Excerpt: A Thematic Review of Ship Breaker by Maddie Collart

The dystopian novel ¨Shipbreaker¨ by Paolo Bacigalupi takes place in the futuristic society of the United States. Nailer is a teenager who scavenges ships on Bright Sands Beach. He has always known a rough life. He has the bare minimum of supplies and safety in his life, and most importantly, he has an abusive father. Throughout this book, the author puts emphasis on the theme that every person’s perception of ‘family’ can vary, and can affect how people treat each other. This concept is shown through the different perceptions of the diverse characters in the story and how they change. These characters have lived in different conditions than each other and have grown up with different threats and people around them. All of these issues factor into their perception of ‘family’ and how this important theme is woven throughout the story.

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Excerpt: The Impossible Maze by Keela Zambre

James Dashner’s The Maze Runner tells the story of a group of boys– who call themselves the gladers– with no memories of their past who are stuck in a deadly maze filled with moving walls and dangerous Grievers. The only things that they remember are their names and that they were sent into the maze by the Creators, who supply them with the things they need to live and one more boy each month. Over time, the Gladers eventually build a civilization run by the Keepers, a group of boys in charge of each job, and their leader Alby. One day, the Creators send them a girl instead of a boy. She carries a note that says, “things are going to change,” and they do. Soon after her arrival, many strange things begin to happen; grievers begin attacking and they stop getting people. One lesson that this story can teach the reader is that people have different perspectives and they can often lead to conflict and people getting hurt.

One scene that supports this theme is when the Keepers are deciding the fate of the main character, Thomas. Thomas had broken the number one rule– don’t go into the maze at night– and saved the lives of two people. One Keeper, Gally, thinks that Thomas should be punished for breaking the rules. He says, “I officially recommend that we lock his butt in the Slammer [jail].”

On the other hand, Minho thinks that Thomas should be Keeper of the Runners– a very honorable job. Eventually, they get into a fight and have to be pulled apart. This scene shows that when people have different opinions, they may argue or fight about it.
The opposing beliefs between Thomas, the Gladers, and the Creators has caused a lot of conflict and hurt. Fights between the characters broke out because they had different points of view. Almost all of the characters were hurt from these fights. The beliefs of the characters in the story causes both conflict and hurt for everyone.

Excerpt: Using Power Unjustly by U.J.

Thematically, it can be interpreted from Animal Farm that when power is misused in a society, the society will become corrupt. Despite Animal Farm originating with good intentions, Napoleon uses his excessive control of Animal Farm to distort it into a corrupt society. If Napoleon had followed the laws and ideas on which Animal Farm is first founded, the dystopian setting of Animal Farm would have never been created. This theme can be seen in the world. The Soviet Union was created with the intention of everyone being equal. However, this resulted in most people became poor laborers and the people that employed the laborers being wealthy and influential. Eventually, the working class lost all connection to politics and the dictators and other powerful figures had total control of what became of the working class. Under Joseph Stalin, people in the Soviet Union were killed for not supporting Stalin and terrorized into obedience. Like in Animal Farm, the condition that people in the Soviet Union lived in worsened when Stalin used his authority to such an excessive extent.

Excerpt: The Unwanteds — Thematic Essay by Rhys Wheaton

In a world where being creative is frowned upon, and moments of expressing yourself are called infractions, it is to no doubt that children are preparing themselves for the worst possible fate: being killed for being yourself. In The Unwanteds by Lisa McMann children are killed for being creative; however, there is a separate world that has been created in secret from the government that allows children to be innovative and express their emotions. One main theme of this book is how society hampers children’s self-esteem, and beating them down for being themselves.

When people are expected to fit into a certain category and act a certain way and then chastised and put down when we don’t, this negatively affects our mindsets and how we view ourselves, not only in the book, but in our society today.

Excerpt: Sincere Ignorance by S. Lee — a thematic essay on The Giver by Lois Lowry

While the impact of the second important memory Jonas receives may not seem as dramatic as war, it still shows how people can’t fathom what they have never experienced. The Giver, the day directly after giving Jonas war, gives him a different memory: a memory of family—a full family of three generations—celebrating a holiday together. In the memory, Jonas perceives a deep family bond, true joy, and something he has never experienced before in his structured courtesy-instilling world: love. Love is “a word and concept new to him[,]” which fascinates Jonas. (Lowry 157). Because of this love that Jonas is now capable of feeling because of the memory, he makes a momentous choice that shows how deeply the memory affected him. Toward the book’s end when Jonas flees the community to Elsewhere, he takes Gabriel—the newchild his family had been caring for who would be Released because of his insomnia—with him. In order to save Gabriel, Jonas must leave earlier than expected, but because Jonas now knows what love is through the memories, he makes the morally correct decision to save Gabriel’s life. While some may argue that saving one person’s life is not worth jeopardizing the continued detrimental societal ignorance, Jonas decides he cannot let a loved one die like because of selfishness. That selfishness being if he waited to leave—so he would be more prepared—Gabriel would be euthanized (Released). Now that Jonas knows what love is, his love for Gabriel compels him to make the selfless decision out of love. Toward the book’s beginning, Jonas has just begun to take pills to prevent him from having the capacity to feel in depth (the Stirrings). Everyone else does too, starting at a certain age. Combined with the structured life of the individual community member that leaves little room for important choice, the ability to feel deeply is effectively quenched. As a result, nobody in the community—except the Giver and Jonas—has real feelings. Certainly, it could be said that the Old and the young children do not take these feeling-stifling pills, so they may be capable of feeling deeply. While this is a good point, it fails to account that people cannot know what they have never experienced. Life in the community certainly does not allow for much out of the ordinary or pain of any kind, which is a barrier to feeling anything real. Therefore, the young children and the Old are incapable of feeling deeply, even without taking the pills. They can’t feel what they have never experienced. By never having the chance to know love or pain because of their way of life, the community’s people, especially the Elders, limit their wisdom by forcing the burden of experience upon the Giver and Jonas. The community’s citizens surrender the right to even have the potential to feel deeply. Due to the cunningly contrived controlled community lifestyle, though, the people do not even know what they have given up by letting the Elders decide everything. They let themselves be sincerely ignorant, but they never will know what they’re missing because they do not know.