We live in precarious times, and teens and new adults are struggling to find their way in our new economy. It seems like all the old rules have been thrown out, but no one has figured out the new ones yet. On top of that, the world seems to be change constantly. Iran and North Korea have nuclear weapons, al Qaeda is still out there, and the US government can’t seem to function. It’s a scary time for our youth (not to mention the rest of us), and the rise of dystopian television shows, movies and books resonate with that fear.
I’m an optimist, so, while I like to write dystopian stories, I also like happy endings. I believe that bad situations can bring out the best in people, and that, in the age old fight of good versus evil, good can win. It always makes me mad to see a movie or read a book where the good guys lose and evil prevails!
IXEOS is a book about even more precarious times. The teens from our world who are taken to Ixeos discover that this alternate earth has been taken over by aliens, and all the humans have been killed, enslaved, or forced into hiding. There’s no power, no cell phones, no grocery stores or hospitals or schools. The aliens are in control and have no qualms about torturing and executing humans who aren’t doing their will.
While that’s obviously quite a stretch from where our world is today, stories like this give us a chance to examine “what’s the worst that could happen,” and also think about what our response to that situation would be. Young people, in particular, are feeling adrift and thinking that their future isn’t going to be as positive as the generations before them. It’s a disheartening thought.
The IXEOS trilogy was written as a YA/New Adult series because I have kids this age myself. My son is 16 and my daughter is almost 21, and they are looking at the world around them and at their future and trying to figure out their roles. They want to make a difference in the world, not just go along for the ride, but they also see a lot of frightening things on the horizon.
Not all the characters in IXEOS are teens, but all the outsiders were brought to the planet as teens. All of them have to make the decision whether to help with the rebellion or not. This isn’t the life they left behind, with their iPods and their cell phones and thoughts of childhood extending through four years of college. This is real life and death stuff, and each of the outsiders was brought to Ixeos for a specific purpose, one they might not live through.
I wrote IXEOS primarily to entertain, but as a long-time homeschooling mom, I also know that deep longing in kids to matter and to be taken seriously. One of my favorite scenes in the book is when Marty proposes something to Abacus and realizes that he is being taken seriously, as if he were an adult. He is shocked, but also excited, and he rises to the occasion. This happens to other characters, too, when they realize that their purpose on Ixeos isn’t just to go to the desolate places and relax, but to direct all their energies to one purpose: freeing the rebel leader, Darian, and freeing the humans from slavery.
Times are changing, and the things we’ve all taken for granted might need to be rethought. Books like IXEOS, that show young people that they really can matter, and that they don’t need to stay kids forever, are going to be really important for this generation as they navigate those changes and try to find their place in the new world.