Wolf by Wolf

Are we on the cusp of a trend?  First, I hear about and watch the first episode of The Man in the High Castle about an alternate future in which the Allies lost WWII and Germany and Japan have taken over America and Europe, and then I read Wolf by Wolf by Ryan Graudin which also shares that plot, though the stories unfold differently from that major plot point.

How we and our world would be different today if the Allies had lost WWII is an intriguing question, so I wonder if other books and movies will explore this creating a full-fledged trend.  In Wolf by Wolf, Yael and her mother are Jews sent to a concentration camp.  Upon arrival, the camp’s doctor takes special notice of Yael, an encounter that keeps her from the gas chambers, but being chosen to live may be even worse as the doctor has selected her for an experiment.  That same quality the doctor saw in her is what helps her survive both the experiments and the deaths of so many people that she cares about.  In an odd twist of fate the sick experiment also gives her the means to escape and she is taken in to be raised by Resistance members, though they don’t know Yael’s big secret for years.  Eventually, she reveals it to her Resistance family and they realize they now have a possible means to carry out an operation that might mean the overthrow of the Nazis.

Yael will enter a grueling multi-country motorcycle race posing as a previous year’s winner.  Not only is the race challenging with the competitors known to do whatever it takes to try to win, but Yael will also find that despite studying the dossiers of all the competitors, there is much about her competition and her former relationships with them that is not found in the files, so the race holds both physical and psychological challenges for her.  Her Resistance training concentrated much more on the former, leaving this young woman to try to figure out how to behave in situations she has never experienced.

Y’know I have always thought of dystopian novels as future authoritarian societies and governments such as the Factions in Divergent or the city-states in The Hunger Games or the Society in Matched, but this novel actually takes place right after the end of the war in the 1950’s.  So not only does it take place in the past, but rather than creating a whole new world and society, it takes one that really existed, Nazi Germany and Imperialist Japan, and simply extrapolates from those existing facts.  So many authors of this genre spend a good part of their book on the world building, yet in this one Ryan Graudin doesn’t need to do that as we all studied WWII in school, she can devote more time to building the characters instead.  In the case of Yael this is such a gift as the character is both fascinating and heartbreaking.  In addition to this novel being part of the dystopian genre, it also has some supernatural elements, and normally I don’t like that kind of mixing, but in it works and it serves a purpose, the story line would not be possible without this additional element.

Advertisements

The Glass Arrow

As a woman, the scariest dystopian books are about a future world where women have lost about 300 years of progress and are treated as chattel to be bought and sold.  Such is the case in The Glass Arrow by Kristen Simmons.

Aya has grown up isolated in the mountains with her mother, cousin and another woman and her children.  They are all in hiding outside the big city where all girls who are ‘pure’ and possibly fertile are put in a special dormitory in the city to await their turn at auction and Aya’s mother doesn’t want that to happen to her daughter.  It’s not just the idea that her daughter might become some man’s possession, but Aya’s mother knows first-hand that a girl not found to be ‘pure’ will have an X carved into her face with a knife and be given to the brothels.  Even girls who do attend and are bid on at the auction, have to face a ‘private meeting’ with their prospective buyer who sometimes take advantage of the girls, a rich pimp could bid on a girl at auction and make her his working girl.  Even if a ‘respectful businessman’ buys a girl, if he tires of her eventually, he could send her back to the dorm to be auctioned off again while he finds a new wife.

No, scraping a living out of the mountains is a better life in Aya’s mom’s mind and Aya agrees.  Brought up free and strong, she knows she is so much more than anyone’s piece of property.  However, the fresh air and food she consumes outside of polluted city make her a prime target as it means she is fertile enough to bear children, especially the male ones wanted by the city.  Just like what still happens in many countries today, girl babies are sometimes killed as they lack value.  They live when the female count is low.

Things weren’t always like this, Aya’s mom has told her stories of a time when all women walked proud and free until the Red Wars when men turned on women similar to the Salem Witch Trials and killed most women and enslaved the remainder.  These tales told deep in the mountains have always been scary for Aya to hear, but they are not near as scary as the day Trackers invade her family’s mountain home.   Freedom is never more precious than to those who have lived it and now may lose it.

