Contact Me

Follow

Follow on Bloglovin
Powered by Blogger.

Google+ Followers

Follow by Email

Monday, July 21, 2014
The Young World
By Chris Weitz
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆


After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.


Review:  I had my doubts before starting The Young World, largely because I felt I had read this story before. However,  this fast-paced dystopian adventure story was entertaining and unique enough that I didn’t much mind the somewhat familiar plot elements. Featuring a diverse cast of characters, an action-packed journey through teen-ruled Manhattan, and some reflections on the privileges of modern society, this book is one I tore through in one sitting.

          The story is told through two alternating narrators: Jefferson, who’s half-Japanese, is a thoughtful, socially conscious teen and de-facto leader of his group once his brother succumbs to the virus. His narration adds depth to the novel as he reflects on the various responses to the loss of technology shown by his peers, the many ways pre-virus society was flawed, and the hope of building a better civilization than one lost. He also spends time thinking about his feelings for Donna. In contrast we have Donna, the medic of the group, whose flippant and matter-of-fact narration provides some humor. Despairing and more than a little judgmental, Donna is still overwhelmed by grief for her family, her little brother in particular, and doesn’t feel capable of deeply caring for anyone ever again. While Jefferson is heroic in a movie-lead kind of way, Donna is more flawed but I found her sympathetic. The two POVs are very distinct, both in voice and in displayed font, something I really appreciated. 

         Rounding out the cast is Peter, Donna’s African American gay Christian friend, Brain Box, the genius who discovers the document that may lead to a cure for the disease, and a Chinese American girl nicknamed “SeeThrough” who wants to prove herself to the group and has a relationship with Brain Box. These characters aren’t quite as developed as I would like, due to the fact that we are very much in the heads of the Jefferson and Donna, who characteristically focus on their own issues rather than the state of the group. However each character does have their moments: Peter, for example, saves the day a few times and Brain Box and SeeThrough each have their heroic time to shine
           
           Plot-wise, the story begins after the virus has run its course and the survivors have organized themselves in various ways. This allows the action to pick up right away as the group leaves the home they've built in Washington Square and head uptown to the main branch of the library to obtain answers about the origins of the virus. On the way they must pass through the dangerous territories of other groups, leading to many tense action sequences that bring to mind Mad Max and The Walking Dead. As a New Yorker I particularly enjoyed the accurate details given in describing this journey, including a sequence that includes the poor polar bear from the Central Park Zoo. The writing is serviceable, although a sentence goes wrong occasionally. Example: “We glimpse each other in the meat of our bodies.” p.27. No. Absolutely not.

           The thing I feel elevates The Young World to being more than the sum of its parts is the social commentary present throughout the story. It is my opinion that all good dystopias critique present society in some way. Here, among other things, there is blatant criticism of capitalism present in the description of the violent and exploitive Bazaar created by the Uptowners , children of the 1%. There’s also some reflection on privilege, reliance on technology, and the ubiquitous nature of brands. All of this is slipped in between tense scenes of battles, chases, and a quest to solve a mystery, as well as jokes and more emotional scenes. The Young World is a summer blockbuster of a book with a surprisingly thoughtful center, and I found it to be very entertaining.

*ARC received at BEA

0 comments:

Monday, July 21, 2014

Early Review: The Young World by Chris Weitz

The Young World
By Chris Weitz
Publisher: Little Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: July 29, 2014
Rating: ★★★★☆


After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.

The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park...and discovers truths they could never have imagined.


Review:  I had my doubts before starting The Young World, largely because I felt I had read this story before. However,  this fast-paced dystopian adventure story was entertaining and unique enough that I didn’t much mind the somewhat familiar plot elements. Featuring a diverse cast of characters, an action-packed journey through teen-ruled Manhattan, and some reflections on the privileges of modern society, this book is one I tore through in one sitting.

          The story is told through two alternating narrators: Jefferson, who’s half-Japanese, is a thoughtful, socially conscious teen and de-facto leader of his group once his brother succumbs to the virus. His narration adds depth to the novel as he reflects on the various responses to the loss of technology shown by his peers, the many ways pre-virus society was flawed, and the hope of building a better civilization than one lost. He also spends time thinking about his feelings for Donna. In contrast we have Donna, the medic of the group, whose flippant and matter-of-fact narration provides some humor. Despairing and more than a little judgmental, Donna is still overwhelmed by grief for her family, her little brother in particular, and doesn’t feel capable of deeply caring for anyone ever again. While Jefferson is heroic in a movie-lead kind of way, Donna is more flawed but I found her sympathetic. The two POVs are very distinct, both in voice and in displayed font, something I really appreciated. 

         Rounding out the cast is Peter, Donna’s African American gay Christian friend, Brain Box, the genius who discovers the document that may lead to a cure for the disease, and a Chinese American girl nicknamed “SeeThrough” who wants to prove herself to the group and has a relationship with Brain Box. These characters aren’t quite as developed as I would like, due to the fact that we are very much in the heads of the Jefferson and Donna, who characteristically focus on their own issues rather than the state of the group. However each character does have their moments: Peter, for example, saves the day a few times and Brain Box and SeeThrough each have their heroic time to shine
           
           Plot-wise, the story begins after the virus has run its course and the survivors have organized themselves in various ways. This allows the action to pick up right away as the group leaves the home they've built in Washington Square and head uptown to the main branch of the library to obtain answers about the origins of the virus. On the way they must pass through the dangerous territories of other groups, leading to many tense action sequences that bring to mind Mad Max and The Walking Dead. As a New Yorker I particularly enjoyed the accurate details given in describing this journey, including a sequence that includes the poor polar bear from the Central Park Zoo. The writing is serviceable, although a sentence goes wrong occasionally. Example: “We glimpse each other in the meat of our bodies.” p.27. No. Absolutely not.

           The thing I feel elevates The Young World to being more than the sum of its parts is the social commentary present throughout the story. It is my opinion that all good dystopias critique present society in some way. Here, among other things, there is blatant criticism of capitalism present in the description of the violent and exploitive Bazaar created by the Uptowners , children of the 1%. There’s also some reflection on privilege, reliance on technology, and the ubiquitous nature of brands. All of this is slipped in between tense scenes of battles, chases, and a quest to solve a mystery, as well as jokes and more emotional scenes. The Young World is a summer blockbuster of a book with a surprisingly thoughtful center, and I found it to be very entertaining.

*ARC received at BEA

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank you, comments are appreciated :)