Days Like This More News and Reviews

Danielle Binks has given Days Like This 5/5. Thank you, Danielle! This is what she says:

“I really, truly loved ‘Days Like This’ for a number of reasons. Alison Stewart has done an impressive job of making heroes out of her young protagonists; the kinds of characters you can cheer for and live their bravery vicariously. The novel is also a brilliant mesh of past histories, so that the Dystopia-setting feels like a culmination of this century’s worst political and societal mistakes – making the bleak setting all the more terrifying for its pseudo-reality. But, above all else, Stewart’s ‘Days Like This’ invokes chest-swelling, fist-pumping pride purely for being a true-blue Aussie YA Dystopian novel! Let’s just hope this it is the first of many.” For more, see her blog: http://alphareader.blogspot.com/2011/07/days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html

I was impressed by Mandy Kilpatrick’s review on Penguin Teachers’ Corner. Mandy is the librarian at Kings Meadows High School and here is her review:

“In the future nothing is easy. Global warming has taken its toll, resources are scarce and the Committee, who rule with an iron fist, erected a wall to protect the citizens of Sydney.  For 16 year old Lily the world is a strange place, her parents are detached, she is not allowed to leave the house or even look out the windows and once a week the Committee Blacktroopers burst into her house and force the family to take their mandatory medications. Lily’s family has supposedly privileged status (they live in one of the water-inclusion zones, allowing them such luxuries as a garden) yet all three children are restricted to the house and have been for the past three years. Lily’s brother Daniel is plagued by headaches that leave him weak and disorientated.  When he disappears, Lily realizes that her parents’ lack of answers and the edicts and rules of the Committee may be hiding some disturbing secrets. Armed with nothing more than a hunch and an amazing amount of courage, she leaves her sister and parents, which is no easy feat. She escapes the house where she has been held a virtual prisoner to search for her brother.  Faced with the frightening possibility of violence from the Blacktroopers and no idea how the world may have changed she starts on a journey that will change life as she understands it.

A riveting dystopian novel for secondary students, Stewart’s descriptive writing style and fast paced plot make this book an easy, enjoyable read.  I will most definitely recommend Days Like This to my students.  The fast pace of the story and abundance of action ensures that it will appeal to more than just fans of dystopian fiction.  Lily’s story of betrayal, heartbreak and redemption, her amazing courage, survival instinct and compassion makes her a character that young adults will want to relate to.

The themes include, corruption in society, powerlessness of teens and people wanting to ‘play God’ with science. This coupled with the setting of a dying world (post global warming) mean that there are many teaching opportunities contained within this text. At around 300 pages it may be a struggle for reluctant readers but could make an excellent class novel for an advanced English class (around grades 9 or 10).  Despite the protagonist being female both boys and girls should enjoy this novel, particularly fans of Ally Condie’s Matched. Days Like This could be used to great effect in literature circles, as it covers issues that question morality and encourage students to address the issues that could arise as global warming takes its toll and natural resources disappear.

This novel really blew me away. The possible topics touched on in this book are nearly endless. The themes contained are very topical and can easily be integrated into the new curriculum (for example used within SOSE as a type of “worst-case scenario” or using extracts to jump-start creative writing in English). Because of the easy to read style and many layers within the novel it also has a very wide potential readership. The dystopian themes mean that this is a book that can be enjoyed by older readers as well.”

 

As the previous post shows, there are some seriously wonderful school librarians out there, deeply involved with books. Tye Cattanach is Library Coordinator at Manor Lakes P-12 Specialist College. Tye has written a great article called “Books for Boys”, where she recommends Adrian Stirling’s The Comet Box, Pittacus Lore’s I am Number Four/The Power of Six, Oliver Phommanvanh’s Thai’Riffic and Con-Nerd, James Holland’s Dunkirk: Duty Calls and also Days Like This – thank you, Tye!

She says in part: “The themes explored in the novel are topical and timely, and lend themselves fluidly to class novel study exploration without ‘preaching’ or having students feel as though they are being ‘spoken down to’. The characters of Days Like This will, in fact, make teen readers feel empowered and encourage them to explore further those issues that largely affect the world they will come to control. Days Like This has been extremely well received by a wide readership in my library.”

