Top positive review
27 people found this helpful
Kept us reading, made us think!
on July 16, 2002
My youngest child (almost 11 as of this writing) often enjoys having books read aloud, in the evening or while we're on vacation far from the television. It can be a challenge to find something we'll both enjoy. My only stipulation is that I get to pick the book (and that they won't come from his favorite horror series books) His stipulation is that we'll stop reading if the first chapter is boring.
This book was one we both enjoyed. We read a chapter or two a night, sometimes more when it was really exciting. We always looked forward to reading some more.
The main character is an outcast within an outcast society, Spaz (an epileptic loner.) He meets some other misfits -- an elderly writer in a world without books, a homeless five year old who can only say one word and an advanced (improved) human who goes against the rules of her own perfect Eden.
The story, told in first person from the view of Spaz, was engrossing, filling our minds with sometimes horrifying visions of a new futuristic world, where a huge earthquake years ago upset civilization as we now know it. The gray skied, cement grounded cities (Urbs) are run by latchlords, gang lords who make and enforce their own ever changing rules. They can and do eliminate anyone for any reason - or no reason at all. Escape from reality is sought by nearly everyone, including the latchlords. Most people have become addicts to needles inserted into the brain, giving the viewer a realistic mind show with images of a perfect world. Mindprobes have replaced drugs, TV and video games, but they are beginning to disrupt the 'leadership' of the latchlords, bringing anarchy and total destruction to the Urbs.
Far away from the Urbs (which are connected by pipelines) is Eden, home of the "proovs" who are genetically improved humans, thought to be superior to the 'normals.' "Normals" aren't allowed in Eden, where they could actually see a blue sky and green grass, things they 'd heard about from old timers, but which they believe can only be fairy tales.
Spaz's foster sister Bean - the only human who means anything to him - is dying in another Urb, and this emotionally numbed boy decides to risk leaving his Urb and travel through the pipelines to visit her one last time.
He is unhappy to end up journeying with his outcast acquaintances Ryter and Chox), aided by Lanaya (a perfect girl from Eden) on a journey to save Bean -- and while they're at it, to change the world. Likeable characters plus some who aren't so nice. A touch of violence and scary confrontations. A good book for encouraging discussions of prejudices, environmental issues, reading, writing and alternative communications.
We liked it!