First, happy holidays everyone! I’m half way through my 100th book of the year (aka: pages away from completing my Goodreads challenge of 2011). And I have a feeling I will surpass this challenge by at least one book or two. To everyone else doing a reading challenge, I hope you are as far along or further than me. It really feels good to be able to say I’m reading my 100th book of the year!
So, this YA genre has skyrocketed in the last two years. I still have a giant pile of dystopias to read in my to-read piles. And I was going to wait for that pile to get a little lower before creating this list, but I have a feeling that the dystopia will not be dying any time soon, and that my pile will never be small. So, I’m thinking I might come back to this list every now and then add and take away if I feel it’s necessary. I’m going to start at the bottom, and make my way up.
10) Legend by Marie Lu
I reviewed this one recently, and gave it a 10/10. I loved how much I could relate this one to current politics, giving this the feel of something that is not too unbelievable. Dystopias effect me the most when the story is something I feel can actually, possibly occur. It had great characters, a great storyline, some top-notch romance, and I really recommend this one to all fans of this genre.
9) Wither by Lauren DeStefano
I feel like I keep mentioning the shock factor in YA novels. I want to be shocked. I want to read each YA book like it’s my first. I don’t want to read the same story with a different, more modernized cover over and over again. And this one definitely shocked me. This one takes place in a world where no one lives past 25. In fact, the girls of the world only live to 20, and the guys get five more years. Teen girls are commonly collected by the truckload to be sold off as wives, and populate the world. And this book follows one girl, her life with her brother, her capture, her husband, her sister wives, and most of all her survival. It is such an interesting, yet very intense story about womanhood in a world of chaos. I loved it!
8) Matched by Ally Condie
This one was not quite as shocking as the others. But, I just thought it was written so well. And I loved the interpretation it gave for online dating. I reviewed its sequel not too long ago (Crossed), and while I don’t think I liked the sequel as much as the first one, this is really just such an amazing series to keep your eye on. The romance here might even be my favorite of all the dystopia love triangles. And all of the things the author plays with in regards to government control in the form of censorship was so interesting to me. I really recommend this one too!
7) Across the Universe by Beth Revis
Where the others played with love, censorship, womanhood, and current day relativity, this one really discussed the issue of race and culture in a way I know my friend who was an anthropology major would be fascinated by (Jen, I’m talking about you…You should pick this one up). This one has a sci-fi feel because the main character is a girl who was frozen and placed on a space ship, to be awoken when the ship lands on the newer/better/less destroyed planet. Too bad for her, she wakes up way ahead of schedule. And the society of the people who have only lived on this ship is just so fascinating. Everything about this story was unique, and I just loved it.
6) The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld
So, I’ve mentioned my love of Westerfeld before with his newer, more recent YA series. But, my love of this author started a lot earlier. This book actually came out in 2005, years before any of the other dystopias I’m mentioning. And out of all the books I’m mentioning, is probably the most creative. It took me a while to read this first one in his series because of the language. Westerfeld writes about a world where all people are considered ugly until they reach a certain age and receive a mandatory surgery that makes them pretty. It was a little hard to read the “pretty” dialect in this book. The book felt superficial, but it was supposed to. It was a huge take on image and similarity. And the main character soon learns that more is changed than looks with these coming of age surgeries. Actually, people are made to be more compliant, submissive, and superficial. Something changes in their brains that even makes them dumber. And the whole book works as one giant take on beauty. It’s just so creative and wonderful.
5) The Maze Runner by James Dashner
This book just constantly surprised me and kept me on my toes! It was dystopia mixed with action thriller. And I loved every fast-paced second of it. It’s about Thomas waking up in an elevator with no memories of anything about himself, except his first name. When the doors to that elevator open, he’s surrounded by a large group of teen boys who welcome him to the Glade, and tell him that they all came the same way, one boy a month, no one remembering anything. Some have been there 2 years! They show him the Glade, which revolves around a gigantic, ever-changing maze –filled with dangerous, mechanical creatures whose purpose seems to be to kill the boys. The boys also tell Thomas that they think the only way out is to figure out the maze. The next day, something weird happens. An unconscious girl is found in the elevator and attached to her is a note that says she’s the last one, ever. And the biggest mystery is that everything seems so familiar to Thomas. I was dying to learn why it was all so familiar to Thomas, but no one else. What was the purpose of the maze, or even them all being there at the maze? Such a riveting story!
4) Blood Red Road by Moira Young
This one was different. It was part dystopia, part Western, part adventure story. It had one of my favorite girl characters, Saba. There’s caged fighting, girl rebels, pirate kidnappers, dry, waterless landscapes, slavery, terrible desert monsters, and so much action in this one. I just found this one to be such a good adventure. And I really cannot wait for a book 2!
3) Unwind by Neal Shusterman
This dystopia was all about politics! And it’s so interesting for anyone interested in the pro choice versus pro life debate. The book takes place years after a second civil war in the US. This war is between those who are pro choice and those who are pro life. The war ends with a new part of the constitution that forbids women from having any kind of abortion ever, but instead allows them to decide to unwind their children later. So if a teenager acts up too much, is too interested in drugs, or even grows up with no family, they can be confiscated or sent to the state to be unwound, which means they can forgo surgery that will involve the taking of all their organs for donations to other, more deserving people who need them. The book follows one teen who doesn’t get good enough grades for his parents to want to keep supporting him, one teen who grows up amongst orphans who will be sent to be unwound, and one teen who grows up in a family who believes having a child unwound is the utmost religious experience. I have never read anything like this one. And it will spark so much amazing discussion!
2) Divergent by Veronica Roth
This book really just has it all. Brainwashing, fight scenes, testing, killing, surviving, wars starting, forbidden romance, and one of my favorite dystopia main characters! Everything in this book was good. It was one of my favorite books of 2011, maybe even my top favorite (I’ll let you know for sure soon). It has the edginess of my number one dystopia and all the shock value I love. I loved the way the society worked in this one. And all the initiations and differences in people by their personalities I thought was very interesting. Book 2 might be the number 1 book I’m most excited for reading in 2012.
1) The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Really, were you expecting anything else? After I read this book for the first time (technically, my first experience with this book was on audio), it became my life goal to get as many people I knew to read this as I possibly could. My enthusiasm for this one knows no bounds. My friends in Chicago were reading this one, my friends in New York were reading this one, and my friends in Pittsburgh were reading this one. I could not let anyone I knew not read this book. I even had my brother, who hates novels (he’s a nonfiction fan), read the whole series in a couple of days. It is really just that good. It’s shocking, action-packed, original, intense, and addicting. The concept was fascinating. And Collins was not afraid to write about children dying. The book deals with so many current affairs, likd the economy, the wealthy 1%, the lifestyles of the poor, reality television, people’s obsessions with watching death, and so much more! It is literally chockfull of relevant metaphors, allegories, and politics. And to top that off is some interesting romance, some of the most interesting fights of survival I have ever read, strategies, and a great plot. I will come back and review this one soon. I plan on re-reading it this month, because I’m leading an adult book club discussion on it in January. And really, I don’t know how much longer I can go without discussing this one more fully.