California

In the case of California by Edan Lepucki the world goes out with a whimper not a bang.  Maybe in a way that’s the more likely scenario rather than a single catastrophe.  After all, isn’t that what we are seeing right now in our news?  We have a variety of problems, several are climate related, but those are tied with social unrest too, it’s all one giant Venn diagram of interconnected issues,which is what I think has paralyzed both individuals and politicians in making any progress to fix our problems.

The novel California only lightly touches on some of the events that lead to the situation that Cal and Frida find themselves in… a severe blizzard in the Midwest, the inequality of the 1%, lack of fuel and energy.  Frida’s world was normal until about the time she entered high school when the cracks in our society began to show.  Yet her younger brother Micah was able to attend college, well it was one of those experimental colleges, a bit like Evergreen College in Washington, a cross between intellectualism and back to the land hippie education, but for men only.  However, it was free and the concept of skills like agriculture and animal husbandry made it an attractive place for Cal, Micah’s roommate too.  The most complex relationship in the books to me is the one between the two roommates, not the relationship between Cal and Micah’s sister Frida which eventually becomes a marriage.   Micah is this Svengali-like figure at Plank, the school, though Cal has a silent strength of his own that will be needed w in the future.  Micah goes from pulling pranks to being radicalized by the mysterious Toni.  After the boys graduate they all return to LA where Micah and Frida are from, but Micah goes to live in the Encampment as he has joined The Group.  His roommate Cal has chosen another path, he is in love with Frida and they move into an apartment together, Cal tries to eke out a living growing vegetables while Frida works in a bakery until the supplies dwindle and the place closes.  Eventually Micah is involved in a shocking event.

All of the above is told in flashbacks as the story actually begins with Cal and Frida arriving on The Land.  After all, in LA normal life is starting to crumble and it’s not exactly safe in many places.  Cal thinks it would be best if they leave the city, though it’s never actually made clear where “The Land” actually is.  The pair find a shed to live in and are living a Walden Pond existence.  While it’s a primitive way of living, it’s peaceful and makes me question their later choice to leave what seems to me like a safe haven, one that even has good neighbors.  There is a family nearby who teach them additional life of the land skills.  Neighbors who warn them not to leave The Land for an area called The Forms.  Maybe they would have complied if Cal hadn’t found the bodies of Bo and Sandy and their children who appear to have poisoned themselves in a mass suicide a la Jonestown in Guyana.

I guess this is why I couldn’t stand the character of Frida in the book.  Cal has done everything to take care of her and keep her safe and she just comes off as clueless, willful and capricious.  It’s Frida who insists they hike out to the Forms to meet the people living there, a decision that unravels the past, present and future.     If you have ever wondered about people who choose to live off the grid, or choose to join a cult, or choose to live in a gated walled off community, well you will probably find this book interesting as it has elements similar to all three.  However, after a fair amount of building tension the ending left me empty, unless it wasn’t meant to be an ending, but just the first book in a sequel or series.  Normally, I would get online and look but I am still chewing on a bitter aftertaste of feeling a bit let down by the last few chapters.

Free To Fall

Free to Fall by Lauren Miller had lofty intentions, but didn’t execute on it. I understand Ms. Miller’s point, we live in a world where technology is increasingly guiding our tastes and decisions. Rather than looking up at a sunset, people are looking down at their gadgets where apps tell them what route to drive, what restaurant to eat at, what clothes to buy, etc. After all, when was the last time you made choice, big or small, that didn’t involved spending a little online time. However, while I admire Ms. Miller’s ambition to tackle this theme through a dystopian novel, it was written in a pedestrian way.

Rory Vaughan is accepted into the prestigious Theden Academy which is the social equivalent of the Golden Ticket. Students who graduate are automatically sought by the top colleges and companies, these are the elite who will be the movers and shakers in society. Who wouldn’t want to go there? Uh, anyone who knows there isn’t any such thing as a free lunch. In Rory’s defense, she is just a teen whose mother died at birth and while she loves her Dad, they are very different. She doesn’t have a wide circle of friends and only Beck, her BFF gives her a sense of belonging. Beck is a photographer and a free spirit, unlike Rory he tries to keep his distance from Lux, the decision-making app that most other people are mildly addicted to.

When Rory arrives at Theden she has a lot to work through such as dealing with Hershey, another Theden student from Rory’s own town who never gave her the time of day until she heard Rory was also accepted to Theden. Then there’s Dr. Tarsus, a teacher at the school whose class consists of running the students through stimulations where lives are at risk. There’s also a secret society at the school similar to Harvard’s famous Skull and Bones which might be interested in Rory. Finally, there is North, the mohawked coffee barista Rory is drawn to.

