Dec 10, 2009

Utopia/Dystopia

When we did a comparison contrast between 1984 and excerpts from Thomas Moore's Utopia in my sophomore year of high school my reading life was transformed. I was exposed to reading as a way to explore ideas, philosophy, politics, and the world. until this point I read for pleasure, the enjoyment of the reading experience was the act of doing so. But with reading these two works my desire to read grew into wanting to be engaged by reading. I wanted to explore, change, and think.


Though there are are dictionary definitions and encyclopedia entries on utopia, anti-utopia, and dystopia, a lot of the time the distinction really comes down to a matter of judgement in classifying a book. I dent to like the term dystopia, so I use it most commonly as a general classification for a false world or non-historical government controlled society.

Now, not having Internet, I was late in finding out about two different YA Dystopian Challenges. One hosted by Bart's Bookshelf and the other by Books On the Nightstand.
(Please click the images to go to the challenge pages.)
But over the time period of the challenge I was reading books that qualify. So I am planning on going back over my reading list and review the books I read within the time frame and likely add a few more before the end of the year.

Bart says,

The idea is to have fun with this, and as I know with the year-end rapidly
approaching, thoughts will be turning to completing all the other challenges we
are all signed up to! So your level of participation is up to you, simply pick a
target of between 1 & 4 books to read during the two and a half months of
the challenge. [Oct. 15th - end of Dec.]

It’s that easy.

There’s no need to list your
selected books upfront, but it’s always fun to see everybody’s book pools (Not
just because we all like to do a bit of book-coveting but somebody might spot a
great read they had never considered before!) So if you want to do that, then go
right ahead.

Ann from Books on the Nightstand says,

The Rules:There are always rules in dystopic societies. We will
be benevolent despots in the running of this challenge. Your participation is
voluntary and we will be deactivating the Reading Challenge Police, so you are
on the honor system.
1. You must do as you are told.
[Go to challenge page to read the read of the rules.]


Here is a list of books I have already read within the past two months or so:
The Roar by Emma Clayton
Stolen Voices by Ellen Dee Davidson
The Declaration by Gemma Malley (audio)
Fade to Blue by Sean Beaudoin
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (audio)
The Walls Have Eyes by Clare B. Dunkle (#2 in series)
Skin Hunger by Kathleen Duey (audio)
House of Power by Patrick Carman (audio)

I have already reviewed The Maze Runner and Fade to Blue, but I may want to revisit my thoughts about them before the end of the year.
There may also a few that I am not sure about the time frame on or have not decided if they fall under the umbrella of dystopia yet.

Up Coming Reads:
Cherry Heaven by L.J. Adlington
The City of Gold and Lead by John Christopher (Tripods #2)
Gone by Michael Grant
Rivers of Fire by Patrick Carman

I have a few others I would like to get to also, but I will stick with those for now and update if needed. I have not had a chance to think out how I want to classify which book for what challenge or if it even matters, but I am really excited to be participating in them.

Dec 6, 2009

The Sunday Salon - The Return

The Sunday Salon.com

I have made very little reading progress this past week. This fills me with with a combination of feelings as frustration and acceptance mingle. I have to remind myself it is okay to take break from reading once in a while. Having a new phone to distract me isn't helping matters. But really I have been reading, just not finishing any books.

I did finally finish a book last night. I loved the first book in The 13th Reality series. I don't know why it took me so long to get that last 100 pages done, but I felt relieved to have the book done. I hadn't finished a book in almost a week.

I am also working on the audio of Scott Westerfeld's So Yesterday. I decided to read this book after finding out it was of particular influence in Cory Doctorow's Little Brother. There is definite style similarities between those two novels. Westerfeld has this masterful way of pausing the story to expand on a moment with factoids. It is part of what I enjoy the most in his writing. Doctorow explored the same concept but not as effectively. Instead of being this awesome nerdy quirk Doctorow manages to sound didactic. It was really interesting to read these books relatively close together.

Biblio File is having a blogging birthday bash where she encouraged her readers to take 5 hours out of their weekend and read something they had a deep desire to read. This was hard for me because I have this running list of books I want to read by the end of the year; as soon as a book gets on the list a certain amount of obligation goes along with it. It was recommended that we read in our favorite spot. What is your favorite spot to read? I really like reading laying down, particularly in bed. I prop up about 5 pillows and flip on my reading lamp. I grabbed Cherry Heaven, a book I have been eager to read yet constantly find excuses to push aside. This book is the companion novel to the spectacular Diary of Pelly D. Per her instructions I also curled up with my blanket and a steaming cup of coffee. What a great gift she gave all of us.

I have also read a short list of particularly interesting articles and posts.

Facebook Promotes Literacy
E-Readers Just a Fad
Gainman reading The Graveyard Book on tour

Should YA be taught in classrooms?

Have you read any great post or articles? Or maybe you wrote one? Leave a link on the comments.

Everlost by Neal Shusterman

Neal Shusterman personally recommended Everlost to me, so it is disappointing to admit I didn't enjoy it very much. Shusterman did his job with great writing and an interesting storyline. He commented to me t hat adult readers tend to enjoy this story more than some of his others. Maybe I a,m not grown up enough because mostly the book just creeped me out!

But School Library Journal writes: “Shusterman has reimagined what happens after death and questions power and the meaning of charity. While all this is going on, he has also managed to write a rip-roaring adventure…”


Shusterman is a maser when it comes to creating multi dimensional characters. The villains do things you agree with and the heroes do things you don't. Finding out what happens to each of the characters drove me through the story. But I think overall it was too dark for me to truly enjoy it, though I know a lot of other people will.



I decided to specifically read this book right now because the sequel, Everwild, was released just a few months ago.
Bibliophile Exploring Dystopia | Speculative Fiction