Born in the eighteenth year of Enclosure, ten-year-old Honor lives in a highly regulated colony with her defiant parents, but when they have an illegal second child and are taken away, it is up to Honor and her friend Helix, another "unpredictable", to uncover a terrible secret about their island and the corporation that runs everything.
I didn't find Honor's character to be very compelling and I didn't connect to any of the characters. I found the dystopian storyline fairly dull and listless and, at times, found Goodman's writing to be overly simplistic. It's not a bad book, but it could've been much more interesting if it had been a bit bleaker. Instead, I'd rather re-read "The Giver." Now THAT'S a good dystopian book.
Honor is the central characters and everyone else is secondary. Honor is very strong willed and even though you admire her for her convictions sometimes you want to shake her and tell her to pick her battles. Since the story is from a ten year-old's perspective it is interesting to see how she grows to understand what her parents were trying to tell her. Not a bad tale, but it did move slowly in some parts. Still, I got involved enough to want to find out what happened.
I really loved Honor. She was so innocent and willing to believe anything everyone said that I fell instantly in love with her. It was painful to have to see her slowly drained of everything that made her Honor and I watched helplessly as another plot twist would come up and she would adapt to that new way of being and forget who she had been. She changed so much over the course of the book but ultimately found herself again.
I also liked that the author slipped in the bits of the history book as Honor's homework because it lets the reader catch up with what happened to get humans to this point without overwhelming her.
However I have to say that I thought Honor's running off into the woods was unrealistic. She might have left Helix and Quin behind but it seemed uncharacteristic and she should NOT have been able to survive out there. She knew nothing of surviving in a wild fores and there wasn't enough food even if she had known where to find it. Also some moments in the book were predictable like in a movie when the music changes and you know something bad will happen. I knew she would see her mother at the bakery and I knew her parents would be gone that day when she got home. The Pratts and her father being alive I did not suspect at all though.
Overall I give it 3 and 3/4 stars.
Its also about a mystery corporation, drugs that affect memory, and lies, that may, or may not be true. Its about weather control (kind of) and what is safe.
The first half of the book was great - we get Honor trying to fit in at her school, following the rules. Her parents don't follow the rules, and Honor is very frustrated by this.. she just wants to fit in. We get hints about what the "Corporation" is doing, but its fragmented, told from a point view who doesn't know very much about the world nor is told very much about the world. Its the second half that gets weird... It reminds me of that 70's TV show where a man is on this island, given a number for a name, is surrounded by odd people, and drugged at every opportunity. The story became surreal, other worldly. I liked the book up until the end. The ending suddenly stops and the author writes a note explaining why it suddenly stops (its up to you, dear readers, to decide how it ends). It was incredibly jarring, not very nice, and made me quite angry... even adding one extra chapter would have helped immensely.
This fell flat for me. I almost felt like I didn't know what story the author was telling. Is this the parent's story, or the child's story? I never felt invested in either. I kept feeling angry at the parents, recklessly putting their children's lives in danger, in most circumstances I admire the character who plays within the rules, and takes those rules and slightly bends them to his or her own benefit. Not the couple who ignore the rules and then get plucked out of their children's lives leaving them to fend for themselves.
I saw very little character growth in Honor, her as a ten year old and her as a fourteen year old were the same. Too much of the book felt like "here is an example of why the society is bad" "hey look an incidence of control", the society was never shown as evil, and instead of realistic subtlety, it just felt not fully fleshed out. I had a hard time believing that these "orderlies" were fully brainwashed into doing complex tasks with no rebellion, but Pamela could send a code in base two to her daughter. The ending wrapped up very quickly and easily, with no sense to me of immediate danger.
I guess I am enumerating the flaws because they so easily don't have to be there. It felt more like a draft to me than a finished book. Some more focus, attention to audience and which story exactly should be told. I think I should try the author's adult books, I think I might find ther focus matching the writing there.
This book is similar to other futuristic children’s books, like the City of Ember books and the Shadow Children series. If you liked those books then you’ll probably like this one; however, it’s not a standout. I liked how some of Earth Mother’s rules were similar to the rules of the former Chinese ruler Mao Zedong, like how all people had to hang a picture of her in their house and have a book of her sayings. It is truly frightening how Earth Mother and the people who work for her are able to control the population.
