starlady: (orihime)
Healey, Karen. When We Wake. New York: Little, Brown, 2013.

I have read and enjoyed Karen Healey's previous two books, and I really enjoyed this one a lot too. I think it might be her best one yet.

When We Wake is several things at once: a cautionary tale of climate change, a fast-paced SF YA thriller, and a futuristic take on the story of Snow White. The story follows sixteen year-old Tegan Oglietti, who is shot at an climate change protest in Melbourne in 2027 and wakes up 100 years later, in 2128. In the interim the United States has split into several separate countries and Australia has become the world's leading superpower, with a draconian No Migrants policy to match. Although some social issues familiar to Tegan and to us are totally absent--same-sex marriages are totally normal, and Islamophobia is now right up there with fear of the left-handed--others have only gotten worse. In particular, although Australia and other wealthy countries practice conservation policies that would make today's environmental activists weep, climate change has continued with little if any abatement, and some people are starting to fear that it may eventually lead to mass extinction. Xenophobia and anti-immigrant sentiment leave many would-be Australians in permanent refugee camps, out of sight and out of mind. To my mind both as a reader of SFF and as a historian, Healey's future is both thoughtfully and realistically laid out. (It's a minor theme, but the continuing development of journalism in the age of blogging, the internet, and personalized advertising is also believable and interesting.)

Tegan's perspective on all of this is believably complicated--as both a self- and socially aware young person, she has a decent amount of perspective on the things that have and haven't changed, but she's also dealing with, in her terms, not her own death but the death of everyone she knew and loved. On top of that, the organ donor release form that she signed is interpreted in such a way that she essentially lacks rights to her own personhood, and it's only after some clever and brave maneuvering on her part that she's allowed to attend Australia's most prestigious private school. There she makes a trio of new friends, who together bring several useful skill sets to Tegan's continuing quest to figure out why exactly the government brought her of all people back, and what the real purpose of Operation New Beginning is. (Also Tegan names Bruce Springsteen as one of her favorite musicians at one point, even though her first love is the Beatles. On that note, the chapter titles are a particularly clever touch.)

I really enjoyed this book; it's fast-paced and also thought-provoking, qualities it shares with Malinda Lo's Adaptation, which also features a girl to whom the government does unknown things trying to figure said things out, a diverse cast of awesome friends, a hot and thoughtful potential boyfriend, and a sequel! It would be spoiling things to say too much about my hopes and fears for While We Run, but I can say that When We Wake is a great example of what great YA can do and be, and if you like awesome YA or awesome SF, this book is for you.
starlady: A can of gravity from the Brooklyn Superhero Supply Co. (in emergency break seal)
Healey, Karen. The Shattering. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2011.

I liked Karen Healey's first novel Guardian of the Dead quite a lot despite some flaws, and Healey herself is one of those people I know mostly from the Internet and would like, in a perfect world, to know better. *waves* So when I was offered a signed ARC of her second novel, The Shattering, I was quite excited. I think in a lot of ways this is a tighter book, and maybe even a better one, than Guardian of the Dead, and I enjoyed it a lot - though, rereading my review of the first book, it's clear that I liked the first one better, or at least, that one got me in the emotions in a way that this one didn't quite manage.

Mild spoilers also contain discussion of suicide )

All in all, I'm looking forward to Healey's next book, When We Wake.
starlady: the cover from Shaun Tan's The Arrival, showing an aquanaut in suburbia (i'm a stranger here myself)
I'm almost out of canned reviews to post. Clearly this means it's time to binge on media.

Also, yesterday I took my bird to Starbucks because I had taken him to get clipped and I wanted iced coffee, damn it (though Starbucks iced coffee is execrable, which tells you something about my level of desperation). Starbucks has no service animals only signs, so it was totally legit! And the only person who noticed was the cashier. I feel that this is an important step towards becoming a strange bird woman™ in my middle age.


Healey, Karen. Guardian of the Dead. New York: Little, Brown, and Company, 2010.

I read this book while I was delayed on my way to WisCon. By the end of my first flight I was doubly glad to be going to WisCon so I could tell the author just how much I liked her book at the party she was hosting for it on Friday night. And I did! Because it really is awesome (and the author herself is pretty awesome too; I hear she makes a mean midori sour).

Anyway. Guardian of the Dead tells the story of Elle (Eleanor) Spencer, a seventeen year old Paakehaa (non-Maori and/or white person) going to boarding school in Christchurch, New Zealand while her parents tour the world to celebrate her mother's cancer going in to remission. Elle is tall and emphatically anything but thin; she doesn't have many friends besides Kevin Waldrup, who is her best friend. But when she allows Kevin to volunteer her to be the fight coordinator for his friend Iris Tsang's university production of A Midsummer Night's Dream, both Elle and Kevin quickly become mixed up in an inhuman struggle out of Maori mythology, with their mysterious classmate Mark Nolan proving central to the mystery, and the fight it holds.

Awesome sauce. )

In conclusion, I teared up a few times. New Zealand! Chromaticism! Feminism! Comic books! Magic! What more can you want, I ask you?

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