Possessionby Elana Johnson
Vi knows the Rule: Girls don’t walk with boys, and they never even think about kissing them. But no one makes Vi want to break the Rules more than Zenn…and since the Thinkers have chosen him as Vi’s future match, how much trouble can one kiss cause? The Thinkers may have brainwashed the rest of the population, but Vi is determined to think for herself.
But the Thinkers are unusually persuasive, and they’re set on convincing Vi to become one of them….starting by brainwashed 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.
“Most [readers] will be drawn in by the love triangle, revelations about Vi and her family, and a dark twist ending that maintains the faintest glimmer of hope.” --PW
"[T]he super-cool, surprise ending...staysentirely true to the plot....[T]he romantic tribulations...may serve to drawromance fans into the sci-fi side....[T]he setting is developed with care anddetail, making for a vividly drawn alternative world. Fans of Matched (BCCB11/10) and other recent romantically focused additions to the dystopiansub-genre may wish to add this to their reading list."
“This debut novelfits neatly into the latest dystopian fantasy craze. Readers will enjoytough-as-nails Violet ‘Vi’ Schoenfeld and her two love interests, Zenn andJag.” –Library Media Connection
This debut dystopia succeeds at suspense and tension but fails at moral complexity.
Vi lives in the beige Goodlands, where good people wear required "oatmeal-colored shirts" and, by prohibition, never hug or touch. But Vi does touch and kiss her boyfriend Zenn, and she crosses forbidden borders and unplugs herself from mandatory brainwashing transmissions. She explains early on that "Goodies are walking paper dolls, devoid of personality—and brains" while authoritarian Thinkers "do the thinking so regular people won't have to." Unlike speculative fiction that successfully questions whether eliminating wars and providing adequate food for everyone might be worth losing cultural freedoms, this tale manages neither nuance nor ambiguity. Vi escapes from prison with hottie rebel Jag and travels to seek asylum, pursued by Thinkers of unknown loyalty, slowly realizing that she and Jag can control others. They lie to each other constantly, their supposedly deep love reading like simple sexual chemistry. Vi's voice is sarcastic—"we were in the park after dark (gasp!)"—with random bits of teen syrup (Jag has "blueberry eyes"). Revelations come hard and fast but don't feel meaningful, due to thin worldbuilding and sketchy details; in this society, how could Vi possibly understand a concept like "rights"?
Moral subtlety loses out to breathless pacing; the ending is derivative of Scott Westerfeld's superior Uglies (2005). (Science fiction. 14 & up)
Read an Excerpt
Good girls don’t walk with boys. Even if they’re good boys—and Zenn is the best. He strolled next to me, all military with his hands clasped behind his back, wearing the black uniform of a Forces recruit. The green stripes on his shirtsleeves flashed with silver tech lights, probably recording everything. Probably? Who am I kidding? Those damn stripes were definitely recording everything.
Walking through the park in the evening is not technically against the rules. Good people do it all the time. But walking through the park with a boy could get me in trouble.
When darkness fell, another rule would be broken.
The whir of a hovercopter echoed high above the trees. In this park, the saplings stood an inch or two taller than me. Some trees in the City of Water are ancient—at least a century old. But the forest is off-limits, and even I know better than to break that rule.
The filthy charcoal shade of the sky matched the impurities I’d filtered from the lake in class today. I imagined the color to be similar to the factory walls where my dad worked, but I had never been there and hadn’t seen him for years, so I couldn’t say for sure.
People don’t return from the Badlands.
“Vi, I’m glad you finally answered my e-comm,” Zenn said, his voice smooth, just like his skin and the perfectly fluid way he walked.
“You know my mom.” I didn’t have to elaborate. Not with Zenn. “I told her I was coming whether she said yes or not.” I tried to hide how desperate I’d been to see him, how happy his e-comm invitation had made me. He could’ve asked me to the moon and I would’ve gladly gone. And taken whatever punishment followed.
I’d left school during the afternoon break. The Special Forces compound is a two-hour walk south of the City of Water. I’d crossed the border and trekked for half a mile in the Fire Region just to see him. Crossing borders is also against the rules, but Zenn was worth every step.
I watched the hovercopters circle closer, comfortable in the silence with Zenn. Sometimes it said more than we did.
