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December 5, 2013 Edition
|Mike A. Lancaster|
Set 1000 years after Human.4, (but can be read as a stand-alone) this is the diary of Peter Vincent, who lives in a world where biology and technology have collided and blended. He lives in a world where humans survive because engineered bees have taken the place of extinct biological bees, where he can download a suit off the Link and have it appear on his body, perfectly fitted, in seconds, where the Link helps shape every moment of his and everyone else’s lives. Recently, though, Peter has begun taking breaks from the Link, no longer staying immersed in a constant flow of information, and soon he’s been contacted by an underground cult, the Strakerites, who believe the unbelievable: that humans might not really be completely human any more. When the only information about the Link is from the Link itself, what can Peter believe? Shades of Scott Westerfeld (The Uglies) mingle with Cory Doctorow’s techie dystopias in this thought-provoking novel.
When Jase climbs up onto Samantha’s roof one evening, he opens the door to the messy, chaotic, and large family that Sam’s been watching covertly for years. Sam’s mom is a senator and that means the family is picture perfect at all times, and Sam’s been forbidden contact with the Garretts next door lest their bedlam spill over into the Senator’s perfectly ordered household. But with Jase’s entrance into her life, Sam discovers that her world could use a little disorganization and human warmth. And as she and Jase fall head-over-heels in love, she finds a place in his family all her own. But when tragedy strikes, Sam finds she doesn’t know which family to turn to.
When seventeen-year old Katharine is dispatched by her guardian to have her inventor uncle declared insane before he squanders the family fortune, she arrives in an unwelcoming household. Though she finds Uncle Tully a surprisingly congenial man - odd, but not at all insane - she doesn’t like the rest of his household at all: a mute boy, a hostile serving woman, and her uncle’s moody young assistant. Katharine is surprised to find out that her uncle’s estate is full of people rescued from the poor house and brought together into a village of employees. There are nearly 900 of them, all extremely protective of Tully and willing to do what it takes to keep their community going, including driving Katharine to question her own sanity. Ignore the steampunky gears on the cover and focus on the period dress and creepy mansion in the background: this is a slow, measured, gothic mystery (reminiscent of Du Maurier) that is worth sinking into.
If the idea of an underground city filled with survivors from a world-wide catastrophe sounds familiar, it’s because The City of Ember was similar in scope, but for a much younger readership. Readers fond of dystopian novels full of duplicity, intrigue, and derring-do ought to pick up this first in a trilogy novel in which Wren, a “shiner”, begins to pick apart her world in the hope of escaping to a larger future. Ever since a catastrophic comet strike 200 years ago, the Dome has protected England’s royals and their servants. Now, the coal seams the miners used to power the Dome are greatly reduced and as their society falters, many are wondering whether the world above them is still on fire. Wren urgently wants to escape her world’s caste system, and suspects that the Royals are hiding the truth, but what if she’s wrong and she escapes into an inferno?