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 What happens when the idea of silence and having time to think, alone, is obsolete?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.

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When You Reach Me

By Rebecca Stead

From Goodreads:

By sixth grade, Miranda and her best friend, Sal, know how to navigate their New York City neighborhood. They know where it’s safe to go, and they know who to avoid. Like the crazy guy on the corner.

But things start to unravel. Sal gets punched by a kid on the street for what seems like no reason, and he shuts Miranda out of his life. The apartment key that Miranda’s mom keeps hidden for emergencies is stolen. And then a mysterious note arrives, scrawled on a tiny slip of paper. The notes keep coming, and Miranda slowly realizes that whoever is leaving them knows things no one should know. Each message brings her closer to believing that only she can prevent a tragic death. Until the final note makes her think she’s too late.

My type?: Yes, yes, yes. This is the thing I love about reading: the coincidences, that don’t really feel like coincidences at all. Right after I just so happened to finally pick up A Wrinkle in Time, a classic which has been in print for over 40 years, I pick this book up. A book about a girl named Miranda, whose favorite book is about a girl named Meg.

I happened to pick this book up because I decided to visit my local library for the first time–I’m still new to this area–and I found it amongst the toppled over paperbacks and screaming toddlers. I hadn’t been looking to read this book next. I just stumbled upon it and thought, Aha, I heard this one is good. And it was. Really, really good.

Something I learned reading this book is–description. Children’s books don’t need much of it. The book flowed effortlessly, and even though much of the first three quarters of it is spent reflecting on something the reader has no idea about yet, while the action and exposition are saved until much later, I still never wanted to put it down. The lack of flowery details helped that I think. Stead is especially good at this though. Where there are details, though you may not know it yet, they will be relevant. All of them. Quite a feat, and one I will look to for guidance always.

The story was a puzzle. I’m not particularly good at puzzles, and/or maybe I just chose not to be good at this one so I could make the mystery last as long as possible. But either way, I loved it. It was like a scrumptious salad or sandwich in which I finally didn’t have to remove anything to soak into my napkin on the side, or wish I could. All its parts contributed to the perfect meal. For me. At this moment in time. And even though I’m still mulling over what exactly the chef used, behind closed doors, to make everything come together so perfectly, consider me satisfied.

Memorable bit(s): Though Stead didn’t use a lot of descriptors, when she did, occasionally, they were meaningful:

“It was at that moment, standing next to her, that I figured out the truth. The truth was that Mom saw it too: the peeling paint, the cigarette butts on the stairs, everything. It soaked into me like water into sand, fast and heavy-making.”

And then there were those moments of uniquely imagined insight:

“Mom says each of us has a veil between ourselves and the rest of the world, like a bride wears on her wedding day, except this kind of veil is invisible. We walk around happily with these invisible veils hanging down over our faces. The world is kind of blurry, and we like it that way. But sometimes our veils are pushed away for a few moments, like there’s a wind blowing it from our faces. And when the veil lifts, we can see the world as it really is, just for those few seconds before it settles down agin. We see all the beauty, and cruelty, and sadness, and love. But mostly we are happy not to.”

Recommendation: If you like original stories with pitch perfect detailing, and a puzzle that won’t quit until the very end, I recommend making this one a part of your permanent collection, even though I didn’t. I don’t want to give it up, and plan on getting me own copy soon. I may have to get two because I think my sister would enjoy it as well. Though I can’t say I won’t survive giving it up; My throat is still recovering from the previous borrower’s perfume.

Published: July 2009 by Wendy Lamb Books.

A Wrinkle in Time

By Madeleine L’Engle

From Goodreads:

Meg’s father mysteriously disappears after experimenting with the fifth dimension of time travel. Determined to rescue him, Meg and her friends must outwit the forces of evil on a heart-stopping journey through space and time. A Newbery Medal winner.

My type?: Absolutamente. As much as I thrive on the excitement of all the newest and most recently popular releases in children’s and YA, since I’m still fairly new to these genres I try to sprinkle in a ‘classic’ every now and then, amongst the babes. And I am so glad I did here. I don’t remember why I never read this as a child. I suppose I was never assigned to read it in school, which is why I did most of my reading growing up.

There are so many things, it’s hard to know where to begin. For starters: I adore this commemorative cover. It’s curious, colorful, compelling. I saw this book on the shelf and just had to pick it up. Because of the cover.

Another thing I love about this book is its unexpectedness. I’m not sure what I expected this Newbery winner to be like–as I’d of course heard of it before picking it up–but it turned out to be nothing at all like I’d pictured. And yet instead of this disappointing, it only made me love it all the more. It’s unconventional, yet timeless. I didn’t feel I was reading a book from the ’60s. I felt it could have existed at any time and still be relevant.

Finally, perhaps the greatest thing about the book is its familial aspect. Thinking back upon books I’ve read over the past year, it seems the protagonists must (nearly) always go off on their adventures themselves. And oftentimes their parents are gone or otherwise out of the picture. This has until now seemed necessary to their self-actualizations. But this book has proven that point wrong. Meg is accompanied by her brother and friend nearly the whole way, she has a great relationship with her mother, and she is still able to find herself, independently. I realize there does need to be some separate discovery, as there was here. But I’ve discovered through this story that it does not necessarily need to be throughout the entire book, in order for the book to be believable or successful.

Memorable bit(s): So many jewels of insight.

“But of course we can’t take any credit for our talents. It’s how we use them that counts.”

“She (Meg) wanted to reach out and grab Calvin’s hand, but it seemed that ever since they had begun their journeyings she had been looking for a hand to hold, so she stuffed her firsts into her pockets and walked along behind the two boys.–I’ve got to be brave, she said to herself.–I will be.”

“‘But that’s exactly what we have on Camazotz. Complete equality. Everybody exactly alike.’ . . . ‘No!’ she cried triumphantly. ‘Like and equal are not the same thing at all!'”

“‘We look not at the things which are what you would call seen, but at the things which are not seen. For the things which are seen are temporal. But the things which are not seen are eternal.'”

“‘You mean you’re comparing our lives to a sonnet? A strict form, but freedom within it?’ ‘Yes.’ Mrs. Whatsit said. ‘You’re given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you.'”

Recommendation: This is an adventure tale for any age, bursting with worldly wisdom that reminds me of Harry Potter and its ultimate messages of love and friendship. A great perk of this edition is L’Engle’s Newbery Medal Acceptance Speech in the back of the book. Really inspiring. I can’t wait to read on in this series.

Published: originally in 1962, reprinted here January 2010 by Square Fish.