Wednesday, December 15, 2021

C. Lee McKenzie Release - Shattered & Horror List Book Review - 1984

Well, hello!

First, I wanted to shout out C. Lee McKenzie's newest release from Evernight Teen: Shattered. Having read about her research for this book and important issues that were addressed, I'm intrigued and can't wait to read it!


Libby Brown is a topnotch down-hill skier, who is only a day away from qualifying for the winter Olympics and her shot at the gold, but someone's out to make sure she doesn't make the team. Two questions thread throughout. Who's responsible for Libby's "accident"? And will Libby's life be shattered forever?

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I wanted to update an event that I'd put out incorrect information for. The Pikes Peak Writers Write Brain "A Horror Panel to Die For" is not free. It will cost $20 to attend it online. Write Brains are usually free, so I'd mistakenly assumed this one would be, too, and had shared that information out, so that's my mistake. My fellow panelists will be Carina Bissett, Sumiko Saulson, and Clay McCleod Chapman. The event is January 18, 6:15 to 8:15 PM, online.



For more information and to register, you can go to the event at the Pikes Peak Writers website or the Facebook Event page for A Horror Panel to Die For. There will be a gift card to Barnes & Noble given out to an attendee, and I'm working on a giveaway of my own, as well, to be announced at the event.



I'm looking for help in getting the word out about the release of my craft book The Business of Short Stories. This will not occur until January, but my last couple releases have been rushed, and I'm trying to do things better this time! You can sign up to help by clicking here to go to my Google Forms sign-up link. Thank you! I'm so excited about this book!



Okay, I think it's been since September that I did a horror book review. Holy cow! I meant to be doing one per month, but new books call to me and I heed those calls. What can I say?

I'm reading through three lists of best horror with two friends (DeAnna Knippling andM.B. Partlow), posting reviews as we go. (For more information, including a list of the books, see this post.)

This week I'm reviewing 1984, by George Orwell.



This one was a brain thumper, for sure. It took me a while to get through it, not because the writing was bad (it absolutely wasn't), but I often found myself floundering to feel like there was a point. That's probably not quite what I mean to say. I got the point. I got where it was going. But it took so long to get there that I got frustrated and felt like I was flopping around waiting for something interesting to happen. Then when it finally did, it went pretty quickly. The point, of course, was to show us what the MC's world was like so we could get a feel for the totalitarian state, and then very slowly show how he started questioning and thinking and investigating and doubting.

Now, George Orwell has a lovely, literary voice, and he had good descriptions. I felt like he'd gotten so excited and into his concept that he thought we'd all want to be in there with him. For example, there's a chunk that is actually you, the reader, reading a secondary manual in the form of a book within this book. 

Also, I'm not really sure how I felt about the characters. Especially Winston, the MC. I'm not sure I really liked him, so it was curiosity that led me forward, not so much caring for the character.

Here's the thing. I think Orwell was brilliant, and that he took in a lot of the things happening in his time (the late 40s, I believe) and actually foresaw things in the future with great clarity. There are specific things he mentions that did come to pass in a way, such as using the body against itself with lie detector tests. 

I don't think that reading this book when I was younger and didn't really care about politics would have given it the same impact it had on me reading it now. So I would recommend if you read it as a teen in school that it might be worth it to read again and measure your responses and how different it feels to you now. I think that would be a fascinating experiment, and I'm a little sad I can't do that. 

I think that people of all political stripes could read this and be absolutely horrified at the state in the book, but also how visionary Orwell was. I realize that many will read it and aim that against their opposing party, but I really feel that it's reflective of ALL parties and government in the U.S., though obviously to an extreme level. And, of course, in other countries, as well. Orwell wasn't American. This book wasn't about America. Not intentionally. It feels a bit like a warning that was ignored. Is it satire? Dystopia? Can an apocalypse be political? Are all forms of politics fated to become satires of themselves and exactly what their creators were trying to avoid?

I can definitely understand why this book made it on the top 100 horror books list by Nightmare Magazine. I'm trying not to get political, but I'm honestly not sure how to review this book without doing so. It is, in point-of-fact, political. 

In an interesting aside, I scrolled through the reviews on Amazon for this book after reading it to see what others were saying. Partly because I was having trouble deciding if I *liked* the book and I was also just trying to process it, which took some time. It's a lot. Anyway, the reviews completely confirmed for me that people in various countries felt the book applied to their government/country AND that U.S. reviewers were totally aiming it at the opposing party and the government (so recent reviews were basically either calling out the Biden administration or the Trump administration, and I'm willing to bet money that going backwards would yield the same results for previous administrations). I'm not really sure if I find that hilarious or disconcerting. Both, I'd say. To me, it's applicable to all politics in the U.S. these days. Isn't total buy-in to the totalitarian state exactly what the government wants in the book? Do as I say, not as I do.

War is Peace

Freedom is Slavery

Ignorance is Strength

This is repeated throughout the book. Disturbing.

I feel like I could write a book about this book and still not feel like I processed everything as completely as I'm trying to. Fascinating book. Just maybe have a second one on hand to take breaks until it gets to the good part. Also, if you can get the one with an afterword by Erich Fromm, that's worth a read.

Have you ever read 1984? Did you do so as a teen, as an adult, or both? Did it hit you differently at different ages? Have you picked up your copy of Shattered yet? Did you sign up to help with my book release?

May you find your Muse.

8 comments:

  1. Congrats to Lee on her new book and you on your book to be released in January. I filled out your form to shout out about it for you in my Follower News in January.

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    1. Thank you! I'll get the information to you as soon as I have it.

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  2. Hi Shannon - you'll enjoy Lee's new book 'Shattered' - I loved it.

    1984 - I've read it a few times ... but that should be glanced through ... however - you might look at a new book 'Orwell's Roses' by Rebecca Solnit on How Nature Sustains us, Beauty as Fuel, for Change and the value of the Meaningless things that give our lives meaning. ... interesting - and there's an article in the Marinalian.org Dec 10th on it - used to be Brain Pickings.

    Good luck with all you've got going on ... cheers Hilary

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    1. That sounds really good. I'll check it out. Thanks!

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  3. You covered a lot of ground with this post, Shannon! I'm sure you're excited about the conference, and $20 is such a reasonable amount for this kind of collaborative event. I know it will be a success.

    Thanks so much for posting about my new book today. The post looks so elegant! I need to find a more sophisticated divider. I love yours.

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    1. Thank you! The divider is called swoosh-blue-md from clker.com. I know they have other ones. And congratulations again on your book!

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  4. LOVED Shattered - loved how Libby learned to cope and grow!

    I read 1984 in high school and was fascinated. Our teacher introduced us to dystopia - and it was a whole new genre for me. I didn't like Winston either and the entire read had me on edge - but I also needed to keep reading to see what happened. Styles have sure changed since it was written (in the 50s????)

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    1. Interesting to hear. Glad I wasn't the only one who had trouble liking the MC. I'm also glad so many have already read Shattered!

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