I’ve been reading a lot lately, probably 1-3 books a day for the past few weeks. And I’ve had the good fortune of reading a lot of very good books! Below is the list of my 3 most recently read books and whether or not they’re worth looking into. I will warn you though – I’ve been reading a lot of dystopian fiction lately.
- The Program by Suzanne Young – Yes! This book is part of a larger series and is worth checking out if you enjoy young adult dystopian fiction. Its take on our pressure cooker society and how it impacts suicide among young adults is very interesting. Of course, these problems are exacerbated by “The Program” in the book that wipes the memories of suicidal teenagers and therefore “cures” their mental illnesses. However, I would note that this first book is way better than the second book in the series. Like many other dystopian novels, the story-line tends to get more far fetched the more you read. I would have rather focused more on mental illness and the lasting impacts of suicide than on what appears to be the standard rebellion / love triangle template many dystopian fictions follow. I haven’t read beyond the second book so far, but hopefully will soon.
- The Memory Police by Yoko Ogawa and translated by Stephen Snyder – 100% yes. I recently reread this book and was struck once again by how beautiful it is. Another piece of dystopian fiction, The Memory Police is well written and the ideas behind the piece stick with you long after you put the book down. It explores how the things around you impact your sense of self and your ability to interact in the world. As the story progresses, the main character loses everything around her from rose petals to calendars. As this happens, she loses pieces of herself. The prose itself is exceedingly elegant, especially considering it is a translated work. This book is simultaneously very informative and descriptive, and yet vague enough to remain mysterious from beginning to end. However, if you enjoy books with clean endings and explicit explanations for the events that take place, this may not be the piece for you. It contains a lot of symbolism and does not leave with you a lot of explanations. The Memory Police leaves you with the sense that you gazed too long at a piece of art and are still musing on what it means.
- All Rights Reserved by Gregory Scott Katsoulis – This book starts off so well and finishes in the just okay section of the world. The concept of paying for the words you speak and the gestures you use as a result of strict patenting laws is a terrifying one. Communication is next to impossible. For the main character, Speth Jime, it is impossible. This book makes you really think about how often you speak and the words you use. However, the faults come in when it departs from the difficulties of Speth’s journey in non-communication and segways into an action-packed story of rebellion. The consequence? It loses its charm and most of my interest. I would still check it out, but only for the large amount of interest I have in its overall concept.