Shades of Earth by Beth Revis

Title: Shades of Earth
Author: Beth Revis
Length: 369 pages
Published in: 2013
Genre: post-apocalyptic world/dystopic
ISBN: 9781595143990
Source: public library
Reason for Reading: This is the third in a trilogy by Beth Revis and it has been one of my favorite series to follow. (I’m very sad it’s all over!)
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

Amy and Elder have finally left the oppressive walls of the spaceshipGodspeed behind. They’re ready to start life afresh–to build a home–on Centauri-Earth, the planet that Amy has traveled 25 trillion miles across the universe to experience.

But this new Earth isn’t the paradise Amy had been hoping for. There are giant pterodactyl-like birds, purple flowers with mind-numbing toxins, and mysterious, unexplained ruins that hold more secrets than their stone walls first let on. The biggest secret of all? Godspeed‘s former passengers aren’t alone on this planet. And if they’re going to stay, they’ll have to fight.

Amy and Elder must race to discover who–or what–else is out there if they are to have any hope of saving their struggling colony and building a future together. They will have to look inward to the very core of what makes them human on this, their most harrowing journey yet. Because if the colony collapses? Then everything they have sacrificed–friends, family, life on Earth–will have been for nothing.

My Thoughts: This was a wonderful end to a story I love. While I was sad to see it end, I found it to be just the kind of end I liked.

There is a lot going on in this book. The population of humans from Sol-Earth have been unfrozen and the shipborn people fear them. Despite the differences between them, both groups go to Centauri-Earth. There they are forced to work together to survive some intelligent alien life forms that populate the planet. I’ll admit that I managed to work out, for the most part, what that alien life form was before it was revealed without much thought on my part. But that doesn’t change how excited I can get about how the story leads up to that moment of revelation. And there was a certain character who those who have read the story will know of–who wasn’t all they appeared to be. I hadn’t pinpointed how different this person was, but I knew there was something wrong about them. That should’ve been pretty obvious, considering I’d figured out the other mystery.

Anyways, Revis hardly “ended” the story at the close of this book. The story has barely begun and she left the story open. There are some stories with which I’d like to be told the definite end for the characters and have some nice closure. But considering how much of this story was left to the imagination, I think it was a great choice on her part to let her readers imagine for themselves how the story goes on, or ends if you choose.

I’m sad the story has “ended” but I anxiously await any new worlds Revis might create for me to travel to.

Left Behind by Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins {audiobook}

Title: Left Behind
Authors: Tim LaHaye and Jerry Jenkins
Narrator: Frank Muller
Length: 3 hours
Published in: 1995
Genre: inspiration
ISBN: 978084243237
borrowed from my public library
Reason for Reading:
Inspirational Resolution 2012
Rating: 5/5

Summary (from Goodreads):

In one cataclysmic moment, millions around the globe disappear.

Vehicles, suddenly unmanned, careen out of control. People are terror stricken as loved ones vanish before their eyes.

In the middle of global chaos, airline captain Rayford Steele must search for his family, for answers, for truth. As devastating as the disappearances have been, the darkest days may lie ahead.

My Thoughts: Going into this book, I thought there would be a lot of Bible beating and preaching. What I found was nothing more than any other book I’ve read set in a post-apocalyptic world. Yes, many characters realized that the disappearance of millions around the world was God collecting his believers and the book of Revelations beginning in real life. But, with the small exception of a videotape left by a pastor to be viewed in these events, I didn’t find anything offensive or “preachy”.

I love dystopic and post-apocalyptic books. I view them as two different types of stories–but usually dystopic results from a post-apocalyptic society. (Maybe I’ll write up a post about these two types of stories so I don’t rant about it here.) The way the people just disappeared was a great idea. I’ve never read Revelations, so I don’t know if there’s anything it says about it, but I always pictured Jesus coming back to physically collect the people. Not that I really believe anything like that will happen, but that’s how I pictured it in a fictional sense. Anyways, a mass disappearance is an awesome way to create chaos in the world.

