I don’t care much for Science Fiction, but…

… I’m willing to make an exception, and to give credit where credit is due.

Seriously, I’m the kind of girl who watched all the Star Wars movies for only one reason: The husband wanted to see them, and I didn’t want to spoil his fun. Though I’ll readily admit that I sort of enjoyed Rogue One and The Last Jedi – it’s always refreshing to see women run like real people and not like weird, doll-like robots who seem like they’ve spent their lives standing around looking pretty and now don’t know what to do with their body parts. Whatever. I’m not here to talk about Star Wars movies, I’m here to talk about Heather Ransom’s books.

A while ago I needed to kill a few hours and didn’t have anything to read, so I asked for recommendations. A friend sent me a link to Going Green, first part of the Going Green Trilogy. I usually trust that particular friend regarding her taste in books, so I went and bought it. And then I bought Greener, which is part two, and now I can’t wait for part three to come out, which will be sometime in late 2019, or so I’ve been told.

When I started reading, I didn’t know what I was getting into, as is my habit. I hardly ever read blurbs. By the time I realized I was reading SF – after the first sentence or something like that – it was too late to stop, because the story had already sucked me in.

Heather Ransom tells her story from the point of view of Calyssa Brentwood, a privileged, somewhat shallow, awfully naive girl. Her society is divided in people who Go Green, and people who don’t. Calyssa was raised to believe that Going Green is what all good people do – the members of the Green Commonwealth, the Green Citizens, as they are called, have plant chloroplasts in their cells, they produce energy via photosynthesis, they don’t need to eat (though funnily enough, they require the occasional nutrient drink, which constantly made me think of liquid fertilizer), thus don’t have to waste time on preparing and consuming meals. The time gained can be spent working for the betterment of all.

Yeah, right. Thing is, not every body accepts those chloroplast cells, and not everybody survives the process of Going Green. It’s only when Calyssa herself has already been through the procedure, and is successfully in the middle of the process herself, with her eyes beginning to turn green, that she realizes what everybody else knows: The Greens believe themselves above normal people, they consider themselves a superior race. Not enough money? Sorry, you can’t Go Green. Poor grades, no outstanding talent? Same answer.

When Calyssa goes to spend a week on a farm outside her sheltered environment, she gets confronted with the life of average people, their hopes, dreams, fears, everything. There’s also a rather handsome Non-Green guy helping her begin to respect the reasons why someone might consciously decide not to Go Green even though they could. Calyssa gets acquainted with rebels, and learns that the Green Commonwealth is hiding quite a few secrets even darker than their casual racism.

The story basically holds all the elements you’d need for a rather clichéd development – pretty, rich girl meets handsome rebel and uncovers sinister government plot – but trust me, there’s so much to these books that you barely even realize where a weaker author might have taken them. Carefully filtering events through Calyssa’s adolescent eyes, Heather Ransom manages to paint an incredibly empathetic mirror image of everything that’s wrong within our own society, without ever sounding preachy, simply by making you relate to her complex characters. At the risk of sounding like a drooling fan girl, I was completely blown away. The story covers everything from the machinations of a government intent on exploiting part of their citizenry while blinding the rest with subtle (and not so subtle) media manipulations, and a young girl’s self-righteous need to right every wrong, to the harshest possible coming of age when Calyssa realizes what she represents in the eyes of those society deems beneath her.

The Going Green books hold the kind of story that makes me annoy my husband, because I’ll walk up to him, demand that he listen, and read the best parts aloud. Usually, he’ll give me a bored eyebrow and a half-hearted “yeah, that’s nice.” This time he stopped what he was doing, nodded slowly, and went “holy shit.”

Long story short, read those books. They’re relevant.

About angelikarust

My name is Angelika Rust. I was born in Vienna in 1977. These days, I live in Germany, with my husband, two children, a despotic couple of cats and a hyperactive dog. After having tried almost every possible job from pizza delivery girl to HR consultant, I now make a living knowing English. No, I haven’t yet figured out what I want to be when I grow up, whenever that may be. In the meantime, I write the occasional book.
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