The sidewalks had stopped functioning thirty minutes ago, clearly curfew for this park. As one hovercopter dipped nearer, it took every ounce of courage I had to keep from reaching out, grabbing Zenn’s hand, and running.
Before, I might have done it. But there was something different about him. Something that made me think he wouldn’t run with me this time.
Another quick glance confirmed it. His eyes. They held no sparkle. No life. Maybe the Forces worked him too hard.
My sweet, wonderful Zenn. I hoped he was okay here. His eyes worried me.
“Well, now that you’re here, I’ve got something for you,” he said, smiling.
I angled my body toward him. Zenn’s e-comm had said he had a surprise for me—surely something he’d tinkered with until it was absolutely perfect. Like he was.
“The Forces have kept me busy,” Zenn continued, reaching into his pocket. He didn’t seem concerned about the circling hovercopters, but he wasn’t always living one breath away from getting arrested. “But we might not get to see each other again for a while. Your birthday is in a couple weeks, and you’re my—”
“You down there!” An electronic voice cut through Zenn’s throaty tone. I flinched and took a half step behind Zenn. A one-manned tech-craft, the hovercopter was invented especially for ruining lives. No one ever escapes from one. Not even me.
On the bottom rudder, a red rose winked through the twilight. My breath shuddered through my chest—I’d been caught by this hovercopter before. Maybe since Zenn was a Forces recruit and had invited me here, I wouldn’t get in trouble.
Yeah, right. Fairness isn’t something the Director cares about.
“Cards!” the mechanical voice shouted. Zenn pulled out his lime green activity card and held it straight up. An electric arm grew from the side of the police vehicle and flew down to scan the bar code on the back of Zenn’s card.
I slowly retrieved my own ID. No one in the Goodgrounds can so much as step onto the sidewalk without an electronic record of their activity.
My card was blue for the City of Water. I raised it halfway as the arm jangled at me, trying to get a better angle to scan the bar code. Then I’d be busted for being out of bounds—after dark.
Zenn watched me with a wary eye. “Vi. Don’t give them a real reason to lock you up.” He stepped close enough for his body heat to permeate my senses. Touching was against the rules, but he’d broken that one lots of times.
I smiled, even though he was right. Lock Up is not a fun place. The stench alone is enough to set rule-breakers straight. Still, I almost threw my activity card into the brambles where no one would ever find it.
Zenn’s face stopped me, his mouth drawn into a fine line. My bar code would be attached to his—we were in the park after dark (gasp!)—and if I got into serious trouble, he might not be able to advance in the Special Forces. And I couldn’t have that weighing on my conscience.
I rolled my eyes at Zenn, something he didn’t see because of my oversize straw hat—another rule, one I actually followed. The scanner beeped, and a horrible squeal erupted from the hovercopter.
“What have you done now?” Zenn’s voice carried a hint of laughter amidst the exasperation.
“Nothing,” I answered. “I’ve done nothing this time.” I’d been good for two months.
“This time?” he asked.
“Violet Schoenfeld, stay where you are!” the mechanical voice boomed. “The Green demands a hearing.”
“Vi! The Green? Seriously, what have you done?”
“Can I have my present now?”
Everyone knows the Green is just a fancy name for the Thinkers. They’re the ones who broadcast the transmissions and categorize the people. The ones who do the thinking so regular people won’t have to.
Zenn would join Them when he finished training with the Special Forces. He’d wanted to be a Greenie for as long as I’d known him, but that didn’t stop our friendship. This arrest might—SF agents didn’t hang out with criminals.
Inside the hovercopter, large panels with multicolored buttons and complicated instruments covered the dashboard. Glass encased the entire bulb of the body, allowing the pilot to spot rule-breakers from any angle. A window in the floor beneath the single—and occupied—metal chair provided a good view of the ground below. Since I had nowhere to sit, I stood next to the tiny doorway.
I felt trapped in a bubble, with the charcoal sky pressing down around me. My throat tightened with each passing second.
After cuffing me, the pilot scowled. “This return trip will take twice as long. We usually send transports for arrests.”
I made a face at the back of his head. Like I didn’t know that. Almost as bad as Lock Up, transports are twice as uncomfortable as the cramped hovercopter. And the filth and stink? Nasty.
