“Stranger” by Sherwood Smith and Rachel Manija Brown (Viking Books for Young Readers, 2014)

Stranger
starstarstarstarstar

Welcome to the quaint little town of Las Anclas, located on the edge of nowhere. It’s a frontier town with high surrounding walls and guards constantly watching from above. Interestingly, those guards are all ages from teenagers to adults, and they all look like they know how to handle those weapons they’re carrying.

In this harsh world, places like Las Anclas are necessary refuges. You’re either a normal human or a mutant who is “Changed,” giving you special powers and abilities. There are those who will respect you for being different and others who will despise you, even inside those safe town walls, so watch your back.

Ross Juarez has just escaped death from a bounty hunger and the lethally dangerous crystalline trees and has made it to Las Anclas, seeking refuge. There he will make friends, but also enemies. He is also in possession of a special ancient book written in a language he can’t read.

Stranger is one of the few post-apocalyptic young adult books to earn its place next to Hunger Games. The diversity of the cast make this made-up world a completely believable one. The science fiction elements leave you shivering with fright, but also wanting to understand more. By the end of the book, you’ll be looking for the sequel; fortunately there is one.

Originally written on March 19, 2015 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Stranger from Bookshop Santa Cruz, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Advertisements

“Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson (Delacorte, 2013)

Steelheart
starstarstarstarstar

It seems that whenever Brandon Sanderson puts his head down to write something, the resulting story is usually an incredible one that any reader will enjoy. The man is talented; it’s as simple as that. Sanderson had a second young adult novel come out in 2013, after the Rithmatist, and kicks off a new young adult series called The Reckoners with Steelheart. It’s your classic fantasy tale of superheroes, except all the superheroes in this book happen to be supervillains.

It all started with a strange comet and an even t that came to be known as the cataclysm where a certain number of the population gained superpowers and became known as Epics. David got to experience the supreme power of epics first hand when he was at a bank in Chicago, when the epic Steelheart murdered his father. Since then, ten years have passed and David, while living through hard times, has devoted every spare moment to learn what he can about the epics of the world.

He knows a couple of things: each epic possess his or her own unique power and with that power they have a key vulnerability. Some of these “weak points” he has discovered about the epics, others he is still learning. He also knows there is an underground rebel group looking to fight back against the epics one at a time. He’d love to join up with this rebel group, known as the Reckoners, but they’re very good at remaining hidden and undiscovered. But then again he’s also very good at finding things out that you’re not supposed to.

Sanderson takes a great concept of the superhero, makes up a bunch of them, then turns it on its head and makes them all evil. But whether he is writing fantasy or science fiction, the magic abilities of his characters always have limits in some way, just as the superheroes we know so well, like Superman or Spiderman, or the many others. Whether you’re a kid, or an adult who’s a kid at heart, you’ll love Steelheart.

Originally written on April 12, 2014 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Steelheart from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

“The Rithmatist” by Brandon Sanderson (Tor, 2013)

The Rithmatist
starstarstarstarstar

To spend a day in the mind of Brandon Sanderson would be a truly awesome adventure. It’s good that he’s such a hard-working writer and brings out multiple books a year, so readers get to enjoy his complex and fascinating story ideas. He does it again in The Rithmatist, creating a unique world, with an incredible magic system, some compelling characters, and a story that quickly becomes a favorite.

This is not the United States you are familiar with; this is a different world. There is the United Isles, consisting of a massive collection of many islands, each named with their own peoples and ways; some names are familiar like Texas, Wyoming and Montana; others are enticingly alien, such as the Californian Archipelago, Crockett, Georgiabama, Canadia, and New France. On a number of these islands are Rithmatic Academies, where Rithmatists train and are taught to become skilled warriors to join the battle, and defend against The Tower on the island of Nebrask. Our story takes place on the island of New Britannia, at the Armedius Academy.

More than anything in his life, Joel would like to be a Rithmatist, but during his inception ceremony, things didn’t go right and he wasn’t given the Rithmatic power. Rithmatists are those who have the power to give life to chalk shapes, and chalk drawings known as chalkings. A Rithmatist’s first line of defense against enemy chalkings is a perfect circle drawn around them which the chalkings will attack, but the more perfect the circle is, the stronger defense the Rithmatist has. If a portion of the circle isn’t perfectly curved, it is a weakness that the chalkings soon tear through it. There are many circles of defense that can be drawn to aid and protect a Rithmatist, named after their creator.

