Dystopian December - Blogger Spotlight!

by 12:30 AM 1 comments

(Thanks to the wonderful blogger behind Speculating on SpecFic for designing the banner!)

Guest Post by Shaheen from Speculating on SpecFic!

Dystopian Scenarios!

There are a wide variety of Dystopian scenarios depicted in fiction these days, ranging from the terrifying to tragic. Some are creepy, other fantastical and some are down right bizarre!

I’m going to share some of my favourite Dystopian trends with you, and discuss why I think they bring something new and exciting to the genre.

There is a trend of combining a Dystopian future with aspects of other genres - authors are electing to blend their favourite genres to create original worlds. They have combined Dystopias with:

Vampires - The Hunt by Andrew Fukuda

A terrifying world where humans have been hunted, almost to extinction, by vampires (who are at the very top of the food-chain), what few humans remaining in this book are farmed in domes and studied.  The scarcity of fresh prey for the vampires causes civil unrest, so every ten years there is a government sponsored hunt of humans to lift up morale. 
The descriptions of the vampires that populate this world are frightening, and it’s heart-pounding adventure from start to finish. My only hesitation with this novel is that it’s left unclear whether Fukoda has created an alternative reality where vampires evolved to become the dominant species, or whether it’s a dystopian future where we somehow created the vampires and they took over. I mention it in this list because I feel it’s set in a Dystopian version of our future, but only future books will tell. 

Zombies - Dearly, Departed by Lia Habel

The year is 2195. The place is New Victoria—a high-tech nation modeled on the manners, mores, and fashions of an antique era. Habel creates an exciting world where society, after long wars over the dwindling resources on Earth, has regressed into adopting Victorian times and customs. Into this mix she ads zombies – the reanimated dead are forced to fight in wars at the borders of the new land. This is a world where technology like digi-diaries, mobile phones and holograms coexist with travel by carriage, full length dresses and the strict social etiquette of ages past.

The thing that really draws me to it is how the author treats the zombies – it was really difficult for me to imagine a world where a zombie, an undead person, could be a love interest, but Habel pulls it off wonderfully!

Fantasy - Defiance by C. J. Redwine

 Most of humanity is confined within walled cities, beyond which are violent wanderers, extreme terrain and a danger straight out of legend: a beast called the Cursed One that devastates everything in its path. The Dystopian setting reflects that of medieval society, and for a long time I thought Defiance was a straight-up YA fantasy. But this world has been formed after our way of life crumbled, and slowly becomes clear that somewhere in our future, things went horribly wrong.

~ ~ ~

Another trend I have noticed, and enjoyed, in Dystopian fiction is that of setting up a contest between a range of contestants and then witnessing (rather gleefully) the chaos that ensues.

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

Seventy-four years ago the thirteen districts that make up this world rebelled against the Capitol. They lost, and District Thirteen was destroyed. In punishment they are subjected to The Hunger Games: a bloodthirsty contest where each of the remaining twelve districts must offer up a male and female tribute, who fight to the death in an Arena while the whole country is forced to watch, and celebrate.

There's not much I can say about this series that you haven't already heard, except to say that you are seriously missing out if you haven't read it yet! I love the terror and action of this book, the fight to survive. The world mystifies me, especially the way the people of the Capitol are so detached from the reality of the Games.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Dystopian elements in The Selection are subtle, but no less oppressive than the others. A rigorous caste system forms the backbone of society, and those born into one are hard pressed to better themselves. However, the gorgeous Prince Maxon, is seeking a wife, and representatives from each caste are selected via ballot. Once selected, the contestants are housed in the Palace and their daily lives broadcast to the entire country, as everyone awaits to see whom the Prince favours above all others.

While the contest element feels a lot like the TV show The Bachelor, the world itself is interesting and definitely different from a lot of the other Dystopias out there.

~ ~ ~

Whenever I read a Dystopian novel, I am always interested to know how it relates to our world. How did the society I see around me today evolve to become what is depicted in the books. The following are my picks for the most original take on this aspect.

