“A nightmare vision of society (opp. ‘utopia’) often as one dominated by a totalitarian or technological state.” Australian Oxford Dictionary
“An imaginary world in which everything is as bad as it can possibly be…coined by JS Mills 1806 – 73.” Macquarie Dictionary
“A dystopia is any society considered to be undesirable, for any of a number of reasons. The term was coined as a converse to a Utopia, and is most usually used to refer to a fictional (often near-future) society where current social trends are taken to nightmarish extremes…Often, the difference between a ‘utopia’ and a ‘dystopia’ is in the author’s point of view…Dystopias are frequently written as warnings, or as satires, showing current trends extrapolated to a nightmarish conclusion…A dystopia is all too closely connected to current-day society.” Wikipedia On-line Dictionary
The Dystopian Literature Primer describes the following “characteristics of a dystopian society:
- Propaganda is used to control the citizens of society.
- Information, independent thought, and freedom are restricted.
- A figurehead or concept is worshipped by the citizens of the society.
- Citizens are perceived to be under constant surveillance.
- Citizens have a fear of the outside world.
- Citizens live in a dehumanized state.
- The natural world is banished and distrusted.
- Citizens conform to uniform expectations. Individuality and dissent are bad.
- The society is an illusion of a perfect utopian world.”
It notes that control over the citizens of a dystopian society is maintained through the following means:
- Corporate control: One or more large corporations control society through products, advertising, and/or the media. Examples include Minority Report and Running Man.
- Bureaucratic control: Society is controlled by a mindless bureaucracy through a tangle of red tape, relentless regulations, and incompetent government officials. Examples in film include Brazil.
- Technological control: Society is controlled by technology—through computers, robots, and/or scientific means. Examples include The Matrix, The Terminator, and I, Robot.
- Philosophical/religious control: Society is controlled by philosophical or religious ideology often enforced through a dictatorship or theocratic government.
There is an excellent post on the blog ‘The Writing Cafe’ which defines ‘dystopia’, gives characteristics of the society, as well as archetypical characters often used in the genre. Wikipedia’s Dystopia article also provides worthwhile characteristics of the genre. An understanding of these concepts would be extremely useful in your assignment! Use the links at the bottom of this page for further reading.
What trends in today’s society could lead to a future dystopia (e.g. cloning, climate change, quest for physical perfection)? Write your comments in the ‘Leave a Reply’ box below.
Dystopian novels ask the question ‘What if…?’ They can feature alternative history and worlds, steampunk, apocalyptic fiction and cyberpunk, among other settings.
Australian author Sophie Masson recently wrote an article about the rise of YA dystopian fiction in The Weekend Australian, P.8 Feature, 7-8 May, 2011, entitled: ‘End of the world as we know it‘.
What can we learn from dystopian fiction?
Firstly, research shows that reading fiction makes us more empathetic. So, a novel is a social simulation in which fictional people relate in a social situation. The reader plays a part in the story, learning social skills in the process. (You can read a summary of research in the Wall Street Journal here.)
So, we might infer that reading about dystopian societies may help us avoid their negative points, or at least aid in our awareness of them.
Here are some articles about dystopian fiction, why we like it and what we can gain from reading it:
Why do we like dystopian novels? (Huffington Post)
Why is dystopia so appealing to young adults? (The Guardian)
Why is dystopian fiction still so popular? (The Guardian)
Classic dystopian novels’ popularity surges in Trump’s America (Entertainment)
Welcome to dystopia: George Orwell experts on Donald Trump (The Guardian)
Animal Farm by George Orwell (full ebook)
Animal Farm (audiobook)
Animal Farm (MP3 of radio play)
Animal Farm – Teacher’s notes (Penguin)
1984 Film study (Film Education)
Themes, Motifs and Symbols of 1984 (Sparknotes)
YouTube Summaries of 1984
The Dystopian world of 1984 explained (YouTube film)
George Orwell’s 1984 – what it was based on (YouTube film)
About George Orwell:
George Orwell (biography)
George Orwell (Britannica)
Dystopian short stories
F ASI I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (in Aquinas College Library)
Read some other definitions and characteristics of ‘dystopia’ on these websites:
You’ll find a list of dystopian movies and books below.
