In less than seven years, eighteen-year-old Ryla Jensen will succeed her father as the president of Neress, a nation where all citizens are cared for from the moment they’re born. Fed, sheltered, even educated—every need of theirs is met.The only price they pay is their free will.Groomed since childhood to take on a role she’s not even sure she wants, Ryla’s only escape from the pressures of duty is her sister, Alanna. But when her eyes are opened to the oppressive regime her father built, she begins to question everything she’s set to inherit—and finds herself at odds with her sister’s blind allegiance to their father.Torn between loyalty to her family and the fight for freedom, Ryla must decide just how far she’s willing to go to make a stand and risk losing the person she loves most in the world: Alanna.
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Message from Jennifer Ibarra:
Cancer has touched all of us in one way or another. Those who have read THE POLARIS UPRISING will know that I dedicated it to my dear friend, Brittanie, whom we lost to Stage IV ovarian cancer in 2010. She was only 26 years old. In her memory, I am pledging to donate $1 out of every sale on Amazon and Barnes & Noble to the Leukemia & Lymphoma Society from now until October 6–the day she was diagnosed with the disease that took her life. Every donation up to $2,000 will be matched by my employer, so your generosity will be doubled! Thank you in advance for helping me in this special cause.
If you’d told me two years ago I’d be writing YA Dystopia—and loving it—I would have laughed in your face. Straight up laughed in your face. Okay, maybe not, but I would have politely told you that I wasn’t going to do any such thing.
I remember reading BRAVE NEW WORLD in high school. It’s a classic dystopian tale that’s considered one of the greatest in its genre, and I thought it was so bleak and depressing. I decided right then and there that this kind of story just wasn’t for me. I didn’t want to read about broken societies. I didn’t want to read about how cruel human beings could be to each other, how we could be capable of creating dark, hopeless worlds. It just wasn’t how I wanted to spend my leisure time.
For years after that, I stayed away from anything remotely in the realm of Dystopia. I even avoided THE HUNGER GAMES when it first came out, even though so many of my friends were reading—and raving about—it. That all changed when a movie deal for THG was announced, and I learned that Jennifer Lawrence would be starring in it. She’s one of my favorite actresses, and I decided if I was going to watch the movie, then I’d better read these books so I knew what the story was before going into it. And to my surprise, I loved the books. And I realized that maybe Dystopia wasn’t such a bad genre after all.
And then as if the universe decided to continue a massive cosmic joke on me, I got hit with a story idea that knocked me out like a punch to the head. I was actually working on a completely different book at the time (a contemporary mainstream novel I’d like to return to one day—after the Polaris trilogy is done), but this idea wouldn’t let me go. Finally, I decided that if I had any prayer of working on that current novel without distraction from this bright, shiny idea, I’d better just do a brain dump and get it out of my system.
I did the brain dump. I fell in love. I never looked back. Out of that, the Polaris trilogy was born, the first book of which, THE POLARIS UPRISING, came out in October 2013.
Dystopia has been huge lately, especially within YA. In many ways, this isn’t surprising. We live in a world of instability and uncertainty. Technology is rapidly changing, creating unprecedented shifts in political power, economics, and the environment. We live in a time of war and violence and destruction, and all of that makes these kinds of tales resonate so strongly. We see so much of our current situation in them—and as writers we hope that our stories can help frame, distill, or make sense of the madness around us.
So why do I write Dystopia? Because often, what I see on the news distresses me, and I wonder how we can ever counteract all of the things we as people to do each other and to our planet. And when I read these stories, I no longer see only the darkness and the bleakness of it all. Now I read them and get a glimpse into the beauty of the human spirit: the tenacity to strive for a better way, the courage to make change happen, and most of all, the ability to hope when things seem most hopeless. And if my stories can help provide all of that along with providing a healthy dose of entertainment, then I will have done my job well.