Feed

By M.T. Anderson

From Goodreads: Spending time partying on the moon and riding around in his “upcar,” Titus is an average teen of the future, complete with a computer chip implant — the “Feed” — that lets corporate marketers and government agencies broadcast directly into his brain. Then Titus meets Violet, and an anti-Feed hacker shuts down their Feeds for a short time; but when Violet’s Feed is seriously damaged, she begins spouting some radical ideas.

Why it’s my type: This is one creepy read. It’s got a language all its own, but the world is scarily, slightly familiar. Believable. Anderson spins a tale of an eerily ignorant society: one in which big corporations have taken on the U.S.’ struggling educational system. And in this world people are not just rarely unplugged, but never. What happens when anything you could possibly desire is instantaneously tracked and filed, and you’re presented with consuming solutions before you can blink? What happens to expectation, mystery, privacy, individuality? What happens when the idea of silence and having time to think, alone, is obsolete?

Recommendation: Pick this one up to find out. It’s all very meg fascinating.

Standout Script: “Then one day, when her mother had left, and I needed work, I was at a job interview. I was an excellent candidate. Two men were interviewing me. Talking about this and that. Then they were silent, just looking at me. I grew uncomfortable. Then they began looking at each other, and doing what I might call smirking. I realized that they had chatted me, and that I had not responded. They found this funny. Risible. That a man would not have a feed. So they were chatting about me in my presence. Teasing me when I could not hear. Free to assess me as they would, right in front of me. I did not get the job. It was thus that I realized that my daughter would need the feed. She had to live in the world. I asked her if she wanted it. She was a little girl. Of course she said yes. It was installed.”

Published: 2002 by Candlewick Press.

Matched

Goodreads Synopsis:

Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows with complete certainty that he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black.

The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.

Why it’s my type: Have I already mentioned how much I love beautiful covers? Likewise, I love a good dystopian. Something that inevitably forces me to consider my own reality and how lucky I am to have the freedoms I do. And this was good. It wasn’t my favorite, but it absolutely had some praiseworthy elements going on, which I fully intend on taking note of. Below.

Memorable bit(s): You really don’t even have to read the author bio to recognize the English-teachery things which pervade this story. And I liked it.

Upon reaching about the halfway point of the book, I remembered its first line, and realized that it was a brilliant one. The kind of sentence that can wear two skins: that of the introduction and also of the–where do we go from here–conclusion. Really cool. It also just so happens to connect with one of those English-teachery, literary reference-type things I’d just mentioned.

“Now that I’ve found the way to fly, which direction should I go into the night?”

This is something Condie does more than once, and continuously well throughout. The references never seem superfluous; they always find their way into the heart of the story and Cassia’s struggle.

“After the scratchy wool of my sock, the silk feels cool in my hand, luxurious, like water. My birthday began with the water, I think as I fold the material, and I smile.”

Those of you who read the book will understand why I chose that (^) sentence.

And, like she began, Condie similarly ends well. The whole last third or so of the book is difficult to put down. But the ending–specifically the last paragraph and sentence–are visceral.

And so you’ll just have to read the whole book to get there. 🙂

Recommendation: Those who like dystopians will likely enjoy Cassia’s tale. Though there are many lingering questions, and some details are vaguer than I would have preferred, I’m still interested to see where this one goes.

Publish date: November 30 2010 by Dutton Juvenile.

Wither

Goodreads Synopsis:

What if you knew exactly when you would die?

Thanks to modern science, every human being has become a ticking genetic time bomb—males only live to age twenty-five, and females only live to age twenty. In this bleak landscape, young girls are kidnapped and forced into polygamous marriages to keep the population from dying out.

When sixteen-year-old Rhine Ellery is taken by the Gatherers to become a bride, she enters a world of wealth and privilege. Despite her husband Linden’s genuine love for her, and a tenuous trust among her sister wives, Rhine has one purpose: to escape—to find her twin brother and go home.

But Rhine has more to contend with than losing her freedom. Linden’s eccentric father is bent on finding an antidote to the genetic virus that is getting closer to taking his son, even if it means collecting corpses in order to test his experiments. With the help of Gabriel, a servant Rhine is growing dangerously attracted to, Rhine attempts to break free, in the limted time she has left.

Why it’s my type: The cover and entire packaging of this book is stunning. The cover model, eyes downcast; the birdcage; the coloring on front and back–at once dark and enticing; the geometric shapes which accent the cover, text, and new chapters and seem to call to mind DNA, or chemical bonds, or something scientific (I’m no expert in); the wilting flower: Everything beautiful and serving a further purpose besides. I am a huge fan of book design and in this case I’m turquoise-green like the book’s back-cover with envy over the designer(s’) ideas. All this alone would have sold me in a bookstore had I not been the very grateful recipient of an arc.

When it comes to the story, there are undeniable similarities between it and The Hunger Games, which I loved. Not the central idea, but many of the details, especially in the illusion of rags to riches that the protagonist goes through and the ignorant people she encounters along the way. Collins’ ‘prep team’ comes to mind during Rhine’s makeovers. I love the idea that no matter how bad things become, there will always be people who pretend they are not so. Because this is true and believable; there are.

The writing is fresh and imaginative. And I really feel as if two great things were accomplished in my reading this. 1. I was totally transported into this world created by DeStefano, even remaining entranced while football blared simultaneously in the same room, and 2. I felt that most questions which occurred to me were sufficiently answered. Now, not all of them, of course. But I’m hoping the next two will take care of that for me. I’m very eager to see where this story goes next.

Memorable bit(s): The story compelled me to consider, more than once, my own mortality and that of those closest to me. I really like when a book makes me do something like that–occasionally brings me out of its world in order to show me how I can use its story to connect with those who inhabit mine more fully.

A couple poignant literary references come to mind. I won’t mention them here for fear of spoiling.

Recommendation: Those who enjoy gothic and dystopian tales will most likely latch onto this one, and will enjoy and be moved not just by Rhine’s story, but by those full stories of her sister-wives as well.

Publish date: March 22 2011 by Simon and Schuster Children’s.