Friday, March 23, 2012

Dystopian/Post Apocalyptic Tales for the Skeptics

Unless you've been living under a rock, you know that last night/this morning's midnight showing of The Hunger Games is only the start of the massive Hunger Games frenzy that will descend upon us this weekend. If you see a gaggle of teen girls dressed in black long sleeves, brown leather jackets, and wearing long single braids, they're probably uber-fans on their way to see The Hunger Games movie. This is just the beginning, folks--there are two more books in the series, and there's been talk about splitting the third book into two movies. If you're inclined to learn more about this series that is sending masses of teens into hysteria (the series appeals to both boys and girls, but teen girls adore, adore, adore Katniss--she's the anti-Bella of YA lit), check out Entertainment Weekly.

If it's been a few years since your high school English class, you may not remember what dystopian or post-apocalyptic means. Basically, a dystopian novel takes place in a futuristic society which, on the surface, appears to be utopian (equal and ideal), but which is actually all controlling and menacing. The citizens are completely controlled by society: their occupation, their speech, their spouse, etc. The heroes in the story are rebelling against the society.

Post-apocalyptic novels (which is what The Hunger Games series is) take place in a society which has survived some kind of massive trauma.  While technology is usually a huge aspect of dystopian fiction, post-apocalyptic novels usually take place in a low or no technology world. The heroes in the story are trying to survive the new society.

The line between dystopia and post-apocalyptic is not absolute; a story may have elements of both (The Hunger Games has elements of both).

I have to come clean and say that, for the most part, I am normally not a fan of dystopian or post-apocalyptic fiction. Just not my thing. (I found the first Hunger Games gripping and disturbing, but haven't read the second and third; I do know that the third left quite a few Hunger Games fans unhappy, though!). The genres are blazing hot like Katniss's Girl on Fire dress, though, and I need to keep up with popular YA fiction. For my benefit,  they've replaced vampire romance as the YA genre du jour, and for that I really can't complain.   That being said, here are some YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic tales that pulled me in, despite my reluctance:


Ohhhh, Matched. I rolled my eyes at Matched, but that sucker caught me. It was a little embarrassing at how I geeked out over Matched.  Matched is very popular and spent several weeks on the New York Times Bestseller list; naturally, it's already been optioned for a movie by Disney. Matched is set in a futuristic society in which teens are matched to their eventual spouses when they come of age (at a huge glittering ball, so this scene, if Disney does it right, should be glorious). Cassia is sure that she will be matched to her long-time friend, Xander; sure enough, his image pops up when her match is announced. Just before the screen fades, however, Ky's face also appears. Ky is on the fringes of society; whatever can this mean? It means lots of tough decisions and romance and adventure, that's what it means! This is more romantic than your typical YA dystopian novel.

Life As We Knew It

Life As We Knew It is the first in a trilogy centered around societies surviving the aftermath of a meteor hit on the moon, which triggers tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions. Fun! What's unique about Pfeffer's stories is that the second book isn't a continuation of the story; Life As We Knew It takes place in the country, while the second takes place in New York City. (The third continues Miranda's story, which started in Life As We Knew It). You don't need to read the first before you read the second (I didn't).


Feed was published in 2002, which means that it was way ahead of the dystopian/post apocalyptic trend. This story of a society in which people are embedded with computer chips is more relevant than ever. Just be aware that f-bombs are dropped throughout the story; this is a story for mature teens. The CD recording is quite brilliant. 

The Roar

The Roar takes place in a nature-free society; all signs of nature have been wiped out or exiled beyond the wall surrounding The Roar's community.  The citizens have been told that this is for their protection, for animals carry a plague.  Emma's brother vanishes, leaving her determined to find him--and to find out if the truth about the animals is correct. The Roar straddles juvenile/YA fiction and is shelved in our children's section; if you become enthralled with The Roar, you'll be happy to know that The Whisper continues the series.

If you're looking for more YA dystopian/post-apocalyptic fiction, check out our Hunger Games readalike list.

1 comment:

Ms. Yingling said...

Bachorz' Candor! Great dystopia because it is the adults controlling kids minds!