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Presented by State Library Victoria

My Thoughts (December Lit Club): Spoilers

After reading this book, I sat down and tried to write about it, but nothing came. Although I didn’t particularly enjoy this novel as a whole, I fell in love with Z and Mila. They were definitely my favourite characters, and so Mila dying was completely heart-shattering. I loved the way that the characters were developed and how the story lead Santee to so many wonderful people. However, in terms of the writing, this was probably the only bit I liked. I found the concept great and the plot okay, but I found Santee’s world pretty bland and cliche. I think that the world interestingly mirrors the current situation in American, but I don’t think it was a super interesting place for a story to be set. In terms of Santee herself, I didn’t actually like her as a character. I think that she often made silly decisions or no decision. I think that (realistically) she used all of the autonomy that a teenager has in making her own choices but as far as a story goes, it felt like she was a weak character because she didn’t really do anything. I liked the realism but I think that it made for a less interesting story.

 

Now, the thing that I really wanted to discuss about this novel were the themes of freedom and power, and mainly how they were seen in the symbolism of the wall. Whilst the wall can symbolise many things, the most obvious seems to be the wall that Trump campaigned on, the wall between the US and Mexico. I think that this is a good comparison, but that there are many other parallels that can be drawn. I think that the wall is a symbol of fear-mongering and segregation as a whole. Often politicians and those in power use subtle manipulation to influence opinions, just like in this novel. They use exclusive language and talk about “those people”, grouping people by race and religions and forcing them into stereotypical boxes. I think that often the public accepts this as common knowledge which leads to passivity and a lack of action. Sometimes it even leads to a lack of care. We live in a world where we are exposed to so much information and are constantly overloaded with news about horrible things happening, so we can often become fatigued by bad news and numb to the horrors of what is happening. Australia’s government’s climate crisis denial is upsetting and concerning, but sadly not surprising. Trump’s stereotyping and racism surprises literally no one. Every time Trump makes racist comments about whole groups of people. he encourages all of his supporters to put up their own walls and be a little less open-minded to their neighbours.

I think that the power imbalance in this novel is a troupe seen time and time again in dystopian fiction, but also in our own politics. I think that this novel is an important reminder that sometimes a little action can spark big change and that even with the power we have right now, we can make a difference. Sometimes that can even be by tearing down a wall of our own and opening ourselves up to someone different than ourselves.

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