My Name is O by Sam Enthoven, and Pale by Chris Wooding

I have received proof copies of two dystopian stories out in January 2012,  My Name is O by Sam Enthoven, and  Pale by Chris Wooding.

My Name is O, is set entirely in the Bank of England as O tells the reader of his daring break-in and the reason for it. We learn directly from O that he/she "was born in a special breeding programme run by our secret masters", the implication is that the reader is as much a part of this controlled society as O. But O has been singled out for particular conditioning, but without his masters knowledge he has "built a personality". O starts out pretty cocky, but gets more and more out of his depth, he doesn't understand his situation as much as he thinks. It's a gripping tale, set over a short time period in a single location, but very much part of a wider, scary world.

In contrast Pale, covers a long time period. In fact Jed grows, dies and comes back to live another life within the 69 pages. It is set in another scary world, in a future where some people can be resurrected as Pales. The Pales are completely shunned by regular society; jealousy, fear and ignorance all play a part. Sometimes feelings are understandable, it's hard to argue with a statement like "dead kids shouldn't be allowed to go to school". But it's clear people need to learn to deal with these new members of society. Jed, our narrator sees both sides. I hope I am not spoiling it by telling you he dies on page 16! It is tale of violence, betrayal and hatred with a gripping conclusion of rescue and revelation.

In both books, and like in all good Science Fiction, they tell us as much about our own lives as those of the characters in the fantasy settings. Pale in particular seems to be all about current news-worthy themes of immigration, religious differences and human rights. I think they would provide lots of discussion in reading partnerships.

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