Monday, August 23, 2010

Join the Library Wars

I just finished reading the second book in a series that appeals to me on many levels.  It's a bit hard to describe the book, since it's a mashup of many genres.  Part romantic comedy, part social commentary, part combat movie, part political drama, part compelling and harrowing near-future science fiction, Library Wars is really all over the place but in a good way.  It's actually hard to describe what makes it so delightful because if someone tells you the premise and the world it takes place in and the nature of the conflict, you are likely to think they are crazy. 

I mean, what kind of near future involves actual physical combat over library books?  What kind of funny odd-couple comedy is set in a world where national and local governments and a ton of other shadowy political bodies manipulate the press and jockey for position using freedom of  expression as their hot-button issue?  Is it more important to protect people from the bad expressions than to allow the freedom to have differences (and smut and pornography and dangerous ideas)? When was the last time you saw Library and War used in the same sentence?  This isn't Fahrenheit 451, but it might be distantly related (and much more fun since the focus isn't really on the heavy drama, though there is a small sense of dread about that drama always lurking in the background).

It's true that I really like clever premises that work and make me think (enough that sometimes I don't even care if everything else is a mess), but from the number of times I found myself laughing at interactions between the two clueless romantic leads and thinking really hard about how far I would go to defend freedom of expression, I'd like to think this is actually a well-executed story overall.  I just really enjoy it all the way through.  It's a delightful experience to read and enter this bizarre but not-so-different world.  At least I think so.

What do you think?  How far would you go to censor the bad for the public good or defend free access to it all?  (It's really not a trite and easy issue, especially not as it's presented in Library Wars.)  If you love books, you might want to give this series a read to see how much you really love them and how much you would be willing to sacrifice in their defense . . .

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