The New Order

While I can’t say I am a big M. Night Shyamalan fan overall, I did like his movie The Village for one strong reason, the idea that outside the village normal life was going on. It’s that idea that just outside a dystopian world or apocalyptic situation is a place where people are carrying on as normal that interests me. I mean, how many of us faced with either scenario just wish we could close our eyes and when we open them again everything would be alright, everything would be as it was?   That’s not to say our present world is perfect, far from it, but faced with darker alternatives we would take the bad with the good of our present times, right? If you can go from the horrific situation you are in back to some normalcy, what are the repercussions? Your innocence is gone after what you have endured, you view situations with more assessing and jaded eyes and how can you ever truly relax again when being on the defense is the way you survived when others didn’t.

If you haven’t read The New Order by Chris Weitz yet, you may want to visit this post after you have done so, otherwise you about to read a major spoiler.

The Young World left us with two quest members dead, See Through and Kath. Jefferson was nearly killed by the Old Man who injected him with the Sickness to see if the new Cure mixed up by him and Brainbox worked, which it did. So one would have expected that this next book would be the remaining team struggling their way back to Manhattan with the Cure and whether the teens of all tribes should be given it.

Instead, we are confronted with the reality that the Old Man was not the only adult left alive. Indeed, millions of adults and kids survived the sickness, they just happen to be living overseas. So why don’t the teens know any of this? Well the very people who can explain what’s happened to the world are the ones keeping the teens a secret from the rest of the world. Yes, there is a worry about the Sickness mutating, and yes, there has been a rebalance of the world order, but when it comes down to it those reasons are nothing in the face of the Lord of the Flies existence the kids have been living for years now. So when the Washington Square Park and Haarlem kids are put into isolation on a Navy ship and interrogated, they aren’t feeling like helping the adults much. In fact, when they are each contacted via a coded message from a rebel group within the adult military troops, all of them decide to side with the rebels, except Captain who at least keeps the secret. However, during the kids’ escape plan to head back to NYC, Donna is separated from the group and ends up in England instead.

That’s the part that fascinates me, how she goes from a hellhole of eating rats and trying not to get eaten by cannibals, to living in picturesque Cambridge as a university student. So while Jefferson and the gang have to go back into the violence knowing that there is another world out there, which is bad enough, I feel like Donna has the harder struggle. Yes, she is no longer fighting for her life, but she has to assimilate back into the world, keep the big secret and swallow the guilt she feels about living in the lap of luxury while god knows what is happening to the rest of them.

Yet that doesn’t excuse her behavior when it comes to so quickly replacing Jefferson when she is told that he was killed. It’s one thing to move on to another relationship, but to sleep with the other guy when she wouldn’t even sleep with Wash, let alone his little bro, just struck a weird note with me. Also, the fact that when she met Mr. Welsh, for all his civilized British ways, she knew he was just using her as much as the U.S. Navy had tried to. He was just doing it in a classier way, but yet she lets her guard down and that just didn’t make sense.

One thing I did prefer in this book was that instead of only alternating narrators between Donna and Jefferson, that the author let a few of the other characters have a turn. Peter’s turn made me chuckle with his “It’s like this. I’m not a sidekick, I just play one in life” line and his social commentary on being a gay black kid. I wish he had gotten more than two chapters as a narrator. The fact that Kath, yes, that Kath, the one who was supposed to be dead got a turn blew me away as I typically see a plot twist coming a mile off and I was blown off my feet by it. The most interesting narration though was Brainbox’s even though his were the shortest. Diving deep into the mind of a genius is a wild ride and I found the way he spoke in his head to be very James Joyce stream of consciousness. It was great, but also a little hard to follow, which may explain why his chapters were shorter than everyone else’s and how his thoughts moved and the detachment in them was a little spooky.   It was a little strange that Mr. Weitz didn’t make the switch to these other narrators until near the ending of this second book, if I had a chance to interview him that is something I would definitely ask about.

I did like that The New Order ended with three different sets of actions and perspectives converging….our uncertainty whether Brainbox will live and if he does will he help save the world or end it, Jefferson realizing that instead of guiding the teens to a new world that he may have to force them into it, and Donna swinging back into the action for a hell of a lot of vengeance and may prove to be just as much of a wild card as Brainbox. We shall see.

