In 2008, “The Hunger Games” first hit our radars and bookish teens were introduced to Katniss Everdeen and her “star crossed” romance with Peeta Mellark. Since then, shelves have surged with teen targeted sci-fi, each series even more tenuous in its attempt to comply with the rules of dystopian fiction, rules that Carrington breaks in glorious Technicolor.
As writers, there are times when breaking the rules works well. For the past six years I have rambled to my children incessantly about producing work appropriate to task, reader and purpose. But then again, sometimes we need to be “risk-takers” and throw out the rulebook. In my classroom we like to play with genre. For example, a child in my class recently wrote a winter tale set in Victorian London, which included a bizarre cast of tyrannical robots who could set fear into the heart of Scrooge himself.
Carrington has been an ultimate risk-taker. From the moment Jesper (Boy 23) flees from his home (“My Place”), we know this book is somewhat of a game changer. Where Collins and Roth spend time building hierarchical societies (which, having been placed under totalitarian rule, later revolt against the powers that be!) Carrington cuts straight to the action in raw, nitty-grittiness.
And he does so through the fragmented mouthpiece of many different characters; an interesting discussion starter for students when exploring narrative voice, a key focal point in our study of literature.
With so many characters posing so many questions, Carrington keeps a thirsty reader waiting for answers, giving us drops of information when we want gallons, retaining the juice until the final pages where he fully quenches our curiosity. A highly enjoyable read!
Boy23 by Jim Carrington