Rory finds out that her deceased mother also attended the school and was the top student, something she knew nothing about as the only tokens she has from her mother are a necklace and a handmade blanket. From here the book tries to weave together a conspiracy by a shadow group, a family reunion, a teen romance and teens trying to bring down a corrupt society, which results in the theme of giving our freedom of choice being watered down. Strip away these superfluous elements and this might have been an interesting book, but it read like Scooby Do in the social media age. It was also ironic that one of the Scooby Gang, North, is a hacker that uses technology to help unleash people from technology even though he uses retro gadgets. The secret society and the blanket story lines broke into DaVinci Code territory. The author should take a page from singer who strip everything down to standing alone one a stage with a guitar performing an acoustic version…I want to read the acoustic version of Free to Fall, not this one.

Dust

Back when I was a renter I avoided even looking at basement apartments even though they are usually much cheaper to rent. Oh, I tried once when I lived in Costa Rica. My place was not a basement apartment per say, but it was a 2 level apartment with the kitchen and living room on the ground floor and the bedroom and bathroom below ground level. I thought in a warm tropical climate like Central America it would not be an issue — it was. Despite how warm it was, the minute I descended into the depths at bedtime I could feel a chill with each step I took down to my basement bedroom. Not only did I feel the chill, but it was dark even when it was still light outside. I hated the feeling of being underground, there is probably something primal about that.
Therefore, I can understand the people in Hugh Howey’s Wool trilogy who volunteer to clean, the desire to get above ground and go outside in the natural light.

Dust is the final story in the trilogy and it reveals the wider world beyond Silo 18. Juliette’s determination to dig through to her friends in Silo 17 creates unrest in her silo, but she doesn’t care as she doesn’t have any plans to be a career politician, she never wanted to be Mayor anyway. However, after so many of her friends and colleagues died in the recent uprising, Juliette isn’t really showing enough empathy to others, and in fact her actions will have deadly consequences.

After all, Juliette and Lukas haven’t shared with their silo what they know about the other silos and that they have enemies. Is Donald from Silo 1 one of those enemies or an ally? It was really jarring to read about Silo 1 and read references to the Iraq war. Most apocalyptic books occur in the immediate aftermath of some disaster or far into the future, by introducing Silo 1 it blends the origins of the silos and our current reality with that of the rest of the silos, the future societies created by choices made today, and I thought that was a good hybrid and a technique not deployed much.

After all, when we envision the future we tend to envision the society of the future getting progressively advanced beyond the previous generations, but it’s the opposite in Dust. The people in Silo 18 live like an earlier era, the few computers in the Tech department notwithstanding. Yet there are elements such as the War Games feel of the servers assigning each silo a number, only one silo will ‘win the game.’ Then there is Silo 1 where the inhabitants take ‘naps’ that are basically putting people in a cryogenic freeze, very futuristic sci fi contrasted with the Blue Lagoon type story line of Hannah and Rickson and the cult like elements of Father Remmy and his flock. There was a lot going on in this last story, maybe a bit too much as these other elements were not completely explored, rather only briefly glimpsed.

I did think that rather than ending the series that there could be additional stories about the other silos and how each society may have evolved to be very different. That would be very interesting in my opinion, it’s like those studies about twins separated at birth and the old nature vs. nuture argument It would be very interesting that even with the same origin/birth, each silo may have evolved completely differently in terms of their form of governance and society.

I particularly would have liked to have heard the story of Silo 40. Silo 40 had a silent revolution and had hacked both the camera feeds and ‘sorted the gas lines’ as well as communicating with their neighboring silos. The collapse codes were hacked by the silo. Supposedly, Anna hacked the detonators to bring the silo down, but we learn that instead she was sabotaging her father’s plans, so what really happened to Silo 40? Usually I don’t like spinoffs on TV, but as book series I think there’s more to tell about this world. Particularly if the inhabitants from the other silos ever get a chance to meet face to face on the outside…are you listening Mr. Howey?

