The Silence of Six by E.C. Myers
My First Read from my Shelf Control pile!
I can’t believe I’ve actually completed one of my TBR’s. Yes, I know my list has around 200 on it but every journey begins with that first step. So I choose to celebrate.
See my Shelf Control post for the summary.
Why I recommend it:
This book was so much fun. It’s my first read for 2018, and I have already completed Book 2 and the book of novellas set in the same universe. Max, our main protagonist is a strong narrator and the author has developed his voice so well I feel I know him. Penny and Risse, the sisters who aid Max in his quest to take down social media giant, Panea, are equally brilliant, and I loved how often it was their hacker skills that saved the day.
In addition to the characters, I also liked delving into the world of hackers. Whether the hacking was realistic or not, I’ve no idea and I don’t really care, but I found it equally fascinating and disturbing. The Silence of Six raises the question of privacy and the increasing resemblance of our world to 1984. Our reliance and obsession with technology is increasing exponentially, and I wonder if we may one day encounter a Terminator scenario. And our dependence on technology has also opened us up to cyberterrorism. Both popular trends right now for books and movies, but the question is “how close are these scenarios to our future reality?”
Suitable for ages 12 and above.
A fascinating question really. With the advancements in genetics it’s only a matter of time I imagine. Clone stories seem to be everywhere over the past couple of years (Orphan Black anyone?) but it’s a haunting story I read a few years ago that really made me think about the evolving definition of humanity.
Like some of my favourite stories recently (Curious Incident, Wonder, Out of Sight) House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer sets out to make you question perception and uses first person point of view to maximum impact. The novel is set in the dystopian world of Opium where we meet Matt, a young clone of the local drug lord who was bred for parts. Matt is treated like an animal with no more rights or feelings than a cow bred for meat. Farmer’s writing is so vivid and we are right there with Matt as he battles for identity and questions who he really is. An unusual take on the traditional Coming of Age story but very effective.
Several of my grade 10 students have read The House of the Scorpian since I added it to their Independent Study List, and it has prompted some great debate and deep thinking in their writing. A good story that gets kids talking is always a good thing in my book 🙂
I have yet to read the sequel, The Lord of Opium, but it’s definitely on the To Be Read list for this year.
Ages: 12 and up Rating: 4.5 stars
With what’s happening in the US right now in regards to immigrants and immigrant rights, I was reminded of a wonderful story I read for one of my Masters courses.
Esperanza Rising by Pam Muñoz Ryan is a story of drastic change and the necessity of adaptation. It’s a story of extreme racism and stereotypes. Our heroine, Esperanza is forced to flee Mexico with her family. She has been exceeding wealthy all her life but suddenly she finds herself on the outside looking in. She is now one of the poor she used to judge. The novel opens our eyes to the hopes and dreams of those who came to the “new world”, looking for a better life. For some, like Esperanza, it is to escape from possible hardship and even death. This book really makes you think and question but it is not a difficult read. A straightforward story with a wonderful reflection on how we treat others.
I not sure what the answers are regarding immigration, but I do know that I’m an immigrant and Canada has gifted me with a wonderful life in a beautiful country. While I understand the need to protect citizen’s rights, I sometimes think we lose sight of exactly how privileged we are. How can we deny basic freedoms to others if we have the capacity to provide them? Just as Esperanza discovered, we should be careful because who knows? One day it could be us.
Ages: 10 and up Rating: 4 stars
Replica by Jenna Black
I’m not sure how I came to read Replica, but it doesn’t seem to be one that everyone’s talking about (or was talking about) but it should be.
Sixteen-year-old Nadia Lake lives in a futuristic society where human replication technology is a reality; carefully controlled by its creator, Paxco. Nadia comes from a high-class family and lives a life of privilege, although she’s not too keen on the paparazzi that follows her everywhere; eager for the latest on the fiance of notorious playboy, Nathan Hayes, heir to Paxco.
They’re not in love but they are friends and everyone appears satisfied with their match. That is until Nate is killed and the wrong person was the last to see him alive. When the new Nate wakes up in the replication chambers he is missing a month of memories. Nadia and Nate set out to find the killer and prevent the world from discovering Nate’s secret, a secret that could destroy everything they know.
Replica has riveting characters and an intricate plot. I loved the friendship between Nadia and Nathan and how they looked after each other. The idea of being unable to die is not new but the twist of being born a replica intrigued me. Also, it was interesting to see how the replicas were treated by their society even if they were the elite when they were “alive”. There are two more books in the series. I highly recommend them all but put the first just that bit above the others.
Rating: 5 stars for this part of the series (4 for the others)
Wonder was recommended to me by a young friend who really enjoyed it and thought I might too. Being the highly intuitive young man that he is, I knew better than to doubt him and downloaded it immediately. Wonder is the story of August, a ten-year-old boy who has been home-schooled his whole life. It’s not like he doesn’t have friends, or is behind intellectually, but still his parents have decided it’s time to go to school. Begin with all the other new kids entering middle school in grade 5. August is adamant about not going. You see, August has what he calls mandibulofacial dysostosis, which, as I read the description, sounded a lot like Treacher Collins syndrome, a rare condition characterized by severe facial deformity. Really he’s just an ordinary ten-year-old but few tend to work their way past the surface to find that out. Auggie’s used to the glances, the second looks, the looking away when people don’t know what to say. Middle school is hard enough as it is without looking different. After meeting the principal and touring the school, Auggie decides to go, beginning a journey that is both touching and inspiring.
What I loved most about this book is that it’s told from a variety of viewpoints. The first section is from Auggie’s point of view, then the same incidents are reviewed and the story is continued from his sister’s point of view. We then hear the story of Auggie’s journey through the first year of middle school from a continuing succession of his classmates and even his sister’s boyfriend, before returning to Auggie. The reader views the same incident from two or three view points, an invaluable lesson for many children as they learn to think outside of themselves. Also, the author never loses sight of the characters’ voice. I could see and hear these children telling their story; the slang was right, the vocabulary was right, and the actions and uncertainties rang true.
Wonder is a exceptional story from start to finish. One of the most valuable lessons we can pass on to the next generation is to see through another’s eyes; feel what another is feeling and try to understand the reasons for another’s actions and reactions.
Not only does Wonder make us think, and hopefully make our children think, it’s also an enjoyable read. Never did I feel as if I was being preached at, which is what put it over the top for me because, trust me, kids know when they are being preached at.
Ages: 8-12 Rating: 5 stars