Thursday, March 21, 2013

Two Paths Down the Dystopian Road - Safekeeping and Legend

Legend (Legend, #1)
Putnam, 2011

The year is 2130, and the Republic with its Elector Primo is now in control.  The citizens of the different parts of the new Los Angeles must fight against two fronts – the colonies trying to destroy the regime and the terrible sickness that decimates the poorer sectors of this new nation. 

June doesn’t know about this struggle.  She and her brother Matias live in a high rise, literally above all the chaos the Republic tries to hide.  She and Matias are some of the precious few to receive the vaccinations to ensure their health.  Although her parents died when she was little, Matias takes more than excellent care of her.  In fact, June is the only one to go through the Trial with a perfect score, leading her into the ranks of those loyal to the Republic.

Day lives a life of theft, deceit and invisibility.  Lurking in the shadows of the poor sectors, he sees the lack of food and healthcare take the population into despair.  The only way he knows how to alter the situation is to fight against the Republic and steal what should be shared with all citizens – the vaccinations needed against this new outbreak.  The Republic knows about him, but his elusiveness has created a shadow figure for them.  They know he’s there, but not what he looks like, where he lives, or how he manages to do the things he does.

June and Day’s lives will emerge one fateful night that will send them both on a quest for revenge…
Marie Lu writes an excellent dystopia novels that fans of this genre will fly through.  Her characters are colorful and jump out of the page, but it’s the future of the world as we knew it that permeates the reader’s emotional response.  Told in two voices, the reader gets to intimately know both sides of society as well as be privy to each character’s thoughts and personal lives.  If you have readers who clamor for more dystopia titles, hand them this one....


Fiewel and Friends, 2012

Radley remembers her parents dropping her off at the airport so she help with relief work for the children of Haiti.  It’s a passion of hers and has decidedly changed her life, but not as much as when she returns back to the United States.

Upon arrival, she knows something is wrong.  First of all her parents are nowhere to be found.  Secondly, the way the soldiers treat her after she lands is beyond the typical TSA thing most passengers coming back from overseas deal with.  There’s a sense of urgency, danger.  Radley returns to a different United States than when she left.   

The American’s People’s Party has taken over the country.  With the assassination of the President, the United States is left in turmoil with a renegade government trying to take control through force.  Radley realizes this right away.  Now there are curfews, bank accounts are drained, people are missing, and travel restrictions are tight.  There are also APPs everywhere, catching those that break the rules and beating them.  

All Radley wants is to go home and find her parents.  But her path leads to even more devastation, both emotional and physical.  Everyone is desperate, and personal survival above others is dominant.  Little food, roaming soldiers, broken homes.  Radley has heard Canada is a place of safekeeping, so that is where she begins her trek…and also where she encounters people and places that will change her life.

Karen Hesse is a beautiful writer and this is more than apparent in this YA dystopia novel.  Her words blend with the personal photographs she uses that are scattered throughout the book.  This book is also unique in its genre.  Hesse centers her book around the journey and how the main character changes emotionally through it from the people she meets and the places she stays.  While other dystopian books have a flair of action-packed situations with daring and fearless characters, Hesse’s book takes a gentle approach, looking more at the weakness of her character and how she becomes stronger.  It will take a different reader who can adjust to this change in genre to  enjoy this pictorial novel with a nearly poetic flair.   

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