I am slightly interested in keeping on with the series because I know it will eventually reach the dystopic state. But I’m a little hesitant because I’m thinking that the further I go, the more preaching the books will become. I’m torn…

Inspirational Resolution 2012

A Million Suns by Beth Revis

Title: A Million Suns
Author: Beth Revis
Length: 386 pages
ISBN: 9781595143983
Published in: 2012
Genre: science fiction, YA fiction (dystopic, post-apocalypse life)
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Copyright 2012

Summary (from book jacket):

It’s been three months since Amy was unplugged. The life she always knew is over. Everywhere she looks, she sees the walls of the spaceship Godspeed.

But there may be hope: Elder has assumed leadership of the ship. He’s finally free to act on his vision–no more Phydus, no more lies.

But when Elder learns shocking news about the ship, he and Amy race to discover the truth behind life on Godspeed. They must work together to unlock a mystery that was set in motion hundreds of years earlier. Their success–or failure–will determine the fate of the 2,298 passengers aboard Godspeed. But with each step, the journey becomes more perilous, the ship more chaotic, and the love between them more impossible to fight.

My Thoughts: I love these books! This is the second book in a trilogy (I cannot wait for the final book to come out in January!) and it has kept me hooked on the story. In Across the Universe, Amy, a girl from our world, awakes from being cryogenically frozen for a few hundred years to find a spaceship full of people who are mindless drones. The young, soon-to-be leader of these people, Elder, discovers the people are being drugged to work passively for the furtherance of the ship, to get to Centauri-Earth, and cuts off those drugs (Phydus). But then the people start thinking.

That’s where this installment comes in. With the people of Godspeed thinking, they start to challenge their leadership. In most cases, I think I read from the people’s point of view. They’re rebelling against an oppressive government. But in this case, I’m reading from Elder’s (and Amy’s) point of view. I would like to think that I would admire a leader who let his people think for themselves if I was one of those people. But I would probably be a bit apprehensive to trust him, seeing as how past leaders took advantage of their power. I do like the fact that, in the end, Elder didn’t make everyone’s choice for them. Making a life altering decision, about a third of the ship’s population chose to do one thing and, the rest, chose another. It’ll be interesting to see how both groups fair in the last book!

For awhile there, I was beginning to think that some of the past generations already landed on Centauri-Earth and the current gens didn’t know anything about that. I wonder what aspects of inhospitable environment will arise on Centauri-Earth? Will it be something as simple as lions, tigers, and bears, but, having no experience with them, the scientists overestimate “inhospitable”? I can’t wait to find out!!! 😀

Just Being Audrey by Margaret Cardillo, Julia Denos

TitleJust Being Audrey
Author: Margaret Cardillo
Illustrator: Julia Denos
Genre: children’s non-fiction (biography)
ISBN: 9780061852831
Length: 28 pages
Published: 2011
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: none

Summary: I think the best summary is a trailer for the book that I found on YouTube.

My Thoughts: You may already know that I love Audrey Hepburn. I can’t really remember where I came across this children’s biography, I know it was somewhere on the internet, possibly Pinterest. Regardless, I’ve read lots of biographies about Audrey, but never anything addressed to an audience of children.

Truth be told, I wasn’t very thrilled about the content. It was hard to place a specific reading age to the book. It seemed too general for an older elementary age, where one might do a little research to write a paper on Audrey. But it had some words that were too complex for younger elementary age. What saved the book, in my opinion, were the illustrations. There are so many photos of Audrey floating around now because she’s become a big icon to today’s young woman–I’m proud to say that I’ve been inspired by her for 15 years, not just the past few 🙂 Anyways…I do get bored seeing the same images of Audrey over and OVER again. These illustrations were simply amazing–you can see them in the trailer. Denos didn’t just copy the same exact image, but took popular outfits of Audrey and posed them slightly different, to make brand new pictures. One weird thing about the illustrations were Audrey’s eyes. She was famous for her big, brown, doe eyes. Yet, in the book 15 of 25 pictures of Audrey were drawn with her eyes closed. But, I guess, I’d rather have lots of lovely pictures with her eyes closed than to have poorly-drawn doe eyes in every picture.

