Sunday, April 29, 2012

It's the end of the world as we know it...

dystopia [dis-toh-pee-uh] noun : a society characterized by human misery, as squalor, oppression, , disease, and overcrowding (from dictionary.com)

- an imaginary place where everything is as bad as it can be


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What better to live the what if's of an apocalypse without having to actually live through the apocalypse?  I love a good dystopia.  They are gritty, bleak, and terribly depressing (an odd thing to love I suppose ??).  At the same time, they are inherently stories about hope and determination.  Stand up and fight back!  Be the change! (I might or might not have pumped my fist in the air with enthusiasm...) 

Putting on my Librarian hat, here are a list of popular teen dystopias to go along with The Hunger Games, Uglies, and school classic The Giver.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi (IL - MG+, 690 lexile, 336 pages)
In a futuristic world, teenaged Nailer scavenges copper wiring from grounded oil tankers for a living, but when he finds a beached clipper ship with a girl in the wreckage, he has to decide if he should strip the ship for its wealth or rescue the girl. [4/5 Gnomes - Not my favorite dystopia, but exceptionally written with an intriguing, creative storyline]

Matched by Ally Condie (IL - UG, 680 lexile, 384 pages)
Cassia has always followed the autocratic Society without question. So when Xander's face is displayed on the screen at the Matching ceremony, she knows that they are the perfect mates. However, Ky Markham's face also flashed on the screen, if only briefly. Although the Society claims it was a glitch and Cassia knows she is to be with Xander, she cannot stop thinking about Ky. [4/5 Gnomes - Very much a love story, but also about tyranny, mistrust, and fear.]

Wither by Lauren DeStefano (IL - UG, 800 lexile, 368 pages)
After modern science turns every human into a genetic time bomb with men dying at age twenty-five and women dying at age twenty, girls are kidnapped and married off in order to repopulate the world. [3/5 Gnomes - This book gave me the creeps.  It definitely stuck with me days after.]  

The Declaration by Gemma Malley (IL - MG+, 930 lexile, 300 pages)
 In 2140 England, where drugs enable people to live forever and children are illegal, teenaged Anna, an obedient "Surplus" training to become a house servant, discovers that her birth parents are trying to find her.  [4/5 Gnomes - Quick and nail-biting read.  A definite must for fans of the genre.]

Eleventh Plague by Jeff Hirsch (IL - MG+, 790 lexile, 288 pages)
Fifteen-year-old Stephen, born after a war that left most of the population dead from influenza, goes to Settler's Landing, a community too good to be true. The plot contains profanity and graphic violence.[Still on the wait list.  Accelerated reader site notes that plot contains profanity and violence.]

Divergent by Veronica Roth (IL - UG, 700 lexile,  pages)
In a future Chicago, 16-year-old Beatrice must choose among five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life, a decision made more difficult when she discovers that she is an anomaly who does not fit into any one group. [4/5 Gnomes - One of my favorites of 2011.  Intriguing plot, familiar setting upping the creep factor, strong female character, and a touch of romance.] 

Rash by Pete Hautman (IL - UG, 730 lexile, 256 pages)
In a future society that has decided it would "rather be safe than free," sixteen-year-old Bo’s anger control problems land him in a tundra jail where he survives with the help of his running skills and an artificial intelligence program named Bork. [4/5 Gnomes - Love Hautman, and not just because he's had his picture taken with my gnome.  Thought provoking storyline, great for discussion, and easily relate-able.]

XVI by Julia Karr (IL - UG, 272 pages) Nina lives in a future society where an XVI wrist tattoo is required for all girls on their sixteenth birthdays, which announces they are ready for sex, a claim Nina is not ready to make. The plot contains profanity, sexual situations, and violence. [Haven't read it yet, but she has visited my library.  Wonderful lady.]

Ashfall by Mike Mullin (IL - UG, 750 lexile, 466 pages) Nina lives in a future society where an XVI wrist tattoo is required for all girls on their sixteenth birthdays, which announces they are ready for sex, a claim Nina is not ready to make. The plot contains profanity, sexual situations, and violence. [Another I haven't read it yet, but have heard great reviews.  Also a really nice, great guy that offers reasonable library visits.]

Feed by M.T. Anderson (IL - UG, 770 lexile, 240 pages)  In a future where most people have computer implants in their heads to control their environment, a boy meets an unusual girl who is in serious trouble. [The audiobook was fantastic.  Another great book for discussion, is our digital connection really as great as we might believe?]
The Deathday Letter by Shaun David Hutchinson (IL - UG, 700 lexile, 256 pages)  After receiving a letter telling him he has 24 hours to live, Ollie is convinced by his best friend to use the time to try and set things right with a girl who broke his heart. The plot contains profanity and explicit sexual language and situations. [Maybe not purely dystopia, but can you imagine living in a world where you received a letter letting you know you were going to die in a day?]

The Carbon Diaries 2015 by Saci Lloyd(IL - UG, 690 lexile, 384 pages)   It is 2015, a time when global warming has begun to ravage the environment. In response, the United Kingdom becomes the first country to mandate carbon rationing, a well-intentioned plan that goes tragically awry. [Socially relevant; not the doomsday scenario as many dystopias.]

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