Dystopian movies (borrow from the Aquinas College Library):
Film of George Orwell’s powerful novel ‘Nineteen Eighty-Four’ of a totalitarian society where life is a continuous war, where The Party controls people’s lives using surveillance and mind control. The protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the government revising historical records. Winston becomes increasingly disillusioned, leading to his rebellion against Big Brother, his arrest and torture. Watch a clip here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z4rBDUJTnNU
The Island is reportedly the last uncontaminated spot on the planet. But Lincoln soon discovers that everything about his existence is a lie. He and all of the other inhabitants of the facility are actually human clones. Lincoln makes a daring escape with a beautiful fellow resident named Jordan Two-Delta. Relentlessly pursued by the forces of the sinister institute that once housed them, Lincoln and Jordan engage in a race for their lives to literally meet their makers. IMDb http://www.theisland-themovie.com/
It’s 2035 A.D., where robots are everyday objects …Detective Del Spooner is called out to investigate the apparent suicide of the scientist behind these robots, Dr. Alfred Lanning. Spooner suspects that the death might not be a suicide, but the result of one of the robots. All robots are programmed by three laws, but Spooner starts to wonder if a robot can in fact feel emotions, and possibly murder. IMDb http://trailers.apple.com/trailers/fox/i_robot/
In a cyberpunk vision of the future, man has developed the technology to create replicants, human clones used to serve in the colonies outside Earth but with fixed lifespans. In Los Angeles, 2019, Deckard is a Blade Runner, a cop who specialises in terminating replicants. Originally in retirement, he is forced to re-enter the force when six replicants escape from an offworld colony to Earth. IMDb http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=J_hYs1jBy8Y
In the not-too-distant future, a less than perfect man wants to travel to the stars. Society has categorized Vincent Freeman as less than suitable given his genetic make-up and he has become one of the underclass of humans that are only useful for menial jobs. To move ahead, he assumes the identity of Jerome Morrow, a perfect genetic specimen who is a paraplegic as a result of a fall. Vincent learns to deceive DNA and urine sample testing. When a colleague is killed he is finally scheduled for a space mission, but a colleague suspects his origins and the police begin an investigation. IMDb http://www.videodetective.com/movie_trailer/GATTACA/movie_clip/P00007299.htm
In the near future, a computer hacker named Neo discovers that all life on Earth may be nothing more than an elaborate facade created by a malevolent cyber-intelligence, for the purpose of placating us while our life essence is “farmed” to fuel the Matrix’s campaign of domination in the “real” world. He joins like-minded Rebel warriors Morpheus and Trinity in their struggle to overthrow the Matrix. IMDb http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UM5yepZ21pI
In this futuristic sci-fi thriller set 400 years in the future, Charlize Theron stars as Aeon Flux, the top underground operative at war with the totalitarian regime governing what appears to be a perfect society. But is this perfect life hiding a perfect lie? Aeon is on the front lines of a rebellion that will reveal a world of secrets. iTunes http://www.aeonflux.com/
The world’s youngest citizen has just died at 18, and humankind is facing the likelihood of its own extinction. Set in and around a dystopian London fractious with violence and warring nationalistic sects, ‘Children of Men’ follows the unexpected discovery of a lone pregnant woman and the desperate journey to deliver her to safety and restore faith for a future beyond those presently on Earth. IMDb http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NikEQy1XxDE
Tomorrow When the War Began (DVD0765) Paramount Films 2010. RATED “M”
Tomorrow, When the War Began follows the journey of eight high school friends in a remote country town whose lives are suddenly and violently upended by a war that no one saw coming. Cut off from their families and their friends, these eight extraordinary teenagers must learn to escape, survive and fight back against a hostile military force.
