Tag Archives: dystopian fiction

Looking ahead and taking a stand

19 Dec

I’ve been seeing lists of books people are looking forward to arriving in 2017. I have put some on hold. Most notable is Perfect,

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the sequel to Flawed,  by Cecelia Ahern.

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Flawed is a YA dystopian novel. The main character, Celestine, accepts society’s rules. Until she doesn’t. When she speaks up and takes a stand, her whole life spins out of control.

Publisher’s Summary: Celestine North lives a perfect life. She’s a model daughter and sister, she’s well-liked by her classmates and teachers, and she’s dating the impossibly charming Art Crevan.

But then Celestine encounters a situation where she makes an instinctive decision. She breaks a rule. And now faces life-changing repercussions.

She could be imprisoned. She could be branded. She could be found FLAWED.

In her breathtaking young adult debut, bestselling author Cecelia Ahern depicts a society where obedience is paramount and rebellion is punished. And where one young woman decides to take a stand that could cost her everything.

Perfect follows Celestine as she lives the life of a Flawed.

Publisher’s Summary:Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine’s life has completely fractured–all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick–the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret–one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

Perfect isn’t coming out until April, so you have lots of time to read Flawed before it does.

 

A trio of trilogies: Episode 3

23 May

And now for something a little darker.

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The Razorland trilogy, by Ann Aguirre, begins in subterranean New York City, with Enclave. New York City has been decimated by war and plague, and most of civilization has migrated to underground enclaves, where life expectancy is no more than the early 20’s. Fifteen-year-old Deuce, a Huntress,is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. She and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters–or Freaks. These mutants seem to be growing more organized, but the elders refuse to listen to warnings. Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave and sent Topside,into the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs.

In Outpost, Deuce and Fade are living in a town called Salvation. Sh doesn’t fit in with the other girls, who are expected only do female things. Confused, lonely, and looking for a way out, Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter.

In the final book,  Horde, Salvation is surrounded, Freaks are at the gates, and they’re not going away. Deuce and Fade set out with a group to get help from the nearby settlement of Soldier’s Pond. Deuce tries to band the remaining settlements together against the Horde, before they are all doomed.

Of the three triliogies I’ve written about this week, this was my favorite. Although action packed liked the other two, this series has a little more depth. I also feel that this was the most realistic of the 3 trilogies. I don’t mean to say I think this is more likely to happen than the other two scenarios. I mean, I think these characters are more realistic and I think their reactions to their circumstances, as well as the power they hold within their society, is more realistic.

A trio of trilogies : Part 2

22 May

If you haven’t had enough YA dystopian fiction, you are in luck.

Today’s trilogy is the  Legend series by Marie Lu.

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Marie Lu began her career as a game designer and you can feel that active pace in these novels.   The series is set in  a futuristic America, which is split into two parts, Republic and Colonies,  following catastrophic flooding. 

Legend  takes place in a flooded Los Angeles, where the privileged and poor live very different lives and plague is a threat.  The story is alternately narrated in two voices. Fifteen-year-old Day, is a famous criminal, and  June  is the prodigious soldier hired to capture him. When they meet, they discover that they have a common enemy.

In Prodigy,  June and Day make their way to Las Vegas where they join the rebel Patriot group and become involved in an assassination plot against the Elector in hopes of saving the Republic. 

Finally, in Champion, a peace treaty is imminent, but a plague outbreak causes panic in the Colonies, and war threatens the Republic. You can probably surmise that June and Day solve these problems. 

I listened to all three of these on CDs in the car. The stories were good and moved along nicely, as long as you are willing to believe that 15 year olds can have this much power. The thing that drove me crazy was a particular grammatical construction that I hate. I’ve been noticing it a lot lately in the news, in writing and I can’t help but think that it is WRONG.

