Mike A. Lancaster
The trouble started when Kyle Straker volunteered to be hypnotized at the annual Millgrove talent show. Trying to help his friend Danny by voluteering to be one of four people to be hypnotized, Kyle prays that he wouldn't do anything too stupid under Danny's influence. However, when Kyle and the other three volunteers wake up, the entire town is frozen in whatever action they were when the four were hypnotized. After an hour of panic, everyone wakes up and Kyle is escorted home by his parents. However, though they look and sound like his parents, Kyle senses that they are not the same people he knows. When he asks about the talent show, their perception of events is completely different of his own. A doctor arrives at his house to check up on him, and Kyle claims to just feel a little ill and pretends to go take a nap. While the adults think he is taking a nap, he hears the doctor tell his parents that his is one of the 0.4 and must be dealt with. Confused and scared, Kyle races around town trying to find the other three people who were hypnotized. When they recount similar tales of strange behavior, the quartet gets scared, and rightfully so. The whole town is now their enemy...
Though a somewhat hard book to summarize, this book was a phenomenal read! The format of the book itself, being a transcript of 3 cassette tapes recorded by Kyle and transcribed by one of the 1.0's. Then, the concept of the book, treating people like programs (well, in reality more like 'objects'), was so clever. Even if this was as far as the story went, it would have been a great book, but it had more! There was a fair amount of humor in this book, unlike many recent dystopian stories. (At one point, the story turns in a very surprising direction only to flip back the other way, and it totally killed me! Read the book, you will understand...) Though really, one could argue that this is a utopian story where the narrator got left out. I recently read an article that acknowledged that many dystopian stories are very good, but that "the end of the world just isn't fun anymore" because it is getting too depressing without humor. At the end of the article, the author even goes so far to say that he wishes that authors would start writing utopian stories, and depending on how you look at this book, it satisfies both of these criteria. Another thing that I like about the book (and kind of hate at the same time) is that the ending doesn't give you all of the answers you want. It leaves you wondering about a crucial decision that the main character is about to make, and you have many questions about the nature of the new world. Talking about the book now is making me all excited about it again! If that doesn't tell you its a good book, I don't know what will.
Questions for Thought:
1. Would you/have you ever volunteered to be hypnotized?
2. What would you do if you woke up from being hypnotized and found everyone frozen?
3. How would you try to help Mr. Peterson?
4. Would you try to run away from your family after they started acting weird, or would you stay and try to figure out what was going on?
5. How would you react after seeing the entire town "joining hands"?
6. Would you have entered the silos and been upgraded, or would you stay a 0.4?
7. What do you think Lily and Kyle chose to do after recording the tapes?
8. Would you consider this book a dystopia? If not is it a utopia, or one in the making? Why or why not?
Please leave your comments and answers!
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