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message 1: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Reviews of dystopic fiction in this thread will count towards our prize drawing. If you have general questions or discussion about the challenge, please do not use this thread.

message 2: by [deleted user] (last edited Dec 20, 2009 06:59AM) (new)

I. The Giver Trilogy: The Giver, Gathering Blue and, Messenger
By Lois Lowry

> The Giver: Twelve-year-old Jonas has lived his life within an ovine Community of Sameness. All factors that would preclude rivalry, famine or anything unpleasant have been virtually eliminated through a series of controls administered by the Council of Elders. The true costs of this mandated utopia become increasingly apparent when our protagonist transitions from his childhood into an honored role wherein wisdom and memory are the matrices of his insight and self-awareness.

> Gathering Blue: Ten-year-old Kira has lived her life within a feral village at the edge of the menacing Forest, when she becomes orphaned and her fate dubious. The Council of the Edifice, a twelve-member committee seeking to repair, restore and, complete their destiny (both metaphorically and literally,) salvages Kira by bringing her into the confines of the Edifice itself. Kira comes to understand that both her immediate and future salvations demand sacrifices on her part.

> Messenger: Twelve-year-old Matty has found sanctuary in the Village on the other side of the Forest and has been living there for six years. The Village, however, once the haven for refugees, seeks to close itself off from future immigrants and Matty recognizes that individual and communal change come at the behest of and at the ultimate price of Self.

* The Giver and Gathering Blue are co-temporaneous and Messenger is the title that unites its predecessors narratively speaking. Each novel becomes progressively darker and although The Giver is the flagship of the line, Messenger provides the most dramatic impact.Each of the titles in The Giver Trilogy provides more than enough material for a reader to parse out: themes of the individual versus society, the individual role *within* society, the role of government, personal responsibility, higher truths of love, honor and compassion, symbolism, overarching narrative flow, etc.; and yet, to track anyone of these elements would be at the expense of losing the heart of the novels and to remain closed to the possibilities that each affords in terms of thinking outside of the box.

SOURCE: The Jackson County Library System (Southern Oregon)

II. Catching Fire (Book #2 of The Hunger Games Trilogy)
By Suzanne Collins

> In The Hunger Games, Katniss is caught up in the sadistic politically-motivated games of the Capitol vs the Districts and; in sorting out her feelings towards Gale and Peeta individually. In CATCHING FIRE, Katniss is sent back in to play a variation of The Hunger Games (Quarter Quell) wherein the sole survivor is proclaimed the victor and; she must continue to sort out her feelings for Gale and Peeta.

* In a way, it was a little disappointing in that the challenge this time was yet another version of the Games. There was the potential of Katniss leading a party away toward sanctuary (escort quest format) that appealed to me, as opposed to more of the kill/escort (emphasis on the kill) quest format of the Hunger Games. Catching Fire was a revisit of The Hunger Games, with the same action line and even the same emotional subtext of Katniss trying to sort out her feelings for Peeta and Gale individually, just amped up a bit more. Moreover, Katniss came off as a little less likable in her continued less-than-honest dealings with Peeta and, with some of her self-rationalizations wherein the focus on her family seems to blur. The ending was ambiguous in the style of a true serial and I hope that the final installment in the trilogy will provide more than more-of-the-same.

SOURCE: Purchase from Online Retailer

III. The Maze Runner (Book #1 in the Maze Runner Trilogy)
by James Dashner

>Thomas, a teenage boy, wakes up in the middle of a giant maze, with nothing but the clothes on his back.

* Who is Thomas? Some heroes, often veterans or heroes, are defined by their past. But Thomas has woken up in the middle of a giant maze with no memory of who he was and with no one who has born any credible witness to who he might have been. There are protags who are defined by the present. These are the action adventure types, such as explorers, rescuers or, detectives who combine luck, skill, talent and ambition along with a strong moral or ethical keel of behavior to achieve their goals. This is not to say that they are not flawed; in fact their personal handicaps often contribute to the challenges they must face. Thomas’ goal is to solve the maze using an array of innate abilities, complicated by having to find his place in the pack, dealing with unfamiliar feelings towards a girl who has appeared in the maze and, the deterioration of life within the Maze. Thomas, by virtue of having no real past becomes a hero of the present. The question at the end of the book is whether Thomas will become a hero in the future sense, defined by his aspirations or the reach of his ambitions.

