What does the future hold? My top 5 dystopian novels

It is hard to imagine what the world will be like in the years to come, and if it will be so much different than the world we live in now. Thankfully we have authors who can describe in startling detail what the future could possibly hold, even if that future is absolutely horrifying.

For this week’s Top 5 Tuesday, a weekly meme by Shanah @ Bionic Book Worm, we are asked to list our top dystopian novels. It wasn’t that hard for me to come up with a list because the idea that our world could be anything like the world these authors have created has lasted with me.

(All book covers are linked to Goodreads).

I am sure that the Handmaid’s Tale will end up on many lists, but I also think it is because it hits close to home. Atwood wrote this in the 80s for a different political climate and yet we are drawing so many parallels from it that are still relevant today. It’s kind of scary. While I read this a few years ago, I still think about it.  It doesn’t help that there is now a show that is putting it in a visual context for us. You can read my thoughts in my review.

I happened across this book while browsing the library shelves a few years ago. The summary on the dust jacket intrigued me but I had no idea how this story would affect me. Basically, we live in a world where the skin of criminals is altered to the color of their crimes. When Hannah wakes up, she finds that she is red and that she is being charged with murder. Through the rest of the story, the reader follows Hannah on her journey of why she did what she did and her quest to find herself. I was blown away when I read this book and I recommend it to everyone I can.

I only read this book last year and I loved it. Given the progress we have made in technology, it isn’t really hard to imagine a world where people are immersed in an alternate reality game day in and day out to escape the hardships of the real world. The book focuses on a race to uncover an Easter egg hidden within the game, which makes the story that more enjoyable. It is definitely an adventure as we follow Wade Watson leading the pack in this quest. You can read my thoughts on the book and the movie here.

A dystopian list would not be complete without the Hunger Games. It is hard to imagine a North America so altered as the one that is described in this book. It is truly a story of survival as each year, one person from each district in the nation of Panem must compete in the Hunger Games, the fight to the death aired on live TV. When I first read this, I thought Katniss an inspiration, not only for her will to survive but her strength and resilience.

Can you imagine a world where books are the enemy and the firemen are tasked with burning those books along with the houses where they were hidden? I know, either could I. Prepared to get uncomfortable because that is the world you are dropped into when you read this book. All you can do is ask WHY?! as you follow Montag, a fireman as he goes about his job. But then as things start to happen, Montag begins to question things and the world as he knows it falls apart.

What are your top 5 dystopian novels? Have you read any on this list? What did you think? 



The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

Rating: 5 stars

I read this book in high school and having just reread it again 10 years later, I find it even more poignant.

Atwood wrote this book in the 1980s in response to political and social trends that were occurring in the country, especially the decline in women’s rights. Yet this book is just as relevant now as it was then, especially given the recent election and the fear of the future.

“The Handmaid’s Tale,” is told through the main character, Offred, who is a handmaid in the Republic of Gilead. In Gilead, women no longer have rights, but duties according to their classification. The wives who are married to the Commanders and other high top officials; the marthas who are primarily the housekeepers,  and the handmaid whose main function is to produce a child for the Commander and his wife. Offred is the first wave of the new social order and remembers how life used to be.

When I first started reading this book, I kept thinking the book was placed in the 1800s but then there would be flashbacks to “life as it was,” with smoking and drinking, porn shops and clubs, all of which have been banned now. The book does have a puritanical feel to it, bringing in Bible references to a women’s role as being a bearer of children and what not. It almost feels like progress made in the 2oth century has been eliminated.

In research done on Atwood and her writing of “The Handmaid’s Tale,” she is quoted as saying that to seize power in the U.S, like they do in the book, just get rid of liberal democracy and the create a dictatorship.” That is what many think is happening right now with the election of Donald Trump as President. Many are in fear that many of our liberties going to be scaled back. As Republicans look to repeal the Affordable Care Act, aka Obamacare, some critics say that this would have a negative impact to women since there is a provision in the law that birth control is covered by insurance companies. Just this morning on CNN, Fareed Zakaria, the host of GPS, said that he thought that there was rise in a illiberal democracy, where democratic liberties are being taken away and how the US is headed in that direction.

While I don’t think the US would go as far as Gilead did in the “Handmaid’s Tale,” the similarities are quite unnerving. While Atwood was warning us of a time 20 years ago, the warning still stands.

There is a sentence in the book that really stood out to me.

“We lived as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”

Offred is talking about the time when things began to change and how it all seemed so sudden but in retrospect it wasn’t. There were news stories of things happening but looking at them individually, it didn’t seem that big of a deal. Looking at them collectively, she realizes that the changes were happening right before their very eyes. They just chose to ignore it.

Atwood is warning about the decline in the feminist movement and potentially undoing all the progress is made but looking at the political, social, religious and even economic climate of today, that one line sums up everything.

The fact that this book can transcend time is the reason I gave it five stars and I think every person should read this book.