Wednesday, September 28, 2011
Despite being busy with work and going to TIFF this month, I managed to read two books, and yet again, YA FICTION. They aren't exactly dystopian books, but they are set in the future. Across the Universe by Beth Revis is set on a ship that is headed towards a new planet. It houses a working crew and its main cargo, cryogenically frozen humans who will help run the new planet. The crew have been on the ship for generations as the original travel time was to be 300 years, but we'll eventually discover that might not be the case. Amy is 17 when she was frozen hundreds of years ago with her parents, and isn't meant to be unfrozen until they reach the planet, but something happens and she is released from her liquid dreams and right into a strange new world that she doesn't understand and fears. The book is a science fiction tale with elements of romance as Amy finds herself attracted to Elder, the teenage boy in training who will one day take over the ship. The ship is full of secrets that Amy and Elder will eventually uncover.
I thought the book was well written, and I liked how Revis chose to go back and forth with the chapters. One chapter would be from Elder's point of view and the other one would be from Amy's. It gave the story perspective from all angles. But I did feel it was building up to a different kind of ending. The ending works, but I wanted more from it. The description of the ship, which is their home away from home, was vivid and painted with a great amount of detail. (the book's main website shows what the ship looks like) I could feel the claustrophobia and the hopelessness. What would it feel like floating through space? What would it feel like knowing you're hundreds of years old and should really be dead? What would it feel like knowing that when your parents wake up that you, their child, will be older than they are? Those questions can mess with one's head.
The other book I just finished was The Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch, a debut novel. The book is set in a post-apocalyptic America that had been ravaged by a plague that killed millions along with a war against China. The story centers around 15 year old Stephen Quinn struggling to survive with his father after they just buried his grandfather, a tough old, mean man who kept his family alive. Stephen's father gets injured and eventually they find themselves in this hidden away small town where life is trying hard to be normal. He is met with acceptance by some, but disdain by others as some of the townsfolk don't like newbies, and trust nobody. The East coast of America is mainly desolate and Stephen has had to stay clear of slavers, a group of weapon clad men who kidnap people to sell as slaves. Eventually, Stephen begins to like his new town, which makes him confused as all he's ever known is the open road. He connects with Jenny, a Chinese teenager who was raised by her white family, and who has a giant chip on her shoulders and is desperate to get out of this town and explore, especially what is west, and beyond the mountains.
The book is a quick read, and well written. I would have liked more information about the eleventh plague, or moments where it still exists, and what the actual Chinese threat was or still is. It's a western set in the future. Most post-apocalyptic stories feel like westerns as they are about a new frontier. It's a good first book. I don't know if there is a sequel, but I'm sure if it's a success there will be.
Across the Universe-B
The Eleventh Plague-B