If you like… Time Travel

If you follow me on Goodreads or other social media, you may have noticed a theme in my reading choices lately. You are not imagining it. I am binge reading time travel novels. This is not a new reading interest, by any means. I did a project on time travel fiction for one of my library school classes eleventy billion years ago, and I will sometimes admit that I have the beginning of a time travel novel of my own creation saved on my computer. I started it years ago, and I always say I’m going to finish it but that’s not what this post is about. Lay off!

Focusing on the matter at hand: If you like time travel fiction, what should you read next? Here are a few newish suggestions:

For Kids: The Time Museum by Matthew Loux is a fun adventure that takes readers all over time in graphic novel format. My daughter enjoyed it and is eagerly awaiting the next book in the series.

For Teens: The Passenger by Alexandra Bracken and Into the Dim by Janet Taylor are very similar stories. Both fall into the “Hey, your mom is secretly a time traveler and in serious danger from a rival faction of time travelers and you will have to rescue her somewhere in time” category. Apparently, that’s a Thing. Who knew? Anyway, both were good, but probably don’t read them back to back like I did or you’ll probably find yourself confusing the details and growing tired of the genre. Tempest by Julie Cross is slightly different in that it’s more of a spy thriller, but still has a secretive parent and possibly evil time travelers with whom the protagonist has to contend.

So which one should you read? If you want plenty of romance in your time travel story: The Passenger. If you want an action-oriented story with a male lead: Tempest. If you want a story that spends a lot of time in the distant past: Into the Dim.

For Adults: If you missed my post about The Jane Austen Project, that’s where you should probably start. That was the book that began this little genre binge of mine, and I recommend it to readers of historical fiction who want something unusual as well as those who, like me, are obsessed with time travel. If you’re more of a mystery/thriller kind of reader, try A Murder in Time by Jill McElwain. It’s the sort of book that I couldn’t put down despite feeling like it was a little bit cheesy. If I’m honest, a bit of cheesiness is part of the fun of time travel stories, at least for me.

Of course, there are as many reasons for reading a particular genre as there are readers. Some people are enamored with the idea of a do-over or want to mull over the paradoxes. For me, it’s the silly anachronisms and the fish-out-of-water elements that make it fun to read. Not to mention: star-crossed love. I can never seem to resist a love story, even if it makes me cry.

Links of interest:

If you like… Ender’s Game

After I posted about Hunger Games readalikes, I spent the next weekend devouring both Legend and Divergent.  It was a bit too much dystopia in one weekend for me, but I did enjoy both books.  If you like stories about child prodigies and militaristic training in the future, you might like one or both of these books.  In some ways, the books were like “Ender’s Game lite,” at least that’s how it felt to me.

Ender’s Game has been one of my favorite books for over ten years now.  On the surface, it doesn’t seem like something I’d ever pick up.  Military training for children?  Competitive war games?  Weird insect aliens?  Meh.  Of course, it is also about how we push ourselves to our limits in good and bad ways to accomplish something staggering.

That’s pretty much exactly what happened with Cory Doctorow’s For the Win.  At a quick glance of the back cover, it looks like a book about video games, economics, and China.  None of which really catch my attention.  But then I started reading.  Yes, there is a lot of detail about economics, labor issues, and video games, but somehow the book manages to make even long lecture-like tangents about economics amazingly fascinating by immersing readers in the emotional turmoil of the characters in the story–much like Ender’s Game did.

Give it a chance, even if it doesn’t seem like your thing.

 

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If you like… The Hunger Games

I felt like I was the last person in the kidlit/library world to read The Hunger Games trilogy, but at this point it seems everyone in the world has read it–even those who don’t often read teen fiction.  I think this is awesome, of course.  All the better for me to recommend more teen fiction to all my friends who loved the series and need something to read while they are waiting for the movie.