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The New Order

While I can’t say I am a big M. Night Shyamalan fan overall, I did like his movie The Village for one strong reason, the idea that outside the village normal life was going on. It’s that idea that just outside a dystopian world or apocalyptic situation is a place where people are carrying on as normal that interests me. I mean, how many of us faced with either scenario just wish we could close our eyes and when we open them again everything would be alright, everything would be as it was?   That’s not to say our present world is perfect, far from it, but faced with darker alternatives we would take the bad with the good of our present times, right? The New Order by Chris Weitz explores this conundrum.  If you can go from the horrific situation you are in back to some normalcy, what are the repercussions? Your innocence is gone after what you have endured, you view situations with more assessing and jaded eyes and how can you ever truly relax again when being on the defense is the way you survived when others didn’t.

If you haven’t read The New Order by Chris Weitz yet, you may want to visit this post after you have done so, otherwise you about to read a major spoiler.

The Young World left us with two quest members dead, See Through and Kath. Jefferson was nearly killed by the Old Man who injected him with the Sickness to see if the new Cure mixed up by him and Brainbox worked, which it did. So one would have expected that this next book would be the remaining team struggling their way back to Manhattan with the Cure and whether the teens of all tribes should be given it.

Instead, we are confronted with the reality that the Old Man was not the only adult left alive. Indeed, millions of adults and kids survived the sickness, they just happen to be living overseas. So why don’t the teens know any of this? Well the very people who can explain what’s happened to the world are the ones keeping the teens a secret from the rest of the world. Yes, there is a worry about the Sickness mutating, and yes, there has been a rebalance of the world order, but when it comes down to it those reasons are nothing in the face of the Lord of the Flies existence the kids have been living for years now. So when the Washington Square Park and Haarlem kids are put into isolation on a Navy ship and interrogated, they aren’t feeling like helping the adults much. In fact, when they are each contacted via a coded message from a rebel group within the adult military troops, all of them decide to side with the rebels, except Captain who at least keeps the secret. However, during the kids’ escape plan to head back to NYC, Donna is separated from the group and ends up in England instead.

That’s the part that fascinates me, how she goes from a hellhole of eating rats and trying not to get eaten by cannibals, to living in picturesque Cambridge as a university student. So while Jefferson and the gang have to go back into the violence knowing that there is another world out there, which is bad enough, I feel like Donna has the harder struggle. Yes, she is no longer fighting for her life, but she has to assimilate back into the world, keep the big secret and swallow the guilt she feels about living in the lap of luxury while god knows what is happening to the rest of them.

Yet that doesn’t excuse her behavior when it comes to so quickly replacing Jefferson when she is told that he was killed. It’s one thing to move on to another relationship, but to sleep with the other guy when she wouldn’t even sleep with Wash, let alone his little bro, just struck a weird note with me. Also, the fact that when she met Mr. Welsh, for all his civilized British ways, she knew he was just using her as much as the U.S. Navy had tried to. He was just doing it in a classier way, but yet she lets her guard down and that just didn’t make sense.

One thing I did prefer in this book was that instead of only alternating narrators between Donna and Jefferson, that the author let a few of the other characters have a turn. Peter’s turn made me chuckle with his “It’s like this. I’m not a sidekick, I just play one in life” line and his social commentary on being a gay black kid. I wish he had gotten more than two chapters as a narrator. The fact that Kath, yes, that Kath, the one who was supposed to be dead got a turn blew me away as I typically see a plot twist coming a mile off and I was blown off my feet by it. The most interesting narration though was Brainbox’s even though his were the shortest. Diving deep into the mind of a genius is a wild ride and I found the way he spoke in his head to be very James Joyce stream of consciousness. It was great, but also a little hard to follow, which may explain why his chapters were shorter than everyone else’s and how his thoughts moved and the detachment in them was a little spooky.   It was a little strange that Mr. Weitz didn’t make the switch to these other narrators until near the ending of this second book, if I had a chance to interview him that is something I would definitely ask about.

