I love a good young adult novel about dystopian futures, and Uglies is undoubtedly my favorite so far. Set hundreds of years after Americans finally sI love a good young adult novel about dystopian futures, and Uglies is undoubtedly my favorite so far. Set hundreds of years after Americans finally self-destruct at the hands of foreign oil dependency, Scott Westerfeld's future seems, at first glance, a neo-liberal paradise. All energy is clean and renewable, all materials instantly recyclable; all citizens are vegetarians, appalled that their ancestors ever wasted acres of South American farmland on raising cattle. There is no war, no hunger, and no poverty. And there is no racism or discrimination - because everyone looks the same, thanks to an operation that renders every 16-year-old "pretty," a work of biological beauty, with perfectly proportioned and symmetrical features.
The idea is that because everyone is the same, there is no basis for hate. But of course, as lovers of dystopian fiction know well, this ideal seldom works out as planned. On the verge of her surgical rite of passage, 15-year-old Tally meets a community of rebel citizens who persuade her that being pretty isn't all it's cracked up to be. Tally's dilemma over an order from the department of Special Circumstances to betray this rogue cell is absorbing, and the novel's conclusion risky and refreshingly complex. I finished this book days ago and I'm still mulling over its implications for how we live now, and the fact that even noble liberal principles have a dark side. Highly recommended....more
I had high expectations for Thomas’s first novel because I’m a fan of Veronica Mars, the teen noir television show he created. Ultimately, I ended upI had high expectations for Thomas’s first novel because I’m a fan of Veronica Mars, the teen noir television show he created. Ultimately, I ended up being thankful that he found his voice on the small screen, because he was a bit disappointing as a novelist.
Even so, despite long passages that seemed to serve no purpose in advancing the plot (although they were interesting to read for their own sake), Rats Saw God stands out as a teen classic because of Thomas’s signature wise-cracking, pop-culture-referencing style. The descriptions of Steve’s all-consuming headrush of first love – and the fall-out in his male friendships – are spot-on, and most teens would probably be intrigued by the somewhat graphic but faithful (and funny) descriptions of Steve and Dub’s first forays out of virgin territory: "We undressed each other as if the process would later be described in sonnets. ... Okay, the part involving shoe removal would have best been described as a limerick."...more
I somehow managed not to read this Judy Blume classic as a kid. Surprising, because as for every white, middle-class pre-teen girl in the 80s, her novI somehow managed not to read this Judy Blume classic as a kid. Surprising, because as for every white, middle-class pre-teen girl in the 80s, her novels were my direct line to straight talk about sexuality.
It's too bad, really, because I think I would've gotten more out of Forever if I were part of its intended audience. Although I like Blume's simple, straightforward prose and her deliberately non-judgmental perspective, I didn't feel connected to the narrator, Katherine, and her boyfriend seemed like a bit of a pushy drip. But then, I'm an old prune at age 27, so what do I know. More than anything I appreciated the strong relationship between Katherine and her family; unlike many teenagers, she had a strong, trusting bond with her parents, her grandparents, and even her little sister. Forever is a keeper for any future daughters I may have....more
how i live now has been called a modern-day Jane Eyre – which I can dig, had Bronte’s novel been set during a terrorist occupation and featured incesthow i live now has been called a modern-day Jane Eyre – which I can dig, had Bronte’s novel been set during a terrorist occupation and featured incestuous teenage romance. (St John Rivers doesn't count.) Fleeing a disinterested father, a wicked stepmother, and an eating disorder, 15-year-old Daisy moves to England to live with her cousins on a farm. Their idyllic adventures are interrupted by a war with an unnamed, unseen enemy, and the children are forced to go on the run as food, water, and eventually hope begin to run out.
how i live now is excellent on a number of levels. The plot is well-constructed, with Daisy retelling her story from the future by dropping ominous hints through foreshadowing. Some critics complain about Daisy’s unique brand of grammar, erratic sentence structure, and Random Capitalization, but I believe the style Rosoff selected for her anti-heroine reinforces the confusion in Daisy’s own mind as well as the chaos of the war. The circumstances surrounding the war are eerily relevant to the type of unstructured, viral attacks facing the world today, and the cousins’ initially blase attitude towards the seemingly distant enemy is realistic. Although I was disoriented by the narrative jump forward from Daisy’s rescue to six years after the war, I found the conclusion satisfying and powerful – even though I knew I would miss the family as soon as I turned that last page.
After reading a fascinating study of library services to GLBTQ teens for one of my classes ([http://www.slais.ubc.ca/RESEARCH/curr...]), I started reaAfter reading a fascinating study of library services to GLBTQ teens for one of my classes ([http://www.slais.ubc.ca/RESEARCH/curr...]), I started reading more of the literature being written for this young adult population. Far from Xanadu is one of the most recent and possibly my favorite so far, largely owing to the unique voice of its narrator, Mike Szabo - a 16-year-old girl.
Nee Mary Elizabeth - but don't call her that unless you want a knuckle sandwich - Mike and her best friend, Jamie, have always been different from other kids in Coalton, Kansas. But unlike many small-town populations in GLBTQ teen fic, Coalton's residents don't take much notice of Mike and Jamie's gender-bending ways (Mike works out to look more like a guy; Jamie is a cross-dressing male cheerleader), nor the implications for their sexuality. Mike makes it clear that she's accepted, if not completely understood, and that she's never felt like an outcast - one of only a few details that ring true about rural Midwestern life as seen through the eyes of a hometown girl.
But Coalton isn't utopia, and Mike isn't completely comfortable in her own skin. She struggles to make sense of her beloved father's suicide, make decisions about the failing family business and her future as a softball star, and deal with falling in love with someone who couldn't be worse for her - a new girl in town, Xanadu, beautiful and worldly but impossibly straight.
Mike's matter-of-fact attitude about her sexuality is refreshing, as is the portrayal of small-town middle America, for once cast as close-knit (if insular) rather than simply closed-minded. Mike's coming of age crisis of identity and unrequited love story is relatable for gay young adults, but will also be appealing to any teen looking for a straight-shooting heroine and a down-home yarn....more
I know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete YanI know this is shallow, but one of the things I like about graphic novels is that they're such fast reads. It was extremely satisfying to complete Yang's funny, engaging, and wise tale in under an hour - which included lingering over the simple, colorful artwork.
Yang weaves together three distinct stories that generate deft insights into racial identity, adolescent anguish, and the folly of hubris. Although I found each storyline interesting, my favorite was the legend of the Monkey King, whose astounding self-confidence first immortalizes him as god "equal to heaven," then brings him low as a stubborn but eventually devoted servant of the One Who Is. In the end, ancient symbolism and pop culture merge seamlessly to showcase a particular American experience - and produce a brisk, compelling afternoon read....more