Monday, September 15, 2014

Reading on a Theme: Unpleasant Futures

Let's hope the future is better for us than it is for these characters.

Disposable Teens:
This unpleasant future has made abortion illegal while legalizing the "unwinding" of teenagers. If a 13 to 18 year old is unruly or unwanted, his/her parents can have her/him unwound and his/her organs will be given to others.  Connor, Risa, and Lev are thrown together on the way to their unwindings and the story is told mostly from their perspectives. It has been awhile since I've read a young adult book with a male main character and I found that refreshing. In Unwind, Neal Shusterman created a complex world with fascinating mores. The book is a little intense in parts but thought-provoking and certainly makes for an interesting discussion. 

The Golden Age:
After a flood destroys the earth, the spared of New North live as the people did in the Golden Age of the Medieval era. Eva has been raised to become a perfect Maiden, but, after her twin brother falls to his death, she decides to take his place in The Testing to become an Archon leader. The Testing will take her across the frozen tundra where she will search for relics in the ice, in hopes of writing a chronicle that secure her the Archon laurels. Heather Terrell created an interesting world where technology is seen as blasphemous. The religion in Relic is clear, with specific leadership and religious texts. Relic felt didactic at times, but when I got to the end of the book, there was a shift in how I saw things. I was pleasantly surprised in the end and liked the book more than I expected to. Review copy from NetGalley.

Life Underground: 
Some Fine Day by debut author Kat Ross takes place in a post-apocalyptic future where humans have moved underground to avoid global warming and the resulting hypercanes. Jansin Nordqvist has trained her whole life to join her city-state's elite fighting force. As a graduation gift her parents take her on vacation to the surface where the party is attacked and, as a result, Jansin begins to question everything she thought she knew about life. Jansin is a pretty kick butt character. She is tough, can fight, and does what she thinks is right. The novel's action happens in fits and starts with a long lull of peaceful tranquility and a fast and furious ending. Some Fine Day is out July 1st, 2014. Review copy from NetGalley.

Death Contracts:
In this dystopic future Nat and her brother Sam have come to Hawaii to "celebrate" their parents' final week of life. Choosing one's death date is common in Nat's world and corporations usher the elderly to their deaths. In a world full of dystopia stories, I really think that Lydia Millet's is special. I loved the journal format. Nat has the soul of an artist and writes with lyrical descriptions. I loved how the world was revealed one puzzle piece at a time. Pills and Starships is about a future family when families are at the point of dying away. There is a sense of melancholy to the whole book, but it is mingled with the hope and irrepressible optimism of the young. Pills and Starships is out June 10, 2014.  Review copy from Edelweiss. 
Teen Surrogates: 
In the center of a futuristic city lies The Jewel, home to the city's royalty. They have wealth and power but are unable to bear their own children. Violet has trained for most of her life to develop the necessary, perhaps magical, abilities that will allow her to be a surrogate for one of the royals, and soon she will be sold at auction. Amy Ewing's debut novel, The Jewel is sufficiently dark and icky. The pacing of the novel is almost perfect, and the writing is sharp and fresh. In many ways The Jewel is The Handmaid's Tale for young adults, but because it's such a powerful premise, I think there is room for a similar story.  The Jewel is out September 2nd, 2014. Review copy from Edelweiss.

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