Monday, October 22, 2012

Reviewing the Mail: Week of 10/20

It amuses me to see what books I receive -- partly because I know that publicity efforts are only very vaguely about matching media outlets (and that's what I am, in my own tiny way) with the right content, and much more about sending out the "big" things as widely as possible; and partly because I just like seeing what's coming out, particularly in areas where I'd usually have no interest in following personally.

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.

The other dystopian YA is already a sequel: Marie Lu's 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.


Shane said...

I see where there is a Frankenstorm heading in your direction. You're not going to be in danger of flooding again, are you?

Andrew Wheeler said...

Shane: Depending on where the storm hits, how long it lingers, and how bad the rain is, there's definitely a chance for flooding.

I used to be blasé about it, because before 2011, I never got water in my basement (in 8-10 years of occasional floods, which sometimes made getting in and out of my neighborhood impossible). Now, though, I'm not sure: once water has found its way in, it keeps coming the same way. So I'll just have to see how high it rises and if all the expensive drainage devices work well enough.

I will say that living in a flood zone is damn annoying, though moving out of one once you're in can be even worse.

Shane said...

Well, I wish you luck. Hopefully you won't have any problems. My parents house was struck by lightening last year, starting a minor house fire, and a couple of months ago a storm that my county wasn't even in the warning for uprooted a tree and clipped the eave of my house on the way down. I have become more more wary of storms than I was in the past after this.

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