Monday, January 20, 2014

Flesh and Bone, Fire and Ash: Jonathan Maberry’s Storm Lands of the Soul

“Tom once asked us if we knew what we would fight for. What we would kill for. What we would die for. He said that if a person did not know that answer to those questions, then they should never go to war.”

Of the many quality YA authors right now, you should be reading two in particular: Neil Shusterman and Jonathan Maberry. They offer great characters, intense story lines, philosophy, ethics, honor, love, and sacrifice embedded in books that will make you reset your alarm. 

Let me be clear: Shusterman’s Unwind and Maberry’s Rot and Ruin are disturbing. Some scenes will haunt you. But it is the unsettled, not the comfortable, who are inspired to be better people in a world in need of  goodness and hope.

I’ve reviewed the first two books in Shusterman’s trilogy (Unwind and Unwholly) as well as the first two in Maberry’s series. This post will look at how Flesh and Bone and Fire and Ash take a great story and make it better.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

UnWholly: More Than The Sum Of Its Parts

In Unwind, Neil Shusterman began a brilliantly disturbing look at a culture in which parents can have teenage children “unwound” – a process which kills tham as every part of their physical body is separated and given to someone else. Perhaps because this cruelty is so counter-intuitive, the government floods society with manipulative slogans (“Experience a world outside yourself: Embrace the divided state.”)

As if the story weren't disturbing enough, Shusterman connects the issues with some current trends in the world. He cites current news stories about children abandoned under Safe Haven laws, exorbitant organ prices on the global market, and surgeons who profit by harvesting organs from euthenized patients. It's not the same as unwinding, clearly, but seeing the real world juxtaposed with his fictional world is sobering.

Shusterman introduced some weighty concepts in Unwind: Do we have souls? Do people have intrinsic worth? What makes human life valuable?  Fortunately, UnWholly continues with the same skill and depth offered in Unwind.