There are several definitions of what constitutes a dystopian novel, none of which I have found to be definitive. It's a sub-genre of science fiction, and is sometimes called speculative fiction. But unlike a lot of sci-fi, dystopian novels are set firmly in this world, often in the near future; but always, always in a world that has gone awry.
I'm drawn to works of dystopia but I'm not really sure why. I'm not a "hard" sci-fi fan; nor do I like "hard" fantasy, which is probably why I enjoy YA so much: you get the themes, the worlds and the characters of fantasy but without all the complicated names and structures. Also, you don't get the cold, sometimes sadistic, sexual practices in YA fiction that you do in adult sci-fi and fantasy, which I find to be pretty off.
Looking back at some of my favourite books, I realise that a good chunk of them are dystopian, such as Isobelle Carmody's Obernewtyn Chronicles, John Marsden's Tomorrow series and Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale. I want to read more books like these! So while many of you in the northern hemisphere are lapping up summer romances on the beach, here at Rhiannon Hart in the southern hemisphere I'll be slipping into something a little more gloomy to get me through the Melbourne winter...*
Over the next three months I've set myself the challenge to read and blog about the following 31 books by August 31. Some have been on my reading list for some time, others I've come across while researching this challenge. Others I've read but want to revisit, and others still I've read earlier this year and am counting as part of the challenge. All are YA, or will appeal to young adults, or are classics that are for everyone, such as Nineteen Eighty-Four. Plus I've included titles from the supposed beginning of the genre (the late nineteenth century, such as The Time Machine by H. G. Wells, published in 1895) right through to the present day.
Here's the list so far:
Day of the Triffids, John Wyndham
Brave New World, Aldous Huxley
The Death of Grass, John Christopher
The Declaration, Gemma Malley
The Children of Men, P.D. James
Lord of the Flies, William Golding
On the Beach, Nevil Shute
How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff
Animal Farm, George Orwell
Fahrenheit 451, Ray Bradbury
The Time Machine, H. G. Wells
Bend Sinister, Vladimir Nabokov
Cloud on Silver, John Christopher
The Trial, Franz Kafka
Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, Philip K. Dick
Logan's Run, William F. Nolan
This Perfect Day, Ira Levin
The Sheep Look Up, John Brunner
Emily, Dana De Young (released in 2010 but the first three chapters available on her website)
Battle Royale, Koushum Takami
Oryx and Crake, Margaret Attwood
The Bar Code Tattoo, Suzanne Weyn
Novels read this year and thus count towards the challenge:
The Forest of Hands and Teeth, Carrie Ryan
Z for Zachariah, Robert C. O'Brien
The Chrysalids, John Wyndham
Nineteen Eighty-Four, George Orwell
The Carbon Diaries 2015, Saci Lloyd
The Adoration of Jenna Fox, Mary E. Pearson
Novels read but to be re-read as it's been a while and I loved them:
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Attwood
The Obernewtyn Chronicles (book 1 only), Isobelle Carmody
The Tomorrow Series (book 1 only), John Marsden
Total number of books:31; to read: 25. That's do-able. I'll be dispersing my reading with non-dystopian books as well, so if your not a fan there'll still be other sorts of YA books posted about over the next three months.
Some of the above I fear might be out of print/rare, but I'll see how I go! As well as reviews of all the books I manage to read, I will also post mini-essays on topics to do with dystopian novels. Your welcome to join me in this challenge and share thoughts/posts/comments. In fact I encourage it!