Other DVDs (Not in Aquinas Library):
Stargate – selected episodes
Never Let Me Go
V for Vendetta
The Running man
Batman 1989 (Dir. Tim Burton; Star. Jack Nicholson)
Books (in Aquinas Library):
Feed by M.T. Anderson (F AND) This brilliantly ironic satire is set in a future world where television and computers are connected directly into people’s brains when they are babies. The result is a chillingly recognizable consumer society where empty-headed kids are driven by fashion and shopping and the avid pursuit of silly entertainment–even on trips to Mars and the moon–and by constant customized murmurs in their brains of encouragement to buy, buy, buy. Amazon.com
I, Robot by Isaac Asimov (F ASI) Asimov changed our view of robots with this book of short stories. The film by the same title is loosely based on some of the concepts in these stories, including the three laws of Robotics: 1) A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm 2) A robot must obey orders givein to it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law. 3) A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Law.
The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Attwood (F ATT) As a lover of dystopian fiction, I need to go back to the classics – to where it all started, at least for WOMEN’S dystopian tales. First published in 1985, ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’ is enthralling, utterly gripping and horrifying all at once. It provided me with one of those light bulb moments – the realisation of the firm link between dystopias and cults. All I can say is that my reading takes me to some amazing scenarios and landscapes. Reading Atwood’s tale is a must for lovers of ‘Delirium’, as it’s the forerunner of that story. ‘The Handmaid’s Tale’, ‘1984’ and ‘Brave New World’ form for me the holy triangle of early dystopian novels. Mrs Osborne
Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard (F AVE) The Reds are commoners, ruled by a Silver elite in possession of god-like superpowers, and to Mare Barrow, a seventeen-year-old Red girl from the poverty-stricken Stilts, it seems like nothing will ever change. That is, until she finds herself working in the Silver Palace. Here, surrounded by the people she hates the most, Mare discovers that, despite her red blood, she possesses a deadly power of her own. One that threatens to destroy the balance of power. Fearful of Mare’s potential, the Silvers hide her in plain view, declaring her a long-lost Silver princess, now engaged to a Silver prince. Despite knowing that one misstep would mean her death, Mare works silently to help the Red Guard, a militant resistance group, and bring down the Silver regime. But this is a world of betrayal and lies, and Mare has entered a dangerous dance – Reds against Silvers, prince against prince, and Mare against her own heart. (Goodreads review)
Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigulupi (F BAC) An excellent dystopian read for YA, parts of this story could also be read as though it was happening right now on the South-west coast of India, where ship breaking is prevalent. ‘Ship breaker’ deals with themes of survival, family and kinship, and how a truly selfless loyalty can transcend everything else. Highly recommended.
Jennifer Government by Max Barry (F BAR) In a world where you take the name of the company you work for nothing is off limits. This hilarious and terrifying story is set in a world run by giant corporations. Employees take the last names of the companies they work for and are contracted to do anything to complete a deal. It’s a capitalist, free market paradise. Jennifer Government is a tough-talking agent with a barcode tattoo under her eye, a personal problem with the company…and a gun.
Genesis by Bernard Beckett (F BEC) 2075. The island-state of the Republic is an isolated, ordered and repressive world where outsiders are feared and gunned down. That changes when Adam Forde rescues a girl from the sea. Years later, Anaximander faces the Examiners in a bid to join the philosopher’s class at The Academy. Her topic: Forde’s challenge to the Republic. Anaximander feels a connection to Forde which she can’t explain. Little does she know that that connection is dangerous. Genesis is an extraordinary book, a philosophical novel that asks all the big questions about who we are, what it means to think and what it is to be human. Highly recommended.
Exodus by Julie Bertagna (F BER) Less than a hundred years from now, the world as we know it no longer exists. Cities have disappeared beneath the sea, technology no longer functions, and human civilization has reverted to a much more primitive state On an isolated northern island, the people of Wing are trying to hold onto their way of life–even as the sea continues to claim precious acres and threatens to claim their very lives Only fifteen-year-old Mara has the vision and the will to lead her people in search of a new beginning in this harsh, unfamiliar world. This compelling and powerful story set in the near future will hit home with teens, especially those who are ever more aware of the increasingly controversial climate crisis we face in our world today.
