Tuesday, February 4, 2014

The Power of Choice

We've talked a lot about holding the power, acquiring it, even being given that power, but I think the power of choice is one of the pivotal things that can happen in a book, ESPECIALLY YA literature.

This week, we're reading Matched by Allie Condie.  Cassia has to make a choice between two boys: the one that she has been told she should marry and the one that it's against the law to marry.  That choice is basically what sets off the whole book.  It's her choice that makes thing turn out the way that they do.

The Giver also presents us with that choice.  Jonas has to make the choice between life and death, right and wrong, a decision only he can make, because he is the only one that has the ability to see past the gray.  He is the only one who can see beyond what has been spoon-fed to him by his government.

You see it everywhere, and in most dystopian/Utopian novels, it's the power of choice that upsets everything.  In The Hunger Games, all choice is taken away.  They can't live where they want, they can't even choose what happens to their lives.  It's all at the mercy of The Capital (which, ironically, chooses one girl and one boy from each district to, essentially, sacrifice themselves.)

It's only when Katniss takes that power away from them (by choosing to kill herself if she couldn't save both her and Peeta), that everything went to hell.  Suddenly, people had a choice.  Suddenly they realized what choices they did have.  And believe me, they made them.

Unwind is one of the most powerful examples of choice, or rather the lack thereof.  The kids don't have the choice of whether they live or die: it's all decided by adults who may or may not want them.  All three of the kids in that book make the choice to live, to survive, for better or worse.  They make the choice to try and change the system, that system that made the choice to unmake these kids.

Look at the books that you have on your shelf?  How many of them completely turn the book on its head for no other reason than they wanted the power to choose back?

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