Tuesday, August 14, 2012
Happiness is...a good book (Summer Reading edition #37)
Author: Veronica Rossi
Age Range: 13 up
Cover Score: ***
Overall Score: ****
First Sentence: They called the world beyond the walls of the Pod “the Death Shop.”
Aria lives in the enclosed city of Reverie. When her mother, a scientist, disappears, Aria does everything in her power to find out what has happened to her and in return she is thrown out of the city into the wasteland. Surprisingly she doesn’t die but is picked up by an Outsider, Perry, who is searching for his nephew taken by the Dwellers (those who live inside.) Reluctantly they form an uneasy alliance to search for the answers they both need.
After severe electrical storms and droughts, society moved in doors for protection. To keep them all from going stir crazy Realms or alternate virtual realities were created where people could experience anything and everything they could imagine.
There is some appeal to the Dwellers way of life. Always wanted to fly? Wish granted. Time travel and a million other things are basically possible by visiting the various Realms and experiencing things few have ever had the chance to before. Also medical advances are such that people no longer feel pain or age (unless you choose to experience some semblance of it in a Realm). Most don’t realize the danger but Aria has picked up on some of the flatness of the beauty. The rocks for example are computer generated through an algorithm creating subtle variances to a master design. If you look too closely you’ll see the sameness of them and the Realm loses a bit of its magic.
The Outsiders have adapted for survivals sake, many evolving and developing super heightened senses. These individuals are Marked (literally and figuratively) and are prized by the tribes they live in often being bargained for and married off for alliances like royalty of old. Perry is one of these, a Scire, one whose sense of smell is so keen he can even sense emotions. Roar, another friend, is an Aud who can hear whispers from miles away. These attributes come in handy when the group finds themselves being tracked by Croven, cannibals.
You've probably noticed by now that I enjoy a good apocalyptic story and this was one I was quickly sucked into. Rossi’s world was an interesting one, illustrating some of the actual dangers society faces when we become too attached to our technologies and lose contact with our natural abilities and realities. It had sort of a Truman Show quality to it, the world being created to suit some choreographed purpose, only some of the truths being known by the general population. There were a host of unanswered questions and places where you had to simply suspend belief, several times I had to remind myself that it wasn’t reality, there were no answers to how something could have happened the way it did in the story (it couldn’t have!)
There is plenty of danger and adventure and of course, a touch of romance. Aria is a basically strong character but has realistic moments of helplessness and frustration. The supporting characters are developed enough to support the story without overtaking it.
Nothing against the writing or this book in particular but I am growing a bit tired of series. Whatever happened to books having a beginning, middle and end? I feel as if I never get conclusions anymore but am constantly hung up in this realm of middleness and cliff hangers and anticipation. What has been your favorite stand-alone novel of late? I think I'm due to read a few and would love your suggestions!