Yes, I know I'm a day late with this.
So I think I need to change the direction of my reading. A summary of my last week and a half of reading:
Unwind by Neal Shusterman
A story set in the future United States, where all life is protected from conception to age thirteen. From the age of thirteen to eighteen, parents or guardians may choose to "unwind" a life, where the body is dismantled and at least 99.44% of it is reused. This way, the unwanted individual is never ended but is instead divided.
Wonderful characters, intriguing plot, emotionally wrenching. Tragic yet with a note of hope.
The Giver by Lois Lowry
This story is set in the future, an advanced enough future that they are able to institute sameness. Everything is flat; there is no color, and emotion is very, very dulled, except for a few, isolated individuals. Sameness is enforced–terminally if necessary.
Great plot, well-developed characters, emotionally wrenching with a very sad, tragic ending.
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Again in the future United States. The country fell apart in the past, dividing into thirteen districts and ruled from the Capitol. Over seventy years earlier, the poor districts rebelled against the Capitol. They were utterly defeated, and District Thirteen was totally wiped out.
To remind the districts of how much they're under the control of the Capitol, they instituted the Hunger Games. Once each year, the Capitol has a massive "festival" nationwide, with a mass gathering mandatory in each district. At the festival, the names of each child age twelve through eighteen are placed in two glass balls (one for boys, one for girls). One boy and one girl are chosen in each district, and those two "tributes" are whisked away to the Capitol. They are given the "honor" of participating in the Hunger Games, where only one can survive. It's proceeded by a week of testing and interviews, which is televised to the nation. (Again, mandatory viewing.) If the tributes impress the audience, sponsors can pay to drop a gift to that kid–tools, food, medicine, clothes, weapons. So the kids must each put on a good show, or else they'll die fast.
The main characters, Katniss and Peeta, are from District Twelve (Appalachia), one of the poorest districts. The Capitol, by contrast, is rich and frivolous, and very technologically advanced, which highlights the cruelty of their rule.
A full cast of well-developed characters. Brutal plot. Redemption. Emotionally wrenching from beginning to end.
Incantation by Alice Hoffman
My husband bought me this audiobook for Christmas. It is set in Spain, at the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition. Sixteen-year-old Estrella deMadrigal lives in a pleasant, peaceful village that's experiencing the first rumblings of serious persecution against Jews, especially "hidden Jews". Some families had pretended to convert to Catholicism generations earlier, after authorities had taken their children, to ensure their return. My husband and I have just reached the point where the executions (murders, really) are beginning.
Masterfully told. Perfectly captures the feeling of the age. Sad, sad, sad.
Give me comedy! I can't take another book like this! Maybe I can find a Robert Aspirin MYTH novel I haven't read yet…because I've read all the Discworld novels in the past five months.
I'm also reading Elantris, by Brandon Sanderson. Not nearly the emotional toll of the other three, but still not light and cheery. (It's excellent; I can't wait to find out what happens to Elantris and the main characters. Like any good book, I also don't want it to end.)
Current non-fiction reads:
The Organic Garden: Green and Easy by Allan Shepherd
1 Dough, 100 Cookies by Linda Doeser
Gardening with Native Plants of the South by Sally Wasowski