Top Five Saturday: Dystopian Books

This Top 5 series is back! This is a series of books that I want to read that all have a common theme. Previously on the blog I have focused on witches, werewolves, thrillers, faeries, fairy tale re-tellings, high fantasy and many more. I am going to try and bring this series back for every Saturday.

The Upcoming Schedule Is:

Many thanks to Amanda @ Devouring Books for continuing to provide these prompts despite being struck down by a devastating cold!

The List

So, dystopian novels: horrific premonitions of the future, crafted from the dark furnace of our contemporary fears. They carry with them echoes of H. G. Wells’ The Time Machine and Huxley’s Brave New World and Orwell’s 1984. Now, the dystopia has become such a staple setting of YA fiction in the wake of Hunger Games and Gone and The Maze Runner that it starts to feel a little too familiar to retain the shock of those early pioneers.

We also seem to be living in a world of populist politics, fear and suspicion, controlled borders and an insular mindset, a global climate crisis and economic uncertainty. The irony to be compiling this list as Brexit day has come and gone…

The Road, Cormac McCarthy

The ultimate dystopian novel for me: achingly awful throughout; unremittingly bleak; poetically and powerfully written. The love between the father and son is one of the most powerful and moving depictions of parenthood I have read.

“A father and his son walk alone through burned America. Nothing moves in the ravaged landscape save the ash on the wind. It is cold enough to crack stones, and when the snow falls it is gray. The sky is dark. Their destination is the coast, although they don’t know what, if anything, awaits them there. They have nothing; just a pistol to defend themselves against the lawless bands that stalk the road, the clothes they are wearing, a cart of scavenged food—and each other.”

The Handmaid’s Tale, Margaret Atwood

Yes, it is a predictable entry on the list, but iconic: the feminist dystopia where a woman’s value is limited to her ability to conceive.

“Offred is a Handmaid in The Republic of Gilead, a religious totalitarian state in what was formerly known as the United States. She is placed in the household of The Commander, Fred Waterford her assigned name, Offred, means of Fred . She has only one function: to breed. If Offred refuses to enter into sexual servitude to repopulate a devastated world, she will be hanged. Yet even a repressive state cannot eradicate hope and desire. As she recalls her pre-revolution life in flashbacks, Offred must navigate through the terrifying landscape of torture and persecution in the present day, and between two men upon which her future hangs.”

The Passage, Justin Cronin

This is a wonderful novel, devastating and bleak, about the fall of the world of man to vampires. What carries this novel is the wonderfully ambiguous character of Amy Harper Bellafonte, the fae and eldritch six year old survivor of the fall of the world. In herself, she would carry the book; bolstered by her paternal relationship with Brad Wolgast, it raises this novel above the multitude.

“First, the unthinkable: a security breach at a secret U.S. government facility unleashes the monstrous product of a chilling military experiment. Then, the unspeakable: a night of chaos and carnage gives way to sunrise on a nation, and ultimately a world, forever altered. All that remains for the stunned survivors is the long fight ahead and a future ruled by fear–of darkness, of death, of a fate far worse.”

More Than This, Patrick Ness

This was, for me, a one-sitting read! It was fabulous! Drawing on imagery and tropes from films such as The Matrix and The Terminator this was a very self-aware dystopian novel – and anything by Patrick Ness is always going to be wonderful.

“A boy called Seth drowns, desperate and alone in his final moments, losing his life as the pounding sea claims him. But then he wakes. He is naked, thirsty, starving. But alive. How is that possible? He remembers dying, his bones breaking, his skull dashed upon the rocks. So how is he is here? And where is this place? And why is it that whenever he closes his eyes, he falls prey to vivid, agonizing memories that seem more real than the world around him? Seth begins a search for answers, hoping that he might not be alone, that this might not be the hell he fears it to be, that there might be more than just this…”

The Power, Naomi Alderman

Why have I not reviewed this? I read it a couple of years ago and loved it so much that I have incorporated it into a scheme of work at school. Note to self: review this please!

The story explores what would happen if women and only women gained immense power – the power to generate electrical shocks. The discovery of that power was beautifully written.

“In The Power the world is a recognisable place: there’s a rich Nigerian kid who lounges around the family pool; a foster girl whose religious parents hide their true nature; a local American politician; a tough London girl from a tricky family. But something vital has changed, causing their lives to converge with devastating effect. Teenage girls now have immense physical power – they can cause agonising pain and even death. And, with this small twist of nature, the world changes utterly.”

The Tags