Introduction: Hunger by Jill Williamson


I’m a fan of Jill Williamson’s writing. I haven’t read every single book she’s written, but close. In fact, I just bought her latest release, Hunger, the second book in the Thirst duology, prequels to her Safe Lands dystopian trilogy. This is one I’ve been especially eager to read. When news came out that she’d be releasing the book this April, I made a special effort to jump right in and get my copy ASAP.

Some might be skeptical, thinking if you’ve read one dystopian, you’ve read them all, but that’s not the case with these books that serve as prequels to Williamson’s Safe Lands trilogy. For one thing, the timing of the books about a virus—albeit, one in the water instead of one passed by human secretion—is eerily prescient. For another, Jill exposed the underbelly of human behavior in the midst of panic, painting pictures that are all too reminiscent of store shelves stripped of toilet paper, hand sanitizer, canned products, fresh fruits and vegetables, and more.

Of course, the over arching goal of these books aims to show what happened that brought about the circumstances in the Safe Lands books in which the majority of people lived in a walled section of the world, while a much smaller group lived more like survivalists apart from the majority. How did this happen? That’s the driving question behind Thirst and Hunger.

Here is the description of Hunger

In the wake of a pandemic, Eli and his friends find a thriving community that offers free housing, food, and thankfully, safe drinking water. But something is amiss. The residents spend most their time partying and attending concerts. No one seems concerned that the virus is still out there. When Eli tries to leave, he discovers a fence has been built to keep him, and everyone else, inside.

Hannah is tired of running. When she is conscripted to work in the hospital, she hopes she’s finally found a place to belong, but Admin’s disregard for a doctor’s pledge to “First do no harm” is unsettling.

As Hannah starts to wonder if she will ever be safe again, Eli clings to his hope for freedom. In a world filled with lies, can they learn to trust each other? Or will their hunger for safety trap them in a world that’s not so safe after all?

Clearly, Hunger is the Part 2 of this two-book explanation for the existence of the world a reader will discover in the Safe Lands trilogy. For those who have not read the Part 1—Thirst—I strongly encourage you to start there. The really good news is that the book is available on Kindle for $2.99. That’s a steal. This book is fast-paced and highly entertaining. No one should worry that they will arrive at a cliffhanger ending, though it’s evident at the conclusion of Thirst that there needs to be more story. (See “Fiction Friday: Thirst By Jill Williamson”). And of course, the other good thing is that “more story” has now arrived!

As a refresher

Jill Williamson is weird, which is probably why she writes science fiction and fantasy novels for teenagers. She grew up in Alaska with no electricity, an outhouse, and a lot of mosquitoes. Thankfully it was the land of the midnight sun, and she could stay up and read by the summer daylight that wouldn’t go away. But the winter months left little to do but daydream. Both hobbies set her up to be a writer.

Also Jill is a Whovian, a Photoshop addict, and a recovering fashion design assistant. Her debut novel, a medieval fantasy called By Darkness Hid, won an EPIC Award, a Christy Award, and was named a Best Science Fiction, Fantasy, and Horror novel of 2009 by VOYA magazine. Jill has since published thirteen books.

Finally, she loves working with teenagers and encouraging them to respect their dreams. Jill speaks and gives writing workshops at libraries, schools, camps, and churches. She blogs for teen writers at http://www.goteenwriters.com. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two children, and a whole lot of deer. You can also visit her online at http://www.jillwilliamson.com, where adventure comes to life.

Jill is a prolific writer. Besides her Safe Lands dystopian books, she wrote a straight science fiction story about cloning called Replication, a young adult series suited for younger teens called The Mission League books, two co-authored (with her son) children’s stories in her RoboTales series, and several fantasy series. If you haven’t jumped on the Jill Williamson bandwagon yet, now is as good a time as any to dive in and find out what you’ve been missing.

Published in: on April 12, 2021 at 4:33 pm  Leave a Comment  
Tags: , ,

Rebels by Jill Williamson – CSFF Blog Tour, Day 1


jillwilliamsonnewsmallSpeculative fiction, and fantasy in particular, is known for its trilogies or tetralogies or series of five or of seven, or of an unending number. With few exceptions, of the various series I’ve read, I’ve thought book one is the best. This includes The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, which, despite the chronological way the books have been packaged, was the first book C. S. Lewis wrote in the Narnia series.

