Thursday, March 4, 2010

Books With Impact: Part 2

This is part two of my, Books With Impact post.  I am particularly excited about this entry as I will be focusing on three novels that take place is the future that is vastly different than our current reality.  All of these books left me thinking for days about the choices the characters made, what choices I think I would make in the same situations, and the plausibility of a similar society being born in our reality if circumstances were the same or similar.

Title: The Giver
Author: Lois Lowry
Web Site: Lois Lowry
Publisher: Random House Children's Books
From the Publisher:

Jonas''s world is perfect. Everything is under control. There is no war or fear of pain. There are no choices. Every person is assigned a role in the community. When Jonas turns 12 he is singled out to receive special training from The Giver. The Giver alone holds the memories of the true pain and pleasure of life. Now, it is time for Jonas to receive the truth. There is no turning back.

I have read a few reviews on this novel and was struck by one particular sentence that a blogger wrote.  This individual said, "Jonas lives in a perfect, utopian community, where there are no choices."  I feel like those two descriptions of Joans's world are in such contradiction to each other.  To suggest the the world is perfect and that in this perfect world there are no choices really doesn't describe any "perfect" world that I or others might describe. I realize that the "idea" of this world is that society has attempted to create a utopian community for themselves and future generations, and one of the ways they have been "successful" at creating said utopian community, is by taking away choice.  A friend of mine who has a personal blog at, Five by Five said that taking away choice is taking away humanity.  I really agree with that statement, do you?  I think this novel really highlights the lack of humanity in the members of this community, especially when we learn what happens to unwanted or "defective" children.  I understand that everything I hate about the way they run their community and the values they have are the norm for them but I truly found myself frustrated throughout the novel by the seemingly uncaring and controlling community who are so accepting of their reality and "place" in the world.

This is an incredible novel that although may be slightly slow paced (for such a short novel) packs an emotional punch and can spark endless hours of philosophical conversation about humanity, utopian communities, freedom of choice, family, and more.

Title: The Secret Under My Skin
Author: Janet McNaughton (Canadian)
Web Site: J. McNaughton
Publisher: EOS

From the Publisher:

In the year 2368, humanity struggles to recuperate from a technocaust that has left a generation of orphans in its wake. Strict government regulations convince people that technology is dangerous; confusion and fear rule the earth. 

Blay Raytee is a government work-camp orphan. Her future seems as bleak as that of the world around her. But when she is chosen for a special mission by a guardian of the environment named Marrella, Blay begins to discover that all may not be as it seems. The secrets she uncovers could hold the key both to the healing of the world and to her own past. What she learns may just empower her to join those who struggle to restore democracy -- and to discover at last who she really is.

Master storyteller Janet McNaughton vividly imagines an all-too-believable future where one child''s brave search for the truth could restore a broken world.

Janet McNaughton is an incredible Canadian author who's writing style is clear, descriptive, and at times beautifully poetic.  This novel highlights environmental and technological issues of the "Dark Times" and how that has shaped Blay's current reality in the year 2368.  In addition to shedding light to some heavy topics in an age appropriate way, McNaughton's character development is excellent and done in a way that allows you to develop a deep connection with Blay.  This coming of age story set in a futuristic dystopian society is to me a must read.  If you enjoy this novel I highly suggest you read the sequel to this novel, The Raintree Rebellion which reunites you with Blay Raytee.  In the first novel it is revealed who Blay Raytee really is, and now, at eighteen she is returning to the city of her birth where she begins to search in the past for answers to her present while making difficult life choices along the way.

From the Publisher:

Blake Raintree, the heroine of The Secret Under My Skin, is now 18, returning to the city of her birth as an aide to a justice council charged with trying to address the wrongs of the technocaust. While in the city, Blake submits the ID code from the microchip that was implanted in her arm in infancy by her parents, hoping to find out more about her past, and especially her father. What she learns will cause her to question everything she knows about herself. Torn between a terrible anger and a search for the love and acceptance she has been denied all her life, Blake faces a harsh choice. A 2006 JAB ( Junior Advisory Board) Pick, The Raintree Rebellion is nominated for the OLA Red Maple Award.

Title: The Bar Code Tattoo
Author: Suzanne Weyn
Web Site: S. Weyn
Publisher: Scholastic Inc
From the Publisher:

The bar code tattoo. Everybody''''s getting it. It will make your life easier, they say. It will hook you in. It will become your identity.But what if you say no? What if you don''''t want to become a code? For Kayla, this one choice changes everything. She becomes an outcast in her high school. Dangerous things happen to her family. There''''s no option but to run . . . for her life. Individuality vs. conformity.. Identity vs. access. Freedom vs. control.The bar code tattoo.

I really believe this is an excellent book for YA readers out there.  As a youth you are (or at least I was) seeking to develop individuality, their own set of values and morals, and deciding when to conform to societies rules and expectations and when to rebel against them, this book explores this same journey in a fictional, futuristic world though the eyes of the protagonist Kayla.  In this novel Kayla faces some hard choices in her search for the truth, choices that could and do lead her into joining a rebel movement set against the government.  This book is full of mystery, suspense, and adventure and is sure to please the lovers of dystopian novels (I think this type of book is becoming its own popular genre). The sequel to this book, Bar Code Rebellion, is equally if not more thrilling then the first and reconnects you with Kayla as she once again is forced to rebel with the odds stacked against her.

From the Publisher:

Kayla has resisted getting the bar code tattoo, even though it's meant forfeiting any chance she'd had at having a normal life. Without the tattoo, she's an exile. But when someone very important sets about to bring her back in again -- WITH a tattoo -- Kayla finds herself a part of the resistence, where her unexpected allies and even more unexpected enemies include three clones of hers.

An edge-of-your-seat, teen's-eye-view thriller that merges the headlines of today with the world of tomorrow.


Jessilyn said...

the giver is a book i had to read and school and actually enjoyed it, it does really make you think. Great pick. Thanks for adding my blogger button too ;)

Dr. Bill (William L.) Smith said...

I wouldn't like "no choices" - not at all!!

Bill ;-)

Hope you'll check out my book giveaway:

Book Crazy Jenn said...

I just got The Bar Code Tattoo, I cant wait to read it! I did not know there was a 2nd book I will have to look into that one as well

Simcha said...

I love this feature idea!
I had just started reading dystopic books, this past year, and I really enjoy the different thought provoking concepts and possible visions of the future, that they introduce. I've been wanting to read The Giver for a while, and even borrowed it from a friend, but I never got a round to it and had to give it back. I will hopefully get to it someday soon. The Bar Code Tattoo sounds very similar to Scott Westerfeld's The Uglies

Lindsey said...

Jess- your welcome and thank you!!

Dr. Bill - I like having choice!

Book Crazy Jen - So excited! Yah they are both great. Enjoy :) Let me know if you are posting a review (Though I do check our your site frequently and will likely see it if you do).

Simcha- I like doing the features so I am glad you like them!! I love Scott Westerfeld. His Uglies series is excellent. I am looking forward to The Dead Tossed Waves to.

Allison said...

I loved the Giver! I had to read it for school like 5 or 6 years ago, and I even bought another copy recently so I could read it again. Also, Bar Code Tattoo is on my TBR list!

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