Wednesday, January 30, 2013

What I Read Wednesday

Insurgent (Divergent)
The second book in the Divergent trilogy (this is the part where I have to wait for the third book to come out and I cannot fathom how I will do that) and possibly even better than the first. I don't want to give anything away, except that to say as this book unfolded, I started to get an idea of what would was going to come... yet, there will still parts that left me surprised and wondering. Suffice to say, like all dystopian literature, it makes you think about human nature.

Dead Men Do Tell Tales: The Strange and Fascinating Cases of a Forensic Anthropologist
I checked this book out because it came up as a recommendation when I was looking for a link to the Body Farm books on Amazon for a previous book post. Since I find forensic science interesting, I figured I would enjoy this. I did, but compared to Dr. Bass who writes the Body Farm books, this guy was fairly pompous in his tone and words and hard to follow for that reason. Every case he solved was solved because he is, in fact, the most genius forensic scientist that ever lived. Cases that he didn't solve would just kind of trail off in the book or be blamed on elements out of his control. It was grating after awhile. So while I find some of the cases interesting, his overall tone made me want to throw the book into the wall. Repeatedly. Apparently I'm a Dr. Bass Body Farm fan girl.

Across the Universe
I've been on a YA Lit kick lately. The funny thing is that when I read YA Lit, my students always seem to know and approach my desk after silent reading time to ask what I'm reading. I love that because then I can share recommendations with them. I wish YA Lit like this would've existed when I was a young adult, but I'm glad it does now.
It's hard to put this book into a specific genre. I would say it's mostly sci-fi, but I suppose you could also classify it as a little bit post-apocalyptic. The premise of this novel is a group of 100 high-ranking people who leave Earth to set up a new planet and are cryogenically frozen for 300 years, at which the spaceship will have landed. A teenage girl, Amy, is hesitant to leave with her parents but decides at the last minute to go. Something goes wrong and Amy is woken up before the spaceship lands, thrust into an awful world aboard a spaceship where she's considered a freak and everything seems to be a lie (an example of the lies, Earth history has been entirely rewritten). This is part one of a trilogy. I'm anxious to read the next two books to see what happens--if the spaceship ever lands, what becomes of Amy and her parents.

Like Across the Universe, this is also YA Lit. Unlike Across the Universe, this is easily classified into genre. The Unwind trilogy is 100% dystopian lit. Darker than the Hunger Games, I read a review that called this Brave New World for teens and I would say that's an apt comparison. Imagine a world where no one needs glasses because vision less than perfect is easily corrected. A world where when you break an arm, you can choose to get a cast... or get a new bone. A world where a car accident that leaves you paralyzed is no longer a tragedy because doctors can give you a new spine and you'll be walking again in two weeks time. Sounds wonderful, right? Now imagine that in this world, the body parts come from children ages 13-17 whose parents choose to "unwind" them, to split their harvestable organs and parts to hospitals, because those teens were deviant. Unmanageable. Unwanted. And this act was not only sanctioned by the government, but encouraged with parents being told that they were making the right choice for their children by giving them a second life.
I was hooked by this book pretty quickly. Some of the reviews I read said that they saw this an argument on pro-choice vs. pro-life, but I didn't see it to that level (certainly, obviously there is some of that, but it goes BEYOND that), so I suppose that you definitely read your own interpretation into it. Although it's written to a YA level, it does make you feel uncomfortable and it does make you think, as dystopian literature should. It's good. Really good.

UnWholly (Unwind)
This is the second book in the Unwind trilogy. I don't know how I'm going to wait for book three! With this book, I definitely followed up on my thoughts that I saw this as more than just a simple abortion rights argument and saw this as a message to kids that they have a voice that can be just as loud as adults, if it needs to be. This is something that I teach my students when I teach about the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, that it was kids THEIR age who were the heroes of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. These are books that, unfortunately, would be too controversial for me to teach in the classroom, but what a dream it would be to sit down and discuss it with kids because they have so much within the pages. These are also books that are great for middle school boys because although they switch between character point-of-views, the majority of the main characters are boys.
Seriously, when does the last book come out?!


Barb Ruess said...

I feel your pain. I finished Matched only to find that my daughter loaned the next book in the series to a friend. I hope that friend reads quickly because I love the way that story is going. I just made a note to read the Unwind series with the girls too - thank you! The non-YA book on my bedside table is actually two that go together: Mr. Bridge and Mrs. Bridge. I'll start them today but I'm not sure if I'm supposed to read one first or both together or???

One crazed mommy said...

I love these lists! Looking forward to reading many of the suggestions. I am currently reading Pride & Prejudice...yes, I'm 39 and have never read it before (shame on me) better late than never, right? Anyway - I'm enjoying it, but am itching to read the Divergent Series. BTW - I'm bummed! I got my Kindle HD for my b-day in December, and it has died on me...worked fine yesterday, wouldn't charge last night and won't turn on today! I don't know what I'm going to do - how dependent I've already become on it...ack!

Kassandra said...

Loving these Wednesday posts - I'm generating quite the reading list! Loved the Divergent/Insurgent series, too - just read it right after Christmas and am on pins and needles waiting for the third book to come out.

nora said...

Great list. I am working on Far from the Tree right now and it will take quite a while (at least in the quantity of time I am finding.) The Dead Men Do Tell Tales looks fascinating. Thanks for the rec.

The Many Thoughts of a Reader said...

I read The Dispatcher this week. Pretty disappointing. Triptych is sitting next to me, I should finally start it.

Molly said...

Man, I want to read the third Divergent book. SO addictive. I'm going to try Unwind now, i think.