T.S. Eliot’s poem “The Hollow Men” ends with a description of anticlimactic destruction: “This is the way the world ends / Not with a bang but a whimper.” In The Children of Men, the world is facing a similarly unspectacular, silent annihilation. P.D. James’s novel explores a dystopia that is not dominated by a totalitarian regime. The sky has not been blackened, nor has nuclear fallout rendered the world unlivable. The collapse of human society is being expedited by the simple fact that a child has not been born in 25 years.
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Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Huxley's story shows a futuristic World State where all emotion, love, art, and human individuality have been replaced by social stability. An ominous warning to the world's population, this literary classic is a must-read.
1984 by George Orwell
Portrays a terrifying vision of life in the future when a totalitarian government, considered a "Negative Utopia," watches over all citizens and directs all activities, becoming more powerful as time goes by.
Erewhon by Samuel Butler
Erewhon (an anagram for "nowhere") is a faraway land where machinery is forbidden, sickness is a punishable crime, and criminals receive compassionate medical treatment.
Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury
A totalitarian regime has ordered all books to be destroyed, but one of the book burners suddenly realizes their merit.
Divergent, by Veronica Roth, is an example of dystopian young adult fiction at its best! It takes place in a Chicago of the future--in a world that has been rebuilt after society collapsed. In an attempt to avoid the problems of the past, this new Chicago society is divided into five factions - Dauntless (bravery), Amity (friendship), Erudite (knowledge), Candor (truth), and Abnegation (selflessness). Each faction follows a strict code of conduct; each has its own ideals; and each has its own role in governing the new society. At the age of 16, every person throughout the city must go through a simulation designed to show him or her which faction would be most suitable to join.
In Gun, with Occasional Music, Jonathan Lethem blends dystopia and noir in order to depict the Oakland of the future: a surreal world where the written word is obsolete and animals wear clothes and behave as humans. It’s also a place where corrupt Inquisitors run amok and one’s social standing is determined by “karma points.”
In the midst of this disorienting environment, Conrad Metcalf is a reassuringly anachronistic figure. Rather than serving the monolithic institution known as the Office, he embraces his own brand of investigation, walking the streets and asking questions as a Private Inquisitor. The Office has tolerated his presence and unorthodox methods, but their complacency evaporates once Conrad starts working for a new client: Orton Angwine.
In the book Rot & Ruin, Jonathan Maberry has created a post apocalyptic zombie infested world. Benny Imura and his brother Tom live in a safe zone that is separated from the zombies by a fence. They are constantly under threat of attack by the zombies. Benny is fifteen and it is time for him to find an occupation. After several failed attempts at employment he decides to learn his brother's trade which is bounty hunter. Benny eventually learns that his brother is not a typical bounty hunter. He does search for zombies but he is hired by family members with a special request. Benny and Tom head out together beyond the safety of the fence.
Benny never knew his parents. The night of the zombie apocalypse, Benny's father is infected and becomes a zombie. His mother who has been injured, hands the baby Benny off to his older brother Tom and tells him to run. That is the last that they see of their parents. Benny has believed for years that his brother is a coward. That happened fourteen years ago. Tom has been raising Benny ever since but their relationship is very strained. As they work and travel together Benny learns more about his brother and the reality of that night.
I loved Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Dark Shadows on TV when I was a kid, Anne’s Rice’s rock’n’roll vampires, and I even discussed what team I would join in the ‘tween Twilight Saga. I also devour vampire novels with “punny” titles such as Undead and Unappreciated by Mary-Janice Davidson, but I put The Passage on request at the library because of an article I read in Time Magazine that stated that vampires are scary again, and I do love a character that bites.
This is Week 1 of a 12-Week series of blog posts reviewing new young adult books. Check back each Monday for a new review.
For me, summer reading is all about escaping somewhere else. The new vista doesn't have to be pretty, but it does need to be interesting. The world of Incarceron, introduced in the novel Incarceron by Catherine Fisher, delivers an escape like nothing else (for the reader, although not for the poor souls trapped within). Incarceron is a prison, but not like the prisons we are familiar with. It is a world unto itself, with areas of ruins and forests, and some wildernesses so wild that they are only whispered of but never traversed. Incarceron is also aware in a way that most prisons are not - it reacts to the prisoners' actions, manipulating them, and watching them with a pulsing, Sauron-like eye.
Our hero in the world of Incarceron is Finn, a seventeen-year-old prisoner who is considered "cell born" and remembers only vague memories of his life before he became aware three years ago. He is part of a band of rogues that troll the prison, called the Comitatus. He also has some freaky fainting spells, complete with visions. He believes that he was born "Outside" but no one believes him because that is very rare.
If you're a fan of the Chaos Walking series, you'll be excited to hear that the third book in the trilogy, Monsters of Men, will hit U.S. bookstores on September 28, 2010. In the meantime, you can enjoy this trailer and maybe re-read The Knife of Never Letting Go and The Ask and The Answer.
If you haven't heard of this series yet (and you love intense, action-packed, dystopian novels), check out this blog post.
Experience a minute in the Forest of Hands and Teeth:
Heart pounding yet? The Forest of Hands and Teeth, a novel by Carrie Ryan, is about a young woman named Mary and her life in her village. Sounds bucolic, doesn't it? Until you learn that the village is guarded by a high fence, which is surrounded by hordes of mindless, flesh-eating zombies called the Unconsecrated. Mary can hear their moaning all day and night, and she doesn't dare get too close to the fence, for the infection that turns you into an Unconsecrated is passed by a single bite.
1989. 2000. 2012. It’s not just lately that certain years and dates have struck fear into the heart of humankind. Pretty much every year in recorded history has been predicted by someone to be the date of the end of the world. The Apocalypse. Armageddon. Our fascination with our own end can be humorous or depressing, but either way, we can’t stop dreaming, writing, and talking about it. And teens, like many of us, love reading about it.