Saturday, May 21, 2011

Big Ass Book Report: Dystopian Edition

Have you heard? The Rapture is happening today. I don't believe in Jesus, so I'm pretty sure I'll be left behind to fight off zombie hordes and tan under the eternal fires of damnation. If you're like me and believe that God would never reveal his top secret plans to people who homeschool their kids so they don't have to teach them about evolution, then you're in luck! I have compiled a list of some great books to help you ease the pain of losing your dog (all dogs go to heaven, duh) and being stuck on earth with a bunch of cynics and sinners.

A little background: My favorite genre of anything is dystopian - has been as long as I can remember. It probably started when I read The Giver in third grade or whenever. Anyway, dystopias are having a moment, and I am more than thrilled. Not only do I have plenty of media in my favorite genre to choose from, but most of the great dystopian books coming out are for young adults. If I have a second favorite genre it's teenager stuff. Apocalyptic YA fiction?! Bring on the end of the world, because I'm already in heaven.

Matched by Ally Condie
Matched takes place in a world where all decisions are made for you - from your job to who you marry. The Society sorts every person based on their traits and finds their "perfect" life (free of disease, poverty, and limiting their media consumption to 100 approved books and songs), which is then assigned to an individual when they turn seventeen. Cassia Reyes is on the path to becoming another one of the Society's perfect specimens, and when she is waiting for her match to come up on the screen it's her best friend Xander. Yay! Cassia puts her match card into the reader at home expecting to read Xander's bio, which she already knows by heart as they are BFFs, but for a second a different guys picture pops up. Whaaa? So Cassia starts investigating, and learns that the Society is (as if we didn't all see this coming) pretty much evil and oppressive. The next book in the series, Crossed, comes out in November.
Grade: B+

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
Incarceron is a book full of mystery. So much mystery in fact, that I had a hard time getting into it. The story switches between two worlds, from two different characters' viewpoints. One is Finn, a seventeen year old boy trapped in the massive living prison called Incarceron. The prison is a never ending maze of different sectors and communities - it's basically a world of its own. The people living in Incarceron even have their own pseudo-religious belief system based around Sapphique, a man who, according to legend, escaped Incarceron. The prison, at least in my head, is very Mad Maxian. The setting has elements of both futuristic technology and dirtiness. On the other hand, we follow Claudia, the daughter of Incarceron's warden. Claudia lives in a world that is permanently stuck in the 17th Century. It turns out as technology progressed, it kind of ruined society, so the warden and other rule-makers decided that everyone must observe "protocol," and stop using not just iPods and computers, but cars and electricity. Of course, Finn and Claudia's worlds intertwine and eventually crash head-on into each other. The whole time I was thinking, "Claudia lives in Pride and Prejudice and Finn lives in Mad Max, yet Finn knows nothing of the world outside Incarceron and Claudia has no idea where the prison is! Say what?!" At the end of Incarceron you find out just how the world(s) are structured, and I didn't see it coming at all. The sequel to Incarceron, Sapphique, is out now and in my Kindle waiting to be read. 
Grade: A-  

Bumped by Megan McCafferty
I feel like I waited forever for Bumped to come out, and when I finally had it in my greedy paws I had to force myself to read slowly so that I could savor it. Megan McCafferty is, of course, the author of the Jessica Darling series. If you aren't familiar with Jessica Darling you can stop reading right now, because you're dead to me and, frankly, you're living a half-life anyway. Now that we've got that straight, Bumped takes place in a society where a disease spreads across almost all of the population that leaves women infertile after they turn eighteen. This means that the uteruses of teen girls are in high demand, and society has altered in a way to encourage them to get a-humpin' before they can't be a-bumpin'. We follow Melody and Harmony, identical twin sisters who were separated at birth - Melody living in the world of rent-a-uterus, and Harmony living in a religious compound that thinks Melody's way of live is sinful and wrong. The story unfolds as the two girls meet and slowly reveal that they both want lives different from the ones planned for them. Even though I tried to spread it out, I read this book in like, a day and a half. Now I'm left waiting till next year for the second book in the series, but when your'e waiting for writing this addictive, each day seems like a year.
Grade: A+

Delirium by Lauren Oliver
Imagine a world where love is considered a mental illness. Don't worry if you're having a hard time, you can just read Delirium! Like Matched, in Delirium the key decisions of an individuals are life are decided by a governing body. When teenagers reach age 18 they are given the cure for "deliria," AKA L-O-V-E. Lena is anxiously awaiting her cure date, as she witnessed her own mother become delirious and eventually commit suicide. There are, of course, people who refuse the cure, but they are kept outside the city and are referred to as "invalids." Lena is all set to get her cure and live an emotionless life, but then she meets Alex. I bet you can guess what happens then. They get all mushy for each other and Lena has to deal with her doubts about receiving the cure. To make matters worse, Alex is an invalid. This book is the first in a trilogy, with the next books coming out in 2012 and 2013. Like with Bumped, this is way too fucking long for me to wait. In fact, I was so engrossed with this book that when I turned the last page and realized there was no more, I yelled, "DAMN!" Really. 
Grade: A+

Divergent by Veronica Roth
These reviews are starting to get a little gushy, but this is my last one, I promise. I actually pre-ordered Divergent based solely on reading a synopsis on Amazon. And then I read it in a day. And again, I'm waiting impatiently for the next book so I may continue the story. In dystopian Chicago, there are separate factions of people based on specific ideals. Here's the breakdown of the groups from Amazon: Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). Beatrice is in Abnegation, but when it's time for her to take a test that determines what faction her personality fits best, Beatrice's results are inconclusive. She's equally suited for Abnegation and Dauntless. She could choose to stay with her family, in a community she's never felt comfortable in, or take a leap (literally) and adopt a completely new lifestyle (and leaving her family behind). Did I mention hardly anyone, EVER gets inconclusive results on their test? Beatrice is told not to tell anyone that she's divergent (the name for those with two compatible factions), but she doesn't know why it's thought to be so bad. I loved reading this book so much that I put it back on my reading list once I finished. Because of that I don't want to give too many plot points away, because it was so exciting to experience them without knowing anything about the story. I also loved how Chicago monuments and geography was weaved into the story. Knowing the setting of the book personally made it easier to visualize how the city is divided into completely separate factions. The only downside is that now every time I drive by the John Hancock Building I'm going to have the urge to bungee jump off the roof. If you loved The Hunger Games, you NEED to read this book (and subsequent books in the series).
Grade: A++

Other post-apocalyptic YA literature to consider
The Maze Runner Trilogy by James Dashner (read my book report here!)
The City of Ember (a large series, of which I've only read the first book) by Jeanne DuPrau
The Forest of Hands and Teeth (there are sequels, but I've only read the first book) by Carrie Ryan
The Hunger Games Trilogy by Suzanne Collins (I shouldn't have to mention this, really. It's essential reading for every person on Earth)
The Uglies Series by Scott Westerfeld
The Enemy (sequel is out in the UK but not here till June) by Charlie Higson (read my book report here!)


Christine said...

Oooh! Can't wait to finish rereading the Harry Potter series (I am on book 4) and dig into a few of these!

Sarah said...

Making this list made me want to read every one of these books again.

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