Who do you think you are?
The new dystopian novel by local author/actor James DeVita poses this very question. Inspired by Sophie Scholl and the young adult Nazi resistance group the White Rose, The Silenced is the story of teenage Marena, a student at a "youth training facility" or YTF in the Spring Valley Readaptation Community, where conformity is key and individuality is forbidden. Marena has been labeled a deviant and the reader finds out that her mother has been taken from her family and neutralized for committing treason. Marena is struggling with her father's role in staying quiet in order to protect his children and struggling with her own identity as well.
At the start of the novel, a new, tougher regime is kicking in and all writing materials must be destroyed. Marena is a writer and hides scraps of paper, pencil nubs, and whatever she can get her hands on in order to record her memories of her mother and her feelings about the Zero Tolerance ruling party. The ZTs track everyone through identification cards and codes that must be scanned or entered at every turn and Marena questions the morality and ethics of this kind of personal invasion and eventually starts her own resistance group, The White Rose. She enlists boyfriend Dex and rebellious Eric to help and they gain strength and plot their strategies at the Place. The Place is actually a bombed out library from the old world, and the teens are able to find solace and peace there in a world that is full of barbed wire and listening devices.
More modern than 1984 and very appealing to teens, The Silenced is a fast-paced story full of teen angst and rebellion, adventure, betrayal, family drama and romance. And like any great young adult novel, the annoying authority figures are very annoying and the infuriating "JJ-Girls" (jingle jangle girls) and "Listeners" (student spies) are very infuriating.
Like Sophie Scholl, Marena must decide how hard she is willing to fight in order to resist the regime. Should she stay silent or speak up? Who do you think you are? Someone who will conform or someone who will fight for individual freedom? The author will be at two Madison Public Library locations this Monday, July 16th, to talk about his new book:
Refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Madison Public Library.