Ames Middle School, Ames
Dear Mr. Scott Westerfeld,
Your book, Extras, gave me a magnifying glass to examine humankind's effect on the natural world. These interactions are prominent in both Aya's world and our world, and result in many parallels between the two. The current and possible future states of our world are rather alarming, and I am glad that authors like you have helped expose some of the many hidden indicators.
Both Aya's and our worlds have many people living in a technological paradise, however, resources are running out, and fast. People overuse and waste resources, not knowing that everything will soon fall apart. The Extra's plan is a great example of how we can keep the human race alive without destroying ourselves.
During the recent U.S.A. government shutdown, I thought that my country could have found itself in a situation similar to the fall of Dr. Cable and Special Circumstances. For example, the act of both parties refusing to budge may have resulted in the takeover by an unknown minority group. Luckily, the government was able to come to a consensus. However, without the ability to communicate effectively, honor each other's perspectives, or compromise for the better, a government is worth nothing.
Extra-style surgery with it's huge eyes and four "arms" created an impressive image in my mind, and I can definitely relate to the Yokohamans and how they thought of the Extras as aliens. The Extras made me think of an article in the newspaper that I read. It was about the things used to scare people in haunted houses. Apparently, monsters and such are outmatched by "humans" that are messed up in some way. With or without knowing it, you used some of this phenomenon in Extras.
I was fooled many times throughout your book, concerning the intentions of the Extras. With their mass drivers and "missiles", it seemed so obvious that they were violent people. It is likely that many readers jumped to this conclusion because of the high frequency of violence in our world today. The discovery of the mass driver in the mountain, the room's calculations, and the "missile" assembly line sparked doubt of future human survival in my mind. I was relieved when I discovered the Extras' peaceful intentions.
Because our world is constantly improving technologically, your character Ren Machino is what I predict an average person may look like in the near future. If the Google Glass develops into an eyescreen worn by commoners, planet Earth may look a lot like the world of Uglies in terms of advancing technology. Another example is magnetic levitation. Magnetic levitation-style trains like the Sly Girls' "surfing trains" are present in the current world. If scientists could figure out how to keep superconductors (very) cold outside, and meanwhile, small and light, hover cars, boards, and maybe even rigs could become reality.
Extras gave me a microscope that I believe all people should look through every once in a while. Most of us humans don't realize how much we're affecting the natural world. I think that your series was the perfect cautionary tale to get the public to pay more attention to its footprint, so that we can "learn to tip-toe as we go, and leave a garden fit to grow"
Thank You, Hayden Pritchard
¹ "I Will Tread Lightly" by Alisa Bair and Dina Gregory, Heritage Music Press, N.D.