Friday, May 4, 2012

A Book I Don't Want and Kind of Hate, But Still Might Read

Today's post is kind of bizarre because I'm running on very little sleep. Spousal Unit and I got all excited last night in our 80-degree apartment, because we thought the air had finally been turned on. So we closed all the windows and cranked it, but still didn't fall asleep till late (for us). And then we woke up at 3 a.m., realizing that it wasn't AC, but some weird form of cool air that just made it hotter for us. Finally, after camping out in the living room, hanging blankets to block the street light, and opening every single window, we got to sleep. But neither of us had more than a few hours of it.

So! Here's a thing I found out about yesterday, about which I'm kinda-sorta interested and kinda-sorta pissed.

This looks just like every other dystopian young adult book I've seen/read/heard about recently: Girl is young! Girl has a bright future in crappy society that she thinks is pretty fly! Girl is destined to be with Boy! Uh oh - Crappy Society intervenes and now Girl is fighting against what she once believed in.

More accurately, this book is about a society divided by a genetics test administered at birth: a test that determines whether the child is predisposed to mental illness. Ana should have been culled with all the other "crazies," (that's what they're called) but someone failed her genetics test, so she's been living with all of the "sane" people. And now it's up to her fiance whether she gets shipped off or not. (Read: if he doesn't want to marry a potential crazy, then she'll get locked up forever.)

Wow. So many things wrong with this book's idea.

1) Mental health is not based solely on genetics. Yes, there might be a gene that makes a person more likely to succumb to depression or schizophrenia, but often, it's a person's experiences that result in such problems. Merle, in writing this, is taking on the ages-old question of nature vs. nurture and declaring nature as the winner - or that's how it seems. I haven't read this, so maybe everything gets flipped around by the end. But that seems like an awfully big presumption to make.

2) Merle is writing about mental illness. Half the people in the world are going to be pissed off at this book for one reason or another, I'm sure, as it's such a sensitive subject. For example, one review on the book's Goodreads page. That is one angry reader. And others who haven't even read the book are already ticked. Bodes well for publicity, maybe, but not for people enjoying the book.

3) Just the summary alone makes me think this book is a catalyst for prejudice. Maybe it's not - that's why I still want to give it a try.

4) WTF? Her fiance gets to decide the fate of her entire life? Yes, he disappears and then she has to look out for herself, but it still sounds to me like any semblance of girl power is going right out the window.

That said, maybe this series is an eye-opening look at mental illness. The fact that it exists might shed extra light on a highly misunderstood community. There is incredible potential in this book... which is why I'm going to read it anyway, just in case it turns out to be the best thing that's ever happened for mental health. We'll see when the book comes out this summer.

But I have my doubts.

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