Dys + (u)topia. According to www.dictionary.com (Based on The American Heritage Dictionary, 2009), a dystopia is “an imaginary place…where life is extremely bad, as from deprivation, oppression, or terror.” So why would anyone want to read about them? What makes them – actually – fascinating?
If they’re like the books on the list put together by bibliokaren a few months ago http://clpteensburgh.wordpress.com/2009/03/26/give-it-up-for-the-giver/, they quicken the blood, give you an edge and alertness. They distract you from other pressures. Their main characters’ survive and, maybe overcome, horrfic conditions, even if in some limited way. Since Katniss or Matt or Jonah can live with dignity through the end of the world as we know it or a tyrranical government that tortures or puts teenagers to death; we can handle hard times too. If they can face ambiguity and temptation, so can we. Any kindness in the midst of so much inhumanity, makes us hopeful and hopefully kinder ourselves.
There’s some good news in the world of dystopias. First of all, Uglies by Scott Westerfeld is now available as a download: http://www.boingboing.net/2009/08/06/scott-westerfelds-as.htmlabout. Use it to read about Tally, who can’t wait to be made gorgeous through mandatory cosmetic surgery on her 16th birthday. When the powers-that-be send her to retrieve a friend who’s escaped, she learns about an alternative life.
Catching Fire, sequel to Susan Collins’ Hunger Games, will be out in September. Haven’t read Hunger Games? Do so immediately! Besides a dystopia, it’s a love story. Katniss volunteers to replace her younger sister for The Hunger Games, a televised to-the-death battle among 11 to 18-year-olds from twelve districts. Peeta, who loves her, is determined to ensure she’s the victor. Katniss pretends to love Peeta, despite a relationship at home with Gale. Although this wins over their audience, it confuses Katniss as she struggles to keep herself –and Peeta–alive.
Catching Fire continues where The Hunger Games leaves off. This time, Katniss faces worse threats as she competes against victors from other years as well as becomes a symbol of rebellion against the Capitol.
I’ve found it almost impossible to put down the advanced copy I’m reading–its characters and situations are so vivid and full of life even as death surrounds them. If you’ve read Hunger Games, put yourself on the waiting list for Catching Fire. If you haven’t devoured Hunger Games, shut off this blog and get it out. Now.
Then write me to let me know if you agree with me that Hunger Games and Catching Fire are two of the best books of last year and this.
Filed under: CLP - Beechview, Quick Flix | Tagged: books, catching fire, dystopia, dystopias, fiction, hunger games, katniss, love story, science fiction, teens | 1 Comment »