Red Rising (The Red Rising Trilogy)
It's been a very long time since I've read an adult dystopian book, although the main characters in this book are all young adults, so I could easily see this read by a lot of older teens. Set on Mars, the Red Rising trilogy follows Darrow who sets out to break free of the complex classist system that rules Mars (yes, it's that kind of dystopia). Raised to believe that he's mining below the surface to make Mars livable for future generations, Darrow comes to learn that the surface of Mars has already been livable for generations and he's been toiling away as a slave for… what? This classist society is divided into colors (Reds--Darrow's people--are at the bottom and Golds are at the top). You cannot leave the color into which you are born, but after being rescued from the mines and taken to the academy, Darrow sets forth to change this world, venturing into a game that makes The Hunger Games look like child's play. This is only book one of the trilogy, of course, and I cannot wait until the rest are released.
The Book of Jonah: A Novel
The modern Jonah, Jonah Jacobstein, is a corporate attorney who loves alcohol, women and generally not caring about others. Until he encounters a Hasidic Jew one rainy night on the subway, and he begins seeing visions. Suddenly, he finds himself unable to do wrong things, try as he might. On the opposing side is Judith, introduced partway into the novel, who has her own tragedies to bear. At first, I struggled with the exposition and Judith chapters, but I quickly fell into this novel and Jonah's story and couldn't wait to read on and see what was going to happen in the end.
Innocence: A Novel
I love Dean Koontz because he often writes novels in which the real monsters are humans, which is all too true. Addison Goodheart lives by night, only going out under the cover of dark--and even then with gloves, a hooded jacket and sometimes a ski mask. Why? Because if anyone saw him, they would beat him to death like they did his father, like the midwife who tried to smother him at birth. One night, Addison comes across Gwyneth in the library, after closing, and their lives are irrevocably intertwined. Gwyneth also dwells away from people and is hidden from those who pursue her, though like Addison's "disfigurement," it's not made immediately clear why. This was a nice, easy read and one that, thematically, I really enjoyed.
The Boy Who Dared
Before you read on, of note: the world's oldest Holocaust survivor just died. Her life and how she survived the war was fascinating--take a minute to read about her.
Based on a true story, Helmuth Hubener is a young Mormon boy who initially envies the Hitler Youth with their snappy uniforms and their devotion to the Fatherland, but as time goes on and Helmuth watches the Third Reich rise around him, he doesn't feel quite right about Nazi Germany. As the book unfolds, it intersperses with a young Helmuth watching the fervor of Nazi Germany take hold and a young Helmuth sitting in his prison cell, awaiting execution for crimes against the Fatherland. Although Helmuth's crime is not made originally clear (unless, of course, you know the history), it is clear that he eventually dares to speak out on his misgivings about what the Nazis are doing to his home, to his neighbors, to his fellow human beings. This is a short book, but thematically, it is powerful and can teach a great lesson to kids. In Helmuth's position, whether it's facing down a bully or simply disagreeing with the crowd--whether through spoken means or written, would you dare?
What are you reading?