Utopia suggests an ideal society where the issues of the past have been eradicated and people live in health and harmony.
Dystopia explores the idea that, for a society like this to exist, it is necessary for an authoritarian body to decide what the problems are, and be responsible for their eradication, using any means necessary. Including anyone who gets in the way of the ‘perfection’.
I love dystopian fiction. The level of reality in good dystopian novels is enough that the premise is not only plausible, but all too likely, and feeds the existing fears and paranoias of the reader.
“Delirium” by Lauren Oliver is a dystopian love story, set in a world where love has been identified as the main source of the pain and suffering than humans endure. So on the day of the eighteenth birthday of every person, they are given the ‘cure’ which will stop the delirium and allow them to live happy, safe and productive lives.
Lena Haloway has spent her life looking forward to the cure. Love has brought her family nothing but pain and humiliation. But as the day that she will be cured draws near, Lena finds herself rebelling against the system, and worst of all, falling in love.
“Delirium” is an incredibly addictive read. A central love story is a compelling trail through any story. Plenty of young readers are getting bored with vampire romance, but are still looking for something with a bit of edge, so the resurgence of dystopian fiction, with a touch of romance couldn’t have come at a better time.
Lauren Oliver has stormed the YA scene. The smash 2009 release “Before I Fall” touched readers who had previously enjoyed books like “The Lovely Bones” or “Before I Die”. She seems to have her pulse on what issues matter to her readers, and a knack of writing in a variety of genres, which guarantees that her audience won’t get bored.
Lena is a wonderful character, because she is an unpredictable heroine. At first she is difficult to understand, as her eagerness to undertake a cure that will essentially sterilize her passion is probably alien to most readers. But that makes her choice to follow love all the more admirable and understandable. Her journey from the safety of her society and her family into the danger of the Wilds and her inevitable discovery of some painful truths is so human. It is a book that will make readers question their values, and just how great the risks that they would take to protect them.
Like Lena, love is a driving force behind Cassia, the lead character in Ally Condie’s new novel, “Matched.” Unlike Lena’s society, Cassia lives in a Utopia that sees the values of love, and matches each citizen with their perfect partner. Citizens are monitored and their every move is predicted. They are fed, clothed, placed in jobs and relationships to achieve maximum success in their lives. On their 80th birthday, every person has their final banquet before dying at a healthy, respectable, predictable age.
Cassia has been dreaming of her match for as long as she can remember. When Officials first reveal the name of the boy that she will spend the rest of her life with, she is thrilled that everything has turned out so perfectly. But then unpredictable things start happening, and Cassia finds herself questioning the foundations of her whole society, and worse, questioning her own feelings.
“Matched” is the first book in a trilogy, and one that I feel will grow stronger as it continues. I wanted more fury and passion in Cassia earlier as she uncovers the lies and horror that her society is built on. The concept is strong though, and like all good dystopian fiction, make us question the sinister side to a government dictated society. Overall the characters had interesting reactions to the events that drive the novel which makes the overall outcome unpredictable. I imagine that book two and three have some pretty explosive surprises in store, and I think that readers will be thrilled to have a meaty new series to sink their teeth into.
If you want more dystopian fiction, keep your eye’s peeled for my top 10 in YA Dystopia which I will pop up over the next few days.