Author: Claire Tomalin
Publisher: Penguin Books
Published: October 2011
Number of Pages: 576
He was born the son of a man who lived above his means to the point of getting thrown in debtor’s prison. Young Charles was pulled out of school and forced to work a job he hated to help support his family. As an adult, he was constantly trying to get out from his father’s influence, not that his father wasn’t charming—he was just terrible with money.
And that’s just the beginning.
Charles’ Dicken’s life has a tendency to sound like one of his novels. In fact a couple—like David Copperfield—have been widely acknowledged as fictionalized autobiographies of a sort.
NOTE: This is a very long book. I recommend the audiobook narrated by Alex Jennings.
Champion (Legend #3)
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: YA Dystopia
Publisher: G. P. Putnam’s Sons
Published: November 5, 2013
Number of Pages: 384
This is the final book of the Legend Trilogy. The series follows June, a soldier-in-training and Day, a professional troublemaker. Set in a futuristic dystopian California, Day and June have grown up under very different circumstances—June in a highly-respected family in a rich district, Day in the slums. When circumstances bring the two together, the consequences are drastic—both personally and nationally.
NOTE: I would just like to point out that this book was published on Guy Fawkes Day, which is kind of appropriate considering Day’s past exploits.
The Ties That Bind
WARNING: Champion is the third book in a trilogy. It is therefore impossible to write about the connections between these books without revealing plot points or events from the previous books of the Legend series. Nothing major will be given away for this particular book, however.
Although one protagonist is a real-life author and the other is a teenage renegade from a futuristic dystopia, both books trace how a boy from little means grows in wealth and influence to a point where he has the power to change the lives of other impoverished people.
As described in Claire Tomalin’s biography, when Charles Dickens was a boy, his father was thrown into debtor’s prison and Charles was forced to leave behind his education and work to help support his family. Although he was eventually able to continue his education, this experience had a big influence on Charles’ values and sense of moral obligation as an adult.
Once Dickens became a famous author, he was able to use his wealth and social clout, as well as his books, to change lives on both a large and small scale. He set up a sort of halfway house for prostitutes who wished to re-enter polite society. Dickens also provided for the children of at least one acquaintance who died. He toured prisons and other institutions of the poor to appraise the conditions. He often ran stories in the periodicals he owned regarding social reform and class disparities. His novels frequently dealt with systems he considered to be unfair or corrupt such as the Court of Chancery or debtors prisons. Throughout his life, Charles Dickens worked to better the lives of those whom he could help.
In the Legend series, Daniel was the middle child of three boys raised in the slums by two loving parents. However, like Charles, Daniel was a very bright kid whose education was cut short by circumstances he couldn’t control. Of course, in Daniel’s case those “circumstances” were a perfect Test score and a government that was more interested in experimenting on a rebellious ten-year-old boy than educating him. After several invasive tests, the Republic scientists leave Daniel for dead. He is able to escape with his life and a fierce hatred for those in charge. Now on the streets, Daniel takes on the pseudonym “Day” and sets to work making as much trouble for the authorities as possible.
Day’s exploits range from robbing banks to bombing empty Republic transports. Over five years, his stunts earn Day the title of Most-Wanted Criminal in the Republic of America. It’s around this time that Day crosses paths with June. After a dizzying series of events that rips apart the families of both teens and sends them on the run, Day eventually becomes a symbol of hope for many Republic citizens—especially the poor. Through the support of the people, Day becomes a very influential figure and is able to create change at the national level to help those, like himself, from the slums. Daniel “Day” Wing is able to bring about a new era for the Republic of America.
Both Dickens & Day began life in impoverished circumstances, but through their own determination and talents, each was able to make a significant difference in the standard of living of many people, especially those who grew up in similar situations.
Ready Player One by Ernest Cline and The Thrill of the Chase by Forrest Fenn