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley {audiobook}

TitleBrave New World
Author: Aldous Huxley
Genre: fiction (dystopic)
ISBN: 9780792752257
Length: 8.5 hours
Published: 1932
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Challenges/Resolutions: Years of Books Resolution (2012); Years of Books Goal (lifetime)

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Community, Identity, Stability” is the motto of Aldous Huxley’s utopian World State. Here everyone consumes daily grams of soma, to fight depression, babies are born in laboratories, and the most popular form of entertainment is a “Feelie,” a movie that stimulates the senses of sight, hearing, and touch. Though there is no violence and everyone is provided for, Bernard Marx feels something is missing and senses his relationship with a young women has the potential to be much more than the confines of their existence allow. Huxley foreshadowed many of the practices and gadgets we take for granted today–let’s hope the sterility and absence of individuality he predicted aren’t yet to come.

My Thoughts: I think it is fair to say that this is one of my new favorite books. Yes, I tend to LOVE dystopic novels. But I hadn’t realized that people were writing such stories 80 years ago! But, this just goes to show you that dystopic stories are fairly timeless. As it’s always a look at a future world, writers can create any type of society they want and no one can say it won’t happen. So this book, written in the 1930s, reads practically like any other dystopic I’ve read.

There was only one part of the story that I thought dated it a little. And that element was actually a pretty major difference from most other dystopics I’ve read. There exists in this story a population of people from before the transition to “utopia”. Those people are called savages, because they haven’t been civilized or, especially, conditioned. I don’t know that I’ve ever read a book like this where everyone wasn’t forced into the new order. It isn’t like some characters that have always lived in the “utopia” who just want to revert back to a better time and freer state of things–the savages weren’t ever changed. This dates the book because the savages are described as Native Americans. If this book was written today, the “savage” would be very different. (Another slightly dating element is the way time is related. It takes place in 632 AF, After Ford. That would be Henry Ford. I have a feeling if this book hadn’t been written so soon after Ford’s huge success in the auto industry, that it wouldn’t be the way to refer to the year.)


Everfree by Nick Sagan

Author: Nick Sagan
Genre: science fiction, dystopic (worldwide plague, post-apocalyptic world)
ISBN: 9780399152764
Length: 240 pages
Published: 2006
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: It is the final installment in a trilogy that I started years ago. I recently listened to the second book, Edenborn (review here) and couldn’t wait to finish the story.

Summary (from book jacket):

A small group of humans has survived the apocalyptic epidemic called Black Ep, a disease that ravaged the world and left them alone on Earth. The survivors gradually awaken others, who had been put into a state of frozen sleep to await a future when the disease might be cured. At first, everyone agrees on the basics: We’re lucky to be alive. We’re all in this together. Let’s look out for each other and build a better world.

But inevitably, as more sleepers are roused, there are those who disagree. People who remember power are waking up to a new world, and they do not intend to wait their turn politely. And from very far off indeed, one more surprise awaits the survivors–a shock that will transform the future for everyone in this post-plague, perhaps even post-human, world.

My Thoughts: I can safely say that this trilogy is one of my favorites. Each of the books are very different–caused, no doubt, by the changes in the characters and their world. At the same time, they are all excellently tied together.

This book does have an epilogue. While I usually don’t like them, I actually preferred it over the ending before the epilogue. Without the epilogue there’s a very “happily ever after” ending, all warm and fuzzy. And that would have been okay, if the rest of the trilogy wasn’t so serious and slightly doubtful. I found it a little funny that I didn’t want them to be completely happy 😕


At one point in this book, I honestly had the thought “Mind = Blown!” About halfway through the book, after the PHs (posthumans: Halloween, Fantasia, Pandora, Isaac, Vashti, and Champagne) started thawing the Gedaechtnis scientists (those who genetically engineered the posthumans), they find out there were other “children” (posthumans) created in a Hong Kong program! I couldn’t believe it when I heard that there were more Humans 2.0 out there!! I loved this crazy twist.

But my enthusiasm for such an unexpected surprise soon dwindled. I thought these Chinese posthumans would play a pivotal role in the rest of the book. I actually was thinking that the differences between the Gedaechtnis PHs and the Chinese PHs would cause something akin to war. The Chinese PHs were brought up in IVR knowing the task they would have when they returned to the real world (unlike the Gedaechtnis PHs). Also, they were scheduled to leave IVR at the age of 15, three years before the Gedaechtnis PHs, in order to sort of turn the Gedaechtnis PHs into sort of slaves. But, alas! This war/feud never materialized. In fact, the Chinese PHs had little to no importance throughout the rest of the story.


