Hello all! We are happy to bring you another wonderful book to showcase! Be sure to add them to Goodreads, and let us know what you think!
Blight by Alexandra Duncan
Published: August 1st, 2017
Format: Hardcover & Ebook, 400 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Find it: Amazon, Barnes&Noble, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads
When an agribusiness facility producing genetically engineered food releases a deadly toxin into the environment, seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres races to deliver the cure before time runs out.
From the author of the acclaimed American Booksellers Association’s Indies Introduce pick Salvage, which was called “Brilliant, feminist science fiction” by Stephanie Perkins, the internationally bestselling author of Anna and the French Kiss. This stand-alone action-adventure story is perfect for fans of Oryx and Crake and The House of the Scorpion.
Seventeen-year-old Tempest Torres has lived on the AgraStar farm north of Atlanta, Georgia, since she was found outside its gates at the age of five. Now she’s part of the security force guarding the fence and watching for scavengers—people who would rather steal genetically engineered food from the Company than work for it. When a group of such rebels accidentally sets off an explosion in the research compound, it releases into the air a blight that kills every living thing in its path—including humans. With blight-resistant seeds in her pocket, Tempest teams up with a scavenger boy named Alder and runs for help. But when they finally arrive at AgraStar headquarters, they discover that there’s an even bigger plot behind the blight—and it’s up to them to stop it from happening again.
Inspired by current environmental issues, specifically the genetic adjustment of seeds to resist blight and the risks of not allowing natural seed diversity, this is an action-adventure story that is Margaret Atwood’s Oryx and Crake meets Nancy Farmer’s House of the Scorpion.
About Alexandra Duncan
Alexandra Duncan is a writer and librarian. Her first novel, Salvage, was published April 1, 2014, by Greenwillow Books. Her short fiction has appeared in several Year's Best Science Fiction & Fantasy anthologies and The Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction. She loves anything that gets her hands dirty – pie-baking, leatherworking, gardening, drawing, and rolling sushi. She lives with her husband and two monstrous, furry cats in the mountains of Western North Carolina.
You can visit her online at:
Q & A with Alexandra, who is crazy smart and wonderful!
When writing this book, were there any books/authors/stories that inspired you?
This is going to sound silly, but part of the inspiration for the main character Tempest was She-Ra (Yes, the Princess of Power. He-Man’s sister. From the ‘80s cartoon.) I was obsessed with She-Ra when I was a kid, largely because of her back story. She had been captured as a baby and raised by the Evil Horde, so when He-Man first meets her, she’s a warrior fighting on the side of evil. She has a redemption story arc that I found really compelling as a five and six year-old (Yes, I was a strange child.), and ever since then, I’ve been drawn to that same sort of arc.
What do you want people to take away from the book? In this year, 50, 100?
I hope people will take away the importance of diversity, both in people and in our food supply. Diversity is how we survive as a species. I know some people are going to read this and think it’s a polemic against genetically modified foods (aka GMOs), but the GMO issue is a complicated one. Personally, I’m fine eating some corn that’s been crossed with fish DNA if that’s going to help end world hunger. What we have to be careful about is monoculture in our crops, which makes them more easily wiped out by disease, and control of our food supply falling into the hands of a select few people or companies, which is something we’re starting to see. In 50 and 100 years, I hope people are laughing about how paranoid I was to write this book, not calling it prophetic.
Why did you choose your main character to be a teen and not an adult?
In general, teens are more open-minded and idealistic than adults. At that age, you’re more willing to question and reevaluate the world around you, rather than accepting it as it is, but on the flip side, teenagerhood is also a time when you can find yourself tricked or manipulated by people with more life experience or a rigid worldview. I felt Tempest would be more compelling as a teenager than as an adult because of that tension between the pressure to conform and the spirit of skepticism that is a part of so many people’s lives at that age.
What inspired the highly scientific background of your novel?
I’m a nerd. I’ve been following the development of agricultural technology since I was in high school, and some of the things people have created sound straight out of a science fiction novel. Take terminator seeds, which were thankfully never put into production, or herbicide sprays that interact with weeds on a genetic level. As I was writing Blight, I also began hearing about CRISPR, a gene-editing technology that would allow scientists to change the genetic code of a person or animal after they were born, rather than in the embryonic stage. It’s something that could have life-saving applications, such as eradicating degenerative diseases like Parkinson’s, but could also be used for more morally questionable ends, such as making sure a baby had blue eyes and blonde hair. In the world of Blight, technologies like these have run wild, with no one keeping them in check.
What were the challenges in writing a strong female character in such a novel? Would this have been different if set in a non-dystopia world?
In some ways, writing a strong female character is easier in a dystopia than it is in the real world. The evils in a dystopia are usually more clear or heightened than in real life, because the writer is trying to highlight a particular issue or injustice. For example, if the dystopian world has a rule that all girls must be married by their sixteenth birthday, it’s easier to point to that as wrong than it is to recognize all the subtle ways sexism and rape culture affect girls that same age in our own culture. When we’re reading about a strong female character in our own world, we bring all of our unconscious biases and beliefs to our reading of her. It’s easier to label her a bitch or unlikeable. If, on the other hand, we remove her from our own context and put her in one without the same cultural expectations as our own, it’s easier for us to support the idea of her breaking with tradition and to see her as strong. *Word from Mari: PREACH IT GURL!!*
Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!
7/24/2017- Savings in Seconds- Review
7/26/2017- Wandering Bark Books- Excerpt
7/27/2017- A Dream Within A Dream- Review
7/28/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview
7/31/2017- Buried Under Books- Review
8/1/2017- The Bewitched Reader - Guest Post
8/2/2017- Here's to Happy Endings- Review
8/3/2017- Kati's Bookaholic Rambling Reviews- Excerpt
8/4/2017- YABooksCentral- Review
The Autumn Bookshelf