This book will scare the heck out of you. It will make you want to delete your facebook account. And I don’t say this as a luddite—I have a smartphone, though I mostly use it to take pictures of puppies—but as someone who was genuinely shaken by this book’s eerily prescient description of technology literally taking over human bodies. There is so much to talk about in this book—our roles as consumers, the inescapability of the internet, and how technology alters our lives and what it forces us to give up. Harsh but not gloomy, with crackling dialogue and subtle, precise world-building.
I know that book groups might be hesitant to read a book that falls into the Young Adult genre, but truly I think any story that can depict childhood and coming of age in a way that can immerse both young and adult readers, is a story that is well worth discussion. In When Things Come Back 17 year-old Cullen narrates what happens when his small town suddenly becomes a hotspot after what was thought to be extinct woodpecker is spotted. Cullen is both impressed and mortified by his town's transformation—suddenly his peers are sporting woodpecker inspired haircuts and bird-watching becomes an ideal date. But then when his 15-year-old brother goes missing amidst the chaos, Cullen’s surprise turns to something more vigilant and shadowed. The gift of this YA novel (which was the winner of the coveted Michael Printz award) is the way that regret, surprise, and humor are all interweaved. Layered and remarkably unique, this novel calls to mind how ordinary and extraordinary are only a coin’s throw apart.
“In this wildly hilarious novel, contestants from the Miss Teen Dream Beauty Pageant crash on a remote tropical island, where danger and wild adventures abound!” —Booklist
I read this book in one sitting, having picked it up rather carelessly and then found myself quickly immersed in a voice I didn’t expect and a story I didn’t want to leave. Set in a small town that suddenly becomes a hot spot after a woodpecker that was thought to be extinct is spotted, 17-year-old Cullen is both impressed and mortified to watch his town transform. Suddenly his peers are sporting woodpecker-inspired haircuts and bird-watching becomes an ideal date. Cullen is startled at how suddenly change comes without warning, but when his 15-year-old brother goes missing amidst the chaos, his surprise turns to something more vigilant and shadowed. This YA novel (which won the coveted Michael Printz Award) is layered with regret, surprise, and humor, and it calls to mind how ordinary and extraordinary are only a coin’s throw apart—how the intersection between grief and hope are so related, and how believing in second chances is ultimately an act of bravery like no other.
Where do you draw the line? When does the situation reach the point where more than simple attention is required-when action is needed, standing up for your rights and what you believe in? In a world where “Occupy” is more than a verb, SOPA, IPA, and ACTA lurking in the wings, Cory Doctorow presents a fable for the rapidly-approaching future.