1.relating to or denoting an imagined place or state in which everything is unpleasant or bad, typically a totalitarian or environmentally degraded one.“the dystopian future of a society bereft of reason”(google.com definition search)
I recently asked my friends on Facebook what their favorite dystopian book was. I saw a few that I knew and I was given some to add to my “Need To Read” list. This genre of books is one of my favorites. I think the reason I enjoy loosing myself in them is that there is almost always hope. I know that this isn’t always the case, but the ones that have had the pleasure of my company, it was there.
We currently are living in a time where society looks as if it is failing. Family and friends no longer are together due to personal political opinions. There is hate seen on the media. Threats of war and senseless murder is everywhere. So much negativity that I feel that there is no hope.
Reflecting on everything around me makes me want to immerse myself in a world where there is hope.
So here in no particular order are my top five favorite dystopian books and a couple of honorable mentions
Parable of the Sower and Parable of the Talents by Octavia E. Butler
These are my favorite dystopian books. The Parable of the Sower begins in Southern California on the narrator, Lauren Olamina’s, 15th birthday. She lives in a small community surrounded by a large wall. The community worked together to support each other, trading skills for items.
There is something special about Lauren. She has a disease called “hyper-empathy syndrome” which means she is an empath. She can feel what others are feeling, especially their wounds, sometimes bleeding if they bleed. She also is a daughter of a Baptist Minister who relies on Lauren to help him with his sermons. She doesn’t believe in her fathers’ God, though. She begins to create her own belief system which she names “Earth Seed” stating that God is Change.
Lauren notices that the world around her wall is becoming more violent and she begins preparations to be able to evacuate the community if the worse happens. She also tries to gather followers from her community, but they are ignorant to what is going on.
Then the worse happens. The walls are breached. Her community is burned down, women and children are rapped and taken into slavery. The men are shot on sight. Lauren is able to escape and hide.
The book follows her travels north to Alaska where rumor has it, it is a safe place. She meets people along the road, some good, some evil. She also comes across some other empaths. Lauren slowly starts to preach about Earth Seed, and she begins to accumulate a strong following. She also meets a man, a much older man with whom she falls in love with.
This man, Taylor Franklin Bankole, has property in Nothern California. Lauren and her disciples move to this land and build a new life for themselves.
Tragedy strikes in Parable of the Talents. A new president is elected and he vows to eliminate other religions that are not his. This makes Laurens community a target. They are attacked, many die and all of the children are taken away. Including Laruens and Bankole’s daughter. They are able to escape and it seems that Lauren has to start over.
I don’t want to spoil the rest of the story, so I will finish here.
Blood of Eden Series by Julie Kagawa
This book series I accidentally stumbled on. I’m a sucker (pun intended) for good vampire story. I’ll take them any way: romantic, villain, monster or scary.
This series takes place in a future after a disease called “Red Lung” wipes out most of the population. Getting Red Lung means you could die and become a Rabid. A Rabid is the result from a failed experiment trying to cure Red Lung. These Rabids live outside the city walls.
Being human is the bottom rung in society. Humans are just food and servants for the Vampires. They are disposable. There are two types of humans. The ones who are willing to be a blood bank and slave for the Vampires who rule the cities and those who would rather live on the streets fending for themselves barely surviving.
The main character is Allie who is a teenager. She gets attacked by some Rabids one evening while scavenging. A Master Vampire, Kanin, finds her dying and gives her the choice: Either die as a human or allow him to turn her into a Vampire.
Allie chooses to become a vampire, but she still manages to hold on to her humanity. We follow her adventures as she falls in love with a human, chooses a new family, and becomes a warrior for human kind.
The Host by Stephenie Meyer
The Host is about an alien invasion of the quiet kind. Very slowly, the human population begins to change. Wars are ended, violence is no longer seen on television, everyone begins working together, it seems too perfect. An alien society that calls themselves Souls have invaded earth. They use human bodies as hosts so that they can live. Rebels notice what is going on and they hide, trying to find a way to stop the invasion.
We follow a Soul named Wanderer. She is a Soul that has been to many other planets and has lived many other lives. She is chosen to be inserted into a body of a know rebel. They want Wanderer to use the body’s memories to find the last few human survivors of invasion.
The human body has another idea. Melanie refuses to allow Wanderer to find these survivors.
Wanderer is assigned a Seeker, someone who hunts the human survivors, and this Seeker demands that Wanderer break down the defenses that the host body, Melanie, has created.
Wanderer has other ideas. With the help of Melanie, Wanderer stumbles across a group of human survivors and they make Wanderer a prisoner. This group of survivors contain Melanie’s little brother Jamie, her boyfriend Jared, her Uncle Jeb, and her Aunt and Cousin. Slowly Wanderer becomes a part of their society, and her family begins to suspect that Melanie is still alive inside the body. Wanda (they change her name to Wanda because Wanderer is a mouthful) begins to see that humans weren’t as bad as she was told they were. She begins to fall in love with her new life, her new family and Ian, who is human.
Wanda has to decide in the end if she should leave her host body and let Melanie live.
Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Most people have heard of The Hunger Games. The book trilogy was made into four movies and one parody.
These books take place in a war torn United States. The U.S. is divided into 13 state like districts. Each District is responsible for supplying the capitol with supplies such as electronics, lumber, food or coal. The 13th District wants to secede from Panem and another war begins. As a punishment for this war one boy and one girl are chosen every year form the 12 districts to fight to the death in The Hunger Games. The one winner will never need anything again.
For the 74th Hunger Games a rebellion begins. Two winners from the same district are crowned, but they do not know that they were also crowned the symbols of the rebellion.
The Stand by Stephen King
This book can be intimidating especially if you happen to pick up the unabridged version. Stephen King is one of my favorite authors but he can get wordy.
This book is about the United States after a Super Flu epidemic wipes out 90% of the population. The biblical end times are near and the survivors either gather at Las Vegas with The Dark Man or they gather up in Boulder, Colorado with Mother Abigail and her disciples. There is a religious undertone, especially with the good-vs-evil. The survivors find out who they really are and what they are willing to sacrifice for the continuation of man.
Alas, Babylon by Pat Frank
This was the first dystopian book I remember reading. It was assigned reading in sixth or seventh grade. I never did well with assigned reading. I love to read, but I hate being told what to read. That is why I have never joined a book club. I put off reading this one as long as I could.
This story is about a small town in Florida that survives a nuclear holocaust in the 1950’s. You meet the main characters before anything happens. You learn of their fears and who they are as a person. Then the bomb drops. Now I admit as of the writing of this entry it has been years since I have read this book. (I am currently re-reading it now, though)
I don’t remember much about it except that it made a huge impression on me. It even caused me to write a short story about my hometown after a nuclear bomb drops. I hope to update this entry once I finish the book again.
I would love to hear what your favorite dystopian novels are.