As for chalkings, they can be just about anything the Rithmatist can conceive of: a spearman, a tiger, a unicorn, a monster; the more detailed and complex the chalking is, the stronger it will be. They answer to simple commands, usually movement, a direction, and to attack. And when a Rithmatist is in a duel, which is an important part of training at the academies, it becomes a complicated trial of choosing the right defense that will protect the Rithmatist, but also give him or her a strong offense with chalkings.

The first chalkings began many millennia ago, it is thought from cave drawings, but then there were the wild chalkings, of unknown creation, that attack, harm and kill anyone, be they Rithmatist or ordinary human. The United Isles was a scary place back then, but now these wild chalkings have been kept secured within The Tower, but it’s necessary to have a formidable army of Rithmatists to keep up the defenses to hold these chalkings back. This is the most important role of the Rithmatist.

But getting back to Joel, he isn’t a Rithmatist. He spends his days at the academy, doing his regular classes at a mediocre level and wanting to learn as much about the world of Rithmatists as he possibly can. His father was a chalkmaker who had supposedly discovered a new form of defense, but this information was lost when he died, and whenever Joel asks his mother about it, she ignores him and continues her job of janitor at the academy.

The problem is that students have started disappearing, important Rithmatists from rich families, and nobody knows who is doing it and whether they’re even still alive. A single professor is chosen to solve this mystery, working with the police, and Joel is helping as he’s the professor’s assistant for the summer. This is his chance to learn more about Rithmatics and to hopefully help these kidnapped students.

The Rithmatist is one of those great stories that just sucks you in and never lets go. Together with the unique topography and fascinating magic system in a quasi-steampunk world using steam and other unusual forms to make everything run smoothly. It is a believe world, one in which the reader may be happy to live in, but also fear that distant island of Nebrask where The Tower stands, as the many wild chalkings attack and claw at the weakening defenses, looking to break through and kill everyone.

Originally written on June 12, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of The Rithmatist from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

Evil Librarians  Scrivener's Bones  Knights of Crystallia

“Homeland” by Cory Doctorow (Tor, 2013)

Homeland
starstarstarstar

After the traumatic events of the bestselling Little Brother, Cory Doctorow returns with the sequel in Homeland, as Marcus Yallow finds himself in a harsh world where the government is always watching and waiting.  His time being detained has scarred him in some ways — though not as bad as some of his friends — so that he is now less trusting than ever.  But he also knows that while the truth may not set or keep him free, getting it out to the masses is more important.

Homeland opens with an entertainingly fantastic chapter where Marcus is at Burning Man for the first time in his life, which Doctorow describes with such detail that it seems as if he may have been once or twice himself.  It culminates in a Dungeons & Dragons session with the founder of the Electronic Frontier Foundation and actor Wil Wheaton.  Marcus also comes across an old enemy and comes into possession of a flash drive with some very incendiary information.

Back in San Francisco, life is the same with Marcus’s parents out of work, as well as himself, with everyone trying to get by in this terrible economic climate.  Marcus gets a job offer he can’t refuse: working as the webmaster and tech guy for a candidate running as an independent for the California Senate, looking to change the world and make it a better place.  So things start to look up for a little while, but Marcus has to make the decision about what to do with the flash drive.  It contains a torrent address and password that lets him download gigs of information on the corruption in the government, hard proof of what they have perpetrated, how they have tortured, under the guise of protecting the American people.  Marcus will have to decide if his safety and health are worthy sacrifices for getting this information out to the people.

Doctorow keeps the thrill running just like he did with Little Brother, putting Marcus into tight spot after tight spot, using his friends when he can, but also knowing the risks of putting them in danger.  Doctorow also does a great job of using cutting edge technology to make the story feel a little futuristic, but at the same time completely plausible.  Fans will be sucked into Homeland and kept going until the last page, hoping for a possible future continuation to this chapter in the story of Marcus Yallow.

Originally written on April 27, 2013 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Homeland from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

Bookbanter Column: “Too Much of a Good Thing” (July 20, 2011)

If there’s one thing that readers, writers and the publishing world have all learned from the likes of the Harry Potter and Twilight series, it is that children’s publishing seems to be going through a series of cycling genres right now.  With the worldwide success of J. K. Rowling’s then relatively unique series, the children’s and young adult fantasy genre exploded with a glut of fantasy books  — I should know, I was submitting my own YA fantasy manuscript to agents at the time and received nothing but rejections; this was in part due to the sheer number of YA fantasy manuscripts that agents and editors were receiving at that point, as well as possibly because my manuscript may not have been the work of pure, original genius I deemed it to be; but we won’t talk about that here – that still continues in the current time, partially because many of these YA fantasy books were the first in a series. 

