A lot of writers draw on their own experiences to help shape their worlds. I suppose I am no different, especially with the Icarus Helix series. A lot happened to, for, around, and inside of me during high school. There was a lot of emotion. Too much drama. Way too much stupidity.
The first episode of IH, "Cheat", has 3.5ish stars on Amazon. This makes me a little sad. I feel people may be driven away by both this rating and the reason. All of the comments mention that, for being juniors, some of the students are remarkably ignorant.
I don't have much faith in the American school system. You can skate by and graduate with remarkably little knowledge.
Take me, for example. I graduated with Honors. WITH HONORS. Yet, what I know about history is dismally scant. I didn't like Social Studies or history. In fact, I can tell you everything (that isn't humiliatingly obvious, like George Washington being the first president)... as I say, I can tell you everything I remember from history right here:
1. Assembly lines work. Piecework is tragic. I know this because we made a mock assembly line in class, and I had to screw as many nuts (one per bolt) on bolts as I could in five minutes. For every piece I completed, I would be paid a penny. It was tragic.
2. Anyone with half a brain could have predicted World War II. I know THIS because (in the same class as above) we held a mock Summit of Countries after the war. Each person had a list with their country, the damages from the war and who was responsible (Germany.), and how much economic relevance (money) they had available. I WAS GERMANY. They could demand as much reparation from Germany (me) as they wanted. My group's discussion went something like this:
"Okay, so let's just all vote that Germany pays for everything."
Everyone else: "Agreed."
"Come on, Germany, don't be a jerk. You made this mess, you clean it up."
Me: "Even if I wanted to - which I don't (according to my sheet, you all had it coming!), I don't have nearly enough money to cover the expenses you're talking about."
"You'll have to get it."
Me: "No, I refuse." (getting really angry now)
3. Our country started in 1776. I know this because I attended a 225th America's birthday party in 2001. Sadly, when I worked in Japan and did a class about Independence Day and the 4th of July I had to look it up.
4. I am from the North and we won the war. (Civil, right?)
5. When the Twin Towers were hit, I was in Mr. Shepard's Social Studies class.
That is about all I remember from history.
I also took three years of French in high school. Here is everything I remember from French:
1. J'ai trouve une tetard. (I found a tadpole.)
2. Ne mes dites pas ce que vous voulez! (Don't tell me what you want.)
3. Je ne lavera pas mon mouton. (I do not wash my sheep.)
Okay, so that's just me. Maybe, despite the fact that I graduated with HONORS (don't forget that now), I am some kind of rare savant-like case that managed almost straight A's without even trying?
So here are a few examples of MY high school days that let me feel entirely comfortable with juniors not knowing the difference between fiction and non-fiction:
1. When I was a senior, I read this book:
A boy next to me asked me what I was reading. I showed him the cover.
"King's Dragon," he said. "What's that about?"
"It's fiction," I replied.
"What's that, like a biography?" he asked me, as I stared at him in dumbfounded amazement.
2. In my HONORS ENGLISH AND LITERATURE class, we read "Midsummer Night's Dream". Not taking into account the 30-minute argument of some student's that Shakespeare wasn't a real person...
In the middle of a passage, a female classmate raised her hand. Our very astute and charming teacher called on her.
"Wait," she commanded, brow furrowing in consternation. "This has fairies in it? Like, real fairies? Did this really happen?"
Gently, my teacher answered, "It's fiction."
"Yeah? But did it happen???"
She also graduated with honors.
Update: Maybe I need this shirt. Perhaps it will bring history into the world of Things I Should Know.