Friday, July 8, 2011

YA Dystopian: Feed, by M.T. Anderson

A while back, I reviewed the book, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian. I loved the story! The protagonist in that book gives a list of his top ten favorite books. The books are listed without the authors. One of the books listed was Feed and I determined at that time to read Feed. However, I also discovered there is more than one book with that title in the YA section and the first one I checked out was about zombies and didn't really resonate with me.

Then, I found M.T. Anderson's book listed in Book Crush by Nancy Pearl and thought, "Ah-hah! Maybe this is the one he meant!" And I bet it was.

Feed by M.T. Anderson is an excellent read. The most impressive aspect of it to me was the world-building. Having written a draft of a fantasy dystopian, I know how hard it is to give enough information to allow readers to understand your world without dumping a lot of data on them in the first pages. I have recently read a number of blogs about the importance of letting the reader do her/his share of the work and not giving everything on a silver platter. Anderson excels at that. My brain had to keep making additions and adjustments to my mental picture of the world clear to the end of the story, but never in a way that made me misunderstand what was happening. Anderson also uses lingo and dialect brilliantly to create a futuristic society, including teens with their own slang that somehow is perfectly understandable through context without ever being explained in an obvious way. Most impressive.

I did not enjoy the protagonist as much I often do in books I like. I found him to be irritating at times, but quite realistic. There are a few uses of the f-word tossed in and out throughout, so it's not a book I'd use in a traditional classroom, per se, but it IS a book that would provoke excellent discussion regarding social media's encroachment on our time, lives, and expectations. Very interesting and thought-provoking read! Published in 2002-- Anderson's vision for what the future could bring is eerie to me, given people's constant checking of Twitter and Facebook and texting...thumbs up.

Saturday, July 2, 2011

When It's Time to Begin a New Story

Everything I've read says that once you start querying, the best thing to do is to start writing the next thing. I believe them. Keep querying, mind you, but also move on. I am finding this very hard to do. I feel like i'm giving up on my middle grade manuscript if I stop thinking about it, worrying about it, hoping for it...but really, as many writer and agent blogs point out, querying is hardly a full-time job. I have a full-time job as a mother, and a part-time job writing passages and items for assessments, so really, the remaining time I spend working on my own stuff needs to be very focused.

I am almost ready to move on, I think. I've got a couple of different premises I'm playing with in my head. They are marinating. Percolating, if you will. And soon, I think, I'll be able to start a fresh new draft, set in a different world, with different characters. But there is still a sense of sadness, like I'm saying goodbye to someone I love. This is the first manuscript that I felt really WORKED. It's scary to start all over again! But starting a new work after finishing the last one is part of being a writer, at least the kind of writer I want to be.

So I'll begin. Soon.