Noughts and Crosses by Malorie Blackman (F BLA) In a world divided by colour, it pays to choose friends on your own side. This novel is a new twist on the story of Romeo and Juliet. As Malorie Blackman herself says: ‘I wanted to turn society as we know it on its head, with new names for the major divisions, ie Noughts (the underclass) and Crosses (the majority, ruling society). I wanted to see this new world through the eyes of the main two characters, Callum (a nought) and Sephy (a Cross).’
Ads R Us by Claire Carmichael (F CAR) Teenager Barrett Trent has been raised in isolation from mainstream society in an eco-cult called Simplicity. After the death of his uncle he must now live in the city with rich relatives. It is the near future, where advertising is all-pervading, in contrast to his previous life. Barrett finds out he is to be used as a guinea pig in experiments to find out the effects of advertising on an untouched mind. But Barrett may prove harder to crack than they think.
Originator by Claire Carmichael (F CAR) Adam and Callie live in a world recovering from devastating plagues that have killed millions. A scandal has broken out…the fabrication of human beings…what if Adam and Callie are fabricants themselves? Continued in ‘Fabricant’.
Obernewtyn by Isobelle Carmody (F CAR) In a world struggling back from the brink of apocalypse, life is harsh. But for Elspeth Gordie, born with enhanced mental abilities that would see her sterilised or burned if discovered, it is also dangerous. (Obernewtyn Chronicles Book 1)
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (F COL) 24 enter, but only one will make it out alive… In a future North America, where the rulers of Panem maintain control through an annual televised survival competition pitting young people from each of the twelve districts against one another, sixteen-year-old Katniss’s skills are put to the test when she volunteers to take her younger sister’s place. First in an exciting trilogy.
Matched by Ally Condie (F CON) On her seventeenth birthday, Cassia meets her match. Society dictates he is her perfect partner for life. Except he’s not. In Cassia’s society, officials decide who people love, how many chidren they have, where they work, when they die. But as Cassia finds herself falling in love with another boy, she is determined to make some choices of her own. And that’s when her whole world begins to unravel…
The Maze Runner by James Dashner (F DAS) When Thomas wakes up in the lift, the only thing he can remember is his first name. His memory is blank. But he’s not alone. When the lift’s doors open, Thomas finds himself surrounded by kids who welcome him to the Glade–a large, open expanse surrounded by stone walls. Just like Thomas, the Gladers don’t know why or how they got to the Glade. All they know is that every morning the stone doors to the maze that surrounds them have opened. Every night they’ve closed tight. And every 30 days a new boy has been delivered in the lift. Thomas was expected. But the next day, a girl is sent up–the first girl to ever arrive in the Glade. And more surprising yet is the message she delivers. Thomas might be more important than he could ever guess. If only he could unlock the dark secrets buried within his mind.
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? by Philip K. Dick (F DIC) – novel on which ‘Blade runner’ was based. War has left a devastated world. It’s 2021, and in the aftermath of war, Rick Deckard has a license to kill. He’s hunting for rogue androids. His assignment is to find them and ‘retire’ them. The trouble is that the androids all look exactly like humans, and they don’t want to be found.
Little Brother by Cory Doctorow (F DOC) Big Brother is watching you. Who’s watching back? Marcus,is smart enough to outwit his school’s surveillance system, but caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, he’s imprisoned by Department of Homeland Security and interrogated for days. When he’s finally released, Marcus discovers that his city has become a police state where every citizen is treated like a potential terrorist. He knows that no one will believe his story, which leaves him only one option: to take down the DHS himself.
Incarceron by Fisher (F FIS) Dystopian fiction takes us on a journey into another world, and I found the world of ‘Incarceron’ to be totally engrossing. Catherine Fisher has created richly detailed settings, multi-faceted characters we can identify with and a highly suspenseful plot. The story takes place in two worlds, one a prison and the other a palace. Both Finn and Claudia, the two main characters of the dual narratives, are imprisoned in their own ways, yet they are bound together by their past lives. As their stories slowly unravel, we learn more about who they are, and we watch them grow as they are tested by adversity and circumstance.
