Monday, October 22, 2012
Which is to say: two of the three books I got this week are YA dystopias, showing that today's teens are vastly more emo and tormented than they were in my day, when we just had "problem novels" (about actual, real-world things that the readership might conceivably be going through -- divorce, drug addiction, poverty, coming out, bullying, and so on). These days, apparently, you're not really in bad shape unless an entire oppressive future government is trying to kill or mind-rape you.
(TL; DR version: teens are self-absorbed and have still-defective senses of proportion; we know this.)
So here are three interesting books that hit my desk this past week. I haven't read any of them yet, and might not read any specific one of them. But here's what I can tell you about them from a glance and a deep thought and some time.
Slated is a first novel by Teri Terry (and I do not envy the childhood that name probably gave her), and it's one of those dystopian YA novels I was just muttering about. In this one, the Oppressive Evil Government® has wiped clean the memory of a sixteen-year-old girl, for reasons she obviously does not remember. And, of course, she's meant to Straighten Up and Fly Right after her "slating," but living under an Oppressive Evil Government® means nasty things are happening, and what self-respecting YA protagonist can just sit by? There will be sequels, you can bet on that. Slated is coming as a hardcover from Penguin in January; it's already been published in the author's native UK.
Prodigy, which continues the story of her debut novel, Legend. In this one, America has balkanized into two countries -- at least one of which has an Oppressive Evil Government®, with added militarism -- and two fifteen-year-olds, the prodigy good girl and the criminal bad boy, fell in love in book one while learning the secrets of their very, very rotten world. The package for Prodigy doesn't give any hints of what happens this time out, but it's the middle book of a dark, dystopian trilogy, so I wouldn't hope for anything happier than Empire Strikes Back. Prodigy is a hardcover coming in January from Putnam. (And also a dead online service which I suspect Lu is too young to remember.)
And then the third book is the latest emanation from metafictionalist Mark Z. Danielewski, best known for 1999's House of Leaves. The Fifty Year Sword has previously been a large-format limited edition and a "live shadow show," but now it's a widely available book, which tells the story of an East Texas seamstress, five orphans, and the creepy tale told to them by a mysterious storyteller in black -- not to mention the ominous box he lays down in front of them as a prop. Fifty Year Sword contains illustrations stitched by three seamstresses, a novella's worth of text, and a very bumpy cover -- and it promises as immersive and complicated a reading experience as Danielewski's other books. Pantheon is publishing it in hardcover on October 16th.