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8.9/10
Review: Station Eleven by Emily St John Mandel

Title: Station Eleven Author: Emily St. John Mandel Genre: Fiction, Literary Fiction, Dystopian Publisher: Alfred a Knopf Incorporated Release Date: September 9, 2014 Format: Kindle Pages: 337 Source: purchased Narrator: Kirsten Potter Read Date: 05 March 2016 2014 National Book Award Finalist An audacious, darkly glittering novel set in the eerie days of civilization’s collapse, Station Eleven tells the spellbinding story of a Hollywood star, his would-be savior, and a nomadic group of actors roaming the scattered outposts of the Great Lakes region, risking everything for art and humanity. Emily St. John Mandel wrote Station Eleven with a more literary slant to her post-apocalyptic world than the bulk of end-of-the-world narratives out there. You won’t find many action-filled scenes of crazed road-warriors or zombies or gun-toting survivalists chasing down the ‘good-guys’.  There are no long explanations of how society collapsed. Instead, the story focuses on a handful of characters, before and after a plague that wipes out most of the world’s population. The major players in the story are all connected, yet they connect through tenuous threads, and there is no big moment where their stories converge. Kirsten a child actor when the end came, now travels with a symphony and acting…

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8.9/10
Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan
Fiction , Reviews , Throw-back-Thursday reviews / February 23, 2017

Title: When She Woke Author: Hillary Jordan Genre: Fiction, Sci-Fi, Dystopian Publisher: Algonquin Books Release Date: 2011 Format: Hardcover Pages: 344 Source: purchased Read Date: 23 February 2013 In the future, abortion has become a crime as a series of events threatens the existence of the United States. One woman wakes up to discover that her skin color has been changed to red as punishment for having the procedure done. Now she must embark on a dangerous journey in order to find refuge from a hostile and threatening society. With When She Woke Hillary Jordan has written a powerful dystopia that tackles, among other ideas, our attitude towards criminal justice, and what it means to pay for one’s crime, separation of church and state, and freedom.Combining Hawthorne’s public humiliation of sinners (even the protagonist’s name, Hannah Payne, echoes Hester Prynne and the opening chapter is titled “The Scaffold”) from The Scarlet Letter with reality TV, abolitionists’ Underground Railroad, the extreme religious/political right, big brother technology, and a personal awakening story, Hillary Jordan gives us a scary glimpse into an all too possible near future. The novel opens with two great sentences: When she woke, she was red. Not flushed, not sunburned,…

Best Dystopian Novels
Fiction , Listicles / February 21, 2017

Whether we read them with a wary eye to the future, or as a reminder of the good we have today, dystopian novels have been around for ages.  Here is a list of my favorites — some well-known classics and more contemporary pieces.*     10.  Station Eleven — Emily St. John Mandel A well-done novel that moves through the beginning of the destruction of society, back to before, then 20 years after a plague wipes out most of humanity. Mandel threads connections through various characters that we see before the plague and after.  The book however doesn’t focus on the world, but on the individuals and how they have come to view what it means to live in this world. Read my review            9. When She Woke — Hillary Jordan A creative novel where, in order to shame and ostracize those who commit acts society feels are morally wrong, chemically alter the skin so the person is forced to ‘wear’ their shame.  Relevant in today’s world of social media shaming and religious intolerance.  See: Review: When She Woke by Hillary Jordan         8. V for Vendetta — Alan Moore One of the great…

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9.8/10
Review: Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Title: Never Let Me Go Author: Kazuo Ishiguro Genre: Fiction Publisher: Vintage Books Release Date: 2006 Format: Kindle & Audiobook Pages: 288 Source: Purchased Narrator: Rosalyn Landor Read Date: 29 January 2016 A reunion with two childhood friends draws Kathy and her companions on a nostalgic odyssey into their lives at Hailsham, an isolated private school in the English countryside, and a confrontation with the truth about their childhoods. Ishiguro, a master of subtle and understated prose, has another excellent novel in Never Let Me Go. The narrator, Kathy tells the story of her friendship with Ruth and Tommy, from their earliest days at their private boarding school to adulthood, through its ups and downs, until only Kathy is left. While many come to the novel knowing what makes these characters special, even those without prior knowledge should figure it out with little difficulty, early on. While never stating things explicitly, the clues are in plain sight, even if Ishiguro never tackles the topic head-on. What is the true focus and brilliance of Ishiguro’s novel isn’t the what, but rather, the how. The reader follows these three characters, raised to this purpose that unnerves contemporary audiences. In a masterful play…