My Favorite Dystopian Novels
I’m glad to see the resurgence of dystopian novels lately. Who wants to read those pie-in-the-sky utopian novels, right? It’s much more fun to think of a totally messed-up future than to think about one filled with unicorns and rainbows. For whatever reason, we seem to be attracted to thinking about our potential dark sides.
One of the reasons I love dystopian narratives so much is that they remind me that things could always be a lot worse. So here’s my top ten favorite dystopians and the reasons why I wouldn’t want to live in those worlds (even though the books are terrific):
10. Wither by Lauren DeStefano—I’d make a rotten polygamist wife. As soon as I figured out how to get my sister wives to do all the cooking and cleaning, I’d willingly give up all rights to the husband in return.
9. The Leftovers by Tom Perrotta—This one’s a bit of a cheat because I haven’t read it yet, but it’s high on my list. Post-rapture living could be pretty depressing, especially when you’re among the ones left on Earth.
8. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury—Any world where they burn books is not a world I want to live in.
7. The Giver by Lois Lowry— Dying before I can qualify for a senior discount is a real downer. I’m seriously waiting for the day when I can take advantage of all those sweet elderly deals.
6. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood—There’s no way I can live without my Kindle and
air-conditioning. This world isn’t going to work for me.
5. Planet of the Apes by Pierre Boulle—Yeah, it sounds great…until the apes cage us. This is why we must be nice to animals.
4. The Uglies by Scott Westerfield—Being pretty—without a lot of work—sounds good, but I suspect we’d all miss our bad hair days. How can we appreciate beauty without a pimple or two and a crossed-eye or something?
3. 1984 by George Orwell—There’s no way I could function in a world this controlled. I’d never be able to follow all those rules.
2. The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins—Katniss has some sweet skills; I, however, would be in trouble if my name was drawn to fight in the games. Ten minutes in the ring with some of those kids, and I’d be crying for my mommy.
1. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood—I can’t imagine living in a world where my sole job could be giving birth tobabies for gross old theocrats. Ick. This is the book that taught me why feminism matters. Plus, I look terrible in capes.
My debut novel, The Predicteds, isn’t technically a dystopian novel; it’s more like a prequel
to a dystopian world. It explores the very cusp of a technological change that will potentially have far-reaching effects, depending on how people respond. In the world of The Predicteds, scientists have invented a computer program called PROFILE that can predict a teenager’s propensity for violence. While the characters in the novel tentatively open their lives to PROFILE, we have to wonder how that little opening—the acceptance of something so dangerous—can forever change the world for years to come. The Predicteds takes place on the very edge of what could become dystopian world, one that may not be so far away.
Now that’s scary.