With my extra weight on board, the pilot maneuvered the craft awkwardly and zoomed back toward the towers on the south end of the Goodgrounds. “I have a break in twenty minutes. I don’t have time for this.”
Then let me out. I watched Zenn fade to a distant dot, hoping it wouldn’t be the last time I saw him.
The hovercopter slowed and the pilot turned to glare at me. “Don’t try your tricks on me, girlie.”
I had no idea what he meant. I gripped the handle above the doorway as he swung the hovercopter to the left. Toward the towers.
The Southern Rim is only accessible to Goodies with special clearance or important business. I’d never been there, not that I hadn’t tried. No one I knew had ever been—water folk didn’t make trouble.
True fear flowed in my veins as we approached. Maybe sneaking to see Zenn had been a bad idea. The thought felt strange, almost like it didn’t belong to me. It grew, pressing me down with guilt. You shouldn’t have risked your freedom to see Zenn.
The voice in my head definitely wasn’t my own. Damn Thinkers. I shook the brainwashing message away. Zenn had risked his freedom for me last summer.
Below me, fields wove together in little squares, some brown, some green, some gold. Crops grown in the Centrals provided food for those in the Southern Rim and the rest of the Goodgrounds.
The fields gave way to structures standing two or three stories high. Constructed like the other buildings in the Goodgrounds—gray or brown bricks, flashing tech lights, and red iris readers in every doorway.
Windows were blinded off from the outside world. We certainly don’t want any sunlight getting in. No, that would be bad. According to the Thinkers anyway. Sunlight damages skin, no matter what color. Our clothes cover us from wrist to chin, ankle to hip, and everywhere in between. Suits for the business class. Jeans and oatmeal-colored shirts for everyone else. Wide-brimmed hats must be worn at all times.
Goodies are walking paper dolls, devoid of personality—and brains.
Yeah, that doesn’t work for me. I don’t want to be a paper doll. That’s why I broke the rules and stopped plugging in to the transmissions.
The pilot swerved and twisted around the tall buildings. I’d never seen the city up close. My eyes couldn’t move fast enough from one shiny structure to the next.
The pilot steered toward the last and tallest building on the border of our land. The one with the symbol that can be seen anywhere in the Goodgrounds.
The olive branch is the symbol of good. It signals our allegiance to the Association of Directors. More like Association of Dictators, if you want my honest opinion. But no one does.
“So now you’ve seen the Southern Rim,” the pilot said. “Was it everything you expected?”
I didn’t know how to answer, so I kept my mouth shut—a first for me. That was the Southern Rim? No magic, no golden pathways, no perfect escape from my sucky life. The wall now towered in front of me, closing off any thought of freedom.
The hovercopter hung in midair as a door slid open in the wall. Darkness concealed whatever waited inside. And what would I find on the other side? Could I come back? Maybe I would never see Zenn again. My mouth felt too dry.
“We’re going in there?” I asked.
“After I process your file,” the pilot said. He made a note on a small screen. A long list popped up.
“I’ve cited you before,” he said, smiling slowly. I remembered the last time: I’d left the City of Water after dark, crossed through the crops growing in the Centrals, and tried to enter the Southern Rim. I’d dressed up real nice in a fancy white dress and old platform shoes—which were the reason I’d been caught. No one can run in shoes like that.
I endured six rounds of questioning until I admitted I’d stolen the shoes from the basement of a house in the Abandoned Area—another off-limits place—another violation of the rules. Wearing contraband (which I didn’t know about at the time) from an illegal area, trying to enter another forbidden district, and then there was all that nasty business about lying. Like it’s the worst thing on the planet or something.
You see, Goodies don’t lie. Ever. Honesty is sort of bred into us, but somehow mine got out-bred. Maybe when I stopped listening to the transmissions. Or maybe because I just don’t give a damn.
And I’m a good liar, but that’s all been properly documented in my file, which the pilot was now reading with interest. “Mm-hmm,” he said. “A liar, a thief, and now the Green wants you. It’s no small wonder, Vi.”