Then came Twilight and its overwhelming success, and then there was the glut of vampire books which has now slowed down.  It has slowed down in part, because the next cycle of the children’s and YA genre has begun in the form of the dystopian story, which is because of the success of the Hunger Games series, which has spawned a large number of quickly written and published books on a doomed future involving teenagers.  Just as with the stories about wizards and vampires, the ones about this hopeless future often straddle the line of a decent story and being outright asinine.    

The same cycle phenomenon can certainly be applied to the adult science fiction and fantasy genre with the vampire, zombie, and post-apocalyptic stories, but because of just how bestselling Harry Potter and Twilight continue to be, with the current teen readers – as well as new teen readers discovering these respective series each year – publishers know there is a lot of money to be made from these books.  It may not have the complexity and longevity of Harry Potter, or the sexual frisson and word-of-mouth support as Twilight, but if it’s a book with a cool cover that looks like it could be as good as Hunger Games, then kids and teens are going to buy it!

This is, of course, in part due to the fact that publishing is in a very uncertain and unpredictable place right now, with the advent of the ebook, and the future is not as concrete a s it has been in the past; but it’s also easier to just publish books that are popular, much like Hollywood has turned more to making movies of adapted screenplays instead of original ones.

Rachel Manija Brown, author of All the Fishes Come Home to Roost, has in fact done a series of posts on her blog that partly inspired this column.

“I got food poisoning and downloaded a bunch of first chapters of random recent YA science fiction to distract myself. To my amusement, most of them turned out to be dystopias – and many of them very similar dystopias. The idea that the government can control absolutely everything is meant to be horrifying in the books, but becomes hilarious when you read ten first chapters in a row in which the government controls your clothing, tattoos, water, emotions, marriage, writing, computers, jobs, college majors, families, games, and virginity.”

The original post can be found here.  When asked why she thought so many YA dystopian books are being written, she responded:

“It’s a popular trend. Only time will tell whether it will have staying power or quickly fade away. While it’s always tempting to link trends to zeitgeists, it’s too easy to take any trend at all and then explain it away by linking it to something happening in the world. (“Big hair was popular in the eighties because it symbolized the empty grandiosity of America’s posturing on the world stage.”) My best guess is that YA dystopias are popular now because people really liked The Hunger Games and wanted to read more books like that. That, or both YA novelists and teenagers are afraid of nanny government.”

What I think is being crucially missed here with these dystopian stories is a message and resonance.  When you think of some of the dystopian classics like 1984, The Jungle, Brave New World, and The Handmaid’s Tale to name a few, there was a strong message in each of these books, of a particular world that had gone down a wrong path, a path the real world should never make the mistake of going down.  They were all possible worlds that could perhaps be, but we knew we could never let it go that far.  The dystopian stories mentioned below are missing this important message; they are just there as a quick, simple story that leaves no lasting impression.  Rachel weighs in on this:

“If the main thing I get from a book is the idea that teenage girls having sex is bad or that having the government control everything down to the color of your socks is bad or environmental destruction is bad – all messages contained in a number of YA dystopias I’ve read recently – then the book is too message-driven for my taste.”

In fifty or a hundred years, readers will still know of 1984 and The Handmaid’s Tale, but I’m pretty sure any of the books I’m about to mention likely won’t be remembered.

But enough chitchat, lets get to the books . . .


Hunger Games

Hunger Games: We begin first with the trilogy that really started the runaway train ride of the dystopian story.  The Hunger Games are an event held each year in the Capitol of a changed America in a distant future, where two teens between the ages of twelve and eighteen are chosen from each district to participate in a unique arena where they must fight and battle each other to the death.  The last remaining boy or girl alive wins and gets to spend the rest of their lives in splendor.  The Hunger Games are meant to be a reminder to all the citizens of the districts of how bad times used to be, and how everyone should be happy and grateful to the Capitol and the ruling government.


Water Wars

Water Wars by Cameron Stracher: In this future, American is a different place, with a whole new map of six republics that are at war with each other after what was known as the “Great Panic.”  Here water has become scarce, as the great lakes and rivers have dried up.  Republics now fight for rare wells and water sources for survival.  Water consumption is controlled by a government body and it’s all about the haves and the have nots.  This is also the story about a girl and a special boy who has the ability to “divine” sources of water.


