As we await the rest of the cast of Divergent to be announced and mark off the months until Catching Fire’s release (about a million years from now, right?), there’s plenty to keep our minds full of paranoid visions of a dark future that can only be saved by a couple of brilliant teenagers. Take, for instance, Marie Lu’s Legend trilogy, whose second book, Prodigy, hit shelves today. If you haven’t picked up the first, let us assure you that it’s not to be lumped brainlessly with all the other dystopian young adult novels out now — largely because of its unique characters, who take turns narrating their story. There’s 15-year-old Day, the Republic’s most-wanted criminal, whose ability to run from authorities and basically leap buildings in a single bound (parkour-style) helps him complete all sorts of Robin Hood pranks, stealing from the government to feed the poor. And then there’s 15-year-old June, the Republic’s star prodigy, who’s about to graduate early from military academy when her older brother (and only family member, since her parents’ death) is brutally murdered, she thinks, by Day. Their interaction is as tense and emotionally complex as the Jean Valjean/Javert conflict in Les Miserables, which Lu says was a partial inspiration for the story.
We caught up with Lu at San Diego Comic-Con last July, shortly after the screenplay for the Legend movie, which is being produced by Wyck Godfrey among others, was handed in to CBS Films. And it wasn’t hard for us to imagine a big showing for the film at one of the Con’s giant halls sometime in the future. “That would be amaaaazing. My fingers are crossed!” Lu said.
While she’s been in the loop on the screenplay, she doesn’t know what will be done as far as casting the movie, especially since it doesn’t yet have a director. (Warm Bodies‘ Jonathan Levine was once attached, but MTV reports that he’s since dropped out.) “I know you can’t find someone that’s exactly the way that I picture them in my head. I think they’ll do a pretty good job casting them in general. There’s only one character that I wrote with an actor in my head, and that was Metias, June’s brother. I always pictured Ben Barnes. I just love Ben Barnes. I’m going to cast him in anything that I write. I’ll squeeze him in there.” Read more…
It would be super easy to dismiss any new dystopian young adult trilogies as copycats of the Hunger Games phenomenon — except the authors of these books keep coming up with scarier — and brilliantly original — ways of showing us how the future could go horribly, horribly wrong. Veronica Rossi did that with this year’s Under the Never Sky, which followed 17-year-old Aria exiled from a (literally) sheltered world where devices implanted in people’s eyes create a virtual reality to keep them content to remain indoors forever. Outside, dangerous lightning makes everyday life a gamble, but some Outsiders, like Peregrine, have acute senses to help them and their tribes survive. Of course, Perry and Aria meet up, and their chemistry rivals those deadly lightning bolts. Until, that is, their heroic antics force them to part ways.
In the trailer for book two, Through the Ever Night, we see that Perry and Aria will be reunited, thank goodness. But since this is the second book in a trilogy, we know things won’t be all happily ever after right away. Read more…
Author and screenwriter Ray Bradbury passed away last night at the age of 91, and he’ll be missed for a whole lot more than just those books on your high school reading list. Today, as you head into the theaters to see The Hunger Games and Prometheus, stroll down you bookstore aisle to pick up the latest hot dystopian YA novel, or flip on your ginormous flat-screen TV, you owe something to Bradbury. As much as we refer to George Orwell’s Big Brother of 1984, rail against the dangers of Aldous Huxley‘s Brave New World and conjure up nightmares of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale, those book-burning “firefighters” of Fahrenheit 451 strikes fear into the hearts of many a reader and writer. His sci-fi writing (in short stories, The Ray Bradbury Theater TV show, and elsewhere), has also inspired many too follow in his imaginative footsteps. Granted we haven’t read his books since high school, so here, based largely on educated guesses and wild speculation, are 5 pop-culture things we owe the guy:
1. The Hunger Games:Fahrenheit 451 starkly contrasts the sterile, overstimulated emptiness of the dystopian city with the romanticized beauty of the country. Sound familiar? Read more…
We’re still in the process of coming down from our Hunger Games high, and worried about withdrawal symptoms. So naturally, we have to think of other things to look forward to, like all the other dystopian YA novels that will one day be made into movies. Tahereh Mafi’s Shatter Me is one such book, and it just so happens that she’s a Hunger Games superfan as well. That’s why we asked her to share her review of the movie as she thinks about whether her own adaptation will one day whip us into a record-breaking frenzy.
