I like to read high concept books, simply based off of their premise. In The Brief History of the Dead, we see two parallel stories. First, are the people living in the space between their life on Earth and whatever comes next. They believe they only exist in the inbetween for as long as someone on earth remembers them. And second, we see a young woman, living in Antarctica, as the rest of the world dies from a plague.
The premise alone makes the book worth reading. It’s unique, and Brockmeier does a great job exploring the intricacies and logistics of how this type of passing on would actually work. And the descriptions of how people slide from their earthly life into the next are amazing, beautiful, incredibly creative.
What really struck a chord with me is the idea of trying to figure out how many people you know, or are acquainted with. We can catalog our lives much easier with social networking, but beyond your 500 or 1,000 Facebook friends are probably 10,000 other people you’ve met at some point in your life. Every UPS person you ever signed for a package from. The woman who does your nails, and all of her coworkers she gossips with in the salon. Your acquaintance’s grandmother who you only met one time at their wedding. Thinking about the seemingly never ending web of connections you make during your life was interesting, and I started wondering how many people would be surviving in the in between space if I were the only person left on earth. And it made me want to reach out more.
The Leftovers imagines a society where approximately 1/3 of the world’s population disappears one day. Straight up disappears, without warning, evaporated from where they’re standing. No one knows where they have gone. Society shuts down for a year or two as people struggle to come to terms with it. Naturally, many believe the rapture has occurred and the “leftovers” were left behind.
The book looks at a sampling of those who remain. A father, his daughter who transforms from a straight A student into a troubled girl experimenting with sex and drugs, his son who leaves college to join a cult, and his wife, who joins a separate cult that stalks their neighbors. Another woman’s entire family disappeared and she struggles to move on.
I had never heard of Ender’s Game until about a year ago when I read about the movie casting on Deadline. They assembled a formidable cast of young actors and actresses. And well, Harrison Ford as Colonel Graff? Viola Davis as Gwen Anderson? Obviously.
I had no idea that it was a classic Sci Fi book that many, many of my male and female friends cite as the reason they love Sci Fi. Or that people read it in school. Or that it was so awesome.
The premise of the book is that the government identifies genius children and selects the most outstanding children to attend battle training school, in hopes they will someday defeat the aliens threatening their country. Families are permitted two children, but if the first two children show particular promise, they can produce a third child in hopes of creating another prodigy child. Ender (Asa Butterfield) is one of these third children.
Ender, like Neo, or Harry Potter (or Katie Holmes) is the chosen one. Continue reading
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