I can sort of see a possible spin-off book or series from Sagan in the future. In this book, Halloween has dreams in which a microorganism calling itself Bill Angler and identifying itself as an alien from far away presents itself to Hal. He calls himself one of the Free, who will be coming to earth to sort of take over the humans that survived Black Ep. He says the Free sent Black Ep to weed out the weak. If the civilization could recover, then it meant something special. Anyways, I can sort of see this sort of thing turn into another story. And I think I would be greatly interested. Sounds a little like it could be The Host by Stephenie Meyer!

Memorable Quotes/Passages:

Retreating to fantasy he [Zhang Zhao] could process the deaths and the abandonment only within the confines of an old Hollywood movie, one of many stored in their media base. Wracked by survivor guilt, it was more comforting for Zhao to believe that nefarious machines hated humans, working to destroy them or enslave them to their will. I suppose this explains his perplexing behavior, treating me like an old friend, calling me “Morpheus”, repeatedly asking, “How deep does the rabbit hole go?” (p140)

Anyone who has seen the Matrix movies will understand the reference to the movie. And I found this even more interesting because of thoughts I had when I first read Idlewild, the first book in this trilogy. The PHs were raised in IVR until they were 18, when they returned to the real world. Sounds an awful lot like being in the Matrix and then being unplugged into a pretty desolate reality. I had this thought when I started reading Idlewild, as I’d already seen the first two Matrix movies by then. And then Sagan goes and actually references them 🙂 A later passage in the book names Malachi (the AI in charge of IVR) as the Ghost in the Machine, yet another Matrix reference!

What you don’t see with your eyes, don’t invent with your tongue. (p200)

Apparently this is a Yiddish saying, according to the main character. Wherever it came from, it’s very wise.

Politics is the act of looking for trouble, finding it everywhere, diagnosing it incorrectly, and applying the wrong remedies. (p3)

Again, main character says this is Groucho Marx. True or otherwise in its origin, I love that statement!

Edenborn by Nick Sagan (audiobook)

Author: Nick Sagan
Narrated By: Holter Graham, Clayton Barclay Jones, Jenna Lamia, Beth McDonald, Maggi-Meg Reed, Johnny Stange and Oliver Wyman
Genre: sci-fi/fantasy (apocalyptic, dystopic)
ISBN: 978165592845
Length: 9.5 hours
Published: 2004
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions/Challenges: none

Reason for Reading: This explanation is longer than usual, so if you don’t really care why I read it, I’d go ahead and skip to my thoughts.

Okay, sometime back in high school–this would be at least 6 years ago–I picked up a book called Idlewild by Nick Sagan. At the time I didn’t know it was the first of a trilogy. The name of the book caught my eye, because there is an Idlewild, Michigan, a town that I believe isn’t too big, which I drive past on my way to my family’s cottage every year. So I picked it up. I didn’t realize that it was named Idlewild because part of the story took place in backwoods Michigan. Even more interesting, I read this book while on vacation at my cottage–it happens to be a mere 25 miles away from Idlewild, MI. I asked my dad if he, my uncle, or my grandparents ever went to Idlewild while at the cottage and he said my grandparents used to go there to dance in the 1950s-60s.

Long story short, I loved Idlewild and have been meaning to finish the trilogy lately. When I saw Edenborn on the audiobook shelf at my local library branch and needed an audiobook for my commute to work, I just took it on impulse. And I’m so glad I did. That’s why I read it 🙂

Summary (from Goodreads):

“Edenborn begins with a stark vision – a microbial apocalypse called Black Ep has wiped humanity from the globe. Yet all is not lost. Six individuals have survived the epidemic and are now committed to the task of rebuilding a peaceful civilization. But not everyone shares the same vision, and soon two very different societies begin to form.” As we follow the children from each “family,” someone – or something – begins to threaten their innocence. And as the mystery mounts, a new biological threat moves against them. Now the architects who gave breath to this new world must scramble to protect their children from a two-front assault. It’s a race against extinction.

