Dystopias, Human Sacrifice, and Witches

May 1, 2012

Not all at once! Though that might make for quite the book. I realized I was way behind in my book posts with all my cooking lately–and I was promised a new cake challenge from Wales! anyway, I figured I should be literary for a little while–if nothing else, it is an effective way to avoid grading papers!

So, for my class on Dystopian Fiction that I am teaching this summer, I read Brave New Love, an anthology of short stories edited by Paula Guran. There are thirteen stories in the collection, and all are set in different dystopian worlds. The common element, as the title indicates, is romance, and it comes in all shapes and sizes here. Apparently there were some issues with this book being published because some of the relationships are same sex, and the book is for teens, but I didn’t see anything I would label inappropriate. I suppose even when the world is falling apart, people still won’t be able to love who they want to.

For dystopian fiction, the short story format is a bit of a drawback. There’s not enough space for world building, but some of the snapshots provided are compelling enough to make the reader want more. Some of the best stories were “Berserker Eyes,” by Maria V. Snyder, “Now Purple with Love’s Wound,” by Carrie Vaughn, and “In the Clearing,” by Kiera Cass.

The final book I had to read for class was Article 5, by Kristen Simmons. This future America is ruled by an ultra-conservative government which controls gender roles, literature, schooling–pretty much everything. Kind of a worst case scenario if the Tea Party got more control. Ember, the heroine, is sent to reform school because she is illegitimate. Her mother is arrested for having a child out of wedlock, even though this happened before the new rules were put into place. Of course, Ember escapes an gets a clearer picture of what the world is really like, but this one of the more realistic of the dystopias I’ve read about for this class. I could see this happening, and that is scary.

Anyway, now that I’ve finished my books for class, I can spend the rest of the summer reading pretty much whatever I want. Changes, by Jim Butcher, was next on my list–the twelfth book in The Dresden Files series. It was a rush, I have to say, and the first time I finished a book from this series and wanted to start the next one right away–unlike previous volumes, this one ends with a definite cliff-hanger. I didn’t go grab Ghost Story off the shelf, but I did read, “Aftermath,” a novella in Side Jobs that takes place shortly after Changes ends. And the story is narrated by Murphy, which is cool.

In Changes, not only does Harry find out that he has a daughter that he never knew about, but he also finds out that she’s about to be used as a human sacrifice.  And the main action takes place in Mexico, not Chicago. Pretty much every significant character Harry has encountered throughout the series makes an appearance, but those relationships don’t necessarily remain the way we’d expect. With Ghost Story, I will be caught up with that series, so I’m drawing it out a little. But I won’t be able to wait for long!

I’ve been watching The Secret Circle on TV–when my DVR doesn’t boot in favor of another show anyway–too many things on at the same time! The show is entertaining, so I figured I would check out the books. Unfortunately, I didn’t love them. I got an omnibus edition containing The Initiation and the first part of The Captive. They were fast, and it was interesting to see how the TV show evolved from them, but I’m not jumping up and down to read more. I know I’m not the target audience either, but I have read plenty of Young Adult fiction lately that was far more interesting. Even the fact that I’ve only read half the second book isn’t enough to make me go get the next one.


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Kim Harrison

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