Neverworld Wake by Marisha Pessl
Publication Date: June 5, 2018
“I saw very little as it truly was. But that was what Martha taught me. We swear we see each other, but all we are ever able to make out is a tiny porthole view of an ocean. We think we remember the past as it was, but our memories are as fantastic and flimsy as dreams. It’s so easy to hate the pretty one, worship the genius, love the rock star, trust the good girl.
That’s never their only story. “
This was a really interesting take on the time loop idea. The characters are not very likable either, which made this hard to read at times. All of these ‘friends’ have rather toxic relationships with each other. And it wasn’t just because of what happened to their friend that had died at the end of their senior year or how the Neverworld Wake made them relive the same day over and over again. Through the flashbacks of this group, I really got the sense that this group of friends really didn’t like each other and only spent time together because it was expected of them.
The whole mystery around what happened to Jim is what really kept me interested in the story. But what happened to him doesn’t come to light until we go through a lot of days of Bea sneaking around and spying on everyone else to see how they were spending their time, (some of them not spending it well at all) and trying to convince them that they needed to talk about Jim and find out what happened so that they can get unstuck. There are many twists and turns to this story, and not all of them are pretty. What ultimately happened on the day Jim dies was not at all what I expected and was shocking and rather sad. If just one person had done something different, things might have turned out differently.
Overall a pretty gripping story that took on a lot of ideas and themes. The writing was well done, but it would have been nice to have at least one character that I could have liked and cared about by the end.
Homeland by Cory Doctorow
Publication Date: February 5, 2013
“Everything good in the world comes from the efforts of people who came before us.”
This is the second book in this series and in some ways it is scarier than Little Brother. It takes place a couple of years after the events in the first book and things are even worse than before. Marcus once again finds himself losing control over his life and wondering what has become of his city.
This book has a lot more tech in it than the first, and a lot of explanations of that tech. This does occasionally slow down the narrative, and there were a couple of times that I had to skip ahead because it got too technical for me and I just wanted to get to the good stuff. But the descriptions of other things in the story were wonderfully done. It almost felt like I was out in the desert during Burning Man and right in the thick of things during protests and riots, which there are a few more of in this book. The parts about the protests and how they used tech to help them was really interesting.
“It was funny how I could feel all alone and under surveillance at the same time.”
If you are not already somewhat paranoid about tech and privacy issues, this book will make you really think about it. I am not as paranoid as Marcus is, but this book does make me want to do as much as I can to keep my life as private as I can. Many of the things mentioned in this book that the corporations are accused of doing are still being done, and I’m sure they have found new ways to get even more info.
But at the heart of both of these books is really how an ordinary kid can become an activist and how to use tech to accomplish your goals. This is contemporary science fiction that will make you want to stand up and do something.