I'm in the middle of America 2014, which is honestly pretty cheesy. I mean, President George "Blush"? But I'll get to that when I post the full book blog in a day or two.
Right now, though, I want to discuss a bit that I find really unrealistic and lazy. The main character's been hauled into court through no real fault of his own (a common scene in dystopian fiction). He gets no lawyer, he barely gets to hear the charges, and things are clearly about to go very bad for Mr. Everyman - so far, I'm with the author, no problem. It's not that far a stroll from Guantanamo to kangaroo courts right here in the US of A.
It's when, upon receiving a plea of "not guilty" (something, we must assume, that happens constantly when the government is arresting people willy-nilly and throwing them in front of the court), the judge proceeds to call our protagonist "queerbait" and then lifts his skirts slightly, rises, and skips daintily around his chair like Homer Simpson making fun of an Englishman that I call shenanigans.
Look, Americans (and, indeed, people the world 'round, I assume) like to believe that we are doing the Right Thing, even when this is obviously not the case. A court that is nothing but a pretense to get rid of trouble makers and undesirables will appear MORE staid and officious. The less reasonable the judge's actions, the more reasonable he will want to appear. He won't want to come across as a bully or a puppet - he will convince himself that he's doing his best For God, For Country, and Against Terror.
Not only did that ring false, it's lazy writing. Our hero starts as a member in good standing of the Nationalist Party, willing to accept and parrot the party line. Despite a few misgivings, he accepts that his government is trying to help and protect him. At this point in the story, he should be questioning himself as well as the system. He should be thinking that the system could not be wrong, so he must be. But when the judge bullies him from the bench like an ignorant third grader, that takes all the guesswork out of it.
Reading these one after another really is sharpening my perception, I think. Or making me pickier. Not sure.