Tuesday, 11 August 2015

Top 5 Books: Dystopian Young Adult Fiction

Ooh I do love me a dystopian future. The population (usually of an American city) is controlled by omnipotent oppressive government, ruling the people with some kind of singular Truth (the concept of the book, and usually not in fact true), until one plucky heroine find herself faced with the uncomfortable fact that she and her fellow citizens have been deceived/controlled/manipulated. There might be some form of resistance community to connect on the 'outside', she might be just a pawn, she'll probably fall in love. There'll be future technology, descriptions of which you have to get your head around, future rituals and traditions, future fashions and vehicles. There's usually freedom at the end, following a battle of epic proportions, but not always. Sometimes there's a happily-ever-after epilogue, sometimes there is just hope...

This here, my friends, is my Top 5 of Dystopian Fiction. This list will probably change over time as there are many I am sure I have yet to read, so maybe we'll need a part 2, but for now here it is. In no particular order these are my favourite works of dystopian fiction, both series and standalones. Enjoy!

1. The Hunger Games
So, duh, The Hunger Games. But I had to, it'd be a lie if I didn't include it. Suzanne Collins' vision of war combined with reality TV created the perfect mix for a dystopian epic. Their popularity is not unfounded. Katniss is a wonderful reluctant hero. Her bravery and her trauma make her a flawed and powerful character. The downtrodden masses are led to revolt, with Katniss as their icon of revolution. The secret resistance in District 13 is there to build strength and fight the powers that be. There's war, suffering, a love triangle. And an epilogue. An "I chose Peeta and we had babies" epilogue. I love you Katniss, I'm sorry Peeta made you have babies. (What do we think is happening in the rest of the world in the age of Panem and Capitol rule? Are they just steering clear? Quite possibly.)

2. Delirium
Another dystopian trilogy, Lauren Oliver's Delirium is set in a future America where love has been deemed a disease, and a cure has been found. A procedure is performed at the age of 18 which seems to be some kind of brain surgery, to cure people of love. The book begins with protagonist Lena counting down the ninety-five days until her cure. Of course a lot of things change in those ninety-five days. Delirium has it all; the oppressive leaders who enforce their power using random raids and armed peace keepers; the secret resistance; the falling in love; and long lost parents! I loved this trilogy, and I know some people weren't so impressed with its finale, but I found it very staisfying. (Outlook on rest of the world is unclear, but I think there is mention of running to Canada.)

3. Vivian Versus the Apocalypse
I have reviewed this book recently, and I loved it. This time set in a not so futuristic America where a new church, The Church of America, has convinced a lot of the population that the end of the world is coming and those faithful to the church will be raptured on a set date. Vivian Apple's parents are believers and when they disppear on the night of the rapture, Viv and her non-beleiver friend Harp are left parentless and in search of answers. The girls set off on a roadtrip for answers and along side figuring out the mysterious workings of the Church, it seems real signs of the end of the world are happening across the earth, with natural disasters, plane crashes, and wars all breaking out. There are long lost parents, conspiracies, falling in love, and secret resistance organisations. Viv and Harp are two great characters, whose development and relationship through the two books is perfectly played out. (Rest of the world is dealing with all the strange natural disasters and it seems a lot of rioting. The Church of America is mentioned at attempting to gain followers in the UK.)

2. Only Ever Yours
This amazing dystopia plays a feminist critique of our own society. Set in a futurewhere female babies are no longer being born, girls, called 'eves', are bred artificially to be perfect specimens and raised in a school, where they compete to be ranked top in their beauty. They watch reality TV and spread gossip through their fancy future smart phones. Their social media pages are all visual, with photos or moving image, as the eves are not taught to read. Enough eves are bred in each year to exceed the number of male babies born. These eves will then become either wives, and breed their sons, or concubines, to be used for sex, or - the nun like women who raise and teach the eves. Unlike other dystopias, there is less hope of escape and of a life outside the confines of their society. As a reader you long for the secret resistance, but there are no long lost parents, and falling in love is difficult when boys have been raised to see the eves are objects for them to eventually own and use. (There are hints that across the world, there are various different versions of the same system playing out, but we don't hear too much about the outside world.)

1. Exodus
Sea levels have risen, drowning cities, leaving almost no land. The island of Wing has been slowly disappearing into the sea, leaving its community, and Mara, out heroine, looking for a new place to live. The story takes us to New Mungo, a city built on stilts high above what used to be Glasgow. There's an ambitious female lead, an escape mission and a super modern city in the sky. I've only read the first in the trilogy but it's a great dystopian setting with mukry depths of slave labour and refugee camps. (Rest of the world has followed suit and the high rising cities across the world are linked by a cyber space Internet of trading. The hope of land in the north drives the plot too.)

No comments:

Post a Comment