I Learn By Osmosis
I just finished (on my Kindle) Neil Shusterman's Unwind this week. WOW. Has to be the best written YA novel I've read. Big statement, I know, but Shusterman utilised all the best elements of storytelling:
- The story got started right off with the conflict. MC's parents have signed him over to be 'unwound', which means every part of him will be harvested for other people's transplants.
- Action and movement is frequent and spectacular. There are three young fugitives on the run, bus crashes, shoot-outs and more.
- It contains a dystopian element that gets you thinking about human nature and how bad and how good it can get.
- Everything mentioned matters. There are no vague stories because they sound cute. Every single anecdote, backstory, setting and prop is a smoking gun to show up later.
- All the characters are believable - even the ones you don't agree with.
- It ends with hope for a brighter future and human redemption.
Unwind kept me on the edge of my seat, in one later scene, I literally kept putting my Kindle down away from me, scared to read on, but then had to snatch it back up to see how the situation would turn out. I don't mind telling you, there were tears (and I don't think I've gotten weepy in a book since Steinbeck's Of Mice and Men).
My intention is to study the style of the writer when I read fiction, to help me grow with my own writing, but this one was so good, I forgot to take notes.
After finishing the novel, I felt a bit empty, so read a short story from a favourite author, Mark Twain's A Dog's Tale. Very different style, but it also included a scene revealing the weakness and cruelness of people, leaving me a little disappointed in us humans (but then I see the kids in my classes and I realise there is much more kindness and potential in the human race).
What do you read to help you get writing?