Saturday, May 21, 2011

"It's the end of the world as we know it, and I feel fine." - REM

As an homage to the speculation surrounding today, I thought it would be fun to put together a list of my favorite dystopias.  Dystopias have helped me prepare for survival in the face of many possible cataclysmic events, including, but certainly not limited to:  the moon getting closer to the earth and throwing off the tides, a zombie apocalypse, a regular apocalypse, a huge war that ends life as we know it, battling to the death in a tournament, what to do if someone installs a computer in my brain, and fleeing when crazies take over the government.

It wasn’t easy to only choose five, but alas, here they are.

Honorable MentionThe Uglies series - Scott Westerfeld

I reviewed the third book in this series, Specials, a little while back; here’s a link to the review, if you’re interested:  Specials

This series was truly enjoyable, and it really allowed me to check my brain at the door and lose myself in the plot.  The characters live in a world dictated by looks, and when one turns sixteen, one moves to the part of town where all of the other pretty people live, undergoes a surgical operation, and becomes a pretty, too.  With that, however, one begins to lose her ability to think and process rationally. When someone presents the possibility that there is life outside the society, will the characters pursue it, or will they stick with what they know?

5.  Feed - M. T. Anderson
In Feed, Anderson conceptualizes a society in which internet feeds are put directly into one's brain. These feeds allow the consumer to access information just by thinking about it, and one is always being bombarded with advertising.  While having information available immediately seems pretty great, there are a few pitfalls:  everyone is rather dumb, they have lost the ability to reason, and they can no longer write.   

Ultimately, Feed is a frightening, cautionary tale that shows the dangers of corporate greed and consumerism.  The writing style is a bit odd, but after you get used to it, it really makes sense in context with the story.  Check it out!

4.  The Hunger Games series - Suzanne Collins
This series was the first that really kindled my interest in YA literature.  In these books, there was a great war, and most of the United States was completely decimated.  The remainder was portioned off into 13 districts, and to atone for the war, each year the districts have to send a boy and girl into a competition called the Hunger Games, where only one person will survive.

3.  1984 - George Orwell
1984 is definitely a classic for a reason.  Orwell imagined a society in which Big Brother oversaw every aspect of one’s life, and to go against the grain would mean certain death.  I remember reading this for the first time a few years ago, and it was terrifying to see the parallels to today.  Definitely a must read for dystopia and classic lovers alike!

2.  The Road - Cormac McCarthy
I read The Road quite a few years ago, and scenes from the book still linger in my head today.  McCarthy imagines a bleak, post-Apocalyptic world as a father and son take a journey that spans several months.  This book was quite sad, yet incredibly brilliant.

1.  The Handmaid’s Tale - Margaret Atwood 
Margaret Atwood ranks at the top of my list for almost everything, but the society she imagined in The Handmaid’s Tale was truly frightening indeed.  Basically, the US was taken over by religious zealots who effectively stripped women of their rights and identity, and forced everyone in the society into religious submission.  When I read this, I remember thinking how terrifying it truly was, and the parallels I was able to draw to the present were quite scary indeed.
Now that we all have our tinfoil hats on, what are your favorite dystopias?


  1. I like your choices! The only one I haven't read is Feed. So, I guess that needs to go on my To Read list! It sounded awesome.

  2. Nori, I think you would love Feed, especially since you tend to like dystopias, too. If the writing throws you off at first, just stick with it; it'll grow on you.

  3. I highly recommend the Feed audiobook. The advertisements sound real and do an amazing job of making you feel like you have the Feed inside your head.