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review 2017-04-07 01:48
The Handmaid's Tale
The Handmaid's Tale - Margaret Atwood

This book... there are no words for how much Atwood's words affected me.  The book was originally published when I was about 16, but I didn't read it.  In some ways, I regret that because I think it would have been interesting to compare the two experiences, 30 years apart.  Kim at 16 would have taken it in very different ways than Kim at 46.  But, on the other hand, I don't think at that age I would have been able to fully appreciate the themes and implications of this novel.

 

The novel takes place in a dystopian near future (roughly 2004-2005). after society has fallen to a religious new order.  The USA is no longer, now known as the Republic of Gilead.  Society is based on a literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis, a rather chilling androcentric, misogynistic social order.  Birth rates have sharply reason, providing the justification for the new system.  Women have had virtually all of their rights taken away, reduced to categories like Jezebels (pleasure women), Marthas (cooks/housekeepers) and Handmaids (fertile breeding women).  Aunts are in charge of retraining the lesser women, indoctrinating them in the new world order.  Only the Commanders' Wives have even a touch of freedom, but that, too, is limited.  The Handmaids even lose their names, becoming "Of-" and whatever the Commander's first name is.

 

It is a disturbing look at sexual politics, particularly the ways in which sexuality is or isn't expressed based on gender.  It is a book about power and how what is seemingly utopian for some, it is clearly dystopian for others.

 

This is a book that is extremely thought-provoking, especially in this day and age.  Despite the fact that it was published 31 years ago, there are so many themes in it that are just as relevant in today's world.  There were times when I forgot I was reading a book that supposedly took place more than a decade ago.

 

The Handmaid's Tale is a part of me now, one of those books that I will read again and again.  It is the kind of book that will give you a new experience each time it is read.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12875
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review 2017-03-29 22:50
Ten Thousand Skies Above You
Ten Thousand Skies Above You (Firebird) - Claudia Gray

I absolutely loved the first novel in this series, A Thousand Pieces of You, and this book was just as good.  The story is woven throughout the multiverse as Marguerite fights to save both Paul and Theo.  And like the first book, this one makes you think about life, choices, and their unforeseen ramifications.

 

The events of the first novel changed Marguerite, changed her perspective on life and her beliefs about it.  Travelling through the multiverse and seeing the "what if's" has opened her eyes to how different choices can lead to vastly different lives.  But those beliefs get tested yet again as she travels through more dimensions and finds unexpected versions of the people she loves.  Those versions make her question everything.

 

And much like the first novel, the lines between good and evil are often blurred.  Whose intentions are good, causing them to do questionable things?  Whose intentions are just plain evil?  It is this kind of gray area that makes this such a thought-provoking series.  How far would you go to save the ones you love?  How far is too far?  Is there such a thing as too far?  These are just some of the questions that Marguerite has to answer.

 

The dimensions exist during the same period of time, but it is fascinating to see the different ways in which they have evolved.  To think about what that means, in terms of multiverse theory, is incredible.  The Russiaverse, a throwback in time.  The Home Office, a vision of the future.  The New York-verse, an alternate reality.  Each dimension has different versions of our characters, making them all ever more complex.

 

The story and its premise are, simply put, fascinating!  I couldn't recommend this more!

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12862
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review 2017-03-29 20:59
Atlantia
Atlantia - Ally Condie

Atlantia is a standalone novel by the author of the Matched series, which I loved.  This book, however, left me with mixed feelings.  The premise was amazing, but I just felt disconnected and I can't quite figure out why.

 

The novel takes place in a dystopian world split between the Above and the Below, the land and the sea.  Pollution has ruined the Above so most of humanity has moved into an enclosed, underwater world.  Those left Above suffered with the effects of pollution so that those they loved could live Below, thus saving humanity from extinction.  Each year, on the anniversary of the Divide, children of a certain age are given a choice... stay Below or go Above.