Divergent by Veronica Roth

This futuristic Chicago setting features a crumbling city where society has split itself into five factions to stave off the destruction that has struck the rest of the world. Each faction believes it holds the key to survival: Abnegation feels that selfish deeds have caused widespread destruction and focus on being selfless, Amity encourage peace and friendship, Dauntless believe in defending oneself and overcoming fear, Erudite pursue knowledge in the hopes it will lead to enlightenment and for Candor survival is reliant on being truthful and impartial in decision making. Teenagers are forced to make a choice of which faction they want to spend the rest of their lives in, sometimes with devastating consequences.

The second book of the series, Insurgent, revealed some exciting, game-changing details about the world that left readers reeling, and I can’t wait for the third book of the series to find out more!

Crewel by Geniffer Albin

One of the most original settings I have come across in YA fiction, Crewel is based loosely on the Greek Moirai – the three sisters of fate who spin out the threads of all mortal life on a vast tapestry. In this Dystopian world girls with the ability to see the weave – the threads of life – are forced to become Spinsters and serve out their country.

I love the idea of people controlling fate using weaving - and it's beautifully brought to life by Albin. One of the most fascinating things is its mind-blowing relationship this world has to our own: I was amazed and think you all will be too!

Pure by Julianna Baggott

Pure is a post-apocalyptic YA with Dystopian characteristics: nuclear warfare has wiped out most of the world’s populations, and only the rich and lucky are allowed to live untouched inside the Dome. Outside these habitats live the unfortunate, unprotected souls, who are forced to eke out a living however they can.

The amazing thing about this world is the realization of a post-apocalyptic world: those who were unprotected by the Dome when the thermo-nuclear detonations occurred have been fused, on a molecular level, to whatever they were closest to – glass, buildings, jewelry, some mothers to their infants, and children to their toys. Their very DNA has mutated to adapt to this. It’s frightening, and yet fascinating at the same time. And life inside the Dome isn’t the paradise you’d think it is.

~ ~ ~

Finally, here are two dystopias that I have to include because of sheer originality.

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Since scientists discovered a cure for Love, the quality of life on earth has vastly improved. Now, people can make decisions rationally and with impartiality, and identify anyone who displays any extreme emotion or passion. At the age of everyone is inoculated against Love, society is segregated into males and females until marriage, where one is expected to start a family unit.

This is one of my favourite Dystopian worlds because of the audacity of the author: it must have been really difficult to write about a world where everyone has to behave rationally and the people are cold , where no passion or wildness is tolerated.

Breathe by Sarah Crossan

The logging of forests and pollution of seas has led to a sever oxygen shortage on earth, and the only survivors are those lucky enough to have won places inside bio-domes. Society inside the domes is split into the Premiums and the Auxileries, where only the Premiums can afford to buy enough oxygen to live normal lives. People’s homes are monitored for oxygen use and fast or vigorous motion is detected by cameras and punished. Wasting oxygen is not to be tolerated.

An absolutely wonderful idea, where the economy basically runs on oxygen and people struggle to get enough of something you and I take for granted.  Fascinating, and made all the more so by the unearthing of a huge conspiracy that could destroy everything.

~ ~ ~

In this list I have focussed on books that are almost purely Dystopian, but a similar list ccana be made for Post Apocalyptic YA - a few quick examples include Ashes by Ilsa J. Bick, Ashfall by Mike Mullin, Eve by Anna Carey and Poison Princess by Kresley Cole.

There is a lot to love about the Dystopian genre, and as you can see, not all Dystopian worlds are created equal. What do you love about dystopian fiction? What are your favourite trends?

~ ~ ~

Shaheen is the creator of Speculating on SpecFic, where she reviews works of Speculative fiction - science fiction, fantasy, horror, mythology, etc. She can't remember a time when she didn't enjoy reading, and loves to share her favourite reads with everyone!

Blogger Links:

Blog - Twitter - FacebookGoodreads - Tumblr -

Thank you so much to Shaheen for joining us today!

Claire Blennerhassett

Reader, Blogger

Twenty-something | book-blogger | tea-drinker | procrastinator | wannabe-writer | student

1 comment:

  1. Love this post and I love most of these books! I still need to read Defiance and Crewel :) They sound amazing!


Ooh yes, comments puh-leaaase :D