Review: THE YOUNG WORLD
by Chris Weitz
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Pub date: July 29, 2014
To connect with Chris Weitz find him on Twitter
After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he’s secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind.
The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park…and discovers truths they could never have imagined.
Incredible window into humanity. Post-apocalyptic story after adults and children die from a virus with only teens left.
THE YOUNG WORLD contains a lot of violence and brutality, which is balanced well with humor and romance so it doesn’t feel too overwhelming. The post-apocalyptic New York City is described in full detail. Anyone who has been to NYC will recognize these places and be able to envision how it is now and what it’s like in Chris Weitz’s imagination. He took iconic places and really changed the environment to give it an after-the-world-is-nearly-destroyed feel.
The actions of many of the characters are not much different than what we see in society today. People lust for power and those are not the kind of people who make the best leaders. We see sexism, racism, homophobia. Depending on the group of YA, the role of young women varies. In one group, teen girls are forced into prostitution, in another they’re respected leaders. Intellectualism is respected, but can also be a major character flaw, depending on the situation.
Key insights I pulled from this novel that are applicable to today:
1. Treat people how you want to be treated. The Golden Rule. This doesn’t always work. Being kind doesn’t mean others will be kind back. “The Golden Rule” does brings a sense of humanity to a brutal world.
2. What do we value? Life? Liberty? Power? Friendship? Money? What we value says a lot about who we are.
3. Dwelling on the past doesn’t get you anywhere. Focus on the now. Have hope for a future, even if it seems futile.
4. Love is important. It shines light on darkness. It provides hope, comfort. Human beings need love, even when there is a good chance it will end.
5. In order to have a civilized society a person’s basic needs of food, shelter, water, clothes must be taken care of first.
6. There are people who thirst for power, and will do anything to obtain it.
7. If used to help people, intelligence is something to be valued. If valued above humanity, it becomes meaningless.
8. We NEED LIBRARIES!
9. Violence begets violence. When will understand this?
10. Society naturally breaks off into groups.
11. Some myths are true, or a variation of the truth. What do we learn from it?
12. Know your true friends. Who can you rely on?
13. Some risks are worth taking. We have to determine which ones are worth the potential consequences.
14. What can we learn from history? And are we destined to keep repeating it? It sure seems like it.
Overall impression: Although THE YOUNG WORLD is a post-apocalyptic novel, it is an insightful, unapologetic, brutal view into our society today. Readers can get a ton out of this novel if they read it with those eyes. Chris Weitz nailed the -isms and lust for power, the despair, the threads of hope. But there can’t be hope until someone is willing to take a stand. THAT may very well be the ultimate lesson. What are you willing to stand up for?
I definitely recommend this novel and am looking forward to the next book.
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