I’ve always enjoyed reading dystopian stories and that didn’t change when Covid hit. In fact, I think I read even more of them than usual in the past two years of dystopian reality. The pandemic has affected the world in many ways that resemble the fictional stories of future world disasters, with new restrictions on freedom and various shortages, and too many deaths. You might think reading these stories would cause anxiety, but I find them fascinating and educational.
One of the series that I read in the beginning of Covid was The Last Survivors by Susan Beth Pfeffer, about life on earth after an asteroid hits the moon pushing it closer to the earth which causes a change in the weather and how people are affected by living in a colder world. The first book is called Life As We Knew It. The cause of the chaos seems fairly unlikely, but the things that happened as a result, namely violence, people being displaced, food shortages and weather changes, could actually happen in certain circumstances.
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The second book in the series, The Dead and The Gone takes place in New York City where all normal life has ceased. A boy tries valiantly to keep himself and his sisters alive after his parents disappear. This one was interesting as it includes a look at their Catholic religious beliefs. The world grapples with the problems of rebuilding society after the disaster.
The setting changes again in the third book, This World We Live In, and revolves around a family trying to survive in a town where most people are dead or have left. The danger of starvation and the lack of electricity for heat require heroic actions. Each book could stand alone, but they are related in some ways. The series was a good distraction from the toilet paper shortages and school closures in early 2020.
Another series that I enjoyed is the Wool series by Hugh Howey. You can read my review at the link above. Elements of this story pop into my head fairly often. The plot includes a deadly nano-virus created by the government, lies and deception to keep the people from knowing what really happened, and the struggles of thousands of people living in multi-level, underground silos. Wool can be read as one big book or multiple books. It was originally written as a short story and then Howey added to it as it became popular. The other books in the series are called Shift and Dust.
This year I discovered the Arc of The Scythe by Neal Shusterman series on a fellow bloggers post. I loved this series! Here is the link to my review and podcast. After devouring all three books, I wanted to read more from Shusterman, so I bought the Unwind Series. It was also very good. Arc of the Scythe is about a perfect society that goes bad. Unwound is more about good intentions that become dystopian. Both stories are about what happens when the world abandons God and morals and tries to make laws based on pragmatism and human intelligence, or in the case of the Scythe, Artificial Intelligence. Here is my review on The Unwind Series.
I also re-read The Giver by Lois Lowry last year, and then, for the first time, the three sequels to it that I hadn’t known existed until Facebook friends told me. Each book reveals a different future world scenario which are very thought-provoking and timely. I highly recommend everyone read them considering the rapidly changing world we live in. In The Giver, the perfect society is scientifically managed and highly regulated.
The second book, Gathering Blue takes place in a totally different world than The Giver, a world where people have gotten stuck in the old ways that keep them trapped in inequality and poverty. It’s a sad, but interesting story that ends with hope. And the third book, Messenger, is about a boy who must save a village from the fear of outsiders. Both of these take place in the future, but the people have returned to the old ways. At least, I think that’s what happened. I could be wrong.
The last book, Son, returns us, after a visit to an island, to the city of the first book, The Giver, and explains some mysteries that had been left hanging. I appreciated that, but it took long enough for Lois Lowry to write it, twenty-one years since The Giver!
It’s been some years since I read the next series that I want to mention, The Shadow Children by Margaret Peterson Haddix. I found these books at the library in the children’s section and I read them one after another. The setting is a future world in which only two children are allowed, and if you have three, they have to be kept hidden or they will be killed. The story is about how the third children come together to try to survive, and their allies. The first book in the series is called Among The Hidden.
I can’t forget to mention The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes by Suzanne Collins, a post-war, dystopian prequel to the Hunger Games series. Click the link to read the review. It is the story of the politics behind the brutality of the Hunger Games as well as the personal life of Coriolanus Snow.
I hope you’ll give some of these books a try and let me know how you like them! You may also find them in your local library. And let’s hope that none of these books actually become our reality.