It’s essentially a dystopic novel. Black Ep is a plague from which only a handful of genetically altered humans (actually Human 2.0, as they’re not homo sapiens technically) managed to escape. They’re struggling to repopulate the human race. So it’s not “sci-fi” like outer space/aliens and it’s not “fantasy” like vampires/werewolves/etc.–it’s just a bleak look at a future of the world as envisioned by Nick Sagan.

My Thoughts: I was hesitant to read Edenborn without rereading Idlewild first, since it’d been so long since I read it first. But it turned out that I didn’t really forget much that was important. I remembered that a handful of teenagers were raised in what was called the IVR, a virtual reality computer program akin to The Matrix. And when they found out their lives were a sham and what the real world was like, some of them went berserk. Which I can totally understand. And I remembered Black Ep, which is pretty important to the story. But I had forgotten which survivors were friends with who and the fact that one of them killed off almost half of the total number, but that wasn’t very imperative to this installment.

I really liked this story. It is some time later from the end of Idlewild in that the original survivors now have grown “children” (what they call “water babies” as humans can no longer procreate naturally due to the crazy meds they take to help their immune systems). And there are two sets of “children” and their “parents”–one living in Munich, Germany, the other in Luxor, Egypt (or it might be Thebes). They have very different ideologies and lifestyles. But then another “child” pops out of no where (almost) and creates some havoc. And…well, it’s hard to gush over the book without giving it all away, so I won’t say much more than this: If you like/love Idlewild, give Edenborn a chance 🙂

Audiobook Format Thoughts: There was a cast of voices and, in this instance, I loved it. Each chapter had one of seven characters narrating it. So there were seven narrators for the book. But the narrator was the same throughout the whole chapter, reading narration and dialogue both. So, if Halloween and Pandora were having a conversation in Halloween’s chapter, only Halloween narrated the dialogue. I especially loved Penny’s voice, as read by Jenna Lamia. She had such a great “teenage” voice–attitudinal and whiny and very dramatic/expressive.

Memorable Quotations:

Idlewild sits right in the heart of the Manistee National Forest. The town’s protected by 500,000 acres of unspoiled wilderness.
-Pandora (Disc 6, Track 4)

I like this quote just because Idlewild is so close to my favorite place on earth, a small inland lake within the Manistee National Forest.

Manistee National Forest

even though it's edited, the trees are beautiful and the forest is so dense up there

America Pacifica by Anna North

TitleAmerica Pacifica
Author: Anna North
Genre: fiction (dystopic)
ISBN: 9780316105125
Length: 294 pages
Published: May 1, 2011
Source: public library
Rating: 2/5
Resolutions/Challenges: an extra for my Published in 2011 Resolution

Reason for Reading: It’s dystopic novel. Enough said.

Summary (from Goodreads):

Eighteen-year-old Darcy lives on the island of America Pacifica—one of the last places on earth that is still habitable, after North America has succumbed to a second ice age. Education, food, and basic means of survival are the province of a chosen few, while the majority of the island residents must struggle to stay alive. The rich live in “Manhattanville” mansions made from the last pieces of wood and stone, while the poor cower in the shantytown slums of “Hell City” and “Little Los Angeles,” places built out of heaped up trash that is slowly crumbling into the sea. The island is ruled by a mysterious dictator named Tyson, whose regime is plagued by charges of corruption and conspiracy.

But to Darcy, America Pacifica is simply home—the only one she’s ever known. In spite of their poverty she lives contentedly with her mother, who works as a pearl diver. It’s only when her mother doesn’t come home one night that Darcy begins to learn about her past as a former “Mainlander,” and her mother’s role in the flight from frozen California to America Pacifica. Darcy embarks on a quest to find her mother, navigating the dark underbelly of the island, learning along the way the disturbing truth of Pacifica’s early history, the far-reaching influence of its egomaniacal leader, and the possible plot to murder some of the island’s first inhabitants—including her mother.

My Thoughts: While, as a whole this book turned out to be pretty good, it got a less than neutral rating because of the beginning. Without the beginning, it would’ve got a neutral rating. But of 294 pages, it took 100 to get me interested. Thus, the lower rating. If you can make it through what I felt was a less than intriguing beginning, the rest is pretty good!