The Industry by Rose Foster (F FOS) Kirra Hayward is an ordinary sixteen year old – smarter than most, but otherwise completely anonymous. When she stumbles across an unusual puzzle on the internet and manages to solve it, she has no idea of what she’s letting herself in for. Kidnapped by a shadowy organisation known only as The Industry, Kirra soon discovers how valuable her code-breaking skills are.
Feed by Mira Grant (F GRA) (from miragrant.com) In 2014, two experimental viruses—a genetically engineered flu strain designed by Dr. Alexander Kellis, intended to act as a cure for the common cold, and a cancer-killing strain of Marburg, known as “Marburg Amberlee”—escaped the lab and combined to form a single airborne pathogen that swept around the world in a matter of days. It cured cancer. It stopped a thousand cold and flu viruses in their tracks. It raised the dead. Millions died in the chaos that followed. The summer of 2014 was dubbed “The Rising,” and only the lessons learned from a thousand zombie movies allowed mankind to survive. Even then, the world was changed forever. The mainstream media fell, Internet news acquired an undeniable new legitimacy, and the CDC rose to a new level of power. Set twenty years after the Rising, the Newsflesh trilogy follows a team of bloggers, led by Georgia and Shaun Mason, as they search for the brutal truths behind the infection. Danger, deceit, and betrayal lurk around every corner, as does the hardest question of them all: When will you rise?
Wool by Hugh Howey F HOW Thousands of them have lived underground. They’ve lived there so long, there are only legends about people living anywhere else. Such a life requires rules. Strict rules. There are things that must not be discussed. Like going outside. Never mention you might like going outside.
Or you’ll get what you wish for.
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (F HUX) (NOTE: Published 1932) ‘Brave New World’ is a darkly satiric vision of a utopian future. World Controllers have created the ideal society. Through clever use of genetic engineering, brainwashing and recreational sex and drugs all its members are happy consumers. Bernard Marx seems alone harbouring an ill-defined longing to break free. This classic is remarkably relevant today.
Narrated by Kathy, now 31, “Never Let Me Go” tells the story of a group of students who attended the seemingly idyllic Hailsham School. The children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter But a darker fate has always awaited Kathy and her closest friends in the wider world. P.S. The movie is presently showing at cinemas in Australia!
The Running Man by Stephen King (F KIN) The Running Man is set within a dystopian future in which the poor are seen more by the government as worrisome rodents than actual human beings. The protagonist of The Running Man, Ben Richards, is quick to realize this as he watches his daughter, Cathy, grow more sick by the day and tread closer and closer to death. Desperate for money to pay Cathy’s medical bills, Ben enlists himself in a true reality style game show where the objective is to merely stay alive.(Goodreads)
The Left Hand of Darkness by Ursula LeGuin (F LEG) ‘The Left Hand of Darkness’ tells the story of a lone human emissary to Winter, an alien world whose inhabitants can change their gender. His goal is to facilitate Winter’s inclusion in a growing intergalactic civilization. But to do so he must bridge the gulf between his own views and those of the completely dissimilar culture that he encounters.
Fearless by Tim Lott (F LOT) The smartly painted exterior of the City Community Faith School hides a disturbing secret. Behind its walls, 1000 girls are forced to labour in the city’s laundry, separated from their families and deprived of their freedom. One of these girls is Little Fearless, a courageous spirit who never gives up hope that one day they will be rescued.
The Giver by Lois Lowry (F LOW) In a world where there is no pain, no cold, no thrills, Lowry’s unforgettable tale introduces us to 12-year-old Jonas, who is singled out by his community to be trained by The Giver. In the telling, this story questions every value we have taken for granted and reexamines our most deeply held beliefs.
