Saturday, May 26, 2012

Dystopian Spring

With the release of The Hunger Games movie, it has become even more noticeable that one of the trends in YA fiction seems to be toward dystopian novels.  There is something about the way the protagonists struggle that is somewhat disturbing but ultimately most of these books bring out universal themes.  

     One of the most disturbing series I have recently read about a dystopia is the Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness.  The books take place on a planet that has been settled by humans in the future.  What the humans did not know is that on this planet men will begin to think out loud, literally.  What resulted from this is a little bit of chaos in the sounds of all men thinking.  At the beginning of the first book we meet Todd, who has been brought up in a town in which there are no women.  His whole life Todd has been told that the same sickness that made men think out loud worked in a different way for women and killed them off.  The sickness was a biological weapon used by the native species, the Spackle during the great war that the settlers had when they first landed here.  Todd is looking forward to his thirteenth birthday when he will become a man.  Then one day while walking through the swamp, Todd hears a hole in the noise and is perplexed by this phenomenon.  When he and his dog Manchee arrive home, his caretakers react in a very strange way and send him running.  Todd runs from the town without knowing exactly why he is running or what he will find.  His adventures include discovering that many of the things he was told are not true and ultimately the books are about a war brought on by the crazy people in power.  The books make the reader think about the consequences of yielding power and how it can corrupt men and women.  There is also a wonderful message about the power of love to help a person take action.  This series is not for the feint of heart.  I cried multiple times in the series and felt horrified by the disturbing characters.  Ultimately, I felt the message of love's redemption to be uplifting.  I would definitely recommend these books to fans of The Hunger Games.  Judging from how disturbed I felt, I would say that these books are not for younger children, but more suitable for teens and adults.  (On a side note, I love it that the animals in these books also have noise...the ability to think out loud.  The thoughts that the author imagines the dog and the horses having make the reader love the animals that much more).

Another book that I read in the last few weeks is the book Cinder by Marissa Meyer.  This book really caught my eye with the cover art.  I am a sucker for a good fractured fairy tale and was intrigued by the premise of this book.  Cinder is a cyborg which relegates her to very second-class status.  In this futuristic world, medicine has evolved to be able to help people who otherwise would have died by replacing their systems with computer systems.  Cinder has obviously had a serious injury from which she became what she is but does not recall anything that happened to her before the age of 11.  At this time a kind scientist brought her home to raise as his own.  Shortly after bringing her home, this scientist died of the plague that had been spreading in the world.  His wife, who is devastated by the loss, blames Cinder for his death.  In this way, she has the requisite evil stepmother and two step-sisters. Cinder finds that she is very capable at repairing androids because of her likeness to them.  She works very hard and tries to keep her status as a cyborg a secret from most people she meets.  At the beginning of the book, the terrible plague that has been spreading quickly has already claimed the life of the queen and the king is very ill.  The prince shows up at Cinder's booth one day with an android that has ceased functioning.  He has heard that Cinder is the best mechanic in the realm and seeks her out.  As she works to fix this robot, she suffers personal loss and is shipped to a research facility.  She continues to try to hide her status as a cyborg from the prince who is also dealing with a threat from the queen of Luna who wants to marry into the royal family.  This is definitely a Cinderella story that makes the reader want the best for the protagonists.  Unfortunately, this book was written as the first in a series of books and many of the points that I was most curious about were not resolved in this book.  I have to say I was disappointed at the end of the book that so much was left unresolved.  I will be impatiently waiting for the next book to come out in the Fall of 2012.

I have really enjoyed the Dead Is series as quick reads that are entertaining.  I was happy to see another addition to this series.  At first I was confused because I didn't recognize the protagonist, but this quickly gets explained and this protagonist is also fun to read about.  Nightshade is a very fictional place but I have come to appreciate the town throughout the series.  I was glad to see some of the same characters included in this book.  These are great beach reads and make for good, easy reading.  Recommended for all those readers out there who are able to suspend disbelief and enjoy supernatural stories.    

The forensic mystery series by Alane Ferguson mixes murder mystery and young adult to make the perfect fit for me.  This series features Cameryn, the coroner's daughter who wants to be a medical examiner.  This book is the 4th book in the series.  In this book the crazy ex-boyfriend comes back to town and leaves stalker-like messages for Cameryn in many different places.  There is a serial murderer to catch and Cameryn gets to help in the lab.  The other three books in the series were excellent quick reads as was this one.  This is one of the most likeable protagonists I have read about in a while.  This book and the rest of the series are best for teens and adults.  

     In the book Eon, Alison Goodman has created a realm in which there are dragons that hold power over the world.  Each of the dragons has dominion over part of the spirit of men.  Each dragon has a human who is linked to it and is the warrior for that dragon.  Every year there is one boy selected to become an apprentice and learn how to wield the dragon's power.  In this story Eona is a girl who is posing as Eon, the boy, to have the opportunity to be chosen as the dragon's apprentice.  She will become part of the solution for a kingdom that is increasingly under the influence of one of the dragon warriors.  Every young woman should read this book and understand the message about the importance of recognizing the power that women have.  I can't wait to read the next book to see how things have turned out for this kingdom.  

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