Without further ado, here are my suggestions:

  • For post-apocalyptic weirdness: I liked Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien, which is about a young girl whose parents are mysteriously whisked away into “the enclave.” She tries to find out more about what happens and learns a lot about the realities behind the weird post-apocalyptic system they’ve set up.  The sequel, Prized, is almost better than the first book, in my opinion.
  • For futuristic romance: It doesn’t get better than Matched by Ally Condie.  It is set in a future where young people are “matched” by the government with the person they will marry, who runs pretty much everything in a really creepy way, but a mistake with Cassia’s matching ceremony gets her thinking about what other mistakes they might have made.  It will also be a trilogy.
  • For the stuck on a spaceship with a possibly crazy leader angle: Definitely try Across the Universe by Beth Revis.  In this one, Amy and her parents are frozen on a spaceship traveling to a far away planet they are supposed to colonize, but Amy is unfrozen a bit early–like fifty years early–and things are really weird on the ship.  The sequel is out today, by the way.  And I’m pretty sure this one will be a trilogy as well.
  • For all the action: Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is an oldie-but-a-goodie, but everyone is talking about Legend by Marie Lu as the book for Hunger Games fans.  I have yet to read it, but I want to. Here’s the trailer:

There are so many more dystopias for teens (and adults).  What are some of your favorites?

Dystopias for everyone!

 

Mockingjay by Suzanne Collins

 

Finally got my hands on a copy of Mockingjay.  For those not in the know, Mockingjay is the third in a dystopian trilogy for teens.  I’ve been waiting for this book for ages, but only just now got a copy to read since I was too cheap to pre-order it.

While I waited I read every teen dystopian novel I could find.  Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien was very engaging, but I didn’t feel like the world completely gelled for me.  Matched by Allison Condie, however, was spot on.  The dystopian world was well drawn and believable.  There is less action than Hunger Games, but I think that many teens (and probably some adults) who were fascinated by the future world Katniss lives in will love Matched.

At the MEMO conference, I attended a session led by three middle and high school librarians about teen fiction.  They recommended Maze Runner and its sequel as Hunger Games readalikes.  I liked that they recommended two adult novels in the science fiction section: Margaret Atwood’s newest and The Unit by Nina Holmquist.  I hope to read both of them.  I also have an ARC of the teen novel Water Wars (pub date Jan 2011) sitting on my desk waiting for me to read.
At breakfast with a group of my friends last weekend, the conversation turned to books.  Dystopian novels, specifically Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, came up as being favorites of several of us at the table.  What is it about these books that fascinate so many people?  Are we looking for similarities to our world?  Or escaping our reality to something we can’t imagine?  I guess it depends on the person and the book.  Either way, it’s a highly readable genre that is perennially popular.

I just happen to have a couple of lists (Dystopias for adults and dystopias for kids) on my wiki because I love giving everyone more titles for their reading lists.  Enjoy! :)

Book Review: Alas, Babylon

Alas, Babylon piqued my interest with an annotation that held promise of a “stunning” survival story after a nuclear attack.  I am not too proud to admit my interest in such stories, so I quickly procured a copy from my local library.

The title refers to a code agreed upon by two brothers in case of an end-of-the-world type of emergency.  It was the 1960’s, after all.   Our main character, Randy, isn’t given much time to prepare for the looming apocalypse but he has more time than most.  His home (and supplies) quickly become a refuge for family and friends in need, and we watch Randy slowly turn from failed politician with an alcohol problem to community leader and survivalist.

I can’t imagine it’s too realistic for a small area in Florida to be completely unaffected by radiation, but  I didn’t really expect post-apocalyptic fiction published in 1959 to be particularly realistic.  I also wasn’t expecting much in the way of character development.  With those expectations set aside, I can say that I was satisfied with the story.  Fascinated, even, with certain aspects of the how the group managed to survive and what their world was like after such a catastrophe.

Readers who liked Life As We Knew It who want more but aren’t quite ready for something quite as heavy as The Road (full disclosure: I was not quite ready for The Road) will probably like Alas, Babylon.  There was nothing particularly “stunning” about it, but it was a decent survival story that shows its age in a somewhat charming sort of way (if you will).

Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
Harper Perennial Modern Classics (2005)
Originally published 1959
More info: Wikipedia, Reading Group Guides
Read More: Dystopian Futures

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