Legend by Marie Lu (F LU) What was once the western United States is now home to the Republic, a nation perpetually at war with its neighbors. Born into an elite family in one of the Republic’s wealthiest districts, fifteen-year-old June is a prodigy being groomed for success in the Republic’s highest military circles. Born into the slums, fifteen-year-old Day is the country’s most wanted criminal. But his motives may not be as malicious as they seem. From very different worlds, June and Day have no reason to cross paths – until the day June’s brother, Metias, is murdered and Day becomes the prime suspect. Caught in the ultimate game of cat and mouse, Day is in a race for his family’s survival, while June seeks to avenge Metias’ death. But in a shocking turn of events, the two uncover the truth of what has really brought them together, and the sinister lengths their country will go to keep its secrets. Full of nonstop action, suspense, and romance, this novel is sure to move readers as much as it thrills. (Goodreads review)
Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi (F MAF)
I have a curse I have a gift I am a monster I’m more than human My touch is lethal My touch is power I am their weapon I will fight back. Juliette hasn’t touched anyone in exactly 264 days. The last time she did, it was an accident, but The Reestablishment locked her up for murder. No one knows why Juliette’s touch is fatal. As long as she doesn’t hurt anyone else, no one really cares…The Reestablishment said their way was the only way to fix things, so they threw Juliette in a cell. Now so many people are dead that the survivors are whispering war – and The Reestablishment has changed its mind. Maybe Juliette is more than a tortured soul stuffed into a poisonous body. Maybe she’s exactly what they need right now. Juliette has to make a choice: Be a weapon. Or be a warrior. (Goodreads review)
The Declaration by Gemma Malley (F MAL) If you had the choice between living forever and never having children, or living for the natural term of your life and having kids, which would you choose? It’s 2140 and Longevity drugs have all but eradicated old age, but there are consequences. Population growth cannot be sustained, which means that Anna and the other children at Grange Hall should never have been born. Then one day a boy named Peter appears at the Hall, bringing with him news of the world outside, a place where people are starting to say that Longevity is bad, and that maybe people shouldn’t live forever.
Tomorrow, When the War Began By John Marsden (F MAR) A group of teens go on a camping trip. Upon return discover their country has been invaded by an army and all their family and friends held captive. Somewhere out there Ellie and her friends are hiding. They’re shocked, they’re frightened, they’re alone. Their world has changed, with the speed of a slamming door. (Series 1 & 2)
A Single Stone by Meg McKinlay (F MCK) Every girl dreams of being part of the line – the chosen seven who tunnel deep into the mountain to find the harvest. No work is more important. Jena is the leader of the line – strong, respected, reliable. And – as all girls must be – she is small; her years of training have seen to that. It is not always easy but it is the way of the things. And so a girl must wrap her limbs, lie still, deny herself a second bowl of stew. Or a first. But what happens when one tiny discovery makes Jena question everything she has ever known? What happens when moving a single stone changes everything?
The Host by Stephenie Meyer (F MEY) Melanie Stryder refuses to fade away. The earth has been invaded by a species that take over the minds of human hosts while leaving their bodies intact. Wanderer, the invading “soul” who has been given Melanie’s body, didn’t expect to find its former tenant refusing to relinquish possession of her mind. As Melanie fills Wanderer’s thoughts with visions of Jared, a human who still lives in hiding, Wanderer begins to yearn for a man she’s never met. Reluctant allies, Wanderer and Melanie set off to search for the man they both love. (Goodreads review)
V for Vendetta by Alan Moore (F MOO) In a world of the not-too-distant future, freedom has been surrendered willingly to a totalitarian regime that rose to power by exploiting people’s worst fears and most damning weaknesses. This is the setting for the parable of Evey, a young woman who is saved from death by a masked vigilante calling himself only V. Superbly illustrated by David Lloyd, this terrifying, sharply drawn portrait of totalitarianism and resistance cemented Alan Moore’s reputation as perhaps the greatest comics writer of his time…an uncompromising vision of the future from the makers of ‘The Matrix’ trilogy.
1Q84 by Haruki Murakami (F MUR) The year is 1984 and the city is Tokyo. A young woman named Aomame follows a taxi driver’s enigmatic suggestion and begins to notice puzzling discrepancies in the world around her. She has entered, she realizes, a parallel existence, which she calls 1Q84 —“Q is for ‘question mark.’ A world that bears a question.” Meanwhile, an aspiring writer named Tengo takes on a suspect ghostwriting project. He becomes so wrapped up with the work and its unusual author that, soon, his previously placid life begins to come unraveled. A love story, a mystery, a fantasy, a novel of self-discovery, a dystopia to rival George Orwell’s—1Q84 is Haruki Murakami’s most ambitious undertaking yet: an instant best seller in his native Japan, and a tremendous feat of imagination from one of our most revered contemporary writers.
