March 27, 2014
Over the past five years many dystopia themed novels have been published making it one of the most popular speculative fiction subgenres with mainstream fiction readers. This blog will provide a brief introduction to the dystopian novel for adults.
Thomas More’s book Utopia was published in 1516. Now considered a foundational text in philosophy and political science, the novel added the word utopia to the English lexicon as well as a labeled literary genre.
The opposite of a utopian society is a dystopian society. Dystopias are ruled by an elite group with a private agenda that is cloaked in euphemism and lies. The controlling strata maintain rule thorough the use of coercion or conditioning and regulate almost all aspects of an individual’s existence including daily routine, career and family. Crowd control and maintaining the status quo are the main concern of the power elite. As long as the oppressors believe they are able to maintain social order by exercising their authority Individuals within the oppressed population are safe as long as they remain anonymous.
In dystopian works, dissension by an individual or group reveal a rift that exists within their repressive society as it is, and as it should or could be. Divisive events give rise to an awakening by the oppressed of the injustice of their world, the lack of human rights therein and lead to a further flowering of the spirit of individualism by those being controlled.
Equally as significant in the dystopian novel is the implicit understanding that there is no guarantee of a happy ending for either the society or the individuals within it. The message contained within the unfolding story arc is more important.
What are the characteristics of a “good” dystopian novel for teens and adults?
1. A setting that is vividly described and almost becomes a character in itself.
2. Individuals or forces in charge with a legitimate reason for being as they are.
3. Protagonists shaped by their environment and situations.
4. A conclusion that reflects the dire circumstances. While a feeling of hope and measured optimism is good, the protagonists may not escape unscathed and may face insurmountable obstacles.
The Hunger Games has been a successful crossover novel, and an increasing number of dystopian works have been written for young adults but appeal to readers of all ages. But while the “coming- of- age” subtext is a core characteristic of dystopian novels for teens, it may be absent in novels written for an adult audience.Below is a list of dystopian novels both new and old readers of this speculative fiction subgenre may enjoy. All o
1. Feed by M.T. Anderson. Cambridge, MA: Candlewick Press, 2002. - Northfield YA AND
2. The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood. NY: Everyman’s Library, 2006 – Northfield FIC
3. MadAddam: A Novel by Margaret Atwod. NY: Nan A. Talese/Doubleday, 2013 - Northfield FIC
4. Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood. NY: Nan A. Talese, 2003 – Northfield FIC
5. Year of the Flood: A Novel by Margaret Atwood NY: Nan A. Talese, 2009 – Northfield FIC
6. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury NY: Simon & Schuster, 2003 - Northfield SCIFI
7. The Postman by David Brin. New York, Bantam, 1985. – Northfield SCIFI
8. Armageddon’s Children by Terry Brooks. NY: Del Ray, 2006 – Northfield SCIFI
9. Stand on Zanzibar by John Brunner. Cambridge, MA: R. Bentley, c1968, 1979 – Northfield SCIFI
10. Veracity by Laura Bynum. NY: Pocket Books, 2010 – Northfield SCIFI
11. A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess. NY: Norton. 1962 – Northfield FIC
12. The Passage: A Novel by Justin Cronin. New York: Ballantine Books, 2010. Northfield SCIFI
13. The Twelve: A Novel by Justin Cronin. New York, Ballatine Books, 2012. Northfield SCIFI
14. Neuromancer by William Gibson. NY: Ace Books, 1984. Northfield SCIFI
15. The Gone-Away World by Nick Harkaway. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2008. Northfield SCIFI
16. The Unit by Ninni Holmqvist. Translated by Marlaine Delargy. NY: Other Press, 2008. Northfield FIC
17. Wool by Hugh Howey. London, Century, 2013. Northfield SCIFI
18. Brave New World by Aldous Huxley. New York, London: Harper & Bros. 19- Northfield FIC
19. Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro. New York: Alfred Knopf, 2005. Northfield FIC
20. The Children of Men by P. D. James. NY: A.A. Knopf, 1992. Northfield FIC
21. The Stand by Stephen King. New York: Doubleday, 1990 NOR FIC
22. The Dispossessed: An Ambiguous Utopia by Ursula K. Le Guin. New York: Harper & Row, 1974 NOR SCIFI
23. Cloud Atlas: A Novel by David Mitchell. NY: Random House Trade Paperbacks, 2004. NOR FIC
24. Animal Farm: A Fairy Story by George Orwell. Fiftieth Anniversary Edition. NY: Signet Class, 1996. NOR FIC
25. 1984 by George Orwell. NY: Signet Class, c1991. NOR FIC
26. Atlas Shrugged of Ayn Rand. NY: Random House, 1957 NOR FIC
27. Blindness by Jose Sarmago. Translated by Jose Pontiero. NY: Harcourt, Brace & Company. 1997. NOR FIC
28. Dies the Fire by S. M. Stirling. NY: New American Library, 2004. NOR SCIFI
29. Battle Royale: The Novel by Koushun Takami. Translated by Yuji Oniki. San Francisco: Haikasoru, 2009. NOR SCIFI
30. The Traveler by John Twelve Hawks. NY: Doubleday, 2005 NOR FIC
31. The Time Machine by H.G. Wells. Mahwah, NJ: Watermill Classic, 1980. NOR SCIFI
32. Julian Comstock: A Story of 22nd Century America by Robert Charles Wilson. NY: Tor Books, 2009. NOR SCIFI
Novelist is available through the Northfield Public Library website. To locate it Click E-Library then NPL’s Electronic Resources. Scroll down to Ebsco Novelist. You will need to enter your Northfield Public Library card number to use this database. The hyperlink below will also allow you access to the website http://web.b.ebscohost.com/novelist/search?sid=c661bc62-4e67-4051-9738-8b1c2cbc06ed%40sessionmgr111&vid=1&hid=118