I also sort of wished the ending would’ve been a little more conclusive. It was left open-ended, I’m assuming so that a sequel can follow. But it wasn’t the sort of open ending that was written to make the reader sort of imagine the rest for his-/herself–at least not how I saw it.

Darcy, the main character, is pretty selfish throughout the book. It wasn’t until the end that it actually started to annoy me. With a “country” in revolution, partly because of her, she took no part in what came next. True, she didn’t ask to be involved, she sort of got sucked into it. But still. I can understand her reasons for wanting to know/understand more. And I know that I would probably act more selfish if I were in the situation of revolution than I’d like to admit. Because you can’t really know until you’ve been in that situation if you’d help someone else before yourself or not.

I did, however, enjoy the reasons behind the formation of America Pacifica. (I believe it’s around Guam or the Philippines.) The island was populated from people who fled mainland America. The reason for the fleeing is because of an ice age–so they had to go somewhere warm. It’s nice to know that a very possible natural disaster was the cause and not purely a corrupt person/group wanting power. The corrupt used the natural weather pattern as a means to an end, instead. Oh, and the story is supposed to take place in 2061 or shortly thereafter.

I have to admit that I’m not sure if I’d read a sequel if North decides to write one though…

Across the Universe by Beth Revis

TitleAcross the Universe
Author: Beth Revis
Genre: young adult fiction (dystopian)
ISBN: 9781595143976
398 pages
: Jan. 11, 2011
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Resolutions: Published in 2011 Resolution; Years of Books Goal

Reason for Reading: Natalie at Coffee and a Book Chick gave this book an AMAZING review last fall and then she raved about it again in a vlog post about some debut authors she’s been reading. So I decided I just had to read it 🙂 Plus, you know I’m always up for a dystopian novel 😀

Summary (Product Description):

Amy and her parents believe they will wake on a new planet, Centauri-Earth, three hundred years in the future. But fifty years before Godspeed’s scheduled landing, cryo chamber 42 is mysteriously unplugged, and Amy is violently woken from her frozen slumber.

Someone tried to murder her.

Now, Amy is caught inside a tiny world where nothing makes sense. Godspeed‘s 2,312 passengers have forfeited all control to Eldest, a tyrannical and frightening leader. And Elder, Eldest’s rebellious teenage heir, is both fascinated with Amy and eager to discover whether he has what it takes to lead.

Amy desperately wants to trust Elder. But should she put her faith in a boy who has never seen life outside the ship’s cold metal walls? All Amy knows is that she and Elder must race to unlock Godspeed‘s hidden secrets before whoever woke her tries to kill again.

My Thoughts: This book is amazing! I know, I tend to think this of every dystopian novel I read. I think I like dystopian novels because they are so different. Authors who can create whole new worlds–and do it well–deserve a lot of credit. And Revis did such a great job with this book–and it’s her debut!

One of the things that I loved about this story is that it all (well, except for the first couple chapters on “Sol-Earth”) takes place on a spaceship. But it’s not like Star Wars or Star Trek (granted, I’ve never seen Star Trek). I have never read a book set on a spaceship before, but I think Revis did a great job not making the story really science-fiction-y. The population on Godspeed appeared to be slightly primitive in respects and very advanced in others–they put a lot of research into science, namely because of a big problem with the ship, but in other areas the general population is kept in the dark (and only concerns itself with agriculture).

I think what I loved most about this story, was the “murder mystery” bit, as Revis calls it 🙂 Just when I thought I had figured out what Eldest was hiding from Elder, it turned out to be the complete opposite! That’s not to say that I like to be proven wrong, but that the mystery wasn’t too easy to figure out or too obvious. I never would’ve expected what the real problem was.

Thoughts on the Cover: I think the cover is beautiful. But one of the best things about it, is that it’s reversible. Now, for me that didn’t really matter because it’s a library book so I couldn’t reverse it 😦 But I had already seen images online of the reverse, so it was alright.  And I think the cover, if kept on the blueprint of Godspeed side, might look a little “busy”.


