Every Day by David Levithan (US link, UK link) is the story of A, who lives each day in a different life. Each morning they wake up with a new body, a new name, and a whole new life. They must bluff their way through the day and then, the next morning, start all over again. They have no control over whose body the inhabit and no way to stop the transfer happening. Normally, they try to leave the people they inhabit exactly the same after the experience, but sometimes they make exceptions to the rule, such as when they spent the day in the body of a girl contemplating suicide.
When A meets Rhiannon, one day is enough to fall in love. A doesn’t want to leave her behind when they move into another body and so they start taking stupid risks for the chance to see her again. And now one of their hosts knows he was possessed and is desperate to find out what happened.
This was an enjoyable book and it was fun to see the different lives A briefly experiences. It gives a real variety of family situations, from an undocumented underage worker to the rich and bitchy queen of a high school. The book is really good for the diversity of people included, with A jumping between bodies of different races, different genders, and different sexualities. I loved that it showed the depressed sufferer as having serious problems with her brain chemistry that impacted A as well, rather than being dismissed as a “bad mood”. A themselves describes themselves as not really having a gender. Because they jump around each day, they don’t really feel either male or female but a bit of both.
Plot wise, most of the book is about A trying to stay with Rhiannon, but there is the threat of Nathan poking around, trying to uncover the truth. It’s more of a romance than an adventure.
I enjoyed this book. There were a couple of things that irritated me, including an event that happens near the end, so I won’t spoil it for anyone, but on the whole it was entertaining and enjoyable and kept me guessing. Four stars.
Viral Nation is a post-apocalyptic book with many of the standard hallmarks of a YA dystopian story. The world was ravaged by a deadly plague and now the few survivors have come together into a small number of cities. They are all reliant on a drug that keeps the virus suppressed. Without regular doses, the virus will return. In the cities, law is kept because a time portal lets the authorities know what crimes will be committed so that they can stop them before they happen.
Clover is an autistic girl who depends on her support dog Mango to help her through loud and crowded situations which are incredibly stressful to her. She is extremely intelligent and is accepted into the prestigious Academy, only to be told that Mango can’t stay with her. When she refuses to be parted from her dog, she is sent instead to be a time mariner – to travel through the portal to bring back information from the future. In her new job, she learns that the system may not be as perfect as she’s been told.
The story is told largely from the perspectives of Clover and her brother West, with occasional sections from their father’s viewpoint. Clover’s character is a real strength for this book. Her experiences and thought processes are clearly described and made understandable to non-autistic readers. The way she behaves feels completely genuine and there is a real emotional connection. That feeling of reality is also reflected in the way she is sometimes treated by other characters in the book because of her autism. There were times when I felt fury and indignation on Clover’s behalf about the unfairness of how she is treated and I wished I could leap into the pages and yell at the other characters.
On the other hand, I didn’t think the plot did justice to the strength of the main character. There were a number of plot elements that seemed really convenient. I don’t want to give spoilers, but in particular the way the time travel is handled seems to lack consistent logic and there are details that are revealed that make no sense and seem to be there only because it furthered the plot.
The book also suffered a bit for being obviously the first one in a series. There are a lot of significant plot points that go unexplained which is frustrating, but I know I do this in my own series, so I can accept this. I trust that these mysteries will be resolved in the second book of this two-part series. The second book is already out, so at least I won’t have to wait to get the answers.
This isn’t going to make it on to my favourites shelf, but it’s an enjoyable read if you like dystopias and especially if you like well-written representations of autistic characters. Three and a half stars.
I’ve been cheering myself up by revisiting a story that’s been gathering dust on my hard drive for several years. Back when I was at university, I was part of a creative writing group that often had some strange and interesting conversations. In one meeting, we got on to discussing superhero names and silly secret identities. This included Policeman Man (“By day he’s a mild-mannered police officer, but by night HE FIGHTS CRIME”) and Good For Nothing Boy.
From this collection of ridiculous names and silly puns, I started creating a story around one character in particular – Technicality Man, who has super-powered pedantry. Along the way, he gained a sidekick, Continuity Leopard. I can’t claim credit for that name either. One of the other writers in the group, a week or so after the initial creation of Technicality Man, read out a story that included a leopard described as being there for continuity purposes. We discussed the “continuity leopard” and someone suggested that it sounded like a good sidekick for Technicality Man. So the leopard got worked into my story.
The story started as the product of writing games – activities intended for fun rather than any serious writing. Over the course of several weeks, my writing games started following on from one another until they had something resembling a continuous plot. It was enough that I was able to take the output of all these writing games and stitch them together into a single story following the adventures of Technicality Man and his team of adventurers.
I never did anything with this story except read it out for the entertainment of the creative writing group. But I found it again and it still made me chuckle. It needed editing. There were a number of in-jokes that only members of the writing group would get, and so those were pruned out (most of them anyway). The end result is something that I hope will be entertaining to anyone who loves superhero stories and who is found of ridiculous puns. We all need something to laugh about right now.
I’m planning on putting it out there as an ebook, but it should come with a warning that it’s nothing like any of my other books. Watch this space for more news of it.
Today feels like the prologue to a dystopian novel. America has just elected a man who wants to torture terrorists and shoot their families; who wants to round Muslims up and put them in concentration camps; who wants to built a wall across the borders of his country; who thinks that climate change is a hoax perpetrated by the Chinese; who is going on trial accused of raping a child; who is accused of sexually harassing multiple women; who is going on trial for fraud; and who stirs up mobs with hate speech and vitriol.
I still don’t quite believe it. I’m worried what this means for the future, not just of the US but of the rest of the world too, because America has global influence. I can’t understand how anyone could vote for such a vile, racist, mysoginistic, ablist, homophobic, Islamophobic, monster.
I follow people on social media who live in the US and who are terrified or distraught or both over the results. There are people who are afraid for their lives because of this result.
If you are among those people, you have my sympathy. You are not alone. This may be dark right now, but you a lot of people are feeling what you’re feeling. Let’s survive this together.
People have been saying some very nice things about the Shadows of Tomorrow audio book, on both the US and UK Audible sites. Here are a few samples.
“A good, thought provoking science fiction adventure suitable for all ages. Recommended.”
“Shadows of Tomorrow is an entertaining scifi novel which explores of what life might be like if you could see into your future. Looks so simple but it will turn out that time is not a single, unbroken, continuous forward line. Very interesting novel adding a superb narration.”
“I absolutely loved this book. The story and well developed characters drew me in. Ended up listening to this book in three days. I loved the characters, their back stories, their flaws and their strengths. As with any good book it was the characters that made this book great.”
“What I really liked most about this audiobook is that Jessica Meats really took her time, in the beginning by fleshing out the story. Each of the supporting characters had their moment in the sun, describing how each of them became a member of the Defenders. The Outsiders are pretty horrifying creatures, so expect lots of blood, gore and death. But there’s also love and strong bonds of friendship between people thrown together by circumstances.”
“Highly recommend this different Sci-Fi to anyone who enjoys contemporary science fiction.”
“Shadows of Tomorrow by Jessica Meats is a terrific book with interesting and believable characters that you can’t help but feel for and become emotionally invested in. With the author’s attention to detail, the reader can’t help but be drawn into the story and the world in which she has created.”
The audiobook is currently rated 4.2 stars on the US Audible site and 4.9 stars on the UK site.