 

After their mother's death, Bay and Rio, twins, have promised each other they'd both stay Below.  Rio does this out of love because the only thing she's ever wanted was to go Above.  But then Bay chooses Above, leaving Rio alone in the Below.  Rio is desperate to know why Bay broke her promise and finds answers she never expected.  There is a lot going on beneath the surface (no pun intended) of life in Atlantia and Rio begins to learn these secrets.

 

I think part of my problem connecting with Rio was the fact that her character just seemed too one-tracked in her emotional life.  It was as if she expended all of her emotion on her sister, leaving very little left for other personal interactions.  No big highs, no big lows.  It left her feeling a little bland as a character.  The world-building also left me disconnected.  While the premise of the world was fantastic, I just had a really hard time envisioning it.  It almost felt like we should already know what a world like that would be like.

 

I liked the book; I just didn't love it.  And I really wanted to.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12858
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review 2017-03-13 19:33
The Country of Ice Cream Star
The Country of Ice Cream Star - Sandra Newman

The Country of Ice Cream Star came to me almost by accident.  The library on post hosted an event around Valentine's Day called Blind Date with a Book.  I chose one based on nothing more than a genre and a vague blurb.  And it was unlike anything I've ever read.

 

It is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian, young adult novel set in the future.  It takes place in the remains of what was once the United States.  But disease and war has left the country decimated.  The overwhelming population is black or Hispanic, and even this population is left with a crippling disease that leaves what's left of the country run by children.

 

The story was fantastic, filled with sometimes subtle messages about society and values.  Faith, or the lack of it, plays a huge role in how new micro-societies have been formed and how they are run.  There are shreds of recognizable faith from our own reality, but it has been changed by the experiences these children have gone through and by time.  Race, too, plays a pivotal role.  It highlights how assumptions about race can evolve into entire belief systems.

 

But the most distinctive aspect of this book is the patois.  This is what made the book almost magical to me.  The book was written in an evolved version of street language, peppered liberally with Russian and French derivations.  Not just the dialogue, but the entire book.  From a technical standpoint, this awes me because of the sheer creativity it takes to undertake such a thing, and to do it successfully.  And this is not a short book.  As a linguist, this got my juices flowing.

 

Is it difficult to read?  Yes, it can be.  Having the language background that I do probably helped a little because I recognized a lot of the root words as French and Russian and could translate those easily.  Sometimes it was the evolved English that gave me the most trouble, words that had developed over fictional time to be used in different ways, in different forms and contexts.  Nouns that are now verbs.  Verbs that have become nouns.  Even familiar places are made unfamiliar with the new language.

 

This patois is something that I've seen turn many readers away, but I urge you to give this a shot.  It probably does take a great deal more concentration to read it, but the story is well worth it.  And the concept is just so unique that the experience is fantastic.

Source: thecaffeinateddivareads.multifacetedmama.com/?p=12722
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review 2016-06-19 08:10
Immurement
Immurement: A Young Adult Science Fiction Dystopian Novel (The Undergrounders Series Book One) - Norma Hinkens

I think I've reached the point where I should take a break from the Dystopian future. This is the newest reading experience in a growing string of books from the genre that I didn't like. I think I might have saturated my need for Dystopian stories for a while. At least for the ones that don't seem to make a lot of sense.

 

Derry and her family and friends live in underground bunkers out of fear for the Sweepers who abduct people into aircrafts. The description is not unlike alien abduction. When her brother is taken, Derry will do everything she can to rescue him, at least until the love interest shows up. A girl and her priorities, I guess?

 

There are certain things that could have saved the novel, but unfortunately didn't. One of which was Derry's character. She was rather annoying, and the easy way in which she seems to forget her goals doesn't speak for her either. She's supposed to be the kick-ass heroine familiar to the genre, but instead she usually gets into trouble and needs to be rescued by a group of strong men. Also, I was quite disappointed with the reveal about the Sweepers. It didn't make a lot of sense to me, but to be completely honest, I was past really caring at that point.

 

Immurement is the first book of the Undergrounders.

 

Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!

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