I absolutely hate it when strangers use my nickname like we’re old friends. I ignored him as he eased the hovercopter closer to the wall. A red beam scanned the rose on the bottom and a signal flashed. The pilot steered into a long tunnel with black walls, hardly a wall and more like a building. As we careened through it, panic spread through me—something I hadn’t felt since learning Zenn would be leaving me behind to join the Special Forces. I wished he’d given me my birthday present before the stupid pilot arrested me.
When we finally cleared the tunnel, I gasped at the view below me.
A second city loomed behind that wall—an entire city.
People swarmed in the streets. Silver instruments and shiny gadgets winked up at me from the vast expanse below. My stomach clenched painfully, and I forced myself to keep breathing so I wouldn’t faint.
The fierceness of the advanced tech burned in my brain. I can feel technology, I’ve always been able to. And this whole new part of the Goodgrounds produced some serious tech buzz. My head felt like it was in a particle accelerator set on high.
“So here we are,” the pilot said. “The Institute—the birthplace of tech.”
No wonder I felt like throwing up.
© 2011 Elana Johnson
Meet the Author
Elana Johnson wishes she could experience her first kiss again, tell the mean girl where to go, and have cool superpowers. To fulfill her desires, she writes young adult science fiction and fantasy. She lives in central Utah where she spends her time with many students, one husband, and two kids. Find out more at ElanaJohnson.com and follow her on Twitter at @ElanaJ.
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I have two words for this book, forgettable and confusing. I knew while reading this that it would be a book that wouldn't really leave an impression. I spent too much time trying to decipher how this world functioned and the various terms and ideas presented and not nearly enough time getting to know the characters. I wanted to like Vi. At first she seems like the bright spot in a dismal world. Everything is so tightly controlled and monitored and she refuses to comply. Of course she's arrested and imprisoned not long after the book begins. This is when the story goes down hill. She's imprisoned with Jag, and I mean in his cell with him. The rest of the prison is empty. Both are then sentenced to be tagged and banished to Freedom. Freedom is under complete control of the Thinkers and there they will be basically reprogrammed. For Jag, this seemed an appropriate sentence but really extreme for Vi. Which led me to believe that there was more to Vi than we know. Jag and Vi escape (of course they do) and head to the only place that offers asylum to people like them. Turns out Jag and Vi do have something in common. When Vi discovers what she can really do and why they want her, I begin to wonder how she never figured out this before. Things fall into place way to easily for her, almost at her will. At the same time, it like her moves are known to well. The Thinkers always seem to be one step ahead of her. There are too many unknowns to factor into the story. Things that Vi doesn't know, but everyone else seems to be aware of. I also didn't really feel the love triangle in the story. Jag seemed placed in front of her. He's the image of everything she's every been told is wrong and bad in this world. But, yet he's nothing like what she thinks he should be. I could never figure out Zen and what side he was really on. It confused the hell out of me. In the end, I didn't dislike the book enough not to finish it. But, it left very little of an impression on me. It's one of those book you finish and have very little thought of it afterwards.
Jag is an amazingly written character! My favorite
I feel like I've been introduced to the next HOT series at the very beginning. This book is amazing and fast paced as well. I was never bored. I couldn't get enough of it, and I loved all the twists that totally kept me guessing. It's one of my favorites. I would HIGHLY recommend it. Can't wait for the next one in the series! :D
I am not much of a dystopian-lover, but I have noticed lately every dystopia book I have picked up so far..I have loved..so maybe this is a sign I need to start picking these up more. Possession by Elana Johnson did not fall short of my expectations what so ever, infact, it went way past them. Possession is about a snarky girl named Vi who lives in a world runned by the Thinkers, they tell you what to think..and if you don't listen to Them you get sent to the bad-lands a place for free thinkers..and this is exactly where they want to send Vi..she has gotten in more trouble then most..and now they want to punish her for it.the only thing is..being sent to the bad-lands isn't all that bad of an idea in Vi's head..I mean she would have Jag..the boy she just met, but can't stop thinking about.but what she doesn't realize is the Thinkers don't want to punish her, no, the Thinkers want her to join them, become one of them, become what she hates, or die.those are her choices. In a race against the Thinkers Vi will have to make hard decisions, ones that involve her head.and her heart.. I was quite surprised about how