Varuna, The Writers’ House is running daily author readings on its blog. They’re worth listening to, to get an idea of who is behind the writing. Have a listen:

http://varunathewritershouse.wordpress.com/2011/09/20/writer-a-day-alison-stewart-reading-from-days-like-this/

It’s terrific to see Days Like This readers willing to discuss issues the book raises. That’s what dystopia is about, I think – looking closely at our world whose course we still do have the power to influence.

Alphareader has also done a Q&A at: http://alphareader.blogspot.com/2011/08/interview-with-days-like-this-author.html 

For those who haven’t read it, Days Like This is set in a future Sydney. While the rest of the world struggles to deal with global warming, catastrophic weather, famine and social upheaval, the sinister Committee takes control of the city. As desperate people needing food, water and shelter pour in, the Committee fortifies the city, enforces rigid rules and uses its security forces to turn out without wealth or connections. Lily, the narrator is lucky. She and her brother and sister are allowed to stay within the city Wall but the siblings soon wonder how lucky they really are. I’m interested in the social issued raised here.

Bec Kavanagh (A Thousand Words Festival) has written a thoughtful essay on dystopia titled: A (not so) perfect existence. Bec uses Marie Lu’s new book Legend and Days Like This as two examples of the genre.

Bec, who has given both books 4/5, writes: “There is a bit of a pattern with dystopian fiction, as obviously each book has the common themes of rebellion against an unjust government, however that’s not to say that authors can’t make the genre their own. It’s an important genre too, especially at a time where blind faith in our goverment seems like a really bad idea. Books like Legend may on the one hand be a gripping read for the weekend, but on the other, they remind us to question what we are told…Days Like This took me a bit longer to get into. However once I was in, it was equally rewarding. The problem (one of the few) was that there are so many big issues to explore in a dystopian society that standalone books don’t often get to explore everything they introduce as fully as they could. It is actually an excellent book, and I wish that I could have spent more time with the characters and really nutted out the whys of this intriguing society. As with Legend it is the characters that make the book interesting and offer the most surprises and their motivations add to the complexity of the story.

Both are excellent examples of young adult dystopia and in a genre that has really been claimed by young adults (both writers and readers) recently, these are excellent additions to any fiction lovers bookshelf.” For the entire piece, go to: http://athousandwordsfestival.com.au/758/a-not-so-perfect-existence/

Thank you Kai for your 4.5/5 rating. I was really pleased to see that you also drew attention in your review to what I was trying to say with Days Like This – that we do have the power to reflect on what kind of a society we want. Taking issues of today and imagining a future if these issues aren’t addressed is a really important part of the political and social process. Here’s part of Kai’s review and you can read it all on: http://amaterasureads.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html:

“So many aspects in Days Like This can be seen even today. The great divide between the rich and the poor, the thirst for power and man’s desire to never grow old, maybe to live forever, trying to deny themselves what was supposed to happen. We live and then we die, and if humans so much as try to disrupt that simple but natural truth, the consequences can be fatal. Man’s tendency to be evil to get what one wants is depicted in this book in vivid, frightening detail. It’s very unnerving, but I think that just gave this book so much appeal. Days Like This will shock you, scare you and most of all, make you reflect just how much a society can deteriorate and become as terrifying as Alison Stewart’s first novel turned out to be. It’s a novel that will bring you to an edge of your seat reading experience, bleak and dark and filled with doom, but it’s one that you won’t be able to put down until you reach the ending.”

Braiden has given it 4/5 with his thoughtful review. He said: “From the beginning I had a fondness for Lily. She exhibited traits which we find most endearing in a protagonist. Although stubborn and strong, she is benevolent to the point that she would risk her own life to not only save those she loves, such as her brother and sister, but rather those she had only just met. I loved this about her; a person for others. But at times it seemed like she was trying to always be ‘the hero’ than just being her ordinary self.”
For the entire review: http://bookprobereviews.com/?p=493

This is what Brodie has written in her Days Like This review (4/5 gold apples): “Days Like This highlights some of the problems we already see in today’s society in quite a shocking way. The Wall began as a divide between the rich and poor, only allowing those with money and status to thrive in a dying world. And it soon morphed into a twisted community where vanity is everything – the fear of growing old and the thirst for power will drive people to sickening acts to achieve what they want. No matter the cost. No matter the lives lost. With the influx of dystopian novels we see set in theUS, it’s refreshing to read something close to home. If not a little unsettling!” For more, see: http://eleusinianmysteriesofreading.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-days-like-this.html#comments