Vulture’s Gate by Kirsty Murray (F MUR) It is 40 years into the future and the world is in turmoil. A plague has destroyed humans’ ability to conceive females, or so Callum thinks until he meets Bo. A page-turning adventure unfolds as the pair rely on each other to survive a dangerous journey to a safe haven in the city of Vulture’s Gate.
The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness (F NES) Imagine you’re the only boy in a town of men, able to hear everything everyone thinks, even your dog’s thoughts! And everyone can hear everything you think. Todd Hewitt is just one month away from the birthday that will make him a man, when he finds a place of silence. But this discovery is dangerous. Todd realizes that his town has been keeping secrets from him…secrets that are going to force him to run…’The Knife of Never Letting Go’ is a ground-breaking novel which has won many international awards. (Chaos Walking series #1)
The Wind Singer by William Nicholson (F NIC) If you live in Aramanth, the only way to improve your life is by endless hard work and a ratings system, which determines in which part of the city you will live. When Kestrel Hath decides she’s had enough of the system, she is joined by her twin brother Bowman and their friend Mumpo. Together, they escape the city walls and travel through the city sewers and the desert sandstorms, following an ancient map. Their quest is to find the voice of the Wind Singer, an ancient and mysterious instrument that stands in the center of Aramanth. Only then can they save their people from their dreamless existence.
Shade’s children by Garth NIX (F NIX) ‘Kill me!’ he screamed at the tall shapes approaching through the fog. ‘Kill me!’ The city seems empty of human life, but there are people – a desperate few – living precariously among the ruins. They are Shade’s Children, and all they have is each other, their Change Talents – and Shade, who masterminds their struggle against the pitiless Overlords. But who, or what, is Shade? And where does his allegiance really lie?
Delirium by Lauren Oliver (F OLI) There was a time when love was the most important thing in the world. People would go to the ends of the earth to find it. They would tell lies for it. Even kill for it. Then, at last, they found a cure. Now, everything is different. Scientists are able to eradicate love. and the government demands that all citizens receive the cure upon turning eighteen. Lena Haloway has always looked forward to the day when she’ll be cured. A life without love is a life without pain: safe,measured, predictable and happy. But then, with only ninety-five days left until her treatment, Lena does the unthinkable…(from book cover)
Animal Farm by George Orwell ( ORW) (NOTE: Published 1945) George Orwell’s classic political satire, first published in 1945, tells of a barnyard full of animals who parallel the growth of totalitarian dictatorships. Mr Jones of Manor Farm is so drunk and lazy that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. Under the leadership of the pigs, the animals rebel and take over the farm, vowing to put an end to the inequities of the farmyard. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. Idealism is betrayed by power, corruption and lies. Animal Farm is George Orwell’s brilliant satire on the corrupting influence of power. From this novel comes the saying: “Everyone is equal, but some are more equal than others.”
Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (F ORW) (NOTE: Published 1949) George Orwell’s powerful novel ‘Nineteen eighty-four’ of a totalitarian society where life is a continuous war, where The Party controls people’s lives using surveillance and mind control. The protagonist, Winston Smith, works for the government revising historical records. Winston becomes increasingly disillusioned, leading to his rebellion against Big Brother, his arrest and torture.
The adoration of Jenna Fox by Mary E. Pearson (F PEA) Who is Jenna Fox? Seventeen-year-old Jenna has just woken from a coma after an horrific accident, but her own life is a mystery to her. Why can’t she remember anything? Her parents think her recovery is a miracle, but what has really happened to Jenna Fox? Set in the future, this novel takes readers on an unforgettable journey through questions of bio-medical ethics and the nature of humanity. How much does it take to be human? What makes us who we are?
