Back to School in a Dystopian World
Today’s guest post is from author Kate O’Leary. She shares a scene from her dystopian novel Twell. All our excerpts this month revolve around school, and I love how in this scene, even in this futuristic world of “pods” instead of “cars”, the teens are having the same kind of feelings about getting freed from taking the bus as kids today. This looks to me like a great choice if you love books like Divergent, Hunger Games, and the Matched series. Links for purchase are below. Please feel free to leave a comment.
If you lived in a world that decided your future, who you would love...what would you fight for?
Twell lives in the new world of Como, and has always neglected her telekinetic gifts, desiring to be ‘normal.’ Her biggest drama in life is having to be genetically partnered with a boy she doesn’t know or love by her next birthday. Unfortunately she loves her best friend, who loves the girl she hates most, and Twell is left frustrated & heartbroken.
When Twell is requested alongside several other teens to develop her skills for the protection of Como, she reluctantly agrees to the training, and finds herself thrown into all sorts of mental and physical challenges.
Handsome, charismatic Jonaz, is gifted with the power of healing. According to Twell he's an infuriating prat who delights in provoking her. But first impressions have always been her downfall.
When Como is attacked, life as Twell knows it is changed forever, with devastating consequences. With no choice but to fight, Twell risks her life to protect those who have survived, coming up against unexpected dangers she could never anticipate. Will she survive, and if so will she be matched to a stranger when the one she is growing to love is destined to another?
I wove expertly through the skyways traffic towards Caran High, while our distant sun struggled slowly into the hazy, white sky. It cast a soft, shimmering glow over the city of Caran, and the morning air felt cool as usual, the sun too far away to bring much warmth.
“Move it, air waster!” I cussed the pod in front of me, which was practically hovering, and making me even later to school. I’d taken too long to decide what to wear, and now my chest was tightening with the mortal fear of missing out on any juicy gossip I’d missed over the break. As I passed the huge audio Billboard on the main air lane, my pod’s speakers automatically transmitted the latest pressing announcement from the Governing Body,
“Are you wasting water? Remember, restrictions are YOUR responsibility. A thoughtful Comian equals a better world for all.”
Oops. It was like that message was designed exclusively for me. I’d totally taken too long in the shower again. I glanced from my right window over the expanse of endless plains skirting the city. As dull as it looked, the appearance of barren lifelessness was actually a trick of nature; cleverly hiding Como’s best secret for survival. Our underground aqueducts were the main reason the first generation decided to inhabit here, after the warming.
The intruding message effectively delivered the dose of guilt their messages always did, followed by an increasingly familiar sensation of resentment that I couldn’t even get away from their constant presence in the privacy of my own pod.
I pressed my foot down hard on the accelerator in annoyance and darted nimbly around the geriatric driver, making sure they copped my inconvenienced glare as I passed. Directly below me, the pale, moon-rock paved streets whipped by, designed for anyone enthusiastic enough to travel by foot, or solar scooter. The rest of us busy or lazy Comians simply preferred the skyways. Particularly me, as my guardian Shay, had just presented me with my first solar-powered pod. No more public airbus to school, which was so not socially acceptable anymore, especially for a final year student. I would have died of embarrassment if I’d had to keep taking that bus.
That was the first reason Shay had given it to me, simply a reward for making it through four years of upper schooling, and managing not to get myself into too much trouble. Solar-night black and sleek, it tapered in a teardrop shape from front to back, for speed. Inside, the fit-out was silver and white, and could carry three friends and me. It was second generation, one owner before me, but I didn’t mind at all. To me it was the most exciting thing I’d ever been given. The second reason was linked to my impending one hundred and eightieth birthday in a year, or ten moons time. This reason was also much, much worse, but I really preferred not to think about that right now.
As I overtook more traffic, pushing the boundaries of Como’s air speed limits, I glanced into my rear-view mirror to scrutinize my appearance. A pale, oval face with challenging aubergine eyes stared sceptically back, her bottom lip slightly fuller than the top, probably due to too many years of sticking it out in a strop. My fringe was brushed to the side, because I could never decide whether to grow it out into the rest of my long and perpetually tangled hair.
“You look okay,” I told my reflection rather grudgingly.
I finally reached Caran High and circled over the pod landing, looking for a good place to land. Just as I found a spot and aimed for it, a bright flash whizzed past me, so close I swerved sharply in fright.
“What on Como!?” I slammed on the brakes and jerked to a stop mid-air, staring in disbelief as a silver pod zipped into the spot I was clearly lining up for. Huffing indignantly, I looked down to see which student here would be so rude. When I recognized him, I narrowed my eyes and hissed with distaste. Jonaz, that arrogant, self -absorbed jerk took my space. Jonaz Maven…so annoyingly good-looking and stereotypically popular, that when every other silly, hormone-addled girl in the school wasn’t carrying on about him, he was probably advertising himself. In fact, he had a posse of brainwashed fans with him right now. Three, perfect looking, wanna-be groupie girls, and some chunky, block-headed guy. They were all laughing at how fabulous they were, totally oblivious to me still seething, mid-air.
“That’s it!” Swiftly I flew down so that I was positioned just behind the sleek, latest-model pod his toffy parents probably bought him, just for school days. Hovering there, I concentrated on glaring at the back of his stupid, perfect head and took my focus to the outcome.
Where can you get your copy of Twell? Click on any of these links.
Barnes and Noble
Fire and Ice (Publisher website)
Kate O'Leary has been writing since she was three, where ponies and princesses were usually the focus. After school she studied Children's Literature, but these days she prefers to write dystopian fantasy for young adults, being continually fascinated with future direction of our world and the concepts of free will and moral vs lawful obligations.
Kate explores these concepts in her first fantasy/science fiction/dystopian book, Twell, the first in the Como Chronicles Series. Twell has been commended by a panel of judges for the frustrated writers awards Australia. She now lives in beautiful north Queensland where the sun is always shining and people are always smiling.
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D. G. Driver
Award-winning author of books for teen and tween readers. Learn more about her and her writing at www.dgdriver.com
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