Science Fiction Thriller for Teens
It’s the year 2108. I just turned 16. That means I can access the autopilot on my Aerokopa. So now, I can both fly and scope the Dat-X at the same time. But what good is that when I don’t even have a date to my best friend’s party of the century? Okay, well, one of the Holdouts offered to go with me . . . but there’s NO WAY I’m going with one of them! And then there are the Trollers docked at the quay. They’re most likely spies working with the Aliens, bringing nothing but trouble. But with this visit, they may even bring war. It would be treason to talk to them, let alone . . . befriend one. But what’s a curious girl to do? Did I tell you I have a propensity for trouble?
2108: Eyes Open by K. L. Glanville
I really loved this YA for teen book. The backdrop is sci-fi and I’m not totally into sci-fi but the premise rings true. The book is set in 2108 in New Zealand. Aliens control the world with the exception of New Zealand. It turns out that aliens helped to create humans from the primordial mud but after we blew ourselves up in a nuclear Armageddon, they stepped back in. And they also created bionics — a petri dish of “improved upon” humans with super powers.
But here’s the thing: perhaps the aliens that seem a little evil who are currently controlling Earth are NOT the original more benign Aliens who created us. Isus, from ancient Greek Mythology, is the Alien power who, we hope, will prevail. (And all the myths turn out to be true — planted by our original helpful aliens).
The futuristic world that K. L. Glanville creates, and it’s an exciting one with Aerokopas that are like flying car/helocopters with computer generated interiors of just about anything is really just the backdrop to a coming of age story of a teen girl. 16-year-old Jewel Peara ideas of wrong and right are shaken when she meets Holdouts (New Zealanders like her that have a closer connection to nature and to Isus than her people, the Naturals), and a cute boy who happens to be a Troller named Forge. Is he the bad guy or a son rebelling against his father’s iron fist? Does he love her or is he using her to get the technology his Troller people seek? And what of the bigger plans the Aliens have made for New Zealand? Are they going to be invaded next? And why does it all ride on Jewel?
It is a little confusing!
New Zealanders: Naturals (Jewel’s people) and Holdouts (think more Aborigines). These two groups have a tenuous peaceful relationship but are suspicious of each other.
Still, they (the Naturals and Holdouts) are united against the Aliens who control the rest of Earth.
There are more than one kind of Aliens. The current Alien group who controls most of Earth are bad. They are creating hybrid bionic people (Think 6 Million Dollar Man types). The other Alien species is the “good” one and the top dog is Isus. This “good” Alien species is believed to have created humans from primordial mud. It is unclear why the “good” Aliens don’t get give a good ass whooping to the bad ones. The “good”ones seem a little under the radar.
Sorry… back to the plot:
Because the book turns on relationships in a coming of age story of Jewel, this book really resonates beyond just sci-fi, and beyond YA (Young Adult) which is its label. I would recommend this book to any girl who likes Hunger Games or Maximum Ride and would peg it at 10-years-old and up, though an adventurous 9-year-old would also enjoy it. There is minimum violence and kissing so it’s really PG and not PG-13. So…young adult for tweens is my final vote.
I also had the opportunity to ask author K. L. Glanville a few questions:
1) You grew up in Southern California?!
So did I! (Seal Beach). How did growing up in the melting pot influence your book? I noticed you can handle chopstix! That must be a SoCal thing. Do you surf or skateboard too?
Wow, yes. I’m sure growing up in So Cal multi-culturalism has shaped me and my writing immensely. I love exploring cultures that are different from mine. In 2108: Eyes Open, I wanted to include influences from a wide variety of cultures. The most notable similarity with my life is that I grew up in a predominantly Asian and Hispanic neighborhood. I gave Jewel some parallels in that her biological mother is of Latin descent, and her surrogate mother is Chinese. Despite our genes saying otherwise, Jewel and I both feel like we’re somehow part Chinese. And yes, sometimes I even prefer chopsticks! They’re so practical and fun. Unfortunately, I don’t surf or skateboard. Though I’d love to try surfing.
2) Your protagonist is a 16-year-old girl. Does this land your book in Young Adult or Adult fiction territory? Or does it straddle it?
I would say it’s targeted for YA, but adults seem to thoroughly enjoy it as well. So maybe it straddles!
3) Aliens, spys, action adventure in the future themes usually scream BOY readers to me, but 2108: Eyes Open will also appeal to girls. What made you decide to make the character a girl? Is this the ultimate cross over book?
I simply wrote what was easiest and most fun for me to write. As a woman, it’s easier to reflect back and draw upon my experiences as an adolescent girl (even if it was ever so long ago). And I also love technology and action/adventure. One of the reasons I wanted to write this book was so I could dream up all kinds of fun technology. I know this traditionally is thought to appeal mostly to guys, but I think there are tons of girls out there who love technology and adventure too! I was really pleased when I started getting highly positive feedback on 2108: Eyes Open, from both teenage boys and girls. It would be great if this is the ultimate cross-over book.
4) In creating an extremely realistic world in the future, what kind of research did you do?
I spent SO much time on Google, Wikipedia and Amazon. They are invaluable! If someone didn’t know I was researching for a novel, I think they’d be a bit surprised or confused by my internet search history. I looked up things like what people think about Aliens, UFO’s, GMO’s, transhumanism, futuristic technology predictions, futuristic architecture, genetic alteration…and the list goes on. Then there were aspects that needed to be researched which were not so futuristic, things like: New Zealand and Australian slang, and geographical information. I had to contact people in New Zealand to find out what kind of shell would be appropriate for Forge to find, and what kind of fish he would catch. To get that information, I used Skype and email. Research can be a fun and fascinating adventure!
5) What’s next for you? When can we expect the next installment?
I’m hoping to have book two of the 2108 Series out within a year. I’ve already started it and I’ve got an idea how I want the series to end. I always get surprised though as I write! Stories have a way of morphing as you write them. I’m looking forward to finding out what happens to Jewel and Forge as much as everyone else!
6) This is the kind of action adventure book my 6th grade daughter (age 12) loves. She’s a big fan of the Maximum Ride series by James Patterson. How would you compare?
I have only read the first book of the Maximum Ride series and a summary of the entire series. From that perspective, I would say there are quite a few similarities as well as some major differences. Both Maximum Ride and 2108: Eyes Open deal with the issues of genetic modification and valuing nature in various ways, and of course both main characters are destined to be heros in their worlds. I would say that Maximum Ride has a bit more violence, and Max is definitely more jaded than Jewel in 2108. Jewel comes from a futuristic, high-tech and fairly sheltered background but is suddenly exposed to the wild world around her. Max, on the other hand, comes from a quite tortured background, somewhere closer to present day. Both of them, however, go on pretty crazy wild rides of adventure.
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Congrats to Josh. He won the book!
I am giving away a signed copy of this book with 5 book marks. To win, please leave a comment. U.S. only please.