Maze Runner

Maze Runner by James Dashner: The first in a trilogy, this is perhaps the most derivative of The Hunger Games, featuring an enclosed maze world where a boy finds himself mysteriously arriving by elevator.  There he finds sixty other boys who have been trapped there for some time; a new boy arrives every thirty days.  Then the first girl arrives.


Marched

Matched by Ally Condie:  The first in a trilogy, in this world nothing is left to chance and the Society Officials decide all aspects of daily life, so when the main character has her husband – who is her best friend – chosen for her, she believes the Society Officials know best, until she installs her Match microchip and sees a different boy.


Birthmarked

Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien: The first in a trilogy, in this changed world women and girls have their sole roles of childrearing defined for them, with the main character playing the part of a midwife with her mother.  The first three children must be offered to the government with the possibility of a better life in the city.  Apparently it also involves inbreeding and “numerous birthing scenes.”

 

Divergent

Divergent by Veronica Roth: The first in a trilogy, in this world a dystopian Chicago is divided into five factions dedicated to the development of a specific virtue – Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent), and on a specific day each year all sixteen year olds must choose the faction they will devote the rest of their lives to.

 

Delirium

Delirium by Lauren Oliver: In this world of a controlling government, young Lena Haloway is looking forward to her eighteenth birthday, when she will finally be cured of “deliria,” which in this world is any form of love.  Her mother committed suicide and her last words were “I love you.”  That is until she meets a young man who changes her mind . . .

 

Incarceron

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher: The first in a series and originally published in Great Britain, Incarceron is a prison where people are born and die and know of little else, and Finn wants to escape, but legend says there has only ever been one person who has.  Joining up with the warden’s daughter who also wants to escape, they discover a crystal key and a unique means of communicating with each other.

 

Wither

Wither by Lauren DeStefano: The first in a trilogy where scientists have tried to create perfectly genetically engineered children, and the first generation is nearly immortal, while successive generations begin to die early in age: girls at age 20, boys at age 25, and girls are now kidnapped and taken for brothels and marriages to breed children.

 

Bumped

Bumped by Megan McCafferty: A virus has made everyone over the age of eighteen infertile and unable to conceive, turning young teens into baby-making machines for a certain fee, making them the most important members of society.  Apparently, Bumped is written with a tongue-in-cheek attitude and humor, indicating that the author is at least aware of what she’s creating.

 

Enclave

Enclave by Ann Aguirre: In this doomed world, children don’t earn the right to be named until the age of fifteen, since most of them apparently don’t survive that long.  They are trained in one of three focuses: breeders, builders, or hunters, which is identified by how many scars they bear.

 

XVI

 

XVI by Julia Karr: Colloquially referred to as “Sexteen,” this book perhaps represents the worst of the worst as far as storyline goes.  The year is 2150 and girls, when they turn the important age of sixteen, are branded with a tattoo that is supposed to protect them, but in fact notifies everyone around that they are now “sexually available.”  It seems to be the book that puts women at the very lowest level of society.

This list by no means is comprehensive of the YA dystopian genre.  I invite readers to comment of other bizarre and extreme books that they have discovered in this genre; or perhaps they saw something deeper and more meaningful in one of the books they read listed above.

Bookbanter Column: “Doing What’s Right” (May 21, 2011)

If knowledge is power, we live in an age where that power travels at the speed of light, or in the case of the Internet, the speed of a T1 line and a fiber optic cable.  The information superhighway has become sort of a misnomer when applied to the worldwide web, as the information conveyed now travels so much faster than an automobile traveling at eighty, ninety or a hundred miles an hour, along with the likes of Facebook, Twitter, and the many thousands of blogs out there updating every minute and hour of every day.  So when a bad decision is made by an editor and then a publisher, not all the apologies and changes of heart in the world can affect the outcome once the author has made her decision, pulled her story, and blogged about it on the Internet.

Let me backtrack a little first.