Red Rising

Usually when people talk about books you hear how they ‘couldn’t put it down.’ My experience with Red Rising by Pierce Brown was the opposite; I ‘couldn’t pick it up.’ I wasn’t really very interested in the book for a number of reasons. First, I thought it had been mislabeled; it appeared to be a sci fi book, not a dystopian book. No offense to fans of sci fi, but that’s not my jam. I think there are enough potential interesting stories to be told about this planet without going farther out. I like how dystopian and apocalyptic books build a world in our own backyard and because the stories are here, we can still recognize and relate to them despite the constructs of a dystopian society or the aftermath of an apocalypse. Red Rising takes place on Luna, what we would call Mars and it starts off slow, a sort of Grapes of Wrath interplanetary style. Don’t get me wrong, the latter book is a classic, so I didn’t think setting it on another planet would add much to something that has already been done. Also, I have gotten used to the kick ass, take no prisoners type of main character in these books and Darrow seemed a reluctant protagonist far too willing to compromise and concede while his family and his love suffered. I didn’t want a Joad, I wanted a Norma Rae! However, maybe the best heroes are the reluctant ones, the ones who are conflicted about the part they will or must play.
Also, far from the book being about an alien culture, it turns out that Darrow and his people were originally from our own planet Earth. His ancestors were sent to Mars to mine a substance that will make the planet inhabitable for future generations, so his labor under poor living conditions comes off as noble more than apathetic. Darrow lives with his perpetually hungry family, minus the father who was hung for a non-violent protest of the conditions they live in. He works as a helldiver in the mines, a position both respected as well as dangerous, and comes home every night to Eo, his childhood friend grown into his love and wife. What happens to Eo is the catalyst that expels Darrow out of his family, his tribe, and his home to fulfill her dream.

Up until that crossroads I kept pushing this book aside to read other books and was truly at the point of giving up on it, something I almost never do. The same book that I reluctantly would pick up and force myself to read a couple pages of suddenly became a book I could not put down. Yes, it takes place on a another planet, and yes there are technologies and even some creatures not of this earth, but those more sci fi elements stopped bothering me when I discovered the dystopian story within. It turns out that Darrow’s world was much bigger than he or his people knew and his mission becomes much bigger than his own tragedies. In fact, he wrestles with his own desires and whether they will help or hinder him in his new role. Is he motivated by love, anger, revenge, or a higher purpose? He continually shifts among these motivators as he makes his way through a world where he is an interloper, a world he must embrace in order to succeed in his mission, at the same time that he loathes it. That becomes a cornerstone of his struggle, when does pretending to feel a certain way become an actual emotion? When does an enemy you pretend is a comrade become a true friend? Can he convince others that he is someone he is not, without becoming that person?

I wasn’t 100% certain whether this was a standalone book, or if it was a series, so I checked it out online. At that point I came across a heated discussion about how he ‘stole’ from The Hunger Games, which stole from Battle Royale, etc. Frankly, I don’t care, after all isn’t there a line about ‘ there is nothing new under the sun’? Maybe I would care if a work was very similar to something else AND poorly done. However, I thought this book had as much in common with The Testing series as it did The Hunger Games, The Lord of the Flies and dozens of other stories. That’s only because it shares universal story telling elements such as man vs. man, man vs. society and man vs. himself, and it does it in such an exciting and thoughtful way that I am glad I didn’t stop reading it.

Graduation Day

I remember how surprised the world was when Obama got elected; how African Americans said they never thought this would happen in their lifetime. What I was thinking was, “I can’t believe elected an African-American (well half-black, half white) to the country’s highest office before we have elected a woman President. I mean women have had the right to vote for over a century now and in many other countries women have served as the leader of their nations. Why not here?

As I continue to dive into dystopian fiction I can’t help but notice an obvious pattern of teen girls as the main character in these stories who display such strong leadership skills that they can topple a dystopian society or help save an apocalyptic one. Is this trend wish fulfillment on the part of writers who frustrated with the dearth of women leaders in government and even corporations have sublimated their biggest hopes for women into the pages of these books? From Katniss, to Tris and in the case of The Graduation, Cia, why is it these women are only given these opportunities to lead on the pages of a book?

In this final book of The Testing trilogy we learn that the Committee planned to fail Cia and not accept her into The University as she is ‘too emotional’ and they are not sure she can make the tough decisions that leaders must do, yet in the end of the series doesn’t she prove that it’s her very emotions and instincts that help her take down a corrupt and twisted system? What would our own world be like if we had a woman leader? If a woman was leading the country, and indeed more women filled the House and the Senate, would we have the current pissing matches between House and Senate and between parties that currently exist? Are women better able to come to a compromise and is that always a bad choice compared to a stalemate?

