UP THE TOWER is not your "normal" YA distopian. This is an ensemble cast that includes a wide variety of characters. There is also a historian who bookends the narrative and who periodically explains some of the background and the "history" behind this event. The book reads like a documentary interspersed with vignettes of the real action.
JP Lantern takes us so a dark place--there's not a lot of redeeming qualities to the setting. People strive to achieve citizenship where they receive free healthcare, government benefits, etc. But, the best situation would be to be a shareholder in one of the major megacorporations that run everything.
My favorite characters are Samson and Partner--although the stories of all the characters are interesting.
UP THE TOWER is not a "feel good" book nor is it a book of fast-paced action. Even though it's relatively short (less than 200 pages) there's a lot packed into those pages. Pick it up when you have some time to read it carefully and digest the story the author has to offer.
“This kid comes in, okay? Starts doing all this stuff with Wallop's tech fists. Powering them up and such. You know, they can bend steel, they can punch a man so far a distance, all of that. At first, I think the kid's pretty young, but then I see his eyes—they're old enough. I seen his eyes, they're about my age, those eyes. And it’s important, okay, how old he is. Because this kid? He looks a hell of a lot like me.”
“So what? Lots of kids look like you.”
“Yeah. So do Georgeson. So do Jonesboy. So do Figueroa.”
“What are you saying?”
“I'm saying…” he palmed the side of his head. “I’m saying, it ain’t no secret that you got yourself a certain type of person that you pick up. A type of boy. I sort of thought I knew why. Last night I found out for certain.”
Konnor was right. Ore was angry.
“The hell are you saying to me? Just say it.”
“You said you had a brother. His name was Samson. He was good with tech, you said. Well this kid? The one tailoring Wallop's new fists? Samson. That's what Wallop called him. ‘Samson, touch here.’ ‘Samson, look at that, is that right.’”
Ore didn't say anything.
“He's alive. Your brother. In The Tower. He’s maybe been alive this whole time.”
Silence, then. Even the eyebots outside seemed to get quiet.
That goddamn Wallop. Her job, her Haulers, and her eye. Now he had her brother, or near enough. Everything. Would he take everything from her?
Konnor stood up and headed to the door. The shack squeaked beneath him.
“If it was any other sort of job…if it was a job that maybe wouldn’t have gone against the Faces…”
“Shut up, Konnor. It’s all against the Faces. It’s under ‘em or it’s with ‘em. You know that.”
“All right. All right.” He opened the door. An argument had started down the street; someone lit a fire in a barrel on the balcony above her shack; an eyebot stopped, scanned the two, and then zipped away. “It’s a hell of a plan, though, Ore. A hell of a plan. And maybe I won’t get around to telling Wallop what’s what for a little while.”
Full of adventure and discovery, these stories examine complex people in situations fraught with conflict as they search for truth in increasingly violent and complicated worlds.
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