Saturday, October 4, 2008

Dystopian Fiction for Teens booklist

My city is one of the ones participating in The Big Read this month, and our book is Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury. As part of the activities, I have put together a booklist of dystopian fiction for young adults. This has kept me from blogging on a regular basis, so I thought I'd share the booklist with you. There are actually more books here than on the printed brochure since some had to be cut for space.

For every book that says the future is bright, there is another that tells us the future will be miserable. The environment will be wrecked through pollution, global warming, or natural disasters. Technology runs amok and machines will take over the world. Art, literature, and music will be deemed dangerous and are forbidden. Plans are made to avert or survive a coming disaster by going underground or colonizing space, but then something goes terribly wrong. These books are called dystopian fiction.

Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury falls into this category. In this book, society has evolved to a point where literature is no longer valued and is actively destroyed. The characters’ physical needs are met, but their imaginations are starving.

Here is a selection of recommended dystopian fiction for young adults that can be found at the Mesquite North Branch Library.

Anderson, M. T.: Feed, 2002
In this chilling satiric novel, the author imagines a society dominated by the feed--a next-generation Internet/television hybrid that is directly hardwired into the brains of babies.

DeVita, James: The Silenced, 2007
Consigned to a prison-like Youth Training Facility because of her parents' political activities, Marena organizes a resistance movement to combat the restrictive policies of the ruling Zero Tolerance party.

DuPrau, Jeanne: The City of Ember, 2003
In the year 241, twelve-year-old Lina trades jobs on Assignment Day to be a Messenger to run to new places in her decaying but beloved city, perhaps even to glimpse Unknown Regions. The series continues in The People of Sparks and The Prophet of Yonwood.

Farmer, Nancy: The House of the Scorpion, 2002
In a future where humans despise clones, Matt enjoys special status as the young clone of El PatrĂ³n, the 142-year-old leader of a corrupt drug empire nestled between Mexico and the United States.

Haddix, Margaret Peterson: Among the Hidden, 1998
In a future where the Population Police enforce the law limiting a family to only two children, Luke has lived all his twelve years in isolation and fear on his family's farm, until another "third" convinces him that the government is wrong. The series continues with Among the Imposters, Among the Betrayed, Among the Barons, Among the Brave, Among the Enemy, and Among the Free.

Hautman, Pete: Rash, 2006
In a future society that has decided it would "rather be safe than free," sixteen-year-old Bo's anger control problems land him in a tundra jail where he survives with the help of his running skills and an artificial intelligence program named Bork.

Kostick, Conor: Epic, 2004
On New Earth, a world based on a video role-playing game, fourteen-year-old Erik pursuades his friends to aid him in some unusual gambits in order to save Erik's father from exile and safeguard the futures of each of their families. Also read the companion novel, Saga.

Layne, Steven L.: This Side of Paradise, 2001
After his father begins working for the mysterious Eden Corporation, Jack uncovers a sinister plot that threatens the existence of his entire family.

Lowry, Lois: The Giver, 1993
Given his lifetime assignment at the Ceremony of Twelve, Jonas becomes the receiver of memories shared by only one other in his community and discovers the terrible truth about the society in which he lives. Gathering Blue and The Messenger are companion novels.

McNaughton, Janet: The Secret Under My Skin, 2005
In the year 2368, humans exist under dire environmental conditions and one young woman, rescued from a workcamp and chosen for a special duty, uses her love of learning to discover the truth about the planet's future and her own dark past.

Pfeffer, Susan Beth: Life As We Knew It, 2006
Through journal entries sixteen-year-old Miranda describes her family's struggle to survive after a meteor hits the moon, causing worldwide tsunamis, earthquakes, and volcanic eruptions.

Prose, Francine: After, 2003
In the aftermath of a nearby school shooting, a grief and crisis counselor takes over Central High School and enacts increasingly harsh measures to control students, while those who do not comply disappear.

Rosoff, Meg: How I Live Now, 2004
To get away from her pregnant stepmother in New York City, fifteen-year-old Daisy goes to England to stay with her aunt and cousins, with whom she instantly bonds, but soon war breaks out and rips apart the family while devastating the land.

Shusterman, Neal: Unwind, 2007
In a future world where those between the ages of thirteen and eighteen can have their lives "unwound" and their body parts harvested for use by others, three teens go to extreme lengths to uphold their beliefs--and, perhaps, save their own lives.

Strasser, Todd: Boot Camp, 2007
After ignoring several warnings to stop dating his teacher, Garrett is sent to Lake Harmony, a boot camp that uses unorthodox and brutal methods to train students to obey their parents.

Westerfeld, Scott: Uglies, 2005
Tally is looking forward to turning 16 when she will get the state-mandated plastic surgery that will make her a “pretty,” but her friend Shay is not sure she wants the procedure. The series continues in Pretties, Specials, and Extras.

White, Andrea: Surviving Antarctica: Reality TV 2083, 2005
In the year 2083, five fourteen-year-olds who were deprived by chance of the opportunity to continue their educations reenact Scott's 1910-1913 expedition to the South Pole as contestants on a reality television show, secretly aided by a Department of Entertainment employee.

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