the two main characters, Amy and Elder, go through things that are bigger than a crush. (An interesting post on a potential race-change is another potential problem with the cover, but not a big enough one to get me riled up.)

4. The viewpoint alternates between Amy and Elder. I felt like the reader got to know Amy pretty well, but Elder less so. I do think that part of this is due to the fact that Elder is still trying to figure out who he is and where he fits in this world, but his personality is just a lot less defined than Amy’s. I found myself caring less about what happened to him than I did Amy.

5. I only learned recently that this is going to be a trilogy. I felt like the book resolved well-enough for me, so I’m not sure how quickly I will read the sequel. I had actually been happy to read something that was a stand-alone. Oh well.

I did buy this for my high school library, and it has circulated well. There is a section of the book that deals with sex and an attempted rape, so it might not be suitable for younger/less mature readers.

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Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Delirium by Lauren Oliver. Published by HarperTeen. Read in December, 2010. ARC provided by HarperTeen via NetGalley.

Lauren Oliver’s new release for 2011 is set in a future where everyone has a brain operation at age 18 to prevent them from ever suffering from “delirium.”  The main sign one is suffering from delirium is being in love, but other signs would include deep emotion of
any kind and/or a desire for autonomy. Lena looks forward to having the procedure; she has seen what happened to others who succumbed to the insanity of delirium and dreads the possibility of this happening to her. She just wants to be cured and learn who she is assigned to marry. While waiting to turn 18,  Lena meets Alex, an older boy with the scar proving his surgery has taken place. In her eyes, he is safe – they won’t fall in love. So she begins to spend time with him. You know what they say about the best laid plans…

Delirium is the first in a trilogy, and I can’t wait for the next two. While the YA lit world is overloaded on dystopian lit right now, I was fascinated by this world. Definitely a great read to get swept away in.

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The Line by Teri Hall

The Line by Teri Hall; read in January, 2010. ARC provided by Penguin at ALA Midwinter, 2010.

In The Line, Teri Hall has built a good framework for an interesting dystopian setting, but left me wanting more.  Not in a post-Catching Fire-I-am-dying-to-read-the-next-one way, but in a huh-that-was-really-facinating-but-it-felt-a-little-bare-bones, as if details were held back just to have more to flesh out in the sequel.

The line is the border around a future U.S.A. (or so I have assumed), and no one can cross the line and expect to return.  Throughout the book, the reader learns some of the history that caused the line to be built.  Rachel lives in a small house with her mother, on the property of her mother’s employer – an older, wealthy single woman known as Ms. Moore.  Rachel knows a little about why the line is there, and that her dad’s death is connected to that reason.  The line runs through Ms. Moore’s property.

Ms. Moore grows orchids in a greenhouse near the line, and Rachel gets involved in helping her.  Her frequent proximity to the line ripens the forbidden fruit aspect of it, and soon Rachel begins speaking to a mysterious boy on the other side of the line.  Just speaking to the boy puts Rachel in jeopardy, and then he asks for her help.  Can she risk it?

The Line is a fast read.  I had a hard time figuring out Rachel’s age.  At times, she felt nine or ten, and others she seemed fifteen.  I imagine part of her immaturity has to do with how she was raised in this society.  I wonder if this would confuse younger readers or help Rachel feel relatable.

I think this is a great addition to a middle school library, and a high school if you have reluctant readers who want shorter faster reads.  The ending will leave readers ready for the sequel.

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The Maze Runner by James Dashner

mazerunner

Read in August, 2009 – ARC received from the publisher (the cover is just black with white text so I like seeing the published cover)

In the beginning of James Dashner’s first book in a new trilogy, The Maze Runner, Thomas wakes up inside a dark box and has no idea where he is, or who he is.  He soon finds himself pulled out of the box into a courtyard and greeted by many other teenage boys.  He soon learns that the boys have all arrived the same way and, like him, cannot remember anything about who they are except their names.

Thomas begins to find his place in the day-to-day life of this strange place.  They live and work in a walled in area, and each boy has a job he must do.  Cook, farm, build – the usual tasks in a community.  One group has a special job – the maze runners.  Outside of their walls lies a maze that they have never found a solution to.  The runners go through it every day, returning each night to share what they discovered.  Every night, the walls move and these strange creatures come out  and will kill any boy they come across within the maze, so it is important no one spends the night outside of the walls.

After Thomas’ arrival, things begin to change.  One of the other boys swears he recognizes him.  The next person to arrive via the dark box is not a boy, but a teenage girl with a surprising message.  Can the maze be solved?  Is it possible to escape this strange place alive?  Who are they and why are they all there?

I had a difficult time getting into this at first.  Part of it was getting used to the slang the boys use, which is unique to their world.  I’m not sure why I had a hard time with it since I don’t remember struggling with the slang in Uglies or Feed.  I think I also had a hard time adjusting to the world, which is probably similar to the adjustment the characters go through when they arrive.  I did eventually get into it and then didn’t put it down until I finished it that same day.  I liked the characters of Thomas, Chuck, and Minho.  I am not sold on Teresa.  It is inevitable that this book will be compared to The Hunger Games  due to the all-teenage-fight-for-survival, but it can also be a Lord of the Flies readalike with the (almost) all male cast of characters and the power struggles that occur.

It is a certain cliffhanger, and I can’t wait to see where it picks up.  With the way the book ends, there are a lot of different ways it could go.  I’ll be buying this for our school library, and it would be a great middle school read, too. There is some violence, but nothing graphic, and no bad language (the slang they uses fills in for our bad words) or sex.

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