Genre spotlight: dystopian fiction

Dystopia has really come to the fore in the last few years. It’s completely taken over the shelves and the screens – fourth films in the Hunger Games and Divergent trilogies (you work that one out) appeared in cinemas either late last year, or early in 2016.

If it’s not gonna go away, we may as well pay attention. The aforementioned aren’t the only dystopian works you should look out for though.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Hunger Games brought a whole new audience to dystopian fiction, and it’s not hard to see why.

In a country founded in the remains of North America following a great and terrible war (probably what will happen if Donald Trump gets the gig), the young citizens of Panem try to appease the gods by fighting to the death in a televised bloodbath.

All goes fairly well and numerous children are slain until the 74th installment, when a young woman from District 12 volunteers herself to fight in her sister’s place. What starts next is a rebellion Panem wasn’t prepared for.

Gone Series by Michael Grant

Imagine waking up one morning and everyone you know over the age of 15 has disappeared.

This is a fate bestowed upon a bunch of young teenagers in California, who must also fight against the Void, it’s voice, and the inevitable question- where will they go when they’ve reached 15?

There are six books in the Gone series, and they’re all really worth the read if The Hunger Games left you wanting more.

Divergent series by Veronica Roth

No, not the Penneys version of The Hunger Games, thank you.

In a future Chicago, young people must make a choice of one between five factions they feel fit in best with their personality: Abnegation, Dauntless, Erudite, Candor, and Amity. Because, you know, multiple personalities are not a thing.

On the day of her choosing ceremony, Tris Prior comes to a horrifying realisation. She doesn’t actually fit into just one of them.

People like Tris are named as Divergent, and the government are hell bent on destroying any Divergent they meet.

The Call by Peadar O Guilín

Ireland has been taken over by the Sídhe, ancient fairies who are out to reclaim their lands. And they’re out for blood.

Once you hear the horn sounding, you know you have been Called. You’ve been transported to a foreign and unfamiliar land. You now have three minutes and 14 seconds to outrun the Sídhe and survive, but they don’t make it easy on you.

This is a fantastic YA thriller, perfect reading for Halloween week.

Only Ever Yours by Louise O Neill

Women are no longer birthed, but rather manufactured. Their sole purpose in life now is to prepare themselves to be one of three things: a companion to male suitors, a teacher who will help the next “generation” of young women to prepare themselves, or prostitutes.

frieda and isobel are two such women, or eves, and their 16th year is approaching. There are rumours the Father will choose his bride from the women offered this year, and both frieda and isobel (oh, women’s names aren’t capitalised. They’re not important enough) are in with a pretty good chance of being the lucky girl.

Except for one problem. isobel has started to gain weight.

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Once upon a time, in the recent future, a country went wrong. That country was the Republic of Gilead. Disease has left over three quarters of the female population infertile, so those few who are still able to conceive are sent as Handmaids to the Wives of Commanders. They lose pretty much all autonomy, and their sole task is to provide the family with children.

Offred is one such Handmaid, and is owned by the Commander and his wife Serena Joy. She is only permitted to go to the shop with another Handmaid, and so travels with Ofglen. As the story progresses, you learn about Offred’s previous life before Gilead’s reign began, and find out just how harrowing life is now for women.


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