“My name is Kathy H. I’m thirty-one years old, and I’ve been a carer now for over eleven years. That sounds long enough, I know, but actually they want me to go on for another eight months, until the end of this year.” ~p. 3
Never Let Me Go is the story of Kathy’s childhood at Hailsham, a boarding school in the English countryside, and her young adulthood at the Cottages. There is something a bit strange about Kathy’s school–she and her classmates are all encouraged to create art, write poems, and above all, keep themselves in excellent health. They are told what their future lives are going to be like from a very early age, but somehow, sheltered by guardians and isolated in the English countryside, it doesn’t seem to matter that they won’t have the same kind of life as ordinary boys and girls. It doesn’t seem to matter to Kathy, until, all too late, she might have a second chance to be with the boy she always loved.
For me, more than anything, this novel is all about memory. I found Kathy’s meandering narration to be above all realistic, poignant, and poetic. There are parts that Kathy doesn’t remember, or parts that Kathy records her friends have a different version of, but that she chooses to remember it in the way that she wants. Never Let Me Go is a science fiction novel that feels more like contemporary fiction or even a memoir. It’s fast read, but one that you won’t want to rush through, because there is so much to consider. I’d say that Ishiguro really has the “tip of the iceberg” style of writing down to a T. I’d give it four out of five stars and recommend this book to anyone who likes thought-provoking, contemporary, science fiction.
The blood bond was nothing. It was the people that mattered. If they covered your back, and you covered theirs, then maybe that was worth calling family. Everything else was just so much smoke and lies. P. 274
I have finally begun to go through all the YA books I bought last year that have been sitting on my shelf, waiting patiently for me to read them. After finishing up my last paper of the semester, I wanted to read something COMPLETELY different than the two novels I researched and wrote on. I thought Ship Breaker would be a good choice, and it turns out I was right! Bacigalupi certainly earned those two prestigious stickers on the cover of this book. I can see the appeal for both the Printz and the National Book Award (of which this novel was a finalist).
Nailer and Pima are infectiously likeable, multi-dimensional characters. They have both grown up in the bleakest of places: Bright Sands Beach, the shipyard. Nailer is a ship breaker on light crew–he scurries through big, landed, oil tankers taking copper, wiring, and whatever other light materials he can scavenge. Nailer and Pima are on the same crew–all crews swear a blood oath to protect one another. All of Nailer’s former knowledge and assumptions about blood bonds, family, even genetic destiny are challenged when he meets Lucky Girl–a “swank” from Boston who survived a “city killer” hurricane and is faced with the impossible choice of stealing her jewels, worth more than what he’d make in a lifetime of ship breaking (enough to escape his terrible father) or saving her life, which could be the scavenge of a century…if she’s not lying about who she is. Ship Breaker is an incredibly sophisticated look at our world, what our world could be in the midst of the destructive effects of climate change. It’s not your average YA dystopia or science fiction novel. It’s grimy, gritty, real, but also incredibly enjoyable to read. In fact, I couldn’t stop reading this once I’d started–I HAD to finish it in one night. I recommend Ship Breaker to those who are looking to read something a little different this summer. It would also make for a good companion book to read before watching Mad Max: Fury Road coming out soon!!!!
Reboot by Amy Tintera (a Texas native!) is the story of Wren, a girl who was dead for so long (178 minutes) after being shot that they thought she wouldn’t “reboot.” Wren’s world is a horrifying post-apocalyptic Texas where those who catch a certain virus will just “reboot” back to life once they’ve died. However, they don’t just come back to life perfectly restored–Reboots have lost some of their humanity in the process, and the longer a Reboot is dead, the less human they seem when they wake up. A less than friendly corporation called HARC takes these children who have “rebooted” and trains them to be soldiers, as most of society believes Reboots to be heartless monsters. Wren’s virtually emotionless existence is challenged, however, by her new trainee Callum: a seemingly hopeless case who was only dead for 22 minutes.
I found Reboot to have an interesting idea of a future world where humans try to use zombies as their soldiers. I also found it interesting that the setting was a futuristic Texas. Indeed, it made me wonder where the rest of the United States went to–as Texas is the only place Wren seems to be aware of. Perhaps more information will be delivered to us in the sequels. I enjoyed Reboot and think this story would be appealing on many different levels: there’s romance, humor, zombies, action, and dystopia (the latest fad in YA Lit). However, I have to say that I think the first person narrator here might have been a mistake. So many YA novels use the first person–I think it is really becoming a trope of the genre. However, for a character such as Wren–who is not fully human–I think perhaps close third person might have worked better, especially when she subtly begins remembering more of her past and feeling more human as she is falling in love.
David and Charlie both attend the same all-boys Catholic school in near-future Massachusetts. Both have been diagnosed by the school counselor as being “disassociated” with their peers. However, only David’s parents agree to the guidance counselor’s form of therapy: a beautiful, life-size, ultra-life like, female robot from Japan that will supposedly teach David how to be in a real, loving relationship. And while Rose does love David and David couldn’t be more excited about having the ultimate sex doll, both of them are shocked when they find out the manufacturers in Japan have left out the essential “girl parts.” David abandons Rose, who now turns to Charlie for help and comfort.
Girl Parts was funny, fast-paced, and at times poignant and moving. The author has a lot to say about technology and how it can connect us with other people in ways we could never have imagined in the past, but it also serves us a scary future: one of being “disassociated” and “disconnected” from others around us. I call this a “soft” science fiction. Because although for all intents and purpose Rose and the companions are futuristic robots, this story is really more of social commentary on our very real reality: the failed connections between young men and women, between young adults and their parents, and between all people.
Day is the street name of a criminal the futuristic and dystopic government of the Republic desperately wants to catch. Ever since he was ten and “failed” his Trial, Day has been on the run, scouring the streets and garbage bins of Los Angeles to find and do whatever he can to protect his family from afar. However, this goes awry when his little brother Eden is diagnosed with a new strain of the plague. On the other end of the spectrum, spoiled and pampered prodigy June is labeled a troublemaker at her college. She wants to go on missions with her brother and fight for the Republic, even if her brother thinks she is still too young.
Although they are enemies and couldn’t be more different, June and Day will become unlikely allies and discover they have more in common than they ever could have thought.
Legend is fast-paced with an interesting premise (I particularly like that the author drew inspiration for the story from the central conflict in Les Miserables) and a truly dystopian world. However, I felt that something was lost by having the characters switch back and forth in their points of view. I felt that there was so much potential in the story–potential that wasn’t fully explored. I know that this is only to be the first in a series, but this is the primary thing which often bothers me about YA science fiction and fantasy series: I often feel that the story is incomplete. Yes, I realize that there needs to be loose ends for the story to continue. However, to me it is not a strong novel if the story is not complete.
But for a compelling futuristic world and a good balance between fast-paced action and slower, emotional scenes, I will have to say that I would recommend this book to someone who enjoys the dystopian genre (specifically if you enjoyed The Hunger Games series or Across the Universe by Beth Revis).