Lu would write comparisons and insert the word “of” in places that I don’t think they belong. Here are two examples:

“I’m ready,” I say with as genuine of a smile as I can muster.

as short of a summary

I think she should have written these as

“I’m ready,” I say with as genuine  a smile as I can muster.

as short a summary

Maybe it is being overly picky, but it really irritated me. I think I really took note of it because I listened to the series, rather than read it. I’d be curious to hear your thoughts on this grammar question.

In spite of that, the books were pretty good. The pace was pretty quick and the audiobook narrators were excellent.

 

2014 Hub Reading Challenge check-in #3

22 Feb

One of the good things about the HUB Challenge is that it is chock full of graphic novels and audiobooks. I can listen while I drive and whip through graphic novels quickly. So, although I only have one novel on my list, I read 4 books! The two graphic novels were rereads, but the other two were new.

Can I just say, Maggot Moon by Sally Gardner blew my mind.

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I had checked this out from the library earlier this year, but the first page didn’t grab me, so I returned it and never checked it out again until the Challenge began. I’m glad it was on the list because this is an amazing book. While reading it, I had visions of 1995’s Richard III with Ian McKellan,

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set it an alternate fascist England. And that is where this book is set. Dystopian historical fantasy is the genre category I’d give this book. Standish Treadwell lives is Zone 7, a terrible place where where outcasts and political anarchists are sent.  So when Standish and his only friend and neighbor, Hector, make their way to the other side of the wall, they see what the Motherland has been hiding. And Standish has to decide if  he is willing to risk everything to expose the truth.

I listened to  Etiquette & Espionage  by  Gail Carriger, which I wrote about last week. I enjoyed it so much, I downloaded the second book in the series,  Curtsies & Conspiracies.

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The two graphic novel rereads were  Relish by Lucy Kinsley and Boxers & Saints by Gene Luen Yang.

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From 1497 to 2059

22 Sep

From Renaissance Italy, I have travelled to futuristic, dystopian England. I’m about 2/3 of the way through The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon.

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Although marketed to adults, I can see many YA readers flocking to this novel. It’s an OK read. I don’t think it is necessarily worthy of the hype that it has been getting, but I can see that it is a potential moneymaking series. Although here are some very original elements, the clairvoyance in particular, reading The Bone Season has me thinking of other  books I’ve read.

The first literary connection I made was to Arthur C. Clarke’s Childhood’s End. Both books have a “Master Species” taking over Earth, claiming to be benign protectors.

There is the obvious similarity to The Hunger Games:  a strong female who has to play the Masters’ game, but doesn’t really accept the rules.

The book is set in London and Oxford, recalling Philip Pullman’s trilogy His Dark Materials . There was even  a companion book called Lyra’s Oxford, if I recall correctly.

Finally, Shannon has projected a seven novel series from this debut novel.  A little Harry Potterish, don’t you think?

The story moves quickly and Paige is a very likable character. Sometimes the local cant interferes with the flow of the story, but that might just be because I went straight to this novel from Falcon in the Glass. Anyway, if you read a lot, this is worth picking up just to see what all the hype is about.  I’d be curious to hear your thoughts about The Bone Season.

 

I heart Margaret Atwood

13 Sep

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MaddAddam is here. In my house. We are spending the weekend together.

This is the 3rd book in the  post-apocalyptic science fiction trilogy she began with 2003’s Oryx and Crake. Now I realize that this has nothing to do with children’s lit, YA lit or basset hounds, but I have to talk about it because I’m so thrilled.

My first encounter with Margaret Atwood came in my Grade 13 lit class where we read her poetry. (Thank you Mrs. Enticknap!) Then, I got to meet her because, like me, Margaret Atwood is a Vic girl. She attended Victoria College in the University of Toronto and attended sour annual Christmas dinner every year. I was surprised at how small she was.

I think the first novel I read was The Handmaid’s Tale. Next, I was given  The Blind Assassin  as a Christmas gift. And over the years, I’ve read her other books, novels and short stories. I think the older I get the more I like her.

If you’ve never read any Margaret Atwood, consider starting with one of her short story collections.My two favorites are Moral Disorder and  Wilderness Tips.  I hope they lead you to read more.

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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