Tuesday, July 1, 2008
Charity Meyers has not led a “normal” life – at least not normal by 2008 standards. The year is 2035 and Charity is one of the “privileged” rich children who live in a walled community, constantly protected by security guards carrying machine guns. Children are discouraged from leaving the community – they even attend school via satellite. The real danger is from being kidnapped. Kidnapping is now an industry, and if you’re kidnapped and you parents follow the kidnappers’ directions and pay ransom, you are safe. It all happens within twenty-four hours. After that time, if you haven’t been set free, you’re not so safe.
Charity has been kidnapped. She has awaken to find herself tied to a stretcher. She is now counting down the twenty-four hours. The kidnappers assure her that her father will pay the ransom and everything will be ok. She’s not so sure her father won’t mess up on the directions and she won’t end up dead. To pass the time, she flashes back to the time before she was a prisoner tied to a stretcher. As the time for ransom to be paid arrives, things go very, very wrong, and Charity realizes in what serious danger she is in.
I must admit that it took three tries to get through this book, but once I picked it up this morning, I couldn’t put it down. Bloor has written a pretty harsh commentary of how the rich (if they choose to be) are oblivious to the needs of the poor. The poor in this book are looked upon by most of the members of Charity’s community as lesser beings – as servants, or as fodder for the army. They are trapped in their lives, have poor educational opportunities and bad health care, and have virtually no opportunity to advance themselves. And yet, in the end we realize that they are not as trapped as Charity is, in her fancy home with servants and a famous but extremely shallow stepmother. Because of the fear of kidnapping, she isn’t allowed to do much – she isn’t allowed to have a life.
I have read all but one of Edward Bloor’s books (I haven’t read London Calling yet but it’s on my pile) and I must say I love them. He never hides the social commentary, but he always wraps it up in a gripping story.