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Throwback Thursday – Blur by Steven James

BLURBlur-cvr.jpg (Book 1 in the BLUR Trilogy) by best selling author, Steven James, (Skyscape, 2014, $9.99, YA, Ages 12 and up) is a young adult suspense novel with a cinematic feel. Daniel Byers, a junior and the star quarterback on his high school football team, has a problem. Attending the funeral of a fourteen-year-old girl found drowned in Lake Algonquin would be hard for anyone, even for schoolmates like Daniel who didn’t really know her. And he feels slightly guilty for not having made an effort — he had seen her being ignored and even excluded at lunch and in the halls. But that doesn’t explain why he is the only one who sees her sit up in her coffin as he passes by it at the service. Or why she grabs his arm, calls him by name, and asks him to find her glasses.

Hooked yet? The corpse’s request along with her surviving twin brother’s suspicions set Daniel looking for a possibly murderous explanation for the girl’s drowning. As he continues to see real and apparently imaginary images blurring together before his very eyes, he has to decide how much to share about what he’s experiencing. Is he going crazy? Does he need help from his friends or his dad? And since this is high school, while dealing with these questions he also has to keep his football coach and college recruiters happy, and choose who to take to the Homecoming dance, an old friend or a mysterious new girl he likes that no one else seems to have noticed.

A fast, straightforward read, BLUR got my pulse racing along with the action. Sensitive types might wish for more “feels” and fewer ghastly chills, but most readers — especially younger teen boys who would like to be brave, stand-up guys like Daniel — will enjoy every minute.

– Reviewed by Mary Malhotra

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The Meme Plague (Memento Nora Series #3) by Angie Smibert

The Meme Plague, (Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Publishing, $16.99, Ages 13 and up) the third book in the Memento Nora series, by Angie Smibert, is reviewed by Ronna Mandel.

The Meme Plague (The Memento Nora Series Book #3) by Angie Smibert, Skyscape/Amazon Children’s Book Publishing, 2013.

Here’s what the jacket flap says: In THE MEME PLAGUE, the final book of the Memento Nora series, Micah and his friends have each lost something—a parent, a relationship, a home, maybe even their own identities as they remembered them to be. But together, they can make sure some things are never forgotten. Election Day is coming, and Mayor Mignon is certain to be elected to Congress. It’s time to build a new electronic frontier (MemeNet), one that’s not controlled by the mayor and his cronies. It’s time to get out the vote and shake up the system. Will they succeed before it’s too late?

I decided to take my first dive into a dystopian world, one I usually don’t visit, and found it easy to lose myself in the futuristic east coast town of Hamilton where the main characters Nora, Micah, Winter, Velvet and Aiden live. Considering the controversy surrounding the NSA’s invasion of privacy, Smibert’s trilogy including her most recent, The Meme Plague, could not be more relevant.

It’s important to note that, to get my head around the dystopian society where most of the action occurs, I needed to read books one and two before I could attempt to follow book three. Smibert’s created a detailed world with wonderfully realized characters and a complex back story that would make it difficult for most readers to just pick up The Meme Plague without first finishing the others. Memento Nora (Book One) and The Forgetting Curve (Book Two) introduced and developed a time period not so far in the future in which government and business conspire to suppress free thought in individuals through mind controlling chips implanted in them. TFCs (Therapeutic Forgetting Clinics) are cropping up everywhere and savvy teens Nora and Micah, along with their friends, figure out that not only are their actual memories being whitewashed, but new, more government and corporation serving ones are replacing them!  This concept intrigued me and hooked me in, especially the idea of technology’s role in implementing such an oppressive plan and how hacking can have its pros and its cons.

A MemeCast, a pirate broadcast to citizens who have avoided getting chipped or have been chipped but refuse to submit, serves to disperse details about where legitimate information can be found. This underground movement has grown by the time The Meme Plague take place, and efforts to brainwash Micah about his father’s past (did he really betray his country as everyone’s been led to believe) only make Micah and his friends more determined than ever to fight back and expose the wrongdoing.

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