I’ve heard a number of writers suggest the first book is the best because the author took as long as it took to write that first book, but then when he or she was under contract, and under deadline for the rest of the series, the writing gets rushed. This explanation may be true, and it certainly seems logical.

The thing is, the end of a series seems to me to be vital for the success of the author’s next book. For example, how many readers who were so upset with the way author Veronica Roth ended her Divergent series will pick up her next book?

All that to say, I think Jill Williamson, author of this month’s CSFF Blog Tour feature, Rebels, book three of the Safe Lands series, has positioned herself very well for her next series. Of the three Safe Lands books, without a doubt, Rebels is my favorite. I really liked Captives and loved Outcasts which seemed so real, given the story premise.

There were believable quandaries: interpersonal problems, situational difficulties, cultural conflicts. But Outcasts was a middle book, deepening problems and increasing intrigue. While there was some resolution, in the end there were more problems left unsolved than ones brought to a conclusion. The question I had when I finished Outcasts was, could Rebels deliver answers in a satisfying way? I honestly thought there was too much. I didn’t see how Jill Williamson was going to pull it off.

But she did. In my opinion, Rebels is one of the most satisfying endings I’ve read in a long time. Yes, there are some threads left open, but that’s as it should be. I’ll discuss that point in more depth later in the tour. For this post, suffice it to say, I think Jill accomplished what only the best writers seem to do—her series got stronger with each book, and the final installment in the trilogy was the strongest of all.

Of course the beauty of the CSFF Blog Tour is that you don’t have to take my word for it. You can compare what I say about the book with what others participating in the tour are posting.

See what the following CSFF members thought about Rebels. (Reminder: a checkmark takes you to a tour article I’ve already found). Also, note that a number of participants, thanks to the generosity of the publisher Blink, have an extra copy of the novel they are giving away. You might want to get your name into the mix at one of these sites. (Special recommendation for Audrey Sauble‘s giveaway because you can earn extra points by linking to another CSFF tour post!)

Published in: on September 29, 2014 at 5:40 pm  Comments (3)  
Tags: , , , ,

The Case For Independent Thinking


press_conferenceIn the dystopian novel 1984 by George Orwell, the province of Oceanian, operating under the direction of Big Brother, is perpetually at war with Eurasia or Eastasia. At any moment, however, the government could make peace with the enemy and declare war on the former ally.

The unique aspect of this reversal was that the government would alter history to appear as if they had always been friends with country X and had always been enemies of country Y. The public, then, who had been fervently opposed to Eastasia one day, became fervently opposed to Eurasia the next. No one seemed to notice that what they had believed to be true, what they had rallied to support, had been altered.

In essence, they did what they were told and believed what their government fed them.

This same kind of mindlessness is a trait in the dystopian Safe Lands society created by Jill Williamson in her novel Captives. There, two media personalities hold sway over the population, dictating fads and trends that change over night for no reason other than the whims of the celebrities.

Sadly, real life seems to be imitating fiction. More and more, celebrities are telling the public how to live and what to value while government is telling its citizens how to think and what to think, with the media creating the illusion that “this is the way everyone thinks” or “this is what is right.”

Smoking has been banned in many places (here in California, in most places); bicyclists must wear helmets and motorists, seat belts; infants must be in car seats; and all of us are now supposed to purchase health insurance. In some parts of our state, plastic grocery bags have been banned, and in New York, giant-sized soda was forbidden. All these rules and regulations are in place because government needs to do our thinking for us, apparently.

Further, the politically liberal faction accuses political conservatives of mindlessly following certain talk radio personalities who tell them what to think. On the other hand, here in California, the labor union bosses are known to tell their members exactly how to vote on every issue and for each candidate.

Worse, lobbyists now tell Congressmen how to vote on bills they haven’t read.

And no one seems to notice!

Every time the government passes some silly law, I think, do they seriously believe we can’t reason for ourselves? But then I hear people I know, educated people, parroting some kind of nonsense that’s circulated through a media source, and I slap my head. Are we so conditioned that we are losing our ability for independent thought?

I was raised in an era that taught school children how to recognize brainwashing. Now I see those same techniques coming out of the White House and state house and out of our TV commercials.

Apparently we have become a society of consumers, and every business, political entity, cause, or organization sees people as buyers to whom they must sell. “We need to sell people on the idea that . . . ” seems to have replaced, “This is the right thing to do.”

