Dystopian fiction books featured on Fantasy Book Review
What is dystopia? Well, you could say it is the opposite of utopia (an imagined place or state of things in which everything is perfect), and that it is a society characterized by poverty, squalor, or oppression. Early examples of dystopian fiction would be The Time Machine by HG Wells (1895), Brave New World by Aldous Huxley (1932), Nineteen Eighty-Four by George Orwell (1949) and Lord of the Flies by William Golding (1954). Between 1960 and the year 2000 the classics would be regarded by many as A Clockwork Orange by Anthony Burgess (1962), This Perfect Day by Ira Levin (1970), The Lathe of Heaven by Ursula Le Guin (1971) and The Running Man by Richard Bachman (1982). Since the turn of the century there have been some excellent additions to the dystopian fiction sub-genre with Cloud Atlas by David Mitchell (2004), Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro (2005), Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (2005) and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins (2008). Fantasy Book Review favourites include The Stand by Stephen King (1978), Swan Song by Robert McCammon (1987), the Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody (1987-2008) and The Reapers are the Angels by Alden Bell (2010).
- The Road by Cormac McCarthy
Cormac McCarthy is one of the USA's most important literary novelists. The Road has been hailed by critics as a masterpiece. This novel paints a bleak vision of a post-apocalyptic America; a land where no hope remains. A man and his son walk alone towards the coast, and this is the moving story of their journey. The Road is an unflinching exploration of human behavior - from ultimate destructiveness to extreme tenderness. Cormac McCarthy has written ten novels, including Blood Meridian and the Border Trilogy series. He has previously won the National Book Award and the National Book Critics Circle Award.
"Work of such terrible beauty that you will struggle to look away. It will knock the breath from your lungs." The Times
"The Road is many things, it is brilliantly-written, poetic, compelling and terrible in its beauty, but there is one thing that it certainly is not, and that is a fun read. It is, in fact, heart-breaking; playing strongly on the reader's basic human instinct to protect their young at all costs and the fathers sense of desperation, dread and isolation are almost palpable." Fantasy Book Review
- 1984 by George Orwell
George Orwell's dystopian masterpiece, Nineteen Eighty-Four is perhaps the most pervasively influential book of the twentieth century, making famous Big Brother, newspeak and Room 101. 'Who controls the past controls the future: who controls the present controls the past'. Hidden away in the Record Department of the sprawling Ministry of Truth, Winston Smith skilfully rewrites the past to suit the needs of the Party. Yet he inwardly rebels against the totalitarian world he lives in, which demands absolute obedience and controls him through the all-seeing telescreens and the watchful eye of Big Brother, symbolic head of the Party. In his longing for truth and liberty, Smith begins a secret love affair with a fellow-worker Julia, but soon discovers the true price of freedom is betrayal.
"1984 is not only a classic of dystopian fiction, but one of the most influential works of fiction ever written." Fantasy Book Review
- Oryx and Crake by Margaret Atwood
I loved the book's structure. It begins at the end. A haunted man called Snowman, the last human being, living in a tree and hearing voices. What has happened to the world? What happened to the boy that was Jimmy? Well, that is what the book is all about and the finding out always made for compelling reading. It was a bravely written book in that none of the characters are actually likeable and all are flawed, even by human standards, but very real. And Atwood does not judge, even when covering such difficult and emotive subjects as child prostitution and pornography. The hook of the book, and what kept me reading so enthusiastically, was to find out how the Earth had become what it was and who was responsible. It made for a great and eerily plausible story, one that highlighted human malice, greed and stupidity.
- The Stand by Stephen King
First came the days of the plague. Then came the dreams. Dark dreams that warned of the coming of the dark man. The apostate of death, his worn-down boot heels tramping the night roads. The warlord of the charnel house and Prince of Evil. His time is at hand. His empire grows in the west and the Apocalypse looms. For hundreds of thousands of fans who read The Stand in its original version and wanted more, this new edition is Stephen King's gift. And those who are listening to The Stand for the first time will discover a triumphant and eerily plausible work of the imagination that takes on the issues that will determine our survival.
