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Everything is Broken

Prolific science fiction author John Shirley calls his latest novel “an anti-teabagger political metaphor” and “near-future thriller.”

Just yesterday, Shirley wrote a piece on his blog about a possible reaction against the politics of the novel by those he chose to satirize. Very interesting, and something I had never head of before.

SHIRLEY, John. Everything Is Broken. 288p. Prime. 2012. Tr $14.95. ISBN 978-1-60701-292-4. LC number unavailable.  Everything is Broken

Adult/High School–This terrifying story examines what happens when a town whose mayor does not believe in government is hit by a tsunami. Lon Ferrara, mayor of the small town of Freedom, CA, believes that privatization means efficiency; he has even dismantled “wasteful” public safety services, planning to have private contractors handle them. Ferrara chalks up repeated warnings about seismic activity to government fear mongering and does nothing to prepare or protect his citizens. Shirley describes the ravaging effects of the tsunami on buildings and human bodies in excruciating detail. Freedom suffers massive destruction, but Ferrara sees this as the opportunity to create his ideal town. After allowing a few people to leave, he seals the border. He tells the police chief of the neighboring town that he does not need help, even rejecting FEMA assistance, as he sees this opening the door to living under a dictatorship. When a group of citizens who have been trying to help the injured and restore order attempt to leave to get help, Ferrara and his crew of young thugs and gangbangers stop them. Their subsequent battle against Ferrara’s gang, amidst the wreckage, fear, and personal loss, is told in devastating detail. With the destruction caused by the tsunami in Japan still fresh in readers’ minds, and with recent political movements in this country calling for dismantling government agencies, this story is frighteningly plausible. It will appeal to fans of both thrillers and realistic fiction.–Carla Riemer, Claremont Middle School, CA

Angela Carstensen About Angela Carstensen

Angela Carstensen is Head Librarian and an Upper School Librarian at Convent of the Sacred Heart in New York City. Angela served on the Alex Awards committee for four years, chairing the 2008 committee, and chaired the first YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adult committee in 2009. Recently, she edited Outstanding Books for the College Bound: Titles and Programs for a New Generation (ALA Editions, 2011). Contact her via Twitter @AngeReads.