much I loved this book, I had been set up to think I wouldn't enjoy it based off of other bad reviews, but now that I have finished it I can say I loved it! I had a lot of things in this book I loved, the tech, the thinkers, the bad lands, but the thing that caught my attention the most was deff the characters. Elana Johnson has formed wonderful characters in this book, I absolutely loved Vi, and don't even get me started on Jag he was perfect. Even the 'bad guy' characters I found myself enjoying in this story. Now..time to talk about the ending.ARE YOU KIDDING ME!? That ending was crazy, such a twist, but I loved it, it will leave you ripping out your hair in irritation! The worst part? The next book doesn't come out till next June.NEXT JUNE. Ugh why must they torture me so? Anywho, Possession was a great debut, a great adventure, and an awesome romance. If you like dystopia books such as the Uglies, this book will not disappoint, even if you don't like dystopia you will probably like this. -WARNING: This book will get confusing if you don't read everysingle word, so if you're a skimmer I do not recommend this book
So last week I was in borders ( sorry BN .. it was in the mall) but I was looking around and noticed this book and read the back and was a little apprehensive about it but I stuck with my gut and got it. The next day I got pulled it from my book shelf and started to read. OH MAN. This book was amazing! At first I was like what the heck is going on .. but soon got into it and I finished it in 4 hours. I couldn't put it down. It has romance, suspense, action, everything that I love! However some parts were kinda boring and like can we get this over with ... but other than that it was enjoyable. If you like the Hunger Game series you'll most definitely love this book! :D
This series was way to confusing. Great characters, great story lines, although way too many, crappy editor. Pretty sure there was no editor. It jumped from one thing to the next, they acted like we're supposed to know why they're going to each city. I read the whole series because I felt invested in the characters, its almost like I feel sorry for the characters having to endure this mixed up story line. And let's talk about good guy/bad guy. Make up your mind. You can't have a bad guy kill an important character, show horrible ruthlessness then in one paragraph decide you want to pretend for him to have just been playing along so were supposed to like him now? I think the author has potiential, she just needs to slow down, don't try to fit so much in, explain facts and decisions, and get a professionial editor to tell her when something doesn't make sense.
I would not waste your time. This book is poorly written, confusing, disjointed and could not get me to be invested in the characters. There was absolutely no flow.
I really like this book well worth 9.99!
Unpredictable. Johnson leaves you wanting more with every chapter and never lets you get to comfortsble with the setting.
After being disappointed by a few dystopian stories lately, this was a much needed read for me. It hooked me pretty quick. There were moments where I got a little confused, but I think I pieced most things together by the end. I really don't know who to trust when it comes to the characters as a whole. No one is completely forthcoming to Vi. They all seem to have their own agenda. Everyone has lied to her, and/or is hiding information from her. I think there is still much she hasn't learned. I'm looking forward to finding out more of this information in upcoming books. Possession by Elana Johnson was provided to me by the author for review. The opinions are my own
I received this book to give an honest review. The only reason I gave this book a 4 star rating is because for me I felt as though I could not at times distinguish who was talking or who would be replying. If Jag said something then it would follow though with a response but I had to go back and say oh okay he was talking with Vi or talking to this person. Also Vi seemed to make stupid choices, she never seemed to think things through. I would have liked for her to be a bit more smarter in her choices. Other than that the story line was great, I found myself sucked into the story and the action just waiting to find out what was going to happen next. When I found out who Gavin really was I was in shock just like Vi. Not only that but with the Director also, I was like WHOA! Are you serious nice little surprise thrown in their for the readers. In Possession you see the world though Jag and Vi's eyes and see what they have to endure. If you have read Resist you now understand why Zenn is the way he is. I do want to read more in this little series as I want to know what is Vi going to do with Director. Will Jag and Vi be together? What will happen with Zenn? Heck what is going to happen overall!!!! There is a bit of love going on between Jag and Vi but it is like a growing love I guess. Jag had me a bit confused on why he would leave and what not but at the end I understood why he was acting that way and doing those things. This is a great read for YA and over.
As a young adult I found this book enticing and well worth the time. I loved it!
