Friday, May 20, 2011

Katie Gets her Dystopia On

Can I still call these new releases? Please try to understand the delay. Mockingjay left me emotionally drained last summer. I needed time before I could restart the process and begin a new dystopia series. Or in this case series (plural; serieses?). We all remember the deluge of wizard books that followed Harry Potter, each of which disappointed in some way, never quite living up to the standard set by J. K. Rowling. Which is why I wasn’t overly excited when dystopia became the Next Big Thing. In fact, I think my exact words to Nico when I found out Lauren Oliver was writing a dystopia trilogy were When will it stop?!

But guys. I was wrong. I don’t want it to stop. In fact halfway into Lauren Oliver’s Delirium, I just wanted it to go on forever. Delirium is the first book in a trilogy about 17-year-old Lena who unsurprisingly lives in a future version of the United States (oh, how bleak these dystopian novels make our future seem...). In Lena’s future the government has mandated that every citizen at the age of 18 undergo a procedure that prevents them from experiencing the delirium of love and leads to a safe and predictable life, free of suffering and sadness. Having lost her mother to the delirium, Lena can’t wait to find safety in the arms of the cure. But life has a way of interfering with our best laid plans, and ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, Lena meets Alex. And falls in love. What happens next makes for one of the most compulsively readable and well-written books I’ve read in quite some time.

Then again, you may be one of the people already on the rather long hold list for Delirium and looking for something to tide you over in the meantime. If so, check out Across the Universe by Beth Revis. This book is told from the alternating viewpoints of Elder and Amy. Amy is a teenager who chose to leave Earth behind and be cryogenically frozen with her parents and sent into space on the Godspeed in hopes of recolonizing a new planet for mankind. Please be warned the first couple chapters when Amy is undergoing the freezing process can make for some rather uncomfortable reading, but keep going. Please. I promise you that it gets better. In fact, it gets a lot better. When Amy is unfrozen before they reach the planet, centuries have passed and the generation of passengers now living aboard the ship have never known life outside its walls. Like all great dystopian novels, this one features a tyrannical leader and distinct social class divisions, but cracks are starting to show in the system and Amy is leading the charge to discover the truth. Luckily, she has Elder--the future leader of the Godspeed--on her side. Amy’s individuality inspires Elder to act on his own doubts, and that’s when the plot twists and surprises start coming, pulling the reader in and leaving them wanting more.

And if that still isn’t enough to sate your dystopian thirst, the list doesn’t stop here. You might also enjoy Matched by Allie Condie, Divergent (the newest of the new) by Veronica Roth, Wither by Lauren DeStefano, or Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi.

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