I am so excited that in about a year–sometime in late winter/early spring of 2012–the second book in the Across the Universe trilogy will be published: A Million Suns 🙂

The Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood

Title: The Year of the Flood
Author: Margaret Atwood
Genre: fiction, dystopic
ISBN: 9780385528771
Pages: 431
Year Published: 2009
Source: public library
Rating: 5/5
Reason for Reading: Canadian Author Challenge; loved Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tail

Book Description (from dust cover):

The times and species have been changing at a rapid rate, and the social compact is wearing as thing as environmental stability. Adam One, the kindly leader of the God’s Gardeners–a religion, as well as the preservation of all plant and animal life–has long predicted a natural disaster that will alter Earth as we know it. Now it has occurred, obliterating most human life. Two women have survived: Ren, a young trapeze dancer locked inside the high-end sex club Scales and Tails, and Toby, a God’s Gardener barricaded inside a luxurious spa where many of the treatments are edible.

Have others survived? Ren’s bioartist friend Amanda? Zeb, her eco-fighter stepfather? Her onetime lover, Jimmy? Or the murderous Painballers, survivors of the mutual-elimination Painball prison? Not to mention the shadowy, corrupt policing force of the ruling powers.

Meanwhile, gene-spliced life forms are proliferating: the lion/lamb blends, the Mo’hair sheep with human hair, the pigs with human brain tissue. As Adam One and his intrepid hemp-clad band make their way through this strange new world, Ren and Toby will have to decide on their next move, but they can’t stay locked away.

My Thoughts: I love this book! Aside from the fact that I usually enjoy dystopic novels, this one was one of the finest. And, as I usually like, there were chapters of this story in the present and then flashbacks. I like this technique because it leaves a sort of mystery to the story. How did the characters get to the point in the present from what we know of the past? In this way, we learn of how Toby and Ren come to the Gardeners in their own ways and then, again, how they leave the group. (I guess I should mention that Toby and Ren aren’t related and Toby is closer to the age of Ren’s mother than Ren.)

Interestingly enough, there is a sort of definition of what makes a dystopic novel in the praise for Oryx and Crake on the back of my copy of Year of the Flood from Lorrie Moore (New Yorker) that I really just want to quote here:

“A dystopian novel is intended as a literal forecast, or even necessarily as a logical extension of our current world. It is simply, and not so simply, a bad dream of our present time, an exquisitely designed horror show in which things are changed from what we do know to a dream version of what we don’t…”

This is one of the reasons that I like this novel so much. Atwood has, again, presented something so possible it is scary. Now, I didn’t read Oryx and Crake (it is now high on my TBR list though 🙂 ), but I have read The Handmaid’s Tale. And, while these two Atwoods I’ve read are very different, I can TOTALLY see them happening. In Year of the Flood, the United State and/or Canada–it’s never really defined, but it’s a big city, wherever it is–has fallen to the hands of major corporations. The world is “doomed” and many fanatical religious groups, such as the Gardeners, have sprouted to live a life they believe will save them from the Waterless Flood that is imminent.

I love this idea of a Waterless Flood. Essentially, it is another plague that harms only humans and is spread through contact, mostly. The Gardeners have nose-cones to sort of ward-off the germs, even before the Waterless Flood broke out. These “nose-cones” immediately make me think of the beak-y things worn by people, especially doctors, during the Bubonic Plague

There are some things I don’t understand about this novel though. Such as, in the present chapters of Ren’s, the story is first-person. But, when in Toby’s present chapters, the story is in third-person. I can’t figure out if there is a reason for this. And, what exactly are pleebs? They aren’t the same as a city, so are they like townships or burroughs?

Random Quotes I Like:

“How easy it is, treachery. You just slide into it.” p217

“It occurs to Toby that she may never see this vista again. Amazing how the heart clutches at anything familiar, whimpering, Mine! Mine!” p365

My Thoughts on the Cover: I have to say that I honestly don’t really get the cover. The things I see on it are all in the novel, but I don’t feel there is any real importance of those things. The red flower is a poppy, used in Pilar’s and Toby’s medicines; the girl walking along the beach could be Ren or Toby towards the end of the novel, or even Amanda; the buildings do look decrepit, which is what we’re supposed to imagine  when we read of the city. The strip of honeycomb on the back obviously is to represent the honey and bees so important to Toby and Pilar before her. But these are random things to include on the cover, I feel. So. the cover makes sense, but it still could have been many other things.