I did like that The New Order ended with three different sets of actions and perspectives converging….our uncertainty whether Brainbox will live and if he does will he help save the world or end it, Jefferson realizing that instead of guiding the teens to a new world that he may have to force them into it, and Donna swinging back into the action for a hell of a lot of vengeance and may prove to be just as much of a wild card as Brainbox. We shall see.

Enders

I never understood why people volunteer to be hypnotized. To hand over control of yourself to a stranger seems unfathomable to me, yes I have trust issues. Enders finished the story begun in Starters by Lissa Price, that in itself is unique as most apocalyptic stories these days all seem to be trilogies. In Starters, we met Callie who orphaned by the Spores (a form of chemical warfare) and worried about her sick little brother, feels that she has no choice but to work for Prime Destinations. Prime Destinations is a secret business where Enders, the elderly, can rent the bodies of Starters, for a large sum for a certain period of time. Callie’s experience is different than other Starters as she would regain consciousness during the rental period.

As the sequel begins Callie, her little brother Tyler, and her friend and neighbor Michael have moved into the house bequeathed to her by her renter. However, instead of being able to enjoy her new home, Callie is drawn into more problems caused by the chip still in her head, which was implanted during the rental process. The Old Man, the horrible head of Prime Destinations, can speak to her through her chip and let’s her know she is a ticking time bomb as he shows her via another Starter what exactly can happen to those who have chips.

When Callie is unexpectedly rescued by Hyden, the Old Man’s son, they team up together to rescue Metals, Starters with chips, and try to put a stop to the Old Man’s schemes. All she wants is a normal life, well as normal as she can be having lost her parents and living with a deadly chip in her head.

While the first book was not as sophisticated as so many YA books have become these days, I did appreciate the original story line. This one felt less original, and some scenes felt borrowed from other places, the secret desert compound, the underground lair where the good guys gather, the bartender at the club who holds a secret, etc. This book felt rushed and uneven and veered off into some sci fi/supernatural elements which didn’t add to the book, instead I felt it distracted from focusing on what is always the most interesting part of any book to me, the characters themselves and what motivates them to be the survivors they are.

Monument 14

Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne reminded me a bit of a story I loved as a child, The Mixed Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler .   I don’t remember all the details of that story, but the part I loved was how the kids were living in the museum at night having the run of the place.  In this story, a mixed group of elementary, middle and high school students take refuge from a monster hailstorm in a Colorado superstore.  The hailstorm is just part of a chain reaction in an environmental disaster.  An exploding volcano caused a megatsunami that has triggered severe weather conditions across the U.S.  The adult bus driver who got the kids into the store safely has gone to find help advising the students to not let anyone in the store.  At first being barricaded inside a megastore doesn’t seem so bad, there is plenty of food, toys, and clothes available that make everything seem like an entertaining adventure.  However, in Colorado, where the kids are, these storms have caused the leak of chemical warfare agents from nearby NORAD.  The chemicals affect people of each blood type differently and suddenly the danger of the situation is elevated.

For the main character Dean, life inside the superstore initially bears a close resemblance to high school.  Dean is not one of the popular kids, his demeanor is calm and he loves to write.  He is the opposite of Jake, the popular and handsome high school quarterback who just happens to be in a relationship with captain of the swim team, Astrid, that Dean has a huge crush on.  Brayden is also an athlete and spoiled, Josie is a hippie-activist, and lastly there’s introverted Niko.  The two junior high kids are Dean’s younger brother Alex and Sahalia, a budding Lolita.  Each of the elementary kids also has a strong personality which was unexpected.  There’s bratty Chloe, sanctimonious Batiste, Ulysses who only speaks Spanish, adorable twins Henry and Caroline and finally Max, eight going on forty with the funniest salacious stories. Jake and Brayden pick on Dean just like they do in school, Chloe’s more worried about getting her way than the world falling apart, Dean and Alex fight like brothers do and Sahalia is playing a dangerous game trying to fit in with the high schoolers.

In addition to dealing with each other, the kids have to cope with people trying to get into their safe haven, wondering whether their families are alive and substance abuse.   When I was in high school I remember reading Satre’s No Exit and I have found myself in a number of situations in life when hell is being trapped with people you don’t like, but the relationships that form between this group trying to survive the disaster is the heart of the story.