Posted in Blog Tour, Reviews

Blinded by the Light by Joe Kipling (Blog Tour)

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I first read Blinded by the Light back in January and, as you’ll know if you read my review, I absolutely loved it. I was fangirling all over the place aha! So of course I was more than happy to take part in the blog tour!

“Protected by the Boundary and guided by the Light MaryAnn enjoys a life of privilege, safe from the Feral Echoes who roam the Outside. It doesn’t matter that her friends can sometimes be cruel or the boy she likes just threw up on her shoes . . . . it’s all about being noticed at the right parties. It takes a single event to rip her life apart.

Struggling with physical and metal scars MaryAnn must face up to the truth about the foundations of the Neighbourhood and the legacy of her family. MaryAnn understands that once you learn the truth you can never go back . . . but can she really put her faith in the Union?”

You can find my four star review here.

So for this blog tour I thought I’d do something I haven’t done before and the lovely Joe Kipling has agreed to do a guest post! Super exciting! As I know a lot of you are interested in writing and you all love dystopia, I just know this is going to be brilliant for you! Enjoy!

‘Create your own dystopia!’

In order to create the world inhabited by the characters in “Blinded by the Light” I spent a lot of time reflecting on the idea of a dystopia. To be able to construct a world that was in some way terrifying or undesirable to the reader, I had to first consider what a dystopian society would mean to me. What things would I find frightening or intolerable? What type of society would I not want to live in?
On a long (but surprisingly punctual) train journey I began to compile a list, and these are the dystopian elements that made it into my top five:

1) Rule by corporation: don’t get me wrong I think that business has a place in society, but it shouldn’t have the power to manipulate the government or government policy. Businesses should also be held accountable for bad practices and forced to have some responsibility for the impact their decisions have on wider society. In “Blinded by the Light” the UK has been decimated by a virus and is now controlled by a pharmaceutical company who discovered The Cure. To reflect this, I deliberately made some of the language and terminology in the story sound business like.

2) Social separation or inequality: vast inequality in wealth creates tension in society. There’s nothing wrong with working hard and having a good standard of living, but there is something wrong with a society that creates a lottery, were wealth impacts on standards of healthcare, education and housing. In “Blinded by the Light” I deliberately created a classification system based on both wealth and an individuals perceived usefulness in society. This system was used by the government to determine who would be given The Cure to the virus. Everyone is divided into groups beginning with Alpha, who are the wealthy in society who could afford to pay for The Cure. Beta are the professionals and people useful to the survival of society (doctors, engineers, teachers etc). Delta are those with natural immunity who were designated servant status and Echo are those without wealth or skills who were left to die.

3) Massive urbanization: I love hiking and being outdoors so l would hate to live in a Blade Runner-esque world, without access to the countryside or green spaces. When I was nine years old I was trapped in a train toilet with my younger brother and sister. It wasn’t a particularly large toilet and it was a very hot day. Just as I thought we would never escape, assistance arrived in the form of a train guard who broke the door down. Obviously, by this point the noise and confusion caused by the trapped ‘Kipling children’ had grabbed the attention of the whole carriage. Being nine years old I soon got over the embarrassment of providing the ‘in train’ entertainment, but it left me with a phobia of small spaces and I hate feeling closed in or trapped. Just the thought of living inside a Boundary town like MaryAnn in “Blinded by the Light” makes me want to head outdoors and hike up the nearest hill.

4) Constant surveillance/lack of personal freedom: I’ve never wanted to be a celebrity. I would hate to have people constantly watching me and taking photos. Even speed cameras give me the creeps. I read 1984 by George Orwell when I was a teenager, and the thing that frightened me the most was the Big Brother element of constantly being watched. Also, the fear that someone’s going to discover you saying or doing the wrong thing and inform on you just terrifies me. Lots of conflicts around the world have relied on this method to maintain control, such as the Hitler Youth during World War 2 and the Khmer Rouge in Cambodia, to name a few. Sometimes I think we forget how lucky we are in the UK to be able to challenge the government and express our opinions freely.

5) Quality media: this may seem unimportant, but the thought of turning on the TV and finding that the only programmes available are reality shows with vacuous, self absorbed celebrities fills me with a sense of dread. I’m not saying that I want to spend the rest of my life watching documentaries on the Discovery Channel, but I hate reality shows or any programme that has ‘celebrity’ in the title. In “Blinded by the Light”, reality shows are the only programmes available because they’re easy to make. Two of my characters Daryl and Peter rebel against this through a love of 80’s film, particularly Sci-Fi. Its no accident that they’re both fans of Star Wars, which happens to be my favourite film. Flash Gordon the dog is also named after the action hero who stared in another of my favourite ‘rainy day’ films. There’s nothing better than a rainy Sunday snuggled under a blanket on the sofa, with my dog Rosie, a glass of wine, a tub of Ben & Jerry’s and Flash Gordon on the telly.

Interestingly, when I read through my list I realised that some of the elements that I’d identified as typifying my dystopian hell also reflected the things that I dislike about our society today. It got me wondering whether future generations will look back through history and tell stories about the great dystopia of the 21st century, when gross inequality, corporate greed, persecution and war were common features of everyday life. I’m not sure I really have an answer, and I’ll leave you to consider this while you write your own dystopia. I’d be interested to hear what you come up with!

Blinded by the Light is an amazing book and I cant wait for the second, so what are you waiting for? Go read it!

And check out some of the absolutely brilliant posts from earlier in the tour!

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{NOTE: As you may have noticed, this post wasn’t up on the 30th, my deepest apologies for this, I had technical difficulties and some personal issues going on.}

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