Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Saved By the Bell: The Dystopian Years

Teenagers make great subjects for dystopian tales.  Something about the inherent melodrama and confusion of being a teenager translates nicely to the way in which we understand and connect with tales of society gone horribly, yet sometimes, exquisitely wrong.  A few months ago I suggested you read The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins.  Having now completed the series, I heartily endorse it in its entirety.  IMDB tells me that they are making these books into movies, too.

In a slightly less successful attempt to break into the teen dystopian series game, Ally Condie brings us Matched, the story of Cassia, a teenage member of The Society, a futuristic society that has eradicated genetic disease through an intricate matching system of arranged marriages for optimal results.  She finds herself falling for the mysterious, brooding Ky, instead of her intended match.  She then begins to question everything.  Unfortunately, Cassia is shrill and not very likable.  Also, the world of Matched is just not as interesting as some other offerings in this spectacular genre.  It is however, available as a free downloadable audiobook to borrow from the Brooklyn Public Library, so if you live in Brooklyn, check it out!

Now for some classics:  The Giver, by Lois Lowry, may be the most well known teen dystopian novel.  It takes place in a society without the burden of memory.  That burden belongs to one person, the Giver. In this story we follow Jonas, as he is chosen to fulfill this role for his society.  This book raises incredibly complex issues in a way that middle school kids can understand, yet still offers plenty for the adult reader to ponder.  Technology, control, memory, and the potential of human emotions all play a role in this fascinating and moving book.

Gathering Blue, also by Lois Lowry, is not a sequel to The Giver, but more of a companion novel.  This novel follows Kira, an orphan with a gift for fiber arts.  She is, like Joseph, is the caretaker of a coat of many colors.  Rather than enrage her brothers, this coat tells the story of her society.  But it holds many secrets.  Kira is another resourceful and humble yet powerful girl that makes these kinds of stories so great.  Kira lives some time in the future, yet humanity seems to have lost the knowledge of many kinds of technology we currently enjoy.  Lois Lowry creates an intricately layered world with many compelling details and characters.

Any other Young Adult dystopian fiction you know and love?  Leave 'em in the comments!

Matched  by Ally Condie 2.8 ipods
The Giver  by Lois Lowry 4.6 ipods
Gathering Blue by Lois Lowry 4.7 ipods

1 comment:

  1. I know I've probably mentioned this before, but Cory Doctorow's Little Brother is _excellent_.