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Booklist: Dystopia

April 19th, 2013 (06:03 am)
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I love the concept of alternate realities. I also enjoy smartly expressed societal remarks. Therefore, I love the well-written dystopian stories. Here are some favorites:

Animal Farm by George Orwell - modern classic
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell - modern classic
Orwell is incomparable. Really. I prefer the basic story of Nineteen Eighty-Four over the basic story of Animal Farm, but I prefer the ending of Animal Farm over the ending of Nineteen Eighty-Four.
* I was not a fan of the made-for-TV TNT version of Animal Farm.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury - modern classic
This is what I tell people who have yet to read it: If our society was like that depicted in this book, then this book would not exist. That in itself is reason to read this book. It is as if you are reading a secret. Fahrenheit 451 is about books, about censorship, about rules, about literacy, about society, about alliances, about priorities, about memories.
* No, I haven't seen the film.
+ Related Booklist: Time Travel

Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut - short story, modern classic
In the year 2081, everyone is equal: masks disguise the beautiful, weights are worn by the strong, and the intelligent are distracted by headphones spitting out noise. This tale of egalitarianism has a startling conclusion. You can read the story online at various sites, such as this school site I came across.
* Please, please, read the original before you see 2081, the upcoming feature film based upon the short story. Please, please let the film stay true to the original! I have not seen the 1995 made-for-TV film.

The Uglies sequence by Scott Westerfeld - ages 12 and up
Uglies is the first thought-provoking book, Pretties is the bubbly second story, and Specials is the shiny conclusion. Read my reviews of the books. I love the concept - Is beauty truly skin deep in a world where everyone is made pretty? - and I love the execution. Westerfeld has another book set in this world called Extras; a non-fiction guide to the series titled Bogus to Bubbly: An Insider's Guide to the World of Uglies; and a graphic novel series.
+ Uglies was chosen as a recommended read by the postergirlz, the teen lit advisory council for readergirlz.

Additional dystopic tales:

Feed by M. T. Anderson - ages 12 and up
My brain attempted to reject the slang in the first few pages. After the first chapter, I grew used to the vernacular and the rhythm. I highly value communication, independent thinking, and (the accurate use of) big words. I dislike product placement and most mainstream advertising, and this book played upon those dislikes and the characters' fears well. I was glad to come back to reality. Sometimes, when I hear or see an ad for blue jeans, I think of this book.

The Giver series by Lois Lowry - ages 10 and up
I enjoyed The Giver, the first book in the line, far more than any of the books which followed it. When I discuss The Giver with friends or teachers, I find that our reasons for liking the story are rather different. Also, I tend to see the ending in a sad light, while many others see it in a hopeful light. Funny, since I'm usually the poster girl for hope and happiness.

The Jenna Fox Chronicles by Mary E. Pearson - ages 12 and up
I don't want to summarize the books here. I want you to go read them and discover what happens for yourself, spoiler-free, especially the first book, The Adoration of Jenna Fox. Let me know what you think after you've read the three books!

Rash by Pete Hautman - ages 10 and up
The story, though continuous, has three definite sections to it. I preferred the first portion because I liked the set-up and the setting of the dystopic future. The second portion, with its football storyline, did not hold my interest. That could be because I'm not a football person, though. It was still a well-told story.

The Last Book In The Universe by Rodman Philbrick - ages 10 and up
As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. It's a book about books, after all! This might be the juvenile title most closely related to Fahrenheit 451. It's written in a very different style, but it shares some of the same ideas.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins - ages 14 and up
This bestselling trilogy - in which citizens in a post-apocalyptic world must compete to the death in a televised event - has been made into a series of films and inspired a whole new crop of dystopic stories.

Those I haven't read but want to read and should read:
Brave New World and Brave New World Revisited by Aldous Huxley
A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick
The Handmaid's Tale by Margaret Atwood
The Iron Heel by Jack London - My mother introduced me to Jack's writing at a young age.

And finally:
The Shadow Children series by Margaret Peterson Haddix - upper elementary school
To date, I have only read the first novel in the sequence, Among the Hidden. I was saving the others for later. (I do this to myself. By "this," I mean I delay gratification and postpone rewards. Bad, bad kitty.) In this case, I like Haddix's novels so much and read them so quickly that I told myself I'd wait until the last Shadow book was released, then read them all in a row. Now that that book has been published, I plan to do that at some point in the future. (Future. Ha! No pun intended.)

