Monday, November 19, 2012

The Rise of the Dystopian

Ever since The Hunger Games gained popularity, the genre of dystopian literature, especially dystopian romance/love triangles, has become the number one genre everyone's reading.  Just as Harry Potter boosted the fantasy genre and Twilight the vampire genre, The Hunger Games has opened the market for so many new dystopian novels and trilogies, possibly the biggest boost this type of literature has had since 1984 or Brave New World.  And I've discovered that so far, I really like this genre.  Lately, besides fantasy and sci-fi, it's the number one type of book I read.

Cinder by Marissa Meyer is both dystopian and sci-fi.  Centered in New Beijing after World War IV, the story tells of Cinder, a cyborg mechanic, who lives with her stepmother and two step-sisters.  But this is not your classic Cinderella tale.  Cinder isn't a helpless maid who needs a fairy godmother to save her; she's the heroine who needs to save the prince.  With awesome descriptions of a world broken down by war and filth, this book feels so real.  And the cliffhanger is just killer too.  I cannot wait for the next book to see what happens next.  Rating:  A-

Birthmarked by Caragh O'Brien has some similarities to The Hunger Games.  In this dystopian world, there are the wealthy and privileged people living within the Enclave, and then there are the workers, the farmers, the under-privileged living outside its walls and supporting it.  The main character of this story is Gaia, a sixteen-year-old midwife outside the walls, who must hand over a quota of the babies she delivers to the Enclave.  After her parents are taken, Gaia must learn why and how to get them back.  Very adventurous with plenty of unexpected twists, Birthmarked is a great read whether you like dystopian novels or not.  Also the first book of a trilogy, I look forward to the next books, which I'm hoping might also have a little more romance in them.  Rating: A-

Matched by Ally Condie is another first book of a trilogy, and like The Hunger Games features a love triangle.  Cassia lives in a dystopian world, a pretty nice one actually, where the Society does all the thinking for you.  They decide where you live, what you do for an occupation, and most important in Cassia's mind, whom you marry.  On the day of her matching ceremony, instead of one, two matches are presented to her.  The Society tells her it's just a glitch and to ignore the second match, but now Cassia must decide whether she'll just follow the will of the Society or defy them and meet this other match.  Almost entirely a romance, the story also has its exciting moments.  And although the writing isn't amazing, it's definitely still worth reading.  Rating:  B+

The Selection by Kiera Cass is very similar to Matched.  A love triangle, a dystopian world that isn't really all that terrible, and almost entirely a romance.  America (a girl, not the country) enters a competition to be the next queen, not really because she wants to, but because she knows it will make her mother happy and she has no fear of being selected.  However, she is chosen as one of the possible brides and travels to the castle, where she and the prince begin a friendship.  There's a little action and adventure, but for the most part, the book is focusing on the relationship between America and the prince, as well as her feelings for the boyfriend she left behind.  America is also a great character because she's both independent and compassionate, and she's definitely not afraid to pull punches.  Despite having a good concept and a great main character, the story does drag a little at points, but I still really liked the book.  Rating: B+

While I know this isn't a new book, I did read it recently and thought it belonged here with the rest of the dystopian books.  Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick is a very strange read to say the least.  The main character of the story, Rick Deckard, is essentially a bounty hunter, but instead of hunting criminals, he's tracking and destroying androids.  The androids that were created as helpers for the Mars colony are not allowed on Earth, but they often find a way to sneak back there anyway.  While hunting them down, Deckard meets a new kind of android who causes him to question his job and his concept of morality.  The movie version, Blade Runner, tried to give the story a happy ending, but I think if you've read the book, you'd understand why it just wouldn't work.  Like most of Dick's work, the book is strange and sometimes seems very disjointed, but overall it  was a good story and worth reading once.  Rating:  B-

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