SOURCE: Purchase from Independent Bookstore, Bloomsbury Books

WRAP-UP: There is a strong inclination to compare all three entries with each other or even with other YA or dystopian novels; to discuss common threads of alienation and identity, societal functions and, personal responsibility; There are metaphors galore, literary structures to parse out and, elements to analyze; but the question that looms prominently is: What is the purpose of this genre? Often, people read for entertainment, knowledge or, vicarious experience; but YA dystopian fiction also offers a chance for the reader to understand him-/herself a little bit better through identification with the protag and; to rise to the occasion of addressing social/moral/ethical injustices in a world that's seems to going awry. You are not alone. And you can fix this. YA dystopian lit recruits the reader into becoming heroes of the future.

message 3: by Shannon (new)

Shannon Wells | 13 comments I LOVE this challenge, and have had a great time participating.... I have a list of books I have read, and a list that I want to read. Here is what I have read so far:

The Hunger Games/Catching Fire: Really like this series, and can't wait for the last book. (Technically, I had read The Hunger Games this Spring, and had been waiting for the follow up). Katniss is an interesting character, as is Peta, but the rest of the characters aren't as well fleshed out. Hunger Games my favorite of the two.

The Uglies Trilogy: Out of the "Dystopya" books I have been reading, these were my least favorite. They are OK, and Scott Westerfeld has created an interesting premise, but I really had a hard time not getting distracted by the language/phrasing/slang used. I know that I am not the intended audience, as I am a 40 YO woman, but by the end of the trilogy, I really had to push myself to finish. First book in the trilogy was the strongest.

Forest of Hands and Teeth: I liked this one, again I liked the "premise" of the book more than I liked the actual execution. I thought the ending was a bit of a let down, but not sure what I was actually expecting.

The Maze Runner: LOVED, LOVED, LOVED this book, and can't believe I will need to wait until next Fall for the next book. (But, I guess I survived after The Hunger Games....) Like the Uglies "slang", it took me a bit of time to get into the rhythm of the language, but pretty quickly got up and running with it. I didn't find it distracting like I did with Uglies... I couldn't put it down, and really felt invested in both the characters and in finding out the big secret.... I am even OK that we don't find out everything (but then, I guess, we wouldn't need the rest of the trilogy!).

Out of the ones I have read since the challenge began, listed above, I can give the highest recommendations to The Maze Runner and the Hunger Games/Catching Fire.

What I am going to try to read before the end of the challenge:
The Giver and Jennifer Government, and I might also even jump into my copy of Battle Royale, which I had purchased right after reading The Hunger Games, but just haven't been able to bring myself to start. It's been sitting on my nightstand!

I can also give a good recommendation for Life as We Knew it, which I read last fall, and The Unit (while it isn't YA, and so not for this challenge, I have just read it and can recommend it to those who like Dystopian fiction...).

Thanks for the challenge!! I have posted on the BOTNS page as well, but wanted to post here, too!!!

message 4: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Thanks, Shannon! I think I agree with you about The Uglies. I put it down and haven't been compelled to pick it up again, perhaps because I'm at the same stage of life as you are!

My oldest daughter is reading HUNGER GAMES right now, and can't put it down. She's somewhat of a reluctant reader, so it's great to see her so invested in a book!

message 5: by Ann (new)

Ann (akingman) | 2097 comments Mod
Tanya, just read your updated reviews - great job. I agree with you totally about Catching Fire, and I think you hit the nail on the head when discussing the purpose of YA dystopic fiction. It's hard to imagine any teen being able to penetrate our existing world of bureaucracy, red tape and corruption to truly change the course, but future worlds leave some wiggle room for teens to buy in to the possibility.

Thanks for playing along!

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