If you follow me on Twitter, you already know that The Hunger Games does to me what sloths to do Kristen Bell. I’ve made several unverified statements about sharpie-tattooing “PEETA4EVA” on my forehead, always freak out when I meet people with Mockingjay tattoos and have lied multiple times about showing up to the premiere with little more than a bag of pita bread and a bucket for my tears. So to say that I was really excited to see this movie would be a huge, hilarious understatement.
For us rabid fans, our expectations are a little higher, a little harder to satisfy. We’re the ones who already know exactly what The Hunger Games is all about, the ones who know that Suzanne Collins’ gripping dystopian novel is much more than a story about 24 kids who have to kill each other on national television. We’ve been curled up in a fetal position since the series ended, quietly rocking back and forth in anticipation of its cinematic debut. But I’m here to tell you that everything is going to be okay. We’re all going to be okay.
In case you thought the interest for young-adult dystopian fiction was dying down, we present to you exhibit A: Gennifer Albin’s upcoming novel Crewel, which had seven agents scrambling to represent it, and five publishing houses fighting to buy it in a week. We won’t get to see the book itself until October 16, but we do have this unusual, brilliant cover to share with you. And a few words from Albin herself, who got on the phone with us from her home in Kansas to explain this bizarre “Mad Men meets Handmaid’s Tale Meets The Hunger Games” pitch we keep hearing.
“It’s set in a world where women are cultivated into these kind of femme-fatale types that weave the fabric of life,” Albin explained. “They are made to be these beautiful, deadly women that are then controlled by the all male government.”
Adelice, the 16-year-old at the center of the novel, has the talent needed to become one of these “Spinsters,” but her parents are determined to protect her from that fate. So, is this some kind of commentary on the fame and fashion industries? Not really. “But one of the reasons they are made to be beautiful is because in my perfect world the thing that would tempt me the most is being able to live a really glamorous lifestyle.” Read more…
Are you already missing that hyperventilating feeling you got after watching the Hunger Games trailer? The one you had while reading the Hunger Games trilogy, too? Well, you could go skydiving to re-create the adrenaline rush while waiting for the movie to come out. Or you could just pick up Shatter Me, the book by debut author Tahereh Mafi that just hit shelves today.
“I’ve been locked up for 264 days,” 17-year-old Juliette says at the opening of the book, just when her solitary confinement has come to an end and she gets a cellmate, a boy who asks a whole lot of questions. The reason she’s locked up, we soon learn, is that she can kill a person simply by touching them. This affliction made her a pariah for her entire life, rejected even by her parents, and a terrible accident was the last straw. But as her new companion, Adam, tells her, the world outside the harsh asylum is hardly better. Before she was locked up, humans had already abused the earth so much that most animals were extinct, food was scarce and birds didn’t fly. But now a military regime called the Reestablishment has taken over the country, with their sights set on the world.
That plot alone is enough to reel us in (and it’s surely what reeled in 20th Century Fox, which bought up the movie rights back in March). But with so many teen dystopian novels flooding the market, what truly makes Shatter Me stand out from the pack is the beautiful, poetic nature of Juliette’s thoughts. (“I always wonder about raindrops. I wonder about how they’re always falling down, tripping over their own feet, breaking their legs and forgetting their parachutes as they tumble right out of the sky toward an uncertain end. … I am a raindrop.”) As she scribbles in her contraband notebook (and continues in her mind), many sentences are literally struck out, showing how she’s learned to censor her most vulnerable thoughts even to herself. And as she finds herself drawn to Adam, who may or may not be someone she knew long ago, her loneliness is palpable: “His touch is scorching through my skin through layers of fabric and I inhale so fast my lungs collapse. I’m caught in colliding currents of confusion, so desperate so desperate so desperate to be close so desperate to be far away. I don’t know how to move away from him. I don’t want to move away from him.” Read more…
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