In the future nothing is easy. Global warming has taken its toll, resources are scarce and the Committee, who rule with an iron fist, erected a wall to protect the citizens of Sydney. For 16 year old Lily the world is a strange place, her parents are detached, she is not allowed to leave the house or even look out the windows and once a week the Committee Blacktroopers burst into her house and force the family to take their mandatory medications. Lily’s family has supposedly privileged status (they live in one of the water-inclusion zones, allowing them such luxuries as a garden) yet all three children are restricted to the house and have been for the past three years. Lily’s brother Daniel is plagued by headaches that leave him weak and disorientated. When he disappears, Lily realizes that her parents’ lack of answers and the edicts and rules of the Committee may be hiding some disturbing secrets. Armed with nothing more than a hunch and an amazing amount of courage, she leaves her sister and parents, which is no easy feat. She escapes the house where she has been held a virtual prisoner to search for her brother. Faced with the frightening possibility of violence from the Blacktroopers and no idea how the world may have changed she starts on a journey that will change life as she understands it.
A riveting dystopian novel for secondary students, Stewart’s descriptive writing style and fast paced plot make this book an easy, enjoyable read. I will most definitely recommend Days Like This to my students. The fast pace of the story and abundance of action ensures that it will appeal to more than just fans of dystopian fiction. Lily’s story of betrayal, heartbreak and redemption, her amazing courage, survival instinct and compassion makes her a character that young adults will want to relate to.
The themes include, corruption in society, powerlessness of teens and people wanting to ‘play God’ with science. This coupled with the setting of a dying world (post global warming) mean that there are many teaching opportunities contained within this text. At around 300 pages it may be a struggle for reluctant readers but could make an excellent class novel for an advanced English class (around grades 9 or 10). Despite the protagonist being female both boys and girls should enjoy this novel, particularly fans of Ally Condie’s Matched. Days Like This could be used to great effect in literature circles, as it covers issues that question morality and encourage students to address the issues that could arise as global warming takes its toll and natural resources disappear.
This novel really blew me away. The possible topics touched on in this book are nearly endless. The themes contained are very topical and can easily be integrated into the new curriculum (for example used within SOSE as a type of “worst-case scenario” or using extracts to jump-start creative writing in English). Because of the easy to read style and many layers within the novel it also has a very wide potential readership. The dystopian themes mean that this is a book that can be enjoyed by older readers as well.