Life as we knew it; The Dead and the Gone by Susan Beath Pfeffer (F PFE) (1st & 2nd book in ‘The Last Survivors’ trilogy) A monstrous tsunami has swallowed half of New York. Millions die on minutes. Survivors are fleeing – if they can. Only the unlucky survive. For Alex and his sisters, escape is impossible. With their parents missing, no money and no hope of help, they must stay in the doomed city and fight for their lives.
How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff (F ROS) As war breaks out, Daisy and her family must cope and survive amidst danger. Every war has turning points and every person too. Soon after Daisy is sent to London, bombs go off as the city is attacked and occupied by an unnamed enemy. As power fails, and systems fail, the farm becomes more isolated. Despite the war, it’s a kind of Eden, with no adults in charge and no rules. But the war is everywhere, and Daisy and her cousins must lead each other into a world that is unknown in the scariest, most elemental way.
Divergent by Veronica Roth (F ROT) In Beatrice Prior’s dystopian Chicago world, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue–Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is–she can’t have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself… (Goodreads review)
The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan (F RYA) Teenagers love a good apocalypse. Who doesn’t? All those annoying rules suspended. Society’s pretenses made irrelevant. Malls to be looted. School out forever. But in The Forest and Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan’s marvelous debut novel, the post-apocalypse is defined more by constraints than freedoms. The book begins seven generations after the Return, an undead plague that has ended civilization as we know it…(Read the rest of Scott Westerfeld’s review on Amazon.com)
Unwind by Neal Shusterman (F SHU) In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives “unwound” and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs – and, perhaps, save their own lives.
Slated by Teri Terry (F TER) Kyla’s memory has been erased, her personality wiped blank, her memories lost for ever.
She’s been Slated. The government claims she was a terrorist and that they are giving her a second chance – as long as she plays by their rules. But echoes of the past whisper in Kyla’s mind. Someone is lying to her, and nothing is as it seems. Who can she trust in her search for the truth?
Reboot by Amy Tintera (F TIN) Five years ago, Wren Connolly was shot three times in the chest. After 178 minutes she came back as a Reboot: stronger, faster, able to heal, and less emotional. The longer Reboots are dead, the less human they are when they return. Wren 178 is the deadliest Reboot in the Republic of Texas. Now seventeen years old, she serves as a soldier for HARC (Human Advancement and Repopulation Corporation).
Leviathan by Scott Westerfield (F WES) …a steam punk novel. It is the cusp of World War I, and all the European powers are arming up. The Austro-Hungarians and Germans have their Clankers, steam-driven iron machines loaded with guns and ammunition. The British Darwinists employ fabricated animals as their weaponry. Their Leviathan is a whale airship, the most masterful beast in the British fleet. Hungarian Prince Aleksandar Ferdinand is on the run. Deryn Sharp is a commoner, a girl disguised as a boy in the British Air Service. Together they journey aboard the Leviathan on a fantastical, around-the-world adventure.
Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (F WES) Tally lives in a future world where a compulsory operation at sixteen wipes out physical differences and makes everybody ideally beautiful. The “New Pretties” are then free to play and party, while the younger “Uglies” look on enviously and spend the time before their own transformations in plotting mischievous tricks against their elders. Tally is to learn, however, that there is a sinister secret behind becoming pretty. Followed by sequels ‘Pretties’ and ‘Specials’.
The Fifth Wave by Rick Yancey (F YAN) After the 1st wave, only darkness remains. After the 2nd, only the lucky escape. And after the 3rd, only the unlucky survive. After the 4th wave, only one rule applies: trust no one.
Now, it’s the dawn of the 5th wave, and on a lonely stretch of highway, Cassie runs from Them. The beings who only look human, who roam the countryside killing anyone they see.
List of Dystopian Fiction (Wikipedia) including…
Others (Not in Aquinas Library):
Bradbury. Fahrenheit 451
James. The Children of Men
Koestler. Darkness at Noon
Levin. This Perfect Day
Lewis. It Can’t Happen Here (online)
McCarthy. The Road
McKissack. The Clone Codes
Mundell. Black Glass
Weyn. The Bar Code Tattoo
Weyn. The Bar Code Rebellion