Category Archives: Reviewed by Kaitlin

Plastic-Free by Beth Terry

It was a photograph that started author Beth Terry on her journey towards living a plastic-free life.  The sight of an albatross who had mistakenly eaten pieces of plastic – bottle caps, small toys, even a piece of a toothbrush – made her confront the reality that the consumer habits of humans have gotten out of control, and that this albatross was only one of the many creatures on land and sea who suffer from our habit of using and throwing out more plastic every year.  Terry started to notice how much plastic she was using, from shampoo bottles to candy wrappers, and decided to dramatically change her plastic consumption by seeking non-plastic alternatives and kept track of her progress in a blog.

Plastic-Free: How I Kicked the Habit and You Can Too is the result of that blog and Terry’s experiences reducing plastic use.  She acknowledges that it is virtually impossible to be completely plastic-free; there is plastic in our carpets, our electronics, and our cars that we cannot escape.  However, there are other areas of our lives in which we can strive to skip unnecessary plastic waste to decrease the amount of plastic that gets thrown away each year and will never decompose.  This book does not seek to make anyone feel guilty about their consumer habits, but rather provides endless suggestions for ways to lessen plastic consumption and includes resources for non-plastic toys, dishware, to-go containers, vegetable bags, cleaning products, and more.  Plastic-Free is positive and encouraging, and will certainly inspire anyone to try to live life a bit more plastic-free.

Uglies: Shay’s Story by Scott Westerfeld

This book is yet another addition to Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies universe, a dystopia in which people are given surgery to become impossibly beautiful and suspiciously complacent once they are teenagers.  Shay’s Story adds even more illustration to the tale, literally.  This book is a graphic novel interpretation of Shay’s side of the events which take place in the novel Uglies, as well as the story of Shay’s experiences even before she meets the main character, Tally, in Uglies.  After reading all four books in the Uglies series, it was really interesting to see the Uglies universe in pictures, and the extra details from Shay really fill out the story. This graphic novel stands alone and you do not have to read all of the Uglies books to enjoy or understand it, but Westerfeld’s characters and plots are so intriguing that Shay’s Story may inspire you to delve into the novels right away.  Another Uglies graphic novel is coming out this fall and will continue the story of this strange and captivating future.

 

After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

This is not your typical YA dystopian story.  First, it takes place in the United Kingdom, a huge move away from the typical setting somewhere in North America.  Second, the first-person narrator speaks in a particular dialect that at first can seem confusing, but then becomes a type of free verse that places you right in the mindset of the main character, 15-year-old Willo.  Third, it’s cold.  Very very cold.  Willo lives in a world of winter, where it snows practically the entire year and major European cities have dwindled to overcrowded settlements without enough food or electricity.

Against this bleak backdrop, Willo’s story begins when he returns home from trapping in the woods to find that his entire family has disappeared from their house in the mountains.  His search to find them leads him away from the only home he’s ever known in the woods on a journey where he learns dangerous secrets about his past and makes difficult choices that will affect his future.  This is a coming of age story told in a unique style in an imagined future. There are environmental and political themes in the background, but the main focus is on the story of a boy coming into his own and taking charge of his life. The book ends on a positive note and has much to offer for teen and adult readers alike.