Sunday, April 6, 2008

Truancy - Initial Impressions

Raven is reviewing Truancy by Isamu Fukui this week. Here is the official blurb:

In an alternate world, in a nameless totalitarian city, the autocratic Mayor rules the school system with an iron fist, with the help of his Educators. Fighting against the Mayor and his repressive Educators is a group of former students called the Truancy, whose goal is to take down the system by any means possible—at any cost.

Against this backdrop, fifteen-year-old Tack is just trying to survive. His days are filled with sadistic teachers, unrelenting schoolwork, and indifferent parents. Things start to look up when he meets Umasi, a mysterious boy who runs a lemonade stand in an uninhabited district.

Then someone close to Tack gets killed in the crossfire between the Educators and the Truants, and Tack swears vengeance. To achieve his purpose, he abandons his old life and joins the Truancy. There, he confronts Zyid, an enigmatic leader with his own plans for Tack. But Tack soon finds himself torn between his desire for vengeance and his growing sympathy for the Truants….
I'm only about three or four chapters into Truancy, by Isamu Fukui, but I can already see why this book has the potential to become a cult classic among young people, especially high school students. In a city run by oppressive Educators, students struggle to keep their heads above water while dealing with teachers whose primary goal is to trample them down. It reminds me of my own schooldays!

Actually, I'm not joking. The book has the ring of truth. Of course, the situation in the book is exaggerated, but it feels very real. Anyone who's had bad experiences in school will be able to relate to this story. I'm sure it helps that it was written by someone in the educational system (Fukui is in high school). I'm just wondering whether his teachers have blacklisted him.

Fukui has stated that part of his goal in writing this book was to show that violence isn't the answer. Well, currently some of the characters are pretty convinced that violence is the answer, so I'm interested to see how Fukui twists the story and proves them wrong. Initially the book seems as if it could be a standard "rebels fighting oppressor" story set in an education-centered world (the rebels are young people appropriately known as the Truancy), but I don't think it's going to be standard. We'll see.

16 comments:

Tia Nevitt said...

I guess I won a high school lottery or something. This novel sounds like it had the possibility of a tragic, ending, so I'm interested to see if I'm right about that.

Kimber An said...

Great job, Tia.

I think I'm as intrigued by the author's name as the novel itself.

Isamu sounds like a really cool adventurer from a Fantasy novel.

Tia Nevitt said...

Just to make things clear, this is Raven's review. So, great job, Raven!

CaroleMcDonnell said...

Raven:

This sounds really neat. High school can be hell -- I have no doubt most people are still majorly influenced by some horror inflicted on them by teachers and students alike. I'd be interested to see if (as in all these oppressive systems) there are kids who suck up to the teachers as some oppressed often suck up to oppressors. I'd hate it if all the young students were good and all the adult teachers were bad. Would feel vaguely unreal and fascistic to me. But so far the book sounds really great. Will inform the Carl Brandon society about it. -C

CaroleMcDonnell said...

I just googled this kid. He's not quite 18! Wow. Another genius kid author. Let's see what happens: I'm sitting here wondering which to read first: Eragon or Truancy. -C

Raven said...

Tia, if you had a great high school experience you lucked out! I'm expecting many twists and turns as the book progresses, so I'm not going to venture to predict how it will end yet.

Kimber, thanks! Isamu is of Asian descent, hence the name.

Carole, I haven't come to any suck-ups yet, but the students definitely aren't all good. I glanced ahead at the next chapter and it starts with serious hazing of students by other students. And yeah, Fukui's really young. Makes me jealous, lol! I haven't read Eragon, but Truancy's a pretty good read so far.

Raven said...

Oh, and forgot to say cool about informing the Carl Brandon society!

Tia Nevitt said...

My school nightmares happened in elementary school. I actually had an abusive teacher. High school was great, though.

FantasyFish said...

Carole, when you finish reading both TRUANCY and ERAGON, please let us know how you compare them. I think both were written by 15 year-old kids. I started to read ERAGON, but after 50 pages or so I couldn't go on.

Raven, I understand Isamu is half Japanese half Korean, was born and raised in New York!

Raven said...

FantasyFish, the setting has a very alt-NYC feel to it. It's definitely big city life. There's no grass except in the occasional park, and the kids take the subway to school. One thing that surprised me was that they're allowed to go off school grounds for lunch, which I didn't think any schools allowed anymore, but maybe it's different in New York.

Larry said...

I'll just add that I'm a teacher and a son of teachers and well, Fukui's novel does ring true to an extent, even if my evilness is of a different sort than that in the book ;)

I'll be reviewing it in a few weeks along with Cory Doctorow's Little Brother, as the two have some themes in common.

Tia Nevitt said...

Kids are allowed off-campus in many places. When I lived in Chandler, Arizona, it always caused traffic problems at lunchtime.

FantasyFish, I made it through Eragon. You can find a post on it if you search this blog. I found it an OK book, but I wasn't tempted to go on to the second novel. In that respect, I guess it failed for me.

FantasyFish said...

Tia, I read your review on ERAGON. I liked it because you were fair, patient and kind. But when the foundation of the story is derived from other works, it is very difficult for somebody like me to pay serious attention.

Raven said...

Larry, I'll be interested to read your review!

Raven said...

Tia, I didn't know that. I guess I assumed since they abolished the off-campus lunch privilege for us in my second or third year of high school, everybody lost it everywhere. :)

Tia Nevitt said...

I was never allowed to go off campus, even during the early 80s. That was an offense that could get you a suspension, if I recall correctly.