Feed

cover image for FeedAnderson, M.T. (2002) Feed. Somerville, MA: Candlewick Press

Plot Summary:

Titus is hooked up 24/7 to FeedNet via an implant he received at birth, which gives him a direct line from his brain to all the internet has to offer.  While spending spring break on the moon, Titus and his friends run into Violet.  Violet isn’t like other girls; for one, her feed is new, she hasn’t had it since infancy.  For another, she isn’t so sure that life is unlivable without it.  In fact, she thinks that for her, life might just be unlivable with it.

Critical Evaluation:

Feed depicts a world in which decisions are made to maximize short term pleasure at the expense of education and culture, and in which class differences and are widened to an alarming and tragic degree. The Feed itself is created and controlled by a conglomerate of corporations, providing even more critique of consumerism and economic inequality.It’s an unusual book and, typical of Anderson’s work, it’s style is not one that will appeal to all teens.  It is, however, thought provoking, fascinating, and stands up well 10 years and several billion new websites later.

Reader’s Annotation:

Titus and his friends went to the moon to have fun, but the only part of that trip that did not suck was meeting Violet.

Author Information:

http://www.mt-anderson.com/

@Manderson_Rules

Genre:

Science Fiction

Booktalking Ideas:

The hook for this will definitely be the idea of the internet jack to your brain.  The trick will be to not make it sound to much like a lecture, or else it will turn kids off.

Reading Level/Target Age:

7th grade/14-17

Potential Controversy:

Most adults would approve of the idea that media dumb down kids (which isn’t necessarily what Anderson is saying, but is what many people will get from it) as well as give respect the praise and awards it has received, but some will not like the accusations aimed at capitalism or the destructed behavior exhibited by the teens in the book.

Reasons for Choosing This Title:

I liked Octavian Nothing and I like science fiction, so I figured this would be the perfect combination.  Sadly, not so much, although it was good.

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Matched

cover image for MatchedCondie, Ally. (2010) Matched. New York, NY: Dutton Books.

Plot Summary:

On her seventeenth birthday, Sorters from the Matching Department will announce who Cassie will be partnered with.  Cassie knows her match will be perfect, only the best Sorters do Matches and every pairing is based on statistics and experience.  But when her Matching Card flashes two images, not just one, Cassie begins to doubt the well-ordered society she lives in.  Can she find out the truth behind the false match? Does this mean there is a flaw in the Match she was given? Is there more going on than citizens have been led to believe?

Critical Evaluation:

Like many dystopias that appear to be set in a future North America, I kept wondering where all the blacks, Hispanics, Asians, and Native Americans were – it’s never said that everyone is white, but the only people whose appearance is described are white.  It’s a bit jarring, especially in a book in which every aspect of people’s lives are controlled.  I kept wondering if maybe there was something more sinister at play – and then deciding that no, it’s simply bad writing.  Aside from being shockingly (but, depressingly, not unusually) non-inclusive, this kind of oversight points to incomplete world building.  There are times when the future that Cassie lives in feels cohesive and possible, at other times the gaps in our knowledge seem to be more because the author does not know than because the Citizens do not.  Cassie, at least, is a likable and believable heroine, flawed, determined, and curious.  In the end it’s not a bad book, merely a pedestrian one.

Reader’s Annotation:

Cassie, now that she is seventeen, is about to find out who she will be Matched with.  She knows that whoever it is, he will be perfect; the Sorters never make mistakes.

Author Information:

http://www.allysoncondie.com/

@allycondie

Genre:

Science Fiction

Booktalking Ideas:

As with most dystopias, the premise is what will draw readers in and what I would emphasize.

Reading Level/Target Age:

4th grade/14-17

Possible Controversy:

As with all dystopian novels, there is a lot in here about corrupt governments and questioning authority.  It’s also part of the recent trend that is almost nostalgic about modern day, however, so it’s less likely to attract challenges than other popular dystopias.

Reasons For Choosing This Title:

This is one of the dystopias I read for our group project; it’s a title that I’ve heard many people talk about and have helped many teens request.