Dystopian Escape

Dystopia- A dystopia is the idea of a society in a repressive and controlled state, often under the guise of being utopian.

I believe I have briefly mentioned a few Dystopian books in limited reviews before, I wanted to briefly review a few dystopian series because I have been reading them a lot lately. Not intentionally, but it’s been happening quite a bit. Dystopian books have a sick appeal to the masses. We enjoy seeing what our society has (d)evolved into, and breathe a little easier that our lives aren’t that tough. Or, like me, you have a mild freak out about whether we are actually throwing ourselves head first in this direction. Tantalizing, thrilling, and oh so terrifying. I think more people should read them, give themselves a nice dose of humility and “Hey hows about we don’t wreck our planet or destroy ourselves k?”

            I have mentioned The Hunger Games (you can view trailers for the books here) by Suzanne Collins and devoted an entire post to it, although I’m sure it was more of a fangirl gush-fest than a legitimate review. I still highly recommend checking them out, especially now since the movie is currently being filmed.

                A brief synopsis for those who aren’t in the know, Panem is a world set in our not too terribly distant future. Things went down and North America was torn in to separate districts and the Capital. The 13 districts rebelled, the Capital destroyed the 13th district and in ‘reperations’ for the rebellion, the Capital demands 2 tributes, one male and one female, between the ages of 12 and 18 to fight in the Hunger Games. The Hunger Games are a fight to the death between the tributes, the winner of which is heralded and rewarded for the rest of their lives. The first book covers Katniss’s fight for her life in the arena.

The second book covers a return to the arena (I don’t want to say too much so I don’t ruin anything!)

The third book follows a rebellion incited by the districts against the Capital and their effort to overthrow a corrupt political system.

While these books are categorized as young adult, I think that anyone over the age of 15 would enjoy them. I’m sure younger will read them, but I think they might be better placed and enjoyed in the older crowds of teens and adults.

Another YA book with a dystopian setting is the Uglies series by Scott Westerfield in which at the age of 16, everyone undergoes an operation to become “Pretty”. This series reads much more young adult than The Hunger Games does. The series follows Tally Youngblood, on the verge of becoming pretty. She follows a friend off to a camp full of “Uglies” under the guise of wanting to one of them, when really she is infiltrating them so that she can become Pretty, something the doctor wont let her do unless she turns them in. But along the way she discovers there is something wrong with becoming Pretty.

The second book follows Tally as she is pretty and trying to discover the world around her and what is wrong with it. From this point the series follows Tally’s adventures to try to bring down the Authorities.

As is, the series follows the Dystopia formula closely, but was none the less an interesting read. The world was imaginative and full of enough high tech gadgets to make me jealous. Tally can be annoying at times, but no where near the epic levels of horridness as those of Bella Swan. (Why people loved her in Twilight is a mystery).

While I am on the YA kick, I might as well mention Wither by Lauren DeStefano. The concept was what drew me to this book. In this proposed future, the world is dying. Supposedly the only continent left is North America. In an effort to keep people healthy, society opted to under special fertilization that bore them healthy, long lived children. The draw back was that when these healthy first gens started having children of their own, they didn’t realize they condemned them to an early death.  Their children started dying, males at 25, and females at 20.

Girls are kidnapped off the street and sold to wealthy men to act as their wives and produce children. Rhine Ellery becomes victim of such a trap and is sold with two other girls to a wealthy man’s son to replace his ailing wife.

The father, part of the first gen, seeks to find a cure for his son, stopping at nothing to try to find it, keeping the girls prisoner and lying to his son.

There are a lot of things that are scientifically askew about this book sure, like the fact that everyone decided to participate in this cure? Right. A group of people that big can’t agree on anything. Then again, there are two more books planned for this series, so we’ll see where it goes.

In all, the concept was interesting and the writing was much better than other YA novels.

Something not in the YA genre that can arguably be dystopian or not is The Sword of Truth Series by Terry Goodkind. You might know it better as Legend of the Seeker, the series which is (at times loosely) based on the first novel in the series. I need to finish the show, ugh, I’ve been meaning to really.

While this series doesn’t seem dystopian at first, it takes getting several books in before it arrives. A gian invading army wishing to eradicate all magic in order to bring about “A New World Order”, crazy psychotic magicians and wizards, and visits from the underworld.

Richard and Kahlan do not manage to annoy the socks off you, in fact I genuinely like them. I do get flustered with Goodkind occasionally as he seems to forget things sometimes. Nothing tragic, but a few times he brings things up that seem like they should play a major part in the future and they never do. This could be him forgetting or just abandoning them  because he came up with something better.

These are not for the uncommitted. The smallest book in this series is around 500 pages long. At times there can be lulls, but all in all the series paid off. Well…it did. Apparently it is no longer over. I just discovered that there is a 12th book in the series coming out in roughly a week. I missed this because I wasn’t looking. See what I get for listening when an author says the last book is out? No matter, I am all over it when it comes out.


If you are looking for something different to read, perhaps one of these will tickle your curiosity! Likewise, if you have suggestions, please share!


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Oh the days

August 2011
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