#thatbookthat Forecasts Futures: Dystopian Fiction Teen Reads
By Kailey Rhodes, Rubicon International
We all know our students can’t get enough of The Hunger Games and The Maze Runner, but where do we go from there? How do we capitalize on this momentum and suggest the perfect companion books for our readers? We’ve done the legwork for you! Check out these great dystopian fiction books below!
#thatbookthat hits close to reality: MT Anderson’s Feed
“In this chilling novel, Anderson imagines a society dominated by the feed a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brain. Teen narrator Titus never questions his world, in which parents select their babies’ attributes in the conceptionarium, corporations dominate the information stream, and kids learn to employ the feed more efficiently in School. But everything changes when he and his pals travel to the moon for spring break. There Titus meets home-schooled Violet, who thinks for herself, searches out news and asserts that ‘Everything we’ve grown up with the stories on the feed, the games, all of that it’s all streamlining our personalities so we’re easier to sell to.’ Without exposition, Anderson deftly combines elements of today’s teen scene, including parties and shopping malls, with imaginative and disturbing fantasy twists… This satire offers a thought-provoking and scathing indictment that may prod readers to examine the more sinister possibilities of corporate–and media–dominated culture” – Publishers Weekly
#thatbookthat undergoes the knife: Scott Westerfield’s Uglies
“Tally Youngblood lives in a futuristic society that acculturates its citizens to believe that they are ugly until age 16 when they’ll undergo an operation that will change them into pleasure-seeking ‘pretties.’ Anticipating this happy transformation, Tally meets Shay, another female ugly, who shares her enjoyment of hoverboarding and risky pranks. But Shay also disdains the false values and programmed conformity of the society and urges Tally to defect with her to the Smoke, a distant settlement of simple-living conscientious objectors. Tally declines, yet when Shay is found missing by the authorities, Tally is coerced by the cruel Dr. Cable to find her and her compatriots–or remain forever ‘ugly’… Ethical concerns will provide a good source of discussion as honesty, justice, and free will are all oppressed in this well-conceived dystopia. Characterization, which flirts so openly with the importance of teen self-concept, is strong, and although lengthy, the novel is highly readable with a convincing plot that incorporates futuristic technologies and a disturbing commentary on our current public policies.”– School Library Journal Starred Review, Susan W. Hunter, Riverside Middle School, Springfield, VT
#thatbookthat awakens their love for dystopia: Jeanne DuPrau’s The City of Ember
“Ember, a 241-year-old, ruined domed city surrounded by a dark unknown, was built to ensure that humans would continue to exist on Earth, and the instructions for getting out have been lost and forgotten. On Assignment Day, 12-year-olds leave school and receive their lifetime job assignments. Lina Mayfleet becomes a messenger, and her friend Doon Harrow ends up in the Pipeworks beneath the city, where the failing electric generator has been ineffectually patched together. Both Lina and Doon are convinced that their survival means finding a way out of the city, and after Lina discovers pieces of the instructions, she and Doon work together to interpret the fragmented document. Life in this postholocaust city is well limned–the frequent blackouts, the food shortage, the public panic, the search for answers, and the actions of the powerful, who are taking selfish advantage of the situation. Readers will relate to Lina and Doon’s resourcefulness and courage in the face of ominous odds.” – Booklist, Sally Estes
#thatbookthat grabs older readers: Patrick Ness’ The Knife of Never Letting Go
“Todd Hewitt lives in a world in which all women are dead, and the thoughts of men and animals are constantly audible as Noise. Graphically represented by a set of scratchy fonts and sentence fragments that run into and over each other, Noise is an oppressive chaos of words, images, and sounds that makes human company exhausting and no thought truly private. The history of these peculiar circumstances unfolds over the course of the novel, but Ness’s basic world-building is so immediately successful that readers, too, will be shocked when Todd and his dog, Manchee, first notice a silence in the Noise. Realizing that he must keep the silence secret from the town leaders, he runs away, and his terrified flight with an army in pursuit makes up the backbone of the plot… The cliff-hanger ending is unexpected and unsatisfying, but the book is still a pleasure for sophisticated readers comfortable with the length and the bleak, literary tone.” – School Library Journal, Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Have a favorite dystopian fiction read that we missed? Teach one in your classroom? Let us know at firstname.lastname@example.org!