Sunday, February 7, 2016

So yesterday by Scott Westerfeld

You probably don't think too much about the origin of fashion and technology trends, the first people that decided to do something just because they could, only to have it become something huge.  There are people out there though who watch constantly, looking for the next big thing, the next idea that will be "the" idea. These cool hunters understand the way things work, this whole pyramid of how ideas go from the street to the shops.  The Innovators start the ball rolling with their creative individuality, and their ideas are picked up by the Trendsetters and then the Early Adopters.  The weight of the pyramid is then carried by the Consumers and finally the Laggards.  Hunter is very aware of all this, he is a cool hunter after all, but he is about to discover that there is something not quite right in his home town of New York, something that has caused some interesting shock waves to go through the Trendsetters and Early Adopters.  On top of all this confusion is a missing boss and an interesting new female friend who seems determined to shake Hunters world loose.

Writing a truly original book is challenging and brave for any author, and few manage to pull off the trick successfully.  What seems fresh and original can sometimes be extremely cliched or too clever for its own good as it tries to find a unique voice in an increasingly crowded young adult market.  Luckily for Scott Westerfeld, he did not fall into the trap of the mediocre or trying too hard when he wrote So yesterday.  I will be honest and say it takes a few pages to get used to the way Hunter talks to his audience, and tries to avoid using actual names for brands, but once you get into the flow it is kind of fun to try and figure out the brand names that are hinted at.  This book is over ten years old now, which pushes it into the retro read category, but it reads as well today as it did then and didn't feel too dated at all - probably because of the careful crafting of the story.

This is a quirky and unique voice that blends together elements of self discovery, the crime thriller, and a little touch of romance and blooming friendships.  Hunter is a complex character who initially comes across as quite shallow and self centered, but as the story develops so does he and we get to see why he is the way he is - and what he really is like.  This is quite a quick read because of the fast pace (the action happens in a matter of days) and because of the short chapters - and it should appeal to teens of all ages as well as both sexes.  There is a lot to like here and very little not to like.  Westerfeld carved a very unique niche for himself with the release of his Uglies series, and has continued to write broadly and challenge new genre with his smooth and engaging style.  I have picked up his new stuff, and I am going back to read his old stuff because it was just that good the first time, and really enjoyable the second time.  If you have only just discovered Westerfeld remember to go back and try some of his back catalogue because there is a lot to enjoy.

If you like this book then try:
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
  • Peeps by Scott Westerfeld
  • I hunt killers by Barry Lyga
  • Arrival by Chris Morphew
  • Tomorrow, when the war began by John Marsden
  • Variant by Robison Wells
  • Survival by Chris Ryan
  • The hunt by Andrew Fukuda
  • The lab by Jack Heath
  • Nobody by Jennifer Lynn Barnes
  • The walls have eyes by Clare B. Dunkle
  • The Industry by Rose Foster

Reviewed by Brilla

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