Sunday, March 23, 2008
Book Review: Pendragon 7
Two words: Scary Good!
For those who haven’t read the Pendragon series by D.J. MacHale, you simply must. Plot twists I don’t see coming, well developed characters and a developed plot that keeps everything moving. MacHale is amazing! Every book takes place on a different world, territories that exist in the same universe, tied together by "flumes," which people like Bobby Pendragon can travel. Bobby, the main character, is a Traveler, who has the responsibility to keep the universe safe from a bad guy, Saint Dane. Each book is incredible, riveting, but the interesting thing is how each world has characteristics that make it close to our own. Overpopulation, or pollution, or too many video games... each world has a problem that will cause it’s downfall, and it’s not consequential that our own world has to deal with all of them.
Book 7’s world, Quillian, is a world where games reign supreme. People stake their meager incomes, even their children or their own lives, on the games, in a winner take all bet that would insure that families and children would eat well, or doom them into servitude or worse. The parallels to gambling in this world, or even more striking, the need to waste millions of dollars on the lottery (which is state run), are very obvious. But that’s not all. The games are run not by the government, but by one company, a company called BLOK that was, at one time, no more than one of many businesses trying to compete in a free market economy. But by undermining the other companies on prices, buying out manufacturing processes, and slowly creating a monopoly on everything from clothing to food to automobiles to whatever, BLOK became the only company on the planet, and therefore, had all the power, even more than the governments. When Saint Dane was telling all this to Bobby, all I could think of was that this was Walmart taken to the nth degree. This was the free market system, without regulation or anti-trust policies in place, and then progressed to the point where Walmart was the sole governing system in the world.
The economy that MacHale describes is one where communism has been reached by the control of capitalism. It makes sense, that if Walmart were to control everything, they could regulate it so you had no money, and while you might be somewhat provided for, they in turn would have all the money, and so it would be the equivalent of communism, but with a dangerous and lethal twist. Robots could take care of all the dangerous and lethal problems in the world, but humans are cheaper to make and if there’s an endless supply of them (Consumerism), then it makes economic sense to use humans to do things that would kill them otherwise. But since they wouldn't want to do that, you make it a punishment for losing in a profit winning game that would provide entertainment to the down-trodden, as well as give them an incentive to bet what money they had, or even their lives, for a chance of living better, if even for a short time.
This book ranks up there with Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984. This series is a must for any middle or high school student, and every teacher should read them and maybe even use them in school.
I’m reading a book right now, 100 Cupboards which is also very good, and I’ll review it later.