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From Utopia to Dystopia

26 Aug

Teachers go back to work today. I always tell people, it is a good thing I love my job, because otherwise, today would be heck. I don’t have all the time in the world anymore to read & knit, my two favorite summer activities. I should begin knitting small projects and reading short books.

With all that in mind, I just read a collection of dystopian short stories by a group of women writers.

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Shards and Ashes features stories by nine female authors: Veronica Roth, Kelley Armstrong, Margaret Stohl, Rachel Cain, Nancy Holder, Melissa Marr, Kami Garcia, and Carrie Ryan. I’ll give a brief summary of a few of my favorites.

The first story, Hearken by Veronica Roth, was beautiful. The world is a perilous place where biobombs can go off at any time. The follow  Darya as she becomes a hearkener– a musically talented person with a brain implant that allows them to hear people’s life or death songs. This story alone is worth getting the book.

Branded by Kelley Armstrong is set in an outpost that s safe from the supernaturals, stragglers and hybrids. It is a hard place, and there is heartbreaking scene where a family asks to enter and are denied because their outpost has a dwindling food supply. Armstrong does an excellent job building a world in a short time.

The title of Melissa Marr’s story Corpse Eaters,  almost caused me to skip over it, but I’m glad I didn’t. This is a world invaded by creatures from somewhere else, who see humanity a s a food source. Harmony & Chris, unlike most people, are freedom fighters, trying to overthrow them, and their human collaborators.

The final story,  Miasma  by Carrie Ryan, is set in a world so polluted that miasmic plague is spreading. Frankie, our heroine, is working hard to keep her ill sister safe from the “doctors”, who wear beaks like doctors did during the Renaissance, and use ferret-like creatures to sniff out sick people. A beautiful story of love and sacrifice.

This week back will be exhausting. But it won;t be nearly as bad as the lives these characters have.

 

Randy Ribay

YA author, teacher, nerd

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