I am not saying there would not be possible cons to having a woman lead the government, but I would rather take that risk than to see our government and society continue on the path it has been on for a long time now.

Even in Graduation Day the female leaders such as Professor Holt and President Collindar do not always display the better qualities of female leaders. Indeed, Professor Holt while intelligent is also cold, calculating, manipulative and borders on ruthless. President Collindar also pushes aside the notion that a woman leader may fail at some of the tougher decisions. However, Cia is the counterbalance, she is smart, able to reason through options and make a decision, yet her biggest strength appears to be her ability to create alliances and build consensus. Her fellow male students follow her and not the other way around.

When a woman finally rises to the top office in our country, there will be extra pressure on her beyond the regular pressures of such as office to show what ‘female traits’, if any, she will display and how that will affect not only how she is viewed, but what the effects will be. Maybe in an effort to not be scrutinized for those very ‘traits’ she will swing as far away from such comments.

I can’t really say what having a female lead the country will be like; I just want to see a woman be elected so I can watch what unfolds. That’s what I liked about this book, a glimpse into what those possibilities might be….

Shattered

Wow

It was tempting to leave this review at that one word. Here’s why this Slated Trilogy by Teri Terry justifies a wow:

• This is one of the few series where the middle book in the trilogy wasn’t weaker than the first or last book and that is truly rare. Even in the Lord of the Rings trilogy (yes it’s outside this genre), one of my faves, I did feel a little let down by The Two Towers compared to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Return of the King.

• Usually all the good characterization and stuff is reserved for the one or two, sometimes even three main characters. Not the case in Shattered. The supporting characters don’t just fill in the spaces around our main character Kyla/Rain/Lucy, but they are fully drawn themselves. They may get less words, but even in the limited lines I can completely imagine how they look, sound, and move. Moreover, I find them just as interesting and can see them taking a main role in another story, I find them as hard to say goodbye to as the main character herself. Plus, when I say supporting characters I am not talking about just one or two sidekick types. There’s Finley and Madison, Len, Stella, Florence, Gianelli, Dr. Lysander, Gregory, Sandra-Armstrong Davis, Cora, Mrs. Medway…..

• Pacing – I am sure it’s a tricky balance for authors in the dystopian/apocalyptic genre to balance characterization with action and Shattered walks that fine line nicely. In this story Kyla is trying to figure out her identity and I don’t just mean her history and genetics, she is trying to figure out the kind of person she really is. She has the training of an AGT assassin, she hasn’t fully committed to MIA and when a woman and child are snatched by Lorders in front of her she questions her own morals as she chose self-preservation over speaking out. She struggles to figure out her parental and romantic relationships and how they fit into her life. Yet all her inner monologue and searching are accompanies by lots of action and tension as she is trying to do all this while on the run or in hiding.

• Raising the bigger questions – I especially enjoy books of this genre that don’t just describe someone surviving in this type of society, but looks at the deeper questions of our humanity. I was struck how often Kayla repeated the refrain of if people collectively just stood up, they could put a stop to something bad, in this case the Lorders disappearing people. However, it did remind me much of studying the Holocaust and how people would look away when seeing neighbors and friends hauled off by the Nazis. It also reminds me of current times, the deep anger and disappoint with our government (both parties) and yet I read a recent article that basically said despite their low rating, incumbents continue to be voted back in across the board. If everyone voted out the current gov’t employees by finding a new candidate or third party candidate, what would happen next?

• The ‘love triangle’. I have a friend who even though she respects my recommendations hasn’t read any dystopian books lately as she says she is sick of the focus on romance, especially love triangles, in these dysfunctional worlds and how they are handled. Yes, I suppose you could say there is a slight love triangle, though Ben and Aiden came into Kyla’s life at different times without a lot of overlap. However, the romance(s) haven’t distracted Kyla from her goals as in many other books of this ilk. She isn’t some moony teen who is putting her personal life above what’s most important and she isn’t letting any relationship shape or subsume her.

