Her debut novel Possession has been gaining buzz around the blogosphere, but today it will be unleashed to book hungry young readers everywhere. Possession is joining the wave of dystopian novels geared towards young readers and we could not be happier for Elana. :)
As part of the blog tour for Possession, we got to ask some burning questions and learned a little something about this debut author! Check out our Q&A with Elana and then read Ashley's lovely review of Possession! :)
**********1) What appealed to you about writing a YA dystopia novel?
I’m not sure I set out to write a YA novel when I first started writing. For me, writing is an emotional release, and it made sense to pour all that emotion into a teenage girl, who typically feels things more intensely than any other creature on the planet.
POSSESSION was the third novel I wrote, and the first dystopian. I did deliberately set about trying to write a futuristic novel, because I’d just read my first dystopian book and wanted to write in that genre. There’s just something magical and amazing about making up the future of our world. The possibilities are endless!
2) Why did you choose to write a novel that speaks about freewill vs control? Do you think that far too often today people, especially teens, are being controlled by other authorities instead of using their own freewill?
I think a lot of people allow themselves to be pushed or prodded in a certain direction, even (and maybe especially) adults. I think it’s important to know who’s making decisions for you in things that impact your life, and I think it’s important to know if you agree with those decisions or not.
I think the whole freewill vs. control issue is great for a teen novel, because quite often teenagers can’t make their own choices. They’ve got parents, leaders, and/or teachers always telling them what to do at a time in their lives when they’re trying to figure out who they are and what they want to do.
The same could be said for adult too, though, which is why I think POSSESSION is a great cross-over novel. Adults have a boss, the police, policies at stores, due dates at the library, and any number of things that they have to conform to.
Now don’t get me wrong; I do believe we need teachers and policemen and laws and all that. I just think that everyone, everywhere, has probably felt powerless to make their own choices at some point in their lives. I took that to the extreme in POSSESSION by creating a brainwashed society, but I think it’s an emotion that everyone can relate to.
3) If you could pick just one, who is your favourite female protagonist and why?
Hermione from the Harry Potter books. She is smart, and not afraid to show it. She’s resourceful. She’s loyal. She’s kind when the situation calls for it, and ruthless when she has to be. She is who I would want as a best friend.
4) If you lived in Vi's world, which celebrity would you break the rules for?
Uh, Hugh Jackman, hands down. I’m still disappointed I didn’t get to even glimpse him while I was visiting New York City. Apparently he’s always hanging out at The Gap.
5) What is one song that would have to be on the Possession soundtrack?
There are so many! I think I’d have to go with P!nk’s PERFECT. There’s so many voices in Vi’s head…
Author: Elana Johnson
Dimensions: 16.8 x 10.4 x 3 cm, 416 pages
Format: ARC from publisher
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing /June 7, 2011 / Hardcover
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they're set on convincing Vi to become one of them...starting by brainwashing Zenn. Vi can't leave Zenn in the Thinkers' hands, but she's wary of joining the rebellion, especially since that means teaming up with Jag. Jag is egotistical, charismatic, and dangerous--everything Zenn's not. Vi can't quite trust Jag and can't quite resist him, but she also can't give up on Zenn.
This is a game of control or be controlled. And Vi has no choice but to play.
Possession by Elana Johnson is one of those novels that falls into the world of YA, but leaves out the whole paranormal aspect that is currently dominating the young adult world of literature. This is a novel that borders on, in essence, to the world that George Orwell created in his fantastic novel 1984. For all of those who haven't read this book, I highly suggest going out and reading it once you've read Possession. Possession centers around Vi and the way the world has ended up. We no longer have control over what we do, where we go and who we love. All of our choices are given to us through these communication channels that have you have to be plugged into while you sleep. The problem is that Vi doesn't live by the rules her society has placed upon civilization. Instead, Vi is able to think for herself, act out the way an sixteen year old girl should and fall in love, twice. As a female lead, Elana Johnson has created strength, determination and free will in Vi –– all characteristics all girls, at any age, should possess.
This story definitely does not lack hottie action. Elana Johnson has given us two guys to run our minds over and pick either good or bad. Personally, I'm team Jag. Zenn is a complicated character who gets introduced right away as Vi's match but later their relationship becomes highly complicated and in steps bad boy, Jag. I always tend to go towards the bad boys. It is a habit that I hope doesn't break any time soon. His dark features are contrasted to Zenn's light. They are the Ying and Yang in Vi's life and if presented with her dilemma I'm sure you'd also find it hard to choose. Both boys are complex and I can't wait to read where Elana takes them.
At the beginning, I found the story to drag slightly. Mostly because a lot of the terms and concepts being brought up were not introduced yet. Once you start to actually learn more about this world and what it means to live as either a goodie or a baddie, the novel picked up pace. It became an action packed race to save not only Vi and Jag's life, but free themselves from the people trying to control them. The end of the novel also introduces a slew of new characters who I can't wait to meet and get to know further.
The novel speaks to the problems surrounding others making our choices for us. What would we do if our own free will was taken away from us? Our freedom to choose who and when to love? The idea is heartbreaking and 1984 speaks about this very issue. This is a novel that could be our future; the thought is terrifying. Think the reality show Big Brother, but with stricter rules and guidelines. Having someone watch and monitor your every move and thought is a horrifying idea, but it makes for a great read and entertaining reality tv.
Elana Johnson has introduced readers to a 1984 for young adults and with her debut novel she doesn't disappoint. This novel was interesting, fascinating, scary, and of course we have our much needed romantic complications that all YA novels should have. It makes reading them that much better!!
I would like to give a special thanks to both Simon and Schuster Canada for sending us a copy for review as well as Elana Johnson for stopping by our blog and answering some of our questions!