I know I am late for December or is it early? But my recent fascination for this genre is what got me thinking about doing a blog….. maybe it could be Mad March (as in it is a Mad world!) or Misery March (see definition below)
Dictionary.com defines dystopia as: a society characterized by human misery, squalor, oppression, disease, and overcrowding.
In a few weeks, the movie for The Hunger Games will be released and it got me thinking about my latest fascination for this sort of novel (I have read at least 14 in the past year). I have realised that my preference for dystopian fiction has only been something recent as I hated such novels in my teen years. Maybe they were too confronting or scary, maybe the reality of a nuclear war was too likely (it was the 1980s and the height of the cold war), or perhaps I didn’t like them because I had to read them for school. Still it is worth plotting my dystopian journey because I can now see the influences of those earlier texts on not only the writing of today but my interpretation of the dystopia of today.
In primary school, we had these small A4 black and white magazines that we had to read each week called “school magazines” (how original!). In Year 6, I remember not wanting to read but at the same time wondering what would happen next in John Christopher’s Tripods 1: The White Mountains.
In high school, I had to read Z for Zachariah, The Lord of the Flies, The Day of the Triffids and 1984(not about teens but definitely a dystopia). As a teacher I have inflicted some of the same on my students (as well as Brave New World, Fahrenheit 451) but tended towards dysfunctional societies and families because of real life events (e.g. World War Two) rather than the sci-fi or futuristic realm.
So to the past year, the Hunger Games series, Gone Series, Alone series, Chaos Walking Series, Life as we knew it (the first of the last survivors series). Then there are the fringe dwellers from my reading of the past few years (do they fit this category or not?) such as Marsden’s Tomorrow series, (which is often used as a comparison in reviews). The question is why the interest? I didn’t catch the vampire/twilight bug, but have followed other trends – Cherub, Harry Potter etc. so is it the action within a speculative framework that I like? This is what some others have to say about the dystopian trend and some recommendations for other books to read
Where to next? For me, I plan to finish the Last Survivors series (even though the reviews are disappointing) and read the so called dystopian landmark texts such as M. T. Anderson’s Feed (2002); Scott Westerfeld’s Uglies (2005); Lois Lowry’s The Giver (1993); and Meg Rosoff’s How I Live Now (2004), by the end of these perhaps a new Gone will be out or maybe you have something to recommend to me?