science fiction

Book Review: Among the Hidden (Shadow Series #1)

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Among the Hidden (Shadow Children #1) 

Written by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Published by  Simon & Schuster Books For Young Readers on September 1, 1998
Genre/Topics: Science Fiction, Dystopia, Adventure
Age: 10+, 153 pages 
Book Awards: Rebecca Caudill Young Reader’s Book Award Nominee (2002),Sunshine State Young Readers Award for Grades 6-8 (2001), ALA’s Top Ten Best Books for Young Adults (1999)
 

Luke has never gone to school, left his house, or met any other individual beside his family. He lives in the attic and cannot even look out windows. Luke is a third child who lives in the shadows. He must remain hidden, because he lives in a society where there can only be two children. If a third child or anyone attempting to hide a third child is discovered then the Population Police can punish by death. One day while peeking through the attic vents he notices a face in the neighbor’s window. Is it another third child who must stay hidden? How will Luke respond to the face?

I really enjoyed this book, because it had an interesting and unique plot. It contains government context and perhaps mature ideas. The book ended on a great cliffhanger and I’m ready to read the next book in the series.

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Book Review: Fahrenheit 451

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Fahrenheit 451

By Ray Bradbury

Science Fiction,179 pages

I thought Fahrenheit 451 was a good book to start Banned Books Week. The story describes a future society where books are forbidden and firefighters are required to burn all books they encounter. The title refers to the temperature that paper burns. People don’t have their own ideas and don’t discuss what they feel, instead their life revolves around picture walls (television screens) that become their family. One firefighter, Guy Montag, begins to question what are inside the books and why others want them burned. He meets a girl who tells him in the past books weren’t burned and people weren’t afraid. He also meets a professor who tells him about a time when people think. Montag’s fire captain states that without books there are no conflicting thoughts, so it keeps people happy. Montag joins others in the hopes to preserve knowledge and ideas in books.

A futuristic society where books are forbidden is scary and unfortunately it occurs. Perhaps not as bold as burning a house that holds books and written material, but just the act of challenging or banning a book creates a threat that individuals cannot think freely. It’s not possible to make everyone happy, since we all have different ideas. When you shut books you are then shutting minds that creates ignorant people in a society where they can’t think fully for themselves.

Montag’s viewpoint at the start with burning books:

   It was a pleasure to burn. It was a special pleasure to see things eaten, to see things blackened and changed. …He wanted above all, like the old joke, to shove a marshmallow on a stick in the furnace, while the flapping pigeon-winged books died on the porch and lawn of the house. While the books went up in sparking whirls and blew away on a wind turned dark with burning.

– Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Montag’s viewpoint gradually changes after meeting the girl and witnessing a woman stay in a burning house with her books.

     There must be something in books, things we can’t imagine, to make a woman stay in a burning house; there must be something there. You don’t stay for nothing.

– Ray Bradbury (Fahrenheit 451)

Professor discusses the power of books with Montag.

     There is nothing magical in them at all. The magic is only in what books say, how they stitched the patches of the universe together into one garment for us.

Reasons for being challenged:

Fahrenheit 451 was never exactly banned, but the book itself was censored into different editions to please others. Words, such as hell and damn were eliminated. Another incident changed a drunk man into a sick man. An interesting twist occurred in 1992, students at a school in Irvine, California, recieved Fahrenheit 451 with blacked out words that others thought were inappropriate. Parents complained and the censored copies were no longer used in the classroom.

References:

Banned Books: Literature Suppressed on Social Grounds by Dawn Sova

100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature by Nicholas Karolides, Margaret Bald, and Dawn Sova