Feb 26, 2011

Condor, Cindy Pon, San Diego

Today I am going to Condor. I made an unexpected trip to San Diego in order to be able to meet the AMAZING Cindy Pon. I haven't blogged yet about how much I loved Silver Phoenix, but know that I loved it enough to drive many hours (actually Mr. X is driving) in order to have Cindy sign my copy of the book.




There were too many panels at this science fiction and fantasy convention to be able to pass up. I decided at about 4pm last night that we needed to be in San Diego by 11am.  Mr. X was apprehensive but we went for it. My main priority this morning is The Killer Bs plus V and L: Four greats of hard science fiction sound off - David Brin, Gregory Benford, Vernor Vinge, Larry Niven. Then a panel with Cindy and some signings.  I think this is going to be a blast and something you just need to fly by the seat of your pants.


Even though I haven’t posted picture of LTUE, they will be up soon.  Also expect some pictures of Cindy and my review of Silver Phoenix. Silver Phoenix recently came out in paperback and the second book in the series Fury of the Phoenix releases on March 29th!


Please check out my dystopian mash-up over at Lenore’s blog.  Thanks Lenore for letting me stop by again.


Feb 24, 2011

Check Out My Guest Post

dusterheaderToday I have the pleasure of being a guest over at Dreams and Speculation where I am reviewing Orson Scott Card’s latest young adult fantasy The Lost Gate.

Thanks so much to TJ for letting my stop by and share my thoughts with her readers.

Feb 23, 2011

The Passage

When I first heard about The Passage this was the cover I connected with it. The cover is so stark and haunting to me. Knowing that the story is dystopic tells you already that there is nothing good in store for this girl on the cover.

As a fan of dystpoian fiction, I am always on the lookout for new titles. I don’t care how dystopian they are, if they have one dystopic element they are usually interesting to me. Other than that one classification I don’t want to know anything else about the book before I read it. Once I have decided to read a book or see a movie I want to know nothing more than the information I needed to decide.

So I was curious about The Passage merely on principle and the fact that one person somewhere suggested that is may be dystopian. Then people started reading it and I started hearing how bloated and LONG it was. I started to worry that it was a not a good book for me. And yet I was still curious. I don’t think I would be the first to admit that negativity towards something I was interested in only makes me more interested. I put off reading it, I considered buying it buy decided not it.

Finally I tracked down the audio version and decided if I am going to read a book this long audio is the only way I am going to get it done. The audio version had a new and different cover. I don’t like this cover as much because it doesn’t start telling my brain a story the moment I see it. I don’t start postulating what it is about. To me this cover has a very generic feel to it. The story inside could be one of many types of stories. And in a way The Passage is many stories. It embodies many different genre classifications. It changes in time and perspective, yet it tells one story of our country in the future.

The Passage starts with two interweaving stories, one of a little girl and one of prison inmates being shipped off to an underground lab to undergo some weird experiment. The audio version of this novel made the story both attainable and confusing to me. I resented how many details there was. But on the other hand, there is something unpredictable about an audiobook. You can’t count how many pages until the end of the chapter, or section, or book. You never know where the story will twist and turn.

The Passage dealt with a lot of interesting ideas. Many of them dystopian in nature, but when it came down to it, there was just too much going on for me. Too many story lines, perspectives, and elements. There is something to be said in the craft of a story that keeps it from being straightforward, but this sideways and circular storytelling demanded too much of me for the length of the novel. And maybe it would have been easier to follow all of this if I was reading the book in paper, but it becomes a bit of a catch-22 for me. I know that the length of this book would discourage me and I would have never have finished it. Even though it did have some quality that seemed to really push me forward through the storyline, overall it didn’t really work for me.

But it kept me curious and it continues to keep me curious. Where will the story go now? I will probably delve into the second book following The Passage at some point, especially if I am able to find the audio version at my library. But when it really comes down to it, this book just wasn’t dystopian enough for me. The Passage resides firmly in the Apocalyptic / Post-Apocalyptic classification. It didn’t really hit on the dystopian issues that really interest me, though there were various ones throughout the novel.