Wicked Pretty Things

The young adult anthology Wicked Pretty Things was originally scheduled to come out in September of this year featuring a number of popular as well as up and coming authors including Jessica Verday; edited by Trisha Telep and published by Running Press in the US and Constable & Robinson in the UK.  Telep had pitched it as “a collection of dark fairy YA stories (with a bit of a romantic edge).”  Verday submitted a story, “Flesh Which is Not Flesh,” for the collection that featured a relationship between Wesley and Cameron, two boys.  She was then told by Telep that the story would be published so long as she made one of her characters female as a “male/male story would not be acceptable to the publishers.”  Verday thought about this for a while and then made the important decision that she knew she had to: she withdrew her story from the anthology, making her stance clear in a post on her blog.  This was a hard choice for Verday, who has only published three books in a trilogy and is still an up and coming author, but she chose to stay true to what she believed and what she thought was the righting thing to do.

In a follow up post, Verday defended her decision and presented the comments and responses from the publisher, which was essentially that while the publisher regretted the decisions and actions of the editor, they were still going forward with the anthology, along with keeping Telep as the editor.  It was acknowledged all around that bad choices had been made on the part of Telep and that they would now willingly publish “Flesh Which is Not Flesh” in its original form.  But Verday wasn’t changing her mind, as the initial “knee-jerk” bad decision had still been made and to now pretend like it hadn’t happened would completely defeat the point of Verday making this decision in the first place.  Also the publisher had said that it was a case of miscommunication with the editor and that they had never been consulted in the matter, and publisher Christopher Navratil even wrote an article entitled What Happens When a Headline Goes Viral for Publishers Weekly about it; the issue here was that the publisher kept saying they did not support Telep on this decision by any means, and yet they were still standing behind her and publishing the anthology.   Running Press were essentially covering their bases however they could to save face and look good and put the whole matter to bed.  Telep was very apologetic, saying “I sincerely regret the sequence of events which has led to Jessica Verday’s story ‘Flesh Which Is Not Flesh’ being excluded from the forthcoming anthology Wicked Pretty Things. This has been the result of a misunderstanding on my part which is entirely regrettable … I fully support LGBTQ issues.”  Yet as Jim C. Hines clearly put it on his blog: “But it was hurtful.”

Much to Telep’s and the publisher’s chagrin, the matter wasn’t going to die.  Verday had spoken her mind on her blog and word spread across the Internet as more blogs and Twitter accounts and readers heard and learned about the story and then broadcasted it on their respective networking communication site of choice (including the BookBanter Blog).  Then Lisa Mantchev, Lesley Livinston, Karen Mahoney and Seanan McGuire – all authors that were to be featured in the anthology – withdrew their stories for publication, and Melissa Marr asked that her name not be used to promote the project.  McGuire, much like Verday, is a relatively new author who has gone on to win the John W. Campbell Award in 2010 for Best New Writer and be listed on the New York Times bestseller list.  In a heartfelt post McGuire makes her viewpoint clear: “I am not withdrawing from this book because I’m not straight. I am withdrawing because of my little sister and her wife, and because of my girlfriend, and because of my best friend, and because of all the other people who deserve better than bullying through exclusion.”  Each of these authors had to make hard decisions that may certainly have affected their careers, and yet they stood behind their choices and never backed down.

But there was still more.  Fantasy author Jim C. Hines made a post on his popular blog with the title of “Wicked Pretty Things and the Erasure of LGBTQ Characters.”  In the post he begins it with a conversation between his six-year old child and himself in clarifying that marriages do not have to be solely between girls and boys, whereupon his son responds with: “That’s silly.  How would they have babies?”  Hines commented with: “I understand where his confusion comes from. Pretty much every cartoon on TV has male/female relationships only. Every movie he watches, every book he brings home from school… Any nonheterosexual relationship is simply erased.”  Then he segues to Jessica Verday and lays out what happened, citing his sources everywhere he can and makes his point on that matter clear.  Then he goes one giant step further in offering to publish the authors’ stories that were withdrawn from the anthology, as well as pay them under the following conditions:

  1. If you have not already found a home for your withdrawn story, I would be happy to read it.
  2. If I like the story (and knowing most of the authors involved, I suspect I will), I’ll offer $100 up front to publish it here on my blog.
  3. Each story will include a donations link. Once the initial $100 has been covered, further donations will be split 50/50. Half will be paid to the author, and the other half will be donated to a LGBTQ-friendly cause.
  4. If I publish multiple stories, I will look into putting together an e-book collection of those stories, with profits again being split between the authors and a LGBTQ-friendly cause.