Tip of the hat to Wikipedia's dystopian lit list, which served as a springboard for this post.

My favorite television series that involved dystopia is, of course, the original version of The Twilight Zone. I really liked the early seasons of Sliders, a show all about alternate realities. Though I like the concept of dystopia, I love the concepts of alternate realities, as I stated earlier. The chaos theory, the butterfly effect, time travel - bring them on!

Check out my time travel booklist.

Comments

Posted by: Bink (funkmasterbink)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 04:20 am (UTC)

i've read the giver 6 times, once a year from middle school through highschool. the end is sad.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)
Johnny Smith

That's a lot of giving.

Posted by: Jenni Lou (_jennilou)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 06:29 am (UTC)

Dystopian visions are very cool. I like the list you compiled.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 12:22 pm (UTC)

Thanks! How are you doing? :)

Posted by: Jenni Lou (_jennilou)
Posted at: June 2nd, 2006 10:57 pm (UTC)

I am well, thanks! Just a bit tired all the time! I hope you're doing well too. I'm sure you're reading a lot, as usual.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 3rd, 2006 01:00 pm (UTC)

I am doing all right. Hanging in there.

Reading always.

Posted by: Cosmic Bob (cosmicbob)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 03:17 pm (UTC)

There's also a Bradbury short story called (I believe) "The Butterfly Effect" which is an alternate reality/time travel thing. It really the only story of his I like.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 03:18 pm (UTC)

I will have to research that. Thanks.

Posted by: My characters kick your ass dot com (elfstar18)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 05:45 pm (UTC)

I have an extra copy of The Handmaid's Tale, if you'd like it. I pick up books that I like whenever I see them at the thrift store and I must have gotten that one twice.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: May 31st, 2006 08:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks for the offer! If you pass it to Kiba, I think she can get it to me.

Posted by: My characters kick your ass dot com (elfstar18)
Posted at: June 1st, 2006 12:27 am (UTC)

Cool. consider it done.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 1st, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)

Very sweet of you. Thanks again. :)

Posted by: Eileen (eiwrite69)
Posted at: June 1st, 2006 02:48 am (UTC)
Twilight Zone

i LOVE the old Twilight Zone..i used to stay up all hours to catch a few episodes when they were on cable.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 1st, 2006 06:27 pm (UTC)
A Weakness for Dystopia Books

This is a great list! I have had a real weakness for these sorts of dystopia stories, ever since I took a Utopias literature class my freshman year in college. I've been meaning to check out the "Shadow Children" books, but hadn't gotten to those yet. I LOVE the Giver.

Thanks also for your excellent contributions to my "cool girls" list. I can't believe that I didn't think of Nita from the Wizards books - I think that she's great. Turtle, too. And I just read the Westing Game, so that was lame on my part. But anyway, I just wanted to say thanks for helping me to round out the list!

Jen Robinson - http://jkrbooks.typepad.com

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 1st, 2006 08:24 pm (UTC)
Re: A Weakness for Dystopia Books

Oh, that must have been a fascinating class!

You are welcome. I restrained myself and only listed, what, half a dozen characters, but there are many more that I could add. :)

Was that the first time you had read The Westing Game? It is one of my all-time favorite novels. I checked that out of my school library many, many times, then got my own copy.

Have you read Gathering Blue or Messenger?

Haddix rox my sox. Etcetera, etcetera.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: June 5th, 2006 12:38 am (UTC)
Re: A Weakness for Dystopia Books

Yes, that was the first time I read The Westing Game. But I liked it a lot. I just gave my copy to one of my nieces, but I may have to pick up another copy to read it again.

I recently read both Gathering Blue and Messenger. I found them not as powerful as The Giver, though I did enjoy them, especially Gathering Blue. Messenger removes the ambiguity at the end of The Giver, which I thought that I wanted, but then I was sort of sad, too.

I'll definitely watch for the Haddix books. I also recommend the Fire-Us books, but Armstrong and Butcher. It's a young adult trilogy, a little hard to find, about society after a virus wipes out all of the adults. Very cool!