So here’s my plea for independent thinking:

1. It’s Biblical. Scripture says to test the spirits to see if they are from God or from false prophets. (1 John 4:1) Jesus said “See to it that no one misleads you” (Matt. 24:4) and Paul said, “But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good” (1 Thess. 5:21). And those same Thessalonians were commended in Acts for “examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11). Surely, thinking things out doesn’t stop with “spiritual things,” does it? Shouldn’t our whole lives be about integrating God and His word and way into all we do?

2. It’s necessary. On occasion when I was young, I’d try to talk my mom into something she’d forbidden by saying, everyone’s doing it. She wisely pointed out the weakness of that argument: if everyone jumps off a cliff, would you jump too? Eventually I got the point.

3. It’s wise. Doing anything without thinking is not wise. Letting someone else do your thinking for you is even less wise. This week I saw a segment of the program Lookout that featured a crook masquerading as a church financial investment counselor–or some such position. In fact, he bilked church people of millions of dollars in a Ponzi scheme. How? People let someone else do their thinking for them.

4. It’s responsible. In theory children listen to their parents and do what they’re told. The adults in their lives know what’s best. However, at some point, it’s time to grow up. It’s time for those children to take charge of their own lives. If they simply trade off their parents for some other group or organization or “role model,” they haven’t truly grown up. Sure, adults are still influenced by others, but we alone bear the responsibility for our decisions. Anyone still mindlessly going along with the crowd or the political party or the way the culture is doing things is immature, not having learned yet to take on the responsibilities of an adult.

I’m sure there are other valid reasons we should cultivate independent thinking. What am I missing, or am I tilting after windmills?

CSFF Blog Tour – Captives by Jill Williamson, Day 2


CaptivesSafeLandscoverGreat start yesterday to the first of the August CSFF blog tours, this one featuring Captives by Jill Williamson. Yesterday’s posts included a book give-away; a creative report as if written by someone in the dystopian world of Captives; a well-researched behind-the-scenes look at what led George Orwell to write his dystopian novel, 1984; thoughts on contentment and envy; and a handful of insightful reviews.

I have to say, the books I like best make me think about life and God and human nature and … well, things that matter, things that stay with me long after I’ve put the book down. Captives did that for me.

Yes, this dystopian fantasy is a young adult book, but like so many in that age category, any adult reader can also enjoy the story. In truth, the themes in Captives are mature. Although placed in a futuristic setting, with appropriate technology advances, the story exposes what goes on in the human heart during any decade.

The story also addressed some of today’s cultural issues, not by dressing them up in futuristic garb or by preaching to a point, but by showing the logical extension of the extremes in today’s western society. In an amazingly truthful way, Williamson unveils the existent cultural divide by creating a futuristic world that has even more starkly drawn lines.

For example, one plot thread deals with reproduction. Instead of a story centered on abortion, Williamson created a society that had become infertile and that prized pregnancy. The reversal of today’s reproductive issues actually was disarming and allowed for thoughtful consideration of the value of life.

Other cultural issues–the cult of celebrity, violence as entertainment, self-medication, the worship of appearance–were all addressed in the sense that characters were shown reacting to new stimuli by either accepting it or rejecting it, in part or in total, as they became familiar with the way the opposing society lived.

None of these issues takes over the novel, however. This is still a story about a group of people who have been taken captive by a society that considers itself advanced and benign. Those in the upper echelon can’t imagine why anyone would be opposed to the advantages they offer. They can’t imagine why anyone would not want to work to preserve and protect what they’ve built.

From my perspective, Captives is cutting edge. By taking a futuristic approach, it is so very contemporary. It doesn’t shy away from hard things, and there is no perfect person or point of view. All the characters have blind spots and weaknesses–both societies have problems and suffer consequences as a result.

So much like real life.

Not everyone on the tour is as great a fan of Captives as I am, and that’s good–it balances out my enthusiasm and gives you more to think about. But from my perspective, you can’t go wrong with this one. It might get a little heavy at times, though it’s no where as dark as 1984 or other dystopians. Still, it shows a world suffering under the weight of sin, and that’s not an easy thing to look at.

I personally thought Jill did a good job of balancing out the darkness with some sweet romance. There were even references to my favorite movie, Princess Bride. I found those to lighten a story that could easily have been dragged down by despair.

But again, I encourage you to read what other participants on tour are saying–that balanced view, you know? 😉

%d bloggers like this: