Monday, May 24, 2010

The 2010 Dystopia Challenge: The Longlist

I can't believe it's nearly time to do this all again. Winter 2010 is going to be just as bleak as winter 2009--for the Dystopia Challenge is returning! (Click here for last year's books.) The challenge is to read, ponder and review as many dystopian books as I can before spring. The coldest and darkest months of the year are to be stuffed full of zombies, hazmat suits and opressive ideologies. What could be cozier?

Here is the longlist thus far, in no particular order. I've included as many YA books as possible, plus some adult classics. I've also gone for diversity, including as many types of dystopias (such as nuclear, environmental and so on) as possible.

Plague 99 (aka Plague), Jean Ure (1989)
Lord of the Flies, William Golding (1954)
The Farseekers: Obernewtyn Chronicles #2, Isobelle Carmody (1990
Inside Out, Maria V Snyder (2010)
The Guardians, John Christopher (1970)
The White Mountains: Tripods Trilogy #1, John Christopher (1967)
On the Beach, Nevil Shute (1967)
The Handmaid's Tale, Margaret Atwood (1985--a reread)
Mockingjay, Suzanne Collins (2010--IF I can get my hands on a copy before spring. Doubtful.)
The Midwich Cuckoos, John Wyndham (1957)
Shipbreaker, Paolo Bacigalupi (2010)
Libyrinth, Pearl North (2009)
The Stand, Stephen King (1978)
The Giver, Lois Lowry (1993)
The Silver Metal Lover, Tanith Lee (1981)
V for Vendetta, Alan Moore (1988)
We, Yevgeny Zamyatin (1920)
Hater, David Moody (2006)
Animal Farm, George Orwell (1945)
Crashed: Skinned #2, Robin Wasserman (2009)
I am Legend, Robert Neville (1954)
The Other Side of the Island, Allegra Goodman (2008)
Birthmarked, Caragh M O.Brien (2010)
Restoring Harmony, Joelle Anthony (2010)
Down to a Sunless Sea, David Graham (1981)
Genesis, Bernard Beckett (2005)
Specials: Uglies #3, Scott Westerfeld (2006)
The Dead and the Gone: Last Survivors #2, Susan Beth Pfeffer (2008)
The City of Ember, Jeanne DuPrau (2003)
Exodus, Julie Bertagna (2002)
Bones of Faerie by Janni Lee Simner (2008)
Mortal Engines, Phillip Reeve (2001)
WE, John Dickinson (2010)
Ariel, Steven R Boyett (1983)
Feed: Newsflesh #1, Mira Grant (2010)
The Sheep Look Up, John Brunner (1972)

Have I missed your favourite dystopian novel? Because I'm still taking suggestions! Leave your favourite dystopian read in the comments, and tell me why I should include it in this year's Dystopia Challenge.

The challenge commences June 1!


  1. I can't think of any book to add off the top of the top of my head, but just wanted to say that I wish to goodness I'd never read On the Beach. Much too hopeless for me...

  2. Have you read Shade's Children by Garth Nix? You'll like it if you haven't. And I'm pretty sure it would count...

  3. Also, can I join you? Maybe put up my own list of 5 or 6 titles (I'm not very brave, really) and borrow the icon? If not, that's fine too. :)

  4. My favourite dystopian of all time is on your list - The Giver. Lord of the Flies, Animal Farm are great too. Actually you have quite a few on your list I haven't read, so thanks!

    Fahrenheit 451 is another one I really enjoyed back in high school - the main message and the story line have stayed with me a long time.

  5. If you haven't read them:
    How I Live Now, Meg Rosoff (super quick and interesting, award winner. More on the governmental/war side, but with paranormal leanings,too)

    Little Brother, Cory Doctorow (tech dystopia, like a YA Snowcrash -- which itself is excellent)

    House of the Scorpion, Nancy Farmer (genetic/cloning dystopia, human rights, what makes one "human")

    Feed, MT Anderson (consumerism dystopian. Crazy language to get used to, but really interesting and sort of uncomfortable to ponder)

    Unwind, Neal Schusterman (okay, I haven't read this one yet (soon!) but my sister, who is not a reader, LOVED it. Keeps coming to me, book in hand, and saying it's so good, and then looking at me like, this is the part where you say hand it over, I'll read it right now.)

    And I know I pushed these last year, but Oryx and Crake and Year of the Flood by Margaret Atwood. Seriously. SERIOUSLY.

  6. Yay! I'm so glad you're doing this again. I'm trying to remember what I have and haven't seen you review... and the only one I think that you really *have* to read in addition to those is MT Anderson's feed, that Misty suggested. It's just brilliant.

  7. This is a great list. I have been consuming dystopian novels in large amounts as well and will definitely be checking some of these out. Good luck!

  8. Charlotte--I bet it is! So far the most hopeless I've read is The Road. Grim. As.

    Celia--No, I'll check it out! And I would love you to join in. Anyone can, and the logo is YOURS!

    Jemi--I read Fahrenheit 451 just recently and loved it.

    Misty--Yes on Rosoff, but no on the others. Oh, and I read Unwind but didn't like it. Actually, I kinda hated it! I will TRY for more Atwood but she can be impenetrable, to me at least.

    Lauren--Looks like Feed goes in! (It was there originally but I took it out. Sounded all jargony and trendy.)

    Sandy--Good to hear it, and thanks!

  9. I haven't read a lot of dystopian so I may steal a couple of titles off the list since I'm struggling (drowning more like it) with my 100 books challenge.

    I can't believe it's almost winter. I'm sure you're going to be as cold and miserable as I am. Well, maybe not the latter (hopefully, anyway!).

    Good luck!

  10. My Favourite Dystopia of All Time:

    "The Gold Coast" (1988) by Kim Stanley Robinson.

    It's the middle volume of a thematic trilogy called the Three Californias; but you don't need to read the other two to enjoy it (i couldn't even *find* the other two for several years after first reading Gold Coast!).

    The trilogy is The Wild Shore - The Gold Coast - Pacific Edge. It presents three possible futures for Los Angeles. Wild Shore is post-apocalyptic, Gold Coast is capitalist dystopia, and Pacific Edge is an environmentalist's utopia. There's one recurring character in each novel who ties them all together, and they're also narratively linked in interesting ways.

    But The Gold Coast: I have never seen such a perfect fictional rendering of Everything That's Wrong With The World. It's set about 50-60 years ahead of us, and despite the Soviet Union still existing, it's almost prophetic.

    It's basically set in a culture born out of post-modernism and capitalism. The main character is a spoiled middle-class boy who listens to angsty music and thinks his (dubious) creative imagination can save the world. His life is absorbed in post-modern ideas and aesthetics, while he lives in a world where far-off third world countries are the staging ground for bloody wars, mass poverty grows throughout the city he lives in (Orange Country, LA), and politics is controlled by corrupt beaurocrats, wealthy corporations, and an arms industry that regularly churns out weapons capable of wiping us all out.

    In other words, its set in the very near future. ;)

    The progress of the novel really, perfectly, absolutely captures the sense of powerlessness people have over the societies they live in, that whole "It's such a big problem, what can I do?" attitude that pervades our world. I've never seen (read) that specific feeling captured so exquisitely. It unfolds almost like a tragedy, and leaves you wondering how anyone could possibly break out of that situation - and not having any clear answer.

    It is a *very* tightly crafted dystopia.

    Sidebar: I cant beleive nobody mentioned 1984! That's a dystopia you can set your watch by. (Except then the government will tell you that it is actually several hours fast.) Interestingly, because you put V for Vendetta in there, 1984 makes a cameo in Alan Moore's Black Dossier - the 4th part of League of Extraordinary Gentleman, in which Britain is emerging from a totalitarian state run by Big Brother: established in 1948.

  11. I wanted to add; just in case i've completely put you off Gold Coast, there is a sublimity throughout it as well. (Because it is Kim Stanley Robinson, beauty is still allowed in the world, even a world overun by condominium-shopping malls and multi-decker highways.)

  12. What about World War Z by Max Brooks. Loved this one. Filled to the gills with zombies! Good luck with your challenge!

  13. Rhiannon -
    Questions is this a self challenge? Do you welcome others to join you?

    Also if you check out my goodreads shelf I have a huge list of dystopian reads you can take a look at. Here is the link:

    The only thing is that there are apocalyptic and utopia reads in the pile as well.


  14. Okay, I've *officially* joined up. My post about it is here. Thanks for being an inspiration!

  15. I have several of those on my list for Dystopian August!

  16. Just saw a post at Forever Young Adult about dystopian novels...


  17. What about Nineteen Eighty-Four?

    russ (r.a. nelson)

  18. I'm really late to the party, but Rhiannon, you MUST read THE LONG WALK by Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman). It's right up your alley. Trust me.

  19. I recently read 'I Am Legend' and really enjoyed it. Waaay better than the film.