Jen Robinson

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: June 5th, 2006 01:19 am (UTC)
Re: A Weakness for Dystopia Books

Turtle is amazing. I'd love to play her. I've yet to see the television movie based on the novel, as I didn't have the station on which it aired.

The Fire-Us series, like The Tripods series, is one I've looked at and shelved countless times without reading any - yet!

Does Messenger tell readers *spoilers whether or not he or the baby or both survived? I don't think he did, possibly neither of them did. spoilers*

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 4th, 2007 08:13 pm (UTC)
Re: A Weakness for Dystopia Books

I did end up reading Messenger - and liked it less than the other two.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: February 4th, 2007 04:22 pm (UTC)
another fab list

Hey, Little Willow. I love this list - I'm also into dystopian novels. Have you read City of Ember by Jeanne Du Prau? It's pretty good, as is the sequel People of Sparks. I was disappointed in Prophet of Yonwood, though.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: February 4th, 2007 08:12 pm (UTC)
Re: another fab list

Hi there! I have read Ember and Sparks; not yet Prophet.

Posted by: clenroll (clenroll)
Posted at: March 2nd, 2008 05:59 pm (UTC)
Another for the list.

One book that I highly recommend is John Brunner's "The Sheep Look Up".

A very grim and painful look at one possible future for the US in particular. The book is quite complex, with a huge cast of very interesting characters all caught up an out-of-control chain of events that leads to the obvious conclusion.
Unlike most SF stories, this one is not so much about high-tech, or takes place in the far future; instead it could be (or maybe is) happening right now.
Anyway, I don't want to give away the story.

Read it, you might find Brunner's writing style to be quite captivating.

Clenroll

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: March 2nd, 2008 06:05 pm (UTC)
Re: Another for the list.

Thanks for the info.

Posted by: clenroll (clenroll)
Posted at: March 2nd, 2008 07:28 pm (UTC)
Re: Another for the list.

Your welcome,

I think you might find this book to be a real page turner. I, myself couldn't put it down, and even kept a list,(scribbled down on the inside cover), of the cast of characters.

The book is timeless. It was written in '72, (but could have been written yesterday), during a very turbulent time in US history. The war in Viet Nam was coming to a head, the Watergate scandal was all over the media, soon to be followed by the impeachment hearings a couple of years later.
The general populace's confidence in the government was shaken, young people were marching in the streets calling for justice, the all to possible threat of nuclear war hung in people's minds like the Sword of Damocles. A general sense of nileism and apathy swept across the nation. The possibility of world destruction was heavy in the air.... very much like right now.

Not trying to be a scaremonger here, I just find it very interesting that the two time-lines are so similar.

Clenroll

Posted by: Manly Banister (go_team_venture)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 06:17 pm (UTC)
Re: Another for the list.

Second this - my favorite from Brunner.

Posted by: Manly Banister (go_team_venture)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 06:18 pm (UTC)
droog

Hey, just ran across your list and wanted to offer up my own take on dystopian fiction. That's all I'm reading this year - I have a fairly massive list going at http://epicdystopia.blogspot.com - it'd be really cool if you checked it out.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 06:54 pm (UTC)

Very cool idea for a blog! Enjoy the dystopia.

Posted by: Manly Banister (go_team_venture)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 07:18 pm (UTC)

Thanks!

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: July 1st, 2008 07:38 pm (UTC)

You are welcome.

Posted by: ((Anonymous))
Posted at: September 25th, 2010 05:00 am (UTC)
product placement

I stumbled upon this blog post and love your list. It is everything I have taught to my middle school students and shared with my own daughter, year after year. I was troubled though, by your praise of M.T. Anderson's FEED (which I love) for taking aim at product placement while you simultaneously claim to love Margaret Haddix Peterson. I am in the middle of my first MHP read (book one of Missing series) and I am having trouble getting through it because of the glaring and disruptive product placement. I don't just resent this, especially in chidren's and YA lit, I find it utterly unconscionable. Besides it will date this book and make it go out of fashion all the sooner for this kind of commercialization.

Posted by: Little Willow (slayground)
Posted at: September 25th, 2010 05:17 am (UTC)
Re: product placement

Hi there! I actually wasn't a big fan of the first of the Missing books and, consequently, have not read the others in that series.

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