"I first read The Stand in 1989 and I was completely blown away by it. The story, the characters, the tension - I had never read a book of its size so quickly. So, 23 years later I decided to read it again, finding that although I was able to remember certain parts, almost everything other than the memory of loving it had been forgotten. I found it interesting that King himself said, in the forward, that he doesn't think The Stand is amongst his best books, but the one he is asked most questions about. I would agree with the author here as books like It, Salems Lot and The Shining are better-written books but there is just something about The Stand, and if the reader connects with it they are in for a thrilling ride." Fantasy Book Review
- The Last Man Standing by Davide Longo
Italy is on the brink of collapse. Borders are closed, banks withhold money, the postal service stalls. Armed gangs of drug-fuelled youths roam the countryside. Leonardo was a famous writer and professor before a sex scandal ended his marriage and career. Heading north in search of her new husband, his ex-wife leaves their daughter and her son in his care. If he is to take them to safety, he will need to find a quality he has never possessed: courage.
"The Last Man Standing is a must read in the dystopian fiction genre, less bleak but no less moving than The Road and a book thats ending is nothing short of perfection. A disturbing yet strangely uplifting look at a future we can all only pray never comes to be. A special mention must go to Silvester Mazzarella who has managed to lose nothing in translation and every sentence is precise, crisp and a joy to read." Fantasy Book Review
- Without Warning by John Birmingham
All in all, Without Warning is a gripping, edge of your seat stuff that you can easily read instead of going to the cinema to watch an action movie, it is delivered right there in front of you. This book never goes dull for a moment and actually puts you to thinking What if? The thought experiment of John Birmingham has paid out fully. And it leaves you on quite the cliff-hanger, another great book to be recommended.
- Blindness by Jose Saramago
As fascinating as this novel is, be warned: it is not for the faint-hearted. I am not just speaking of the intense horror and sexual violence, but of sentences that stretch unbroken for over a page, and dialogue absent quotation marks. The style is rhythmic, reflective, playful, brutal, and poetic. Either you have the patience for this sort of thing or you dont. Usually, I dont. But there was something about the intensity of Saramagos vision which sucked me in despite my reservations.
- Swan Song by Robert McCammon
Facing down an unprecedented malevolent enemy, the government responds with a nuclear attack. America as it was is gone forever, and now every citizen from the President of the United States to the homeless on the streets of New York City will fight for survival. In a wasteland born of rage and fear, populated by monstrous creatures and marauding armies, earths last survivors have been drawn into the final battle between good and evil, that will decide the fate of humanity: Sister, who discovers a strange and transformative glass artefact in the destroyed Manhattan streets Joshua Hutchins, the pro wrestler who takes refuge from the nuclear fallout at a Nebraska gas station And Swan, a young girl possessing special powers, who travels alongside Josh to a Missouri town where healing and recovery can begin with Swans gifts. But the ancient force behind earths devastation is scouring the walking wounded for recruits for its relentless army, beginning with Swan herself...
"In a book of over 850 pages I never once found myself bored, I progressed through the book at a steady pace, reading every day until it was finished. I looked forward to reading it each evening as I cared about the characters and was easily able to forgive the weaknesses (I think McCammon is being a little too hard on himself) as it was all just so damn enjoyable (I know that enjoyable may not be the right word to use when describing reading about the aftermath of a nuclear holocaust, maybe gripping would be more suitable). And the mention of Stephen King is also interesting as Swan Song reads very much like a novel he could of written himself and has certain parallels with The Stand." Fantasy Book Review
- Cirque du Freak by Darren Shan
Personally I would love to give this book a 22 out of 10 mark. It for boys and girls who love being terrified out of their wits. It has Blood, Guts, Vampires, Killer Spiders, Poison and characters with oomph... This story is about a boy called Darren. Darren loves Spiders. This is where the trouble starts. After getting a present of a spider from his parents, he accidently kills it when it ends up being sucked up the vacuum cleaner. He saw this on TV and it looked hilarious. Except that the TV spider came out alive. Darren was gutted. He now had no pet and his parents had said that he was never getting a pet ever again.
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
Could you survive on your own, in the wild, with everyone out to make sure you don't live to see the morning? In the ruins of a place once known as North America lies the nation of Panem, a shining Capitol surrounded by 12 outlying districts. The Capitol is harsh and cruel and keeps the districts in line by forcing them all to send one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 to participate in the annual Hunger Games, a fight to the death on live TV. Sixteen-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives alone with her mother and younger sister, regards it as a death sentence when she steps forward to take her sister's place in the Games. But Katniss has been close to dead before - and survival, for her, is second nature. Without really meaning to, she becomes a contender. But if she is to win, she will have to start making choices that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.
- Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
- Obernewtyn Chronicles by Isobelle Carmody
- Legends of the Red Sun by Mark Charan Newton
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