This book was totally intresting....it had me hooked from the begining Violet is a strong,funny,and humorous girl i read this book it 2 days i recommend this book
Vi lives in a world where girls are good, Thinkers do your thinking for you, pick your match and as long as you do what they say you are fine. Vi sneaks out one night with her match Zenn. Clearly a big no no. When she gets caught she is thrown in a cell with Jag who clearly is all wrong for her and a not part of the goodies. Vi must soon decide what to do. Do what the Thinkers say and be with Zenn or run with Jag. I will start with our 3 main characters. Vi is a good strong character the only flaw I see with her is that at first it seems she wants to be a bad girl but not break any of the rules. Kind of hard to do. She did grow on me as the book progressed and really started to show her strength around Jag. Zenn I didn't like him. Not really much I can say about him. I know there is reasons behind it but he seemed like a sheep to me. I just can't see him with Vi.Now that leaves Jag. Love him so much! He is a free soul, rebel and yet you do get to see his soft side. I think when I read his softer side that wrapped it up for me. Hello a hot guy showing emotions what more could you ask. The plot is a good one. In a world where you are supposed to do as you are told and obey all orders but you still have rebels. I enjoyed reading about this dystopian world full of people fighting to think for you and people fighting for freedom. It does have a good love story even if it is one of the dreaded love triangles. I have my pick of who I want her to be with. At first the book has a slower pace but the last few chapters it really picks up and does leave you wanting more. If you love dytopian books I would say give this one a try. I luckily have the next book so be looking for that review up soon.
Amazing. Cannot wait for the next book.
Good so far but a little confusing. At times it doesnt flow well
This book was a thrilling love story that maybe was confusing at some parts but in the end it was all smoothed out. BUT this series does sound alot like the uglies series and Delierium series. I kept confusing possesion characters with the other books, Lena, Shay etc.. but at the same time it was original at most parts. I give it 4 stars
The story line was good, enough for me to be interested in reading the second book. But there were several things I found annoying: 1. Vi's internal dialogue e.g. the constant that was "Jag speak for..." it felt condescending at times, like the author felt the need to spell out every single thing 2. Vi's and Jag's relationship. The exaggerated roller coaster of ups and downs, it was a bit unbelievable and they were both way too sensitive, which made me dislike them as characters 3. The "secrets" and constant keeping of things from Vi, that had this really big build up, but just disappointed when it was revealed as not such a big deal
When I got an ARC of Surrender, I'm like shoot, I didn't read the first book yet. I have seen this book in many other blogs before, but because of its simple cover, I didn't know what to think of it. I never gave it much thought, which led to never picking it up either. This was like a message from heavan. How can I have not picked up this book earlier? Because I loved it more than I expected it to be. Vi, the main protagonist, is my favorite female lead till now. I just loved her so much! Her characteristic was so strong and powerful, and oh the sarcasim. I loved it all. The book starts off in a very creative dystopian world, the "goodlands", where girls are not allowed to touch boys. Vi does the following rebellious act with her future match, Zenn. While the Thinkers think they have brainwashed everyone, Vi does not seem to agree. Vi was all about doing what her heart tells her to do. I loved her strong will, and her determination to let no Thinkers brainwash her. When Vi is taken away for the 7th rebellious act she has done, she is sent to "prison". There, she meets Jag Barque. While Vi is confused they put her in the same cell with Jag, she is slightly glad. Jag is definitely an amazing "bad" boy. He's from the badlands, the place where all the "bad" people reside. Both Vi and Jag have crazy hair, and that's where their interests meet. Im not going to say what happens, but I loved the flow of the story Elana created. It was not love at first sight, and not the very fast crush that most YA novels tend to have. It was thoroughly planned, and it was all filled with excitement as well. I loved the characters, and let me tell you, this book shocked me till the end! Even the last page had my mouth gaping. I should really say how much I loved the dystopian world Elana created. It really made me think that it might actually happen later on. It felt realistic to me as well. That it was actually possible. Apart from that, the book kept it's stand till the last page of the book. I have to say it was a shocking ending, and I just want to get my hands on the next book. I don't know why I didn't start this book before. Every page was action packed and full of fun. At some points, all the new tech was hard to understand, but I still loved it. If you are a dystopian, Sci-Fi fan, I highly recommend "Possession". I have to say the ending didn't feel like an ending at all to me, but that's what makes you want to pounce on the next book! I can't wait to see what Vi and Jag have more for me in the next book, "Surrender".
Ive read the matched series by ally condie, and this seems just like it...