Feb 4, 2008

Devil On My Back by Monica Hughes

Devil On My Back

(That particular wiki page does little justice to the book, by the way, but there aren't a lot of online options for plot summary on this one.)

This is one I read as a middle schooler. It's young adult all the way, and not as good as, say, A Wrinkle in Time. You've got all the classic elements of dystopian fiction - a slave class, a shadowy overlord, forced hive mind, withdrawal from nature, controlled reproduction. The story clips along just fine - a little adventuring, a touch of freedom, and hint of amnesia. But, in the end, not really a satisfying book.

The ending just felt like a cop out. "We know what's best for everyone, son. We'll drive the slaves until they have to escape or die, and through dream-programs, we'll slowly wean others from the infopak lifestyle." Meh. Throw open the gates, let the people roam free, quit with the pussy-footing.

I guess it just all felt too... easy. The guy at the top agreed with the protagonist, and was already working against the system he was supposed to be upholding (albeit very slowly). There was never any real danger for the escapees. The society was already on the track to major change/destruction of the dystopian system.

final thoughts: I liked it better when I was 11. No surprise, huh?


Zillah said...

I still have my copy from childhood! I haven't read it since then but I am often reminded of it in everyday life. I can't believe there are more odes to Sweet Valley Twins online than fans of Devil on my Back (not that I didn't also love Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield).

That Hank said...

It left a mark on me for sure. I found so many great science fiction and fantasy novels in my middle school library that I'll never forget - this one, the Tripods trilogy, the Alanna stories. I wonder who stocked those books - I owe them a thank you.