These are the times that would be great for inspiring good
dystopias. There is so much to raise disquietude in every facet of
life: politics, education, the environment... At the same time
there's so much pressure from the government and their BFFs in big
business to not rock the boat. So I knew if I went hunting for this
genre I wouldn't be disappointed.
The strength of a dystopia lies in its author's ability to tie
together troubling trends and take them just a bit further. There has
to be enough continuity to create plausibility. At the sane time the
future world must hang together with its own internal coherence. This
is not an easy task. Angie Smibert pulls it off brilliantly with her
YA novel, Memento Nora.
Nora, the heroine, a student at Homeland High #17, lives in a
time when traumatic memories can be erased quickly and painlessly.
All you must do is go to a Therapeutic Forgetting Clinic. After
describing the event you wish to forget to a doctor you take a pill
and go on with your life, unaware that it had ever happened.
A bomb goes off in a store. A dead man falls at Nora's feet.
Not surprisingly, she has a nightmare and is taken to her mother's
favorite clinic. She ends up just pretending to take the pill. She's
seen a boy spit his out secretively. And she's heard her mother
describe an aspect of her home life she had never imagined.
The boy, Micah, is not in Nora's crowd. But she's strangely
drawn to him. They meet and decide that the stories being chemically
erased need to be recorded. When they create and distribute a comic
book the establishment goes all out to shut them down. As the
conflict escalates it becomes impossible to put the book down.
In addition to being a place where memories are erased and
dissent is crushed, Nora's world is heartbreakingly consumerist and
superficial. Ads stream through every aspect of life. Citizens are
taught that consumption is one of their freedoms. Everyone and
everything experienced positively is described as glossy. 'Nough said.
Dystopia fans and affecianados of a good suspense story will
find Memento Nora to be a must read. Teachers will applaud this book
and the thought provoking questions that arise from reading it.
On a more personal note: Hate to see the summer ending and the kids
going back to school. :P
Coming attractions: we're sticking with YA fiction.
A big shout out goes to Kathryn Olmstead. She was my journalistic
ethics professor when I was great with child 21 years ago. I still
remember the issues we discussed and the excitement of exploring them
under her expert guidance. When I lost her as a teacher I gained her
as a friend. A good and trusted friend. And hugs to her darling
canine companion, Lucy!
Sent from my iPod