professornana (professornana) wrote,

puritanism meets magic

THE UNNAMEABLES (Harcourt, 2008) by Ellen Booream is another dystopic novel. (and I will not do much musing about why dystopias are so popular right now, but I think anyone thinking person can figure it out) What sets this one apart from HUNGER GAMES and JENNA FOX and SKY INSIDE is the culture in which our main characters live and work. On the island, each person's last name is based on the work each does for the community. Carver, Baker, Learned, Physik all perform basic and important tasks on the island. And then there is Medford Runyuin, a young man on the verge of Transition (at the age of 15 when the children assume adult roles) who was found floating on a plank in the waters off the coast of the island. Medford has been apprenticed to the Carver and hopes that he will be permitted to take that name and continue his work. However, being an outsider makes this more unlikely. Also adding to his worries are the objects he has carved that has no usefulness. Utility is the measure of the work of a man or woman in his culture. Sometimes Medford's creations are not utilitarian. These he keeps secret. When a Goatman wanders into Medford's life, chaos follows. In the chaos, Medford faces expulsion from the community he loves.

The blend of the puritanical culture with some of the elements we have seen in HUNGER GAMES and even in THE GIVER makes this a unique offering, I think. I was quickly absorbed into the story of Medford and his community. I particularly loved Goatman and his dog whose name depends on what the dog has done each day (Nightfarts, Stinky, etc.). There are intricate details that help the culture come to life as well.

Tomorrow I head back home (I am in San Antonio acting as chauffeur for my friend Martha). I hope to add another book to the completed stack by then.
Tags: dystopias, ya books
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