The Hunger Games and Divergent offer a couple of possible futures for humanity, but they are set in well established futures that are removed from our world by an indeterminate number of years. What about the near future?
In these three books, teens take on a world that’s kind of like ours but with a “what if?” at the center of the story.
What if an extreme religion took over? In Vivian Apple at the End of the World by Katie Coyle, it doesn’t take long for the Church of America to become ubiquitous. Vivian isn’t a believer in the predicted Rapture, but when her parents (and a lot of other people) disappear, she is determined to find out what happened.
What if a bank took over when the economy went really bad? That’s what happens in Hit by Delilah Dawson. Too much debt? You just might become an indentured servant of Valor National Bank.
What if you could choose to forget? More Happy Than Not by Adam Silvera is the least futuristic of any of these books, but the marketing material for this book sets it in a “near-future summer in the Bronx.” In this future, there is a way to erase memories, and Aaron thinks that might be a way for him to forget a part of himself he doesn’t want to acknowledge.
Finally got my hands on a copy of Mockingjay. For those not in the know, Mockingjay is the third in a dystopian trilogy for teens. I’ve been waiting for this book for ages, but only just now got a copy to read since I was too cheap to pre-order it.
While I waited I read every teen dystopian novel I could find. Birthmarked by Caragh O’Brien was very engaging, but I didn’t feel like the world completely gelled for me. Matched by Allison Condie, however, was spot on. The dystopian world was well drawn and believable. There is less action than Hunger Games, but I think that many teens (and probably some adults) who were fascinated by the future world Katniss lives in will love Matched.
At the MEMO conference, I attended a session led by three middle and high school librarians about teen fiction. They recommended Maze Runner and its sequel as Hunger Games readalikes. I liked that they recommended two adult novels in the science fiction section: Margaret Atwood’s newest and The Unit by Nina Holmquist. I hope to read both of them. I also have an ARC of the teen novel Water Wars (pub date Jan 2011) sitting on my desk waiting for me to read.
At breakfast with a group of my friends last weekend, the conversation turned to books. Dystopian novels, specifically Fahrenheit 451 and 1984, came up as being favorites of several of us at the table. What is it about these books that fascinate so many people? Are we looking for similarities to our world? Or escaping our reality to something we can’t imagine? I guess it depends on the person and the book. Either way, it’s a highly readable genre that is perennially popular.