Reviews in Young Adult Fiction : Dystopian Novels

In preparation for writing a YA novel, your best bet is to read all the books that are out there, that way you have your pulse on what is going on. Hopefully, you won’t become too inspired that you copy plot lines ( Although some of these do mesh together.) After two months of reading around sixty books, here is a recollection of some of the good , the bad and the meh. For those of you a wee bit ashamed about reading YA fiction, you shouldn’t be because a lot of these books are engrossing and very well written.
Here are the :

Dystopian Novels
A big trend in YA fiction are a huge amount of dystopian novels. Most of them have some similar plot points : Teenager reaches a certain age in utopian society and must make a choice/ operation/ path which is secretly uncovers an underground plot. The dystopian setting is rarely explained with any background so don’t bother trying to understand some of the holes in its reasoning. Expect a handsome guy to come to the rescue of our ordinary heroine. ( Can there be a novel set in the future where everything isn’t bleak and big BROTHERY???)

Matched by Allie Condie and it’s sequels

Matched

The premise of these books is that by a certain age you become matched to your ideal mate and get married by the age of 21. However, Cassia mistakenly is given TWO choices, and one of them is her best friend while the other turns out to be someone she could never hope to have. The first book is quite interesting and will be made a film at some point- but there is still little information given about the society they live in. The two main Lover Boys are a o.k. but none of them seem that compelling. The second book fizzles out and is only a bookend for the third installment. The third book really has little resolution and honestly there was far too much information about the outside that is left unexplained. The ending was rushed as well. As a writer, Ally Condie writes beautiful descriptions and perhaps her language is bereft of a lot of symbolism and thankfully lengthy descriptions of the main guy’s eye color. ( Believe me that happens a lot)

Overall I would say good beach read but I hardly remember the details of the book and I read it two weeks ago.

Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Divergent_(book)_by_Veronica_Roth_US_Hardcover_2011

These books , unlike some of the other ones offer incredible twists that you will not see coming. The books are set in a dystopian future in Chicago where five factions have created where each faction emphasizes one character trait over another. The factions are Abnegation ( Selfless) Dauntless( Bravery), Amity ( peaceful) , Erudite ( Knowledge) and candor. Those in each faction live separately but peacefully with separate set of rules for each faction. Beatrice, the main heroine has reached an age where ( you guessed it) she has to take a test which will put her into a specific faction. However, she isn’t just one faction but three making her divergent.

Along the way she meets Four, who is from the Dauntless faction. The characters are quite intriguing and pretty action packed. The romantic relationships in the books are quite believable and thankfully are devoid of love triangles. Veronica Roth offers an intriguing look into a utopia which isn’t what it seems. I am excited to read the third book and I definitely recommend this series.


The Knife of Never Letting Go series

220px-Knife_of_Never_letting_Go_cover
I am not sure if this comes into the group of dystopian novel or sci fi, but I will add it here. I mention this book before but it has a very unique and intriguing premise. The story is off a group of men who have been plagued by a disease called Noise which makes their thoughts heard by everyone and there is no quiet. We find out that they have landed on an alien planet from earth to find a new homeland and this has caused this disease. However, tragedy strikes the violent new world settlement and Todd Hewitt is forced to run with his talking dog where he finds a strange girl who does not have the disease. Together they explore the planet and flee his violent settlement with a mysterious map. This series is so well written and thought provoking, mirroring the slaughter of native americans and the savagery of the old west in the united states. It is simply put , beautiful and underrated. While it does have some romantic relationships, thankfully it isn’t so sappy you have to skip through huge amounts of pages to get to the actual plot. I adored the books, even if the third book slowed down a bit.

The pretties , the uglies, the specials by Scott westerfield

180px-Pretties

In this series, we follow the heroine Tally Youngblood as she prepares for an operation which shall make her ” pretty”. In this dystopian setting, people’s physical faults are hugely emphasized until they can reach a perfect Barbie status. However Tally’s friend Shae disappears and she goes off to find her in the wilderness and in the process meets David, someone who was born without an operation, a natural ugly. The first book got my attention and it’s message on how much superficial homogenous beauty is emphasized in our society. However, the second , third and fourth installment becomes so jumbled and confused with it’s plot twists ( which become kind of predictable and tiresome at one point ) that you cease to care about the characters especially when they change so much. Furthermore, characters disappear from the series without little or no explanation. Tally is such an unbearable Mary Sue that it makes it hard to really root for her. I would recommend reading the first and second book but bothering with the rest.

The Hunger Games series

Perhaps most of you have read these books by now, so I will be brief. Despite it’s massive success these books are really well written, and Katniss is pretty strong character as well as Peeta and the frightening President Snow. The second and third book do not disappoint, and has a pretty satisfying and realistic finale. The effect of the violence they are forced to live by does have an effect on them, and the ultimate choice of trying to salvage their humanity is the ultimate quest of these characters. While no real explanation is given to why seems to be only in the United States seems to exist in the world , the explanation of the different districts and the Capitol lifestyle more than makes up for it.

Those are the dystopian novels I have read so far, I think it’s going to be awhile before I read anymore I am suffering from a little dystopian fatigue. I do see that unless these novels offer another outlook or break the formula it will become very tiresome after awhile … especially since a lot of these novels are going to become films.

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