Surrender is the next installment in Elana Johnson’s Possession series. I confess, I haven’t read the first, Possession, but was still able to followSurrender is the next installment in Elana Johnson’s Possession series. I confess, I haven’t read the first, Possession, but was still able to follow along and enjoy Surrender, which shows that this book works as a standalone as well as a sequel. This is one of the more science fiction heavy settings of the current deluge of teen dystopian fiction currently out. There are mechanical spiders that monitor the city, internal memory caches, hoverboards, and more–all of which is in service to maintaining the control of the people in power and denying choices to the general public. However, one of the cool things about the world that Johnson has created is that humans have evolved to sometimes have special powers, which are very much like magic. Some are able to see the future, some can control technology with a touch, others can compel people to do what they say just by using the strength of their voices. All this adds up to a very rich setting, and one that is unlike any other book I can think of.
The characters are what made this story for me. There are a lot of complicated interpersonal relationships going on, and readers discover who they can and cannot trust along with the two narrators, Raine and Gunner. Since I didn’t read the first book, it was a treat for me when Violet’s personality was slowly uncovered. There’s plenty of complicated romance for those who go for that: in this world, you’re pledged to a match at an early age, but that isn’t always the person you really want to be with. A huge part of the characters’ motivations in breaking free from the constricting society is the desire to choose their match, rather than be assigned a future spouse.
Surrender‘s plot is really driven by the underground movement, led by the teens of the story, to break free from the restrictive society in which they live. At times I thought this was a bit heavy-handed, like the fact that the city is named “Freedom,” which is in direct opposition to the obviously totalitarian state and 100% lack of freedom. I think this may work well for teen readers, though, who will most likely relate to the need to break free from restrictions, and to defy parents when they overreach in denying choices to their children.
I was confused at times by the details of the technology and societal structure, and could have used more of a vision of Freedom from an everyday point of view in order to show why anybody would stay living there in the first place, but overall I thought that Surrender moved along quickly and had an intriguing premise and setting. The novel ends on an uncertain note, so readers will want to pick up the next in the series to get some resolution. Surrender will appeal to readers who can’t get enough science fiction-based dystopias, as well as young adult romance....more
Walker’s debut book, The Age of Miracles, is a quiet, lovely meditation on the inevitability of loss and the ever-present shadow of mortality that hovWalker’s debut book, The Age of Miracles, is a quiet, lovely meditation on the inevitability of loss and the ever-present shadow of mortality that hovers over our lives, no matter how young. This book is told by a woman recalling the period of her youth when she was transitioning from a girl to a young woman, and the world decided to literally wind down. The rotation of the Earth slows, gradually at first, then very noticeably, and despite people’s decision to be willingly blind to their sad future, the planet changes life irrevocably. And although this is clearly an end-time scenario, the reaction of mankind is dull and full of denial, rather than panic and outrage. The result is a dreamy recollection, shrouded in the haze of memory.
Much of The Age of Miracles reminded me both of the film Melancholia and Jeffrey Eugenides’ The Virgin Suicides. There is a tone of letting the sadness wash over you as you go through the motions of everyday life. Still, the main character Julia is able to fall in love despite the death that surrounds everything. The small pieces of her world are still in play: being ditched by her best friend, struggling to fit in at school, the breakdown of her parents’ marriage. It’s just that in the big picture this stuff doesn’t actually matter, not when the the Earth’s magnetic field is gone and birds are dropping dead all around you.
While it is subtly beautiful, The Age of Miracles didn’t blow my mind. Reading it felt like diving into a past state of depression, but with a touch of fondness for the familiar melancholy feeling. There’s almost no science to explain the phenomena, and it’s probably better that way. This isn’t a book about thinking, it’s a book about feeling....more
As you can probably tell from the book's blurb, Cinder is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic with a mysterious past, who waAs you can probably tell from the book's blurb, Cinder is a sci-fi retelling of Cinderella. Cinder is a cyborg mechanic with a mysterious past, who was adopted by a man who soon after died. Cinder was forced to move in with the man's shrew of a wife and two daughters, one of whom is horrible to Cinder, and the other who is like a real sister. Cinder works as the best mechanic in town, supporting her family, while trying to save money for a new cyborg foot.
This book started slowly for me. It took a little while to get acclimated to the world that Meyer has created. New Beijing has hints of today's Beijing, but is definitely a future state. Once I gained footing in the setting, the story took off. We're instantly rooting for Cinder after we see her first interaction with Prince Kai, and her mistreatment by her adoptive family. In New Beijing, cyborgs are less than people, treated like slaves, and are experimented upon by scientists searching for a cure to the mysterious disease that has been plaguing the city.
I really enjoyed seeing how the Cinderella story would unfold. We already know the original story, but it is made fresh in this retelling. My only problem with this book was the ending. I'm not going to spoil it, but I was left completely hanging. Apparently, this is because this is the first of a series, and we have to have something to continue the tale, but I kept waiting for the massive emotional payoff, and it never came. At the end, I just sat there thinking, "That's it? Really?" Some people will be excited by the prospect of another book, but I'd have rather had it wrapped up neatly.
Cinder is getting a lot of love from those who have read it, and I can see why. We all love to root for an underdog, and that combined with a fresh setting and reliable fairy tale gives the reader a really fun reading experience....more