Friday, August 12, 2011
What Happened to Serenity? by P.J. Sarah Collins
This is another new author for me, and another Canadian author too! In looking at her website, it would seem she is a teacher and author. The cover kind of misled me a bit- this looks like it might be a coming-of-age story and in part it is- but it is more dystopian than anything. I love finding new dystopian novels, and dystopian novels set in Canada are incredibly rare- this is a real treat.
The main character in this story is Katherine. She lives in a small agricultural town and even though the setting is 2021, the community survives by using the land to support them. They grow what they need to eat and live very simple lives. Katherine's biggest struggle is to not ask questions. In their town they must defer to "Father" the head of the town in all things. Asking questions is seen as wrong- even parents can't ask questions of their children. Katherine has a really hard time with this because she is curious about many things she sees and overhears. When her best friends sister Serenity disappears, Katherine is full of questions, but has nobody to ask or talk to. All of her friends are willing to go along with what is expected of them because they are so close to learning their Life Role. Father uses the promise of a good job to keep kids in line. Katherine starts seeking out answers and questioning the town, the leaders and even her own parents. This leads her to discover that all isn't what it seems in her 'perfect' world.
I really enjoyed reading this book. It was exciting, different and full of suspense. I found the vague references to Canadian issues to be quiet interesting- even when Katherine didn't fully understand them. I like how strong Katherine was as a character. She is deeply committed to her family and friends, but not at the cost of blindly accepting what she is told. That is the kind of child I want- someone who questions, judges and takes risks.
I'm really happy that I had a chance to read this book. I can't wait to share it with my grade 7's in the fall. My kids from last year will be really excited that I've added another dystopian novel to our bucket.