For my dystopia essay on Penguin Teachers’ Corner, look at: http://penguinteacherscorner.com.au/2011/07/20/653/

Days Like This is in Australian bookshops from August 1, or you can buy it as an ebook at Kobo: http://www.kobobooks.com/search/search.html?q=days+like+this

 Melissa gave Days Like This 5/5 on Goodreads. She said: “This one hooked me in completely at the beginning.. So many questions to answer!! Loved this one.” Her review is at http://www.spellboundbybooks.com/2011/08/days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html

And she’s done a Q&A at: http://www.spellboundbybooks.com/2011/08/interview-with-alison-stewart.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+spellboundbybooks%2FWEEz+%28Spellbound+By+Books%29

Erin gave the book 4/5 and says: “DAYS LIKE THIS is a wonderful tale about a corrupt world, one that is being constantly surrounded with greed and vanity. With a strong female character bringing this shocking new world to life, Stewart’s new book will get Aussie readers and even international ones on the edge of their seats!” Thanks Erin! You can see the entire review at: http://talesoftheinnerbookfanatic.blogspot.com/2011/08/days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html

I’m equally a fan of Cass – Word’s on Paper review (4/5 stars) where she says: “Days Like This is a shocking tale of a corrupted society founded and coerced by greed, pride and vanity, and a girl whose familial loss brings her to a new world. The exploration of the future is always interesting, and Stewart’s new book will get Aussie readers wondering, and edge-of-your-seat entertained to the end.” More on: http://wordsonpaperya.blogspot.com/2011/08/review-days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html

 And Romi says: “I was immediately captured by Days Like This, the thoughtfulness of the writing and storyline were fantastic and I was shocked, disgusted and devastated all together by what happened in this future Sydney. The possibilitys of the story made me think and I am still thinking about what the effects of things we do may just have… I’m thinking of the world even more. It was a brilliant and eye opening story that I will never forget… and it was incredibly sad too.” Thanks Romi! More on:  “http://wherethewritercomestowrite.blogspot.com/2011/08/days-like-this-by-alison-stewart-review.html

Romi’s Q&A is here: http://wherethewritercomestowrite.blogspot.com/2011/08/brilliant-another-fabbty-fabness-filled.html

Nic gave the book 3.5/5  and said: “I love the concept for Days Like This.  Stewart did a great job of writing a believable and well built world.  With all the damage we are doing to our planet, water shortage and extreme weather seems possible and completely scary.  I also love the setting.  Set in Sydney, I was able to picture it perfectly and it definitely felt Australian. The plot is a constant thrill ride with danger around every corner.  It is just go, go, go right until the end.   Stewart’s writing is easy to read but I lacked emotional connection with the story.  I was entertained but not fully invested in what was happening unfortunately.” Thanks, Nic. More on: http://irresistiblereads.blogspot.com/2011/08/book-review-days-like-these-by-alison.html

Jess gave Days Like This 3/5 and said: “Days Like This is an exciting dystopian novel set in a futuristic Sydney. The world has changed as the effects of global warming have drastically altered the planet. The days are filled with blistering heat and water is in short supply. Rules and regulations are set by The Committee and enforced by the brutal Blacktroopers (I kept envisioning them as Stormtroopers!) who have built a wall (think the Berlin Wall) separating the affluent areas around the water and their inhabitants from those further inland. Children and teenagers are not allowed outside and have no interaction other than with their immediate family …
Stewart has cleverly woven together the hot topic of global warming with the escalating obsession of looking young and beautiful forever. A fast paced novel for dystopian fans.”
 Thanks, Jess. Her entire review is at: http://www.thetalescompendium.com/2011/09/days-like-this-by-alison-stewart.html