It is set on an Island where the people are controlled by Earth Mother. Earth Mother is worshiped like a G-d. Earth Mother controls the weather. All books and sayings some how include earth mother. People must abide by Earth Mother's Rules such as staying in their house after curfew, going to bed at certain times, teaching children certain things.
Honor and her parents come to the Island from the North. It is clear from the beginning that Honor's parents are resisters (they have a second child, when this is not the norm, they name Honor with an H name as instructed but the H is silent so she's different, they stay out after curfew, they sing songs they are not supposed to, etc.). Honor is unhappy about this and even eventually changes her name to Heloise b/c she wants to fit in. She doesn't understand why her parents defy Earth Mother, even tho they drop many hints along the way.
I didn't find the language in this book interesting. the writing was very flat. The descriptions didn't really help me to see any type of scenery. The characters weren't interesting at all. The only character that grew was Honor, the others just kind of drifted along.
I also found there were many mistakes in the book. The author would say one thing but then a few chapters later it was contradicted. For instance, the school children who had parents wore a certain uniform while those who were orphans wore something different. Yet, when Honor becomes an orphan, she still wears the same school uniform. This was confusing to me.
I give this book a 2/5. I'm glad it's not a series b/c I would not read any more of them.
The book was an excellent read and as the author intended left me with questions. I will be highly recommending this book to my students.
Just re-read this, and found it more engrossing the second time through--which tells me it's better than a lot of the recent crop of dystopias. Still, the inconsistencies, and I still had a moment of "what??" when I hit the line about "she knocked back an arrow." No, you knock back drinks; you nock arrows. Arrrgh. Anyway.
Honor is 10 years old when her family moves to Island 365 in the Tranquil Sea. Her parents tell her it's an adventure, moving to this place, where they have no jobs and no money and everything is regulated by the Earth Mother and the Corporation. Honor desperately wants to fit in with the girls at her new school, but it's hard with parents like hers--parents who aren't willing to do the things they're supposed to, parents who have a second child, parents who name her Honor instead of a name with a proper "H" sound for her year--a name like Helen, or Hortense, or anything besides Honor. Eventually her parents are busted for their crimes (not a huge spoiler; it's pretty obvious from the beginning) and Honor finally gets wise to the world. WIth the help of her best friend Helix, of course.
Post-apocalyptic in that the planet is mostly destroyed; what's left are islands all over. We get infodumps a lot in the beginning as Honor is studying for the entrance exam for the school, and as infodumps go, they're pretty well integrated into the story, so kudos for that. This is more a dystopia, though; the Corporation controls absolutely everything, including the weather and the stars in the sky. Deviations from the norm are not tolerated; books are sanitized to eliminate any sad content or mention of things like bad weather; people who do not fall in line are drugged to the gills and given menial jobs.
Similar to the forthcoming Eye of the Storm (Kate Messner) for control of weather, Secret Under My Skin (McNaughton) for classism and societal control, Inside Out (Snyder) for classism, work assignments, and discovery of secret, forbidden spaces. Middle school level, maybe grades 6-9? A little more advanced than City of Ember, but not a taxing story by any means.
Looking at the other reviews of this book, it looks like you either love it, or think it's okay. I'm on the latter bench. I think it's a great dystopian book for slightly younger readers (middle school?) but it didn't grab me the way I wanted it to. The world, as intriguing as it is, never felt as real to me as (f'rex) Exodous, or even The Secret Under My Skin. I don't think we saw enough of the other characters--I'd have liked to have seen more interaction early on with Helix--and as a result, I never really locked onto anyone as the "identity" character. Oh, I feel for Honor, certainly--what pre-teen hasn't gone through the struggle to blend in with her peers?--but I never connected with her.
As sci-fi goes, this will be a pretty easy sell, and I really didn't hate it--I just didn't love it, is all. Add in a couple of inconsistencies along the way (a classroom pet goes missing after a storm, but then is around to cause a ruckus soon after?) and I'm going with around 3.5 stars.
The reason I did not give this book a higher rating is because I believe - as many other reviewers seem to - that the characters were a bit weak. Honor is developed to a certain degree but none of the other characters really were - including her parents, her best friend and her brother.
From the author's notes at the end of the book it seems that she is happy where it ends. I liked the ending but there is definitely room for a continuation in the future. I would read a sequel if there were one.
Overall a very enjoyable read.