Have I mentioned I love to read? I always need to have a book in progress or I feel lost. I mostly read on Shabbos (Shabbat / the Sabbath / Saturdays) but I also read every night before going to sleep. This summer I got into a new (for me) genre – Young Adult Dystopian Fiction. That’s a mouthful, isn’t it! However, if you think you haven’t heard of it, you probably actually have – The Hunger Games is the big dystopian series that everyone has heard of! Surprisingly enough, I finished (and loved) the Hunger Games series back in March of 2011 and didn’t get fully into other dystopian books until this summer!
Firstly, what exactly is dystopian literature? Originally I thought it was just a story set in a possible future – most of the books I have read take place in familiar United States cities in the future – but actually a dystopia is not a society in the future, but a society in a controlled state, with the government or the like having control over the people. The stories I have read can be considered science fiction, but most of them are not entirely hard to imagine actually happening – only one of the books I read took place on a spaceship!
For some reason, all of these books are part of a series (seems that they are usually a trilogy), so when you finish the first book you are left wondering what happens next. Here are my thoughts on the books I have read so far.
I picked up Bumped by Megan McCafferty at the library by chance. “A virus has swept the world, making everyone over the age of eighteen infertile. Teenagers are now the most prized members of society, and would-be parents desperately bid for “conception contracts” with the prettiest, healthiest, and smartest girls—cash, college tuition, and liposuction in exchange for a baby. Sixteen-year-old Melody has scored a record-breaking contract with a rich couple. And she’s been matched with one of the hottest “bumping” partners in the world—the genetically flawless Jondoe. But her luck is about to run out. She discovers she has a sister—an identical twin. Harmony has grown up in a strict religious community and believes her calling is to save Melody from her sinful intentions. All Melody wants is to meet Jondoe and seal the deal—but when a case of mistaken identity destroys everyone’s carefully laid plans, Melody and Harmony realize they have much more than DNA in common.” I thought this book was really funny – just the idea that teens want to get pregnant and how that would change our worldview really amused me! I have the 2nd in the series ready to be read!
Enclave by Ann Aguire takes place post-apocalypse, underground in New York City. “When Deuce turns 15, she takes on her role as a Huntress, and is paired with Fade, a teenage Hunter who lived Topside as a young boy. When she and Fade discover that the neighboring enclave has been decimated by the tunnel monsters—or Freaks—who seem to be growing more organized, the elders refuse to listen to warnings. And when Deuce and Fade are exiled from the enclave, the girl born in darkness must survive in daylight, in the ruins of a city whose population has dwindled to a few dangerous gangs. As the two are guided by Fade’s long-ago memories, they face dangers, and feelings, unlike any they’ve ever known.” I thought this was an interesting read. It is not as well known as some of the other highly rated series and was available at the library without a wait! I enjoyed it, though it was not my favorite.
Glow by Amy Katherine Ryan is the book I mentioned above that takes place on a spaceship! “The Empyrean is the only home 15-year-old Waverly has ever known. Part of the first generation to be successfully conceived in deep space, she and her boyfriend Kieran will be pioneers of New Earth. Waverly knows she must marry young in order to have children who can carry on the mission, and Kieran, the handsome captain-to-be, has everything Waverly could want in a husband…Suddenly, Waverly’s dreams are interrupted by the inconceivable – a violent betrayal by the Empyrean’s sister ship, the New Horizon. The New Horizon’s leaders are desperate to populate the new planet first, and will do anything to get what they need: young girls. In one pivotal moment, Waverly and Kieran are separated, and find themselves at the helm of dangerous missions, where every move has potentially devastating consequences, and decisions of the heart may lead to disaster.” This was probably the most unbelievable of the books I’ve read, but I liked it well enough.
Matched by Ally Condrie is about a society that makes every decision for you, including who you should marry. “Cassia has always trusted the Society to make the right choices for her: what to read, what to watch, what to believe. So when Xander’s face appears on-screen at her Matching ceremony, Cassia knows he is her ideal mate . . . until she sees Ky Markham’s face flash for an instant before the screen fades to black. The Society tells her it’s a glitch, a rare malfunction, and that she should focus on the happy life she’s destined to lead with Xander. But Cassia can’t stop thinking about Ky, and as they slowly fall in love, Cassia begins to doubt the Society’s infallibility and is faced with an impossible choice: between Xander and Ky, between the only life she’s known and a path that no one else has dared to follow.” This book is more about the falling in love then about the actual society the teenagers live in. I have just gotten the sequel from the library, so we’ll see if more is explained.
Delirium by Lauren Oliver is also a love story, but I found it to be the most creative of the dystopian societies I have read about thus far – this society believes that love is a disease. “Before scientists found the cure, people thought love was a good thing. They didn’t understand that once love — the deliria — blooms in your blood, there is no escaping its hold. Things are different now. Scientists are able to eradicate love, and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Holoway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe, measured, predictable, and happy. But with ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable: She falls in love.” I just read the 2nd book in the series, Pandemonium, which I liked even better than the 1st.
Legend by Marie Lu – “What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths–until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’s death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets.” This book was the kind of dystopian story I think I like best – set in the regular world with a corrupt government. The characters are likeable and interesting and I look forward to finding out more.
The Roar by Emma Clayton – This book was another “spaceship” type novel, although the story took place mostly on a strange and different earth. “Mika lives in future London, behind The Wall: Solid concrete topped with high-voltage razor wire and guarded by a battalion of Ghengis Borgs, it was built to keep out the animals, because animals carry the plague. Or so Mika’s been told. But ever since Ellie vanished a year ago, Mika’s suspected his world may be built on secrets–and lies. When a mysterious organization starts recruiting mutant kids to compete in violent virtual reality games, Mika takes the chance to search for his twin sister–and the truth.” I found the story to be pretty unrealistic, but I did like the characters.
Divergent by Veronica Roth was supposed to be the best trilogy since the Hunger Games. Strangely enough, I wasn’t as into the story as I expected to be. “In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue—Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is—she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself. During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles alongside her fellow initiates to live out the choice they have made. Together they must undergo extreme physical tests of endurance and intense psychological simulations, some with devastating consequences. As initiation transforms them all, Tris must determine who her friends really are—and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes exasperating boy fits into the life she’s chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she’s kept hidden from everyone because she’s been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers unrest and growing conflict that threaten to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.” I’m not sure I ever understood exactly why Tris’s secret was so important, at least until the very end of the book, when the story got very interesting. Looks like I’ll have to read the next one!
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi was one of my favorites, but I’m not sure why. It had the unrealistic element – when Juliette touches people, they die. But not all people, as she eventually finds out. “No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal, but The Reestablishment has plans for her. Plans to use her as a weapon. But Juliette has plans of her own. After a lifetime without freedom, she’s finally discovering a strength to fight back for the very first time—and to find a future with the one boy she thought she’d lost forever.” I liked the writing, I liked the love story, and I liked the story overall.
The Maze Runner by James Dashner was the most “young adult” out of the books I’ve read. It seemed to be geared towards the younger end of young. The characters were young and the story would appeal to a younger audience. I did find it intriguing and I do wonder what will happen next. “When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade—a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up—the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers.”
That’s all for now! Has anyone read any of these books and if so, what did you think? Any other recommendations?