Hunger Games was amazing. And Divergent was amazing. And Maze Runner. And The Selection. And Matched. All very good, solidly dystopian series. They take place in the distant future after civilization as we know it has fallen and minute aspects of people’s lives are controlled by oppressive governments. The stories are powerful and they beg the question: what or whom are we willing to sacrifice in the name of “progress?”
They’re great. I’m extremely glad they were written.
But I am so over them.
For a while I couldn’t read dystopian anymore. I was like “Alright, alright. The government is lying to us. I get it already! Pick a new topic!”
And, then I read Red Queen by Victoria Aveyard. And Birthmarked by Caragh M. O’Brien. And Soundless by Richelle Mead. And Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith. And I was like “Whoa. Dystopian can be so much more.”
All these books still center around a struggle of average people against tyranny. But the settings and characters are new and original.
Red Queen takes place in a world so severely segregated that the two classes of people even bleed different colors. You can check out my review of it here.
Caragh M. O’Brien’s Birthmarked feels like Medieval historical fiction with midwives, herbal medicine, and palace intrigue.
Richelle Mead has created a beautiful, austere mountain setting, clearly influenced by Asian culture and art, in Soundless.
Stranger by Rachel Manija Brown and Sherwood Smith is more post-apocalyptic than dystopian but it’s not quite the typical “trying to survive in a world overrun by zombies” kind of Apocalypse. In this future American landscape, there are homicidal trees, mutants with superhuman gifts, and an interesting amalgamation of cultures, languages, and people.
Walter Dean Myers brings his distinctive voice and urban focus to the dystopian genre with On a Clear Day.