‘The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock.’
In a seemingly normal town, ever‘The people of the village began to gather in the square, between the post office and the bank, around ten o’clock.’
In a seemingly normal town, everyone gathers together to conduct the annual traditional lottery. What is the lottery exactly? Well, you don’t truly discover the magnitude of its horror until the final passage. A lottery is typically a good thing but in this small town its anything but. Certain things throughout this short story hint at what’s to come: the nervous energy of the people, the implication that the lottery serves a purpose regarding the future of the crops, and the piles of stones that the kids begin to gather.
What made this story the most eerie is the whole mystery behind the lottery. No one truly knows when it actually started, why it ever started, only that it is and must keep going for traditions sake. It’s mentioned that other towns have done away with the practice and the idea is immediately dismissed as folly. Just the concept of not doing the lottery, of doing away with tradition, is enough to frighten everyone not knowing the possible implications not doing it would cause.
This patriarchal society in the unnamed village have the men draw the slip of paper that ultimately decides whether their family is the selected recipient of the lottery. The only instance where this differs is when the man is unable to attend the lottery (such as the man named Dunbar that was home with a broken leg) or if an elder son is able to draw for his mother if she doesn’t have a husband. Once selected, each individual (even women) are then given their opportunity to select their own piece of paper. Published in 1948, Shirley Jackson’s short story is a telling criticism of the powerlessness that women faced, and unfortunately still face to this day. While the idea of the lottery is clearly exaggerated, the idea of the strength and fierceness of traditions and patriarchy is extremely realistic.
‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of brMy rating: 3.5 of 5 stars
‘Andy pointed upward. She followed the line extending from his index finger out into the dark distance. A single spark of bright blue, like a puncture in the black skin of the sky.’
Imagine if you had to grapple with the knowledge that there’s a 66.6% chance that the bright light hovering in the sky is headed straight towards Earth. Imagine if you were told that even if there’s a chance it won’t happen, if it does, you have only six weeks before it happens. What would you change? What would you do? How would you choose to live your final six weeks of life?
We All Looked Up centers around four high school seniors trying to find out who they are while struggling to look beyond who they’ve been defined as. Their attempts to do so take on a frantic state when the news gets out about the asteroid named Ardor. Peter is a star athlete with a steady girlfriend but is drawn to Eliza in a way that he can no longer ignore even if it means for once not doing what is expected of him. Eliza fought against being labeled a ‘slut’ but has since decided to simply be and do whatever she wants despite the names people call her. Her father is dying of cancer and her mother has abandoned them; taking pictures of the crumbling world around her is the way she finds to cope. Anita is a straight A student that has only ever done what her father has told her to do but has finally decided that for once it’s time she admit to herself that what she truly wants to do in life is sing. Andy is the stereotypical slacker that hangs with the wrong crowd and must decide for himself whether he’s able to continue following the pack or if he’s ready to finally wake up and make his own decisions.
While all four of these characters (and several secondary characters) were all stereotypical in their own way, Wallach adds an impressive depth to each one of them that I loved watching unfold. The story itself is almost stereotypical as well, with the asteroid headed to Earth and all of humanity faced with their impending doom. Dun Dun Dun. But this story managed to complete impress me with the route that it took and the ambiguous ending that will manage to leave you satisfied even when you’re still left with questions. Nothing is for certain, anything could change… you just never really know for sure about anything in life. We All Looked Up is an elegantly written and philosophical pre-apocalyptic tale that will leave you contemplating your own existence.
I received this book free from the Publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more
Morgan Stockhour is a resident of Interment, an island that has been separated from Earth and now floats above it in the sky. Internment possesses the
Morgan Stockhour is a resident of Interment, an island that has been separated from Earth and now floats above it in the sky. Internment possesses the ideal conditions of a Utopian society until the shocking murder of a young girl leaves everyone feeling unsafe.
‘You have all heard the warnings about the edge. We have been told its winds are a song that will hypnotize us, and by the time we awaken from the trance, it will be too late.’
The warnings to not peer over the edge, to look down on Earth’s people, have been drilled into all residents since before anyone can remember. Those that chance this danger are known as Jumpers and Morgan’s brother Lex is counted among the few to have survived, except he is now blind. Here lies my first issue. We end up meeting another of these ‘Jumpers’, a young girl, yet she ends up with a mind that isn’t “quite right” (something sounding a lot like epilepsy). No reasoning behind the differences in their injuries is given. But you’d think an island floating in the sky would have severe winds especially near the edge and you wouldn’t be able to be anywhere close to it.
The world-building is spent mostly on the culture of these people, rather than explaining the actual reasoning behind why an island just randomly detached from Earth and floated to a still livable position in the sky and not straight out into space. But basically the way the society works is there’s the evil group of leaders, a King and Queen, that seek to control all aspects of the residents lives including arranged marriages from birth. And then it goes off on a typical tangent with the evil plot being discovered and the subsequent plan to escape/overthrow those evil doers. It was hard to get a feel for the time period this is set in. The society seemed technologically advanced yet had the feel of a medieval type era with its arranged marriages and King/Queen rulers. But you would think it’d have to be set in a distant past since one would expect the people on Earth to fly up and make contact with the ‘island people’, no?
The slow, meandering pace of the introduction was an interesting first look into this strange society and could have worked were it not for the continued slow, meandering pace even after the murder mystery aspect was introduced. Even during moments when you would expect a certain level of excitement or tension were made inexplicably dull. Unfortunately, what could have been an interesting dystopian tale turned very predictable and far from original....more
Returning to the story of Morgan Stockhour, resident of Internment, who has now crash landed on Earth with no feasible way of returning home. With herReturning to the story of Morgan Stockhour, resident of Internment, who has now crash landed on Earth with no feasible way of returning home. With her is her betrothed, Basil, her best friend, Pen, her brother, his wife and Celeste, the princess of Internment who was a stowaway. Shortly upon their arrival, the group learns that Earth isn’t necessarily the safe haven they had hoped for and is actual in the middle of a war that unknowingly involves Internment.
In this middle installment, we’re given a brand new environment to understand but rationalizing won’t come easy. Here on Earth, Kings rule even though it seems like the setting is sometime in the 1920s. There’s speakeasies and silent movies but then out of nowhere, a mermaid is spotted. The worldbuilding is focused on much more in this installment but with all the descriptions given it’s still not fully explained.
The characters themselves and their various backgrounds are delved into more in this installment. Morgan still acts as narrator, but considering there isn’t much of a plot going on for the most part, her narration managed to drag this story down even more. Regarding the lack of plot, the characters spend a lot of time sitting around waiting for something to happen. Inevitably, drama gets stirred up, a love triangle develops and friendships are tested. This could have all been an interesting addition to this dystopian tale, however, that would require you to have been invested in these characters from the very beginning of this trilogy and I unfortunately was not.
Burning Kingdoms is the second installment in The Internment Chronicles and it definitely suffers from a slower pace and lack of plot. For me, it’s been frustrating with how unsatisfying I’ve found it considering the potential behind the interesting concept. The final story may provide some satisfaction but I think I’ll be calling it quits.
I received this book free from Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review....more