Friday, February 15, 2013

Pale by Chris Wooding

In Jed's world people don't necessarily have to die.  Those who can tolerate it can take the Lazarus Serum which brings them back from the dead.  But the "pales", as they are called, don't breathe and have almost white skin and eyes.  They are denied rights, live in The Graveyard and get beat up by bullies.  Jed is one of those bullies until he is given the serum by his girlfriend after a car accident.  When he wakes up as a pale he finds that his family and old friends don't want anything to do with him anymore, not even the girlfriend who saved him.  Forced to seek refuge with the other pales Jed learns about them and realizes how mean he was before.  He devises a plan to get back at some of his old friends but something happens that changes everything for him.  This book was written with the intention of appealing to struggling teen readers.  As such, it is extremely short so since I am not a struggling reader I found myself a little frustrated.  Not by the content of the book, simply because I wanted to know MORE about this world.  I find the premise unique and interesting and the events of the book pulled me in.  I wished that Wooding hadn't "wasted" such a great idea on a such a short book.  Then I realized how amazing this book will be to exactly the audience for which it is intended.  It is extremely difficult to find science fiction or fantasy that is not quite long and with the huge popularity of these genres that leaves our struggling readers out of luck.  In my experience, the books that are labeled as hi/lo are not popular at all with my students because they still want a good story.  Pale offers a good premise with an engaging plot that is still accessible.  But can't Wooding write a companion piece to this one that fleshes out the world just for me?  :-)