712 book club this week!
Thursday is the February meeting of the 712 Book Club for y’all in grades 7-12. We’re reading our way through some different kinds of dystopian fiction, since there’s so much of it and it varies a lot! (Last month was Enclave by Ann Aguirre, which was awesome. The sequel, Outpost, is out now and is similarly great.) Read on to find out why you need to be reading this book right now:
This Thursday, in honor of last week’s Valentine’s Day – a day that celebrates all things chocolate – we’re reading All These Things I’ve Done by Gabrielle Zevin. In the dystopian world that she imagines, food is somewhat limited, water is rationed, phones are strictly landlines and cost a bundle, alcohol is legal for everyone, and coffee and (worst of all) chocolate are utterly illegal.
Anya Balanchine’s family is the Russian mafia and she’s a no-nonsense kind of girl. She runs her family, her immediate family that is, as she is in charge of her sister, brother and ailing grandmother (who was born in 1995, just to give you some idea of when this story takes place), after her father was gunned down when she was young. Even when her older brother, who is mentally handicapped, is recruited to work for “the family” under somewhat suspect terms, and she gets sent to jail for dishing out poisoned chocolate, Anya keeps it together. Nothing can cause her to waver from the path of doing what’s right for her family and friends. Luckily for us, there is a forbidden romance in Anya’s future. It might be the only thing that can shake up her cynical, overly practical worldview and let her change her life, and that of those around her, for the better.
The world is not an easy place in this dystopian version of New York City, yet the cool thing about Zevin’s futuristic NYC is that the government’s corruption and distorted sense of rules and regulations have meant that life is sort of a throwback. There are no hover cars or people living on the moon, because dystopia means that people really just live harshly. The rules are strict, and so just like in historic times, such as the Prohibition Era in the 20s, people find a way to get around them. There are speakeasies. And weirdly harsh prisons. Teens get “high” on coffee and chocolate, but don’t like the taste of alcohol, which is legal for everyone, so don’t drink it much.
It’s a really cool example of the dystopian idea that is everywhere in books these days. More like the sci-fi dystopian classic Fahrenheit 451 than the more violent and dark books like The Hunger Games, it’s realistic fiction zoomed into a future gone a bit wrong.
Come chat about it over pizza and chocolate (which is legal here, thank goodness) this Thursday!