I’m really delighted to see Days Like This continues to be reviewed outside Australia. Kai (amaterasureads) from the Philippines has reviewed it, now Joy from Joyous Reads, a Canadian blogger, writes: “Have you ever had a book in your hands that you want to rush reading but you can’t because you’re scared you’ll miss a whole lot? Like you can’t read fast enough? You just want to keep flipping to the next page because you just HAVE to know what happens next? … I’m big on dystopian because of one reason. I love seeing humans struggle to make choices that will either lead them to survival or to their eventual demise. Days Like This is no different. Adults chose wrongly and became empty husks of their old self – unemotional beings whose dependency to the fountain of youth in a serum led them to give up their own children willingly. And some chose to live in a quasi-freedom outside the wall that enables them to flourish while being hunted all their lives. Tough choices. This was the gruesome reality for Lily. Her twin brother Daniel just disappeared and had ended up in the harvesting facility, where she, herself had ended up for a brief tenure as well. And as far as she’s concerned, her parents were long gone despite being physically present. Her sister Alice was a candidate for breeding, an unforgiveable act especially in the hands of one leery character. Coupled with straightforward writing and vivid imagery, Days Like This is relentless. Just when I thought Lily was home free, another obstacle would be thrown along her way. But she was defiant and courageous in her plight … The romance in this book is something that I could have gone without. I know, I know, this doesn’t sound like me. But I thought the Luca/Kieran thing was awkward. I guess I thought it was kind of funny how easy it was for Lily to accept the boys’ attention without her feeling, weirded out? After all, she’s been isolated for most of her life, held as a prisoner inside her home. Her reaction to the commune in the cave was more natural. That’s pretty much my only grievance with this book. Other than that, I enjoyed reading this as much as one could enjoy a nightmarish possibility of the future. It had everything I look for in a good dystopian read – minus the romance element. The possibility of this world ever happening was so believable – all thanks to Ms. Stewart’s credible writing. 

Joy gives it 3/5. You can read her entire review on: http://joyousreads.blogspot.com/ Thanks, Joy!

Also look at Penguin’s Between the Lines Q&A at http://penguinteenaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2011/07/q-with-days-like-this-author-alison.html

You might also like to look at my Penguin Guest Post on http://penguinteenaustralia.blogspot.com.au/2011/08/could-you-imagine-sydney-with-its-own.html

If you’re interested in why there’s a real interest in YA dystopia, you can look at Danielle Binks’ spread in Penguin’s August edition of Off the Shelf at http://alphareader.blogspot.com/2011/08/my-dystopia-article-in-penguins-august.html?

There’s also a sneak peek post on Penguin teachers’ corner: http://penguinteacherscorner.com.au/2011/07/11/sneak-peek-at-new-australian-dystopian-novel-days-like-this-by-alison-stewart/

And I’m really delighted to see that an enterprising librarian from Victoria, Tye Cattanach has got her students reading and analysing the book at: http://bookgryffin.global2.vic.edu.au/2011/08/11/days-like-this-alison-stewart/#comments. Also see Tye’s “The Book Gryffin” website: http://bookgryffin.global2.vic.edu.au/

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About alisonstewartwriter

Alison is a writer, journalist and travel writer, born in South Africa, now living in Australia. She has had nine books published - two books for adults and seven for young people. Four of them have been translated into Italian, Danish, Dutch and Thai. Her latest project, Cold Stone Soup, an unpublished memoir about growing up under apartheid and migrating to Australia has won the FAW 2013 National Literary Awards (Jim Hamilton Award for a non-fiction manuscript). Cold Stone Soup was also runner-up in the 2010 Penguin/Varuna Scholarship. Her first book for adults, Born Into the Country (Justified Press 1988, South Africa) was shortlisted for the 1987 AA Mutual Life Vita Young Writers’ Award. Heinemann Australia published her next adult novel, Bitterbloom in 1991. Her YA novel, The Wishing Moon was shortlisted for the 1995 Australian Multicultural Children’s Award and was a 1995 Children’s Book Council Notable book. Her YA dystopia, Days Like This, published by Penguin Australia was a finalist in the inaugural 2010 Amazon/Penguin Breakthrough Novel Award in the YA category. Alison worked for years as a news and feature journalist. She is now a regular travel writer for The Sydney Morning Herald and Melbourne Age and online Fairfax Media publications.
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2 Responses to Days Like This More News and Reviews

  1. Braiden says:

    Great collection of praises Alison. Thanks for including my review 🙂

    Like

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