The post went on to receive a large number of comments and when asked recently how Hines’s decision had continued to be received, he responded with:

“I made my offer because I agreed with the authors. An editor has every right to decide what she will and won’t publish, but if you’re an editor who refuses to publish LGBT content or assumes such content is automatically ‘inappropriate,’ I have the right to refuse to work with you. A lot of people were writing to express their support for these authors, and I figured the best way I could show my own support was to offer to buy and publish those withdrawn stories.

I’ve spoken to several ex-WPT [Wicked Pretty Things] authors so far. Some of them have already found other homes for their work, which is great. I’m waiting to hear from a few others. I just want to make sure these authors are able to be paid for their stories, and that — hopefully — we’ll all be able to read and enjoy them.”

In my last round of researching for this column as I began to write it, I came across the announcement – albeit not officially emblazoned on their site or displayed anywhere – that the publisher had canceled the publication of Wicked Pretty Things.  It looks like enough people were making a big enough deal about this to force the publisher to make their own hard decision on the many choices that authors, writers and bloggers alike had already made.  This was the right outcome.

The bottom line is this: Trisha Telep made the wrong call in asking Verday to change her story because she thought it wouldn’t be accepted by the publisher for the anthology, even though it followed the guidelines laid out by the publisher.  But once that call had been made, the stance and point were clear and feelings had been very much hurt, and not all the apologies and regrets from Telep or the publisher could change the fact that when Telep saw it was a gay story (“a total of 3 kisses and sexually, it’s G-rated”) about two teenage boys, she said no.

And to end this column on a lighter note, while Running Press will no longer be publishing Wicked Pretty Things this year, it is nevertheless the proud publisher of the book Threesomes and Moresomes, which Nick Mamatas has kindly shown the cover for on his blog.  Nothing wrong with that book, right?

Threesomes and Moresomes

“Pirate Cinema” by Cory Doctorow (Tor Teen, 2012)

Pirate Cinema
starstarstar

After the success of Little Brother and For the Win, bestselling author Cory Doctorow returns with another young adult novel about an oppressed youth who is looking to change the world for the better in an uncertain near future.  This time Doctorow jumps across the pond to Britain, where he spends a good portion of his time, and writes about the subject of internet piracy.

In a near future, Trent McCauley is a smart sixteen year-old who does his school work but spends most of his time downloading videos of a fictitious celebrity and creating vids about him using clips from all the movies the person has been in, telling a specific story, usually played to music.  He has a lot of fun doing it and there’s definitely an artwork and talent to it.  Then the internet is cut off in the household under the recent law for internet piracy, and the family is now severed from the internet at home for a whole year; which is really important.  Trent’s sister needs it to do all her school work, she simply won’t pass her classes without it; his mother needs it to get support for her medical condition; and his father needs it because he’s unemployed, and needs to claim his unemployment checks, as well as look for jobs.  It puts the family in a dire situation, with Trent feeling really guilty about the whole thing.

So he does what any teenager would logically do: he runs away from home.  He arrives in London with high hopes of living on the street, which are soon dashed when his belongings are stolen and he finds himself hungry and terribly alone, and wondering if he’s made a terrible mistake.  But he soon makes some new friends who show him the ropes and how to get by pretty easily in London, eventually leading them to squat in an abandoned pub, where they get the power back on, the internet going, and life begins to go pretty well.

Their goal is to have lots of movie viewing parties via a secret internet website that gets people together, to support the vid-making industry and create awareness about what they’re doing and why it isn’t wrong and shouldn’t be illegal.  They’re also looking to fight back against the passing of a recent law in Parliament that is now imprisoning teenagers and children for internet piracy.  Their numbers begin to grow, and gain support; the question is how they are going to make this change happen, without coming off as a radical group of homeless people.

Pirate Cinema feels a lot like the British version of Little Brother, as Doctorow has done his work with how the government works and how the internet is used and perceived in Britain.  He even goes so far as to use a British vernacular, with plenty of slang thrown in.  The weakness of the book is in the conflicts and issues the main character has to deal with.  Trent definitely gets himself into some direct situations and problems, but they’re never really that hard or tough, and he always gets out of it real easy.  It still makes for an enjoyable story that is lacking in potential dramatic tension.  Readers — especially teens — will nevertheless enjoy the book for what it’s trying to do.

Originally written on December 5, 2012 ©Alex C. Telander.

To purchase a copy of Pirate Cinema from Amazon, and help support BookBanter, click HERE.

You might also like . . .

With a Little Help  Makers  Little Brother  For the Win