Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Review: Scott Westerfeld

When considering this project, i am forced to consider whether I have the ability to be impartial, or more accurately, do I have the ability to write a bad review? See, my problem is - I seem to like everything I read. Some books seem a little slow, or a little simple, or i may not like a specific character, but in general, I like everything I read. So, my goal in this blog is to show WHY i like particular pieces of work (and to anyone reading this, why I think you will like it too).

As an introduction, i would like to take a brief look at the work of Scott Westerfeld. Scott is an author I find interesting because he seems to have become quite a well known figure in the world of YA, yet I have known about him for years as "that guy that wrote the awesomest Sci-fi book ever". Even then, I only discovered him because a friend 'rescued' a damaged copy from the bookstore she worked in.

The following is a discussion of what I considered the strengh of each book/series. I have deliberatly kept away from character/plot descriptions, to try and focus on what I think makes each book, and Scott Westerfeld as an author, so special.

Title: Uglies
Premise: A society in which everyone undergoes compulsory cosmetic surgery.
Comments: When I was reading this book, it strongly reminded me of the comment I once read by Isaac Asimov, that good sci-fi came down to the question of "What If...". I felt that the author had asked the question "what if everyone had cosmetic surgery" and then examined the logical, and much more impressivly, scientific reasons for this happening. I was impressed that he explained the evolutionary reasons why particular facial and body structures would be more desirable, and therfore why it makes sense that a society would choose to adopt them en masse. All this, and what is basically a really fun, really cool, coming of age story.

Title: Peeps
Premise: Vampires, the scientific phenomenon.
Comments: This book had similar strengths to Uglies, except with a more mythological nature. It takes the idea of vampires, and all the traditional mythology thereof, eg adversion to crosses, sunlight ect, and gives them a scientific explination. The whole book is interperced with short chapters of the main character explaining about parasites, his pet obsession, so that when there are discussions of a technical nature in the book, the reader is familiar with the concept. This book has even more 'learning by accident' then Uglies.

Title: So, Yesterday
Premise: People will go to ridiculous lengths to be popular.
Comments: Backing away from the science side of things, this book instead examines popular culture, and the culture of being popular. It examines the logical extreme of the need to fit in, really making fun of the people that will do anything to fit in, but it builds up to this in small enough steps that it doesn't seem over the top, but rather the reader can see that this is where things could logically end up. It is also fast paced enough that it would appeal to a wide variety of readers, hopefully attracting the kind of people who need to hear the message most.

Title: Midnighters trilogy
Premise: A group of five students all share a secret.
Comments: This book is interesting because it explores the relationships between all the characters in the novels. It felt a lot more real to me than many other books I've read, because everything is a little unsure. All of the main characters have their own opinions about each of the other characters, both those in the group, and the outsiders they are forced to interact with. You as the reader get to consider all of these points of view, but even then there is never clearly anyone in the right or in the wrong, You quickly learn that you can't rely on any of the conventions of fiction, these people operate in something much closer to the real world, rather then the usual 'safe' world of fiction.

So that explains why I think the books are so good, but not necessarily why I think they are so popular. Scott Westerfeld's books are undeniably cool. Not in the being popular sense, in the flying around on a hoverboard, exploring subway tunnels, busting up the bad guys and saving the world kind of way. His protaginists often have a mysterious/outsider/doesn't care what anyone thinks kind of charm, that is very appealing, but they are ALWAYS very human. They are a bunch of real teenagers that get to do really cool stuff, who doesn't want to be that kid?

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2 Comments:

At September 24, 2007 at 12:15 PM , Blogger Isabella said...

Hmm... pretty interesting anaylsis. Personally I've only read Uglies/Pretties/Specials, Peeps/The Last Days and one Midnighters book so far.

But it's nice to see his sci-fi books being appreciated by not only "teens"

 
At October 17, 2007 at 11:16 PM , Blogger Nicole Juliette Canal said...

Thanks :)

I'm pretty keen to read last days, just waiting to find it at a price i can afford.

 

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