Spoiler Alert: Don’t read this last bit if you have not finished the series!
How the relationship with Ben plays out is handled with a real maturity by Teri Terry in Shattered. To take the Romeo and Juliet situation and have Juliet not end up with Romeo was a risk. There isn’t any sense that the author did this for shock value, such as the death of Tris in Divergent. She simply shows an understanding and sensitivity to real relationships as well as her main character. Kyla is strong enough to survive the outfall of the Ben situation and she grows from it. I also liked how the author didn’t have her fall directly and immediately into Aiden’s arms either. Kyla’s situation mirrors that of the world she sacrificed to save, for just as society and government in the UK will take time to change and the citizens will need to absorb the pain of the past and adjust to the new way of life, so does our heroine. As in life, there aren’t any fairy tale endings, just people living their lives.

The Program

I was quickly running through my list of ‘dystopian to read’ novels, and was on what I thought of as my Tier B list while waiting for sequels to be published by my fave authors when I started on The Program. Therefore, my expectations were low for this story by Suzanne Young. Well I owe heran apology as I was thoroughly intrigued by the concept of copycat suicides as a disease that could be predicted and cured.

In an age where there’s so much pressure for people to be successful, have great families and thriving social lives, is it ok to sometimes be anxious or depressed? If you are a teen shouldn’t that be automatic? You don’t have to work to support yourself, you don’t have to deal with marital issues or the stress of having kids, life should be great, right?   So why are teens across the nation committing suicide at an alarming rate? In a panic, the government and parents jump to a cure that may be worse than the disease itself.

In schools teens have to take daily assessments measuring their feelings and they cannot be seen crying in public without risking drawing the attention of the ominous monitors who if they think someone has the ‘disease’ take away the at risk team to a treatment center that is part of The Program, where the therapy may end up being worse than the cure for the teens taken there.

It’s the last place Sloane wants to go. Although it was very difficult for her to cope with her brother’s suicide, she has a lot to live for. After all, she is dating hot James, her brother’s best friend. However, the sickness closes in on her when her best friend, rebellious Lacey, is infected and taken away. After she undergoes treatment, she returns but is not the same person. Just like all those who have been treated, her memories are gone, including those of Miller, her former boyfriend and a friend of Sloane and James too.   Lacey even looks different, more conservative Stepford wives vibe, than rebel teen. When Miller begs his friends to drive him to Lacey’s new school, they are concerned. It doesn’t help when Miller approaches Lacey and there isn’t any reaction.

Sloane feels increasingly under pressure by her parent’s scrutiny, all parents appear to be monitoring their children closely and if they think they are infected, they will often turn their own child in rather than risk their death. When James becomes depressed, Sloane fights to keep him going and avoid the eyes of adults and the government, but when he is taken she quickly follows and what she finds is a horror show.  

She fights to hold onto her memories of her true love, but the drugs start draining those away. Luckily, she has an ally in a fellow patient, Realm, though even he has trouble protecting her from the creepy handler Roger who insinuates that he can help her save a memory or two, but for a very specific price. As Sloane struggles to hold on not only to James, but herself, Realm plays an increasingly important role in her life, but is he even exactly what he seems?

Burn

Burn, the final book in Julianna Baggott’s trilogy ended with a bang not a whimper. This is the last book in what is easily one of the most disturbing YA apocalyptic series I have ever read.  When we think about disasters, I think we usually think about large numbers of people dying, disturbing, or the conditions survivors live under, also disturbing, but the image of people fused together in a blast and then living is just one you cannot forget.

El Capitan and Helmud have accompanied Pressia to the UK and things are a little awkward after his declaration of love to her.  Pressia is distracted by the action she took to save Bradwell, creating a wall between them, and the strange things she notices at Newgrange, babies who look alike and attacks on the settlement by an enemy too disturbing to reveal here.  During her visit, Pressia is given possession of something that will change the fate of the Dome dwellers and the Wretches and causes controversy within her own band of friends and family.

In the meantime, Pressia’s half brother Partridge, a Pure, is dealing with his own issues after the transfer of power to him after his father’s death.  Both he, and us readers, were perhaps a bit naïve to think that now that Willux is gone, everything will be rosy.  Partridge soon realizes that a life with the mother of his child may not be guaranteed and that the mantle of power does not rest easily on his shoulders.  Despite his loathing for the things his father did, he finds himself on a path that is too close for comfort to his father’s legacy.

The story is told in alternating narratives expressing the different points of view of the main characters which serves to illustrate how people can look at the same situation, but see it very differently.  This book also demonstrates how even when you have the best of intentions, you can make bad choices.

Most of the time I am not a fan of turning books into films, but in the case of this series I admit to being a little excited by the idea, as the special effects would probably be fantastic.