Have you read The Passage? What did you think of it? I have heard a lot of positive responses since I started reading the book. I think it ends up being popular or general fiction with an edge. Compared to a lot of the popular fiction out there, this book has a lot more depth, but it didn’t have depth in the areas that I wanted.

Why Wither Is Fantastic

There are so many things to like about Wither, it is hard for me to pick just one.  One of the amazing things about it is THE COVER. I don’t even know exactly what it is that I like about it, but it has something to do with the colors for sure. The colors, the geometry, the dress!


Wither is a young adult dystopian novel by Lauren DeStefano forthcoming from Simon & Schuster (March 2011).  And one of the fantastic things about the novel is its easy comparison with The Handmaid’s Tale.  Margaret Atwood’s novel is one of amazing balance and splendid storytelling and it was a joy to read a book that reminded me so much of it without trying to be the exact same book.  Wither, while playing on a lot of themes that are similar to contemporary dystopian novels, felt completely unique to me.  The novel deals with very intense and dark issues but DeStefano writes with such a delicate hand the book is verging on addictive.  I wanted to know what will happen next and felt a connection with the future of the main character, Rhine. 


Rhine lives in a world where women die at the age of 20. Women live with a death sentence; they are aware of their mortality for practically as long as they are aware of themselves.  This concept by itself is completely terrifying to me and Lauren DeStefano does such a great job of making the story approachable and human.  I think it could be too easy for readers to end up not connecting with the characters because of what they knew about their futures.  Polygamy is common place as family try to access as many possible options to achieve an heir in a short time allotment.


A fantastic element of Wither is the series name.  The Chemical Garden caught my attention from the moment I first heard it. I like it more than the title of the book and it instantly got my mind swirling around the possibilities of this future world.  Technology is one of my favorite elements of dystopia and the series name connected with those interests. 


Lauren DeStefano is fantastic because she is from my home state. No matter where I live Connecticut will always have the quality of home and it is neat to find an author of exactly the type of book I want to be reading and have them be from the same place as me.  Compared to Utah, Connecticut is like one big home town! I was excited to read Wither because I really felt like being from around the same area we would have a similar view of the world. I don’t know if that is really the case, but it is definitely interesting to think about.  She also has a quirky, fun sense of humor and I highly recommend following her on Twitter. @LaurenDeStefano


Rhine is taken to a mansion to be the wife of a young man, Linden.  In DeStefano’s world women life to be 20 and men live to be 25.  Wither is the story of Rhine’s existence within the constraints of this future world.  As she explores her new surrounds we find out more about the history of the world she lives in. One fantastic thing about Rhine is that I don’t feel like she is weak and mindless like many of the female characters that have been trending in young adult literature lately.  I feel like Rhine is very deliberate in her actions and I really appreciate that.


And a fantastic line from page 172 in the novel:

“And I see it, far, far in the distance. Like a whisper. Like a timid little suggestion. “


A friend of mine suggested that in Wither there is far too much of nothing happening. But to me this is all a fantastic part of the world building. "And I wonder if the wives’ floor is the only part of the house without a staircase, and if there’s a fire and the elevators stop working, Linden’s brides will be burned to a crisp. We’re easy to replace, after all” (p. 60). This quote speaks perfectly to Rhine’s place in the world. She feels trapped and she feels helpless.  This existence for Rhine seems hopeless. Yet, we have hope. For hope is an essential part of the success of a dystopian novel.  Without hope there is no reason to push through the darkness, the tragedy, and the despair. DeStefano does a great job being able to balance out this story, letting it move forward, while at the same time Rhine is going nowhere.


And now in fantastic summation Wither is a unique addition to the realm of young adult dystopia.  The care that is taken with the writing is essential to the story’s progression.  Although the writing is very good, it did leave me wanting more out of the flow and word choice.  And I felt that the ending was really, really rushed and a bit forced. But those things are not fantastic enough to worry about!  Young adult dystopias had taken a down turn for me and Wither really restored my faith in their ability to be unique and go beyond the inner thrashing on teen angst that can exist as easily outside the dystopian world as within.  I would like to thank Lauren for writing a story I connected with and really embraced the meaning of dystopian fiction.

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