Monday, November 28, 2016

Eleven Things I Promised by Catherine Clark

Frances is about to start a week-long bike race with a group from her high school.  She is not usually a bike race person, but she signed up with her best friend Stella, who is.  But Frances is facing the race alone after Stella was hit by a car while training for the race.  Before she was put out of commission, Stella made a list of ten crazy ideas she wanted to do during the week to make the race unforgettable.  The items on the list are things that Frances wouldn't ever do on her own but she is determined to do them all to honor her friend and, she hopes, find a way to connect with her friend who has been acting very distant. 

This is one of those light, fun books that has some not very light notes to round it out nicely.  I enjoyed Frances and the slow reveal on what, exactly, is happening with Stella. 

Scythe by Neal Shusterman

The world has been perfect for many years.  When the Cloud became self-aware and turned into the Thunderhead, it was able to see solutions for all the problems in the world.  Now there is no hunger, poverty, disease, or natural death.  In order to combat the threat of overpopulation the Scythes were created.  Scythes are people tasked with "gleaning"- the only way actually die in this society.  Neither Citra nor Rowan want the job when they are chosen to be apprentices to Scythe Faraday but they both begin to see the value of the job when it is done well and with compassion.  However, not every Scythe sees the job in the same way with some embracing the killing and looking to get rid of the old guard.  At the spring conclave of Scythes, one of these others sees an opening and sets in motion a plan to turn Citra and Rowan against each other.

I have read all or nearly all of Shusterman's books and in my opinion they vary in quality of writing and storytelling.  When he gets it right, however, he blows me away and Scythe is one of those stories.  It is the kind of book where I was on edge the whole time because I loved it so much that I was worried it would end in some disappointing way that would ruin it for me. But instead, the story kept developing in unanticipated ways.  And not only is it a good story, but it is also has some scary parallels to real life situations with abuses of power and people who believe they are above the law.