Thursday, August 1, 2013

Dystopian Novels: Haddix, Darkwoods, and Born

I have come to love dystopian fiction.  In these books set in the near or distant future, just about everything goes wrong.  This means that the characters don't have cell phones, computers, automobiles, or most modern conveniences.  In the books where the characters do have some conveniences, society is so restrictive that the conveniences cannot be used for their intended purposes.  In short, these books are like reading the vintage series fiction that I love so much.

This is the first of several posts that contain brief reviews of dystopian fiction that I have not previously reviewed in this blog.

The Missing Series - Margaret Peterson Haddix

1.  Found, 2008
2.  Sent, 2009
3.  Sabotaged, 2010
4.  Torn, 2011
5.  Caught, 2012

This series is set in the 21st century, circa 2008 or so.  36 adopted children learn that they were abducted out of the past and taken to the future as part of a for-profit adoption scheme run by time travelers.  Time got messed up, and they had to be adopted into the late 20th century instead of in the distant future.  Now, the time travelers have returned from the future in order to take the children back to their own places in past history in order to set time straight.  The children are not happy, since they don't want to leave their 21st century lives.  This is a very abbreviated version of the plot.

Since the plot involves time travel, much it makes little sense, because the characters go back and forth in time and really make a mess of things.  The reader has to engage in much suspension of belief, accepting that certain things are possible in order to enjoy the stories.  Time travel never is logical.

The reader learns a lot of history in these books.  I found the books to be very interesting and very educational.  I do have a word of caution for people who have adopted children.  Read the first book before giving it to an adopted child.  These books have content that could be upsetting to adopted children.

Additional books will be published in this series.

The Shadow Children - Margaret Peterson Haddix

1.  Among the Hidden, 1998
2.  Among the Imposters, 2001
3.  Among the Betrayed, 2002
4.  Among the Barons, 2003
5.  Among the Brave, 2004
6.  Among the Enemy, 2005
7.  Among the Free, 2006

This series takes place in a society in which families are permitted to have no more than two children.  Many families have had a third child, and the third children are the shadow children, forced to live in hiding inside their homes, never able to come out into the world.  The third children sometimes get discovered and have to go on the run.  These books tell the story of the shadow children and their struggle for survival.  I enjoyed reading these books.

The Darkwoods Trilogy - J. A. Redmerski

1.  The Mayfair Moon, 2012
2.  Kindred, 2012
3.  The Ballad of Aramei, 2012

I read these books because I was a bit desperate.  These books were clearly inspired by the Twilight series, except that this series is about werewolves.  Adria falls in love with Isaac, who is a werewolf.  If you are familiar with Twilight, you know where this is heading.  Isaac will not age, and Adria worries that she will grow older than him, so... she wants to be a werewolf.  Shocking!

This trilogy has some of the same problems as Twilight, and in that respect, the author did a great job of mimicking Twilight.  Adria meets Isaac, and there is no chemistry, nothing, no reason for her to fall for him.  Yet she does.  I never was able to feel what Adria feels for Isaac, just as I was never able to understand Bella's inexplicable attraction to Edward.  In that respect, Redmerski copied Twilight beautifully.  These books are in some ways better than Twilight, especially since they don't have a grown man who is basically betrothed to a baby.  You know, that creepy imprinting thing from Twilight where Jacob seems almost like a child molester.  It's not in this trilogy, which is a plus.

These books are somewhat better than Twilight in the overall premise, but the books are poorly edited with quite a few typos. I found them enjoyable, although not favorites.

The Born Trilogy - Tara Brown
1.  Born, 2012
2.  Born to Fight, 2013
3.  Reborn, 2013

This trilogy is set around 10 years in the future after a man-made virus gets out of control, infecting a large percentage of the population.  The virus causes people to lose their minds, and all they want to do is kill and eat other people. 

These books feature the most awesome young woman named Emma.  This girl is a tough, aggressive survivor.  You just have to read the books to see what I mean.  Emma is awesome, and I love her.  This trilogy tells such a great story that it could become the next big thing.  The problem is that these books are not edited very well.  The books are self-published, and the author needs to get someone other than whoever is editing them.  There are many word usage errors, misplaced commas, and grammatical errors.  One example is the use of "planes" as the word for an open grassy area when the correct word is "plains."

The author also greatly overuses pronouns to the point that the reader often has to skip ahead several pages in order to try to figure out exactly who "he" or "she" is.  When the scene contains two men and a woman, referring to both men as "he" is extremely confusing.

All that said, I greatly enjoyed this trilogy.

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